Fukushima and Nuclear Power: Does the Advertising Giant Dentsu Pull the Strings of Japan’s Media? By Mathieu Gaulène
1 June 2016French journalist Mathieu Gaulène describes the business practices of Dentsu and its competitor Hakuhodo, the biggest and the second biggest advertising companies of Japan respectively. Specifically, it examines how their close relations to the media and the nuclear industry play out in the wake of the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Focusing Dentsu, Gaulène discusses how the marketing and public relations (PR) giant has dominated major media which large advertising contracts from the nuclear industry. The article is particularly timely as Dentsu unveils its deep ties to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid and the Panama Papers. Regrettably, however, with rare exceptions, there is little media coverage of the influence of Dentsu in mainstream Japanese newspapers and magazines.
According to the author, a partial translation of the French original was made by Kazparis (username), and quickly received more than 70,000 views on Twitter. Then, Uchida Tatsuru, a specialist in French literature, and HACK & SOCIETAS published two other Japanese translations. Soon after, Tokyo Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun published long articles about Dentsu. SN
Dentsu, the fifth largest communication group in the world, holds a large share of the Japanese advertising market, which impacts media freedom in Japan. This is particularly true in relation to the nuclear power industry.
– Dentsu and information on nuclear power–Indirect pressures on press journalists
– The 2016 comeback of nuclear advertisements and the resignations of TV journalists
The moment remains famous. On the eve of Japan’s Upper House elections, former actor Yamamoto Taro, an anti-nuclear power candidate supported by no party, campaigned on Twitter to win an upper house seat in the Diet. Censored by the media, the young candidate, famous for his verve, had mainly campaigned against nuclear power, but he also called out the big media, accusing it of being in the pay of sponsors and thus of electric companies and of systematically censoring critical information on nuclear power.
A television channel granted him an interview at the end of a program, but only after presenting a journalist to defend his profession. On screen, the young senator was given only one minute to respond. “I will take a simple example. Food can now hold up to 100 becquerels per kilogram; that means even just via eating we are irradiated. It is never said on television… ” Yamamoto had to stop. The ending jingle started, and the presenter at the studio announced, bantering, that the show was over, before launching an advertising page.
The video, which was available online for 3 years, was removed on May 16, 2016 shortly after the publication of this article…….
Source: Asia-Pacific Journal
Fukushima and Nuclear Power: Does the Advertising Giant Dentsu Pull the Strings of Japan’s Media? By Mathieu Gaulène
1 June 2016 “………Advertisements in Japan are literally everywhere: a veritable hell of posters or screens in trains and stations, giant posters on buildings, bearers of advertising placards or lorries with huge posters and loud PA systems in the streets: even advertising displays mounted atop urinals in some restaurants. In this advertising empire, the media are no exception. In the press, naturally, as in France, major companies pay for full page advertisements. But, above all in television. An entertainment show generally starts with the announcement of sponsors, and is interrupted every five minutes by numerous short advertising spots, where we often find the same sponsors. There is virtually no time for thinking, most TV channels offer programs close to the world of pachinko: garish colors, constant noise, and frat humor even of the most vulgar kind.
In this immense television arena, advertising is orchestrated by one of the global giants, Dentsu, the 5th communication group in the world and the number one ad agency. With its rival Hakuhodo, 2nd in the archipelago, the two agencies nicknamed “Denpaku,” combine advertising, public relations, media monitoring, crisis management for the largest Japanese and foreign companies, the local authorities, political parties or the government. Together they hold nearly 70% of the market. A true empire that some accuse of ruling the roost in the Japanese media.
Dentsu and information on nuclear power…..
In a book published in 2012, Honma Ryu looked into some of Dentsu’s backstage, and its tight control over the media, especially on behalf of one of its major clients: Tokyo Electric Power Company, Tepco. ……
n 2012, his book Dentsu and Nuclear Coverage became a bestseller within a few months, despite almost universal media blackout.
