Australia’s Abbott helps Japanese militarism


This video from the USA is called Shock Doctrine in Japan: Shinzo Abe‘s Rightward Shift to Militarism, Secrecy in Fukushima‘s Wake.

By Patrick O’Connor in Australia:

Australia and Japan extend military ties

9 April 2014

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott used his visit to Japan on Monday to reach an agreement with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to “elevate the bilateral security and defence relationship to a new level.”

Abbott and Abe discussed expanding combined Australian-Japanese military training and improving “interoperability” between the two countries’ militaries. They also resolved to reach a “framework agreement” on cooperation on military science, technology, and equipment, with initial joint research developed on submarine-related technology. Japanese and Australian defence and foreign ministers are due to meet in Tokyo in June to work out further arrangements. “We want to see more interoperability between our militaries, we want to see more exercises between our militaries, we want to see over time more significant intelligence co-operation,” Abbott declared.

Few details have been released on what the “framework agreement” on technology and equipment will entail, but the Sydney Morning Herald reported that it “will facilitate the development of cutting edge military science, and even the exchange of new generation weapons between the two countries.”

The discussions and agreements underscore Japan and Australia’s active collaboration with Washington’s drive to militarily encircle and diplomatically isolate China. Both right-wing governments, behind the backs of the Australian and Japanese people, have supported the Obama administration as it leads the preparations to wage war against China in order to preserve the strategic dominance of US imperialism and its allies.

Abbott’s meeting with Abe formed part of a regional tour of Japan, South Korea, and China. Billed by the government as a “trade tour”, Abbott has led a delegation of government ministers and corporate executives to the three Asian countries. The trip was timed to coincide with the announced agreement of an Australia-Japan free trade agreement, which has been hailed in the Australian corporate media. Tariffs on 97 percent of Australian exports to Japan will be progressively reduced or removed, including for previously closed off beef, seafood, and wine markets. Japan will provide some openings for Australian finance and business services.

Sections of Australian agribusiness, however, including rice, sugar, and pork, have been scathing of the Abbott government’s failure to win significant concessions benefitting their operations. National Farmers’ Federation president Brent Finlay declared: “We are disappointed with the overall outcomes for agriculture with a number of sectors facing marginal improvements or limited commercial gains.” Mineral exports to Japan, which constitute almost 89 percent of merchandise imports, are already subject to few tariffs.

However, today’s Australian Financial Review editorial noted significance of closer strategic ties that had been quietly sealed. “While trade has taken up most of the headlines, Australia has also signed up to what seems an open-ended defence cooperation agreement for Japan. This is important support for Tokyo which is now locked in an increasingly tense rivalry with Beijing,” it stated.

The first point of the Abbott-Abe joint communiqué that dealt with “security and defence cooperation” stated that the two leaders “reaffirmed the importance of strong US engagement in the Asia-Pacific region and expressed their strong support for the US rebalance.”

Abbott was invited to participate in a special meeting of Abe’s National Security Council, created last December to give the prime minister greater central control over foreign and defence policy, promoting even closer coordination with Washington. The Australian PM is the first world leader to be invited to a National Security Council meeting in Tokyo. According to the Japan News, Abbott spent an hour “exchanging opinions on Asia-Pacific regional circumstances” with Abe, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the first item on the agenda at the meeting was Japan’s dispute with China over the Diyaou/Senkaku island territories. Tensions over the islands have been deliberately inflamed in recent years, together with other previously localised territorial disputes between China and its neighbours, by the Obama administration as part of its drive to ratchet up pressure on Beijing.

Abbott gave the usual pro forma denials of any attempt to target China. “Our security cooperation [with Japan] is for universal values,” he declared, “it’s not against any specific country.”

In reality, the Abbott government has picked up where the former Labor government left off in its whole-hearted support for the provocative US “pivot” against China. The prime minister last year proclaimed that Japan was Australia’s “closest friend in Asia”, adding that Tokyo was “a fellow member of the US alliance network.” Abbott has enthusiastically backed the remilitarisation of Japan, under the guise of becoming a “normal country”—provocative language that the PM this week repeated in Tokyo. Last year the Abbott government aggressively denounced China after it expanded its air defence identification zone in the East China Sea. In doing so, Canberra implicitly endorsed Japan’s territorial claims in the region against Beijing.

Abe has eagerly embraced the Abbott government. His own government has moved to eliminate constitutional and political restrictions on the size and capacity of the Japanese military, at the same time promoting militarism and attempting to whitewash the criminal history of Japanese imperialism in East Asia. Australia plays a significant role in Abe’s calculations. When he was previously in office, he launched the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”) in 2007, a military cooperation arrangement involving Japan, the US, India, and Australia. Just before returning to office, Abe wrote in November 2012 on the need to create a “Democratic Security Diamond”, stretching from Australia, India, Japan and the US state of Hawaii, with the four countries working together to dominate the strategically crucial maritime area.

Abbott is currently in South Korea, where he is attempting to bolster US efforts to defuse tensions between Tokyo and Seoul and ensure joint cooperation against China. The Australian prime minister also told President Park Geun Hye that the former Labor government should not have cancelled a $225 million order for K9 Thunder field howitzers. Abbott declared the decision “capricious” and said his government would instead be an “absolutely reliable, trustworthy partner whose word is our bond.” Today he visited the demilitarised zone that separates North and South Korea. He echoed US rhetoric against North Korea, declaring the country an “outlaw state which is a threat to world peace.”

