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The Pentagon Wants More Control Over the News. What Could Go Wrong? by Matt Taibbi — Rise Up Times

The most enormous issue posed by the modern media landscape is the industry’s incredible concentration, which allows a handful of private platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Google – to dominate media distribution.

via The Pentagon Wants More Control Over the News. What Could Go Wrong? by Matt Taibbi — Rise Up Times

September 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) gives incorrect information on Calder Hall

David Lowry’s Blog 4th Sept 2019, The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), owner of the Sellafield  nuclear site, press release included two significant factual errors, so egregiously inaccurate, that they may be deemed deliberate ”fake news.”
The media release asserted of the Calder Hall ‘Magnox’ nuclear plant: “Hailed as the dawn of the atomic age, it made Britain a world leader in the civil nuclear industry.”
But, in fact, Calder Hall was not a ‘civil’ nuclear power plant, but a plutonium production plant run by the UK Atomic Energy Authority for the Ministry of Defence ( then called the Ministry of Supply) to provide nuclear explosive materials for nuclear warheads. In fact it was clearly stated at the time of the plant’s opening, in a remarkable little book entitled Calder Hall: The Story of Britain’s First Atomic Power Station, written by Kenneth Jay, and published by the Government’s Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell to mark Calder’s commissioning in October 1956.

http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2019/09/i-believethat-some-energy-industries.html

September 8, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

No more room for Belgium’s nuclear waste 

No more room for Belgium’s nuclear waste   https://www.brusselstimes.com/all-news/belgium-all-news/67262/no-more-room-for-belgiums-nuclear-waste/  , Alan Hope, The Brussels Times, 08 September 2019  Belgium has no more room in its storage spaces for low-grade nuclear waste, according to the latest annual report from Belgoprocess, the government agency responsible.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment

Excessive costs of nuclear power for Bangladesh!

Rooppur plant’s cost higher as it is a new experience for Bangladesh , Daily Star. 8 Sep 19, Science and Technology Affairs Minister Yeafesh Osman tells JSScience and Technology Affairs Minister Yeafesh Osman today said that the installation cost of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) is higher than that of India as Bangladesh is new to implement such a power plant.

He also spelt out a number of reasons behind the excessive cost of the power plant compared to Kudunkulam Nuclear Power Plant in India.

The minister made the statement while responding to a tabled starred question from BNP MP Rumeen Farhana in the Parliament. She in her question said that the capital expenditure of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is Tk 45,000 crore higher than that of Kudunkulam Nuclear Power Plant in India.

Yeafesh said that the infrastructural expenditure of the nuclear power plant in Bangladesh is comparatively higher than that of India as the country is new in setting up nuclear power plant.

“India is operating and managing nuclear power plants for more than 50 years. As a result, they are self-sufficient in the setting of nuclear power plant,” he said….. https://www.thedailystar.net/country/rooppur-nuclear-power-plant-cost-higher-it-new-experience-for-bangladesh-1797358

September 8, 2019 Posted by | ASIA, business and costs | Leave a comment

France pledges to press Iran to comply with nuclear deal

France pledges to press Iran to comply with nuclear deal    https://nypost.com/2019/09/07/france-pledges-to-press-iran-to-comply-with-nuclear-deal/ By Sara Dorn, France will continue pressuring Iran to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal, a top official said Saturday.

“We must do everything we can to contribute to ease tensions with Iran and to ensure navigation safety,” French defense minister Florence Parly said during a joint press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Paris.

“We can only confirm our goal, which is to bring Iran to fully respect the Vienna deal,” Parly said.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials said Saturday the country has begun using centrifuges to enrich uranium, a key ingredient for nuclear weapons.

Iran ramped up its nuclear activity in July in response to President Trump’s reinstatement of sanctions that were nixed during the nuclear deal made with Iran and world leaders in Vienna in 2015.

