Friday, March 21, 2014

Vernal Equinox in Kyoto: Weeping Plum Blossoms at Jonangu Shrine

Looking for images of Spring Equinox in Kyoto, and these are the most beautiful: Deep Kyoto's stunning set of photos of weeping plum in full bloom at Jonangu Shrine.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

How Gary Snyder's and Daniel Ellsberg's chance meeting in Kyoto in 1960 changed them and world history...

Ryoanji stone garden, Kyoto (Photo: The Kyoto Project)

In The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World, Donald Rothberg suggests that change is mysterious and always possible, illustrating his point by relating an encounter between poet Gary Snyder and Daniel Ellsberg in Kyoto.  This chance meeting influenced the latter's decision to release the Pentagon Papers to the media, with the hope it would speed the end of the Vietnam War:
Daniel Ellsberg tells the story of meeting activist, poet, and Zen practitioner Gary Snyder by chance at a bar near the Zen monastery of Ryoanji in Kyoto, Japan, in 1960. Ellsberg was living in Tokyo, working on nuclear weapons policy for the Office of Naval Research, through the Rand Corporation.  Snyder was then midway through a nearly ten-year period of Zen practice, staying at or near Zen monasteries for the bulk of that time.

Ellsberg had gone to see the Zen garden at Ryoanji because he had read about it in Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums in which Snyder was the lightly fictionalized major figure.

The impact and memory of Ellsberg's conversations with Snyder at the bar and the next day at Snyder's cottage, Ellsberg later reported, played a significant role in his later decision, some nine years later, to divulge the Pentagon Papers, the secret history of the planning of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg's action was a major contribution to the turn against the war in public opinion and political discussions in the United States.
Gary Snyder on the porch of 
Shoden-ji Rinzai temple, Kyoto.

Daniel Ellsberg in Vietnam (4 years after meeting Gary Snyder; 
5 years before he released The Pentagon Papers). 

More about Daniel Ellsberg's shift in awareness (and advice to peace builders, and thoughts on Gary Snyder) in this 2006 interview at Busted Halo:
 I’d like peoples’ consciences to be re-thought and reshaped as much as possible to adopt new norms of nonviolence and truthfulness and that’s a fairly revolutionary change in awareness and specifically in conscience for many people...

Learning from people who have already had that conversion is very helpful. In my case, it was crucial for me to meet people who were of that mind and who were going to prison rather than to take part at all in what they saw as a wrongful war...So I think that courage is contagious and coming into contact or exposing yourself to people who are taking those risks is very helpful and a first step toward doing it yourself... And doing the reading, readings like Joan Valerie Bondurant’s Conquest of Violence, for example, on Gandhian theory, Gandhi himself or Barbara Deming...

You know, the difference that I see between Gandhi and Gandhi’s thought in Buddhism is that there is a very explicit activist theme to Gandhi in which the idea of organized nonviolent civil disobedience in particular but withdrawal of support and even obstruction of wrongful activities are a major factor. And there is a strain of what is called Engaged Buddhism that Joanna Macy and Gary Snyder and others have been prominent in and my wife is attracted to. But that is just one way of being Buddhist and in general, the teachings didn’t point toward organized activity, mass activity, dedicated to changing processes in society or wrongdoing in society. It had more of an emphasis on inward transformation rather than transformation of a society.

Daniel Ellsberg's website:

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers:

Daniel Ellsberg: Secrets: Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers:


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Kenzaburo Oe, Jakucho Setouchi, Masahide Ota found “1000-member committee to prevent Japan from entering wars" (Rally @Hibiya Park, March 20, 2014)

ARTICLE 9: Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
The Abe administration wants to reinterpret and revise the Japanese Peace Constitution to send the Japanese Self Defense Forces (JSDF) fight on behalf of other nations under the rubric of "collective defense."

This is not a new political struggle.  Okinawans have been on the front lines of the remilitarization of their prefecture since 1945, when the American military took over former Japanese bases and began a decade-long series of seizures (by force) of Okinawan farms and homes, for further base expansion. The ink was barely dry on Japan's pacifist Constitution, when in the early 1950's, Allen Dulles agitated for full Japanese remilitarization. The then Secretary of State wanted a Japanese military of between 300,000 and 350,000 men, to assist in US wars in Asia. Richard Nixon, as vice-president, supported Dulles, stating that Article 9 was a "mistake" while visiting Tokyo in 1953.

However, Dulles and other Cold War hawks were repeatedly thwarted by the majority of Japanese citizens who resisted the call to war (albeit during the sacrifice of Okinawa, which endured direct US military rule until 1972, serving as a major US weapons testing and combat training site during the wars in Korea and Vietnam).  Historian John Dower attributes Japan's pacifist policy to the democratically expressed will of the people, in John Junkerman's 2006 documentary film, Japan's Peace Constitution:
People who remembered what war was really like said, "We can't do this again. We have to cherish these ideals." The government, however, was saying, "Oh, we've got to go along with America." And so you have this split in Japan...
In the face of the Japanese citizenry's overwhelming support of Article 9, Japanese postwar governments fell into a gradual, barely noticeable process of chipping away at the prohibitions of Article 9 and growing JSDF capability. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Japan now ranks in the top ten countries in the world in military expenditure.

This slow pace shifted when neo-cons wielded control of US foreign policy during the Bush-Koizumi years.  Not only did they instigate the invasion of Iraq, but they also resurrected Cold War tensions in Asia, after a decade of thawing relations between China and Japan. Former PM Koizumi bowed to American neo-con demands to hasten Japan's remilitarization, at the same time he began his controversial visits to Yasukuni Shrine, reopening wartime wounds. During the Japanese neo-con's tenure, he worked to erode the remaining vestiges of Article 9, going as far as to send 1,100 members of the Japan Self Defense Force to Iraq (ostensibly for non-combat support), even though Iraq has never posed a threat to Japan.

Perhaps because of ongoing remorse for the millions of people killed during the Second World War, and perhaps because of vivid memories of fire bombings of all of Japan's major cities, the Battle of Okinawa, and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese and Okinawan mainstream challenged Koizumi's support of the US invasion of Iraq, similarly to the ongoing challenge of the Abe administration's assaults on what's left of Article 9, the only thing that keeps Japan from falling into the abyss that is war.

Concerned about their nation, high profile Japanese figures are increasingly speaking out on behalf of Article 9, the peace clause. On the eve of his birthday in December, Emperor Akihito (tutored by an American Quaker during his youth) defended Article 9. Then, on the eve of his birthday in February, Crown Prince Naruhito attributed Japan's peace and prosperity to the pacifist Constitution.

And this month, The Asahi, the Japan Daily Press and the Ryukyu Shimpo (one of Okinawa's two major daily newspapers) reported on the establishment of a “1000-member committee to prevent Japan from entering wars." Founding members include Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe, Buddhist nun Jakucho Setouchi, and former Okinawa governor Mashide Ota.

The Asahi:
"We have to stop the move to allow the Cabinet to undermine Article 9 simply by reinterpreting the Constitution," said constitutional scholar Yasuhiro Okudaira, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and one of the 16 founding members of the group...

"While Japan should contribute to world peace, it is becoming a country that can export arms and enter war," said writer Keiko Ochiai, another founding member.

Tetsumi Takara, a professor of constitutional law at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa Prefecture, commented, “For the Okinawan people who have experienced war, it looks as if war is imminent.”
Distinguished writers, scholars and other academics in Japan have joined forces to challenge the government’s move to reinterpret the country’s Constitution. A group aiming to gather one thousand members, calling themselves the “1,000-member committee to prevent Japan from entering war..."

...Writer Makoto Sataka also reminded, “If the right to collective self-defense is granted, Japan would cross the line of ‘self-defense’ and also defend other countries, obliging Japan to engage in a war led by the United States.”

