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Japan’s Secrecy Law and International Standards 特定秘密保護法と国際基準 – Japan Focus

“…Under the initial adoption of the law, 19 government organs are granted specific authority for designating state secrets, and when considering additional provisions of the law, the number of organs with authority to designate secrets jumps to 61. This includes bodies with little to no relation to national security, including the Cultural Affairs Agency, the Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare, as well as the Nuclear Regulation Authority, raising concerns that the government may be able to hide information relating to nuclear plants and accidents.57…..”

Press-and-Censorship-by-Arcadio-Esquivel-Cagle-Cartoons-La-Prensa-Panama-1-400x548Image source ;

Morton H. Halperin and Molly Hofsommer

Introduction by the editors

Article source ;

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 37, No. 1, September 15, 2014.

In the following article, two distinguished experts affiliated with the Open Society Institute examine key aspects of Japan’s 2013 “Specially Designated Secrets Protection Act.” (“SDS”) They are concerned with two central problems: defects in the process that led to adoption of the SDS, and shortcomings in the text of the law itself.

Seasoned observers of lawmaking in Japan are familiar with the scenario that played out in the fall of 2013. The SDS bill law was drafted in secret in the administrative offices of government, rather than by the elected representatives of the people in the national legislature. The resulting “government bill” was presented to the Diet for its approval. Because ruling political parties control large majorities in both houses, debate on the floor of the Diet was a mere formality. Opposition party members were allowed to make comments and question government representatives before national television cameras, but the prospect that this would lead to actual revision of the bill was nonexistent.

During the sole occasion when changes to the government bill were considered, discussion was held in secret, off the floor of the Diet, and limited solely to representatives of conservative allies of the ruling parties. As if to underscore the complete superfluity of formal proceedings, the government’s Diet representative actually refused to answer questions for fear this might affect the secret discussions.1 Incredibly, the person selected by the Prime Minister as the government’s primary Diet representative was Mori Masako, the Cabinet member charged with food safety and other consumer issues and measures to address Japan’s low birth rate.2 Minister Mori had nothing to do with the drafting of the government’s bill and she would have nothing to do with future implementation of the law.3

But the essay by Halperin and Hofsommer points to a problem even more serious than the impotence of Japan’s national legislature. This is Japan’s isolation from the international community. In order to assess the content of Japan’s new secrecy law, the authors place it alongside the standards set in the “Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information” (the “Tshwane Principles”). These Principles are the result of the extraordinary leadership displayed by the Open Society Institute and other civil society organizations and experts. The Principles were created after consultation with more than 500 experts from more than 70 countries at 14 meetings held around the world held over the course of two years.4 They present a comprehensive set of guidelines to assist governments in addressing the difficult balance between protection of the people’s right to know and maintaining the secrecy of sensitive national security information.

The Principles were completed and formally revealed to the world on June 6, 2013, three months before the Abe administration published a summary of its proposed secrecy legislation. Abe and his colleagues not only failed to participate in formulation of the Principles during the two years of proceedings, they also failed to consult the Principles at all in drafting Japan’s new law. When Prime Minister Abe was asked about the Principles, he showed the back of his hand, describing the Principles as nothing more than the opinion of a specific citizens group that did not represent an international standard.5

This episode illustrates the broader truth that Japan’s government simply does not participate in the international dialogue concerning law and fundamental rights. Abe’s disdain for the Tshwane Principles is matched by his government’s attitude toward its obligations under international human rights treaties. The world was recently reminded of this dismissive attitude by a simple recommendation issued by the UNHRC in Geneva two months ago. Among the many recommendations for reform of police and other government practices, the Committee expressed its concern that “many of its recommendations made after the consideration of the State party’s fourth and fifth periodic report have not been implemented.”6 The Committee referred to Japan’s blithe refusal to abide by identical recommendations it issued in 1998 and 2008 concerning the lack of procedural protections for individuals in police custody and other issues.7

This recommendation appeared a little over a year after the Abe administration responded to similar recommendations from the UN Committee Against Torture. In response to that Committee’s recommendation that Japan reform its police practices, on June 13, 2013 the Abe Cabinet actually issued a formal resolution declaring that the Committee’s recommendations were not legally binding. They would be ignored.

The attack on the people’s right to know that is embodied in the SDS is just one chapter in a much longer story of the government of Japan’s indifference and hostility toward the development of international standards.

We are very fortunate to have attracted the attention of Morton H. Halperin, one of the world’s leading experts on government information policy and national security issues, and his Open Society Institute colleague Molly Hofsommer, to examine Japan’s 2013 secrecy law for our readers. In the essay that follows, they elucidate developing international standards in this challenging area and clearly explain how Japan’s new secrecy law fails to meet those standards.