Iran has said it would come back into compliance with the pact if Europe helps the country work around the US sanctions to sell crude oil on the international marketplace.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | France, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste problem to be explored by China, in giant underground lab

China plans giant underground lab to research nuclear waste, By Julie Zaugg and Nanlin Fang, CNN, September 6, 2019  China is building a laboratory up to 560 meters (1,837 feet) underground in the middle of the Gobi desert to carry out tests on nuclear waste, officials have confirmed.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | China, wastes | Leave a comment

Tokyo Officials Still Unsure What to Do With Radioactive Fukushima Water

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September 7, 2019
The Japanese government told diplomats on Wednesday they had not yet decided what to do with the roughly 1 million tons of radioactive water being stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
A toxic mix of groundwater and rainwater exposed to the damaged nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi in eastern Japan has presented Japanese officials with a disposal problem for years. More than 1 million tons of contaminated water are now stored in more than 1,000 storage tanks around the site, in various stages of decontamination.
However, the clock is ticking: Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) says it is due to hit maximum capacity by 2022, and what will be 1.37 million tons of water by then will need to be disposed of or properly treated to be made safer.
“With transparency in mind, Japan will continue providing the international community with information (on the Fukushima situation),” Koichiro Matsumoto, the Foreign Ministry’s director of international cooperation, told 27 diplomats representing 22 countries and regions on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Seoul raised the issue last month during a larger trade spat with Tokyo, with the South Korean Foreign Ministry saying, “If it’s deemed necessary, we will … closely cooperate with our neighbors in the Pacific … to actively cope with the problem of the discharge of contaminated water,” Yonhap News Agency reported.
When the most powerful earthquake in Japanese history struck offshore of the city of Sendai in March 2011, it produced a huge tsunami that washed miles inland, killing tens of thousands of people. It also damaged the ostensibly-tsunami-proof Fukushima plant, causing three of its reactors to melt down after they overheated. While the situation was brought under control, the huge problem of radioactive cleanup remains, as does the continued growth of radioactive water at the site.
Various proposals have been floated for disposal, including injecting the water deep underground or dumping the partially treated water into the Pacific Ocean.
“It will have a devastating effect on fishing in Fukushima,” Tetsu Nozaki, who heads the Fukushima prefectural federation of fisheries cooperative associations, told the Asahi Shimbun about dumping the water into the Pacific in March. Fishermen returned to the waters near Sendai in 2017, but their catch is still only 20% of pre-earthquake levels, the Asahi noted.
Tokyo has spent about 34.5 billion yen ($309 million) stemming the exposure of groundwater to the reactors with a massive earthen wall, but the site continues to accumulate roughly 100 tons of contaminated water per day, the Asahi noted.
The government was forced to admit last year that treatment had not proceeded as planned; nuclear plants typically treat their waste water to eliminate all radioactive elements except tritium, because tritium is both relatively harmless and also plentiful in the environment already.
Reprocessing all the water at Fukushima could take two years and would result in further delays to the enormous project of dismantling the wrecked reactors – which could take 40 years and cost up to 21.5 trillion yen ($192.5 billion), or roughly one-fifth of the Japanese government’s annual budget.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

To Prevent Polluted Water from Being Discharged into Sea Korea Pushing for International Cooperation in Handling Fukushima Water

Why South Korean government is the only one complaining? How about the other countries who will be also affected by the Fukushima Daiichi radioactive water dumping: China, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S. ? Why are they silent?
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The Korean government is seeking international cooperation to prevent the Japanese government from discharging the contaminated water at its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.
September 6, 2019
The Korean government has decided to promote international cooperation to cope with the possibility of the Japanese government discharging contaminated water at its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.
The Seoul government is moving to raise the international community’s awareness of the danger of discharging the polluted water from the ill-fated power plant in Fukushima.
The Korean Ministry of Science and ICT and the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission of Korea said that they sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requesting international cooperation for the treatment of the contaminated water at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The letter contained concerns over the possibility of the contaminated water being discharged into the sea. It also included a request that the IAEA play an active role in this matter with international organizations and interested parties.
In addition, Moon Mi-ok, first vice science and ICT minister of Korea and Um Jae-sik, chairman of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission will attend the IAEA General Assembly in Vienna on Sept. 16 to bring the issue to the attention of member countries and make it a hot topic for discussion. Moon will also deliver a keynote speech at the general assembly to warn of the dangers of the contaminated water.
“We will continue to request the international community to ensure that the Japanese government finds a legitimate and optimized method for treating the contaminated water safely without giving burden to future generations,” said Choi Won-ho, director general of public research at the Minister of Science and ICT.
Earlier, the Japanese government said through its embassy in Seoul that the IAEA has confirmed that the concentration of radioactive materials did not rise in seawater around Japan. It said contaminated groundwater has not been released to a level that affect public safety.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

