Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kyoto Journal: "Fresh Currents" now available online

"Fresh Currents"--on Japan's renewable energy technologies

We are delighted to announce that our brand-new Kyoto Journal/Heian-Kyo Media publication, "Fresh Currents," is now available, here:

It can be downloaded without any password, and it's free!
We hope that you find it of interest, and will be motivated to pass it around widely.

Below, we provide cover letters in English and Japanese, for convenience in forwarding.


To concerned individuals everywhere:

Please download your complimentary digital copy of *Fresh
Currents,* our book on Fukushima and Japan's energy future, HERE:

We now stand at a critical watershed for Japan and the world ― will we choose to revert to the dangerous, costly and centrally-controlled industry of nuclear power, rely on the CO2-producing fuels of oil and coal, or embrace the exciting new possibilities of decentralized renewable energy technologies?

Living only 60 kilometers from the Oi nuclear power plants (reopened in June amidst growing protests across the country), we felt compelled to add something positive to the growing movement towards a sustainable energy future. *Fresh Currents* was put together from a network of writers associated with *Kyoto Journal,* an NPO based in Kyoto that has been publishing in print and digitally for over 25 years.

This book would not have been possible without the kind donations of people who visited our Indiegogo campaign or the incredibly hard work of all the volunteer writers, translators, photographers, designers and illustrators. We deeply thank everyone who has been or who will be a part of our project!

A print edition will be available at the end of September (¥2000).

Look for Fresh Currents & Kyoto Journal on Facebook

Translation by Yukiko Naito


以下のサイトから、フクシマと日本のエネルギーの将来に関する私たちの本「Fresh Currents (新たな潮流)」の補足版をダウンロードして下さい。



Currents (新たな潮流)」の企画は、Kyoto Journal(京都ジャーナル)---25年以上前から印刷版と電子版を出版する京都を拠点とする



「Fresh Currents (新たな潮流)」のプロジェクトでは、あなたにご協力頂きたい四つのことがあります:

・ フィードバック(ご意見、ご講評)を下さい! あなたが特に有益だと思われたテキスト(文書)をお知らせ下さい。

・ この「Fresh Currents (新たな潮流)」のPDF


・ 私たちは、日本の出版社を捜しています。この件についてご提案、あるいは、ご助言を頂ければ幸いです。

・ 原子力、フクシマ、そして、再生可能エネルギー技術に関するフィルムの上映を京都で行いたいと思っています。お気に入りのお薦めフィルムがおありですか?


Heartwork Editor:Jennifer Teeter:


Fresh Currentsチーム

フェイスブックでFresh CurrentsとKyoto Journalをご覧下さい。



・ マイクル・シュナイダーの提言:我々はどのようにしてフクシマに応える必要があるか

・ 日本における原子力の歴史**

・ 東北の魂**

・ 日本のメディアにおける原発レポート**

・ 認められなければならないもの**


・ *アイリーン・スミス、硬直した政治体制の矛盾を語る***

・ *あなた自身のエネルギーを増やそう***

・ *2012年の再生エネルギー状況報告***

・ *2050年における日本の再生エネルギー風景のビジョン***

・ *日本の固定価格買い取り制度に関するガイド***

・ *再生可能エネルギーと将来を展望するビジネスモデル***

・ *積極的に関与する仏教***

Mayors for a Nuclear Power Free Japan Urge Noda Government to open a Real Public Debate

Press Conference: 31 July, 2012 (Tuesday) 14:30 – 15:15

Place: Diet Members' No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House, No. 2 Conference Room

Speakers - Mayors for a Nuclear Power Free Japan:

Murakami Tatsuya (Mayor of Tokai Village, Co-Initiator)
Sakurai Katsunobu (Mayor of Minamisoma City, Co-Initiator)
Uehara Hiroko (Former Mayor of Kunitachi City, Secretary General)

International Speakers:

Seo Hyeong-won (Councilor, Gwacheon City Council, Member of Steering Committee of Green Party Korea)
Baerbel Hoehn (Vice Chair, Alliance '90/Greens Parliamentary group)

Statements of Support:

Mayors for Alternative Energy and Nuclear Free World, Korea
Ms Ulli Sima, Executive City Councillor for Environment of Vienna

Language: Press Conference will be held in Japanese, with English interpretation available.

About Mayors for a Nuclear Power Free Japan

The “Mayors for a Nuclear Power Free Japan” network was officially launched in Tokyo on April 28, 2012. This network was initiated by mayors and local municipal leaders attending the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World held in Yokohama in January 2012. As at July 2012, 77 mayors from 36 prefectures (of a total of 47) throughout Japan have declared their participation in this network.

For more information including members, past resolutions and statements, visit their site:

“Mayors for a Nuclear Power Free Japan” Office: Nohira, Ochi
Tel: 03-6851-9791 Fax: 03-3363-7562
Mobile: 090-6015-6820 Email:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kjeld Duits: Video of 7.29 Human Chain in Tokyo (annotated, with English subtitles)

On July 29, 2012, tens of thousands of anti nuclear power protesters formed a human chain around Japan's parliament building in Nagatacho, Tokyo. The police attempted to herd them into a narrow strip, but this naturally backfired. See how the events evolved in this annotated video clip.

7.29: Nuclear-Free activists completely surround the Diet Buiilding in Tokyo; turn police barricades into "ribbon of light"

(Photo: Asahi)

(Photo: Ajisai)

(Photo: Yoshiteru Hayashi)

(Filmmaker John Junkerman: It was wonderful to see it,
how they turned the police barrier into a ribbon of light.
Photo: Shin Inoue)

★7.29 Human Chain Action Against The Diet Building For A Nuclear Free World

Via Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes (anti-nuclear coalition organized by residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area):

Human Chain Action
Date: July 29, 2012 (Sun)
16:30 Departure: 15:30 Demo: Start Rally
19:00: Surrounding the National Assembly (Candlelight rally)
Meeting place: Hibiya Park Nakasaiwai gate

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Green Party 「緑の党」will be officially established today, July 28 2012, in Tokyo!

