Saturday, May 27, 2017

Japan's Post-War Constitution, its Defense Forces, and Nuclear Sovereignty


The head of Japan's Self-Defense forces was recently censured in Japan for making comments that could be interpreted as supporting changes to Japan's pacifist constitution:
Ryo Aibara (2017, May 26). Row ignites over SDF chief’s views on constitutional amendment. The Asahi Shimbun, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705260044.html, retrieved May 27, 2017

The Self-Defense Forces’ top officer is under fire for publicly welcoming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal to amend the Constitution to declare the legal status of the SDF.

... Kawano, 62, sparked controversy on May 23 when he said: “If I may speak as one member of the SDF, I would be very grateful if a provision for the SDF’s legal status is clearly written in the Constitution.” ...

... Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party, said at a session of the Lower House Commission on the Constitution on May 25: “(His) remark is interpreted as one ‘supporting the constitutional revision.’”

She added: “He should take seriously criticism that his comment amounts to a violation of the SDF law.” SDF members’ political activities are restricted under Chapter 61 of the SDF law.
Japan's Self-Defense forces, the LDP, and other entities in Japan support the nation's full sovereignty over its external defenses, expanding the role of the Self-Defense Forces beyond internal policing.

Japan's post-WW II constitution and security legislation (see Wikipedia on Japan's Self-Defense Forces ) relied on the US nuclear umbrella for external security and Japan's Self-Defense Forces for internal security, or policing.

Pacifism was written into Japan's constitution and supported by Emporer Akihito.[i] Article 9 under Chapter II “Renunciation of War” stipulates that the Japanese people forever renounce war and the threat or use of force:
Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and 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.[ii]

Although Article-9 has not yet been unaltered,[iii] successive Japanese administrations have reinterpreted its language to expand the nation’s “defense” capabilities across time.

Complex dynamics drive these revisions, among them are (1) the nature of the security relationship and the attendant “nuclear umbrella” established between Japan and the US after World War II (2) geo-political tensions with Russia, China and North & South Korea (including territorial disputes) and, relatedly, (3) military-industrial interests and market aspirations.

In 2016, Prime Minister Abe introduced new security legislation that allow more active deployment of the nation’s Defense Forces,[iv] a policy of expansion supported publicly in 2017 by its leader Katsutoshi Kawano, 5th Chief of Staff, Joint Staff since 2014.[v]

 The LDP party has articulated national security and national defense as equivalent terms, while contextualizing the latter within a Hobbesian sovereignty. Japan seeks sovereignty, including nuclear sovereignty, yet is also bound to its pacifist constitution, institutions, authorities, and cultural values.

Paradoxical injunctions surfaced in August 2016 when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s newly appointed and hawkish defense minister Tomomi Inada was quoted in The Mainichi as stating: "Under the Constitution, there are no restrictions on the types of weapons that Japan can possess as the minimum necessary," with the “minimum necessary” for defensive purposes.

When pressed to respond, Abe noted that, "Her statement is consistent with the government's policy” but he simultaneously ruled out possibility of Japan pursuing nuclear weapons in violation of its non-proliferation status.[vi]

In the absence of an official nuclear weapons program, nuclear power – especially breeder reactors and MOX fuel re-cycling programs - guarantee the capacity for national defense, thought in terms of nuclear sovereignty (seeMajia's Blog: Why Does Japan Insist on Reprocessing Nuclear Fuel?). For more background:
How Nuclear Energy in Japan Got Linked to National Security https://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-nuclear-energy-in-japan-got-linked.html?m=0
Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority Blasts Joyo Breeder Reactor Program http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2017/04/japans-nuclear-regulation-authority.html




[i] Bloomberg View: Emperor Akihito plays defense on Japan’s constitution. Bloomberg, August 10, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-08-10/emperor-akihito-plays-defense-on-japan-s-constitution

[ii] Prime Minister of Japan and his Cabinet. The Constitution of Japan, http://japan.kantei.go.jp/constitution_and_government_of_japan/constitution_e.html, accessed April 13, 2016.

[iii] Abe explicit in call for amendment to Constitution’s Article 9. 2016. The Japan Times, February 3, 2016, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/03/national/politics-diplomacy/abe-explicit-call-amendment-constitutions-article-9/#.Vu8b9uaYJmw

[iv] Kiyoshi Takenaka and Linda Sieg, “Huge protest in Tokyo rails against PM Abe's security bills,” Reuters (August 30, 2015): date accessed September 8, 2015:http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/30/japan-politics-protest-idINKCN0QZ0BX20150830?irpc=932.