Introduction Notes

1 Tokyo Shimbun, Nov. 21, 2013, 6.

2 See here. (viewed on January 24, 2014).

3 When Prime Minister Abe reformulated his Cabinet in September 2014, Ms. Mori was dropped from the cabinet. See Reiji Yoshida, “Abe focuses on stability with new Cabinet lineup,” The Japan Times, Sept. 4, 2014, here.

4 See here.

5 Tokyo Shimbun, Nov. 21, 2013, p. 6.

6 See here.

7 For details concerning the 2008 hearings, see Lawrence Repeta, “U.N. Committee Faults Japan Human Rights Performance, Demands Progress Report on Key Issues,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 20-5-09, May 17th, 2009.

In a democratic country, laws concerning classification of national security information, release of such information to the public, and any criminal penalties for unauthorized disclosure are central to both the state’s ability to protect itself from those who would do it harm and to maintaining the democratic character of the country. The laws must permit a state to protect secrecy when necessary for the security of the state. At the same time, the laws must assure that the public has the information that it needs to know what its government is doing and to hold its leaders accountable.

Therefore, a government considering altering existing laws, especially in ways that will increase secrecy, must proceed carefully with deliberate speed and must consult fully with all elements of civil society. It also has an obligation to explain fully and persuasively why the law is needed and to explain any deviations from best practices of democratic governments. The Japanese government failed in each one of these obligations with the recent passage of the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets (SDS).1 This article explores each of these failures and argues that the government needs to reconsider the legislation and implement it in ways that mitigate these harms.


The Japanese government released a summary of the proposed secrecy bill on September 3, 2013. During the two-week comment period—which was only half the amount of time normally allocated for comment—government data shows that it received over 90,480 comments, with almost 70,000 of those comments opposing the bill.2 Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and his Cabinet approved a draft bill and submitted it to the Diet on October 25.3 Despite strong opposition from organizations (such as the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and the Open Society Justice Initiative), the media, scholars, and international human rights groups, and amid calls for careful discussion from many Japanese citizens, Prime Minster Abe railroaded the bill through the House of Representatives in just one month.4

A demonstrator opposes Abe’s secrecy law, Nov 2013

Only a few hours after the final version was introduced in the House of Representatives on November 25, a vote was held on draft modifications and amendments proposed by the opposition. The points at issue, raised by witnesses and speakers at public hearings, were not given ample time for discussion and the bill was passed through to the upper house of parliament. Committee hearings began in the House of Councilors on November 28, and on December 6, 2013, the bill was voted, unchanged, into law.5

This short period of only seven weeks of parliamentary and public consultation was not sufficient to allow full and searching public debate and discussion in Japan that is necessary in dealing with an issue of such importance to the functioning of a democratic society. Japanese civil society and opposition parties, which were not very familiar with these issues, were not able to consult sufficiently with colleagues in other countries or to educate themselves and the Diet members about universal standards. The Government’s numerous inconsistencies and changes in statements during deliberations in the Diet only furthered the confusion.

On July 24th, the Abe Government released draft Standards for Uniform Implementation of the Specially Designated Secrets Act. The draft does provide some useful guidance and clarification, but continues to fall short of international standards. The draft standards were shared with the general public and open for the standard one-month comment period, twice as long as the two weeks allowed for the SDS itself. The comment period is intended to invite suggestions from the general public in preparation for implementation of the act as well as to promote fairness and improve transparency. In responding to the many comments that have been submitted, the Abe Government will have an opportunity to move the legislation closer to international standards.


Continue reading

September 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Mystery of Fukushima – Cecile Asanuma – Brice

Libération というフランスのメーンな新聞の一つで(ジャンーポール・サルトルを設立した新聞ですが)、私の記事、今回 関連死とエクスパートの戦い (Baverstock先生や津田先生)について乗せていただきました。 ご参考まで

My piece for Liberation Journal about the “zero death” legend in Fukushima

Mon dernier article paru dans Libération présentant un bilan sanitaire de la situation à Fukushima sur la légende “du zéro mort” :

Cécile ASANUMA-BRICE Chercheure associée au centre de recherche de la Maison franco-japonaise de Tokyo 23 septembre 2014 à 18:06

Pic113Image source ; Buddhism and Disasters: From World War II to Fukushima

Translated From French using google and small grammatical changes by arclight, original here Entitled La legende Fukushima

On the issues of energy and debates on climate change the nuclear industry still appears to promote the security of its services, after human disasters such as Chernobyl or Fukushima, which should have been sufficient to highlight the unacceptable human cost of nuclear power and to consider radical changes that occurred in the cases of some European countries.

In this context, the legend of “zero death” obligingly created by some scientists, plays a strategic role in every disaster that we are hearing about in Fukushima now. Even though the authorities and citizens of the countries concerned must face a sudden increase in mortality of the population.

