nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Anti-nuclear activists’ tents forcibly removed from economy ministry premises after yearslong battle

n-nukeprotest-a-20160822-870x682.jpg

Police stand guard as Tokyo District Court officials remove tents built by anti-nuclear activists in the Kasumigaseki district of the capital at 3:59 a.m. Sunday

Tokyo District Court officials on Sunday removed activists’ tents on the economy ministry’s premises nearly five years after they were erected by anti-nuclear campaigners protesting the government’s handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The removal of the three tents — which took place before daybreak Sunday — came after the government asked the court to enforce its order to dismantle the site.

Handed down in February 2015, the order was upheld by the Tokyo High Court last October. It became final after the Supreme Court in July rejected an appeal filed by the two anti-nuclear campaigners.

The three tents were set up in September 2011 on a roughly 50-sq. meter plot of land at the economy ministry, which oversees the nuclear power industry.

The site had been used as a base to conduct anti-nuclear activities outside the ministry after the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, with activists uploading live video footage online, staging a hunger strike and forming human chains.

The forcible removal by court officials took place in the early hours of Sunday, a time when there were few passers-by.

About 10 citizens, including some who were staying in the tents overnight, protested as officials fenced off the encampment and blocked the road around the premises before dismantling the tents.

The government is pushing through the reactivation of nuclear power plants without taking responsibility (for the Fukushima crisis),” said a 53-year-old company employee who had been staying in one of the tents on Saturdays since the first one was erected in September 2011.

We will carry on with our protests,” he added.

In its ruling last year, the Tokyo District Court also ordered the activists to pay roughly ¥21,000 ($209) per day in fees for using the land for as long as they remained at the site. The unpaid amount has now totaled more than ¥30 million.

The district court said that while it “understands the campaigners’ compelling motive to join anti-nuclear activities after the atomic accident” that affected many people, they “do not have special rights to use the land” belonging to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in the capital.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/21/national/anti-nuclear-activists-tents-forcibly-removed-economy-ministry-premises-yearslong-battle/#.V7lanmXH87R

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lesson from Nagasaki: Lighten up on Dark Tourism

“I see those people from Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the news every year and I wonder why they just can’t let it go. Hasn’t it been long enough already?”

These words were spoken to my wife recently by a Japanese co-worker when we returned from Nagasaki. This attitude might seem startling to peace activists in Japan and throughout the world who participate in memorial events every year on August 6th and 9th, but it is a sobering reminder that many people in Japan and throughout the world have let the memory fade, not even knowing what they don’t know about the perils of nuclear weapons as they exist in today’s world.

In a consumer society based on employment in a military economy, the institutions people pass through in their formative years do very little to teach history, political consciousness or the meaning of citizenship. Whatever lessons exist are delivered as tedious, obligatory lectures, followed by multiple choice tests. Lessons might also have come from elders in the form of scoldings about how tough things were during the war, how “you youngsters” have no idea and so on. The only thing worse than no history lessons is bad history lessons. Japanese people, in particular, may be inured to them because of an overdose of obligatory exposure to the rituals of remembrance.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki also invoke uncomfortable feelings of shame about losing the war, and shame about responsibility for it. The hibakusha and all the memorials in the two bombed cities evoke these conflicted feelings, so many Japanese would rather turn away, just as many Americans would rather turn away for inverse reasons.

While living in Japan I have met people who talked about visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but they never mentioned the atom bomb. The only thing they wanted to talk about was the local foods they ate, or maybe a visit to Dejima, the old Dutch and Portuguese trading post in Nagasaki that used to be the most famous thing about the city. They talked about these visits like they would talk about a visit to any other place. Likewise, residents of the two cities have millions of good reasons to appreciate everything that happened before the war and after it, all the things that make their cities just like other cities. No one wants their city to be just about that one traumatic thing that happened one day long ago.

I had lived in Japan for many years before I visited either Hiroshima or Nagasaki, partly because I had other priorities, and partly because it just felt a little strange to visit a place just for that. I knew the history quite well, but I still questioned my motives. I finally went when I had someone to visit there, someone who just happened to be a historian who specialized in the cultural impacts of nuclear technology.