[v] Katsutoshi Kawano (2017, May 11) Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katsutoshi_Kawano, accessed May 27, 2017

[vi] Abe rules out nukes but new defense minister. “Abe rules out possibility that Japan will possess nuclear weapons”
Aug 6, 2016, http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160806/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

Friday, May 26, 2017

Nuclear Zen by Keibo Oiwa


Excellent video: Nuclear Zen

(hat tip: Thanks John!)

Keibo Oiwa is a cultural anthropologist, bestselling author, environmental activist and public speaker. Since 1992, he has taught at Meiji Gakuin University in Yokohama.

Relevance of Fukushima crisis for US:
Experts: US Still 'Needlessly Vulnerable' to Fukushima-Style Disaster Published on Friday, May 26, 2017 Common Dreams https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/05/26/experts-us-still-needlessly-vulnerable-fukushima-style-disaster





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why was Seth Rich Murdered?


So much seems to hinge on this question of why Seth Rich died. The "conspiracy theory" is that Seth Rich was a young disenchanted staffer with the Democratic National Committee who leaked files to Wikileaks after witnessing unlawful or unethical treatment of Bernie Sanders. The conspiracy holds that he was murdered point-blank on the street for his whistle-blowing.

This conspiracy theory challenges the official story that Seth Rich's murder was simply another random murder and that Russia is responsible for hacking the DNC files.

Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an article claiming that the Seth Rich conspiracy theory has been proven false as it was retracted by Fox News, leaving the unreliable Dotcom as its made purveyor:
David Weigel. The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. The Washington Post, May 23, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/the-life-and-death-of-the-seth-rich-conspiracy-theory/2017/05/23/aba640c4-3ff3-11e7-adba-394ee67a7582_story.html?utm_term=.24298801e768&wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1
I've followed this story loosely as its been covered in the mainstream and alternative media (especially ZeroHedge.com).

There is no way to discern the truth in the matter but I believe the Washington Post story is iconic of the larger effort to cast the Russians as meddling in the election in order to bring down President Trump.

I abhor most of Trump's policies and have remarked at this blog about his efforts to cut environmental protections and social services for the poor.

But did Trump really align with the Russians to rig the election?

There are so many gradients of this general question.

Perhaps the Russians act on their own to bolster public support for a Trump presidency in an effort to ignite and/or fuel an American color revolution.

Or, perhaps the Russians merely provide media support for dissent within the US, deploying platforms such as RT, in a kind of passive Voice of America strategy.

Answers to these questions are bound up in the answer to who murdered Seth Richards.

Seth Rich the whistleblower and martyr is iconic of public disillusionment with the DNC and the more general legitimacy crisis I've described at this blog.

In contrast, Seth Rich the random victim of random violence helps contain the fracturing of legitimacy surrounding the DNC and in so doing reinforces the new "cold war" that Trump has had so much difficulty navigating.

I have no idea where truth lies but I think the competing narratives are indicative of the broader legitimation crisis I've described at this blog *(here).





 


Rabbit Dreams and Nuclearity



Rabbit Dreams V Psychedelic Kaleidoscope Digital Art

Rabbit Dreams artistically interprets our fascination with nuclearity (including both nuclear weapons and energy see Gabrielle Hecht Being Nuclear). It engages the fantasy of endless energy and bountiful human growth, interrogating the effects of this fantasy.

Below see a clip from the larger image:


See the full image at https://www.etsy.com/listing/527751611/rabbit-dreams-v-psychedelic-kaleidoscope?ref=shop_home_active_1


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Japan's Proposed Anti-Conspiracy Bill Echoes Politics of its State Secrets Rule


Japan's lower house passed a controversial anti-conspiracy bill, which has been criticized broadly in Japan for enabling greatly expanded surveillance:
Lower house passes 'anti-conspiracy' bill at plenary session despite protests. The Mainichi, May 23, 2017, https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170523/p2a/00m/0na/015000c

The House of Representatives on May 23 approved a controversial "anti-conspiracy" bill that would criminalize preparation for terrorism and other crimes by changing the conditions that constitute conspiracy, despite protests from main opposition parties.