Honma meticulously described the mechanisms by which Dentsu, the inevitable intermediary, implicitly imposes on media what can or cannot be written on nuclear power, and under what conditions. “Dentsu occupies a special position since the agency holds 80% of the market for nuclear advertising in Japan,” he reminded us during an interview in a coffee shop at Ueno Station. In 2010, in this huge advertising market, Tepco, a regional firm, indeed ranked 10th in terms of advertising expenses, next to power plant manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. That year, on the eve of the Fukushima accident, Tepco had spent more than 2 million euros on advertising. The overall advertising expenses of the 10 regional electrical power companies amounted to 7 million euros.
For decades, especially since the 1990s when public opinion began to become critical of nuclear power following several accidents, Tepco and other power companies stepped up commercials and advertorials in the press.
On television, the advertisements can be enough in themselves to overwhelm criticism. Big groups often sponsor TV programs, talk shows or series for an entire season. Sometimes, entire documentaries are produced by Denjiren, [the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC)], a key player in the nuclear lobby, to promote the industry. Any dissenting voice is unwelcome for fear of losing sponsors.
After Fukushima, Yamamoto Taro paid the price; appearing regularly on TV as a tarento [talent] until then when he suddenly became persona non grata on TV and even in cinema for having expressed opposition to nuclear power. This is hardly new since the great figures of the anti-nuclear movement, best-selling authors such as Hirose Takashi or Koide Hiroaki are almost never invited to appear on TV, especially after the Fukushima accident.
This “control by media” denounced by Honma Ryu obviously is not limited to the nuclear power industry.
Amid all these private media groups, only NHK escapes this advertising empire and can claim to be independent, receiving its funding directly from viewers. Alas, the situation at NHK is even more disastrous, its president Momii Katsuto having said without embarrassment on several occasions that the chain had to be the spokesman for the Abe government. In a recent statement before 200 retired NHK employees, he even seemingly acknowledged having ordered NHK journalists to confine broadcasts to reassuring communiqués from the authorities about Kyushu earthquakes and potential risks they pose to nuclear plants and instructing them not to interview independent experts.
Indirect pressures on the press
What about the press? Dentsu has long had a special relationship with the two news agencies Kyodo News and Jiji Press: the three entities formed a single information group before the war. If information in the press is more difficult to control, Dentsu not only advertises, but provides after-sales customer service — media monitoring, advice on crisis management, and indirect pressure on newspapers.
Whereas in France, the acquisition of media companies by large industrial groups is the prelude to direct pressure, in Japan pressure comes via advertising agencies that act as true ambassadors for the groups. ……..
Advertisements of nuclear power are mainly distributed in weekly and daily newspapers. Since the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant, they stopped; but for Dentsu, a profitable new business emerged: promoting agricultural products from Fukushima. Since 2011, with the participation of star singers, Fukushima Prefecture has never skimped on promoting its peaches, rice, or tomatoes, with slogans like “Fukushima Pride” or “Fukushima is well!”…….
Dentsu thus occupies a very special position in the promotion of nuclear power, beside Tepco but also the powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), both clients of the advertising company. Under these conditions, can Dentsu not be considered to actively underwrite the “nuclear village”?…….
Dentsu is a member of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), the main organization of nuclear lobbying, along with Japanese electric utility companies and EDF [Electricity of France, Électricité de France],…….
Source: Asia-Pacific Journal
Climate scientists are now grading climate journalism Climate Feedback provides a venue for climate scientists to evaluate the accuracy of climate news stories, Guardian, Daniel Nethery and Emmanuel Vincent, 26 Apr 16 “…..despite the scientific consensus that global warming is real and primarily due to human activity, studies show that only about half the population in some countries with among the highest CO2 emissions per capita understand that human beings are the driving force of our changing climate. Even fewer people are aware of the scientific consensus on this question. We live in an information age, but the information isn’t getting through. How can this be?
While the internet puts information at our fingertips, it has also allowed misinformation to sow doubt and confusion in the minds of many of those whose opinions and votes will determine the future of the planet. And up to now scientists have been on the back foot in countering the spread of this misinformation and pointing the public to trustworthy sources of information on climate change.