...Currently, 83 people have already signed the group’s appeal, including writer Jiro Akagawa, songwriter Reiko Yukawa and actor Bunta Sugawara.
Ryukyu Shimpo:
In an attempt to prevent the reinterpreting of Japan’s Constitution by the Abe administration to be able to defend allies who come under attack, on March 4, distinguished intellectuals set up a group called the  They proclaimed, “We will step up our criticism of and protest action against the government which has been trying to change Japan to enable it to enter wars. They treat Article 9 as a dead letter and approve the use of the right of collective self-defense.”

Founders of the committee are cultural workers and intellectuals such as writer Kenzaburo Oe, Buddhist nun Jakucho Setouchi and play writer So Kuramoto. Tetsumi Takara, a professor of graduate school of law of the University of the Ryukyus took part in the press conference. Former Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota also joined as a founding member.

In their announcement, they referred to Okinawa, which hosts U.S. military bases, as being closely related to the issue of collective self-defense. They criticized the government, saying, “Without lessoning Okinawa’s burden of hosting the bases, they are forcing through building a new base in the Henoko district of Nago."

The committee will hold a rally on March 20 at the Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall in Tokyo. In addition, they will work to collect signatures and set up committees across the country."

John W. Dower, "Asia and the Nixon Doctrine: The New Face of Empire, Open Secret: The Kissinger-Nixon Doctrine in Asia, Eds. Virginia Brodine and Mark Selden, 1972. 

Japan's Peace Constitution (Transcript), Director: John Junkerman, 2006.

More Info: 

Article 9 Association 

Global Article 9 Campaign

Colin P.A. Jones, "Japan’s Constitution: never amended but all too often undermined," The Japan Times, March 26, 2014. 

Lawrence Repeta, "Japan’s Democracy at Risk – The LDP’s Ten Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change,The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, July 15, 2013.

John Junkerman, "The Global Article 9 Conference: Toward the Abolition of War," The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, May 25,  2008.

Yoshikazu Sakamoto, "The Postwar and the Japanese Constitution: Beyond Constitutional Dilemmas," The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, November 10, 2005.

Monday, March 17, 2014

7th Annual NY Peace Film Festival @NY March 21-23, 2014

Via our friends at the NY Peace Film Festival:
7th Annual New York Peace Film Festival

11 Films - France, Iran, the Gaza strip, Japan, and the U.S. - including two animated shorts, 7 full-length & 26 minute documentary, and the 1952 French anti-war classic, Forbidden Games (Jeux intedits).

Kick-Off Party: Friday, March 21, 2014@ 7:00PM - 9:00PM

Saturday, March 22, 2014 @12:00 PM - 9:00PM
Sunday, March 23, 2014 @1:00PM - 6:30 PM

at All Souls Unitarian Church
1157 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10075 (at 80th Street)


Advance Tickets $12 / day -
$15 / day at the door (cash only)

Ticket is valid for 1 day throughout the program!


Day 1: Sat. March 22, 2014 - 12:00pm-9:30pm

12:00pm-1:24pm: Occupy Love (2012) Documentary Feature
Dir. Velcro Ripper followed by Q/A

1:50pm-2:45pm: Brick by Brick (2007) Documentary Feature

2:45pm-3:15pm: A Matter of Pace (2013) Documentary Short
Dir. Bill Kavanagh followed by Q/A

3:40pm-4:50pm: Broken on All Sides (2012) Documentary Feature
Dir. Matthew Pillischer followed by Skype Q/A

5:20pm-6:50pm: The Target Village (2013) US Premier Documentary Feature
Dir. Chie Mikami followed by Skype Q/A

7:30pm-9:30pm: X Years Later (2012) NY Premier Documentary Feature
Dir. Hideaki Itoh followed by Skype Q/A

Day 2: Sun. March 23, 2014 - 1:00pm-6:30pm

1:00pm-2:26pm: Forbidden Games (1952) Classic Feature
Dir. Rene Clement

2:30pm-2:40pm: Tears (2013) World Premier Animation Short
Dir. Yahya Ghobadi followed by Skype Q/A

3:05pm-4:05pm: Where Should the Birds Fly (2013) Documentary Feature
Dir. Fida Qishta followed by Q/A

4:30pm-5:00pm: 663114 (2011) Animation Short
Dir. Isamu Hirabayashi followed by Skype Q/A

5:00pm-6:00pm: Bidder 70 (2012) Documentary Feature
Dir. Beth & George Gage followed by Q/A

For complete description of each films, please go to

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Coastal ecosystem (and grunt sculpins) reviving in Tohoku's coastal waters...

Baby grunt sculpin returns to Minamisanriku's coastal waters. (Photo: Nagaaki Sato)

In "Life Returns to the Sea," Tomoko Nagano, editor of Huffpost Japan, details underwater photographer Nagaaki Sato's joy at the return of coastal Tohoku's sea life:
Mr. Sato has been observing the rich sea of Minamisanriku for more than 20 years. There was one specific little fish that caught Mr. Sato's attention called the grunt sculpin. "For me, this fish is like the bluebird that brings happiness..."

In June 2011, Mr. Sato dove into the sea he once called home for the first time after the earthquake, and the scenery had completely changed. "There is no color. The world lost its color." The tsunami carried away all the vibrant, colorful fish and the beautiful sands that decorated the sea of Minamisanriku. All that was left was miserable rubble.

In the three years since then, the area surrounding the ocean hasn't seen much improvement, but significant changes have been happening in the sea...

The grunt sculpin, the fish that changed Mr. Sato's life, has also returned to Minamisanriku after three years. "They're still very small. These babies grew up in this ocean after the disaster. I'm proud that they grew to this size. (speaking to the fish) You're so lively! You're swimming so fast!"
Note: The adorable grunt sculpin actually grunts, hence its name; uses spiny fins to walk along the ocean floor; hides in empty giant barnacle shells and bottles in ocean tidepools, rocky areas, sandy bottoms of shallow North Pacific coastlines.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jim Green: "Apologies & Apologists" (1,656 nuclear refugees living in temporary housing have have died from stress-related illness)

Thanks to Fresh Currents on FB for the head's up re Australian Friends of the Earth nuclear-free campaigner Jim Green's compilation of ongoing issues at Fukushima Dai-ichi, "Fukushima apologies and apologists," published on March 12, 2014, at the Business Spectator:
...In March 2013, a rat found its way into an electrical switchbox resulting in a power outage that left 8800 nuclear fuel assemblies without fresh cooling water for 21-29 hours. TEPCO delayed notifying the Nuclear Regulation Authority and local municipal officials about the incident. "We sincerely apologise. We are deeply regretful over the delay in reporting the incident and for causing anxiety to residents," said TEPCO representative Yoshiyuki Ishizaki.

On March 29, TEPCO belatedly acknowledged that the company's failings were responsible for the Fukushima disaster. Hirose apologised: "Our safety culture, skills, and ability were all insufficient. We must humbly accept our failure to prevent the accident, which we should have avoided by using our wisdom and human resources to be better prepared."

In April, TEPCO discovered that at least three of seven underground storage pools were seeping thousands of litres of radioactive water into the soil. Hirose travelled to Fukushima to apologise for the leaks...

Also in July, Hirose apologised to two local mayors for seeking permission from the Nuclear Regulation Agency to restart reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant without first consulting local officials: "We sincerely apologise for your having had cause to criticise us for making hasty and sloppy decisions without giving considerations to local opinions." In October, Niigata Prefecture governor Hirohiko Izumida − who effectively holds a veto over reactor restarts at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa − said TEPCO must address its "institutionalised lying" before it can expect to restart reactors...

...In November, Hirose apologised to the estimated 150,000 local residents who have been forced to leave their homes due to radiation levels, and may in some cases never be able to return: "I have visited Fukushima many times, met the evacuees, the fishing union, the farmers, many people whose businesses have been damaged very much. I feel very sorry for them."

...Last year the World Health Organisation released a report which concluded that for people in the most contaminated areas in Fukushima Prefecture, the estimated increased risk for all solid cancers will be around 4 per cent in females exposed as infants; a 6 per cent increased risk of breast cancer for females exposed as infants; a 7 per cent increased risk of leukaemia for males exposed as infants; and for thyroid cancer among females exposed as infants, an increased risk of up to 70 per cent (from a 0.75 per cent lifetime risk up to 1.25 per cent)...

Indirect deaths must also be considered, especially those resulting from the failure of TEPCO and government authorities to develop and implement adequate emergency response procedures. A September 2012 editorial in Japan Times noted that 1632 deaths occurred during or after evacuation from the triple-disaster; and nearly half (160,000) of the 343,000 evacuees were dislocated specifically because of the nuclear disaster...

In Fukushima Prefecture, 1656 people have died as a result of stress and other illnesses caused by the 2011 disaster according to information compiled by police and local governments and reported last month. That number exceeds the 1607 people in Fukushima Prefecture who were drowned by the tsunami or killed by the preceding earthquake.

"The biggest problem is the fact that people have been living in temporary conditions for so long," said Hiroyuki Harada, a Fukushima official dealing with victim assistance, "People have gone through dramatic changes of their environment. As a result, people who would not have died are dying."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Green Action: No one held criminally responsible for manmade Fukushima meltdowns; rush to restart nuclear plants in earthquake zones

Via our friends at Green Action Japan, a Kyoto-based citizen organization that believes Japanese energy policy should shift away from nuclear fuel cycle development to advancement of conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy sources.

Green Action researchers found that Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Agency, in a eight-month period, spent only 72 hours investigating the ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima, and 472 hours processing nuclear plant reapplications, and is, again, underestimating the hazards of operating nuclear plants in Japan's earthquake zones,  inadequately monitoring  hydrogen levels in containment vessels and other risk factors, and rushing restarts of plants.
Press Release: Third Anniversary of the 3.11 Great East Japan Earthquake ~
Those Responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident Not Held Accountable;  Japanese government pushing for restart of nuclear power

For further information contact: Aileen Mioko Smith +81-90-3620-9251

11 March 2014 (Kyoto, Japan)

No One Held Criminally Responsible for Man-Made Accident

Three years into the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, not a single individual has been held criminally responsible for the disaster. This is in spite of the fact NAIIC (The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission) stated on 5 July 2012 in its final report that, “The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly “manmade.”

Responsibility for Tsunami Underestimation Should Also be Investigated

In February 2002, those responsible in the Japanese government for establishing tsunami warning levels chose the estimate of the Nuclear Civil Engineering Committee of the Japan Society of Civil Engineers. This committee was and is riddled with people from the electric utilities, the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI), the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO), and the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC) . The government chose this committee’s estimate over the scientific estimate established by authoritative earthquake and tsunami experts, the Earthquake Research Committee of the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion.

Responsibility for this underestimation of the tsunami must also be investigated.

Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Prioritizes Restart of Nuclear Power Over Dealing with Fukushima Daiichi Disaster

The Nuclear Regulatory Agency does not keep a record of how Nuclear Regulation Authority commissioners spend their time. So Green Action tracked the time commissioners spent on dealing with the Fukushima Daiichi Accident (including radioactive discharges) vs. processing of electric utility applications for restarting nuclear reactors. We found that since 8 July 2013 through 6 March 2014 , only 72 hours and 22 minutes were spent on dealing with the Fukushima Daiichi accident vs. 472 hours and 35 minutes on processing applications for restart of nuclear reactors.

Japan’s Nuclear Authorities Are Yet Again Underestimating Earthquake Potential for Destroying Japanese Nuclear Power Plants

Japan is riddled with earthquake faults. There are innumerable earthquake faults under and in the vicinity of Japanese nuclear reactors. Electric utility applications uniformly are under-estimating the seismic motion that could occur in the vicinity of reactors. Electric utilities are using one method to determine the tsunami height potential in the event of an earthquake (the Takemura calculation method), but use a different method (the Irikura/Miyake calculation method) for the same earthquake when they determine the potential seismic motion that would strike the nuclear reactor site. Both look into high magnitude earthquakes but the Takemura method is modeled after past Japanese earthquakes (taking the average), whereas the Irikura/Miyake model uses (with the except of one earthquake which took place in Japan) past earthquakes that have occurred around the world (likewise taking the average).

The cause for the phenomena is unknown, but for any given earthquake area (length and width), the shift that occurs with Japanese earthquakes is greater than earthquakes that occur in other parts of the world, resulting in greater earthquake moment i.e. more earthquake motion. In fact, Japan’s average (i.e. the average derived by the Takemura calculation) is equal to the most severe end of worldwide earthquakes.

The result of using basically non-Japanese earthquakes to estimate the potential damage to nuclear reactors in Japan results in severe underestimation of the degree of damage that could occur if and when a serious earthquake strikes a Japanese nuclear reactor. For example, for the Ohi Unit 4 plant, Kansai Electric’s application under-estimates by 4.7 times the seismic motion that could hit the Ohi site. In other words, if Kansai Electric were to use the Takemura calculation method instead of the Irikura/Miyake method which it is using, Ohi would be hit by 4.7 times greater seismic motion. None of the Japanese reactors including the Ohi site would pass regulatory requirements if electric utility applicants used the Takemura calculation method.

In the NRA restart hearings, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency has pointed out the Takemura figure and told Kansai Electric that this and other methods should be used to calculate seismic motion at Ohi Unit 3. However, when asked if the NRA would actually follow up on this issue, it pretends that it never mentioned the Takemura method.

Will the Nuclear Regulatory Authority Break Its Own Rules?

During the assessment of whether reactors meet the new regulatory standards put in place on 8 July 2012, the NRA appears to be ready to break its own rules.

For example, new NRA regulations state that the level of hydrogen in the containment vessel cannot exceed 13%. This is for avoiding a hydrogen detonation . In spite of this being a new regulation, all electric utilities have undertaken only one modeling (all utilities use the same method to calculate the hydrogen concentration: GOTHIC) for the potential hydrogen concentration that could occur in the containment vessel in the event of an accident (using MAAP for the accident process that yields the hydrogen.)

For example, with the Ohi Unit 3 and 4 reactor applications, Kansai Electric’s estimate is that the degree of hydrogen concentration could go up to 12.8%. But since the margin of error for MAAP should be taken into consideration, the figure would exceed the 13% regulatory limit.

Nuclear Emergency Preparedness System Plans Not In Place

New regulations require plans for evacuation of all individuals around a 30km limit, the PAZ (Urgent Protective Action Planning Zone) of nuclear power reactors. There is also a PPA guideline (Plume Protection Planning Area), which would set requirements beyond a 30km limit. The government has stated they do not know when they can issue the PPA guideline.

No regional authorities have workable emergency preparedness plans in place.

Citizens from the northern end of Japan (Hokkaido) to the southern end of Japan (Kyushu) are holding meetings with the Nuclear Regulatory Agency and ANRE (Agency of Natural Resources and Energy, MITI), addressing safety and these nuclear emergency evacuation plans.

Restart Rush

There are zero nuclear power plants operating in Japan today. The NRA will probably be selecting one to two reactors on 13 March for fast-tracking the new regulatory requirement review process. Japanese media report that the NRA will probably be completing the inspection process for this/these application(s) by the end of April, with the aim of restarting the first reactor in June.

Citizens all over Japan are fighting to prevent restart of nuclear power in Japan.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The sound for PEACE GOEIKA『御詠歌 (hymn of praise) performed by the Nagoji Temple choir for those in Tohoku who died and those who need energy to rebuild their lives

Via artist, writer, musician, Alicia Bay Laurel:
In memory of those who perished in Tohoku three years ago, here is Yasushi Yamaguchi's video of a Goeika (a Buddhist hymn of praise intoned with bells or chimes) performed by the choir of Nagoji Temple in Tateyama, Chiba, Japan on July 7, 2012 as part of their Tanabata Festival.
This is the sound for peace from Japan to all over the world.
Flowers fall, but they will bloom again next season.
I am so sad, I can't see you anymore.
Your memories, love, and soul, I can feel forever.
Your place and my place are far apart, but I can feel you anytime.
Today is the anniversary of the day you left
Please let me connect your soul and my soul with a full smile
When our separate energies connect, 
Pure light comes out of these precious moments...
I took the photos of this ceremony in the beginning of the video. Later on in the video are photos of a ceremony in Tohoku on the second anniversary of the tragedy which Yasu attended.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Deep Kyoto: "Three years ago today" recounts an encounter with Japanese grace & generosity when stranded in a rural train station on 3/11/11

In "Three years ago today,"  Michael Lambe of Deep Kyoto, writes about being stranded during a sight-seeing trip in Wakayama, a rural region south of Kyoto, three years ago, when trains stopped running on  3/11.

Lambe, part of the KJ community, captures Japan's diverse facets and complex textures — missed by those who would paint Japan in flat negative or romantic stereotypes. The long-time resident of Japan recounts his contradictory experiences, with sensitivity and understanding.  Lambe acknowledges the discomfort that accompanies awareness of the few in Japan who support whale and dolphin killings; and the few more in Japan who would wish to reinstitute WWII-style authoritarianism and militarism that resulted in so much death and destruction in the  Asia-Pacific, including within Japan itself.

At the same time, Lambe pays tribute to the natural and cultural beauty of the archipelago, and the spontaneous kindness, generosity, and grace of many Japanese people.

His eloquent thoughts resonate with all who know and love Japan.  It was difficult to excerpt this beautiful essay/blog; every word and image contributes to the meaning of the whole:
On this day of remembrance, I would like to share with you some simple memories of March 11th that have taken me three years to properly digest. I was far removed from the disaster then, but of course the events of the day made a big impression on me...

Finally the railway company gave up on our stranded train, and buses were hired to carry us to Osaka. It was now evening and I will always remember what I saw from the window as our bus pulled away. The railway staff, who had never stopped apologizing, lined up outside the station, doffed their caps and bowed, and continued to bow to us until we were out of sight. And we in turn bowed to them. I suppose this is not an unusual gesture in this country. But something about that simple, gentle civility touched me then and continues to touch me now. There are those who would have you believe that Japan is best represented by its nationalist politicians, or its bureaucrats, or by whaling and dolphin hunting communities in some coastal areas. These are aspects of Japan that should not be ignored, but they are also a tiny part of the main. It is people like those who helped us that day, the cheerful local shopkeepers, the bento lunch box makers and the railway workers, always doing their best, looking out for those in need, taking responsibility for a situation as it arises – they make up the backbone of Japan. People like that raised funds for Tohoku. They were the ones who volunteered. They keep this country ticking. Simple, working, well-mannered people concerned for their fellows. They doff their caps, and I love them for it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

3/11/14 Links: 267,000 evacuees still displaced; more lawsuits; post-disaster reconstruction hurt by 2020 Olympics

"Japan’s Quake Survivors Still in Temporary Homes 3 Years On" (Kathleen Chu and Joji Mochida, Bloomberg, March 11, 2014):
Women sit inside a temporary housing unit in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture.
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg 

“It’s cold in the winter and the walls are so thin that you can hear our neighbors’ footsteps; they must hear us too,” said Nishihara, whose heart condition has worsened since the catastrophe. “We thought about buying, but because of my illness, I can’t take out loans. The only way out of this is to move to public housing.”

...Only 1,011 units out of a proposed 29,500 for public housing were completed as of February in eight prefectures in the northeast, according to estimates from the land ministry. Japan set up the program for people who lost their homes in the disaster and are unable to rebuild on their own...

“Temporary housing is becoming very old everywhere; most people want to move to public projects,” he said. “The reconstruction isn’t taking shape in a way that we can see any progress.”
"Survivors still overwhelmed by 3/11 losses: Slow progress three years on finds more victims suing state, Tepco" (Kyodo via JT, March 11, 2014)
Memorial services were held across the country, with a moment of silence observed at 2:46 p.m. when the massive quake occurred and forced the evacuation of about 470,000 people in the ensuing chaotic days...

More than 3,000 people have died since the disasters from stress-related factors, including suicide, with many of these fatalities coming among people living in evacuation centers.

On Monday, 602 evacuees joined ongoing lawsuits at the Tokyo, Yamagata, Niigata, Maebashi and Yokohama district courts.

In the Tokyo court suit, 234 evacuees from 73 households newly demanded ¥4.6 billion in damages. The plaintiffs include a Tepco employee who was working at the nuclear plant at the time of the meltdowns in March 2011 and is now on sick leave.

New damages suits were filed by 167 people at the Tokyo, Okayama, Saitama and Matsuyama district courts.

At the Tokyo court, 43 people from 21 households who have vacation homes in Fukushima Prefecture filed a new lawsuit demanding a total of ¥1.3 billion in damages for their properties.

"POINT OF VIEW: Don't let disaster-stricken Tohoku region remain as Tokyo’s ‘colony'" (Yuzuru Tsuboi, Asahi, March 11, 2014)
... 2,973 people died of causes related to the disaster, such as deteriorating health resulting from the evacuation and suicide, in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the three worst-affected prefectures in the Tohoku region.

In Fukushima Prefecture, the number of deaths resulting from evacuation after the nuclear accident exceeded that of the earthquake and tsunami.

About 267,000 people nationwide are still displaced due to the 2011 disaster.

About 104,000 households live in temporary housing.

"Tohoku kids stressed, haunted by trauma: Anxieties bottled up amid life in shelters with parents living under duress" (Mizuho Aoki, JT, March 10, 2014):
Three years have passed. But it will take much more time for these children to gain a sense of belonging or to be able to make efforts toward self-realization."
As general contractors enjoy increasing demand in Tokyo to prepare the capital for hosting the Games, disaster-affected areas are facing severe shortages of labor and building materials, as local officials feared in the survey.

March 11, 2014 - Beautiful Energy's Global Candles Chain of light to honor survivors who lost their lives or loved ones, their homes, communities, and livelihoods on 3/11...

Today, March 11, will mark 3 years since the Northeastern Earthquake and Tsunami hit Japan, killing 15,884 people, destroying numerous villages along the Tohoku coast and disrupting the lives of millions. The whereabouts of 2,633 others remained unknown. On the same day the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster put an end to the peaceful lives and livelihoods of many people living in the vicinity of the plant.

2,973 people have died of suicide and other stress-related causes related to the evacuation, in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the three worst-affected prefectures in the Tohoku region. In Fukushima Prefecture, more people have died from the evacuation than the natural disasters. 

267,000 people are still displaced, living in temporary housing and makeshift facilities. 

This candle joins prayers for support, healing, and strength for all victims and survivors of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns, especially for those who lost loved ones, their homes, communities and livelihoods by the natural disasters and the nuclear disaster; and reflects appreciation for  all who are remembering and supporting survivors (including animals) at this zone of thoughts of peace and healing co-created by Beautiful Energy-Global Candles Chain.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beyond the Fog of War: Widening remembrance of the victims of the firebombings of Tokyo, 66 other Japanese cities, Chinese cities, & all bombings in world history...

In Errol Morris’s documentary "Fog of War," 
former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara details the firebombings of Japan.
Why was it necessary to drop the nuclear bomb if LeMay was burning up Japan? And he went on from Tokyo to firebomb other cities. 58% of Yokohama...Tokyo is roughly the size of New York. 51% percent of New York destroyed. 99% of the equivalent of Chattanooga, which was Toyama. 40% of the equivalent of Los Angeles, which was Nagoya. This was all done before the dropping of the nuclear bomb, which, by the way, was dropped by LeMay's command. 