Via Greens Japan:
The Green Party 「緑の党」will be officially established this Saturday, July 28th in Tokyo.

Then on Sunday, July 29th, there will be a Kick-Off Event with various speakers.

 東京都千代田区猿楽町2-5-5 TEL 03-3233-0611 (JR水道橋駅徒歩5分)

【7/29(日)キックオフ!イベント 希望の未来をつかもう!】
 会場:星陵会館 東京都千代田区永田町2-16-2 TEL 03-3581-5650
 (東京メトロ有楽町・半蔵門線・南北線「永田町駅」6番出口 徒歩3分
  /東京メトロ千代田線「国会議事堂前駅」5番出口 徒歩5分)

For more information: Greens Japan

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"No Osprey!" - An English message to the Ryukyu Shimpo

Rally against MV22 "Osprey", June 17, 2012, US Marine Corps Futenma Air Base, Okinawa.
「世界一危険な基地」普天間基地への日米両政府による「自爆ヘリ」オスプレイ配備反対宜野湾市民集会。(Photo: Makoto Arakaki)
An English message to the Ryukyu Shimpo (Ryukyu Newspaper)

by Reiko Kiyuna

The most important mission of the government is to protect its own people. But, what the Japanese government is about to promote is bringing the dangerous Osprey to Okinawa.

Even though we are demanding that the Osprey not be deployed here, the government insists.

Isn’t this a kind of rape, a forceful violation against the will of the people, of our consent in this democracy?

All media never fail to tell us that we are threatened by North Korea and China. But, I think the immediate threat is right in front of us from both our national government in Tokyo and from the United States.

Those governments are not trying to understand Okinawa people’s grief and frustration.

We don’t want to hear any more explanations about the supposed necessity of the Osprey on this island. The occupiers do not need to try to prove anymore that this aircraft is safe. The evidence is clear that it isn’t safe. Many crashes prove that it is a danger.

I’ve thought about what I can do to show my anger and resentment for not being heard in my everyday life.

I can express my feelings on my own car. I can drive my car with the stickers that communicate the message that is apparently not getting through to politicians and to the military.

I hope that all cars in Okinawa wear this sticker and fill the streets, roads, and expressway with the message that we want to be heard. “No Osprey!”

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Takae under V-22 Osprey helipad construction siege, despite 1996 promise to return forest (used by US for weapons testing & war training) to Okinawa

Takae residents block a military construction truck on July 20, 2012. 
(Photo: Takae Blog)

Encompassing 64,000 acres of mountainous land in northern Okinawa, Yanbaru subtropical rainforest is home to 4,000 species of wildlife, including many endemic endangered species. Yanbaru provides Okinawa with the majority of its drinking water. Because of its ecological significance and biodiversity, Yanbaru is slated for recognition as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site.

Tragically, the subtropical rainforest of Yambaru, an ecoregion that includes Henoko's coral reef and dugong ecosystem, has endured a battle for survival since 1957, when the US military seized vast acreage to create a "jungle warfare" training ground to prepare American soldiers to fight for "democracy" in Southeast Asia.

During the Vietnam War, the US used Yanbaru to practice "jungle" war games and to test Agent Orange. More recently, the US has been using the delicate subtropical rainforest as a site for low-level helicopter and V-22 Osprey aircraft  flight practice for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the Vietnam War years, residents of Takae, an eco-village in Yambaru, were made to dress like "Viet Cong" to make US warfare training more realistic. Even with the end of the Vietnam War, the American soldiers never left; instead, their next target appeared Takae itself.

Since 2007, residents of Takae, have been protesting US insistence upon the forced destruction of some of the best preserved part of the forest (adjacent to their village) to make way for US military V-22 Osprey aircraft training helipads.

Japan-based Welsh journalist Jon Mitchell wrote about the Takae residents' struggle in "Postcard from...Takae," in an Oct. 5. 2010 article at  Foreign Policy in Focus:
The residents of Takae, a small village in the hills of northern Okinawa, are no strangers to the American military. Since 1957, they’ve been living next to the world’s largest jungle warfare training center - and many of them are old enough to remember the days when the U.S. Marine Corps hired locals to dress up as Vietcong for its war games.

The 1996 Special Action Committee on Okinawa was supposed to reduce the U.S. presence in the area. Convened to quell public fury over the rape of a 12-year old girl, it pledged to return large swathes of military land to Okinawan residents - including over half of the jungle training center. As the months passed, however, the promise failed to materialize. Even when a Marine helicopter crashed near Takae’s elementary school in 1999, the daily bombing runs and roof-high helicopter sorties continued unabated.

Then, in 2006, the U.S. military made an announcement. Before returning the territory, it first wanted to build six new [V-22 Osprey aircraft] helipads on the land it was retaining on the outskirts of the village. The residents repeatedly lodged complaints with the prefectural and national governments, but they were ignored. In 2007, construction crews from the Okinawa Defense Bureau arrived to start laying the foundations for the 250-foot helipads. Takae’s villagers were waiting for them. They linked arms to block the gates to the worksite, they surrounded the trucks and appealed to the builders to stop their work. When they refused to listen, the protesters sat in the way of their heavy machinery. But the crews continued to unload bags of cement over their heads. Only when the police arrived did construction stop out of concern for public safety.

Since that day, over 10,000 locals, mainland Japanese, and foreign nationals have participated in a non-stop sit-in outside the planned helipad sites. So far, they’ve managed to thwart any further construction attempts. At small marquee tents, the villagers greet visitors with cups of tea and talk them through their campaign, highlighting their message with hand-written leaflets and water-stained maps...
Washington, D.C.-based foreign policy analyst John Feffer followed up in "Okinawans continue to resist in Takae" published at HuffPost on Feb. 25, 2011:
Some animals should be endangered. Consider the V-22 Osprey. The tilt-rotor aircraft, which takes off like a helicopter but flies like a plane, costs more than a $100 million apiece, killed 30 personnel in crashes during its development stage, and survived four attempts by none other than Dick Cheney to deep-six the program. Although it is no longer as crash-prone as it once was, the Osprey's performance in Iraq was still sub-par and it remains a woefully expensive creature. Although canceling the program would save the U.S. government $10-12 billion over the next decade, the Osprey somehow avoided the budget axe in the latest round of cuts on Capitol Hill.