That was Robert Jacobs, who was interviewed on a local Hiroshima English language podcast shortly after President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima on May 27, 2016. During the interview he shed some light on why people are becoming less reluctant to visit traumatized places and engage in what has recently become known as “dark tourism:”

I met a religious studies scholar… who said… dark tourism has replaced religious pilgrimage… Going to places where history happened, especially traumatic history happened… gives your life more authenticity… This has been on the rise, and it’s partly a way to infuse our lives with meaning and connection to a world that is often at a distance from us…  to infuse your own life with a deeper sense of the importance of peace because you’ve been to some place where peace is so important. It’s an emotional and a spiritual renewal to go to places like that, and the use of the word “dark” doesn’t mean that there is a dark meaning. It just means that it’s sites of historical trauma. People go there not to gawk at trauma or death but because these are the sites that resonate in our mythology of the world we live in. Religious sites don’t resonate so much the way that they used to, but people like to visit places that give their lives a sense of being connected to mythic things. In our lives the mythic things are often large historical tragedies, and in coming to a place like Hiroshima… “dark” just implies a place where a dark thing happened, but the motives of the people who come here is to increase their sense of connectedness and their sense of meaning… People will invoke having been to Hiroshima as a means of having authority. They will say, “I’ve been to Hiroshima… I can tell you about how bad nuclear weapons are…” These are empowering reasons that people visit… The phrase “dark tourism” certainly doesn’t imply that the motives of people are in any way dark. [1]

There could be a downside to claiming authority just because one has visited a place where something bad happened. It depends on what one learns about the entire context of the traumatic event. Visitors to Hiroshima could leave with widely divergent interpretations of what happened there in 1945. In the end there is much to be said for a pilgrimage to a local library in order to connect and infuse one’s life with a deeper connection to history.

I can say that my visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki achieved something that was missing in all that I knew about what happened there in August 1945. No matter how much I had learned from books and films and second-hand reports, it didn’t become fully real in a certain sense until I could confirm it with my own senses, when I stood at ground zero, walked through the cities, visited the museums, and talked to eyewitnesses to the events. That’s what is meant by “connection.”

One of the great things about both cities is the streetcars. They still run down the routes that existed in 1945, and though they must have been rebuilt and refurbished many times since then, they haven’t been modernized. They look, and feel, and sound just like the streetcars of old, and they are the means by which most visitors get from the central train stations to the atomic bomb memorial sites.

nagasaki-streetcars.JPG

On August 8th I rode the streetcar in Nagasaki with my wife and son, from downtown to the Urakami district where the museum and hypocenter are located. As we got closer the streetcar became very crowded, as groups of students were in town to attend the annual memorial the next day. I was standing, and my wife and son were sitting. A white-haired woman in her late eighties got on. She was stooping over a cane, but she pushed her way through the crowded aisle with considerable force. I tapped my son and told him to give up his seat. She took it with quick smile of gratitude then immediately began to talk to my wife:

Everyone’s going to the Peace Park today. That’s good. Good to see so many young people here… I wasn’t here that day. I was living down the line in Sasebo, but I had been called up to work in a factory here. For some reason I didn’t have to go to work that day. But then later I was told to get to Nagasaki and report for work. I got down to Sasebo station, and when that train from Nagasaki came in, people just fell out of it and collapsed right there on the platform, never got up again. Piles of them, blackened and sick. They just spilled out of the train car. I’ve never seen people in such a horrid state. Every city was getting bombed. We expected it, but obviously something very strange had happened in Nagasaki. I didn’t ride the train that day, but I went later… Sorry, I’m talking a lot, but I have to. Tomorrow the prime minister will come and make his speech again. So useless. We are really disappointed in him. I never used to talk to strangers like this, but now I talk to everyone because we have to. There are so few of us left.

Obviously, this is a translation and a paraphrase of a conversation recalled by my wife and related to me when we got off the streetcar. The reader may think I’ve embellished it, but this was the gist of it: the determination to tell the story, the need to condemn the present direction of the country, and thus the loss of all concern about what anyone might think about the unsolicited sharing of these stories with strangers on a streetcar. Looking back on it now, it seems to be the best way to explain to that smug, ignorant co-worker why people can’t and don’t have to “just get over it.” The experience also taught me why people should dare to be “dark tourists” and take in everything they see and hear when they visit places of historical trauma, whether it’s Auschwitz, Hiroshima or Wounded Knee. In this case, there was nothing like getting the story firsthand on a Nagasaki streetcar.

Our short visit to the city had other highlights. I was invited to join a study tour led by the historian of American University, Peter Kuznick (co-author of The Untold History of the United States), and there I met his students and others from Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University. A famous spokesperson for the  hibakusha community was also there, 71-year-old Koko Tanimoto Kondo, who has devoted her life to speaking about the atomic bombings in both Japanese and English. Her father was Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, [2] a Methodist minister who was portrayed in John Hersey’s Hiroshima, the first report that exposed American audiences to the horror of what had happened on the ground on August 6th, 1945. [3][4] Reverend Tanimoto began a campaign to have nations dedicate August 6th as World Peace Day, and Koko, who was only eight months old at the end of the war, continued her father’s mission as she grew older.