The ruling coalition comprised of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito, as well as the opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) voted for the bill to revise the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds at a May 23 plenary session. The bill will now be referred to the House of Councillors for deliberation.
Resistance to the legislation has been ubiquitous:
Sasaki, Ryo. (May 22, 2017). Anti-conspiracy law will stifle society, warns cartoonist, 89. The Asahi Shimbun, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705220058.html

FUKUOKA--Eighty-nine-year-old Susumu Nishiyama has first-hand experience of Japan’s past mistakes and he fears that the contentious anti-conspiracy legislation, which critics say threatens free speech, could be history repeating itself.

The cartoonist is compelled to share his wartime experiences of freedom of expression being suppressed with young people to warn of the new legislation’s dangers.

On May 21, Nishiyama rushed to a protest rally in a park in central Fukuoka to oppose the anti-conspiracy legislation after hastily drawing a manga poster to hoist at the gathering. Many protesters at the rally denounced the legislation, which was pushed through two days earlier at a Lower House committee, despite widespread public outcry.

Although the government says the legislation proposes effective means to prevent organized crime, opponents argue it will likely lead to human rights violations concerning freedom of thought as the intended law would enable authorities to intensify surveillance. Nishiyama sees a parallel between the legislation and the notorious public security preservation law of 1925, as many demonstrators pointed out when they spoke up in the gathering of about 400.
Public opinion polls show low support for the legislation:
EDITORIAL: Anti-conspiracy bill a travesty of justice in light of public opinion. The Asahi Shimbun, May 20, 2017, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705200026.html

A recent Asahi Shimbun poll highlighted the lack of broad public support for the anti-conspiracy legislation that is being considered by the Diet.

In the survey, 63 percent of respondents said they didn’t know the content of the legislation, while 64 percent answered “no” to the question whether it should be enacted during the current Diet session. Moreover, 78 percent replied that the government’s explanation about the legislation was insufficient.
The legislation is being "pushed through" despite low levels of public support and widespread activism against it. The main concern in Japan is that "ordinary people" will be subject to surveillance:
Railroaded 'anti-conspiracy' bill fails to balance public safety and individual rights. The Mainichi, May 20, 2017, https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170520/p2a/00m/0na/008000c#cxrecs_s

The biggest point of contention -- whether "ippanjin" (ordinary people) will be subject to investigations under the anti-conspiracy law -- has baffled even Justice Ministry officials, because of how it has been used and the different contexts in which the expression has been mentioned.

The government has repeatedly said that unlike "anti-conspiracy" bills that have been scrapped three times in the past, the bill currently under deliberation explicitly notes that "organized crime groups" are subject to conspiracy charges. Therefore, "ordinary people who have no ties to organized crime groups will not come under suspicion and thus investigation."

However, both the DP and the JCP have argued that without investigations, there is no telling if one would come under suspicion or not, meaning that "ordinary people" would be subject to conspiracy-related investigations.
Concerns expressed about the anti-conspiracy bill echo many of the same concerns expressed against the State Secrets Act that was passed after the Fukushima disaster. Here is an excerpt from an editorial describing concerns with the State Secrets law:
The Mainichi (25, December). As I See It: State secrets law goes into effect, what now? http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20141225p2a00m0na004000c.html

The more one reads the law, the more problems emerge. Twenty-three categories of secrets (55 under the operation guidelines) are named, but it's difficult to draw a clear distinction between secrets and non-secrets. One is left with the impression that information the administration finds inconvenient could be buried.

The designation of secrets is renewed every five years, for a maximum of 30 years, and at times 60 years. In some cases, the designation can be extended for even longer, if the information is deemed an exception.

The maximum penalty for leaking secrets is 10 years' imprisonment. Until now under the National Public Service Act, those charged with violating confidentiality requirements faced a maximum penalty of one year in prison, and those charged with leaking defense-related secrets were subject to a maximum of five years in prison, so the penalty has toughened dramatically under the state secrets law.

Punishments for those who try to acquire secrets are harsh, too. If authorities determine that one has attempted, conspired to effect, induced or incited information leakages, one can face up to five years in prison.....
Combined with the State Secrets Law, Japan's proposed anti-conspiracy bill will further erode the space in society for free thought and critical engagement with public policy. Of course, these are no doubt the intent of this type of legislation. Read more here:
Majia's Blog: Japan's Open Society in Crisis
Majia's Blog: Japan's State Secrets Law Goes into Effect  
Majia's Blog: Snowden Alleges Japan's State Secrets Law Was ... 
Majia's Blog: Japan on Way Down Slippery Slope of Fascism






Monday, May 22, 2017

Recycling Contaminated Soil in Fukushima


Fukushima's radioactive waste escapes efforts at containment and management.