It's bad enough that U.S. taxpayers have to continue to support the care and feeding of this particular Osprey. Worse, we're inflicting the bird on others.

In a small village in the Yanbaru Forest in northern Okinawa, the residents of Takae have been fighting non-stop to prevent the construction of six helipads designed specifically for the V-22. The protests have been going on since the day in 2007 when Japanese construction crews tried to prepare the site for the helipads.
Tokyo's forced subtropical rainforest destruction and military construction on behalf of the US military V-22 Osprey testing and flight training program began again in early 2012; then stopped during the spring because of local community disapproval and widespread protest.

However, the Japanese government has submitted to the Obama administration's insistence on using Okinawa as a training ground for US military V-22 Osprey  (and mainland Japan, including Tohoku) despite increasing opposition over public security and environmental degradation. Okinawans are angry that Washington refuses to give them the same consideration as accorded to Colorado residents who put a stop to V-22 Osprey flight testing and training in their backyards, citing similar concerns of safety, noise, and pollution.

See more information on Yanbaru here and at the Takae blog (in Japanese).

See this post about the plan to test/flight train V-22 Osprey throughout mainland Japan and Okinawa.

Japanese Protesters to V-22 Osprey Aircraft: "Go Back to America!"

(Photo: AFP, via PressTV)

"Go Back to America!" - On Sunday, more than 1,000 Japanese demonstrators demonstrated outside Iwakuni (US Marine mega-base located on the Inland Sea, a little south of Hiroshima), protesting proposed deployment (low altitude testing & flight training) of the V-22 Osprey aircraft.

Read more about this weekend's protests at Press TV, The Japan Daily Press (Adam Westlake hits the gist of the matter - Tokyo's disregard of community responses to what happens in their backyards [even when public security, environmental protection and democratic process are at stake]) and The Japan Times: "Ospreys reach Iwakuni; protest held" (Eric Johnston's, as usual, thorough analysis):
..After being assembled and test-flown at Iwakuni, the Osprey are expected to relocate to Okinawa in early October. But 41 towns and villages in Okinawa, as well as the prefectural assembly and governor, have formally opposed the deployment, making that schedule politically troublesome. The Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly also opposes the odd-looking aircraft, which can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like a plane.

In a further setback for Tokyo's hopes for an early deployment, the National Governors' Association passed a resolution Friday opposing the move...

In Iwakuni Monday, protesters said Noda faces a clear political crisis over the Osprey deployment but noted the issue needs to be seen in a larger context.

"Opposition to the Ospreys is a continuation of the Ajisai (hydrangea) Revolution, the anger people feel and the protests over nuclear power that have been taking place in Tokyo and elsewhere all summer," said Kyoko Taniguchi, a protester from Hiroshima.

Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda said Iwakuni's "forced acceptance" of the Ospreys without convincing the public of their safety or receiving a final U.S. report on the two recent accidents, due next month, has only fueled local anger.
Despite concerns expressed by the Japanese government and opposition by local government officials in Kyushu and Okinawa as well as ordinary citizens, the U.S. Marines want to push through a plan to test/flight training V-22 Osprey aircraft throughout Okinawa and much of the Japanese mainland, according to Kosuke Takahashi in US Marines eye Japan as a training yard" at The Asia Times:

(Map: The Asia Times)

The Japan Times (via Kyodo) reported that the US Marines want to test and train at very low altitudes (less than 60 meters):
U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys may fly at as low as 60 meters above ground during training across various areas in Japan after they become mission-operational, according to documents and other information..

How high the aircraft fly during low-altitude training along six routes covering parts of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu was specified in a document attached to a report by the U.S. military on the environmental impact of Osprey operations in Japan. It is believed the Futenma Ospreys will stage their mainland drills from the Iwakuni base.

The report says the aircraft will fly an average of 150 meters above ground. But an accompanying document says the Ospreys will sometimes fly at about 60 meters except between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., when the minimum will be about 150 meters.
Colorado residents who formed Peaceful Skies Coalition in 2010 stopped proposed Low Altitude Training Area (LATA) military training flights over the skies of New Mexico and Colorado. They were concerned about flight altitudes at 300 feet (about 90 meters):
The low-altitude flight training exercises would have involved training exercises performed at altitudes as low as 300 feet above the ground and generated significant concern among local residents and Colorado military units that also use the airspace.

[Senator] Udall, along with Sen. Michael Bennet, wrote to the Air Force to request more consultation with local and state agencies, citing concerns about impacts wilderness areas, wildlife and even ski resorts.
The Asahi's "Objections raised over U.S. plan for Osprey flights outside Okinawa" details the proposed V-22 low-level (60-150 meters) test/flight training routes, which according to this map, include urban and highly sensitive natural landscapes.

Objections to the Osprey deployment are now being heard in other prefectures following the Defense Ministry’s release on June 13 of an environmental assessment report submitted by the U.S. Marine Corps. It showed that the U.S. military is planning low-altitude Osprey training flights on Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.

The report--the first time the U.S. military has admitted it was planning low-altitude training flights in Japan--showed six different flight routes named by different colors.

Three routes are planned for mountainous areas of the Tohoku and Shinetsu regions of Honshu. One planned route extends from Shikoku to the Kii Peninsula of Honshu, while the other two routes are over Kyushu and the Amami islands between Kyushu and Okinawa.

The report states that flight and tactical training exercises involving the Osprey would bring the aircraft as low as about 150 meters [actually 60 meters] above ground.