Abbott is now en route to Beijing, where he is seeking to progress negotiations on a China-Australia free trade agreement.

Amid the on-going confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, President Barack Obama arrives in Japan tomorrow on the first leg of a tour of Asia that will also take in South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. Obama’s overriding aim is to signal his intention to press ahead with the “pivot to Asia,” which seeks to ensure US hegemony throughout the region: here.

US President Barack Obama has set the stage for formal talks today with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by provocatively telling the Yomuiri Shimbun that the US is fully committed to supporting Japan in any military conflict with China over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Obama landed in Tokyo yesterday on the first leg of his Asian trip, which includes South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines: here.

The Australian government used up more than 130 pages of correspondence talking about a viral web plug-in that replaces pictures of their Prime Minister with ‘cute kittens’: here.

This week’s Australian budget is a stark warning to workers internationally of the sweeping social reversal being demanded by international financial capital in every country. In what has been depicted as the “lucky country,” which seemed to escape the 2008–2009 global financial crisis, the framework has been set for dismantling every aspect of the welfare state established following World War II: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Japanese imperialism in Africa


This video is called Japanese Expansionism Before and During World War Two (WWII) – Part 1.

By John Watanabe:

Japanese PM’s aggressive diplomatic push in Africa

16 January 2014

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concluded a week-long trip to the Middle East and Africa on Tuesday with a speech at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia, pledging to provide $320 million in aid “in order to respond to the conflicts and disasters in Africa.” He promised another $2 billion in loans to the African private sector, doubling a 2012 pledge.

Abe made a direct intervention into the crisis in South Sudan, which is already a hotbed of intrigue, particularly between the US and China. He called for an end to factional fighting and promised $25 million in assistance. Japan has sent around 400 military personnel to South Sudan as part of UN forces in the country.

Abe’s tour of Africa, including Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Ethiopia, was the first by a serving Japanese prime minister since 2006. The trip was aimed at expanding Japanese economic and political influence in Africa and curbing China’s already significant presence in this region, which is strategically vital for both countries. Abe was accompanied by some 50 business executives.

Encouraged by the US “pivot to Asia,” a comprehensive strategy of diplomatic and military pressure again China, Japan has engaged in a diplomatic offensive of its own. Since coming to power just over a year ago, Abe has visited 29 countries, including all 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and all six Gulf monarchies.

Abe’s intervention in Africa is part of intense rivalry for resources and strategic influence. The WSWS commented a year ago in “2013 and the new Scramble for Africa”: “Africa is in play as far as Washington and all other major powers are concerned. US aims in Africa centre on securing hegemony over the entire continent, a conflict in which its chief rival is now China.”

China’s emergence as the world’s chief cheap labour platform has driven it to seek energy and resources, particularly from Africa, bringing it into competition with the major powers that have long dominated the continent. Since 2009, China has been Africa’s top trading partner. Its direct investment was reportedly seven times that of Japan in 2011, and its exports five times larger.

The US and European powers, especially France, have responded by seeking to shore up their own interests in Africa, including through military interventions in Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali and Central African Republic. Significantly, as Abe was heading to Africa, the Japanese foreign and defence ministers were in Paris last week for a “2 plus 2” meeting with their French counterparts to secure closer diplomatic, economic and military collaboration, including in Africa.

Abe has identified Africa as a major priority. At the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, held in Yokohama last June and attended by about 40 African heads of state, Japan promised up to $32 billion in public and private assistance over the next five years. Unlike previous years, the emphasis was not on aid, but on investment and trade.

Abe’s tour coincided with that of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who toured Ethiopia, Djibouti, Ghana and Senegal between January 6 and 11. The tensions between the two countries were never far from the surface.

Abe’s spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi told the BBC that “countries like Japan… cannot provide African leaders with beautiful houses or beautiful ministerial buildings,” but “Japan’s aid policy is to really aid the human capital of Africa.” This was a direct jab at China, which is known for financing presidential palaces and other official buildings, including the African Union headquarters at which Abe spoke on Tuesday.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang responded in kind. During a meeting with Ethiopia’s health minister, he declared that China’s aid to Ethiopia was completely selfless, adding that China did not approve of “certain countries” that offered aid to Africa for purely political motives. He hinted that Japan was trying to win African votes in a bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.

These caustic exchanges take place amid heightened tensions between the two countries over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Amid the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” the Abe government has aggressively asserted control of the islands, using the dispute to justify an expansion of the Japanese military.

Under pressure from the US and its allies, China has responded by whipping up anti-Japanese chauvinism at home. This again spilled over in Africa. Following Abe’s speech in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, China’s ambassador to the African Union, Xie Xiaoyan, branded the Japanese prime minister as “the biggest troublemaker in Asia” and declared that his trip to Africa was part of a “China containment policy.”

Abe’s trip had significant economic objectives. In Ivory Coast, Abe told President Alassane Ouattara that Japan would provide $83.4 million in humanitarian assistance to stabilise the southern Saharan Sahel region by March, of which $7.7 million would go to Ivory Coast. Abe is seeking to use the country to gain access to markets in West Africa, with its population of some 300 million.

In Mozambique, Abe sought to secure liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other mineral supplies. The southern African nation plans to build the second largest LNG export site in the world, with a capacity of 20 million tonnes a year by 2018. Chiyoda Corp. is among the companies bidding for contracts to construct the plants, which could cost $20 billion.