North Korea lambasts Japan over Fukushima

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Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant stores more than 1 million tons of contaminated water.
September 4, 2019
Sept. 4 (UPI) — North Korea slammed a Japanese plan to discharge highly radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, calling the plan a recipe for an “outrageous nuclear disaster.”
Korean Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun stated Wednesday the controversial plan, which could be being reviewed in Tokyo, is an “anti-humanitarian act” that needs to be rescinded immediately.
Japan’s original plan was to release into the Pacific Ocean some of the 1.09 million tons of highly radioactive water from Fukushima. Last month, Greenpeace condemned Tokyo for the plan, calling it “motivated by short-term cost-cutting,” according to the South China Morning Post.
Pyongyang said Wednesday the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was being selfish and putting neighboring countries at risk.
“More than a few countries operate nuclear power stations, but only one country, Japan, would threaten the survival of other nations and people by carelessly throwing away radioactive water into the sea for national profit,” the Rodong said.
North Korea also claimed people on the Korean Peninsula would suffer the most damage.
“The island nation gang [Japan] that brought our people unparalleled misery and suffering are now trying to cover up their nuclear disaster with radioactive pollution,” the Rodong said, adding Japan should immediate withdraw plans to discharge radioactive water into the sea.
Tokyo may be postponing the plans, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
Government officials in Japan told diplomats representing 22 countries, including South Korea, they are still mulling their options on discharging the water.
The water, currently stored in tanks in Fukushima, will be disposed of with “transparency” in mind, Tokyo said.
Controversy remains over Japan’s Advanced Liquid Processing System plant at Fukushima, which treats water but still leaves higher than permitted levels of strontium-90 in the treated water.

 

September 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Vietnamese trainees sue Fukushima firm over decontamination work

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(Workers involved in decontamination work in the northeastern Japan town of Namie offer silent prayers to mourn victims of the March 2011 massive quake and tsunami on March 11, 2016.)
 
September 4, 2019
Three Vietnamese men on a foreign trainee program in Japan have sued a construction company for making them conduct radioactive decontamination work related to the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture without prior explanation, supporters of the plaintiffs said Wednesday.
The lawsuit, dated Tuesday and filed with a branch of the Fukushima District Court, demanded that Hiwada Co., based in Koriyama in the northeastern Japan prefecture, pay a total of about 12.3 million yen in damages, according to the supporters.
The case is the latest in a string of inappropriate practices under the Japanese government’s Technical Intern Training Program which has been often criticized as a cover for cheap labor.
According to Zentouitsu Workers Union, a Tokyo-based labor union that supports foreign trainees, Hiwada made the plaintiffs conduct decontamination work in the cities of Koriyma and Motomiya in Fukushima Prefecture between 2016 and 2018.
The Vietnamese, who arrived in Japan in July 2015, also did pipe work in the town of Namie while evacuation orders were still in place.
The plaintiffs’ contracts only said they would be engaging in reinforcing steel placement and formwork installation.
Hiwada did not provide them with detailed explanation on decontamination work beforehand, and it did not offer sufficient training either.
“We were not told that it was dangerous work. I am very worried about my future health,” said one of the plaintiffs, a 36-year-old, in a written statement.
In separate instances, foreign trainees have said they were inappropriately involved in decontamination work in Fukushima, including a Vietnamese man who said in March last year that he was hired by a construction firm in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture.
The Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare have said decontamination work does not fit the purpose of the trainee program.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan briefs diplomats on Fukushima nuclear water concerns

920x920.jpgThis Jan. 25, 2019, file photo shows water tanks containing contaminated water that has been treated at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. Japan has reassured foreign diplomats about the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant’s safety amid concerns about massive amounts of treated but radioactive water stored in tanks. Diplomats from 22 countries, including South Korea, attended a briefing Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, where Japanese officials stressed the importance of combating rumors.