Over the course of a year, 330 training flights are planned for the six routes, with about one-third of them taking place between late afternoon and night, according to the report.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rose Welsch: Faces behind the 7.16.12 100,000+ Nuclear-Free Rally in Tokyo

Many thanks to Rose Welsch of Peace Boat, Global Article 9 Campaign and US for Okinawa for sharing these great photos from the 7.16.12 "Sayonara Nukes" rally in Tokyo and for cutting through to the crux of the issue: people in Japan and everywhere want to live democratically, by government "of the people, for the people, and by the people." In Japan and other nuclear nations, this means living without the threat of being nuked by their own nations' nuclear plants.

170,000 people gathered at the event,
including this character, who depicted an "Imperial Nuclear Japan."

Great atmosphere here at the event!
Really interesting booths, speakers and musicians.

Famous Japanese musician SUGIZO joined the event today
and gave a fantastic speech about the need to reclaim Japan
from those steering it down a dangerous course.

Yukawa Reiko, a famous songwriter and music specialist in Japan, joined today's event.
Upcoming and mid-level artists are often silenced in Japan
if they take a stand against nuclear energy,but people like Yukawa are undeterred.

These young people held up photographs of the domesticated animals
such as cows, dogs, cats that were left behind in the Fukushima evacuation zone
and have starved to death or are on their last legs. Their sign asks us to remember all the creatures besides humans who have been victimized by nuclear energy.

"The Government of the people, by the people, for the people."
This quote in English included in a Japanese newspaper article about widespread opposition
to the restart of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors caught my eye today.
From Japan to the US, from Canada to Egypt, isn't this basically what people are calling for?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ragukaki: Contemporary Music for Koto & Shakuhachi - "dedicated to the pursuit of Beauty and Life on this planet"

This gorgeous collection "dedicated to the pursuit of Beauty and Life on this planet" by Kim Oswalt and Helen Dryz is available for online listening.

Includes "Gymnopédies" by late 19th-century French composer Erik Satie, two compositions by the late Katsutoshi Nagasawa, and three compositions by the late Minoru Miki, who believed music can serve as an elevating and bridging force for humanity:
In a world powered by military muscle and crass materialism, music and the fine arts may seem weak and ineffectual, but they provide a way to raise consciousness and reverse the march toward increasing violence and intolerance.

"With music," Miki said, "we hope to lead the way in place of leaders who cannot be trusted."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mayor of Futaba asks PM Noda why SPEEDI nuclear radiation info was not released to residents of Fukushima

Moving testimony by Mr. Idogawa, mayor of Futaba, where Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant is located. Mr. Idogawa testified that the day of Unit 1's explosion, the Japanese government did not announce SPEEDI data regarding levels of nuclear radiation, so Futaba's residents evacuated northwest, to an area with even higher levels of nuclear radiation (because of wind drifts) than their town. Many citizens of Futaba were exposed to these higher levels of radiation including children.

Senator Masako Mori also severely questioned to Prime Minister Noda about Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant's accident.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

170,000 passionately take to Tokyo streets for Sayonara Nukes Rally: “We HAVE made change! Now, it’s time to take it to the next level."

Aerial view of Monday's demonstration

I have been fortunate enough to take part in many vibrant demonstrations calling for social change in such areas as peace, clean energy and other justice-related causes in various cities around the world for years. Here in Tokyo, Japan, where I have lived for the past decade, I have felt the demonstrations against nuclear power following last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster growing steadily. Nothing, however, compares to the size and intensity of yesterday’s Sayonara Nukes Rally, held in and around the city’s Yoyogi Park.

Deciding to take advantage of the summer sun by biking to the event, I understood that this demonstration was going to be different as soon as I approached police officers stationed more than a kilometer outside the park, followed soon thereafter by endless throngs of people clamoring to enter the demonstration grounds from all sides. Although the scene was familiar—event-goers of all ages waving placards, playing instruments, and shouting out various messages—the sheer immensity of the scale was absolutely unlike anything I had ever before experienced. The event had been extremely well-organized, catering to the many different demographics of protesters by arranging different marching contingents for the three major categories of attendees that were expected to attend: leftist labor groups, Gensuikyo and other anti-nuclear organizations, and NGOs/grassroots groups together with individual citizens—the latter of which constituted the newest historical element to protest culture in Japan. There was something here for everyone, and the combined energy felt vibrant, palpable—unstoppable.

The journey to the park (and adventure trying to find a space for my bike) took quite a bit longer than I had anticipated, and I ended up missing the first part of the day’s program, including speeches from numerous figures including musician/activist Ryuichi Sakamoto, author/nun Setouchi Jakucho, and performing artist/human rights activist Kaori Kanda, whose work I had become familiar with at a 2010 event. No matter, however; the day was just beginning, and there was plenty more to take in.

After swimming my way through the crowds, I was finally able to join members of the Namida Project to set off on the demonstration route through the streets of Shibuya. Needing more hands for our banners, we befriended a woman along the way who said she had never before attended a demonstration, but was moved to do so when thinking about the future for her two year-old daughter—a typical story I had heard many times during other post-3.11 demonstrations.

Marching with members of the Namida Project carrying a banner designed by Crystal Uchino,
author of the poignant essay, "Rise like Tsunamis after the Earthquakes"

Shortly thereafter, I had to turn back to meet up with a student of mine whom I had missed earlier in the park. The timing turned out to be perfect, since just as I returned to the event grounds, I heard wafting through the warm breeze the now-familiar guitar refrains from “Human Error”—the epic song from Kyoto-based band Frying Dutchman that had become the voice of the anti-nuclear movement following the 3.11 disaster. This was the song that had changed the views held by many of my previously pro-nuclear students, and I had been wanting badly to see it performed live. To do so here, surrounded by the powerful energy of the Sayonara Nukes rally, was beyond incredible. (Someone called my iPhone midway through, cutting off the filming. My apologies...)

I headed next to the other main stage, where another series of speakers were in the midst of delivering rousing speeches regarding the historical moment now taking place in Japan. I was pleased to see that Nobuto Hosaka—the mayor of Setagaya ward, where I just recently moved, and a staunch opponent of nuclear power—onstage discussing the Transition Setagaya movement (part of the global Transition Network), as well as Japan’s need for implementation of a “zero nuclear” policy. He was followed by Hiroko Uehara, former mayor of Kunitachi City, who minced no words in saying that the reason why the Ohi reactor was restarted boiled down to economics, pure and simple. “There is immense money to be made from nuclear power, and the nuclear mafia will not give up easily,” she said, “but the power is in our hands. If citizens raise their voices and pressure their local lawmakers to take up this issue at the national meeting of city mayors, we CAN make change!”