Another hibakusha, Kazutoshi Otsuka, spoke to the study group about the life he has devoted to telling the world about the necessity of abolishing nuclear weapons. He was ten years old at the time of the blast, and survived because he was at the edge of the zone of worst damage and was indoors at the time. He emerged from the debris that had fallen over him to find the city in ruins, utterly transformed from what it had been just a short time ago. The downtown area had been spared, but in Urakami almost all the buildings and thousands of people had just vanished. The last human voice he heard before the blast was his friend calling from outside, “The cicadas are singing. Let’s go catch some.” Did he die instantly in the blast? Did he run home and get caught in the fires? Did he die more slowly from radiation? Mr. Otsuka searched for his friend for a long time afterward, but it became obvious that he had vanished on the wind just like the last words he had spoken. For seventy-one years, while he has told his story to all who will listen, Mr. Otsuka has carried with him those simple words of invitation from his friend to enjoy a summer day.

The most famous icon of the atomic attacks is the Hiroshima Dome, one of the few structures left standing, but one which was almost demolished in the rush to rebuild the city and erase all signs of what had happened there. Those who wanted it saved had a hard time convincing city hall that it would be worthwhile to preserve it. There is nothing similar in Nagasaki, except for some portions of the walls of Shiroyama Elementary School near the hypocenter. Like the dome in Hiroshima, its position directly under the blast allowed it to be not completely demolished by the lateral blast force. After the fires were out, the remnants of the school on a small hill stood as the only desolate reminder of all that had been in this section of the city called Urakami. However, it wasn’t as photogenic as the Hiroshima Dome, and Nagasaki is more out of the way and receives fewer visitors, so it never became an iconic symbol of the atom bomb. In any case, the rebuilt school still functions as a school, so it wouldn’t be able to deal with a constant stream of visitors.

IMG_1839.JPG

The original wall with the new school built around it.

We learned that every year on August 9th the school holds a remembrance ceremony for students, the community, and any visitors who wish to attend. The students all come back for a day from their summer vacations and dress up in formal attire in the 30-degree humidity. It is a mourning ceremony, so the adults wear black funeral suits and dresses.

My wife and I decided to get up early on the 9th and take our son to the ceremony. We had attended many Japanese school ceremonies with our children before, and this one was just like all the rest, but so different from all others as well.

A steep staircase leads up to the school, and Koko Tanimoto was already there at the top, beaming a welcoming smile to us. There was something from her father in that smile because she made it feel like we were being welcomed to church on a Sunday morning. We walked around the grounds and looked inside the restored section that holds artifacts and memorials for the disappeared. In a grove of trees just off the sports ground they still sometimes find bone chips a few inches down in the soil.

IMG_1857

After the ceremony, a teacher talks to a group of students about the grove. 

In his speech at the ceremony, the principal said everything one would expect at such an occasion, going over the events of that day and the weeks and months that followed, and the eventual rebuilding of the school and the city. Several times he mentioned “passing the baton,” stressing to the children their heavy responsibility to carry on the memory that all other graduates of the school have carried into their adult lives.

IMG_1845

Shiroyama Elementary School, in the days after the bombing.

Around the third time I heard that word baton, I began to feel uneasy about it. I started to wonder how many people had gone through that school wondering “Why us?” They didn’t drop the bomb. They didn’t ask for this burden, and they must wonder why the whole country and the whole world is not doing more to pass this baton to future generations. I didn’t visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or make friends in the peace movement, suffering from any delusions that it is easy to change the world. I think most of my fellow travelers and the hibakusha feel the same. We know what we are up against, and we know how badly the masters of war have betrayed us. The hibakusha’s commitment to peace makes for a paradoxical taboo against expressing anger and rage, but I suspect the survivors have reached old age bitterly aware that the world has done far too little to act on their call for the elimination of nuclear weapons. It must feel like cruel mockery as they reach their later years. There were many hopeful periods, such as the thaw between Khrushchev and Kennedy that was emerging just before JFK’s assassination, or the end of the Warsaw Pact in the late 1980s, but each time, to borrow a line from Leonard Cohen, the holy dove was caught again, bought and sold, and bought again. [5]

There must have been very many angry hibakusha over the decades, people who kept their rage contained within them, people who drank, people who became outcasts or extremists, but the openly angry people never got invited to official ceremonies. One can only speculate about the motives of the anonymous person who threatened to bomb Shiroyama Elementary School and other schools in Nagasaki in August 2016 (at least there was an advance warning), but it speaks to a very perverse disdain that exists in some people toward the victims rather than the perpetrators. [6]

Overt anger has been kept out of sight, but an acceptable outlet for covert anger is mainstream politics, where those in the ruling party dream of restoring the glory of the empire and their notion of “national honor” while accumulating plutonium from “the peaceful atom” and biding their time under American subservience. This is how contemporary Japanese society developed its neurotic ambivalence about its history and place in the world.