Mitsui & Co. has a stake in Mozambique’s coal fields and Nippon Steel is developing a coal mine in the country, slated to start production in 2016. Japan also announced some $680 million in loans to Mozambique, to finance infrastructure projects, including the construction of a highway connecting the country’s Nacala port to Malawi and Zambia.

In Ethiopia, Abe announced that the country would receive $11 million in refugee support and a further $4.8 million for its agricultural sector. Japan will also invest in geothermal power production in Ethiopia, and the two countries have reportedly established the first direct flights between them.

Under Abe, Japan is raising the stakes as it seeks to compete in the new scramble for Africa. Abe told the African Union: “I myself would like to visit Africa multiple times as necessary, in order to support vigorously these efforts to bring about a brilliant future for Africa.”

A prominent article in the New York Times last weekend left no doubt about US-Japanese preparations for war or the intended target. Entitled “In Japan’s drill with the US, a message for Beijing”, the article covered US Marines training Japan’s newly-formed amphibious force in “how to invade and retake an island captured by hostile forces”: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Japanese governmental rewriting of history


This video says about itself:

Comfort Woman – Wianbu

14 July 2012

A short film about a Korean seventeen-year-old girl who is brought to a Japanese military camp during World War II, where a catastrophic future awaits her. Can she escape her fate?

From the History News Network in the USA:

12-28-13

Japan PM backs move to rewrite textbooks

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s conservative government has begun to pursue a more openly nationalist agenda on an issue that critics fear will push the country farther from its postwar pacifism: adding a more patriotic tone to Japan’s school textbooks.

The proposed textbook revisions have drawn less outcry abroad than Mr. Abe’s visit on Thursday to a shrine that honors war dead, including war criminals from World War II. However, though Mr. Abe’s supporters argue that changes are needed to teach children more patriotism, liberals warn that they could undercut an antiwar message they say has helped keep Japan peaceful for decades.

Prime Minister Abe is feeling the heat from his political base, which feels betrayed that he has not pursued a more strongly right-wing agenda,” said Nobuyoshi Takashima, a professor emeritus at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa who has studied the politics of textbooks. “Classrooms are one place where he can appease ultraconservatives by taking a more firmly nationalist stance.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he wanted to explain to his neighbours why he decided to visit a shrine to war criminals. But China again called on the nationalist politician to wake up to the realities of Japan’s imperial history. Mr Abe visited the Yasukuni shrine – where 14 convicted class-A war criminals are enshrined among the nearly 2.5 million dead – on December 26, sparking a diplomatic furore with China and South Korea: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Japanese anti-police state protest


This video is called Japan To Debate Government Secrets Law Aimed At Whistleblowers.

From Melanie’s Japan Safety blog:

November 24, 2013

”Thousands of people protested in Tokyo against a bill that would see whistleblowing civil servants jailed for up to 10 years. Activists claim the law would help the government to cover up scandals, and damage the country’s constitution and democracy.

A 3,000-seat outdoor theater in a park in downtown Tokyo, near the parliament, was not enough to contain everyone who came on Thursday to denounce government plans to considerably broaden the definition of classified information.

For more photos of the Tokyo protests, see RT’s Gallery.

According to organizers’ estimates, about 10,000 people crowded shoulder-to-shoulder in the aisles of the theater and outside of it, holding banners that read: “Don’t take away our freedom.”

The adoption of the law, proposed by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, would enable the authorities to put civil servants responsible for information leaks behind bars for up to 10 years.

This would seriously threaten the freedom of the press, as Japanese media would face serious problems gathering information on burning issues, because state employees would be reluctant to share information for fear of prosecution.

That’s why a group of Japanese journalists gathered at the Nagatacho District, close to the country’s parliament, to protest the proposed bill.

Currently, long prison terms for whistleblowers only apply to those Japanese citizens who leak classified data that came from the US military.

“The definition of what will be designated as secrets is not clear, and bureaucrats will make secrets extremely arbitrarily,” TV journalist Soichiro Tahara told Japan Daily Press.

Protesting journalists have submitted a petition to the Cabinet Office, calling for the bill to be scrapped.

The proposed law is conceived in such broad terms it allows wide interpretation and could be used for many purposes, for example such as hiding information about the situation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The bill could be adopted as soon as next week, because the ruling Liberal Democrat Party has a majority in both houses of the Japanese parliament.

“If this law comes to pass, our constitution is nothing more than a scrap of paper,” Reuters reported Yasunari Fujimoto, an activist with the Peace Forum NGO, as saying. “Without the right to know, democracy cannot exist.”

Many Japanese have been suspicious of the legislation, since it reminds them of the tough military secrecy laws that existed before World War II, when Japan’s hardline militarist government was engaged on an expansionist policy throughout Asia, until its defeat in 1945.

PM Shinzo Abe says that the new legislature is extremely important to secure cooperation with Japan’s major ally, the US, as well as other countries.

The data security bill resembles laws targeting whistleblowers in the US, and Abe is considering setting up an American-style National Security Council, too, Reuters reports.

The protesters do not support Abe’s eagerness to copy repressive foreign laws.

“We have a right to know everything,” said Akio Hirose, a 54-year-old transport worker, adding that the proposed law is “absolutely unacceptable.”“

Japan’s new secrets bill threatens to muzzle the press and whistleblowers — The Daily Beast: here.

Fukushima workers becoming ill


From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Plummeting morale at Fukushima Daiichi as nuclear cleanup takes its toll

Staff on the frontline of operation plagued by health problems and fearful about the future, insiders say

in Fukushima

Tuesday 15 October 2013 16.15 BST

Workers constructing water tanks at Fukushima

Workers wearing protective suits and masks constructing water tanks at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Dressed in a hazardous materials suit, full-face mask and hard hat, Japan‘s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, left his audience in no doubt: “The future of Japan,” he said, “rests on your shoulders. I am counting on you.”

Abe‘s exhortation, delivered during a recent visit to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was only heard by a small group of men inside the plant’s emergency control room. But it was directed at almost 6,000 more: the technicians and engineers, truck drivers and builders who, almost three years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown, remain on the frontline of the world’s most dangerous industrial cleanup.

Yet as the scale of the challenge has become clearer with every new accident and radiation leak, the men working inside the plant are suffering from plummeting morale, health problems and anxiety about the future, according to insiders interviewed by the Guardian.

Even now, at the start of a decommissioning operation that is expected to last 40 years, the plant faces a shortage of workers qualified to manage the dangerous work that lies ahead.

The hazards faced by the nearly 900 employees of Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] and about 5,000 workers hired by a network of contractors and sub-contractors were underlined this month when six men were doused with contaminated water at a desalination facility.

The men, who were wearing protective clothing, suffered no ill health effects in the incident, according to Tepco, but their brush with danger was a sign that the cleanup is entering its most precarious stage since the meltdown in March 2011.

Commenting on the leak, the head of Japan’s nuclear regulator, Shunichi Tanaka, told reporters: “Mistakes are often linked to morale. People usually don’t make silly, careless mistakes when they’re motivated and working in a positive environment. The lack of it, I think, may be related to the recent problems.”

Shinzo Abe

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, wearing a red helmet, during a tour of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Photograph: AP

The radiation spill was the latest in a string of serious water and radiation leaks, which have raised fears over the workers’ state of mind – and Tepco‘s ability to continue the cleanup alone.

According to sources with knowledge of the plant and health professionals who make regular visits, the slew of bad news is sapping morale and causing concern, as the public and international community increase pressure on Japan to show demonstrable progress in cleaning up the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

“Very little has changed at Fukushima Daiichi in the past six months,” said Jun Shigemura, a lecturer in the psychiatry department at the National Defence Medical College who heads of a team of psychologists that counsels Fukushima plant workers. “Tepco is doing its best to improve matters, but you can see that the situation is severe.”

Shigemura is most concerned about the 70% of Tepco workers at Fukushima Daiichi who were also forced to evacuate their homes by the meltdown. They have yet to come to terms with that loss and many live away from their families in makeshift accommodation near the plant.

“They were traumatised by the tsunami and the reactor explosions and had no idea how much they had been irradiated,” Shigemura said. “That was the acute effect but now they are suffering from the chronic effects, such as depression, loss of motivation and issues with alcohol.”

Their anxiety is compounded by uncertainty over the future of their embattled employer. Tepco is coming under mounting pressure to resolve the worsening water crisis at Fukushima Daiichi, which recently prompted the government to step in with half a billion dollars (£312m) to help contain the build-up of toxic water.

Its ability to stem the water leaks by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympics in 2020 – as promised by Abe – could be hampered by a looming labour shortage.

As Tepco was reducing costs and attempting to calm public anger over its handling of the crisis, it imposed a 20% pay cut for all employees in 2011. From a total workforce of 37,000, 1,286 people left the firm, between April 2011 and June this year. The firm did not hire any employees in fiscal 2012 and 2013.

The utility plans to take on 331 employees next April, according to Mayumi Yoshida, a Tepco spokeswoman. “[The employment] system will change so it will be easier for talented employees to gain promotion and for unproductive employees to be demoted,” she said.

But there is little the firm can do about the departure of experienced workers, forced to leave after reaching their radiation exposure limit.

Tepco documents show that between March 2011 and July this year, 138 employees reached the 100-millisievert [mSv] threshold; another 331 had been exposed to between 75 mSv and 100 mSv, meaning their days at the plant are numbered. Those nearing their dose limit have reportedly been moved to other sites, or asked to take time off, so they can return to work at Fukushima Daiichi at a later date.

Some workers have left because of exhaustion and stress, while others have decided to find work closer to their displaced wives and children.

“They are less motivated and are worried about continuing to work for a firm that might not exist in a decade from now,” Shigemura said.

Tepco employees wait for a bus at J Village

Tepco employees wait for a bus at J Village, a football training complex now serving as an operation base for those battling Japan’s nuclear disaster. Photograph: Reuters

Workers who have stayed on do so in the knowledge that they risk damaging their health through prolonged exposure to radiation and in accidents of the kind that occurred this week.

Earlier this year, Tepco said that 1,973 workers, including those employed by contractors and subcontractors, had estimated thyroid radiation doses in excess of 100 mSv, the level at which many physicians agree the risk of developing cancer begins to rise.

“These workers may show a tiny increased risk of cancer over their lifetimes,” said Gerry Thomas, professor of molecular pathology at Imperial College, London University. “One hundred millisieverts is the dose we use as a cut-off to say we can see a significant effect on the cancer rate in very large epidemiology studies. The numbers have to be large because the individual increase is minuscule.”

But she added: “I would be far more worried about these workers smoking or feeling under stress due to the fear of what radiation might do to them. That is much more likely to have an effect on any person’s health.”

While Thomas and other experts have cautioned against reaching hasty conclusions about a possible rise in thyroid cancer among Fukushima Daiichi workers, there is little doubt that their punishing work schedule, performed under the international spotlight, is taking a toll on their health.

“I’m particularly worried about depression and alcoholism,” said Takeshi Tanigawa, a professor in the department of public health at Ehime University in western Japan. “I’ve seen high levels of physical distress and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Many of the casual labourers employed by subcontractors live in cheap accommodation in places such as Yumoto, a hot-spring resort south of the exclusion zone around the plant. The number of workers has declined in the past year amid complaints from hoteliers and inn-keepers about drink-fuelled fights. These days, more seem to prefer the bars and commercial sex establishments of nearby Onahama port.

A 42-year-old contract worker, who asked not be named, confirmed that alcohol abuse had become a problem among workers. “Lots of men I know drink heavily in the evening and come to work with the shakes the next day. I know of several who worked with hangovers during the summer and collapsed with heatstroke.”

“There isn’t much communication between workers. People want to look after number one. Newcomers are looked down on by their colleagues and some don’t really know how to do their jobs.”

Another worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had seen hungover colleagues collapse with heatstroke just minutes after beginning work.

Tokyo Electric Power Co's logo at its headquarters

Tepco’s logo at its headquarters in Tokyo. From a workforce of 37,000, 1,286 people left the firm between April 2011 and June this year. Photograph: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters

In the long term, Tepco and its partner companies will struggle to find enough people with specialist knowledge to see decommissioning through to the end, according to Yukiteru Naka, a retired engineer with General Electric who helped build some of Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors.

“There aren’t enough trained people at Fukushima Daiichi even now,” he said. “For Tepco, money is the top priority – nuclear technology and safety come second and third. That’s why the accident happened. The management insists on keeping the company going. They think about shareholders, bank lenders and the government, but not the people of Fukushima.”

Naka, who runs a firm in Iwaki, just south of Fukushima Daiichi, that provides technical assistance to Tepco, said the lack of expertise afflicts the utility and general contractors with a pivotal role in the cleanup.

“Most of their employees have no experience of working in conditions like these, and all the time their exposure to radiation is increasing,” he said. “I suggested to Tepco that it bring in retired workers who said they were willing to help, but the management refused.”

Faced with labour shortages and a string of accidents, Tepco has in recent weeks come under pressure to accept more specialist help from overseas. At the start of this month, Shinzo Abe told an international science conference in Kyoto: “My country needs your knowledge and expertise.”

But this apparent spirit of openness is unlikely to turn the decommissioning operation into a genuinely international effort, said Ian Fairlie, a London-based independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment. “Japanese officials ask for help, but Tepco and the government are not in the business of saying: ‘This is serious, please come and help us,'” he said.

Tepco’s unshakable belief in its ability to complete the decommissioning operation rules out any meaningful co-operation, even with Japanese government officials. “Tepco has always wanted to do its own thing,” said Akihiro Yoshikawa, a Tepco employee of 14 years who recently left the company. “It doesn’t want the government stepping in and telling it what to do; it just wants the government’s money.”

Yoshikawa said the spirit of resilience his former colleagues had displayed in the aftermath of the accident had turned to despondency amid mounting criticism at home and abroad, forcing younger workers to leave and older ones to take early retirement. “They felt like they were being bullied, even though they were putting their lives at risk,” he said.

“Tepco is spending its money on fixing the technical problems, but it also needs people to carry out that work. I’m very worried about the labour shortage. If they don’t do something about it soon, the employment system at Fukushima Daiichi will collapse first, not the plant.”

For the thousands of non-Tepco employees hired across Japan to perform backbreaking, dangerous work for contractors and subcontractors, the lure of earning decent money in return for working close to lethal levels of radiation has proved an illusion.

Once money for accommodation has been subtracted from their wages, labourers are typically left with a few thousand yen at the end of each day. In some cases, smaller companies withhold danger money, which can amount to more than half of a worker’s daily wage because, they say, they need the extra cash to keep their business afloat.

The poor pay has forced growing numbers of men to quit and take up jobs decontaminating the area around the plant, for which they can earn similar momey but with much less exposure to radiation.

“The real work at Fukushima Daiichi is being done by the general contractors, with the smaller companies picking up the crumbs,” Yoshikawa said. “They outbid each other for contracts and so end up with less money to pay their workers. They have no choice but to hire cheap labour.”

Conditions for Tepco workers living in J Village – a football training complex just south of Fukushima Daiichi – have only recently improved.

For two years after the disaster, those living in prefabricated units at J Village had to walk hundreds of metres to use communal toilets at night. Tepco belatedly installed private toilets earlier this year after the firm’s incoming president, Naomi Hirose, heeded health experts’ warnings that the lack of facilities was compromising employees’ health.

“The managers at Tepco headquarters have little idea of how their Fukushima Daiichi employees live,” said Tanigawa, the public health professor. “The company’s management is focused on the compensation problem and doesn’t want to be accused of only looking after its own when there are still evacuees who haven’t been compensated.”

But as concern grows over Tepco’s ability to address the myriad technical challenges facing Fukushima Daiichi – starting next month with the removal of 1,300 spent fuel assemblies from the top of reactor No 4 – the unfolding human crisis is being largely ignored.

There is still no full-time mental health counselling available at the plant, said Shigemura, whose team visits about once a month to talk to workers and administer pharmacological treatments. “That amazes me,” he said.

“Tepco workers worry about their health, but also about whether Tepco will take care of them if they fall ill in the future. They put their lives and their health on the line, but in the years to come, they wonder if they will just be discarded.”

Tepco forced to drain water overflow from typhoon at Fukushima plant — The Asahi Shimbun: here.

Takashi Hirose reminds us of radiation exposure to Fukushima residents: here.

Japanese government unable to persuade citizens of necessity of nuclear energy says former prime minister — Enformable Nuclear News: here.

Australian Prime Minister supports Japanese militarist revanchism


This video about Japan says about itself:

3 Oct 2013

About This Video: Each week Fairewinds receives many questions about the ongoing tragedy unfolding in Japan as a result of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Join us as Fairewinds’ Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen highlights the many problems facing Japan as he takes you on a tour of the Fukushima Daiichi site by combining satellite video, animated graphics and photos to create a comprehensive and easy to follow video tour.

So far, the Fukushima disaster. The Japanese government, with Shinzo Abe as its prime minister should concentrate all its efforts on stopping that disaster.

However, the Japanese government prefers to spend taxpayers’ money, officially intended for disaster relief, on subsidies for whaling. On still bigger profits for big corporations. And on revanchist militasrism, recalling the bloody days of World War II, when the Japanese empire were allies of Adolf Hitler.

Shinzo Abe unfortunately is not the only stupid politician (“stupid” for the people of Japan and the world; not that stupid for military-industrial complex corporations). Apparently, in Australia there is now a crony of Abe.

By Peter Symonds:

Australian PM embraces Japanese remilitarisation

14 October 2013

In the course of diplomatic summits held last week in Bali and Brunei, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott signalled his support for the resurgence of Japanese militarism under the right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Closer defence ties between US allies such as Japan and Australia are central to the Obama administration’s aggressive moves to contain China militarily, as part of the US “pivot to Asia.”

Abbott, whose Liberal-National Coalition defeated the previous Labor government in the September 7 election, met with Abe on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Brunei. Abbott proclaimed Japan to be Australia’s “closest friend in Asia,” emphasising that Japan was “a fellow member of the US alliance network.” He added: “As Japan puts the wounds and scars of World War II behind it … Japan is going to play a more important part and, dare I say it, a more normal part in the life of the world, and that’s encouraging.”

Abbott’s reference to Japan becoming a “normal” country has a definite meaning. Abe came to power last December after campaigning in the election for Japan to become “a strong nation” with a “strong military.” He has pledged to “normalise” the Japanese military by ending the constraints imposed by the country’s post-war constitution on engaging in “pre-emptive action” and “collective self-defence”—that is, forging military pacts to wage wars of aggression.

Since coming to office, Abe has boosted Japan’s military spending and taken a tough stance in the worsening territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku islands (known in China as Diaoyu). He has also sought to strengthen defence ties with South East Asian countries, including the Philippines. Responding to Abbott, Abe stressed the importance of the two countries’ relationship, and referred to Australia’s shared “strategic interests with Japan.” Abbott intends to visit Japan next year and has invited Abe to make a trip to Australia, including an address to the parliament.

Abbott’s embrace of Japan’s remilitarisation is underscored by his appointment of Andrew Shearer as one of his two foreign affairs advisers. Shearer functioned in the same role under former Coalition prime minister John Howard. In comments to the Australian, Latrobe University international relations professor Nick Bisley commented: “Andrew is very well connected in conservative circles in Japan. He is someone who is reasonably hawkish on China and a really strong supporter of Abe.”

Abbott’s orientation to Tokyo marks a stepping up of US-Japan-Australia defence arrangements. In 2007, the Howard government signed the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation with Japan to formalise closer strategic ties. Abe, who was Japan’s prime minister at the time, also proposed the formation of a “quadrilateral” defence arrangement involving the US, Japan, Australia and India. The proposal was effectively scuttled the following year by the incoming Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd, who was seeking to ease tensions with China.

Abe has effectively put the “quadrilateral” back on the agenda. In an essay, “Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond,” published last November before he became prime minister, Abe stated his intention to “expand the country’s strategic horizons.” He explained: “I envisage a strategy whereby Australia, India, Japan and the US state of Hawaii form a diamond to safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the western Pacific. I am prepared to invest, to the greatest possible extent, Japan’s capabilities in this security diamond.”

Abe’s plan for a “security diamond” is fully in line with the Obama administration’s “pivot,” within which Australia and Japan, as well as the US strategic partnership with India, are central to the military encirclement of China. Both Abe and Abbott held discussions with India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh in Brunei over closer military ties. Arriving back in Darwin, Australia last Friday, Abbott promised to provide the infrastructure necessary to base a full 2,500-strong US Marine Air Ground Task Force in the Northern Territory by 2016.

Like Australia, the US is pressing Japan to circumvent or amend its constitution to allow for fully fledged military alliances. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel met with their Japanese counterparts on October 3 and outlined a major build-up of sophisticated US military hardware in Japan. The following day Kerry met with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Bali as part of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) between the three countries.