Three and half years after the accident at Fukushima, the number of deaths related to the explosion of the nuclear plant Fukushima Daiichi Tepco continues to grow. According to the newspaper Tokyo Shimbun, more than 1,100 deaths are recorded on the 11 September. The aging population, relocated in “temporary” housing, was the first hit.

The right to shelter was not granted, despite recommendations by the rapporteur for Human Rights of the UN, Anand Grover following his mission to Japan in late 2012. No financial support was allowed for these peoples relocation. Their health conditions deteriorate to as time goes by, while others decide to go at their own expense because of the environmental instability being so unbearable on a day to day basis.

Falling into a spiral of poverty affects some of them who are fighting depression and alcoholism. The towns of Namie (333 deaths), Tomioka (250 deaths), Futaba (113 deaths) and Okuma (106 deaths), adjacent to the plant whose leaks of contaminated water are still out of control, there has been a total of 802 deaths, formally identified as being significant to the explosion of the power plant (55 were recorded in the past six months).

The newspaper Fukushima Minpo pulled the alarm bells on June 21 in reporting the statements of the Ministry of Interior on the number of suicides on the rise. Increasing the number of thyroid cancers should also be taken into account in the assessment of the health consequences of the explosion. According to the Commission of Inquiry of Fukushima prefecture, 104 children under 18, among the 300 000 components the sample were diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid. The voices of epidemiologists, inside and outside of Japan countered the position of the departmental committee of experts in Fukushima, that these cancers would not be consistent with the explosion. These Fukushima experts “justified” the increasing number of cases by the development of existing radiological devices.

Following the same logic of attempted moral support of the people, and the dual perspective of the reopening of the evacuation zone in order to rehouse the population as quickly as possible and scheduled restart two power plants in 2014, the Ministry Environment supports, in a report dated August 17 ​​that below 100 mSv / year, there would be no impact on health.

Professor Toshihide Tsuda, Okayama University, specializing in epidemiology, questioned publicly, the investigation of the Medical University of Fukushima, saying both that the WHO report 2013 notifies an increase in current and future number of cancer at Fukushima.

On the other hand the position of the Japanese government in denying the health effects below 100 mSv is a scientific aberration. Professor Keith Baverstock, epidemiologist, formerly of WHO, in an open letter to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the effects of radioactive releases letter (UNSCEAR) is attacking, meanwhile, the 2013 UNSCEAR report stating that this document was published three years after the survey on which it is based due to conflicts between the Members of the Committee.

One of them, Dr. Wolfgang Weiss, opposed to its publication, which concluded that the denial of any increase in cancers related to the explosion. However, this report does not negate the fact that the accident is in no way complete, since, according to the same report from Tepco (May), the radioactivity continues to leak in the central Pacific Ocean and in the air.

Before the doubts expressed by experts on official reports, others who nevertheless came from the same organizations (WHO, IAEA, ICRP) settle at the 3rd Symposium of international experts to Fukushima, organized by the Sasakawa Foundation and the Medical University Fukushima on 8 and 9 September. Title announced surpassing epidemiological quarrels finally reach the summits promising resilience and reconstruction. Abel Julio González, while a member of UNSCEAR, has served as a member of the Committee on the safety standards of the IAEA, it’s all about communication and is first to calm concerns irrational” populations due, in his opinion, the term “contamination” which, referring to the pathology, radiation poses a negative image. Idea further Emilie van Deventer (WHO) proposes the integration of workshops on irradiation and comparable to the education in the formation of primary school children. Anyway, she says, we must meet the challenge of cost benefit.

These experts, if the insured value of their psychological assumptions about the fears of the public and how to handle them should instead be focused on the data and the evidence and consequences in terms of public health this brief survey has allowed us to show?

Cécile AsanumaBRICE Research Associate at the Research Center of the Franco-Japanese House in Tokyo

September 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In brief: Nuclear and Climate News

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

Climate Change. The People’s Climate March in New York, and in cities world-wide was a huge success. Political leaders also gathered at UN for the climate Change meeting.  BUT – a note of caution. The very powerful nuclear lobbyimmediately  used mainstream media to push nuclear as the climate solution. And – worse – President Obama’s proposed carbon rules count nuclear power as a clean, low-carbon energy option, and include subsidies, incentives and financial backstops for nuclear power.

Big businesses are becoming aware of the need for climate action. Rockefellers are dumping oil and investing in renewables.  Still the Koch brothers use their massive wealth against climate action, and the fossil fuel utilities fight back, with successful lobbying.

Japan. It‘s doubtful that Japan’s nuclear reactors will ever restart.

Fukushima. Secrecy and poor working conditions in the nuclear plant cleanup.  TEPCO dumps their failed plan for an ice wall to contain radiation. The radioactive waste problem in the prefecture persists, clean-up  is slow and very expensive.

USA. Obama raises the permissable levels of radiation in drinking water!  Is USA again using depleted uranium weapons in Middle East?