1024x1024.jpgDiplomats from 22 countries attend a briefing on the Fukushima nuclear plant’s safety at the foreign ministry in Tokyo, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Japan has reassured foreign diplomats about the crippled nuclear plant’s safety amid concerns about massive amounts of treated but radioactive water stored in tanks

 

September 4, 2019

TOKYO (AP) — Japan tried to reassure foreign diplomats Wednesday about safety at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant amid concerns about massive amounts of treated but radioactive water stored in tanks.

Diplomats from 22 countries and regions attended a briefing at the Foreign Ministry, where Japanese officials stressed the importance of combating rumors about safety at the plant, which was decimated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, while pledging transparency.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said last month that it would run out of storage space for the water in 2022, prompting South Korea to raise safety questions amid tensions with Japan that have intensified over trade and history. South Korea was among those represented at Wednesday’s briefing.

Water must be continuously pumped into the four melted reactors at the plant so the fuel inside can be kept cool, and radioactive water has leaked from the reactors and mixed with groundwater and rainwater since the disaster.

The plant has accumulated more than 1 million tons of water in nearly 1,000 tanks. The water has been treated but still contains some radioactive elements. One, tritium — a relative of radiation-emitting hydrogen — cannot be separated.

Tritium is not unique to Fukushima’s melted reactors and is not harmful in low doses, and water containing it is routinely released from nuclear power plants around the world, including in South Korea, officials say.

The water has been a source of concern, sparking rumors about safety, especially as Japan tries to get countries to lift restrictions on food imports from the Fukushima area ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Import restrictions are still in place in 22 countries and regions, including South Korea and China.

“In order to prevent harmful rumors about the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant from being circulated, we believe it is extremely important to provide scientific and accurate information,” Yumiko Hata, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official in charge of the Fukushima accident response, said at the briefing. “We appreciate your understanding of the situation and continuing support for the decommissioning work at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.”

Officials said there were no complaints from the diplomats Wednesday about Japan’s handling of the water.

More than eight years after the accident, Japan has yet to decide what to do with the radioactive water. A government-commissioned panel has picked five options, including the controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean.

As disputes between Japan and neighboring South Korea escalated over export controls and colonial-era labor used by Japanese companies, Seoul last month announced plans to step up radiation tests of Japanese food products, and asked about the contaminated water and the possibility of its release into the sea.

Experts say the tanks pose flooding and radiation risks and hamper decontamination efforts at the plant. Nuclear scientists, including members the International Atomic Energy Agency and Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, have recommended the water’s controlled release into the sea as the only realistic option scientifically and financially. Local residents oppose this, saying the release would trigger rumors of contamination, which would spell doom for Fukushima’s fishing and agriculture industries.

The panel recently added a sixth option of long-term storage.

https://www.chron.com/news/science/article/Japan-briefs-diplomats-to-wipe-Fukushima-nuke-14412118.php?fbclid=IwAR3s08wA1bmvk0pODxuvDWOiQ4Kd5wy81v8vA7FzhX7gB_7PzflRoure5ZA

 

September 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japanese government to send staff to disaster-hit Fukushima towns to help restart farming production

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Yoshiyuki Takahashi(left), the head of an agriculture promotion association in Fukuoka Prefecture, examines vegetables produced in the prefecture at a grocery in Tokyo’s Minato Ward in March
Sep 3, 2019
The agriculture ministry said Tuesday it will send officials to 12 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture that were hit by the 2011 nuclear disaster to help farmers there resume agricultural production.
From April 2020, one official will be stationed in each of the 12 municipalities near Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, including the facility’s two host towns.
The ministry officials will create teams with prefectural government and local agricultural cooperatives officials.
The teams will hold discussions with local farmland owners and farmers hoping to expand their operations in order to devise and implement farming resumption plans.
The ministry hopes to consolidate abandoned parcels of farmland in cooperation with local agriculture-related organizations and start large-scale farming there using advanced equipment.
Due to the nuclear disaster, farming had been stopped on a total of 17,298 hectares of land in the 12 municipalities. As of the end of March 2018, farming had resumed on 4,345 hectares, only a fourth of the total.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Section of exhaust stack at nuclear plant removed

Work that was expected to take two days ended up taking a month. They were initially delayed because the crane wasn’t tall enough!? Good grief. Pretty hard to believe that their engineers/decommissioning crew aren’t working together enough to figure something as simple and basic as that out in advance. Work of this “quality” certainly doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in their ability in their decommissioning efforts.
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September 3, 2019
 
Workers have finished removing the top section of an exhaust stack for two damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
 
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, is working to dismantle the upper half of the 120-meter-tall stack.
 
