Japanese government abuses ISIS terror for its own militarism

This video says about itself:

Uncomfortable Truth Behind Japan’s Comfort Women

29 May 2013

Japan’s Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka, committed a bit of a faux pas when he tried to justify Japan’s use of “comfort women” during World War 2. In case you didn’t know, “comfort women” is a fun euphemism for invading Japanese military forcing women at gunpoint into prostitution.

By Ben McGrath:

Japanese government exploits hostage crisis to push remilitarisation

28 January 2015

The Japanese government has announced that it will use the current parliamentary session to push through a raft of legislation to codify its “re-interpretation” of the country’s constitution to allow for “collective self-defense.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is exploiting the current hostage crisis, in which Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has killed one Japanese citizen and continues to hold another, in a bid to overcome public opposition to remilitarisation.

The regular 150-day session of the Japanese parliament or Diet that began on Monday is the first since the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won reelection in December. Among some 80 bills expected to be submitted are 10 to remove restrictions on the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), Japan’s military. The LDP will begin negotiations with its coalition partner Komeito in early February and plans to submit the bills for a vote following April’s local elections.

Speaking to Japan’s NHK public broadcaster on Sunday, Abe declared: “The legislation is aimed at protecting the lives and well-being of the people by structuring a seamless legal security structure. For example, if Japanese abroad come under harm’s way, as in the recent case, the Self-Defense Forces currently aren’t able to fully utilize their abilities.”

These new laws are being drawn up not to protect Japanese citizens, but to facilitate the Japanese military’s involvement in US wars of aggression, in particular its war preparations against China as part the US “pivot to Asia.” The legislation is in line with new defense guidelines that Washington and Tokyo agreed to last October.

The legislation will allow Abe to dispatch the SDF overseas without seeking the Diet’s approval. Currently, each time the military is sent abroad, a new law must be passed authorizing the mission, as was the case in Japan’s military support for the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The proposed laws will ensure that Japan is more closely integrated into US war planning in Asia against China. The Pentagon regards its military bases in Japan as crucial components of its “AirSea Battle” strategy, which envisages a massive missile and air attack on Chinese mainland bases, missile sites, command centers and communications. Japan is also critical to another element of US military planning, for an economic blockade of China.

Other laws are specifically directed against China. These include allowing the prime minister to dispatch the SDF if foreign ships or people enter the waters around Japanese islands or land on the islands themselves. The disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea have been at the centre of sharp tensions with China since the Japanese government provocatively nationalised them in 2012 by purchasing three of the islands from their private owner.

A particularly insidious bill will allow the government to restrict the rights of Japanese citizens if Japan is attacked or threatened with an attack. The legislation will give the government broad scope to crack down on anti-war protests or opposition to remilitarization in Japan, on the pretext, for example, of a supposed threat from North Korea.

The Abe government is clearly considering measures that go beyond its proposals for “collective self-defense.” Reuters reported that at Abe’s request Japanese officials drafted a briefing paper last Friday to consider a series of questions, including whether the planned legal changes would allow Japan to launch a military attack on ISIS to secure the release of the hostages. The paper’s conclusion that there was no legal basis for such action could well be used by Abe to press for further legislative changes.

However, the briefing paper did conclude that the new legislation would permit Japan to give military support to the US-led war in Iraq and Syria. “We are proceeding with consideration of a legal framework to implement support activities necessary to support other militaries in contributing to Japan’s peace and safety and the peace and stability of the international community,” it stated, without directly referring to ISIS.

The current hostage crisis began on January 20 when ISIS released a video featuring two Japanese men, Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, and demanding $200 million for their release. Yukawa was captured last August. Goto attempted to intercede for Yukawa in October but was also captured. In the video, ISIS gave a 72-hour deadline for Japan to pay the ransom or the two men would be killed.

The deadline expired Friday afternoon but it was not until late Saturday evening that a second video was released featuring Goto holding a picture of Yukawa, who had been beheaded. ISIS also changed its demand from a ransom to a prisoner exchange. The organization is seeking the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman condemned to death in Jordan for her role in a 2005 terrorist attack at hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman. ISIS issued a new threat saying Goto would be killed along with a Jordanian pilot on Wednesday if its demands were not met.

In 2013, Abe seized on a hostage crisis in Algeria, which resulted in the deaths of 10 Japanese citizens, to pass a new law watering down restrictions on the Japanese military. The law overturned a ban on Japan sending SDF vehicles, including armored vehicles, into a conflict zone.

The widespread public opposition to the government’s constitutional reinterpretation and the planned legislation finds no expression in the political establishment. The LDP’s coalition partner, Komeito, which is nominally pacifist, backed Abe’s constitutional reinterpretation last year and is looking for cosmetic changes to the new legislation. In relation to providing logistical support for US wars, spokesman Natsuo Yamaguchi said on Sunday: “As a basic rule, rear-line support should be to back the response of the international community based on a UN Security Council resolution.”

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has yet to formulate a coherent stance on the government’s planned laws. Newly-installed DPJ leader Katsuya Okada tentatively pointed out that the legislation would mean Japan would be drawn into US wars. “If the United States requests more direct involvement, can the Japanese government refuse it by saying, ‘we only conduct humanitarian aid?’” However, he did not oppose the legislation, or involvement in US-led conflicts, outright.

JORDAN CUTS DEAL FOR ISIS PRISONER SWAP “The Jordanian government agreed on Wednesday to release a convicted terrorist in exchange for the freeing of an air force pilot captured by Islamic State militants in Syria a month ago, according to a statement released on Jordanian state television just before a deadline set by the extremists. The militants had threatened to kill the pilot and a Japanese journalist if the deadline was not met. The Jordanian statement made no mention of the fate of the journalist.” The parents of the hostages had begged each government to agree to the terrorist group’s demand for a prisoner swap. And in the U.S., Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced an ISIS War Authorization bill. [NYT]

The execution of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, as conveyed in a video released late Saturday night, is the latest atrocity to be carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It follows the beheading of another Japanese citizen, Haruna Yukawa, last week after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to pay a $200 million ransom for the two hostages: here.

JAPAN VOWS VENGEANCE AFTER ISIS BEHEADS JOURNALIST: “When Islamic State militants posted a video over the weekend showing the grisly killing of a Japanese journalist, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacted with outrage, promising ‘to make the terrorists pay the price.’ Such vows of retribution may be common in the West when leaders face extremist violence, but they have been unheard of in confrontation-averse Japan — until now. The prime minister’s call for revenge after the killings of the journalist, Kenji Goto, and another hostage, Haruna Yukawa, raised eyebrows even in the military establishment, adding to a growing awareness here that the crisis could be a watershed for this long pacifist country.” [NYT]

Under conditions where US imperialism is resorting to war as an instrument of foreign policy in Ukraine, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific, other major powers are also seeking to remilitarise and remove any restraints on their use of military force. That is the significance of the call by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a fundamental revision of the country’s post-war constitution: here.

The Japanese government announced last week that it would provide aid for the first time to foreign militaries through its Official Development Assistance (ODA) program. The move is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s aggressive diplomatic efforts to build Japanese influence and ties, particularly in Asia, on all levels, including military: here.

Biology of the megamouth shark

This video is about megamouth sharks.

By Kazuhiro Nakaya in Japan:

Biology of the Megamouth Shark, Megachasma pelagios (Lamniformes: Megachasmidae)

Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences, Hokkaido University 3-1-1, Minato-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 041-8611, Japan


All records to date (end of June, 2008) of the megamouth shark, Megachasma pelagios were analyzed and the biology of the megamouth shark was inferred from them. The megamouth shark is a wide-ranging species, distributed from the tropical to temperate seas, with the most numerous occurrences in the western North Pacific Ocean. Young individuals tend to be distributed in warmer waters, while mature individuals broaden their habitat to higher latitudes. Males become mature at about 4 m in total length and females at about 5 m. The megamouth shark may copulate all year round, giving birth to young
in warmer waters, and may be spatially segregated by sex.

The discovery of the megamouth shark was one of the ichthyological highlights of the last century.

The first specimen of the megamouth shark was accidentally collected in Hawaii in 1976, and the species was eventually named Megachasma pelagios by Taylor, Compagno and Struhsaker (1983). The second specimen was captured in 1984 in California, U.S.A., eight years after the capture of the first Hawaiian specimen (Lavenberg and Seigel, 1985). The third specimen was found stranded in 1988 off western Australia in the Indian Ocean (Berra and Hutchins, 1990). Then, the fourth and fifth specimens were reported from Japan in 1989 (Nakaya, 1989; Miya et al., 1992). The sixth specimen was captured and released in California with a sonic transmitter (Lavenberg, 1991), and its horizontal and vertical movements were recorded for a few days (Nelson et al., 1997). These specimens were all giant males of about five meters in total length, except for the fifth one of unknown sex, and finally the first female megamouth was caught in Japan in 1994 (Takada et al., 1997).

At present, the worldwide total of megamouth shark captured, found stranded or sighted is forty specimens. Some of the specimens were studied for their morphology and phylogenetic relationships, but most of them were discarded, consumed or not studied. Among the few studies available, Nelson et al. (1997) reported part of their way of life, showing that the megamouth shark makes clear daily vertical movements within depths shallower than 200 meters. However, most of the biology of the megamouth shark still remains to be disclosed.

The purposes of the present study are to synthesize the scattered information of the 40 specimens recorded as of June, 2008, to study the morphological and biological evidence of each specimen, to analyze their capture data, and to discuss the biology of the megamouth shark.

Loggerhead sea turtles, new discovery

This video from the USA is called Loggerhead sea turtles hatching. Sebastian, Fl.

From NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region in the USA:

Surprise discovery off California exposes loggerhead ‘lost years’

January 13, 2015


North Pacific loggerhead turtles hatch in Japan, with many later reappearing 6,000 miles away off southern Baja California to forage. The sighting late last year of numerous young turtles far off the Southern California Coast provides new insight into their their epic migration across the Pacific Ocean.

The discovery of numerous juvenile loggerhead turtles by a NOAA Fisheries research survey more than 200 miles off the Southern California Coast has revealed new details about a mysterious part of the endangered turtles’ epic migration across the Pacific Ocean known as “the lost years.”

“It’s one of those great ‘aha’ moments in science,” said Scott Benson, a marine ecologist with NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center. “We’ve always known they were out there somewhere, we just didn’t know where.”

North Pacific loggerhead turtles nest on beaches in Japan and young turtles then disappear into the North Pacific, with many reappearing later in a rich foraging area about 6,000 miles away off Baja California. How they get there and what they do along the way has remained largely a mystery, leading biologists to call the little-known chapter in loggerhead lives as “the lost years.”

Late last year a NOAA Fisheries marine mammal survey crisscrossing waters off the West Coast happened onto a striking concentration of what biologists believe were lost-year loggerheads about 200 to 250 miles off Southern California. Within several days researchers spotted more than 70 confirmed or likely young loggerhead turtles less than 20 inches long, about the size of a laptop computer.

Research informs turtle protections

“It’s like a missing piece of the puzzle we just finally got on the board,” said Jeffrey Seminoff, a marine ecologist who leads the Marine Turtle Ecology and Assessment Program at the SWFSC in La Jolla, Calif. “This is the first time we’ve encountered an aggregation of these lost-year turtles far offshore of California. It looks like a very important area for turtles that have just crossed the Pacific.”

How loggerheads cross the Pacific is important because they can get entangled and killed in certain kinds of fishing nets. Improved information about their route and timing can help NOAA Fisheries manage West Coast fisheries to better protect the endangered turtles.