Russia  – with the Ukraine crisis, things are getting messy in regard to Russia’s nuclear export business in Europe.

Finland. doing a murky deal with Russia’s nuclear corporation Rosatom – secret, full of problems, and may never be completed.

South Africa. Lots of problems in the government’s secret nuclear deal with Russia.

New book. Crisis Without End , Much awaited report  from the 2013 New York Symposium The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe

September 29, 2014 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Why is there no international effort to contain Fukushima’s nuclear mess?

questionTim Seitz, 29 Sept 14. What is wrong with the international Atomic Energy Agency? Why are they not calling upon the nations and corporations with the means to effect the containment and management of Fukushima Nuclear Station? If the people of 5000 years ago could build the giant pyramid of Giza think of how we could now build a giant seawall and huge pyramid over the whole Fukushima station in the present. If parting with the necessary money is all that is holding a major international and inter corporate effort then think of how stupid that is when we surely know that cancer is in everyone’s future.

What good is that wealth in the face of the loss of our collective health? Master Fukushima is dealt with there still are over 450 more nuclear stations that will also need to be contained and managed.
This is why I continue to call for the complete Abolition of All Nuclear Fissioning Applications ASAP. This was a march of the regular citizenry, many come a very long way, at great discomfort and expense, deep into the process of being community organizers, intervenors, plaintiffs, civil disobedients, fundraisers, impromptu speakers, letter writers, and whatever else we might need to us get through this awful corporate disease.-worker-all-sorts-troubles-going-inside-plant-officials-arent-disclosing-problems-public-im-concerned-safety-employees-wear-disguises-fear-retaliation-plant-control-people-be-worried-vi

September 29, 2014 Posted by | general | 1 Comment

Secrecy and poor labour conditions at Fukushima nuclear plant

Fukushima-inspectionFukushima Worker: “All sorts of troubles going on in plant”; Officials won’t tell public what really happens — People should worry, it’s not under control — Employees wear disguises over fear of retaliation — Reporter: Tour of plant “was very strange… feels completely dead… not many people” (VIDEO)

, Sept. 24, 2014 (at 2:15 in): [A Fukushima Daiichi worker’s attorney] warns that the current system could endanger the entire decommissioning process… “Tepco should be held accountable for turning a blind eye. It needs to improve labor conditions, otherwise the situation will make it impossible to secure enough workers to deal with the nuclear accident.” >>Watch the video here

The Guardian, Sept. 9, 2014 (emphasis added):Fukushima fallout continues… [There’s an] unprecedented attempt by four Fukushima Daiichi workers to sue the utility for unpaid wages… [T]he four men… wore masks in court for fear of reprisals from their employers… “A year ago, the prime minister told the world that Fukushima was under control. But that’s not the case,” Tsuguo Hirota told Reuters… “It’s becoming a place for amateurs only, and that has to worry anyone who lives near the plant.”… “My health could suffer… I believe there are many people who can’t speak out about this kind of problem,” one of the workers told public broadcaster NHK.

Time Magazine correspondent Hannah Beech, Sept. 7, 2014: Just to get into the plant it –again — it’s like a Hollywood movie… What was very strange about walking into this place is that it feels completely dead. You don’t see that many people moving around. And those people that you do see, there’s not a palpable sense of urgency, but you realize that the work that they’re doing is so important. And they may not be getting the full of backing that they should to be able to do this. >> Full interview here

NPR, March 11, 2014: About 100 out of the 4,000 people working in the plant every day are TEPCO employees. The rest are subcontractors… Workers [are barred from] speaking to the media… I met a TEPCO worker who was on the job when the quake and tsunami hit… and talked in his car… on the condition that we not identify him and disguise his voice. He says it’s well known at the plant that shoddy work is being done… Many problems inside the Fukushima plant go unreported… The worker says that the Japanese government now needs to step in and guarantee the welfare and safety of all the workers…

TEPCO employee at Fukushima Daiichi (at 2:45 in): I’m concerned about my safety… There are things they feel they don’t have to disclose. There are all sorts of troubles going oninside the plant.

Full interview with the anonymous Fukushima worker here

September 29, 2014 Posted by | employment, Fukushima 2014, Japan | 1 Comment

The era of clean, free, solar energy is nigh

The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy  BVivek Wadhwa September 19  In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones.  McKinsey & Company noted that the handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant.  It predicted that in 20 years the total market size would be about 900,000 units, and advised AT&T to pull out.  McKinsey was wrong, of course.  There were more than 100 million cellular phones in use 2000; there are billions now.  Costs have fallen so far that even the poor — all over world — can afford a cellular phone.

The experts are saying the same about solar energy now.  They note that after decades of development, solar power hardly supplies 1 percent of the world’s energy needs.  They say that solar is inefficient, too expensive to install, and unreliable, and will fail without government subsidies.  They too are wrong.  Solar will be as ubiquitous as cellular phones are.


Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. Energy usage will keep increasing, so this is a moving target.  But, by Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years.  Even then, we will be using only one part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the Earth.

In places such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and the Southwest United States, residential-scale solar production has already reached “grid parity” with average residential electricity prices.  In other words, it costs no more in the long term to install solar panels than to buy electricity from utility companies.  The prices of solar panels have fallen 75 percent in the past five years alone and will fall much further as the technologies to create them improve and scale of production increases.  By 2020, solar energy will be price-competitive with energy generated from fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis in most parts of the world.  Within the next decade, it will cost a fraction of what fossil fuel-based alternatives do.

It isn’t just solar production that is advancing at a rapid rate; there are also technologies to harness the power of wind, biomass, thermal, tidal, and waste-breakdown energy, and research projects all over the world are working on improving their efficiency and effectiveness.  Wind power, for example, has also come down sharply in price and is now competitive with the cost of new coal-burning power plants in the United States.  It will, without doubt, give solar energy a run for its money.  There will be breakthroughs in many different technologies, and these will accelerate overall progress.

Despite the skepticism of experts and criticism by naysayers, there is little doubt that we are heading into an era of unlimited and almost free clean energy.  This has profound implications.

First, there will be disruption of the entire fossil-fuel industry, starting with utility companies — which will face declining demand and then bankruptcy.  Several of them see the writing on the wall.  The smart ones are embracing solar and wind power.  Others are lobbying to stop the progress of solar power — at all costs.  Witness how groups in Oklahoma persuaded lawmakers to approve a surcharge on solar installations; the limited victory that groups backed by the Koch brothers won in Arizona to impose a $5 per month surcharge; and the battles being waged in other states.  They are fighting a losing battle, however, because the advances aren’t confined to the United States. Countries such as Germany, China, and Japan are leading the charge in the adoption of clean energies.  Solar installations still depend on other power sources to supply energy when the sun isn’t shining, but battery-storage technologies will improve so much over the next two decades that homes won’t be dependent on the utility companies.  We will go from debating incentives for installing clean energies to debating subsidies for utility companies to keep their operations going.

Witness how groups in Oklahoma persuaded lawmakers to approve a surcharge on solar installations; the limited victory that groups backed by the Koch brothers won in Arizona to impose a $5 per month surcharge; and the battles being waged in other states.  They are fighting a losing battle, however, because the advances aren’t confined to the United States. Countries such as Germany, China, and Japan are leading the charge in the adoption of clean energies.  Solar installations still depend on other power sources to supply energy when the sun isn’t shining, but battery-storage technologies will improve so much over the next two decades that homes won’t be dependent on the utility companies.  We will go from debating incentives for installing clean energies to debating subsidies for utility companies to keep their operations going.

Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke, and distinguished fellow at Singularity University. His past appointments include Harvard Law School, University of California Berkeley, and Emory University.

September 29, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

In Fukushima many women aborted their babies in the months after the nuclear disaster

Fukushima Woman: Many are aborting their babies… It’s really happening — I know many women who were visibly pregnant then suddenly weren’t (VIDEO)

In Containment
: The people of Minamisoma, 15 months after the meltdown – Part 1/5

Director/editor Ian Thomas Ash
Producer/camera Koji Fujita
Published on Jul 2, 2012
Published by DocumentingIan

Citizens of Minamisoma share personal struggles they continue to face

At 5:00 in

Unidentified Speaker : And many women are aborting their babies.

Interviewer: I have also heard that the number of abortions increasing. But I don’t know if it’s really true.

Minamisoma Resident: It’s really happening.

Interviewer: It’s not just a rumor, but actually true?

Minamisoma Resident: Many people are afraid to have children. I know many people who feel that way. I know many women who were visibly pregnant then suddenly weren’t.

At 7:30 in

Minamisoma Resident 2: Although more than a year has passed we are still suffering. Our hearts are still anguished by issues such as this problem of increasing abortions.

September 29, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2012 | Leave a comment

Japan’s secret nuclear weapons program, helped by USA

Japan had a dual use nuclear program. The public program was to develop and provide unlimited energy for the country. But there was also a secret component, an undeclared nuclear weapons program that would allow Japan to amass enough nuclear material and technology to become a major nuclear power on short notice.

That secret effort was hidden in a nuclear power program that by March 11, 2011– the day the earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant – had amassed 70 metric tons of plutonium. Like its use of civilian nuclear power to hide a secret bomb program, Japan used peaceful space exploration as a cover for developing sophisticated nuclear weapons delivery systems.