It has released footage of the work completed on Sunday, about a month behind schedule.
 
The workers used a crane to lift off a section of the stack, together with the equipment used to cut it, and lowered them to the ground.
 
The stack was contaminated by radioactive gases released after the 2011 accident and is at risk of collapsing in an earthquake.
 
The iron framework that supports the stack was also damaged in the accident.
 
The company plans to complete the work by the end of March.
 
Removing the first section was originally scheduled to take two days but ended up taking over a month to complete.
 
The work was initially delayed when it was discovered that the crane wasn’t tall enough.
 
Equipment failures and other problems created further delays.
 
Officials say they will study the work done so far in order to streamline the demolition process.
 

September 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan urges nuke plants to get ready for decommission era

hjhkjk.jpgTokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant

 

September 2, 2019

Japan’s nuclear policy-setting body adopted a report Monday saying the country is entering an era of massive nuclear plant decommissioning, urging plant operators to plan ahead to lower safety risks and costs requiring decades and billions of dollars.

Twenty-four commercial reactors–or 40 percent of Japan’s total–are designated for or are being decommissioned. Among them are four reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that were severely damaged by the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan.

The annual nuclear white paper, adopted by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, urges utilities to learn from U.S. and European examples, especially those of Germany, France and Britain. Japan hasn’t yet completed the decommissioning of any reactors and doesn’t have concrete plans for the final disposal of radioactive waste.

“Taking into consideration further increase of nuclear facilities that will be decommissioned, new technology and systems need to be developed in order to carry out the tasks efficiently and smoothly,” the report said. “It’s a whole new stage that we have to proceed to and tackle.”

Japanese utilities have opted to scrap aged reactors instead of investing in safety requirements under post-Fukushima standards. The decommissioning of a typical reactor costs nearly 60 billion yen ($560 million) and takes several decades.

Before the Fukushima disaster, Japan had 60 commercial reactors that provided about 25 percent of the country’s energy needs.

Despite the government’s renewed ambitions for nuclear power, reactor restarts are proceeding slowly as nuclear regulators spend more time on inspections. Meanwhile, anti-nuclear sentiment persists among the public and makes it more difficult for plant operators to obtain local consent in making revisions to their facilities. Any plan related to nuclear waste storage tends to get strong resistance.

Since the Fukushima accident, only nine reactors in Japan have restarted, accounting for about 3 percent of the country’s energy supply, compared to the government’s ambitious 20-22 percent target.

In July, Tokyo Electric Power Holdings Co., or TEPCO, announced plans to decommission all four reactors at its second Fukushima plant, Fukushima No. 2, which narrowly avoided meltdowns in 2011. The move followed eight years of demands by the local government and residents for the reactors’ closure.

TEPCO said the decommissioning of Fukushima No. 2 alone would cost 410 billion yen and would take four decades, but experts have raised concerns about whether those estimates are realistic for a company already struggling with the ongoing cleanup of the wrecked Fukushima plant, estimated to cost about 8 trillion yen.

Japan Atomic Power Co., which has been decommissioning its Tokai nuclear plant since 2001, announced in March that it was pushing back the planned completion of the project by five years, to 2030, because the company still has been unable to remove and store highly radioactive materials from the core. The decommissioning of the government’s Tokai fuel reprocessing facility is expected to take 70 years and cost 770 billion yen.

The white paper stated that Japan is pursuing its divisive spent-fuel reprocessing ambitions and a plan to develop a fast-breeder reactor despite international concerns over the country’s plutonium stockpile of 47 tons, though the commission calls for more efforts in reducing the stockpile and increasing transparency.

France’s recently reported move to abandon ASTRID, its next-generation fast reactor that would theoretically produce more plutonium while burning it as fuel, could be a setback for Japan, which was hoping to jointly develop the technology.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201909020026.html

September 8, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Hatoyama says ‘radioactive contamination not under control’

optimize.jpgFormer Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama speaks during an exclusive interview with The Korea Times at the newspaper’s headquarters in Seoul, Thursday.