The various forms of anger have been reported by other writers who know the experiences of hibakusha well. Shortly after President Obama’s speech in Hiroshima, the journalist and filmmaker John Pilger had this to say:

… the cynicism of great power and great reckless power, in many respects is expressed at Hiroshima where… all the evidence shows that both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sacrificed as America’s first expressions of violent power in the Cold War that was then underway. So for Obama to go and talk about the atomic bombs as if God dropped them… He used the passive voice… and really quite vomitus language like “we must have the courage to care.” So [according to Obama] no one dropped the atomic bombs. The United States certainly didn’t kill all those hundreds of thousands of people. It didn’t cause all that suffering. It’s something that we should all express sympathy to. It was like a kind of high mass and the great divinity was there, but not the United States. That [the US] is not to blame. That’s been Obama’s role as a PR man extraordinaire, and he came into power and people fell on their knees… This was a kind of second coming. There was a problem for the last few years with re-igniting Afghanistan and Iraq, and destroying Libya and so on, but the fawning has begun again as Obama’s time in office nears an end, and for people, for journalists to report–as I say the deeply cynical action of Obama and the United States in Hiroshima the other day–to report it without the context of all those survivors–and I’ve interviewed many of them–of how angry they were… they’re polite people and they’re very elderly… but they were angry. [7]

Two months later The Mainichi reported more precisely on this anger in describing how the secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations regretted his initial praise of Obama’s speech when he had time to read an accurate translation the next day:

Terumi Tanaka, 84, was in attendance on May 27 this year when Obama was making what was the first visit of a sitting U.S. president to Hiroshima…

There was an interpreter for Obama’s speech, but the speech was not handed out on paper… Sentences from the latter part of the speech, such as his reference to a future in which “Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known … as the start of our own moral awakening,” had stuck with him, and he praised the sentence as “excellent words.” He noted, however, that he was “disappointed” that Obama had said, “We may not realize this goal (of a world without nuclear weapons) in my lifetime.” The next morning… Tanaka opened a page containing the Japanese translation of the speech. It began, “Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed.” Tanaka was stunned. “Death did not ‘fall from the sky.’ This is making the death abstract. This is absolutely unacceptable,” Tanaka thought. While on board the train he opened his laptop and began to write his “Essay of Regret.” As he typed, erased and retyped, he says, “I began to get angry and stopped midway. They ‘created’ the death. As a sign of apology, I want them to eliminate nuclear weapons,” he says. [8]

Another expression of this anger came from Setsuko Thurlow, a hibakusha who has lived for many years in Toronto. She was received at the White House in June, where she met the man who wrote the Hiroshima speech and hand-delivered a message for the president in which she listed the concrete measures that need to be taken to make the speech amount to more than aspirational fluff:

  1. Stop the U.S. boycott of international nuclear disarmament meetings and join the 127 countries that have endorsed the Humanitarian Pledge to create a new legal instrument and new norms for a nuclear weapons ban treaty as a first step in their elimination and prohibition.
  2. Stop spending money to modernize the US nuclear arsenal, a staggering $1 trillion over the next three decades, and use this money to meet human needs and protect our environment.
  3. Take nuclear weapons off high alert and review the aging command and control systems that have been the subject of recent research exposing a culture of neglect and the alarming regularity of accidents involving nuclear weapons. [9]

Much more could be said by the hibakusha community about issues not relating directly to disarmament, such as the worsening mistrust between the nuclear powers and the proliferation of conventional military power that leads so many nations to favor the “cheap and easy” asymmetrical nuclear deterrent. [10] The obstacles to peace are stacked high, and anger seems to be the only logical response. But I will hold onto the memory of  Koko Tanimoto smiling at the top of those stairs at Shiroyama, greeting the late pilgrims like me who’ve finally decided to make this simple journey.

Notes

[1] J.J. Walsh, interviewer, “Professor Bo Jacobs on the Obama Visit,” Get Hiroshima, May 30, 2016, 18:00~

[2] “Hiroshima Survivor Meets Enola Gay Pilot,” This is Your Life, 1955. The full interview with Reverend Tanimoto can be viewed on YouTube.

[3] Robert Jacobs, “Reconstructing the Perpetrator’s Soul by Reconstructing the Victim’s Body: The Portrayal of the ‘Hiroshima Maidens’ by the Mainstream Media in the United States,” Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, Issue 24, June 2010.

