Friday, November 30, 2012

"No Nukes Live 2012" brings playfulness, seriousness to Tokyo stage

                                                     Event headliner, the Inoue Ohana band

Musicians have long been known for offering some of the most cutting-edge and creative social critique around the globe, and Japan is no exception—particularly with regard to post-3.11 nuclear issues.  

This past Sunday, November 25th, a No Nukes live event was held at Shin Sekai ("New World"), a small basement club in Tokyo’s Nishi-Azabu district, taking up the tradition of other local event series that have combined music with commentary on nuclear issues, including No Nukes More Hearts and Atomic Café.

The event was organized and headlined by the fantastically upbeat Inoue Ohana band, which features both Hawaiian and reggae tunes. The night’s lineup also featured many additional artists, including slack key guitarist Kamoku Takahashi, folk singer Yara Tomonobu, hula dancer Miho Ogura, and the legendary Rankin’ Taxi, whose video “You Can’t See It and You Can’t Smell It”(referring of course to radiation) went viral in the weeks following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The evening was billed as a “party”, and—capturing the spirit of the evening— the ever rabble-rousing Rankin’ Taxi followed up his performance of a song regarding the dangers of the precariously placed fuel rods at Fukushima Daiichi plant’s reactor #4 (whose video I had technical problems uploading—will try again shortly!) by commenting—in his trademark quirky and yet serious style— “Well, we shouldn’t really be having fun at a time like this, but hey, let’s have ourselves some fun!”

Each of the evening’s artists took time to reference the dangers of the nuclear power industry. Guest speaker Umi Hagitani, a social activist for numerous causes including nuclear issues, gave an illuminating overview of the workings of the nuclear industries and anti-nuclear activism in both Japan and the USA, where she has spent most of the past decade.

To summarize the highlights of Umi’s talk, she emphasized that we must consider nuclear issues as a whole, taking into account its various aspects, including uranium mining and testing, and the effects on (often indigenous) communities; as well as the interconnections between nuclear power, weapons, and testing, which are often overlooked in both countries. She pointed out that the mainstream media in the U.S. suppressed the voices speaking out against Three-Mile Accident in 1979, and that the government began almost immediately thereafter to promote the construction of nuclear power plants in other regions of the country—resulting in continuing environmental and health damage, along with citizen unawareness regarding what was actually taking place. She pointed in particular to the nuclear facility in Hanford, WA—profiled in filmmaker Hitomi Kamanaka’s “Hibakusha”—where radiation dating back to the early 1940’s has penetrated all the way down into the water table, causing numerous cancers (that were denied by the government as having any connection with the plant).

Umi pointed out the borderless nature of damage from the Fukushima nuclear accident, explaining that cesium is now showing up in Pacific herring in Alaska, which indicates that internal radiation exposure is something not limited to Fukushima or to Japan alone. She also asserted that lying governments and complicit media are a shared feature of both the United States and Japan, explaining that since 3-.11, anti-nuclear activists from the two countries have been working together to expose the way that the nuclear industry has been working to pollute the land where we live, while companies meanwhile continue profiting from decontamination efforts, and governments attempt to quash any citizen movements that speak out against negative effects such as rising illnesses and human experimentation.

“I recently watched ‘Women of Fukushima’, where one of the speakers said that if people in Tokyo did not begin speaking out about low-dose radiation exposure suffered by Fukushima citizens, their situation would never change,” Umi explained. “Given our privilege living in urban areas with access to all sorts of technologies, we need to raise our voices against these unjust systems by continuing to advocate for Fukushima citizens’ right to relocation, to support Fukushima citizen radiation efforts, and to educate ourselves regarding nuclear-related matters,” she said.

An interview with Umi in English may be downloaded from the website of the Nuclear Hotseat, and more information about her work is available at No Nukes Asia Actions.

Street art from Shibuya-
"SAYONARA NUKES- Forty years of brainwashed ultra expensive

--Kimberly Hughes

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mangetsu Matsuri (Full Moon Festival) for Earth, Life, & Peace:  Nago, Okinawa, Nov. 24, 2012

Full Moon Festival 2009, Henoko, Okinawa

Greetings from Okinawa!

Yes, it is the time of the year again for Mangetsu Matsuri (Full Moon Festival) in Okinawa.

A grassroots music festival to celebrate, Earth, Life and Peace, the Mangetsu Matsuri now enters its 14th year. This year's Mangetsu Matsuri will be held on November 24 Saturday at Oura Wansaka Park, Nago, Okinawa.

Just like in the previous years, the Mangetsu Matsuri Organizing Committee is inviting you to send your message (please keep it less than 100 words) to the festival. Email

Your message will be translated into Japanese and both the original message and the translation will be posted on a bulletin board at the festival.

Please join us to make this year's Mangetsu Matsuri most exciting and memorable ever by sending your message!

Hideki Yoshikawa
Save the Dugong Campaign Center
Citizens' Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stances of Japanese political parties on nuclear power

The following newspaper clipping taken from the Chunichi Shinbun that also appeared in the Tokyo Shinbun on November 16, 2012 extrapolates party policies based on party manifestos and the stances/statements of their leaders. However, be forewarned- it should not be taken for granted that these are the actual policies of the parties.