 

September 2, 2019

The Japanese government has tried to convince the world with an extensive propaganda campaign to claim any persisting dangers from the Fukushima nuclear disaster are under control ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Recently, concerns have been mounting among the South Korean government and international environmental groups such as Greenpeace about reports of Japan’s plan to release radioactive water into the sea off the coast of Fukushima. Korean political parties have also taken issue with the possible radioactive contamination of food that will be provided to athletes at the Olympics. Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama showed concern about the Shinzo Abe administration’s handling of the radioactive water situation and called for urgent action for the reconstruction of Fukushima. The following are edited questions and answers from The Korea Times interview with the former Japanese leader. ― ED.

Former Japanese PM slams Abe over economic retaliation against Seoul

Q. The deteriorating relations between South Korea and Japan created by the forced labor issue has expanded to economic and security areas. How do you interpret the current relations between the two countries?

A. I express deep regret that Japan-South Korea relations are in such a difficult situation. Japan and South Korea had been learning from each other in their long history and were able to build trust. Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula, and this caused a great deal of pain for Koreans. As one of the Japanese people, I am very sorry that this historical issue has led to a deteriorating relationship between Seoul and Tokyo.

Q. Japan’s Abe administration appears to consider the current disputes between South Korea and Japan as a matter of trust. Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in said South Korea will join hands with Japan if it chooses dialogue. However, Seoul decided not to extend the military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan. The two countries seem to be taking hawkish stances against each other. What makes the two think differently?

A. Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula in the past. As a result, Korea was divided into two. During the process, Japan made people on the peninsula suffer. I think [the differences in the stances between Seoul and Japan are] rooted in history. Japan says that the current problems were settled in the bilateral treaty made in 1965. The problem is that the [individual] rights to seek compensation are not settled in the agreement. The Japanese government had the understanding in the past that individuals can demand compensation. In 1991, Shunji Yanai, then director of the treaty bureau at Japan’s foreign ministry, made it clear during a parliamentary session that the treaty did put an end to the right to demand compensation between countries. He said it did not apply to individuals’ final and complete compensation. I think this is the official stance of Japan. But it seems the current Abe administration is reversing its stance. Because the current government started saying that the problem has been solved, it became a matter of trust. I think Japan’s side should not say such a thing and should face the reality of history with a humble mind.

Q. On Aug. 28, Japan implemented the removal of South Korea from its whitelist of trusted trading partners. Why do you think the Japanese government removed Seoul from its list? And is this appropriate?

A. In conclusion, it is not appropriate. The Japanese government claims that it is not relevant to the forced labor issue
and it is about security issues. It says it tried to ask South Korea to improve its control of traded goods, but it ended up removing Seoul as South Korea did not respond to Japan’s request while claiming that its measures are not trade restrictions or embargos. But I think South Korea relates the removal to the forced labor issue. The Japanese government may think the problem was solved already, but the South’s Supreme Court made such a ruling. I think it is valid to think that the emotional issue led to the removal.

I asked [the government] about it, but it didn’t give me an answer claiming it cannot say anything. If it was a matter of controlling trade, Japan should have continued to strongly ask South Korea to improve its system between officials, rather than removing the country at this time. I assume that there would have been some orders from the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan in an apparent response to the South’s court ruling. I think the measure should be lifted.

Q. The United States government is likely pressuring South Korea to cancel the decision to end the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and have meaningful dialogues between South Korea and Japan. If Seoul and Tokyo continue to take strong measures against each other, what will happen to security in the East Asia region?

A. I think, since last year, the political situation on the Korean Peninsula is heading toward peace. The Japanese government should join hands to create peace with the two Koreas and with the U.S. and North Korea. The GSOMIA has its meaning when the North continues to develop its nuclear missiles. But when peace is around with Pyongyang, it may be necessary to reconsider the meaning of keeping it. I heard that the necessity of the GSOMIA for Japan and the U.S. is to cope with China. In that sense, the GSOMIA is still necessary. It might be necessary for both Seoul and Tokyo to extend the pact with the mediation of the U.S. in a way to restore trust. If the U.S. agrees [with the cancellation of Japan’s removal of South Korea from its whitelist and the South’s extension of the GSOMIA], there is a possibility Japan would add Seoul in the whitelist again.