[4] Tadatoshi Akiba, L. Wittner and T. Taue, “Why Hiroshima and Nagasaki Day Events Matter,” Asia Pacific Journal, August 1, 2007.

[5] Leonard Cohen, “Anthem,” The Future, Columbia Records, 1992.

[6] “‘Hibakusha’ talks scrapped after Nagasaki bomb threat,” Asahi Shinbun, August 18, 2016.

[7] Afshin Rattansi, interviewer, “ISIS in Fallujah & World War III with John Pilger (Episode 350 of Going Underground),” Russia Today, June 4, 2016. What John Pilger described as a “passive voice” construction could more accurately be called a usage of an intransitive verb which conceals the agent of the action. The speech writer had various syntactical choices available: President Truman ordered the bombs to be dropped or The crew of the Enola Gay dropped the bomb, The bomb fell or, at the level of greatest possible abstraction, Death fell from the sky.

[8] Terumi Tanaka, “Hibakusha: A-bomb sufferers’ group official regrets praising Obama speech,” The Mainichi, August 2, 2016.

[9] To Barack Obama from Setsuko Thurlow, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, August 6, 2016.

[10] Richard Rhodes, Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), 101. Many who favor nuclear deterrence believe that it has prevented a third world war that would have been fought with a massive arsenal of conventional weapons, with millions of casualties. In this argument, a nuclear arsenal is preferable, and it comes at a bargain price for nations large and small. Rhodes’ book argues for abolition of nuclear arms, but he noted how their “low cost” (not considering what economists call “externalities”) became a rationale for their development: “Nuclear warheads cost the United States about $250,000 each: less than a fighter bomber, less than a missile, less than a patrol boat, less than a tank.”

Source:

Nuclear Free by 2045?

https://nf2045.blogspot.fr/2016/08/lesson-from-nagasaki-lighten-up-on-dark.html

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Succession of earthquakes in the Sanriku Oki area (epicenter in the ocean off Fukushima)

jkjlkmùm.jpg

Succession of earthquakes in the Sanriku Oki area (epicenter in the ocean off Fukushima) yesterday and today (5 or 6 earthquakes of magnitude ranging from 5.3 to 6)

khklklk.jpg

jkllm.jpg

 

 

Seismotectonics of Japan and Vicinity

The North America plate, Pacific plate, Philippine Sea plate, and Eurasia plate all influence the tectonic setting of Japan, Taiwan, and the surrounding area. Some authors divide the edges of these plates into several microplates that together take up the overall relative motions between the larger tectonic blocks, including the Okhotsk microplate in northern Japan, the Okinawa microplate in southern Japan, the Yangzee microplate in the area of the East China Sea, and the Amur microplate in the area of the Sea of Japan.

The seafloor expression of the boundary between the Pacific and North America plates lies 300 km off the east coasts of Hokkaido and Honshu at the Kuril-Kamchatka and Japan trenches. The subduction of the Pacific plate beneath the North America plate, at rates of 83-90 mm/yr, generates abundant seismicity, predominantly as a result of interplate slip along the interface between the plates. The 1958 M 8.4 Etorofu, 1963 M 8.6 Kuril, 2003 M 8.3 Tokachi-Oki, and the 2011 M 9.0 Tohoku earthquakes all exemplify such megathrust seismicity. The 1933 M 8.4 Sanriku-Oki earthquake and the 1994 M 8.3 Shikotan earthquake are examples of intraplate seismicity, caused by deformation within the lithosphere of the subducting Pacific plate (Sanriku-Oki) and of the overriding North America plate (Shikotan), respectively.

At the southern terminus of the Japan Trench the intersection of the Pacific, North America, and Philippine Sea plates forms the Boso Triple Junction, the only example of a trench-trench-trench intersection in the world. South of the triple junction the Pacific plate subducts beneath the Philippine Sea plate at the Izu-Ogasawara trench, at rates of 45-56 mm/yr. This margin is noteworthy because of the steep dip of the subducting Pacific plate (70° or greater below depths of 50 km depth), and because of its heterogeneous seismicity; few earthquakes above M 7 occur at shallow depths, yet many occur below 400 km. The lack of large shallow megathrust earthquakes may be a result of weak coupling at the plate interface, or simply a reflection of an incomplete earthquake catalog with respect to the length of typical seismic cycles.

The northernmost section of the Philippine Sea plate shares a 350 km boundary with the North America plate that runs approximately east-west from the Boso Triple Junction towards the Izu Peninsula. This short boundary is dominated by the subduction of the Philippine Sea plate beneath Japan along the Sagami Trough, but also includes small sections of transform motion.