Climate Feedback intends to change that. It brings together a global network of scientists who use a new web-annotation platform to provide feedback on climate change reporting. Their comments, which bring context and insights from the latest research, and point out factual and logical errors where they exist, remain layered over the target article in the public domain. You can read them for yourself, right in your browser. The scientists also provide a score on a five-point scale to let you know whether the article is consistent with the science. For the first time, Climate Feedback allows you to check whether you can trust the latest breaking story on climate change.
Last year the scientists looked at some influential content. Take the Pope’s encyclical, for instance. The scientists gave those parts of the encyclical relating to climate science a stamp of approval. Other “feedbacks,” as we call them, have made a lasting impact. When the scientists found that an article in The Telegraphmisrepresented recent research by claiming that the world faced an impending ice age, the newspaper issued a public correction and substantially modified the online text.
But there’s more work to be done. Toward the end of the year the scientists carried out a series of evaluations of some of Forbes magazine’s reporting on climate change. The results give an idea of the scale of the problem we’re tackling. Two of the magazine’s most popular articles for 2015, one of which attracted almost one million hits, turned out to be profoundly inaccurate and misleading. Both articles, reviewed by nine and twelve scientists, unanimously received the lowest possible scientific credibility rating. This rarely occurs, and just in case you’re wondering, yes, the scientists do score articles independently: ratings are only revealed once all scientists have completed their review……http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/apr/26/climate-scientists-are-now-grading-climate-journalism
Tribeca: Michael Douglas Calls for Presidential Candidates to Talk Nuclear Weapons http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tribeca-2016-michael-douglas-nuclear-887171 The actor is working on a doc about a San Fernando Valley family who grew up near a Boeing plant which had a nuclear accident in the 1950s. “[It] basically poisoned the whole neighborhood. The whole family has thyroid cancer,” says Douglas. 4/23/2016 by Ashley Lee
At a 2016 Tribeca Film Festival discussion before the immersive closing-night film the bomb, Douglas said the world is “on the advent of a new Cold War advancement in nuclear weapons — the U.S. is talking about a trillion dollars to spend, the Russians have their new missiles out,” he explained. “It’s just very difficult to believe. … Maybe, just maybe, we can look at a new generation to look at what I think is the most serious issue that we have on the planet right now.”
Even more so, “we’ve got elections coming up this year. Once we get through these primaries and once more attention is brought to just how this arms race is continuing now, there should be a huge discussion coming this fall,” said the actor and longtime advocate of nuclear non-proliferation. “It looks like it’s gonna be [Donald] Trump and Hillary Clinton, with diametrically different opinions on this important issue — one who wants to nuke ‘em, and somebody else.”
Command & Control director Robert Kenner added, “If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, I think there will be more discussion on nuclear weapons because he is the best argument for abolition that we can make.”
As seen in action flicks like Pacific Rim and Independence Day, Hollywood tends to portray nuclear weapons onscreen as the ultimate and necessary arsenal, and Douglas said that won’t change anytime soon. “Not in Hollywood — we’re based on a business of balances, commerce with filmmaking. Commerce has to win out,” said the actor. “Any movie where the message gets ahead of the drama … unless you’re doing documentaries, you can’t get ahead of yourself. They’re not interested.”
Still, Douglas said he’s working on a documentary “about a young man living in the San Fernando Valley who grew up near a Boeing plant which had a nuclear accident in the 1950s and basically poisoned the whole neighborhood. The whole family has thyroid cancer.”
The panel — also featuring Command & Control author Eric Schlosser, Emma Belcher of the MacArthur Foundation and the bomb filmmaker Smriti Keshari — discussed that nuclear weapons and climate change are the two most important global issues, and because of the visual proof of climate change that’s emerged, the world has begun responding with urgency.
“The terrifying thing about the nuclear issue is … you’re really gonna have to wait for a dirty bomb. It’s gonna make 9/11, Paris, Brussels, everything a miniscule amount before the amount of people who are going to be killed [by a nuclear bomb],” said Douglas. “The only optimism I see, is of these two major issues, the two most important in the world, we can eliminate nuclear weapons. It’s really easy. … We as humans can do something about it — we actually can, it’s within our grasp.”