PuFlag-USAflag-japanUS circumvented laws to help Japan accumulate tons of plutonium  From National Security News Service By Joseph Trento, April 9th, 2012

The United States deliberately allowed Japan access to the United States’ most secret nuclear weapons facilities while it transferred tens of billions of dollars worth of American tax paid research that has allowed Japan to amass 70 tons of weapons grade plutonium since the 1980s, a National Security News Service investigation reveals. These activities repeatedly violated U.S. laws regarding controls of sensitive nuclear materials that could be diverted to weapons programs in Japan. The NSNS investigation found that the United States has known about a secret nuclear weapons program in Japan since the 1960s, according to CIA reports. Continue reading

September 29, 2014 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan, Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The death spiral of fossil fuel electricity: but the utilities are fighting back

“Distributed generation (DG) could be the end of utilities as we know them today,” U.S. investment research firm Morningstar said earlier this year. “Utilities’ centralized network monopolies break down when customers become self-sufficient competitors.”

Romero, the Spanish renewable energy expert, said: “Utility companies know that the future is in renewables, but they’re not going to go down without putting up a fight.”

fossil-fuel-fightback-1From Sydney To Spain, Old Energy Is Doing Everything It Can To Hold Back The Rise Of Solar


“The government wanted people to be afraid to generate their own energy, but they haven’t dared to actually pass the law,” Alonso said as he tightened screws on the panel on a sunny summer day this month. He had removed solar panels from the roof last year.

“We’re tired of being afraid,” he said.

Halfway across the globe, in the “sunshine state” of Queensland, Australia, electrical engineer David Smyth says the war waged by some governments and utilities against “distributed energy”, the term used for power generated by solar panels, is already lost.

“The utilities are in a death spiral,” he told Reuters by telephone while driving between a pub where he helped set up 120 solar panels to cut its $53,000 annual power bill and a galvanizing plant which was also adding solar panels to reduce costs.

In Australia, he said, solar panels have shifted from being a heavily subsidized indulgence for environmentally-conscious households to a pragmatic option for businesses wanting certainty about what their running costs will be next year.

“Not many people are doing it because of emissions or the environment,” Smyth said. “It’s about the cost.” Continue reading

September 29, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, AUSTRALIA, renewable | Leave a comment

Have the American people been told the truth about the radiation plumes from the damaged Fukushima plant and ocean contamination?

Communication problems exacerbate subject of radioactive threat

 Is Fukushima to blame for West Coast defects and marine life diseases?

Monitoring the radioactive plume along the West coast of America

How Fukushima affected America and what you’re not being told Sally Painter  Top Secret Writers 27 Sept 14

Have the American people been told the truth about the radiation plumes from the damaged Fukushima plant and ocean contamination? The general public is suspicious and distrustful of the official line concerning the threat of radiation from the Daiichi plant disaster. This is especially worrisome since the Daiichi nuclear plant event has been rated the same Level 7 as the 1986 Soviet Union Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster. Continue reading

September 29, 2014 Posted by | environment, USA | Leave a comment

“The nuclear industry is in ­decline” – a report that upsets the industry

nukes-sad-Nuclear’s fortunes on the wane THE AUSTRALIAN SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 Robin Bromby Business columnist
Sydney :……….now along comes some disquieting analysis of the nuclear electricity story. Normally, we would have seized on the annual report during the week fromManhattan Corp (MHC), which has the Ponton uranium project in Western Australia, and which coincided with yet another rise in the spot uranium price, up $US2.50 a pound to $US36.50/lb. Executive chairman Alan Eggers writes that the uranium sector has been dominated by “negative industry sentiment, falling supply and lacklustre demand among buyers of nuclear fuel”. He then outlines a reasonably cheerful outlook, and one to which Pure Speculation has been an adherent.

Until we read another report written by eight European and Japanese heavyweight thinkers in the field, headed by Paris-based Mycle Schneider. Their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014 has a stark and simple message: “The nuclear industry is in ­decline”.

There are 388 operating reactors around the world, 50 fewer than in 2002. Installed capacity is back to where it was 20 years ago.

The nuclear share of the world’s power generation declined from its peak of 19.6 per cent in 1996 to 10.8 per cent in 2013. In terms of revenue, nuclear now accounts for a lower percentage than in 1984.

In all, there are 67 “current” ­nuclear reactor projects, which sounds impressive until the report explains that eight of those reactors have been listed as “under construction” for more than 20 years; at least 49 have encountered construction delays, some for several years, and for the first time Chinese projects have also been delayed; for the remaining 18 reactors, either construction began within the past five years or the reactors have not yet reached projected start-up dates.

“Delays have occurred in the development of the nuclear programs for most of the more advanced newcomer countries, including Bangladesh, Jordan, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Vietnam,” the report adds……..