The subduction of the Philippine Sea plate under the Eurasia plate begins at the Suruga Trough, immediately southwest of the Izu peninsula. In the northern Tōkai, Tonankai and Nankai sections of this subduction zone, historical data indicate M 8+ earthquake recurrence intervals of 100-150 years. The Tonankai and Nankai sections last ruptured in M 8.1 earthquakes in 1944 and 1946, respectively, while the Tōkai section last broke in 1854. In the 1980’s studies began to forecast the imminence of a large earthquake in the Tōkai region, and warned of its potential impact on the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama (the two largest cities in Japan); to date, the expected event has not occurred.

The boundary between the Philippine Sea and Eurasia plates continues south and southwestwards from the Suruga Trough, extending 2000 km along the Nankai and Ryukyu trenches before reaching the island of Taiwan. Along the Ryukyu Trench, the Philippine Sea plate exhibits trench normal subduction at rates increasing from 48 mm/yr in the northeast to 65 mm/yr in the southwest. Convergence and the associated back-arc deformation west of the oceanic trench creates the Ryukyu Islands and the Okinawa Trough. The largest historic event observed along this subduction zone was the M 8.1 Kikai Island earthquake in 1911.

In the vicinity of Taiwan the structure of the Philippine Sea: Eurasia plate boundary and the associated pattern of seismicity becomes more complex. 400 km east of Taiwan a clockwise rotation in the trend of the margin (from NE-SW to E-W), paired with an increase in subduction obliquity creates a section of the plate boundary that exhibits dextral transform and oblique thrusting motions. South of Taiwan the polarity of subduction flips; the Eurasia plate subducts beneath the Philippine Sea plate. Debate surrounds contrasting models of the plate boundary position between the zones of oppositely verging subduction, and the boundary’s relation to patterns of seismicity. Many studies propose that crustal thickening causes the majority of regional seismicity, while others attribute seismicity to deformation associated with subduction. Another resolution proposes a tear in the Philippine Sea plate and a complex assortment of subduction, transform, and collisional motion. All the models concede that seismicity around the island of Taiwan is anomalously shallow, with few earthquakes deeper than 70km.

While there are no instances of an earthquake M>8 in the modern record, Taiwan and its surrounding region have experienced eight M>7.5 events between 1900 and 2014. The dominance of shallow M<8 earthquakes suggests fairly weak plate boundary coupling, with most earthquakes caused by internal plate deformation. The 1935 M 7.1 Hsinchu-Taichung earthquake and the 1999 M 7.6 Chi-Chi Earthquake both exemplify the shallow continental crust thrust faulting that dominates regional seismicity across the island. A major tectonic feature of the island is the Longitudinal Valley Fault, which ruptures frequently in small, shallow earthquakes. In 1951, the Longitudinal Valley Fault hosted twelve M≥6 events known as the Hualien-Taitung earthquake sequence.

Large earthquakes in the vicinity of Japan and Taiwan have been both destructive and deadly. The regions high population density makes shallow earthquakes especially dangerous. Since 1900 there have been 13 earthquakes (9 in Japan, 4 in Taiwan) that have each caused over 1000 fatalities, leading to a total of nearly 200,000 earthquake related deaths. In January 1995 an earthquake that ruptured a southern branch of the Japan Median Tectonic Line near the city of Kobe (population 1.5 million) killed over 5000 people. The 1923 Kanto earthquake shook both Yokohama (population 500,000, at that time) and Tokyo (population 2.1 million), killing 142,000 people. The earthquake also started fires that burned down 90% of the buildings in Yokohama and 40% of the buildings in Tokyo. Most recently, the M9.0 Tohoku earthquake, which ruptured a 400 km stretch of the subduction zone plate boundary east of Honshu, and the tsunami it generated caused over 20,000 fatalities.

hjokpll

 

Sources:

Magnitude 5.3 quake hits off north-eastern Japan

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/magnitude-53-quake-hits-off-northeastern-japan

M6.0 – 170km ENE of Miyako, Japan

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/us10006ffg#executive

Earthquake Information

http://www.jma.go.jp/en/quake/20160821013226395-210128.html

 

 

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Anti-nuclear power protest tents in Tokyo attacked by far-right group

On August 14th, members of Japan’s ultra Right targeted the anti-nuclear power protest tents that have stood for nearly five years outside the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Kasumigaseki, the government district in central Tokyo.