In a pointed reference to China and the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, the TSD statement declared: “Ministers opposed any coercive or unilateral actions that could change the status quo in the East China Sea.” Over the past year, Chinese maritime surveillance vessels and planes have been challenging Japanese claims over the islands, leading to potentially dangerous clashes with Japan’s military. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded last week by warning: “The US, Japan and Australia are allies but this should not become an excuse to interfere in territorial disputes.”

Beijing’s critical comments only highlight the fundamental dilemma confronting the Australian political establishment as a whole: while strategically reliant on its military alliance with the US, Australian capitalism is heavily economically dependent on China, its largest trade partner. Even as Abbott indicated his government’s support for the US “pivot” and Japanese remilitarisation, he announced his intention to finalise a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China, as well as Japan and South Korea, within a year.

Abbott’s push for new agreements to boost Australian exports is driven by a sharp economic downturn as the Chinese economy slows and the Australian mineral export boom collapses. All three trade deals are fraught with difficulties, not least on the issue of foreign investment in Australia, which has provoked opposition from Abbott’s Coalition partner, the National Party. China, South Korea and Japan are all likely to demand a lifting of the threshold that would trigger Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) screening of an investment deal to $1 billion—the figure contained in the Australia-US FTA.

Trade negotiations with China have already dragged on since 2005 without resolution. Now Abbott expects to obtain a FTA agreement with Beijing when his government is accelerating Australia’s military engagement with Japan and the US that is transparently directed against China. This precarious balancing act can rapidly come undone as the Obama administration presses ahead with its military build-up in Asia that has inflamed dangerous regional flashpoints, threatening to draw in not only the US but allies such as Australia.

Japan and Australia agreed on a free-trade deal yesterday that both sides claim will yield windfalls for their economies: here.

Abe’s stance on the Senkaku islands is part of a broader strategy to reassert Japanese imperialism’s interests throughout the region: here.

Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe, a Nobel laureate, has called on the Japanese government to reflect on its view of history and stop creating a “vicious cycle” on the Diaoyu Islands issue: here.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government unveiled new 10-year National Defence Guidelines and the country’s first National Security Strategy last Wednesday. They outline a drive to strengthen the US-Japan alliance, expand Japan’s military buildup in its southwestern maritime region facing China and build Japan’s own network of alliances: here.

THE Japanese government, ignoring yet again its own constitution, which bans Japan having aggressive military forces, has approved a new national security strategy, and increased defence spending to strengthen its anti-China alliance with the US: here.

The East China Sea dispute evolved into a crisis as the US encouraged Japan’s intransigence rather than seeking a peaceful resolution, writes JENNY CLEGG: here.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit yesterday to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to the country’s war dead is another provocative step towards the revival of Japanese militarism that has exacerbated already sharp regional tensions. China and South Korea, which were both subject to Japan’s brutal wartime rule, immediately condemned the visit—the first by an incumbent prime minister since Junichiro Koizumi went to the shrine in 2006: here.

A four-day visit by Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera to India this week underscored moves by Tokyo to integrate New Delhi into a US-led strategic alliance against China. Amid Japan’s territorial dispute and growing tensions with Beijing, Japan’s government is pushing for closer military ties with India, another country with unresolved border conflicts with China: here.

Japanese Prime Minister ‘lying’ on Fukushima disaster


This video says about itself:

Nuclear Engineer: Japan’s PM “Lying to the Japanese People” About Safety of Fukushima

1 October 2013

Arnie Gundersen: Japan’s PM claims Fukushima is safe, but the nuclear disaster is underfunded and lacks transparency, causing the public to remain in the dark.

Japanese taxpayers’ money for wars, instead of Fukushima disaster cleanup?


This video says about itself:

Major challenges ahead for Japan’s Fukushima

13 Sep 2013

Only days ago the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the world that the Fukushima nuclear power plant would not pose a threat to staging the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. But according to the man charged with ensuring the safety of the clean-up at the damaged plant, the situation is not under control. Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane reports.

By John Watanabe:

Japanese defence ministry calls for substantial budget increase

25 September 2013

Japan’s defence ministry has requested a 3 percent increase in its 2014 budget, the largest rise in 22 years, to 4.82 trillion yen ($48.97 billion). The increased budget is in line with the turn by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to the remilitarisation of Japan following its return to office in December.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe campaigned on the basis of making Japan “a strong nation” with “a strong military,” including the revision of the country’s so-called pacifist constitution to allow Tokyo to once again use the military to advance Japan’s imperialist interests. The latest request for a higher defence budget comes on top of an increase in military spending earlier this year.

The focus of the spending increases is to boost air and naval capacities, as Japan is locked in a dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. “In order to respond effectively to attacks on islands, it is indispensable to securely maintain superiority in the air as well as on the sea,” the defence ministry’s release stated.

Defence minister Itsunori Onodera declared that Japan could not afford to be complacent over “significant security issues in the region” and had to counter a “more assertive Chinese military amid territorial disputes.” Finance Minister Taro Aso also stated in a recent speech that higher military spending would be “a clear signal of our determination to defend the Senkaku Islands.”

Already, the Abe government has dangerously escalated the physical confrontation with China over the disputed islets. The latest incidents involved scrambling fighters against Chinese bombers and a drone that appeared in the vicinity around September 11, the anniversary of Japan’s provocative “nationalisation” of the islands in 2012. Last week, Abe’s cabinet went further, threatening to shoot down any Chinese drone that entered Japanese airspace.

The guidelines for the expanded military budget were outlined in the National Defence Program Guidelines interim report released in July. It recommended that the military develop “preemptive strike capability.” This “preemptive” capacity was justified in the name of “self-defence”—in an effort not to openly breach the constitution’s “pacifist clause.”

Part of the increased spending is to study acquiring unmanned drones and tilt-rotor aircraft, with actual purchases planned for the following year. In other words, the defence budget will continue to grow in the coming years.

The Japanese military is particularly interested in American-made vertical takeoff, tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey transport planes to provide for the rapid forward deployment of troops, including to remote islands. The defence ministry is planning to acquire an undisclosed number of these aircraft at 10 billion yen ($US101 million) apiece.

During an 18-day joint drill with the US to improve the Japanese military’s amphibious capabilities, an Osprey landed on a Japanese navy ship in June. Next month, the US Marine Corps will use the Osprey, 23 of which are deployed in Okinawa, in joint exercises in western and southern Japan.

Japan launched the first of two 27,000-tonne helicopter carriers, Izumo, last month. Although officially a “helicopter destroyer,” it is larger than the aircraft carriers of the Italian and Indian navies and can base vertical takeoff aircraft such as the Osprey.

None of the expanded spending has included the ordering of 42 F-35A stealth fighters from the US at a total cost of $10 billion, to ensure that Japan possesses air superiority over the fighters used by China or Russia. The Japanese government is also considering buying Global Hawk unmanned drones to strengthen maritime surveillance.

The government is further boosting the Japanese Coast Guard, which is not part of the defence ministry, in order to step up patrols around the Senkakus. A request for a 13 percent increase in funding to 196.3 billion yen has been made for the next fiscal year in order to build new patrol ships and boost the staff by 528 people—the largest expansion in decades.

As part of its military build-up in Asia against China, the Obama administration has encouraged Japan to take a more aggressive stance toward Beijing and assume “greater responsibility” in the US-Japan alliance. All Japan’s military purchases complement the Pentagon’s “Air/Sea Battle” doctrine for war against China, which includes devastating air attacks on the Chinese mainland, as well as a naval blockade of vital shipping lanes. Japan already provides $2 billion annually to finance the dozens of US bases in the country, including the Seventh Fleet based in Yokosuka.

Like Washington, the Abe government views a strong military as a means for offsetting the country’s economic decline. China overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy in 2010, and this had definite strategic implications. In 1995, Japan’s military spending was seven times higher than that of China. Now China’s is 2.5 times that of Japan.

Tokyo’s higher military spending will mean further inroads into the living standards of the working class, which will be forced to foot the bill. Public debt surpassed 1 quadrillion yen at the end of June for the first time, or $US10.46 trillion—the result of two decades of stagnation and failed stimulus spending. The debt level is more than twice Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Abe is seeking to double the country’s regressive sales tax to 10 percent over the next two years, and impose welfare cuts of 6.5 percent over the next three years. At the same time, the Bank of Japan is pumping money into the coffers of the banks and financial institutions to the tune of 70 trillion yen ($700 billion) annually. The resulting devaluation of the yen has boosted exports, but is also raising trade tensions, particularly with South Korea and China.

The government’s austerity measures and remilitarisation will provoke public opposition. The decision by Abe’s mentor—former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi—to dispatch troops in 2004 to boost the US occupation of Iraq provoked mass anti-war protests. Abe’s ambition to build Japan’s military might well lead to a much broader confrontation with the working class.

Japan Sales Tax to Increase Next Year, Abe Says: here.

Fukushima disaster and Japan’s Prime Minister


This video is about the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

From the Asahi Shimbun daily in Japan:

Editorial: Abe should confront the reality of Fukushima radiation leaks

September 22, 2013

“In the wee hours of Sept. 20, a strong earthquake measuring a 5-plus on the Japanese seismic scale struck Fukushima Prefecture. Its epicenter was in the Hamadori area in the eastern part of the prefecture, where the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is located.

Even though it caused no damage to the some 1,000 storage tanks within the plant that are filled with radioactive water, the quake must have given many people a chill.

On the previous day, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the crippled plant and reiterated his view about the effects of contaminated water, saying they had been “completely blocked” within a certain range.

But he is overoptimistic if he really believes what he said about the problem.

He needs to appreciate the seriousness of the situation and make an all-out effort to prevent unforeseen disasters like massive leaks of contaminated water.

Symbolical of Abe’s unwarranted optimism about what is going on at the plant is his claim that the situation is “under control.”

He made the remark earlier this month in his presentation at a session of the International Olympics Committee, which helped Tokyo to be chosen as the host city for the 2020 Summer Games. After his statement was reported around the world, however, a senior executive of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima plant, rebutted his argument, saying the situation was not under control.

During the International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual general conference meeting held on Sept. 16-20 in Vienna, representatives of many countries raised questions about Abe’s statement. China, for instance, voiced strong concerns about how things stand at the Fukushima complex. … “

Read complete article here.

Lessons to be learned from Chernobyl: Interview with Chernobyl scholar Mary Mycio: here.

Fukushima disaster continues


This video about Japan says about itself:

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe Tosses Out Japan Nuclear Energy Phase Out Policy | Profit Chosen Over People

Dec 28, 2012

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has totally rejected Japan`s nuclear phase out policy in favor of profit and economic growth at all cost.

Abe mum on plan for contaminated water crisis — The Japan Times: here.

The Crisis at Fukushima 4 — Counterpunch: here.

Fukushima forever — The Huffington Post: here.