The need for political change was strongly echoed by Hajime Matsumoto, the owner of a recycled goods shop in Tokyo’s Koenji district, who successfully organized a large-scale anti-nuclear demonstration last April—mostly by word-of-mouth and social networking sites such as Twitter. “The attitude of this governmental administration following the Fukushima crisis has been beyond contemptible,” he alleged. “When citizens are demanding and pleading with regard to a specific issue—in this case the restart of the Ohi nuclear reactor—any respectable government would take some notice. Not these bastards, who just went right ahead and did what served them. Truly, it’s time for citizens to take back our country.”

Link Hajime Matsumoto

Taro Yamamoto, the actor who lost work over his vocal anti-nuclear stance following 3.11, took the stage next and voiced his deep emotion at viewing the crowds of attendees from the chartered helicopter flying above the crowd—an initiative spearheaded by author Takashi Hirose and funded by the Johnan Shinkin Bank, which had begun weeks earlier in order to ensure media coverage of the weekly demonstrations outside the Prime Minister’s residence. “Honestly speaking, I had been losing hope that we as individuals would be able to make change. But when I saw the endless sea of people extending out from the park in all directions, I realized I was wrong: We HAVE made change,” he said impassionedly. “Now, we must take this to the next level. Politicians must know that if they do not respond to the peoples’ wishes, their jobs are finished.”

“The world is watching to see Japan’s next moves regarding nuclear power, which will reveal whether or now we have learned from the pain of the Fukushima nuclear accident,” said Akira Kawasaki from the Peace Boat NGO, director of the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power-Free World held in Yokohama in January. “This is truly a pivotal moment in history.”


The New York Times has a good article on the demonstration, and this Daily Kos had a brilliant overview of the day’s events, including organizers’ rebuttal to the short-sighted argument that the disaster is owing to “Japanese culture”. Kanagawa-based blogger Ruthie Iida also has an interesting account of her experience during the demo at her beautiful photo site, Faces of Japan.

Powerful video showing Fukushima women engaging in a"die-in"
 in front of the Prime Minister's residence on June 7, 2012 to protest the restart of the Ooi Nuclear Power Plant, after having submitted a protest to the office of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.  

Top: "The Ohi Nuclear Power Plant and Osprey helicopters are destroying our lives and nature"
Bottom: Keibo Oiwa of the Sloth Club (left), whose sign reads "Nuclear power: Thank you and goodbye."

Above: Discussing the day's events together with a group of like-minded friends, including social and food justice activists, organic farmers, and filmmakers

--Kimberly Hughes

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Inland Sea, Kaminoseki, Japan's Future, & Yamaguchi's gubernatorial election

This clip from Hitomi Kamanaka's Ashes to Honey gives voice to locals who have long opposed the destruction of Iwaishima island to make way for a nuclear plant in Japan's beautiful Inland Sea, and suggests alternative paths to a renewable energy future for Japan and the world. (NOTE: Swedish-born, Japan-based eco-blogger Martin Frid says that, in the Swedish deregulation booster spotlighted in the clip, who paints a rosy picture of Sweden's energy politics, is misleading: "Sweden has 12 nuclear reactors, 10 still up an running, and a new law that says new reactors can be built to replace the aging ones. So Sweden has not abandoned nuclear power - still some 30-40% of the nation's energy comes from nuclear, I'm ashamed to say. The referendum in 1980 was a sham with 3 different voting alternatives that made it possible for the people-in-power to keep the nuclear power plants up and running.)

The diverse candidates in the upcoming (July 29) Yamaguchi gubernatorial election reflect parallel disjunctures in Japan's political economic and cultural landscape. The outcome in the prefecture just south of Hiroshima prefecture could influence national energy policy (& whether Tokyo implements a US military plan to test V-22 Osprey throughout Okinawa & the mainland), according to Kyodo (via JT):
An advocate of renewable energy, two former bureaucrats and an ex-Diet member declared their candidacies Thursday for the July 29 Yamaguchi gubernatorial election.

The campaign is expected to focus on whether to approve a plan to construct Chugoku Electric Power Co.'s Kaminoseki nuclear plant, with political observers saying the outcome could affect national energy policy.
Since the 1980's, Chugoku Electric has wanted to build the nuclear plant on landfill at Nagashima Island in the seismically active Inland Sea, epicenter of the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Likewise, local residents, fisher people, environmentalists, and nuclear-free activists have fought the plant for three decades. The beautiful Inland Sea, revered for centuries in Japanese culture, and made famous abroad by Donald Ritchie's eponymous travelogue, is also known as Japan’s Galapagos because of its diverse species, including the black finless porpoise.

In 2010, the Kaminoseki struggle went global when a coalition of activists submitted a petition with 860,000 signatures to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. They announced this at a press conference that coincided with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Nagoya; and placed an ad in the Asian edition of the International Herald-Tribune. The ad presciently expressed concerns about earthquake damage that would result in nuclear plant damage and the release of radiation.

Hitomi Kamanaka's 2010 film, Ashes to Honey, explored the Kaminoseki struggle from the personal perspectives of local residents. Among them: the fisher people of Iwaishima (Iwai Island), most of whom oppose the construction of a nuclear plant just four miles from their ancestral community. Ashes to Honey is the last film in the filmmaker's trilogy of documentaries on nuclear issues including Hibakusha at the End of the World (about victims of nuclear radiation exposure from Japan to Iraq to the U.S) and Rokkasho-mura Rhapsody, about the decrepit nuclear reprocessing (plutonium) plant at the northeastern tip of Tohoku. Through making these films, Kamanaka has become an expert in nuclear issues and a prophetic voice.

In "Tokyo art and music event mourns disaster victims, raises seriousness of nuclear power and radiation issues" posted here on April 5, 2011, Kim Hughes quoted Kamanaka speaking at Spring Love Harukaze, an arts and music eco-festival held at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo in the spring:
The industry has long been releasing propaganda saying that nuclear power is safe, and now, following the accident, they have continued with the same lies by declaring that the radiation being released is also nothing to worry about. People prefer to believe the propaganda because it’s easier, but unless they face reality, they won’t be able to protect themselves.

Here in Japan, we have been led to believe that the matter of electricity simply involves flipping on a switch, and people do not think about where it comes from. My latest film takes up the issue of the radiation emitted from nuclear power plants on a regular basis—as well as during accidents like the one we are now experiencing—which is something that people here have not been educated about whatsoever.
Besides exploring the ongoing struggle over nuclear power in Kaminoseki, Ashes to Honey suggests an alternative path: the example of Sweden where citizens, by referendum, abandoned the dangerous technology in 1980.

(Photo: Kimberly Hughes)

In "Amidst hopeful signs, activists continue impassioned efforts to stop nuclear power plant in gorgeous Seto Inland Sea," Kim writes about her intimate visit with Masahiro Watarida and other Kaminoseki activists:
Watarida retired early from his nearly twenty-year career in the organic produce distribution industry in order to spend a year in the United States learning English and studying food security issues before returning to Hiroshima to become a full-time activist...

He told me that since the plant site was not in direct view of residents in the town of Kaminoseki, it was easier for the Chugoku Electric Power Company to buy them off and keep them quiet about nuclear power's potential dangers. “The fishermen’s cooperative from Kaminoseki sold their fishing rights around the plant site for hundreds of millions of yen, and the people have also gotten quite used to the cushy arrangement whereby the power company hands out huge subsidies for road repairs and other local projects,” he explained.

Watarida told me that the town of Kaminoseki and its environs are a “hotspot for biodiversity”, rich in seaweed and aquatic creatures such as the sunameri (finless black porpoise), and featuring one of the last pristine untouched spots in the entire Seto Inland Sea. “This was an extremely important area from around the 17th to the 19th centuries in terms of communication and transportation, so there is also enormous potential here in terms of tourism and history,” he explained. “We still have hopes that the local community here will wake up to these possibilities and stop being so dependent upon corporate handouts.”

The story was a completely different one, however, Watarida said, for those living on the nearby island of Iwaishima (mostly fishermen, and their wives), who literally find the proposed nuclear power plant site staring them directly in the face. He said that they had been loudly protesting the plant—which sits a mere four kilometers away from their island—since its inception some thirty years ago. Its fishing cooperative members staunchly refused to sell their rights to the electric power company, choosing instead to put up an impassioned fight to protect their natural way of life.

“Since the islanders of Iwaishima do not have many employment opportunities other than fishing due to being separated from the mainland, many men have gone on assignments to work in nuclear power plants in Shikoku or other parts of Japan,” Watarida explained. “They know the dirty truth of the industry firsthand, and in fact, a majority of these men have already died from cancer.”
Read more about Kim's journey to the Iwaishima and meetings with other locals (notably Yoshito Kanaka: “If this plant is built and something goes wrong, the entire Seto Inland Sea will be completely destroyed") here.

(Image: Yale 360)

(July 30, 2012 Update: Nuclear-free candidate Tetsunari Iida lost in a close outcome. His Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) opponent Shigetaro Yamamoto, going against his party's record of strong support of the nuclear power industry, promised to freeze the proposed nuclear plant.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

From Hiroshima & Nagasaki to Fukushima: Dr. Shuntaro Hida describes censorship of information about the effects of low-dose nuclear radiation

"How many times do we have to be exposed to nuclear radiation?" This video footage is of Dr. Shuntaro Hida speaking in front of Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima city at the "One Million Action Hoping to Live a Life without Nuclear Power" held April 26, 2011. Dr. Hida treated Hiroshima survivors exposed to the high dose of radiation from the Hiroshima atomic bombing. He also treated patients exposed to low doses of nuclear radiation; found them suffering from a disease called "Bura Bura Syndrome" caused by low-dose internal exposure. Dr. Hida describes the US military occupation's censorship of information about the health effects of nuclear radiation. (Original footage: Sunameri (Finless Porpoise) YouTube channel. This clip with English subtitles: via Canale di Koikzuka77. Dr. Hida is also featured in Hitomi Kamanaka's "Radiation: A Slow Death, A new Generation of Hibakusha".)

In "A-bomb doctor warns of further Fukushima woes"  (JT via Kyodo), Dr. Shuntaro Hida, a Hiroshima survivor & physician, links lack of public awareness about the effects of radiation with US military occupation censorship of information about the effects of radiation after the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
The amount of research into and public knowledge about internal exposure to radiation is still limited because the United States "concealed" information about the problem for a long time after it dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Hida says. "It is a fight to change the mindset of each and every person," Hida says, recalling his decades-long struggles to make people aware of the danger of internal exposure to radiation amid a lack of scientific data.

"Under the Occupation until the early 1950s, people were forbidden from "speaking, recording or doing research into symptoms of atomic-bomb survivors," he says. "I was stalked by the military police when I was talking about what I witnessed in Hiroshima," and arrested several times by the Occupation forces for "not abiding by their Occupation policy."

Hida, as a representative of a group of medical professionals called the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions, urged U.N. Secretary General U Thant in 1975 to hold an international conference on the effects of radiation on hibakusha, which was realized two years later.

"It's anger that has kept me speaking to this day. How could I remain silent even 67 years after the bombings?" Hida says.
Dr. Hida's 2006 memoir, Under the Mushroom-Shaped Cloud in Hiroshima, is available online at this link.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Alicia Bay Laurel at Roguii Cafe in Okinawa City, Okinawa - July 15, 2012

July 15 live at Roguii Cafe, Okinawa, with Amana band. Doors open at 19:00, show at 19:30. Cafe address: 1663 Yogi, Okinawa City, Okinawa. Hand craft and farmers market at the cafe from 15:00.

More about Alicia at Kim Hughes' post about the holistic practitioner's visit to Tokyo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rose Welsch: Faces Behind the Hydrangea Revolution

Many thanks to Rose Welsch of Peace Boat, Global Article 9 Campaign and US for Okinawa for sharing these radiant photos from the 7.7.12 Nuclear-Free rally in Tokyo.
Mainstream news doesn't cover it much--if at all--but hundreds of thousands of people in Japan are participating in demonstrations against nuclear energy. On Facebook, great aerial shots of crowds have been circulating, but in these photographs, I'd like show some of the faces (and spirit!) of the people participating in this Hydrangea Revolution.

Dressed in hydrangea colors, this woman was distributing
handmade origami hydrangea flowers that must have taken hours to make.

Origami Hydrangea

Calling for a national referendum to be held regarding whether or not
Japan should have nuclear power, this young woman passed out fliers
explaining how such a referendum could be carried out.

Passing out a batch of fliers on green paper, this man explained that he is starting
a Green Party in Japan that would not only protect the environment,
but would also guarantee the representation of women in the party.

Still dressed in rain gear, this woman moved inside the station to pass out information explaining what it's like for people in Fukushima to live 3.11 every day.

This lovely lady (right, in green) was very quiet,
but her gleaming eyes and sweet smile made her stand out in the crowd
at a protest against the restart of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors in July.
Here she is with her friend.

Despite the difficulty of navigating train stations and crowded sidewalks,
it's not uncommon to see people in wheelchairs participating in the demonstrations.

These two young men are promoting a large anti-nuke rally
that will be held in Tokyo on July 16 in Yoyogi park.

Her sign says "Praying for Happiness for All"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Yoshio Shimoji: "The Osprey Question"

Ginowan citizens’ rally on June 17, 2012 against V-22 "Osprey"
deployment to Futenma Air Station
A prefecture-wide rally, initiated by Naha City Mayor Takeshi Onaga, and supported by all heads of municipalities in the prefecture, is being planned.

The Osprey question

Yoshio Shimoji
July 10, 2012
Naha, Okinawa

Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged Sunday that the U.S. would ensure safe operations of the V-22 Osprey aircraft at the Futenma Air Station but reiterated there would be no change in Washington's long-cherished plan for its deployment in Okinawa.

The project to develop a tilt-rotor aircraft with both a vertical takeoff and landing started in 1982. In 1991, the aircraft was practically put into service for the first time after a 9-year research and development period. During the test period it caused 4 accidents, resulting in a number of fatalities and injuries and thus disgracefully earning the nickname of "widow maker".

From 1991 to 2012, 9 accidents occurred, killing 36 people. Amid this snafu, in 1992, the Pentagon decided on its deployment to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa. The year saw another crash of the Osprey on the Potomac River in Virginia, causing 7 deaths. Thus, Washington must have been uncertain about whether this accident-prone aircraft could actually be deployed at Futenma with such densely populated surroundings and so they must have begun to have their eye on Henoko, Nago City, in northern Okinawa as a quid pro quo for Futenma.

The Marines had already drawn up blueprints for new runways on reclaimed land off the Henoko coast in the late 1960's when Okinawa was still under firm U.S. military control. The U.S. Navy submitted the Marines' blueprints to U.S. Congress for approval but the bills were voted down in the face of mounting costs for the Vietnam War.

In Okinawa, demand for Futenma's return was intensifying sharply, especially after the 1995 gang rape incident. In response to Okinawa's demand for a substantial reduction of the U.S. military footprint, in 1996, then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and U.S. Ambassador Walter Mondale held a hastily-called evening news conference and made a bombshell announcement that both governments had agreed upon the return of Futenma in 5 to 7 years with its facilities to be relocated to Kadena Air Base. No one disputed at the time why it would take so many years just to relocate Futenma's functions to Kadena. In retrospect, we realize there was a foreshadowing in it.

The next morning, all the news media loudly reported on Kadena residents' outrage over the plan, quoting them as saying they could tolerate no more burdens and sacrifice due to increased base functions. It's quite understandable that they reacted so negatively as they did. Kadena Air Base occupies 83% of Kadena Town (total area: 15.04 sq. km), obliging the townspeople to live constantly with noise pollution and aircraft hazards. The USAF's 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base also said they were strongly opposed to joint use of the base with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. The initial Kadena relocation plan thus came to a deadlock right from the start, and the welcome bilateral agreement to close Futenma and return the land was floated in limbo.

The ball was thrown to Okinawa to decide where to relocate the base. We witnessed readers' noisy proposals for relocation sites come and go in local newspapers. Before long, the Pentagon casually intimated that the relocation site should be somewhere on the Pacific side of the island. As if to respond to this, there came forward some construction firms in Nago to suggest the relocation site be reclaimed land off the coast of Henoko. They cited an economic boost it may bring to the stagnant local economy as their reasoning for it. How much backdoor approach they had from the U.S. side and sycophantic Japanese bureaucrats no one knows. But Henoko became fixed as the target relocation site for Futenma thereafter.

The Futenma issue started with the Pentagon's Osprey deployment plan drawn up in 1992, not with their humanitarian motivation to reduce Okinawa's burdens. Despite Okinawa's increasingly solid and unanimous opposition to it, Washington adamantly persists in saying that the Henoko relocation plan is the best of all options. Otherwise, they maintain, the status quo of Futenma will remain as it is and the plan to deploy the Osprey stands unchanged. Thus, the current fracas over Osprey deployment to Futenma following the 16-year Futenma-to-Henoko relocation racket. Now, the Pentagon has started saying the aircraft has an excellent safety record compared with standard helicopters.

A nation cannot keep deceiving another nation. The Futenma relocation issue, the primary motivation for which has turned out to be the Pentagon's decades-old plan to deploy the Osprey to Okinawa, is rampant with tricks and gimmicks. The forced implementation of Henoko relocation and Osprey deployment plans are against the very democratic principles which the U.S. proclaims it stands for. Can it preach other nations, then, just as did U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Ulan Bator, Mongolia, on Monday (July 9), to learn democracy, freedom and human rights a la Americana?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Piers Williamson: "One cannot help but feel that we are witnessing a battle for the soul of Japan."

In "Largest Demonstrations in Half a Century Protest the Restart of Japanese Nuclear Power Plants," published at The Asia-Pacific Journal, Piers Williamson analyzes the response of Japanese citizenry to the of restart nuclear energy plants, highlighting the chasm between popular will and PM Noda's decision:

June 29, 2012 mass demonstration in Tokyo. (Photo: Kyodo News)

On 29 June, Japan witnessed its largest public protest since the 1960s [when millions of Japanese of all walks of life protested the US-Japan Security Treaty (ANPO) which allowed the US to maintain military bases in Okinawa and Japan].

This was the latest in a series of Friday night gatherings outside Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko’s official residence. Well over one hundred thousand people came together to vent their anger at his 16 June decision to order a restart of Units 3 and 4 at the Oi nuclear plant . This article discusses the events of the last several weeks which sparked this massive turnout as well as the nature of the protest. It begins by outlining the Japanese government’s recent policies affirming nuclear power, from Noda’s nationwide address of 8 June justifying the Oi restarts on the grounds of ‘protecting livelihoods’, and continuing with the move on 20 June to revise the Atomic Energy Basic Law and establish a law to set up a new, yet potentially toothless, nuclear regulatory agency.

Moreover, on 7 June, the day before Noda made his address, he was visited by a citizen’s group headed by Nobel laureate Oe Kenzaburo, which presented him with a petition calling for an end to nuclear power. The petition had been signed by 7.5 million people. A week later on 14 June, another citizen’s group, which had gathered 320,000 signatures in a call for a referendum on nuclear power, met with the Tokyo metropolitan assembly’s general affairs committee. However, as in Osaka in March, they were rebuffed in a vote at the Tokyo assembly on 20 June.

In addition to petitions, concerned citizens have been taking to the streets. Formed on 22 October 2011, the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes (MCAN) has been using the internet to organize demonstrations against nuclear power. The use of the internet, and Twitter in particular, preserves a loosely woven network, and MCAN asks participants not to use banners or flags bearing political messages unrelated to the nuclear issue.

MCAN’s first demonstration was held in Yokohama on 14 January 2012. On the one year anniversary of the 11 March disaster, around 14,000 activists encircled the Diet building in a candlelit vigil. Since 29 March, MCAN has been holding weekly protests outside the Prime Minister’s official residence. MCAN says that participation has steadily ballooned from 300 protestors at the first event to around 45,000 people on 22 June. Other reports of 22 June vary from 10,000 to 20,000. Representative figures included Oe Kenzaburo, the composer Sakamoto Ryuichi, the actor Yamamoto Taro, the rock musician Goto Masafumi, and the writers Ochiai Keiko, Kamata Satoshi, and Hirose Takashi...

Despite the size of the gathering on 22 June, bloggers complained that the event received scant media coverage. One wrote that NHK’s 9 p.m. flagship news show completely ignored it. TV Asahi’s 10 p.m. show merely mentioned the number of demonstrators and then tried to ask Trade and Industry Minister Edano Yukio, and Nuclear Policy Minister, Hosono Goshi, what they thought as they were leaving the PM’s official residence. A reader of the Japan Times wrote a letter to the editor commenting on the general lack of coverage in comparison to the frenzied reporting of the capture of Takahashi Katsuya, the 1995 Sarin gas attack suspect.

Anti-nuclear actions taken by shareholders at TEPCO and KEPCO received more coverage later in the week, as nine out of ten of Japan’s power companies rejected proposals to abandon nuclear power at shareholder meetings on 27 June. When Osaka governor Hashimoto Toru asked KEPCO about reprocessing and whether it had a business plan to survive without nuclear power, KEPCO board members responded that reprocessing was critical and that abandoning nuclear power would cause an astronomical increase in costs. The KEPCO vice president also asserted that a mix of all energy sources, including nuclear, was the best option for the future.39 For its part, TEPCO rejected proposals made by the Tokyo metropolitan vice-governor, Inose Naoki, for transparency in decision-making on price hikes...

One noticeable feature of the [June 29, 2012] demonstration was the age range, from small children to the elderly. I spoke to a forty-year-old housewife who was carrying her four-year-old daughter. Following the accident at Fukushima, she had evacuated with her daughter to Niigata Prefecture from Chiba Prefecture. Her husband had to stay on in Chiba. "For the sake of the children, I want them to get rid of nuclear reactors…They keep saying ‘the economy’, ‘the economy’, but life is more important. We have an economy because of life. They need to return to the start and think again…When I think about what we as adults have to do it is clear that we have to protect the children’s futures [author's translation]..."

Popular demand for change continues to grow. The move to restart reactors comes despite the fact that the precise causes of the catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant remain obscure, vast tracts of land and sea and a significant portion of the food supply remain contaminated, 160,000 people remain internally displaced, no known technology can handle the melt-throughs, and there is no solution for nuclear waste disposal. The state’s aggressive move to restart Oi contrasts with its tardy response to the accident and its aftereffects, and to its lack of concern about the risk of a further disaster at Unit 4 should it be hit by a large aftershock or a quake caused by a reactivated fault line underneath the plant. And it comes in the wake of overwhelming expression of anti-nuclear power sentiment. Pronouncements of a commitment to protect the public now ring very hollow indeed. Iida Tetsunari, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, and anti-nuclear candidate for the governor of Yamaguchi Prefecture, commented that ‘There is anger and a loss of confidence in the government. This is an irreversible change, and I expect this type of movement to continue.’

Whether or not the anti-nuclear movement will be successful remains to be seen. Power elites do not give in easily and we can expect them to fight tooth and nail for every scrap of privilege that they can lay their hands on. However, one cannot help but feel that we are witnessing a battle for the soul of Japan."
Read Dr. Williamson's entire article here.