For instance, the clipping makes it seem as though the Minshuto is promoting denuclearization, while they have not made any statement in their manifesto to that effect. Governmental decisions by the current Minshuto-led administration have also led to the resumption of construction of the Ohma and Higashidori nuclear power plants in Aomori Prefecture and reactor 3 of the Shimane plant in Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture. 

"Nuclear power policies of each of the Japanese political parties (derived from campaign pledges and stances of party leaders)- translation of heading"
*Translation of chart- commentary and related links in italics. See here for more analysis in Japanese.

Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan/DPJ)-promptly realize the elimination of nuclear power; encourage the introduction of renewable energies to take place of nuclear power ("On Sept. 14, the Noda administration pledged to abandon nuclear power by the 2030s and to build no new reactors in that time, but industry minister Yukio Edano said Sept. 15 the government would authorize the completion of the three reactors currently being built"- see Asahi Shinbun")

Jiminto (Liberal Democratic Party of Japan/LDP)- with safety as a number one guiding principal, decide which plants should be restarted; conclusions to be made about all reactors within 3 years; within ten years conceptualize a new framework for the stable supply of energy.

Kokumin no seikatsu ga daiichi (People's Lives First) - make a dramatic shift of energy policy and permanently halt the use of all nuclear reactors over the next decade (This stance is supported and made clear in their party policies- Toward "Zero Nuclear Power Generation" to Protect People's Life!)

Komeito (New Komeito)- reject all new construction (of nuclear power plants); decommission two-thirds of existing plants by 2030 and decommission all plants in 40 years.

Kyosanto (Communist Party of Japan)- promptly realize a zero-nuclear power Japan; call for a repeal of all restart policies; stop the export of nuclear power (see nuclear export article- Washington Post)

Minna no To (Your Party)- separate power production and supply and liberalize retail energy markets; promote the introduction of renewable energies; allow the elimination of costly and unsafe nuclear power from the markets by natural selection (Although seemingly anti-nuclear, this party once considered making an alliance with the Japan Restoration Party which is pro-nuclear, and is now seeking to find "synergies" with it )

Shamintou (Social Democratic Party/SDP)- realize a nuclear-free Japan by 2020, 100% natural energy by 2050 (natural energy definition, the SDP was pro-denuclearization prior to the nuclear accidents in Fukushima: see article here in Japanese)

Nihon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party)-abolish all current plants by 2030; continue the export of nuclear power (Japan Restoration Party, headed by Osaka mayor Hashimoto, and former Tokyo Govenor Ishihara's party- the Sunrise Party to merge)

Kokumin Shin To (The People's New Party)- make denuclearization a future aim, and promote the research of new forms of energy that are appropriate for a nation founded on education and science/technology

Shin to Daichi - Shinminshu (New Party Daichi/Earth- New Democrats)- "Return to the earth, learn from the earth. We are against nuclear power" -statement by party leader Suzuki Muneo (Suzuki Muneo is well-known for his 2001 statement that Japan is “one state, one language, one nation,” although later his party pledged to protect the indigenous rights of the Ainu people: see footnote 16 in Mark Winchester's for more details and more sources "On the Dawn of a New Ainu Policy")

Taiyo no To (Sunshine Party)- "It is reckless to decide whether it (nuclear energy) is right or wrong without discussing how much energy we need""It would be foolish to give up on all of the technological systems we have developed." Party leader Ishihara Shintaro (This party was formed when former Tokyo mayor Ishihara broke with LDP. This party has been dissolved, and the five lawmakers in this party have merged with the ten in the Japan Restoration Party.)

Genzei Nippon (Tax Cut Japan)- promote technological development for renewable energies by getting rid of nuclear power; take advantage of a nuclear-free Japan for sitting industries

Midori no To (Greens Japan)- "It is an embarrassment internationally and historically that Japan has restarted nuclear reactors even though the accident (reactors at Fukushima) is ongoing. We should eliminate nuclear power, which has undermined the livelihoods of Japanese citizens" (Greens Japan has made denuclearization a core part of their campaign and includes statements declaring its anti-nuclear policy on its campaign signs. See photo below)

Shinto Kaikaku (New Renaissance Party)-  "At a bare-minimum, we must further strengthen safety regulations of nuclear power plants while at the same time stop being wasteful in our use of energy" - Party Leader Masuzoe Yoichi

Shinto Nippon (New Party Japan)- party leader Tanaka Yasuo participates in anti-nuclear demos in front of prime minister's residence in Tokyo (This party only has one member- Tanaka Yasuo)

Sign reads: Towards the elimination of nuclear power: LDP = X (does not support elimination), DPJ = △ (unclear of position), Greens Japan = ◎ (no more nuclear power). It is possible to eliminate nuclear power!- Greens Japan

- Posted and translated by Jen Teeter.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Great Chain of Nonviolence: Writers Oe, Murakami, Lianke, & Civic Leaders from Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Taiwan, & China call for end to nationalistic aggression

(Nobel laureate & Article 9 defender Kenzaburo Oe voices support for 
Japanese civic group's call to "Stop the vicious cycle of territorial dispute!”. 
Photograph: The Hankyoreh)

Responding to the political and media circus over unresolved (since the Pacific War)  territorial disputes between Japan, China and South Korea, Japanese writers, journalists, scholars, and civil society leaders held a press conference on Sept. 28, 2012 in Tokyo to publicize their call on Japan to "recognize, reflect on, and sincerely articulate its historical issues" in East Asia.  The group, supported by Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe, jointly signed a civic statement: "Stop the vicious cycle of territorial dispute!”.

Jeong Nam-ku, Tokyo correspondent of The Hankyoreh detailed the event:
They included Atsushi Okamoto, former editor-in-chief of the leading Japanese progressive journal Sekai (The World); attorney Masatoshi Uchida, a longtime figure in lawsuits claiming compensation for issues in South Korean-Japanese history; former Asahi Shimbun Seoul bureau chief Koh Odagawa; and Ken Takada, an activist with the Citizens' Association Against Revision of the Constitution. Around 800 citizens signed the appeal, including children's writer Kayoko Ikeda, military critics Tetsuo Maeda, former Nagasaki mayor Hitoshi Motoshima, and Oe.

The statement urged the Japanese public "not to forget that the backdrop for the current territorial frictions is modern Japan's history of invading Asian countries."

The participants gave a number of suggestions for reducing friction, including enacting norms of behavior to deter such conflicts in East Asia, setting up forums for dialogue and discussions toward joint development of local resources, and establishing a framework for private dialogue linking South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, and Okinawa.
On the same day, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami published a column in the Asahi Shimbun expressing concern that the violent nationalism stirred by the territorial conflict was destroying East Asian cultural bridges: "We cannot block the path for souls to cross national borders."

In response to Oe's & Murakami's public statements, Chinese novelist Yan Lianke penned a call for reason and peace, published at The New York Times on Oct. 5:
Again and again, I pray in these dark nights: Please, no more guns and drums. All wars are disastrous. The bloodstains of the Sino-Japanese war during World War II remain vivid even today in our collective memory.
The day after, on Oct. 6, the East Asia Citizens Forum, comprised of representatives from South Korea, China, Taiwan, Okinawa, and Japan, held a forum in Taiwan and issued a statement, “Facing history, resolving disputes, working towards peace in East Asia”  in conjunction with a petition calling for peaceful relations, starting at the grassroots level, between citizens of East Asian countries, despite recurrent belligerent nationalism at the government level.   Park Min-hee, correspondent for the South Korean progressive newspaper, The Hankyoreh, reported:
The campaign is being led by Professor Chen Guang Sheng of Shanghai Jiao Tong University of Taiwan at the helm, Prof. Lee Dae-hoon of Sungkonghoe University (NGO studies, member of Democratic Professor Association International Solidarity Committee), Atsushi Okamoto, former editor in chief of Sekai magazine of Japan, Nohira Shinsaku, representative of Peace Boat, Prof. Wakabayashi Jiyo of Japan’s Okinawa University, Prof. Wang Xiaoming of Shanghai University, and Prof. Han Jialing of Beijing Academy of Social Sciences.In an email interview with the Hankyoreh on Oct. 24, Prof. Chen said, “I hope the solidarity and signature campaign in East Asia can ease tensions in the region and act as a chance to inform the people that the government is not the only group that has power to make decisions concerning this issue. There are other opinions in civilian society.” He went on to say, “I hope this campaign will pave the way for other experiences and sentiments within East Asia to be exchanged and understood, and lay the groundwork for future common understanding.”
...Prof. Lee Dae-hoon [of of Sungkonghoe University in South Korea], who participated in the forum said, “The campaign is focused on the goal of uniting East Asian civil society and preventing territorial disputes from escalating while resolving the situation in a non-militaristic and peaceful way. We must not allow territorial disputes to be used to satisfy imperialistic power or agression.” He added, “The campaign was started with intellectuals at the center, but we will gather citizens’ signatures in the next few months. Based on citizens’ opinions, we will lead activities to seek and propose solutions on these territorial conflicts.
Japanese writers & civil society leaders again call for a
calm, diplomatic response to territorial disputes 
at Oct. 18, 2012  rally in Tokyo. Photo: Asahi Shimbun)

The Japanese civic group followed their Sept. 28 press conference with  a demonstration rally in front of the No. 2 Lower House members' office building in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Oct. 18, covered by Hatsumoto Hosokawa for Asahi:
Pointing out that "territorial issues rock nationalism in any country" and that "action on one side leads to action from the other," the group's Internet statement urged people to "reflect upon history" and called for resolution "through peaceful dialogue."
This snowballing of dialogue between citizen groups and the public is a form of collective grassroots empowerment that peace studies scholar Johan Galtung calls the "great chain of nonviolence".