Douglas began his activism against nuclear weapons after making The China Syndrome, James Bridges’ 1979 film co-starring Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon about a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant. To prepare for its finale, the shoot included consultations with General Electric quality assurance experts who “gave us a breakdown of the most logical accident that might happen at a power plant,” the actor and producer recalled. “That power plant was the ultimate villain — it’s a horror picture.
“Thirteen days after the movie came out, Three Mile Island happened in Pennsylvania,” said Douglas, as news outlets ran split-screen footage of the real-life tragedy and the film. “It was an epiphany for me, the closest thing to a religious experience I might have ever had.”
Trampling Science to Boost Nuclear Power, FAIR, By Jim Naureckas 20 Apr 16, When the Washington Post and New York Times are making the same corporate-friendly point, it’s safe to assume that some PR agency somewhere is earning its substantial fees.
In this case, the subject is the need for nuclear power—and, for the Post editorial board (4/18/16), for fracking as well. Standing in the way of this in the Post’s version is favorite target Bernie Sanders, while the Times business columnist Eduardo Porter (4/19/16) blames the “scientific phobias and taboos” of “progressive environmentalists.”
“While campaigning in New York, Mr. Sanders has played up his opposition to nuclear power,” the Post editorialists wrote, citing his contention that the Indian River nuclear plant, 25 miles from Manhattan, is a “catastrophe waiting to happen.” Sanders’ “criticism came as little surprise,” the Post declared; “he had already promised to phase out nuclear power nationwide by steadily retiring existing reactors.”
“If we are serious about global warming, we will ignore Mr. Sanders’ sloganeering,” the paper urged. “Nuclear accounts for about a fifth of the country’s electricity, and it is practically emissions-free.”
In reality, nuclear power is not emissions-free; the process of mining and enriching uranium fuel, along with constructing nuclear plants, operating backup generators during reactor downtime, disposal of nuclear waste and eventual decommissioning of plants all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. According to an analysis published by the journal Nature (9/24/08), nuclear power does produce 14 times less in greenhouse gas emissions than coal, and seven times less than natural gas—but twice as much as solar cells and seven times as much as onshore wind farms. For halting climate change, in other words, there are more serious options than nuclear.
The Post went on:
Shutting down that much clean electricity generation would put the country into a deep emissions hole. Mr. Sanders argues that he will invest heavily in renewables. Yet every dollar spent to replace one carbon-free source with another is a dollar that could have been spent replacing dangerous and dirty coal plants. Under Mr. Sanders’ vision, either the country would fail to maximize emissions cuts, or it would waste huge amounts of money unnecessarily replacing nuclear plants.
Sanders actually favors “a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States”—in other words, as the Post had earlier described it more accurately, “phas[ing] out nuclear power nationwide by steadily retiring existing reactors.” So it’s not a question of using money to replace a nuclear plant that could have gone to replacing a coal plant; the nuclear plants need to be replaced with something when they reach the end of their useful lives.
And if you put that money into renewables rather than into a new nuclear plant, you can reduce emissions more quickly. The investment bank Lazard analyzes the “levelized cost of energy”—the cost of building and operating an electrical plant per unit of electricity produced. In its latest report (11/15), the bank found that nuclear’s LCOE ranged from $97 to $136 per megawatt-hour, while wind costs between $32 and $77; utility-scale photovoltaic solar was priced between $50 to $70. Note that these costs for nuclear do not include the decommissioning of obsolete plants, which can add $1 billion–$4 billion to the lifetime cost, nor the cost of accidents like the Fukushima meltdown, which is expected to cost Japan some $300 billion (Renewable Energy World,4/28/16).