September 29, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, AUSTRALIA, business and costs | Leave a comment

Doubtful that Japan’s nuclear reactors will ever restart

radiation-sign-sadflag-japanRocky road ahead for Japan’s nuclear restart, Ecologist Jim Green and Peer de Rijk / Nuclear Monitor 26th September 2014  Japan’s government is trying to get its failing nuclear power industry up and running, write Jim Green and Peer de Rijk. But in the post-Fukushima world, it faces formidable obstacles. Experts believe most reactors will never restart – and Japan’s stricken utilities may have to find $30 billion or more to finance their decommissioning……… Continue reading

September 29, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

AUDIO: Energy independence El Hierro Island goes straight to 100% renewable energy

Hear-This-way . Audio Tiny Spanish Island Nears Its Goal: 100 Percent Renewable Energy NPR, by LAUREN FRAYER September 28, 2014 “….. Spanish island of El Hierro. The ancient island off the west coast of Africa is now a model for the future, within months of running on 100 percent renewable energy, which consists of a mix of wind and hydro-power.

El Hierro, the most remote of Spain’s Canary Islands, is now billing itself as the world’s first energy self-sufficient island that has never been hooked up to a power grid.A Danish island, Samso, is also energy-independent, but was previously hooked up to the Danish grid and didn’t make the change in isolation, like El Hierro.

Wind El Hierro island

Because of the topography of the surrounding seabed, El Hierro, an active volcanic island with a population of about 10,000, could never hook up to Spain’s power grid.

Instead, it used big barges to ship in 6,600 tons of diesel fuel — the equivalent of 40,000 barrels of oil — each year, to power electricity generators. It was an expensive, time-consuming and dirty endeavor … until now.

This past summer, El Hierro inaugurated the Gorona del Viento power plant, a $110 million wind and water turbine farm. By the end of this year, the plant will generate all of the island’s energy needs of up to 48 gigawatt hours per year……..

El Hierro is already planning its next energy project. It wants all the island’s cars to be electric by the year 2020.

September 29, 2014 Posted by | renewable, Spain | Leave a comment

Conflict of interest in Finland’s nuclear deal with Russia?

conflict-of-interestflag-Finland Minister denies conflict of interest in nuclear deal

There has been another twist in the controversy surrounding the Fennovoima nuclear project this weekend, as the minister in charge of the permits was accused of a conflict of interest. His ministry denies that claim but Green politicians are still demanding an investigation. Is Rosatom just an energy company or is it part of the Russian state? It’s an issue Finns have been wrestling with ever since the state-owned firm took the largest stake in the Fennovoima nuclear project.

The company’s dual role led to the Green League’s departure from government amid talk of ‘Finlandisation’–the cold war process by which Finland stayed close to the Soviet Union.

This weekend the saga took a new twist when it emerged that Rosatom had signed a nuclear co-operation deal on behalf of the Russian government. Minister for the Economy Jan Vapaavuori was the Finnish signatory–and he was also in charge of handling the permit process for the Fennovoima project.

All sides agree there is nothing strange about the co-operation deal itself–the issue is that Rosatom was the official counterparty rather than the government itself. Green League chair Ville Niinistö told Yle on Saturday that this raises questions about the Fennovoima permit.

“That Rosatom is a Russian state-owned company, close to the Russian leadership, is now clear to everyone,” said Niinistö. “Rosatom’s dual role in this raises a lot of questions, including about why we’re increasing our energy dependency on Russia.”

He wants Vapaavuori to explain the process, and give details on whether the Chancellor of Justice cleared his continued participation after he’d signed the co-operation agreement.

Helsingin Sanomat went one step further on Saturday in a story that examined the arrangements. Two professors interviewed by the paper say there could have been a conflict of interest.

The minister has denied that, but according to a ministry press release his actions in signing the first contract do not make him biased. The ministry also says Finland has no influence on who signs the contract for Russia.

September 29, 2014 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Massively rich Koch brothers buy America’s political system

Koch-climate-changeTogether, Charles and David Koch control one of the world’s largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system. But what they don’t want you to know is how they made all that money

 Limitless Life By  | September 24, 2014“………..The volume of Koch Industries’ toxic output is staggering. According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute, only three companies rank among the top 30 polluters of America’s air, water and climate: ExxonMobil, American Electric Power and Koch Industries. Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation’s waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined. The company ranks 13th in the nation for toxic air pollution. Koch’s climate pollution, meanwhile, outpaces oil giants including Valero, Chevron and Shell. Across its businesses, Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.

For Koch, this license to pollute amounts to a perverse, hidden subsidy. The cost is borne by communities in cities like Port Arthur, Texas, where a Koch-owned facility produces as much as 2 billion pounds of petrochemicals every year. In March, Koch signed a consent decree with the Department of Justice requiring it to spend more than $40 million to bring this plant into compliance with the Clean Air Act.

The toxic history of Koch Industries is not limited to physical pollution. It also extends to the company’s business practices, which have been the target of numerous federal investigations, resulting in several indictments and convictions, as well as a whole host of fines and penalties.

And in one of the great ironies of the Obama years, the president’s financial-regulatory reform seems to benefit Koch Industries. The company is expanding its high-flying trading empire precisely as Wall Street banks – facing tough new restrictions, which Koch has largely escaped – are backing away from commodities speculation.

It is often said that the Koch brothers are in the oil business. That’s true as far as it goes – but Koch Industries is not a major oil producer. Instead, the company has woven itself into every nook of the vast industrial web that transforms raw fossil fuels into usable goods. Koch-owned businesses trade, transport, refine and process fossil fuels, moving them across the world and up the value chain until they become things we forgot began with hydrocarbons: fertilizers, Lycra, the innards of our smartphones.

The company controls at least four oil refineries, six ethanol plants, a natural-gas-fired power plant and 4,000 miles of pipeline. Until recently, Koch refined roughly five percent of the oil burned in America (that percentage is down after it shuttered its 85,000-barrel-per-day refinery in North Pole, Alaska, owing, in part, to the discovery that a toxic solvent had leaked from the facility, fouling the town’s groundwater). From the fossil fuels it refines, Koch also produces billions of pounds of petrochemicals, which, in turn, become the feedstock for other Koch businesses. In a journey across Koch Industries, what enters as a barrel of West Texas Intermediate can exit as a Stainmaster carpet.

Koch’s hunger for growth is insatiable: Since 1960, the company brags, the value of Koch Industries has grown 4,200-fold, outpacing the Standard & Poor’s index by nearly 30 times. On average, Koch projects to double its revenue every six years. Koch is now a key player in the fracking boom that’s vaulting the United States past Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer, even as it’s endangering America’s groundwater. In 2012, a Koch subsidiary opened a pipeline capable of carrying 250,000 barrels a day of fracked crude from South Texas to Corpus Christi, where the company owns a refinery complex, and it has announced plans to further expand its Texas pipeline operations. In a recent acquisition, Koch bought Frac-Chem, a top provider of hydraulic fracturing chemicals to drillers. Thanks to the Bush administration’s anti-regulatory­ agenda – which Koch Industries helped craft – Frac-Chem’s chemical cocktails, injected deep under the nation’s aquifers, are almost entirely exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Koch is also long on the richest – but also the dirtiest and most carbon-polluting – oil deposits in North America: the tar sands of Alberta. The company’s Pine Bend refinery, near St. Paul, Minnesota, processes nearly a quarter of the Canadian bitumen exported to the United States – which, in turn, has created for Koch Industries a lucrative sideline in petcoke exports. Denser, dirtier and cheaper than coal, petcoke is the dregs of tar-sands refining. U.S. coal plants are largely forbidden from burning petcoke, but it can be profitably shipped to countries with lax pollution laws like Mexico and China. One of the firm’s subsidiaries, Koch Carbon, is expanding its Chicago terminal operations to receive up to 11 million tons of petcoke for global export. In June, the EPA noted the facility had violated the Clean Air Act with petcoke particulates that endanger the health of South Side residents. “We dispute that the two elevated readings” behind the EPA notice of violation “are violations of anything,” Koch’s top lawyer, Mark Holden, told Rolling Stone, insisting that Koch Carbon is a good neighbor.

Over the past dozen years, the company has quietly acquired leases for 1.1 million acres of Alberta oil fields, an area larger than Rhode Island. By some estimates, Koch’s direct holdings nearly double ExxonMobil’s and nearly triple Shell’s. In May, Koch Oil Sands Operating LLC of Calgary, Alberta, sought permits to embark on a multi-billion­dollar tar-sands-extraction operation. This one site is projected to produce 22 million barrels a year – more than a full day’s supply of U.S. oil………

The Koch family’s lucrative blend of pollution, speculation, law-bending and self-righteousness stretches back to the early 20th century, when Charles’ father first entered the oil business. ……….

in the real world, Koch Industries has used its political might to beat back the very market-based mechanisms – including a cap-and-trade market for carbon pollution – needed to create the ownership rights for pollution that Charles says would improve the functioning of capitalism.

In fact, it appears the very essence of the Koch business model is to exploit breakdowns in the free market. Koch has profited precisely by dumping billions of pounds of pollutants into our waters and skies – essentially for free. It racks up enormous profits from speculative trades lacking economic value that drive up costs for consumers and create risks for our economy.

The Koch brothers get richer as the costs of what Koch destroys are foisted on the rest of us – in the form of ill health, foul water and a climate crisis that threatens life as we know it on this planet. Now nearing 80 – owning a large chunk of the Alberta tar sands and using his billions to transform the modern Republican Party into a protection racket for Koch Industries’ profits – Charles Koch is not about to see the light. Nor does the CEO of one of America’s most toxic firms have any notion of slowing down. He has made it clear that he has no retirement plans: “I’m going to ride my bicycle till I fall off.”

From The Archives Issue 1219: October 9, 2014

September 29, 2014 Posted by | politics, Reference, USA | Leave a comment