Proportionality should be a guideline in war. Killing 50 to 90% of people in 67 Japanese cities and then bombing them with two nuclear bombs is not proportional, in the minds of some people...LeMay said if we lost the war, we'd all be prosecuted as war criminals, and I think he's right. 

- Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Fog of War
Today is the 69th anniversary of the U.S. fire bombing of residential Tokyo. This was the most destructive bombing raid in world history. On March 10, 1945, 334 B-29 American bombers dropped napalm and white phosphorus incendiary bombs that destroyed 16 square miles of buildings and killed (minimum estimates) 100,000 people, and wounded another 150,000, almost all civilians, in Tokyo.

The Japanese government has apologized to survivors of Japanese carpet bombings in China; memorialized victims of the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, provided compensation to hibakusha; memorialized the military dead at Yasukuni, and provided compensation to Japanese Second World War veterans. However, the Japanese government has never commemorated the hundreds of thousands of victims of the firebombing of Tokyo and other historic Japanese cities, or compensated survivors, all whom were children at the time of the bombings.

Incongruously, the Japanese government, instead, honored Gen. Curtis LeMay, the commander of the “Superfortress” bombers that firebombed Tokyo and 66 other Japanese cities.  He designed the firebombing campaigns in a way that would maximize suffering of Japanese civilians; oversaw "Operation Starvation," designed to stop food from reaching civilians; and commanded the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  In 1964, during the administration of former PM Eisaku Sato, a 1974 Nobel Peace Laureate, LeMay was awarded the Grand Cordon Order of the Rising Sun, given to those who have made "distinguished achievements in the following fields; international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, advancements in their field, development in welfare or preservation of the environment."

Some of the plaintiffs of the Tokyo firebombing lawsuit

Last year, the Japanese Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against the Japanese government by civilian victims and relatives of those who died on March 10. The plaintiffs demanded an apology and damages over the U.S. firebombing of Tokyo; all were children during the war; many became orphaned.

In December 2009, the Tokyo District Court dismissed the original suit filed by 131 plaintiffs who were demanding a government apology and ¥1.44 billion in damages. In April 2012, the Tokyo High Court turned down an appeal, citing the hundreds of thousands of other firebombing victims who received no acknowledgement and compensation from the government.

The task of remembering and commemorating the victims of the Tokyo and other Japanese firebombings has been left to the aging survivors, their descendants, and civil society.

Charred body of a woman who was carrying a child on her back. 
(Photo: Taken on March 10, 1945 by Koyo Ishikawa (1904-1989))

The task of remembering of all victims of bombings worldwide needs more attention by journalists, scholars, and civil society.

Locals from Chungking, China, left homeless by Japanese bombing, May 1939. 
(Photograph: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via The Guardian)

Ayoko Mie's "New map shines light on Tokyo air raid horrors: Scholars record wartime history politicians would rather forget," posted at JT yesterday explains how the Great Tokyo Air Raids Life of Victims Map created by the Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage shows how Tokyo residents tried to flee the bombs and fires:
The Life of Victims Map is the most comprehensive effort to visualize the overall effect of the raids because it includes those killed by raids other than Operation Meetinghouse. Over 100 air raids were carried out on the capital after November 1944...

U.S. forces went on to conduct air raids on 66 Japanese cities in the final months the war. Over a 10-day period beginning on March 9, 1945, the strikes destroyed 40 percent of those 66 cities, according to scholar Mark Seldon’s research paper “Bombs Bursting in Air: State and Citizen Responses to the U.S. Firebombing and Atomic Bombing of Japan.”

Yet the central government has conducted little research on the air raids, even the ones on Tokyo, despite their gravity.

“In a sense, over-concentration on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has overshadowed the dozens of cities attacked by firebombing,” said Cary Karacas, assistant professor of geography at the College of Staten Island, who with author Bret Fisk launched the bilingual historical archive Japan Air in 2010.

It was not until 1970 that the impact of the Tokyo air raids would begin to be scrutinized by a citizens’ group led by Katsumoto Saotome, director of the Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage, with the support of then-Tokyo Gov. Ryokichi Minobe.

“The central government didn’t want to recognize the fact that much damage was caused in Japan’s capital city, Tokyo, and they did not want to compensate non-military Japanese people who suffered from the bombing,” said the 81-year-old Saotome, who was 12 when the bombs began dropping.
In "Tokyo firebombing and unfinished U.S. business," posted at JT on Feb. 15, historian Jeff Kingston provides more context and details of the firebombings; calling into question the judgment of the Japanese government; and blaming both Japan's wartime government and the Truman administration for prolonging the war, which resulted in deaths of American troops and hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians:
Prolonging the war meant there was a price to be paid and, as in most modern conflicts, civilians paid the highest price. The firebombing campaign left some 5 million people homeless throughout Japan, killing perhaps 500,000 civilians and wounding another 400,000 — excluding the Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims. LeMay also oversaw Operation Starvation, a strategy to mine Japan’s coastal waters and ports from the air, so disrupting shipping and the distribution of food. This supplemented a very effective submarine blockade...

The ashes of more than 100,000 air-raid victims are interred at Yokoamicho Park in Sumida Ward, where there is a modest memorial. And in Koto Ward, documents and oral histories have been assembled at a private library/museum — but there is no publicly funded Tokyo Firebombing Museum or state memorial commensurate with the scale of this ghastly event.

In 1990, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government set up a committee to prepare plans for a memorial, but in his recent book “Tokyo Vernacular,” Jordan Sand, a professor at Georgetown University, states that “this was ultimately derailed by politicians on the right and the national bureaucracy.”
In "Bombs Bursting in Air: State and citizen responses to the US firebombing and Atomic bombing of Japan," scholar Mark Selden has taken an in-depth look at the human consequences of the firebombings of Japan's cities. Selden argues that many more than 100,000 died on March 9-10.  He further demonstrates that LeMay's campaign against Japanese civilians set the stage for his bombings of Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and later bombings Afghanistan, and Iraq, in the context of the culture of celebration of war:
The Strategic Bombing Survey provided a technical description of the firestorm and its effects on Tokyo...

The survey concluded—plausibly, but only for events prior to August 6, 1945—that “probably more persons lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a 6-hour period than at any time in the history of man...The largest number of victims were the most vulnerable: women, children and the elderly.”

 ...The figure of roughly 100,000 deaths, provided by Japanese and American authorities, both of whom may have had reasons of their own for minimizing the death toll, seems to me arguably low in light of population density, wind conditions, and survivors’ accounts...

Following the Tokyo raid of March 9-10, the firebombing was extended nationwide. In the ten-day period beginning on March 9, 9,373 tons of bombs destroyed 31 square miles of Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe. Overall, bombing strikes destroyed 40 percent of the 66 Japanese cities targeted... the slaughter of civilian populations on a scale that had no parallel in the history of bombing.

...Overall, by Sahr Conway-Lanz’s calculation, the US firebombing campaign destroyed 180 square miles of 67 cities, killed more than 300,000 people and injured an additional 400,000, figures that exclude the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki...

Throughout the spring and summer of 1945 the US air war in Japan reached an intensity that is still perhaps unrivaled in the magnitude of human slaughter...The point is not to separate the United States from other participants in World War II, but to suggest that there is more common ground in the war policies of Japan and the United States in their disregard of citizen victims than is normally recognized in the annals of history and journalism...

With area bombing at the core of its strategic agenda, US attacks on cities and noncombatants would run the gamut from firebombing, napalming, and cluster bombing to the use of chemical defoliants and depleted uranium weapons and bunker buster bombs in an ever expanding circle of destruction whose recent technological innovations center on the use of drones controlling the skies and bringing terror to inhabitants below.

Less noted then and since were the systematic barbarities perpetrated by Japanese forces against resistant villagers, though this produced the largest number of the estimated ten to thirty million Chinese who lost their lives in the war, a number that far surpasses the half million or more Japanese noncombatants who died at the hands of US bombing, and may have exceeded Soviet losses to Nazi invasion conventionally estimated at 20 million lives...