Japan tried to incinerate Fukushima's waste,  as described by The Mainichi in September of 2011.[i]

In November of 2011, radioactive ash caused incinerators in Kashiwa (Chiba Prefecture) to shut down because of the challenges of storing the highly contaminated debris.[ii] Levels of contamination reached 70,800 Becquerels of cesium per kilogram (Bk/kg), as measured by radiation checks conducted at two incineration plants and one disposal facility.

The Mainichi reported in April of 2012 that Fukushima would begin burning 1 billion pounds of radioactive waste measuring 100,000 Bq/kg in the exclusion zone.[iii] Residents in Fukushima City promptly protested these plans.[iv]

In November of 2012, Japan announced plans to transport 13 million tons of debris 400 kilometers away from Fukushima to be ground up into mulch and burned, despite widespread citizen resistance across Japan.[v] It is not altogether clear why Japan has selected incineration given this practices does not eliminate or reduce radioactivity of waste and may spread radiation contamination in the atmosphere.[vi] Indeed, one study of incinerator ash from Fukushima contaminated debris estimated that 88 percent of the total radioactive cesium in the debris was at risk for elution and diffusion with wind and rain.[vii]


Now Japan is trying to recycle its nuclear waste:

Masatoshi Toda (2017, May 18). Ministry shows plan to recycle radioactive soil in Fukushima. The Asahi Shimbun, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705180051.html

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture--In an apparent attempt to quell fears, the Environment Ministry on May 17 showed how it will recycle radioactive soil in construction projects to reduce the growing piles of widely abhorred contaminated debris.

In the demonstration to media representatives here, the ministry measured radioactivity levels of bags of soil collected in decontamination work around the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and sorted the earth from other garbage.

Using soil with readings up to 3,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, the ministry plans to create a 5-meter-tall mound measuring 20 meters by 80 meters. Such mounds could be used, for example, as foundations for seawalls and roads in Fukushima Prefecture and elsewhere.

Testing of the methods started on April 24. After confirming the safety, the ministry wants to promote the use of the recycled soil.
Pretty soon, everything will be nuclear waste, including us as humans. Killer Whales may already have reached that point of bioaccumulation of radionuclides, as modeled by Alva and Gobas for killer whales:
Juan Jose Alava and Frank Gobas. A Marine Food Web Bioaccumulation model for Cesium 137 in the Pacific Northwest,” Conference for Society for Environmental Toxciology & Chemistry (SETAC); 2014 Nov 9 – Nov 13; Vancouver, Canada. Available https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268982476_A_Marine_Food_Web_Bioaccumulation_model_for_Cesium_137_in_the_Pacific_Northwest

REFERENCES

[i]Rubble from Quake- and Tsunami-Hit Areas to be Disposed in Tokyo’ (29 September 2011) The Mainichi, http://mainichi.jp/english/english/mdnnews/news/20110929p2a00m0na010000c.html, date accessed 30 September 2011.

[ii] ‘Radioactive Ash Causes Kashiwa Incinerators to Shut Down’(4 November 2011), Japan Today, http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/radioactive-ash-causes-shutdown-of-kashiwa-incinerators, date accessed 5 November 2011.

[iii] ‘Storage Space to be Built at 2 Sites in Fukushima for Tsunami Debris’ (8 April 2012), The Mainichi, http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120408p2g00m0dm055000c.html, date accessed 9 April 2012.

[iv] ‘Decontamination Work Begins in Fukushima Prefecture City Amid Concerns Over Incinerator Plans’ (27 July 2012), The Mainichi, http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120727p2a00m0na010000c.html, date accessed 29 July 2012.

[v] A. Zolbert (8 November 2012) ‘Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Recovery Still Underway’ KSDK News 2012, http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/346639/28/Japan-earthquake-and-tsunami-recovery-still-underway, date accessed 9 November 2012.

[vi] Institute for Energy and Environmental (May 2012) ‘Incineration of Radioactive and Mixed Waste’, http://ieer.org/resource/factsheets/incineration-radioactive-mixed/, date accessed 9 November 2012.


[vii] Y. Iwahana, A. Ohbuchi, Y. Koike, M. Kitano, and T. Nakamura (2013) ‘Radioactive Nuclides in the Incinerator Ashes of Municipal Solid Waste Before and After the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant’, Annals of Science, 29.1, 61-66.