The Post concluded that the best bet would be to put a tax on carbon, then “let the market find the fastest and most efficient road to slowing the warming of the planet.” The irony is that if you had a truly market-driven energy system, there’d be no need for a moratorium on nuclear licenses; if you didn’t have thePrice-Anderson Act capping industry liability for nuclear accidents—requiring it to pay less than 2 cents on the dollar of the projected costs—it’s unlikely that another plant would ever be built………
The Times column offered some pre-emptive criticism of its own analysis: “Highlighting the left’s biases may seem like a pointless effort to apportion equal blame along ideological lines.” It’s not pointless at all, though: It’s a great way to sell pro-corporate policies under the guise of objective truth.
Jim Naureckas is the editor of FAIR.org. He can be followed on Twitter:@JNaureckas. http://fair.org/home/trampling-science-to-boost-nuclear-power/
Japan’s ‘press club’ system, government pressure criticised by U.N. rapporteur on freedom of expression
U.N. rapporteur on freedom of expression slams Japan’s ‘press club’ system, government pressure, Japan Times BY SHUSUKE MURAI STAFF WRITER 19 Apr 16 After a week of conducting interviews, a United Nations expert on freedom of expression concluded Tuesday that Japan’s media independence is being jeopardized by government pressure, however inconspicuous it may be.
David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, also said the organizational structure of the media industry in Japan has undermined journalists’ ability to counter such pressure.
“The theoretical possibility of government regulation and organization … combined cause media freedom to suffer; media independence to suffer,” Kaye told a news conference Tuesday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.
It was his first official news conference since his original visit in December was postponed at the request of the Foreign Ministry because it was “unable to arrange meetings” with officials at that time.
Kaye pointed out there is “serious concern” about the ability of journalists to independently report on sensitive issues such as nuclear power due to the pressure exerted when the government flexes its regulatory muscles.
In February, communications minister Sanae Takaichi ominously noted that under the Broadcast Act the government can legally suspend the licenses of TV stations and networks if their programming is found to contain political bias.
Although government officials insist the remark was simply a factual statement about the law, the existence of the policy itself may reasonably be perceived as a threat to media freedom in Japan, Kaye said.
“I think this is a significant problem that the Broadcast Act allows for regulation by the government of the media,” he said, adding the law should be amended to prevent the state from being in a position to adjudicate what constitutes “bias.”
Meanwhile, Kaye also pointed out that the kisha club system in Japan — media associations formed around certain groups and government organizations through which reporters are granted access — should be abolished to regain media independence……….
The full report on Kaye’s investigation will be published in 2017 to be submitted to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/19/national/u-n-rapporteur-freedom-expression-slams-japans-press-club-system-government-pressure/#.VxbkGtR97Gh
NASA on climate change: Official Facebook account smacks down dissenters, news.com.au APRIL 19, 2016 WHEN it comes to climate change, don’t mess with NASA.
The space agency has shut down climate changers in the best possible way in an ongoing Facebook discussion.
The agency, which has a NASA Climate Change Facebook page, is used to dealing with sceptics and deniers.
But one comment made last week saw the agency pounce and the comments have kept flowing since, coming faster than melting ice.
It all started after a post by the science guy Bill Nye who was talking about a climate change denier refusing his $20,000 bet that the planet will keep getting hotter.
But the thread was quickly hijacked by climate deniers.
Facebook user Fer Morales argued NASA confirmed fossil fuels were actually cooling the planet, but the agency jumped straight on it, firing back: “Do not misrepresent NASA. Fossil fuels are not cooling the planet.”……..http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/nasa-on-climate-change-official-facebook-account-smacks-down-dissenters/news-story/25219d16e4478ce851046d22b1620b63
With the continuing worldwide success of renewable energy, the nuclear lobby’s in a bit of a tizz – doing their best to win hearts and minds with some slick articles in mainstream media, touting nuclear as cure for climate change, spruiking small nukes, and downplaying radiation effects of Fukushima nuclear disaster.
However, the nuclear industry is also now redoubling their efforts on social media, as they’ve discovered all the possibilities of Twitter, Facebook etc:
“Social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, can be an opportunity for us to listen and engage on energy issues and EDF Energy has created digital tools based on the same principle as its physical visitor centres. These tools have been viewed over 1.3 million times,” “As an industry we must harness the power of social media to broaden understanding of what we do” This is a vital part of gaining and maintaining public trust.” – WNA 14/04/16
We can be confident that those digital tools include not only real lobbyists’ messages, but autobots set to swamp social media with pro nuclear spin, and triggered to respond to any messages critical of the industry
The World Nuclear Association obviously is well aware of the statistical liklelihood of a serious nuclear accident within the next few decades. They’re priming the nuclear lobbyists up to keep the propaganda well and truly going, in advance of that nuc lear accident.
“If an accident occurs, there will be many voices seeking to be heard and media channels will want to use the information sources they know and trust. And trust has to be gained before an event” WNA 14/04/16
Japanese journalists allege government pressure on media http://bigstory.ap.org/urn:publicid:ap.org:8b04d4cd11ec4f289c57a7c88c02e1ca By MARI YAMAGUCHI Mar. 24, 2016 TOKYO (AP) — Five Japanese journalists accused Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Thursday of pressuring broadcasters to reduce criticism of its policies, but also lamented what they called a failure by media to live up to their convictions.
They spoke at a news conference after Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Sanae Takaichi warned broadcasters last month that their licenses could be revoked if they failed to be impartial in political coverage. Continue reading
Pascale’s analysis initially characterized the risk to the general population in one of three ways: low, uncertain, or high. However, when examining the bases on which these characterizations were made, it was clear that all media characterizations of uncertain risk were subsequently interpreted as evidence of low risk.
“The mainstream media–in print and online–did little to report on health risks to the general population or to challenge the narratives of public officials and their experts,”
News coverage of Fukushima disaster found lacking http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/au-nco031016.php American University sociologist’s new research finds few reports identified health risks to public
AMERICAN UNIVERSITY (WASHINGTON, D.C.) March 10, 2016 –– Five years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the disaster no longer dominates U.S. news headlines, although experts say it is a continuing disaster with broad implications. A new analysis by American University sociology professor Celine-Marie Pascale finds that U.S. news media coverage following the disaster minimized health risks to the general population.
Pascale analyzed more than 2,000 news articles from four major U.S. outlets following the disaster’s occurrence from March 11, 2011 through March 11, 2013. Only 6 percent of the coverage–129 articles–focused on health risks to the public in Japan or elsewhere. Human risks were framed, instead, in terms of workers in the disabled nuclear plant. Pascale’s research has published in the flagship journal for the International Sociology Association,Current Sociology.
“It’s shocking to see how few articles discussed risk to the general population, and when they did, they typically characterized risk as low,” said Pascale, who studies the social construction of risk and meanings of risk in the 21st century. “We see articles in prestigious news outlets claiming that radioactivity from cosmic rays and rocks is more dangerous than the radiation emanating from the collapsing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.”
Pascale studied news articles, editorials, and letters to the editor from two newspapers, The Washington Post and The New York Times, and two nationally prominent online news sites, Politico and The Huffington Post. These four media outlets are among the most prominent in the United States. They also are among the most cited by television news, talk shows, other newspapers, social media and blogs Pascale said.
Nuclear disasters have potentially large-scale and long-term consequences for people, environments, and economies around the globe. Given limited public knowledge about the details of nuclear energy and encumbered access to disaster sites, the media have disproportionate power around the globe to shape public knowledge, perception, and reaction to nuclear crises, Pascale said. Pascale’s article illustrates how systematic media practices minimized the presence of health risks, contributed to misinformation, and exacerbated uncertainties.
Pascale’s analysis initially characterized the risk to the general population in one of three ways: low, uncertain, or high. However, when examining the bases on which these characterizations were made, it was clear that all media characterizations of uncertain risk were subsequently interpreted as evidence of low risk. In two years of reporting, across all four media outlets, there were only a combined total of 17 articles reporting any noteworthy risk from the largest nuclear disaster in history.
Corporations and government agencies had disproportionate access to framing the event in the media, Pascale says. Even years after the disaster, government and corporate spokespersons constituted the majority of voices published. News accounts about local impact–for example, parents organizing to protect their children from radiation in school lunches–were also scarce.
Globalization of risk
Pascale says her findings show the need for the public to be critical consumers of news; expert knowledge can be used to create misinformation and uncertainty–especially in the information vacuums that arise during disasters.
“The mainstream media–in print and online–did little to report on health risks to the general population or to challenge the narratives of public officials and their experts,” Pascale said. “Discourses of the risks surrounding disasters are political struggles to control the presence and meaning of events and their consequences. How knowledge about disasters is reported can have more to do with relations of power than it does with the material consequences to people’s lives.”
While it is clear that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown was a consequence of an earthquake and tsunami, like all disasters, it was also the result of political, economic and social choices that created or exacerbated broad-scale risks. In the 21st century, there’s an increasing “globalization of risk,” Pascale argues.
“People’s understanding of disasters will continue to be constructed primarily by media. How media members frame the presence of risk and the nature of disaster has enormous consequence for our well-being,” she said.
Today, Friday 5 February at 08:30 CET, WikiLeaks releases a collection of documents that open up a corrupt multi-billion dollar war by Western and Chinese companies grab uranium and other mining rights in the Central African Republic (CAR) and escape paying for the environmental consequences. Among the hundreds of pages in this publication are detailed maps of mining rights, mining contracts with illegal kickbacks and secret investigative reports. The documents have been long sought by fraud investigators. In December 2015 a case was filed against Areva, alleging corruption related to the €1.8 billion purchase of three uranium mines in 2007.
The most powerful nuclear company in the world, AREVA, abandoned its Central African Republic exploitation without having launched any of the promised investments after an enormous political and financial scandal, amidst a social and environmental crisis, with skyrocketing radioactivity levels (up to 30 times the natural radioactivity in the zone) and literally transporting its former employees back to their homes like cattle. The following documents show the constant disdain of the company towards Central African Republic institutions and its population, and the neocolonial conditions of exploitation of its mines in Africa. ……. https://wikileaks.org/car-mining/#areva
NEW YEARS EVE NUCLEAR WASTE SITE FLOOD ALERT VIRTUALLY UNREPORTED http://www.celticleague.net/news/new-years-eve-nuclear-waste-site-flood-alert-virtually-unreported/ NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE, 6 Jan 16
Our thanks to Albert Froon in the UK for posting us details of the attached article from ‘The Ecologist’ which was published on New Years Eve and warns of possible dangers from flooding at the Drigg nuclear waste site near Sellafield.
We have in the past highlighted the dangers posed by the drainage inadequacies of the main Sellafield site and the possibility of breaching of the River Calder which flows through the site (see links):
However in this case as you will see The Ecologist also highlights a UK Environment Agency alert about the River Irt which is adjacent to Drigg described as a nuclear waste repository. Basically however it’s simply a ‘nuclear landfill site’ and it’s probably no exaggeration to say that in its early years very little accurate record of what was disposed there was kept (see link):
You will also see in the article that Cumbrian environment campaigners ‘Radiation Free Lakeland’ sum the issue up succinctly in a letter to Cumbria County Council asking for Drigg’s gates to be locked to any more nuclear waste given the dangers from flood waters entering the site, eroding the landfill and contaminating land, river and sea with radioactive waste.
“To describe the UKs nuclear waste site as a ‘Repository’ is putting a spin on the UKs main nuclear dump for ‘low level’ waste”, the letter states.
“There is controlled discharge direct to the Irish Sea not to mention run off to the Drigg Stream and River Irt.
“Discharges to the air of radioactive gases are ongoing. According to the British Geological Society the Drigg site is above a regional aquifer. It is also likely to be destroyed by coastal erosion in 500 to 5,000 years (computer modelling can be wrong either way). Much of the waste is long lived and high risk.”
There is no doubt that the increasing frequency of storm and flood events in Cumbria pose a danger of sudden and irreversible pollution of the North Irish Sea area.
Meanwhile what are the Manx and Irish governments saying – nothing!
The Taboo Of Radiation Exposure In Japan: The Social Effects Of Fukushima, Activist Post, By Erin O’Flaherty, 11 Dec 15 “…..why is society reacting in such a way? [keeping quiet about radiation effects] In order to attempt to answer this question, let us break society into two groups: the government/nuclear power companies, and the ordinary Japanese people.
The level of intensity with which the former group have tried to diminish the seriousness of the incident and divert blame from themselves – by appealing to public well-being (avoiding panic), ‘radiophobia’, and the supposed harmlessness of radiation – leads to the obvious conclusion that they are acting to protect their own interests. Companies such as TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) wish to continue running so they can continue making money. It appears the government also wants to continue the use of nuclear power. This may be to do with nuclear power’s close relationship to war and military power, due to its association with nuclear weapons. It is no secret that the current government are in favour of restoring Japan’s military status, as evidenced by the recent changes to Article 9, which essentially render it meaningless.
The down-playing of the catastrophe of Fukushima is crucial not only for economic reasons (the issue of the continuing operation of the remaining 54 nuclear power plants); it is also vital for the implementation of the state’s military plans for the future.
In order to keep these plans, it is necessary to make everything feel normal, meaning there will be no questioning of nuclear power or of the government’s policies towards it. Information about radiation exposure would breed more empathy with the victims of Fukushima among the public, thus bringing the issue to a more personal level. This empathy could potentially cause a much larger number of people to become angry at the government and wish for the nuclear power companies to be held responsible. It is to avoid this situation that radiation exposure is intentionally not discussed in mainstream Japanese media……..
In order to break past the social stigmas and question the government and nuclear power companies’ actions, people need to start speaking out. But this is an extremely risky and frightening thing to do, especially in light of the treatment journalists may face if they discuss radiation exposure. At the end of the day, people need to make a living, put food on the table and protect their families. Thus, it is much easier to keep your head down and look the other way.
As we have seen, the social effects of the Fukushima nuclear incident are many, including displacement, poverty, depression, anxiety and social discrimination. These effects are all compounded by the media treatment of the incident: lack of information breeds fear and encourages discrimination, victims’ fears are dismissed as irrational, and the actions of the government and nuclear power companies are not questioned because it is made to appear as if everything is fine. The reason for such a reaction can be understood as the government and nuclear power companies protecting their own interests, both economically and militarily. Traditional conceptions of impurity combined with a general by-stander effect within Japanese society, also encourage discrimination and allow the status-quo to be maintained. In this way, we can see that the social effects on Fukushima victims are complex and interwoven, and that their lives have been changed, perhaps irreversibly; “Their lives will be divided into two parts: before and after Fukushima.” References: …… http://www.activistpost.com/2015/12/the-taboo-of-radiation-exposure-in-japan-the-social-effects-of-fukushima.html
In a time when many news outlets are cutting staff, slashing budgets and eliminating their investigative reporting, KNBC’s total commitment to this story is a testament to a mission of producing investigative journalism that matters.
The Story Behind Our Story: LA’s Nuclear Secret, NBC4 Southern California, 21 Sept 2015 To learn more about how this series came to fruition, we asked the producer of the series to share his journey from
the first tip to the completion of the stories By Matthew Glasser Our investigative series, LA’s Nuclear Secret, was a year in the making. One year to the night that the first part of our series aired on NBC4, the I-Team was asked to investigate why a
group of children and parents in Calabasas had come down with rare illnesses including brain tumors and cancers.
Worst nuclear disaster in US history is a secret
In September 2014, we reached out to the former UCLA lecturer who is now an instructor at UC Santa Cruz who helped NBC4 with a series of stories in 1979 exposing a nuclear accident at the Santa Susana Field Lab. At the time, it was believed that while there was an accident at the Lab’s largest nuclear reactor, no release of radioactive material occurred. That’s what the U.S. government said, and that’s what we reported.
We would eventually learn in the reporting of LA’s Nuclear Secret – that wasn’t true.
We learned that a growing number of people in the San Fernando and Simi valleys believed that the work done at the Santa Susana Field Lab resulted in on- and off-site chemical and radioactive contamination that may have made them or their family members sick. Continue reading
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