Q. Some claim Japan’s pressure against South Korea is to raise Abe’s support rating. Actually, Abe appears to be gaining popularity through it. He also openly talks about his ambition for the revision of the Constitution, which is gaining a lot of attention in South Korea. Do you think Abe really wants to revise the Constitution? Or is this part of his ambition to restore militarism?

A. I am not Abe. So I would not be able to tell what he really thinks. But what I can say is Japanese people, especially young people, don’t know history. And the young people have no memory that Japan made its growth amid its slump for several decades. Facing South Korea and China which are making strong remarks, people prefer a politician who makes likewise remarks such as “I will make Japan stronger.” It is true that the world is shifting to the right and nationalism is gaining power. Prime Minister Abe is good at promoting it. But I don’t think the situation will make it easier to revise the Constitution. Of course, Japan is on its way to be able to start a war. But as some half of Japanese oppose the idea of the revision, it would be difficult for Abe, who is gaining support by claiming it, to push for it.

Q. The liberal governments run by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) put their efforts into improving relations between the two countries and succeeded to a certain extent. But with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) back in power, the relations deteriorated. How do you think Abe positions South Korea in diplomatic relations?

A. The DPJ wanted to rule the country with liberal philosophy. In particular, it wanted to establish more trust with such neighboring countries as China and South Korea. And it also tried to make more Asia-centered policies and diplomacy rather than prioritizing the U.S.; this approach also existed in the LDP as well. But along with the collapse of the Tanaka faction, led by former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, the so-called liberal politicians inside the LDP became a minority, meaning fewer people criticize Abe. Abe is cleverly using the media by building good relationships with them. And the Japanese media don’t criticize the government’s rightward drift or nationalism. Abe cannot resolve the problems of Japanese abductees by North Korean spies and establish diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea unless he builds a better relationship with South Korea. I cannot clearly see the government’s relationship roadmap with the South.

Q. There are rising concerns over the Fukushima nuclear issue before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. According to Greenpeace, the Japanese government hopes to release more than 1 million tons of highly radioactive water into the sea off the coast of Fukushima. Do you have any comments on that?

A. I strongly suspected the situation that Japan was able to host the Olympics after Abe claimed that the radioactive contamination issue is under control by his government. But it is not under control. Releasing the massive amount of contaminated water sparked a big debate [in Japan]. However, Japanese media and the government try not to speak about it. I’m extremely worried as the date of the Olympics approaches, which is somewhat natural to do so. Athletes who participate in the games should not be contaminated by radioactivity. I’m one of the people who have long insisted that the government should spend more money on the reconstruction of Fukushima rather than into the Olympics.

Q. Some people in the LDP may have started to raise their voices against the Abe administration. I read that Rep. Shigeru Ishiba, a member of the LDP and Japan’s House of Representatives, wrote “There are many problems created by the fact that Japan didn’t take responsibility for the war after being defeated in the past and those are surfacing now.” Many Japanese citizens participate in campaigns to criticize the government. Do you think these moves can spread to the change of the current administration? Do you have any idea to achieve cooperation between the two countries at any level?

A. I respect Ishiba for speaking out critically on the government’s policies, including the whitelist issue. It is very difficult for anyone to directly criticize the party or the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan other than popular politicians under the single-member constituency as it is related to securing the recommendation from the party for elections. Moreover, the media is controlled by the office, self-examining for the government.

But I think there are many people behind who potentially don’t agree with what Abe is doing. The increase of the number of LDP seats does not necessarily mean it did well and gained popularity; it’s because the opposition parties have split up. Therefore, the most important thing is that the grassroots and the private sector should unite and communicate with the Korean people through social media. It is important in democracy to take various actions to make changes in policies. In this context, it is important to create opportunities in which experts from Japan and South Korea work together to raise voices against the Abe administration.

Q. Any more comments?

A. I hope the situation would come that both Japanese and Korean people can learn from each other as they did in the past for a long time. In order to do so, I think when Japanese citizens can show that they understand the aggressor should remain humble and keep making an apology until the victim can forgive, Korean people can understand Japanese people. Right now, what we need is to make efforts between private sectors of the two countries and not to hate each other even though both governments are not in a good time.
https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2019/09/356_274905.html

 

September 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment