Last week, the inevitable finally happened. The company responsible for the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has been nationalised. Japan’s trade and industry minister Yukio Edano announced a de facto state take-over of the company with a further injection of $12.5bn, bringing the total of state capital in TEPCO to $33.2bn. Edano has said that: “Without the state funds, (TEPCO) cannot provide a stable supply of electricity and pay for compensation and decommissioning costs”.The total direct costs of the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe for TEPCO, including compensation and clean up, are estimated at over $100bn. Many Japanese, however, experience in their daily lives that the damages are considerably higher because most of their claims and losses go uncompensated and most of their suffering goes unrecognised.The nationalisation of TEPCO, together with a legal practice called “channelling of liability” in which all liability related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster has to be channelled to TEPCO, means Japanese taxpayers and ratepayers will foot most of the bill.An infuriating aspect of this story is that in a recent presentation by General Electric (GE) about its “success” over the past 50 years, there was not a word about the Fukushima disaster and nothing approaching an apology. Yet the Fukushima disaster was affected by well-known problems related to GE’s Mark 1 design, which was used at all four troubled reactors. Furthermore, GE was involved in maintenance throughout the four decades of the plant’s operation and had 44 on site at the time of the accident.GE, together with its corporate mates from Hitachi, which is responsible for the construction of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4, and Toshiba, which delivered Reactor No. 3, as well as Ebasco, Kajima, Areva and many others, have mostly kept mum about their involvement...
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
"Fukushima nuclear disaster: who profits and who pays?" by Jan Haverkamp, posted at Greenpeace.org, addresses the injustice and inadequacy of the nationalization ("socializing risk") of Fukushima nuclear disaster liability:
Monday, May 21, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
(Fr. Mun in yellow "Save Jeju" t-shirt accepts Gwanju Prize. Photo: vop.co.kr)
Father Mun Jung-hyun, a Catholic priest and leader in the Save Jeju Island movement, accepted the Gwanju Prize for Human Rights, an award given by the May 18 Memorial Foundation to recognize "individuals, groups or institutions in Korea & abroad that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy & peace through their work."
The award commemorates the spirit of the May 1980 Gwangju Democratization Movement (also known as "518" for its 18 May start) during which pro-democracy citizens battled soldiers in protest of the reign of Chun Doo-hwan, ROK Army general, military dictator of South Korea from 1980 to 1988: "Gwangju received valuable help from others while undertaking the struggle to examine the truth behind the May 18 uprising, and while striving to develop true democracy. In response, we would like to give something back to those who supported our cause for peace and democracy." The prize includes $50,000.
Fr. Mun is the first Korean recipient since the establishment of the award in 2000. This may reflect the concern of many in South Korea about the deterioration of human rights, especially infringements of freedom of assembly and free speech, including press freedoms. In Jeju Island, Gangjeong villagers have been arrested for simply praying in public, for the return of the homes, farms, and community that the South Korean government seized from them, without following due process of law, to make way for a navy base. Instead of sustaining and developing the democratic society established through the Korean democracy movement of the 1980's, South Korea, under the repressive and corrupt Lee administration, is going backwards: resurrecting practices common during its period of military dictatorship.
Fr. Mun was critically injured on April 6 of this year in a fall during a struggle when a policeman tried to stop him from completing "Stations of Jeju," a variation of "Stations of the Cross," a walking devotional. Although his physicians said he would have to stay in the hospital for at least six months to heal multiple fractured spinal vertebrae, he was able to leavel after only two weeks. Immediately after his release, he visited Dr. Song Kang-Ho, a fellow clerical peace activist, in prison and the villagers and activists’ sit-in protest site in front of the Jeju Island government hall, and then returned to the village where everyone joyously welcomed him.
(Gangjeong villagers in sit-in protest at the Jeju Provincial Government office. Although banner reads "The world comes to Jeju and jeju goes to the world," the office is always closed to the Gangjeong villagers, despite Jeju being their ancestral homeland. Photo: Emily Wang)
We join human rights and democracy supporters around the world in a heartfelt congratulations to Fr. Mun, the Gangjeong villagers, and the Save Jeju Movement for this outstanding recognition of their work to further human rights and democracy,
(Supporters celebrate. Photo: Peaceberry Han at Save Jeju Island on FB)
(For more background on Gwanju and the Korean democracy movement of the 1980's, investigative journalist (one of the best on Cold War Korea and Japan) Tim Shorrock's website includes in-depth reportage.)
Friday, May 18, 2012
Via the Consumers Union of Japan:
CUJ is glad to be able to invite US documentary director Robert Kenner to Japan. His film Food Inc. is a great exposure of the way the food industry and especially Monsanto have hijacked farming and food processing, creating a situation where it is almost impossible for consumers to know what we are eating. While the focus is on the US agribusiness, it also applies to practices in many other countries, and the frequent abuse against farmers, food factory workers, animals and the biodiversity on our planet.Robert Kenner is an Emmy-Award winning film maker. He will participate at three screening events and give talks while in Japan. Everyone is welcome!Tokyo: May 19 (Sat) 13:30-18:00Tokyo Women’s Plaza (Omotesando station)http://www.tokyo-womens-plaza.metro.tokyo.jp/Entrance Fee: 1,000 YenTokyo: May 21 (Mon) 14:00-16:00House of Representatives 2nd Bldg, Multi-purpose Hall (1st Floor)(衆議院第2議員会館 1階 多目的ホール)Entrance Fee: FreeOsaka: May 22 (Tue) 13:30-17:30Osaka International House Centerhttp://www.ih-osaka.or.jp/english/Entrance Fee: 1,000 Yen
More on Food Inc. from the film's website:
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
40th Anniversary of Okinawa's Reversion to Japan: Rally against planned US military use of Osprey aircraft in Okinawa
(Protest at Futenma Air Base, against the planned US military use of
accident-prone Osprey aircraft in Okinawa.
Photo: Masami Mel Kawamura)
Friday, May 11, 2012
Longtime nuclear-free activist and artist Mayumi Oda reveals dark, obscured interconnections between Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl and Fukushima in this moving talk given at the 2011 Moana Nui conference in Hawai'i.
Notes from her speech:Known to many as the “Matisse of Japan,” Mayumi Oda has done extensive work with female goddess imagery. Born to a Buddhist family in Japan in 1941, Mayumi studied fine art and traditional Japanese fabric dying. In 1966 she graduatied from Tokyo University of Fine Arts. Mayumi’s unique apprenticeship dying fabric for kimonos influences the color and composition of all of her work.Mayumi has spent many years of her life as a “global activist” participating in anti-nuclear campaigns worldwide. She founded Plutonium Free Future in 1992. On behalf of her organization, Oda lectured and held workshops on Nuclear Patriarchy to Solar Communities at the United Nations NGO Forum and the Women of Vision Conference in Washington DC.
I'm 70-years-old now. I was born the year right before Pearl Harbor. For 70 years, I've been struggling with nuclearism. I was 4-years-old when my country was detonated with atomic bombs...
The shadow image of people without any body left stuck in concrete walls...just absolutely scared me as a child.
When my sister country, Korea, had a war, and people crossing over in the cold, it just made me so anxious, I grew up with this kind of fear of....As a child, I thought it was a kind of stupidity, how could people get involved with this.
Now with Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima, I feel like Japanese were born to deal with this incredible legacy of nuclear development...
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Makiko Segawa: After The Media Has Gone: Fukushima [reopening of Minami-soma], Suicide, and the Legacy of 3.11
In-depth, eyewitness report from Fukushima by Makiko Segawa published at APJ: "After The Media Has Gone: Fukushima, Suicide and the Legacy of 3.11" explores realities in the exclusion zone:
The March 11, 2011 disaster attracted thousands of reporters and photographers from around the world. There was a brief deluge of Japanese and international media coverage on the first anniversary, this spring. Now the journalists have packed up and gone and by accident or design Japan’s government seems to be mobilizing its agenda, aware that it is under less scrutiny...
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Hundreds of thousands of people are still homeless in Tohoku; unemployment, hunger and poverty are on the rise in Japan, especially among elders (40 percent live on incomes of less than $1,000/month); 28 percent of Japanese in their twenties consider suicide; Unit 4 of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant is not just a domestic, but also a global nuclear hazard.
Yet, to the detriment of attending to these urgent issues, Tokyo is focusing on and spending billions of dollars in Japanese taxpayer money to support US military build-up in Africa (building Japan's first military base since the Pacific War in Djibouti) and the Asia-Pacific (building a joint US-Japan training facility on Tinian, the Pacific atoll that was the launching point of the nuclear bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and before that, a site for a Japanese Pacific War base. "Most Japanese will think of this as a new base, so there is some irony in that, in fact, we would be going back to one of our old bases,” said Takashi Kawakami, a Takushoku University military affairs professor.
Given this preoccupation with military spending and build-up at a time of multiple domestic crises in Japan, Gavan McCormack's "The Okinawan Alternative to Japan’s Dependent Militarism" published at The Asia-Pacific Journal in 2008, is more relevant than ever:
In the post-Cold War world, the US has called for Japan to play a greatly stepped up military role (from the 1996 “Guidelines” to the 2005-6 “Beigun Saihen” or US military realignment), and governments in Tokyo have done their best to comply. My understanding of this is that these measures deepen and reinforce Japan’s dependence and therefore its irresponsibility, transforming the long-term dependent and semi-sovereign Japanese state of the Cold War into a full “Client State.” Far from pursuing its own “values, traditions, and practices,” (as other scholars have argued) 21st century Japan scraps them in order to follow American prescriptions, and the present political confusion stems at root from this identity crisis.US Officials...offer Japan a steady stream of advice – pushing, pulling, and manipulating it in the desired direction, to “show the flag” and “put boots on the ground” in Iraq, to send the MSDF to the Indian Ocean (and keep it there), to revise Ampo de facto and the Constitution explicitly. Yet few ordinary Japanese people share these priorities. It is as much these days as most can manage to cope with livelihood problems – pensions, welfare, and jobs - and so governments, torn between their desire to serve Washington and their need to seem to be serving their own people, always incline to attach priority to the former.In the post Cold War decades, the contest in Japan between civil society and state power has nowhere been sharper than in Okinawa...It is just 400 years since the Okinawan (Ryukyuan) king enunciated the principle of Nuchi du takara or non-resistance, in the face of the Satsuma samurai’s Sengun, initiating the process of forceful incorporation by Japan.Sengun militarism has been the bane of Okinawa ever since - under Satsuma, the modern Japanese state, the US, and now the joint US-Japan regime. Article 9 was in 1946 a new and astounding reversal for mainland Japan, but for Okinawa it was a reversion to an ancient ideal, and to the centuries when the culture of these islands was a byword for sophistication, culture and peace..."Only a recovery of Nuchi du takara values (and within them, presumably, a reassertion of cooperative, non-market, yuimaru values) can hope to save it. Plainly the Yambaru can be either militarized or protected, can follow either “Sengun” or Nuchi du takara, not both."
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Buddhists, Christians, Shintoists, Rightists, Leftists, Centrists Join to Co-create Nuclear-Free Japan
Buddhist monks in Matsuyama City in Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku are staging the sit-ins to protest against the prospect of restarting Ikata Nuclear Power Plant, which sits just outside the largest active fault in Japan (Median Tectonic Line) and part of the plant is built on the landfill. The monks are calling out to Christian churches to join them in the protest.
International radiation protection standards have historically weighed radiation risks and cost-benefit considerations in such as way as to protect the nuclear power industry at the expense of radiation victims, a Japanese interfaith network has said.
The Interfaith Forum for Review of National Nuclear Policy held a meeting from April 17-19 in Fukushima to debate claims by the Japanese government regarding the effects of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, which took place in March 2011. The government, following standards set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, a Canadian organization of scientists and policy makers, has said “there is no immediate [radioactive] impact on human bodies” from the disaster.
The Tokyo-based IFRNNP ― an 800-member anti-nuclear network co-led by 40 Japanese Buddhists, Christians, and Shintoists ― invited Kozo Inaoka, a Japanese physicist and author of a book about radiation exposure, to the meeting to lecture about the ICRP’s history and “ideological character.”
In his book, A History of Radiation Exposure, Inaoka claims the radiation protection standards are “scientifically disguised social standards” allowing the industry to impose exposure levels that suit its needs as it develops nuclear plants.