 Washington immediately announced the atomic bomb’s destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and released the iconic photographs of the mushroom cloud... was banned under the occupation were close-up images of victims whether of the firebombing or the atomic bombing captured on film by Japanese photographers, that is, the human face of the atomic holocaust...

We reflect on the fact that there is no Sadako of the firebombing of Japanese cities, no carbonized lunchbox relic known to the world, or even to Japanese children. Yet there was precisely the killing of myriad mothers and children in those not quite forgotten raids. We need to expand the canvas of our imagination to encompass a wider range of victims of American bombing in this and other wars, just as Japanese need to set their experience as bomb victims against the Chinese and Asia-Pacific victims of their war and colonialism. Nor should American responsibility for its bomb victims end with the recovery of memory. It requires a sensibility embodied in official apology and reparations for victims, and a consciousness embodied in public monuments and national military policies that is fundamentally at odds with American celebrations of its wars.
Additional links:

"Children's World Peace Statue (Tokyo)"-- Plans for this statue and diligent fundraising
 were conducted by Tokyo junior and senior high school students while studying about
 the effects of the conventional and atomic air raids.
(Image: The Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage, Koto Ward, Tokyo) 

The Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage

One of the participants of a group of Tokyo residents paying pilgrimage to landmarks dedicated to the victims 
of the Great Tokyo Air Raids gives an offering to the Buddhist deity of mercy in Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward 
on March 2, 2014, ahead of the 69th anniversary of the U.S. bombing on the capital. 
(Photo: Hirotaka Kojo, Asahi)

"VOX POPULI: Anniversary of 1945 Tokyo air raid warns us against past mistakes" (Asahi, March 10, 2014) 

"Woman's picture book recalls how mother saved her in Tokyo firebombing" (Hirotaka Kojo, Asahi, March 6, 2014)

"Fire Bombings and Forgotten Civilians: The Lawsuit Seeking Compensation for Victims of the Tokyo Air Raids" (Cary Karacas, The Asia-Pacific Journal, January 17, 2011)

"The Firebombing of Tokyo: Views from the Ground" (Brett Fisk and Cary Karakas, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Jan. 17, 2011)

"China and Japan at War: Suffering and Survival, 1937-1945" (Diana Lary, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Nov. 29, 2010)

"The Great Tokyo Air Raid and the Bombing of Civilians in World War II", The Asahi Shimbun, reposted at The Asia-Pacific Journal, March 11, 2010)

"A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities and the American Way of War from World War II to Iraq [*]" (Mark Selden, The Asia-Pacific Journal, May 2, 2007)


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Souls of Zen - Buddhism, Ancestors, & the 2011 Tsunami in Japan; collective forgetting of coastal Tohoku's historic villages; and those left behind....

Souls of Zen – Buddhism, Ancestors, and the 2011 Tsunami in Japan follows the "greatest religious mobilization in Japan's postwar history." Filmed from March to December 2011, the documentary by Tim Graf, a graduate student at Tohoku University, and director/cinematographer Jakob Montrasio explored  the everyday lives of Buddhist professionals in the disaster zone, and Japan’s tradition of ancestor veneration in the wake of 3/11, focusing on Soto Zen and Jodo Pure Land Buddhism.

"Tsunami zone’s village culture fades into fog of history,"a soulful article by historian Jeff Kingston, published at JT today, updates Tim Graf's engagement with survivors. The young scholar's views are now more subdued in light of the collective forgetting of this historic coastal region, as he describes many survivors (and perhaps himself) experiencing what psychologists would recognize as symptoms of collective post-traumatic stress:
True, some of the larger towns seem to be on the rebound, but in between, the visitor is confronted by many “missing teeth” along Tohoku’s saw-tooth seaboard. A number of these towns were already dying, with the tsunami providing the coup de grace. We can better appreciate what Tohoku’s shoreline villages represented now that they have been washed away and former residents are marooned in soulless temporary-housing ghettoes where the greatest risks are isolation and boredom. Are we ready to write off the charming hamlets that used to be such a key feature of this coastal culture? I guess so, but recalling my initial visit there in 1982, I can’t help but feel nostalgia for this disappearing Japan...

Tim Graf, a Ph.D. candidate in religious studies at Heidelberg University and research associate at Tohoku University, made a poignant and haunting video about the tragic events in 2011 titled, “Souls of Zen — Buddhism, Ancestors, and the Tsunami in Japan” ( Recently, Graf shared some of his reflections...

Conducting fieldwork is easier, Graf says, because people “are so happy to have someone to talk to, they just pour out their hearts, as fewer volunteers come by to listen these days.”

...Graf observes: “Of course, I knew that I wouldn’t be ‘done’ with the disaster topic, nor did I think that the people of Tohoku felt better three years on — I knew that life was no movie — but going back to the tsunami zone three years later had an even stronger impact on me. I think it was a shock to see that nothing had changed — and now, many new problems, and the fear that this would never end. My informants looked older — tired and exhausted, trapped in time.”

He adds: “It really surprised me how 3/11 continues to be one ever-growing mess. There is simply no end in sight; no recovery, nothing. Things only seemed to get worse. For many people, there is recovery. But things develop differently for different people. And I fear this gap will only widen over time. I think this must be even more stressful for those who feel left behind...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Links: Nuclear refugees may be in temporary housing for years to come; Tohoku recovery slow, nonexistent; Stress-related deaths in Tohoku: 2,973

"Lack of bids threatens to keep Fukushima evacuees in temporary lodgings" (via FUKUSHIMA MINPO via JT, Feb. 16, 2014 )
Because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that unfolded in March 2011, six towns and villages that had to be evacuated — Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba, Namie, Katsurao and Iitate — plan to build “out-of-town” communities where reinforced public apartments play a central role. The prefecture plans to build 4,890 units to house people from these and 13 other municipalities.

The prefecture has not come up with good ideas to expedite public housing, and the evacuees are facing the very real possibility they could be in temporary lodging for years to come. The fastest project to be completed so far is the 20-unit complex in Koriyama, which won’t start accepting residents until October.

When the evacuees move in, the prefectural government plans to let groups of residents who formed close ties in the shelters occupy neighboring units at the new apartments so those relationships can be preserved.

This is a lesson learned from the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, when the shift to permanent public housing severed bonds the evacuees had formed in its aftermath, leaving them socially isolated and leading to a surge in solitary deaths.
"Majority of Tohoku mayors say recovery slow or nonexistent," (via JT via Kyodo, March 2):
The chiefs of the radiation-tainted towns of Namie and Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture meanwhile said no progress was being made at all on reconstruction, even though all their residents have fled to avoid the radiation spewed by the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

In Iwate and Miyagi, municipality heads said the rebuilding of homes and infrastructure including roads, railway and port facilities has been slow.

Many mayors expressed concern that public attention is increasingly shifting from Tohoku’s plight to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The death toll from the March 2011 disasters stood at 15,884 as of Feb. 10, with 2,636 still unaccounted for, according to the National Police Agency.
"THREE YEARS AFTER: Stress-related deaths reach 2,973 in Tohoku," (by Shinichi Fujiwara and Shiori Tabuchi, Asahi, March 7):
As of the end of January, in the three hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, 2,973 people had died from physical and psychological fatigue since the disaster struck on March 11, 2011, the survey showed.

Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, accounted for 1,660 of those deaths, compared with 1,607 deaths directly caused by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

The stress-related death toll was 879 for Miyagi Prefecture and 434 for Iwate Prefecture, according to the survey.

In Fukushima Prefecture, more than 130,000 people have been evacuated because of the nuclear accident, and the emotional strain from living away from home is taking a toll.

“Older people tend to get ill due to changes in their environments,” a prefectural government official said. “Stress from anxiety about an unforeseeable return home also affects their health and can lead to death.”