“If we can predict where loggerheads are going to be and when, we can tell where it’s safer to fish,” Seminoff said. “This is a big step forward in terms of being able to do that.”

Biologists have long known that loggerheads are associated with warm ocean water and sightings off California are not unusual, albeit still rare, when offshore waters turn warm, as they have in the last several months.

One theory was that turtles feeding off southern Baja ventured hundreds of miles north toward California during warm conditions.

Juvenile turtles heading south

But the mass of young turtles spotted by the NOAA Fisheries survey appear to have been headed in the opposite direction. They were much smaller and therefore younger than turtles commonly seen off Baja, and were farther offshore than typical loggerhead sightings. That indicates they were still actively migrating south toward Mexico, following currents that carry them from Japan like a giant conveyor belt across the North Pacific and then south along the West Coast.

“Our hypothesis has shifted now,” Seminoff said. “These turtles off California appear to be using it as a transition area on their way to Baja. The pieces fit. They really fit.”

Researchers documented the juvenile turtles along temperature margins where warm eddies swirl up against colder waters, creating unusually productive zones rich in food. Similar temperature features probably occur in the eastern Pacific every year and provide migrating turtles the food they need for rapid growth early in their lives, scientists said.

“These turtles were right on the edges of these features,” Seminoff said. “We now believe these aggregations of turtles probably occur every year when and where the warm eddy features appear, but perhaps only rarely in California waters. Either way, we just have never such an aggregation before. This is one of the best discoveries we’ve had in years in terms of understanding the lives of these turtles.”

Satellite tracking of loggerhead turtles in the Atlantic Ocean recently revealed that juvenile turtles hatched on the beaches of Florida venture thousands of miles east into the open ocean, spending their “lost years” feeding amid floating sargasso beds before returning to nest. NOAA Fisheries scientists are now planning similar tracking of the newfound Pacific loggerhead turtles off California to more completely chart their migration route.

“It’s a similar life history pattern,” Seminoff said. “We’re full steam ahead to find out more.”

Earth’s Magnetic Field Draws Sea Turtles to Their Nests. Loggerhead turtles remember the magnetic fingerprint of the beach where they were born: here.

Japanese whaling stops, temporarily

This video is called Close Encounter with Minke Whale in Antarctica.

From Wildlife Extra:

Reduced Japanese whaling fleet departs to conduct scientific studies

A smaller than usual Japanese whaling fleet recently left port in Shimonoseki to carry out research in the Antarctic – but no whales will be harpooned after the World Court ruled last year that Japan’s ‘scientific’ whaling in the Southern Ocean was illegal.

Japan’s Fisheries Agency announced that a reduced number of boats will instead head to the Antarctic to carry out sighting surveys, biopsy work and photo identification of whales led by the country’s Institute of Cetacean Research.

Two catcher boats, without their harpoons, departed first and will be joined by Japan’s factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, which sets off on 16 January, for the non-lethal research which is expected to last until 28 March.

An International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in March 2014 ensured that for the first season in more than a century, whales in the Southern hemisphere were not be hunted for commercial purposes.

However, despite its initial vow to abide by the ICJ decision, and current moves to carry out non-lethal research, in November last year the Japanese government revealed details of a new proposal, called NEWREP-A, which would see 333 minke whales harpooned in the name of science in the Southern Ocean from later this year. Conservation organisations have urged Japan to withdraw this proposal.

Patrick Ramage, Global Whale Programme Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, says: “While we congratulate Japan on its shift towards humane, non-lethal research on whales and welcome the fact that no whales will be slaughtered in the Southern Ocean this season, sadly Japan has not discarded its harpoons for good.

“Japan’s new whaling plan fails utterly to meet the standard established by the World Court or to live up to the earlier rhetoric of Japanese officials. Japan needs to acknowledge that its cruel and unnecessary whaling must stop once and for all.”

Japan’s new whaling plans are set to be examined by the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) when it meets in San Diego in the US in May. The IWC strongly backed the ICJ ruling when member countries met in Slovenia in September.