The “attack”, as it was swiftly dubbed by those on the Left, happened perhaps deliberately on the day before the annual anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the Pacific War that always turns Yasukuni Shrine into something of a pantomime of militarist cosplay.

anti-nuclear-power-protest-tents-tokyo-attack-right-wing.jpg

It is unclear to me if this was a co-ordinated action between several groups or individuals, but online reports claim that the racist hate group Zaitokukai was the main organiser. The perpetrators of the attack seemed to attempt to surround the tents with flags and banners. The hot summer day then quickly became more heated as supporters rallied to protect the tents, and police struggled to keep the two groups on opposing sides of the street while vehicles decorated with nationalist slogans drove into the fray. The anti-tent demonstrators included at least one man wearing a war-time military costume, just as can always be seen at Yasukuni on August 15th.

Japan’s far Right has diversified in recent years, now encompassing netizens who vent nationalist anger online (the so-called netto uyoku), hate speech groups like Zaitokukai who particularly target Korean communities, and sundry protestors who march against the recent territorial incursions by China and Japan’s other neighhours. The customary black vans of the traditional uyoku are no longer the only icons of rightist groups, nor does this emerging demographic necessarily belong to the New Right or minzoku-ha that developed out of the student movement. (In fact, elements of the New Right and other nationalists also added their voices to the anti-nuclear power movement.) The hate groups and xenophobic activists view any kind of leftist, liberal or anti-government movement as an enemy of Japan, hence they have attacked protests against nuclear power or the state security bills. Shall we call it the New New Right?

The incident comes at time of renewed tensions between the state and citizens due to the ongoing clashes at Takae in Okinawa over helipad construction, which has seen hundreds of riot police despatched from the mainland to maintain order among local and visiting protestors. While the scale of that movement is still relatively small, the situation is not dissimilar to what happened during the construction of Narita Airport in the 1960s and 1970s.

This is far from the first time the tents have attracted far-right attention, including hate activists like Shusei Sakurda. Rightists damaged and attempted to disrupt the tents as earlier as 2011, which has led the anti-nuclear protestors to develop a network of supporters that can be mobilised to guard and protect the tents. As can see from the video, this is very successful as a defence strategy. The attack on August 14th was met by a vigorous counter-protest of self-professed “anti-fascists” from the movement which has also become a prominent feature of protest culture in Japan over the past few years in response to the way the ultra-nationalists have evolved. These counter-protestors strive to outnumber and drown out the noise of right-wing or hate groups’ street actions, and do not shy away from engaging directly in physical confrontations. The activists are at times as aggressive as the hate groups and others they picket, prompting a greater police presence to keep the two sides apart.

This video was made by Rio Akiyama, a freelance photographer and film-maker who spends his days crisscrossing the country to cover counter-protests and other social movements. The work of Akiyama is mirrored by that of Rody Shimazaki, a punk-turned-photographer who has also documented the 2015 security bills protests and the hate speech counter-protests. Both Shimazaki and Akiyama have published photo-books in recent months, adding to the post-Fukushima discourse with (carefully curated) versions of the protest movements.

The protest tents were first erected on September 11th, 2011, shortly after the much-publicised hunger strike at Kasumigaseki, and around the time that the anti-nuclear power movement really began to pick up momentum. The organisers themselves use the name “Tento Hiroba” (Tent Plaza), and in English “Anti-Nuclear Occupy Tent”. It has been called the Occupy Tents, or the “tent village”. The concurrent timing is coincidental, but we might dare to christen it “Occupy Kasumigaseki”, though the contexts and aims of the tents are far removed from what went on at Wall Street in those heady anti-capitalist days of late 2011.

What is the significance of the Occupy Tents? The motley structures function as a listening post; a gathering place for demonstrators, talks, music, video screenings, and information exchange. One of the tents is now a free art museum featuring work by the likes of 281_Anti Nuke. The corner where they stand is one of the symbols of the movement, along with the art of Yoshitomo Nara that was used prolifically on placards at the major rallies.

anti-nuclear-tents-hiroba-meti-tokyo.jpg

The tents have also become a kind of protest commons: a shared place for various stakeholders in the diverse anti-nuclear power protest movement to come together and exchange views. It occupies land that is public yet also government (not mutually exclusive concepts), and forces the issue of Fukushima and nuclear power to stay in the public domain even as the the Friday night vigils in front of the Kantei (prime minister’s official residence) have dwindled. That is not to say they have stopped: they continue resiliently every week, though the numbers of participants are far lower than their remarkable peak in 2012. But Tent Plaza is certainly the most materially resonant site of the movement, since the Friday night vigils are by their nature transient and shifting in scale and exact location.

In this way, the tents form a permanent platform for discourse, a “plaza” in a very real sense — a rare thing in Japan, where public land is often tightly controlled and managed. Kasumigaseki, in particular, is not amenable to assemblies, where demonstrators are not allowed to occupy the roads and are forced to gather on the snaking pavements in the district. Tent Plaza repudiates this topographical restraint and replaces it with a micro Tokyo version of Speakers’ Corner.