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Links: Tokyo prosecutors drop charges against TEPCO; Nuclear crisis suicide & stress-related death toll: 1,656 victims in Fukushima

No one has been held accountable for the multiple nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima.  AFP-Jiji's "Hundreds rally in Tokyo against dropped Fukushima crisis charges" details the injuries to the 15,000 people who brought a 2012 criminal complaint against the Japanese government and TEPCO.  (They are among the 160,000 who were evacuated after their communities were contaminated by nuclear radiation, forcing them to leave.  83,000 Fukushima residents are from the highly irradiated 20-kilometer evacuation zone.)   In September, 2013, prosecutors decided not to charge any TEPCO or government officials with negligence:
Hundreds rallied Saturday in Tokyo to protest a decision by prosecutors to drop charges over the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, meaning no one has been indicted, let alone punished, nearly three years after a calamity ruled “man-made.”

Official records do not list anyone as having died as a direct result of radioactive fallout after tsunami unleashed by the 9.0-magnitude quake of March 11, 2011, crashed into the Fukushima No. 1 plant, swamping cooling systems and causing three reactor meltdowns.

Excluded from those records are Fukushima residents who committed suicide owing to fears about the fallout showered on their hometowns, while others died during the evacuation process. Official data released last week showed that 1,656 people have died in the prefecture from stress and other illnesses related to the nuclear crisis.

“There are many victims of the accident, but no one” has been charged, chief rally organiser Ruiko Muto, 61, told the protesters, displaying a photo of the village of Kawauchi, which fell inside the no-go zone...

Campaigners immediately appealed the decision to the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, which has the power to order the defendants be tried. The committee members comprise 11 citizens who are chosen at random by lot. But since the appeal had to be filed in Tokyo instead of Fukushima, campaigners said the move was “aimed at preventing us from filing a complaint against their decision in Fukushima, where many residents share our anger and grief.”

...Campaigners allege that state officials and Tepco executives failed to take measures to bolster the plant against a natural disaster of the magnitude of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. They also hold them responsible for delays in announcing how the radiation was projected to spread from the No. 1 plant...

Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer representing the campaigners, said “there were lots of measures that officials could have taken to prevent the disaster.”

“We won’t give up (pushing for) indictment of the officials,” he said.

Campaigners last year filed a separate complaint to prosecutors over Tepco’s handling of the buildup of massive amounts of contaminated water used to cool the No. 1 plant’s wrecked reactors, accusing the utility of committing pollution-related crimes.

Separately, senior Tepco and government officials face several civil lawsuits that were filed by thousands of plaintiffs seeking compensation for mental and financial damage. The plaintiffs are demanding the full restoration of their hometowns to the pre-disaster state.
The Telegraph interviewed Aileen Mioko-Smith, of Kyoto-based Green Action for its report, "Prosecutors drop charges over Fukushima nuclear disaster":
"The investigation clearly stated this was an accident created by humans, not a natural disaster, but the judicial system here has now decided to side with the powers-that-be," she said.

"The government will be happy with the decision, but it is completely irresponsible," she said. "And I fear that failing to prosecute in this case will lead to another disaster in the future."
This  March 1JT editorial, "Fukushima’s appalling death toll" assigns blame for suicides and stress-related deaths to TEPCO and the Japanese government.  Furthermore, it cites studies demonstrating harm from 3/11, is ongoing, as a result of inadequate response by the Japanese Ministry of Health, especially for survivors still living in temporary housing:
The latest report from Fukushima revealed that more people have died from stress-related illnesses and other maladies after the disaster than from injuries directly linked to the disaster. The report compiled by prefectural authorities and local police found that the deaths of 1,656 people in Fukushima Prefecture fall into the former category. That figure surpasses the 1,607 people who died from disaster-related injuries...

In another report, the first of its kind since the disaster, the lifetime risk of cancer for young children was found to have increased because of exposure to radiation...

These two reports both show that despite the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s claims that things are under control, the disaster continues to threaten the lives and well-being of people in the hardest hit areas of Fukushima, Miyage and Iwate prefectures...

The government and Tepco could work to speed up the process of compensation. That’s especially important considering that about 90 percent of those who have died since the initial 3/11 toll were at least 66 years old. In so doing, they would considerably lower the stress on people still living in temporary housing or in difficult conditions...

There is still much left to protest about. Included on the long agenda of Fukushima disaster-related problems that still need to be dealt with should be improving the lives of disaster victims.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Global Candle Chain - 3/11 Third Anniversary Remembrance by Beautiful Energy @The World

(Photo by Teppei Sato (c))

Via our friends at Beautiful Energy:

Global Candle Chain - 3/11 Third Anniversary Remembrance by Beautiful Energy

When: Tuesday, March 11, 2014,  2:45pm in UTC+11

Where: The World


Light a candle this coming March 11 and join the Beautiful Energy - Global Candles Chain in memory of the triple disaster of March 11, 2011 and in solidarity with the global stand for a nuclear-free world.

March 11 it will be 3 years since the Northeastern Earthquake and Tsunami hit Japan, killing over 15,000 people, destroying numerous villages along the Tohoku coast and disrupting the lives of millions.

On that same day the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster also put an end to the peaceful lives of many people living in the vicinity of the plant.

Helps us create a global chain of light to honor those who lost their lives or loved ones.

Last year over 900 people in 47 countries joined our global candle chain. See here for many beautiful photos

You can join from anywhere in the world. Anytime on March 11 between 2.46pm Japan time (the time the earthquake first struck ) and midnight in your country light a candle and stand one minute (or more) in silence.

Send us a photo of your candle, if you will. Upload to this page or send by email to
Or post on twitter or instagram with hashtag #candlesforpeace

And spread the word! Share this event page with your friends. The more people and countries join, the more powerful our chain will be!

Here are the global starting times of the chain:

イベント開始時刻 / Start time


6.46pm New Zealand (Auckland)
4.46pm Australia (Sydney)
2.46pm Japan, South Korea
1.46pm China & Hong Kong, Mongolia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines
12.46pm Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam
11.16am India, Sri Lanka
9.16am Iran
9.46am Russia (Moscow)
7.46am Finland, Estonia, Israel, Greece, Rwanda, South-Africa
6.46am Europe: Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland
5.46am Europe (UK & Scotland)
2.46am Brazil, Argentina, Trinidad, Chile
1.46am USA (Washington, New York, EST)
1.46am Canada (Toronto)
00.46am Peru
10.46pm Canada (Vancouver) (March 10)
> 10.46pm USA: (Los Angeles) (March 10)
> 7.46pm Hawaii (March 10)

来る3.11に、東日本大震災により、地震・津波・原発事故と、三重の被害を受けた方々への追悼と核のない世界を願い、世界中でキャンドルを灯すことで私たちのBeautiful Energyに参加しませんか?

Global Candle Chainは、世界中どこからでも、キャンドルに火を灯すことで参加できるワールドワイドなイベントです。



去年の3.11には、900人以上、47カ国の世界中の人々がこのGlobal Candle Chainへ参加されました。



1.Instagram、Twitterを利用する( #candlesforpeace のタグを使ってください)

311 Global Candles for Peaceは、オープンなイベントです。日本はもちろん、各国にお住まいの友人・家族にぜひこの活動を共有してくださいね。


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Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 1: 60th Anniversary of the "Castle Bravo" Thermonuclear Explosion on Bikini Atoll; Fukushima nuclear refugee visits Marshall Islands to learn from survivors of radiation & displacement

March 1, 1954 "Castle Bravo" Thermonuclear Explosion on Bikini Atoll

March 1 is the 60th anniversary of the 1954 experimental explosion of a thermonuclear bomb on Bikini Atoll, an island that was part of a United Nations Trust Territory  administered by Washington. Codenamed Castle Bravo, the 15-megaton bomb was America's largest nuclear device and one of 67 nuclear bombings of Bikini and neighboring Eniwitok atoll.

Nuclear Remembrance Day (Marshall Islands), formally known as Nuclear Victims' Day and Nuclear Survivors' Day is a national holiday in the Marshall Islands honoring the victims and survivors of nuclear testing.

Bikini's fate as a nuclear testing ground was set on February 10, 1946, when Commodore Ben H. Wyatt spoke with King Judah, the leader of the Bikinians. Wyatt, the military governor of the Marshall Islands, told King Judah that Bikinians had an opportunity to bring about world peace.  Wyatt likened Bikinians to the children of Israel whom the Lord saved from their enemy and led unto the Promised Land. They only needed to agree to leaving their home “temporarily” so that the United States could explode a thermonuclear bomb on their island “for the good of mankind and to end all world wars."

King Judah, speaking for his people, devout Christians after decades of missionary activity on the island, replied, "If the United States government and the scientists of the world want to use our island and atoll for furthering development, which with God’s blessing will result in kindness and benefit to all mankind, my people will be pleased to go elsewhere.”

Thereupon, Navy Seabees helped disassemble the Bikinian church and community house and relocated the Bikinians 125 miles (201 km) eastward to Rongerik Atoll. This uninhabited island was one-sixth the size of Bikini Atoll and lacked water and food supply. The Navy left them with a few weeks of food and water, then abandoned them from July 1946 through July of 1947. A team of U.S. investigators concluded in late 1947 that the islanders must be moved immediately. Journalist Harold Ickes wrote, "The natives are actually and literally starving to death."

Castle Bravo hit Bikini with the force of 1,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs. Fallout (that resembled snow except it didn't melt) flowed down upon the residents of Rongelap and Utrik Atolls.  After the Cold War, declassified documents showed that, before the bombing,  the U.S. had organized  Project 4.1,"The Study of Response of Human Beings Exposed to Significant Beta and Gamma Radiation Due to Fallout from High Yield Weapons,” a medical study of the residents of the Marshall Islands exposed to radioactive fallout from Castle Bravo.

Rongelapese (Marshall Islands) child exposed to radiation from the Bravo Test. (Image:

Bravo's radioactive snow went far beyond the northern atolls of the Marshall Islands. 82 miles away, fallout drenched the 23-member crew of Lucky Dragon, a Japanese fishing boat, and, in the same vicinity, unacknowledged victims on 1,000 other boats and ships out at sea during Bravo and other explosions.  The Asahi has brought to light some of the victims' experiences in "‘Forgotten’ victims of U.S. H-bomb testing dying in despair, hopelessness." The Mainichi noted that U.S. government paid "condolence money" to the Japanese government, but did not compensate the actual victims exposed to the bombs' radioactive"death ash."

The contamination of the Lucky Dragon and other vessels in the Pacific (in an area that ranged from the Marshall Islands to Japan to Taiwan and beyond) gave rise to a vigorous postwar anti-nuclear movement in Japan.

Washington encouraged Bikini islanders to return in 1969, when officials deemed the island "safe" after an attempted "clean up."  However, Bikini islanders were forced to leave again in the 1970's when it was revealed their homeland would never be safe for habitation.

In response to the massive Bravo nuclear explosion, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev ordered nuclear weapons designer Andrei Sakharov to create a bomb even more mind-boggling than Bravo. The result: a series of cataclysmic 20- to 50-megaton nuclear explosions in the Novaya Zemiya archipelago in the Arctic. The largest, the Tsar Bomb was designed to be 100 megatons, however frightened by the potential massive fallout, Sakharov halved its power.

On Oct. 30, 1961, the 50-ton nuclear device's mushroom cloud rose 40 miles (64 km) high after an atom bomb inside the device detonated a series of thermonuclear reactions.  It destroyed buildings 70 miles away and its shockwaves shattered windows in Scandinavia.

The Tsar Bomb was one in the last series of Soviet nuclear explosions conducted in the open atmosphere. The shocking levels of destruction from the Tsar Bomb and  radiation from Castle Bravo led the US and the Soviet Union to agree to an atmospheric test ban treaty in 1963.

Even before the use of the bomb during the Second World War, in July 1945, 155 Manhattan Project scientists signed a petition to Harry Truman stating they believed the offensive use of the nuclear bomb against Japan would be morally wrong and  catastrophic in consequences. Similarly, soon after the explosion of the Tsar Bomb, its creator Andrei Sakharov experienced a moral conversion, and became a witness against nuclear weapons proliferation:
A terrible crime had been committed, and I couldn’t prevent it! A feeling of impotence, unbearable bitterness, shame and humiliation overcame me. I dropped my face on the table and wept. This was probably the most terrible lesson of my life: you can’t sit on two chairs.
In the decades since the declassification of documents about the secret human radiation experimentation upon the people of the Marshall Islands, we have seen the development of cross-border sharing and solidarity between survivors of the 2,056 experimental nuclear bombs that nuclear nations have exploded throughout the world.  The concept of "global hibakusha" has entered public consciousness, and now includes victims of uranium mining, depleted uranium testing and use in warfare, nuclear waste disposal, and nuclear plant meltdowns.

Keiko Takahashi, third from right, attends a Mass for victims of nuclear experiments in Majuro, Marshall Islands, on Feb. 27. (Photo: Hajimu Takeda, Asahi)

This year a young nuclear refugee, Keiko Takahashi visited the Marshall Islands to help her understanding of the consequences of nuclear fallout in Fukushima. Takahashi was forced to leave her home in Okuma has only been able to visit her home once since her family's evacuation shortly after 3/11. The Fukushima University student called for continued dialogue, solidarity, and collaborative action between victims of nuclear radiation worldwide:
A clue to achieving a nuclear-free world will be found when people who suffered damage join hands, share lessons and face challenges.
In 1996, after France's experimental nuclear explosions in French Polynesia resulted in outrage in the Asia-Pacific and worldwide, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty but it has not entered into force because China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States have signed but not ratified the Treaty; and India, North Korea and Pakistan have not signed it. 


Nuclear Savage: Islands of Secret Project 4.1 (documentary film by Adam Jonas Horowitz that exposes the decades of human radiation testing after Castle Bravo. The people of Rongelap describe an unbelievable level of suffering from recurring cancers, miscarriages, and birth defects that have affected multiple generations)

"Student visits bombed Marshall Islands to find way for Fukushima revival," (Hajimu Takeda, Asahi, March 2, 2014)

"Nuclear Conquistadors: Military Colonialism in Nuclear Test Site Selection during the Cold War" (Robert Jacobs, Asian Journal of Peacebuilding Vol. 1 No. 2, Nov. 2013): 157-177)

United Nations Report Reveals the Ongoing Legacy of Nuclear Colonialism in the Marshall Islands ( Robert Jacobs & Mick Broderick, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Nov. 19, 2012)

"BRAVO and Today: US Nuclear Tests in the Marshall Islands" (Tony de Brum, The Asia-Pacific Journal, May 19, 2005)

"Bikini and the Hydrogen Bomb: A Fifty Year Perspective" (Senator Tomaki Juda and Charles J. Hanley, The Asia-Pacific Journal, April 25, 2004)

"Islanders Want The Truth About Bikini Nuclear Test" (Yoichi Funabashi, The Asia-Pacific Journal, March 3, 2004)

"Nuclear War: Uranium Mining and Nuclear Tests on Indigenous Lands" (Cultural Survival, Fall 1993)

 "Secrets of the Dead: The World’s Biggest Bomb" (PBS, 2011)

More background, via  Our Islands Are Sacred on Facebook:

“History Project," written and performed by Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Darlene Keju, Speech to World Council of Churches, Vancouver, 1983

Banning nuclear weapons: a Pacific Islands perspective, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) report presented to the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Nayarit, Mexico, February 12-14 Photo: The Bravo nuclear test on Bikini Atoll, 1 March 1954, part of Operation Castle