In addition to the ongoing crusade against nuclear power, the tents have also served as a locus for other anti-government causes, such as the protests against the state security bills last year. In one memorable episode, Buddhist monks gathered at the tents in 2015 to pray for the so-called “war bills” to be rejected.

If the unquestionably partisan Japan Atomic Industrial Forum is to believed, “members of a shadowy coalition of primarily far-left groups have continuously occupied [the tents], displaying signs criticising national nuclear policy and proclaiming the site a symbol of the anti-nuclear movement”. “Shadowy” or not, the people associated with the tents are not simply drawn from the rank’s of Japan’s far Left. There are indeed activists with long experience in radical groups. (For example, Shinzaburō Iwamoto is one of the people involved and this seems to be the same person who was part of a faction of Chūkaku-ha forced out in 2006.) But the nature of the protest is much more genial than the dogmatic tactics of the far Left, and, as we saw, a lot of its grassroots support now comes from the younger hate speech counter-protestors as opposed to the more established radical Left.

Here is someone explaining how she got involved in helping at the tents, as recorded by the Voices of Protest Japan project.

I wanted to do something as one who lives in metropolitan area. Though I did not participate from the beginning, I participated in Fukushima women’s group and did a sit-in. Also I started to visit here two or three days when I heard that Fukushima women were coming after the hunger strike done by five young people in front of METI. Then Japan’s women group continued the movement for ten more days. I didn’t participate for the whole thing but little bit. After that, the men at the first tent built the second tent when a hundred of Fukushima women were coming to the tent. But because of lack of participants after this movement, the tent was always closed when I came. In the same year, March of 2012, I started to come when I heard that they needed member for Saturday shift. So I started to go to that shift and also began to come for Thursday. Then I came for every other week rotating with another person. And now, I come for Thursday shift.

Just as the Wall Street occupiers were hounded out of Zuccotti Park, so too does the Japanese state want these pesky Kasumigaseki squatters gone. METI has been attempting to have the tents forcibly removed since 2014, though the orders have been challenged by protestors in the courts. Amidst the anti-nuke paraphernalia, the tents are also ostensibly fenced off by railings hung with signs informing the world that this is state land. In late July, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling the the tents must be removed and the occupiers pay a vast sum for “using” public land (around ¥20,000 for every day the tents have been there). The tents are effectively on borrowed (and expensive) time, though the state knows that any clumsy eviction could result in violence.

On September 11th, the tents are celebrating their anniversary with a “9.11 Anger Festival”. The fury of Fukushima lives on in Kasumigaseki.

WILLIAM ANDREWS

https://throwoutyourbooks.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/anti-nuclear-power-meti-protest-tents-tokyo-attack-far-right-group/

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , | Leave a comment

State funds planned for cleaning heavily contaminated zones in Fukushima

Privatized profit, socialized risk and clean up

b-yenbills-a-20160408-870x581.jpg

 

The government plans to use state funds to finance the radiation cleanup in the areas most seriously contaminated by the Fukushima disaster in 2011, government sources said Friday.

It is the first plan to decontaminate the “difficult to return to” zones, including a large portion of the two towns hosting the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and parts of other nearby municipalities in the prefecture.

The move is intended to expedite the cleanup process but may draw criticism because it will effectively reduce the financial burden on Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the utility responsible for the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Under the current legal framework, the decontamination costs are first shouldered by the state, with Tepco told to reimburse the expenses over time. But since the costs are expected to far exceed the ¥2.5 trillion estimated earlier, the utility has requested more financial support.

The government plans to conduct decontamination in the difficult-to-return-to zones, which comprise about 337 sq. km of land where around 24,000 people used to live, the sources said.

The work within the designated “reconstruction bases” will include removing buildings, replacing soil and paving roads.

Tepco will only be asked to shoulder the costs of cleaning existing facilities and infrastructure that will continue to be used within the reconstruction bases.

The government hopes to officially endorse the plan this month, the sources said.

The Fukushima disaster, triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, prompted the government to issue evacuation orders to 11 municipalities near the plant.

The areas have been reclassified into three categories based on radiation level — a zone where evacuation orders are ready to be lifted, a zone where human habitation is restricted, and a zone where residents will have difficulty coming back to for a long time.

The areas subject to evacuation are gradually being reduced, with the government setting a goal of lifting all the remaining orders apart from the difficult-to-return-to zones by next March.

In the heavily contaminated zones, the government plans to conduct costly and intensive radiation cleanup efforts that will allow it to lift the evacuation orders in five years’ time.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/20/national/social-issues/state-funds-planned-cleaning-heavily-contaminated-zones-fukushima/#.V7h3ojXKO-d

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment