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Noted Hiroshima hibakusha Dr. Shuntaro Hida dies at 100

Shuntaro Hida died. He had been a doctor in the Japanese imperial army and a doctor for the “hibakushas”, an activist against atomic weapons and nuclear energy, he was also known for his research on the dangers of internal contamination by radioactivity.

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Shuntaro Hida, a former Imperial Japanese Army doctor who survived the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II and treated survivors, died Monday, sources close to him said. He was 100.

Hailing from Gifu Prefecture, Hida became a doctor after graduating from the academy of medicine of the Imperial Japanese Army in 1944 and was assigned to a Hiroshima army hospital.

Hida was working in a village some 6 km north of the hypocenter when the atomic bomb detonated over the city on Aug. 6, 1945.

He entered devastated areas immediately after the bombing to help survivors, many of whom suffered severe burns. Afterward, he continued treating victims who were suffering from leukemia and other illnesses.

Hida, who made his first trip to the United States in 1975, visited about 150 cities in more than 30 countries where he told the story of the bombing. He spent 15 years until 1989 detailing the misery the atomic-bomb victims suffered.

He also served as director of the counseling center at the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations

After the Fukushima nuclear crisis triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, Hida attended anti-nuclear events in Tokyo and elsewhere to call for a world free of nuclear power.

He is also known for his research on the dangers of internal exposure to radiation.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/21/national/noted-hiroshima-hibakusha-dr-shuntyaro-hida-dead-100/#.WNJYeRh7Sis

 

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Nuclear | , | Leave a comment

Niigata governor Ryuichi Yoneyama stands firm against restart of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant

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Ryuichi Yoneyama, governor of Niigata Prefecture, poses for a photograph in Tokyo on Jan. 23.

The man blocking the world’s largest nuclear plant says he grew opposed to atomic energy the same way some people fall in love.

Previously an advocate for nuclear power, Ryuichi Yoneyama campaigned against the restart of the facility as part of his successful gubernatorial race last year in Niigata Prefecture.

He attributes his political U-turn to the “unresolved” 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the lack of preparedness at the larger facility in his own prefecture, both owned by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

Changing my opinion wasn’t an instant realization,” Yoneyama said in an interview. “It was gradual. As people say, you don’t know the exact moment you’ve fallen in love.”

Yoneyama won’t support the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture until an investigation is complete into the chain of events that resulted in the triple meltdown at Fukushima No. 1, which he visited Wednesday. While utilities don’t need approval from local authorities to restart plants, power companies are tradition-bound not to move ahead until they get their consent.

Yoneyama, a 49-year-old doctor and native of Niigata, is one of the highest-profile local opponents pitted against a political establishment led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The establishment sees nuclear power as crucial for the country’s long-term energy security and environmental goals.

Regulations and public opinion are keeping nearly all of Japan’s atomic stations shut almost six years after the meltdowns at Fukushima, where the search has barely begun for fuel that burned through to the bottom of the reactors.

If the local governor remains firmly opposed to the restart, it will be very difficult for the reactors to come back online,” said James Taverner, an analyst at IHS Markit Ltd. “In addition to the local government, building the support and trust of local residents is key.”

A Kyodo News poll on the day of Yoneyama’s October election showed about 64 percent of Niigata voters opposed the restart of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, known popularly as KK. The restart of the facility was one of the key issues in the race to replace Gov. Hirohiko Izumida, who was famous for his tough stance against Tepco. He unexpectedly announced in August that he wouldn’t seek a fourth term.

To the residents of the prefecture, Yoneyama was the candidate who would make nuclear safety a priority, while his main opponent gave off the vibe that he was a member of the reactor restarts camp, the former governor said by email.

In last year’s gubernatorial race in Kagoshima Prefecture, where Kyushu Electric Power Co. operates the Sendai nuclear plant, a three-term incumbent was defeated by an opponent campaigning to temporarily close the reactors. A district court last year barred Kansai Electric Power Co. from running two reactors at its Takahama station in Fukui Prefecture only weeks after they’d been turned back on.

Yoneyama supported bringing back online Japan’s reactors during his unsuccessful bid in 2012 for a seat in the Lower House. The country was being forced to spend more on fossil fuel imports after the disaster, so restarting the plants was needed to help the economy recover, he said at the time.

Though Yoneyama’s position switch helped secure his first electoral victory after four failed campaigns for the Diet, nuclear opponents see him driven by more than political opportunism.

I had my reservations about Yoneyama,” said Takehiko Igarashi, an official at the Niigata division of the anti-nuclear group Nakusou Genpatsu. “But after he was vetted and endorsed by the Japanese Communist Party and other smaller parties that have an anti-nuclear slant, I knew that I could trust him.”

Tepco and Abe’s government see restarting KK as one way for Japan’s biggest utility to boost profits and help manage its nearly ¥16 trillion ($139 billion) share of the Fukushima cleanup. Resuming reactors 6 and 7 will boost annual profits by as much as ¥240 billion, the utility has said.

The economic argument, however, is beginning to hold less sway, with Yoneyama saying the benefits to the local economy are “overstated.” While the prefecture risks missing out on ¥1.1 billion a year in government support without the restarts, that represents a small slice of the prefecture’s budget, which tops ¥1 trillion, according to Yoneyama.

Abe, a strong backer of nuclear power, leads a government aiming for nuclear to account for as much as 22 percent of the energy mix by 2030, compared with a little more than 1 percent now.

While restart opponents like Yoneyama demand the government guarantee the safety of the reactors, they’ve also criticized the evacuation and emergency response plans as inadequate.

In his first meeting with Tepco executives since taking office, Yoneyama earlier this month told Chairman Fumio Sudo and President Naomi Hirose that he won’t support KK’s restart until a new evacuation plan is drawn up using the results of a Fukushima investigation. Tepco will fully cooperate with the probe and stay in communication with the governor, the company said in response to a request for comment.

Once I realized that the Fukushima disaster couldn’t be easily resolved, of course my opinion changed,” Yoneyama said. “If another accident occurs, overseas tourism will become a distant dream. Even Japanese may flee the country.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/01/national/niigata-governor-ryuichi-yoneyama-stands-firm-against-restart-of-kashiwazaki-kariwa-plant/#.WJHSePLraM9

 

February 1, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Alexei Yablokov, Russia’s environmental conscience, dies at 83

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A Bellona remembrance.

Alexei Yablokov, the towering grandfather of Russian ecology who worked with Bellona to unmask Cold War nuclear dumping practices in the Arctic, has died in Moscow after a long illness. He was 83. Alexei Yablokov, the towering grandfather of Russian ecology who worked with Bellona to unmask Cold War nuclear dumping practices in the Arctic, has died in Moscow after a long illness. He was 83. As a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, he was also the lead author of the seminal 2007 book, “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment.” The book presented the conclusion that the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was responsible for 985,000 premature deaths – the boldest mortality tally to date – by analyzing 6,000 source materials on the accident. Bellona President Frederic Hauge Tuesday remembered Yablokov as a friend of three decades standing. “He was an inspiration, a great friend and a great scientist, one of the world’s most significant environmental heroes,” said Hauge. “To know him and to work with him, someone of such cool and keen intellect is a memory we should all take care of and treasure.” Yablokov commanded a broad environmental and political mandate in Russia, and published over 500 papers on biology, ecology, natural conservation and numerous textbooks on each of these subjects. He founded Russia’s branch of Greenpeace and was the leader of the Green Russia faction of the Yabloko opposition party. While serving as environmental advisor to President Boris Yeltsin’s from 1989 to 1992, Yablokov published a searing white paper that detailed the gravity of the radiological threat posed by dumped military reactors and scuttled nuclear submarines in the Arctic. The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel. Yablokov’s white paper spearheaded an epoch of environmental openness that led to more than $3 billion in international aid to Russia to clean up 200 decommissioned submarines and to secure decades of military nuclear waste. The paper’s findings dovetailed an early Bellona report in 1992 on radioactive waste dumped by the Russian Navy in the Kara Sea. Hauge said that Yablokov was “the first person in a position of power in Russia who was brave enough to step forward and support our conclusions.” “He helped open serious discussion about what was a Chernobyl in slow motion,” said Hauge. The partnership became critical. In 1995, Bellona’s Alexander Nikitin was charged with treason for his contribution to a report expanding on Bellona’s conclusions about nuclear dangers in the Arctic. The report was called “The Russian Northern Fleet: Source of Radioactive Contamination.” Throughout the endless hearings leading up to Nikitin’s eventual acquittal, Hauge said Yablokov’s “calm, collected” knowledge of the Russian constitution helped guide the defense. “His coolness during the Nikitin case was remarkable,” said Hauge on Tuesday. “He really emphasized that the constitution was the way to Nikitin’s acquittal.” In 2000, Russia’s Supreme Court agreed, and acquitted Nikitin on all counts, making him the first person to ever fight a treason charge in Russia and win. Yablokov was a constant luminary at Bellona presentations in Russia, the European Union, the United States and Norway, most recently presenting his 2007 book in Oslo on the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. He was also a tireless defender of environmental activists in Russia, suggesting at a 2014 Bellona conference in St. Petersburg that ecological groups should publish a list of those government officials who harass them. “We must constantly support our comrades who have been forced to leave the country or who have ended up in jail on account of their environmental activism,” he told the conference. That same year, Yablokov championed the presentation of a report on environmental violations that took place at Russia’s showcase Winter Olympics in Sochi. Yablokov arranged for activists from the Environmental Watch on the Northern Caucasus – many of whom were jailed, exiled or otherwise harassed into silence – to present their shocking report on Olympic environmental corruption in Moscow when every other venue had turned them away. “He was a friend and advisor to us from the beginning and in a large part we owe the success of our Russian work to his steady advice and guidance,” said Hauge. Yablokov’s death was mourned across the spectrum in Moscow. Igor Chestin, head of the WWF called Yablokov Russia’s “environmental knight.” Valery Borschsev, Yablokov’s colleague in the human rights faction of the Yabloko party said of him that “he was a person on whom the authorities had no influence.” http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2017-01-alexei-yablokov-grandfather-of-russian-environmentalism-dies-at-83

“Since Fukushima, there has been a dearth of funds for research into the effects of the on-going radioactive releases worldwide and barriers to publishing papers that look for associated effects. Since the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, we must thank those who observed, collected and published their findings. The original Chernobyl book was published in Russian; since then it has English and Japanese editions. In 2008, Alexey Yablokov brought me a copy of his Russian edition, which I cannot read, and said they needed an editor to put it into English, but did not have any money to pay the person. I have written two books and enjoy writing and editing, so said I would edit it, but I did not realize how long it would actually take: 14 months. The Chernobyl Catastrophe is a story of people – many of whom don’t know they are part of it. It includes essentially all who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the path of the radioactive fallout, but some people must be recognized for what they did under not only adverse environmental conditions, but also adverse political conditions. The senior author is Professor Yablokov, who holds two doctoral degrees – one in biology for marine mammals and a second in science for population biology – and is the author of more than 400 scientific publications and 22 books. From 1992 to 1997, he was chairman of the Interagency Committee for Ecological Security for the National Security Council of the Russian Federation, then president of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy and deputy chairman of the Council of Ecological Problems of the Russian Academy of Science and vice president of the International Union of Conservation of Nature, as well as a consultant to Russian presidents Gorbachev and Yeltsin. The second author is Vassily Nesterenko, who at the time of the Chernobyl catastrophe was director of the Nuclear Energy Institute at the Belarus Academy of Science. He requisitioned a helicopter and flew over the burning reactor, recording some of the few measurements available.” http://sfbayview.com/2015/04/less-than-one-lifetime-eyewitness-to-nuclear-development-from-hunters-point-to-chernobyl-and-fukushima-issues-a-warning/#.VTLzW6cmwhQ.facebook

Lessons of Chernobyl, with Dr. Alexey Yablokov. http://optimalprediction.com/wp/lessons-of-chernobyl-with-dr-alexey-yablokov/

Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. PDF: http://www.strahlentelex.de/Yablokov_Chernobyl_book.pdf

January 12, 2017 Posted by | Nuclear | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear plant construction at center of town’s first mayoral race in 16 years

 Atsuko Kumagai, owner of Asako House is one of the candidates!

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AOMORI – Official campaigning began Tuesday for the first mayoral election in 16 years in the town of Oma, Aomori Prefecture, with four candidates battling it out over whether an under-construction nuclear plant is good for the community.

Voters will cast ballots Sunday for the first time since January 2001. The current mayor, Mitsuharu Kanazawa, 66, faced no challengers in the three previous elections.

Kanazawa, who is seeking re-election once again, supports the early completion of the nuclear plant that Electric Power Development Co., more commonly known as J-Power, started building in 2008 on the coast of the Tsugaru Strait between Aomori and Hokkaido.

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Two of the three other candidates oppose the construction, which was suspended in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. The plant’s targeted start for commercial operation is currently set for fiscal 2024.

One of the candidates is Hideki Sasaki, 67, a former member of the municipal assembly in Hakodate, Hokkaido, located about 30 km across the Tsugaru Strait from the construction site. Sakaki, who moved to Oma, opposes the construction.

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Another is Atsuko Kumagai, 62, the head of a citizens’ group who owns land near the construction site. She also objects to the plant’s construction and proposes reinvigorating the town through fishing and tourism.

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The final candidate is Naofumi Nozaki, a 61-year-old former Oma town official. He has criticized the current town administration for excessive dependence on government nuclear power plant subsidies and has pledged to restore the town’s fiscal health and revitalize the local community.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/10/national/politics-diplomacy/nuclear-plant-construction-center-towns-first-mayoral-race-16-years/#.WHT8e1zia-d

January 10, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

State Repression Against Greenpeace Antinuclear French Activist Yannick Rousselet

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Ouch … the incredible Yannick Rousselet, the campaigner at Greenpeace against Nukes, Yannick Rousselet, whose ideas and actions of genius are no longer counted, is now a government target.

As everywhere, the state/establishment when under pressure resorts to authoritarianism and force. In France, Greenpeace anti-nuclear activist,Yannick Rousselet, has had his house raided in the early hours of the morning…with the police pulling up outside in their black vans and taking photos (including family photos), computers, USBs, files etc. on the basis that Yannick has been threatening state defence secrets.

It’s what happens when your campaigns are successful enough to threaten the state

By Yannick Rousselet:

A few days ago, I informed you that I had been the victim of an act of “malevolence”. In fact, it was practiced by a state service, DGSI (Directorate General of Internal Security, the former DST).

Indeed, last Tuesday morning, these “good people” parked their black sedans in front of my home, donned their “police” armbands and came to search my family home.

They took all our digital media: phones, computers, internal and external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards. In this seizure, files related to our militant activities, but also all our photos and videos of families.

This is an investigation for “compromise of defense secrecy”, the initiative of which would come from the HFDS (Senior Defense and Security Official) and General Riac (National Nuclear Security Officer).

It is the Paris public prosecutor who is in charge of this investigation. They told me that I would be summoned for a police custody soon.”

December 19, 2016 Posted by | France | , , | 1 Comment

Mounting evidence of long term harm of depleted uranium weapons

text-from-the-archivesThere is increasing worldwide support for a Depleted Uranium  ban….There is a du_roundsgrowing consensus among civil society groups, scientists and
some military organisations
that the health risks from DU have been seriously underestimated.

Latest documents advocating the ban of depleted uranium. By Jerry Mazza, Online Journal, 23 July 2010, US Armed Forces Radiobiology Institute Between 2000 and 2003, Dr Alexandra Miller of AFFRI was at the forefront of US Government sponsored research into DU�s chemical toxicity and radioactivity. Through a series of peer-reviewed papers, Dr Miller and her colleagues demonstrated for the first time that internalised DU oxides could result in �a significant enhancement of urinary mutagenicity,� that they can transform human cells into cells capable of producing cancerous tumours,

……and that DU was capable of inducing DNA damage in the absence of significant radioactive decay, i.e. through its chemical toxicity alone. In one study, 76% of mice implanted with DU pellets developed leukaemia.
International response

�There is increasing worldwide support for a DU ban. In 2007 Belgium became the first country in the world to ban all conventional weapons containing uranium with �other states set to follow their example. Meanwhile the Italian government agreed to a 170m Euro compensation package for personnel exposed to uranium weapons in the Balkans.

Later that year the UN General Assembly passed a resolution highlighting serious health concerns over DU and in May 2008, 94% of MEPs in the European Parliament strengthened four previous calls for a moratorium by calling for a DU ban treaty in a wide-ranging resolution. In December 2008 141 states in the UN General Assembly ordered the World Health Organisation, International Atomic Energy Agency and United Nations Environment Programme to update their positions on the long-term health and environmental threat that uranium weapons pose.

The solution

With more than 100 member organisations worldwide, ICBUW represents the best opportunity yet to achieve a global ban on the use of uranium in all conventional weapon systems. Even though the use of weapons containing uranium should already be illegal under International Humanitarian, Human Rights and Environmental Laws, an explicit treaty, as has been seen with chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster bombs, has proved the best solution for confirming their illegality. Such a treaty would not only outlaw the use of uranium weapons, but would include the prohibition of their production, the destruction of stockpiles, the decontamination of battlefields and rules on compensation for victims.

ICBUW has prepared a draft treaty, which contains a general and comprehensive prohibition of the development, production, transport, storage, possession, transfer and use of uranium ammunition.

There is a growing consensus among civil society groups, scientists and
some military organisations
that the health risks from DU have been seriously underestimated. Establishment scientific bodies have been slow to react to the wealth of new research into DU and policy makers have been content to ignore the claims of researchers and activists. Deliberate obfuscation by the mining, nuclear and arms industries has further hampered efforts to recognise the problem and achieve a ban. The past failure of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional �Weapons to deal with landmines and cluster bombs suggests that an independent treaty process is the best route to limiting the further use and proliferation of uranium weapons.

As enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, the methods and means of warfare are not unlimited. We must not allow the short term military advantage claimed for uranium weapons to override our responsibility for the long-term welfare of people and planet.

Latest documents advocating the ban of depleted uranium

December 19, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, depleted uranium, Uranium | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opposition to nuclear energy grows in Japan

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Opinion polls show the Japanese people oppose nuclear plants going back into operation. It underlines the scale of the problem facing the government in convincing everyone that it’s safe. Julian Ryall reports from Tokyo.”

Before October 16, Ryuichi Yoneyama had contested four regional elections and been soundly beaten each time. Now, however, the 49-year-old qualified doctor and lawyer is to be sworn in as governor of Niigata Prefecture after defeating a candidate who had the backing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and was considered the firm favorite.

Yoneyama worked hard for his victory over Tamio Mori, a former bureaucrat with the construction ministry, but when the voters stepped into the voting booths there was a single issue that occupied their minds.

Mori and the LDP want to restart the world’s largest nuclear power station, the sprawling Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which lies on the prefecture’s coast. They insist that as Japan moves towards the sixth anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, triggering the second-worst nuclear crisis in history, new safety measures have been implemented that ensure the same thing could not happen in Niigata.

The voters did not agree, with 528,455 supporting Yoneyama’s pledge to not grant approval for Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant to be restarted. In comparison, 465,044 voted for Mori.

Nationwide opposition

Those figures are broadly replicated across Japan, with a poll conducted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper on October 15 and 16 determining that 57 percent of the public is against the nation’s nuclear power plants being restarted, and just 29 percent supporting the resumption of reactors that have nearly all been mothballed since 2011.

At present, only two of the nation’s 54 reactors have been restarted – and that after much wrangling through the courts after local residents and environmental groups expressed their opposition.

Nevertheless, a report issued by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) in July predicts that seven additional reactors will be on-line by the end of March next year and a further 12 will be operational one year later.

But as the opinion polls show, the majority of the public is against a policy that the government tells them is in the nation’s best interests.

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“Since the accident at Fukushima, many people have realized the negatives that go along with the positives of nuclear power, and they simply do not want to take that sort of risk again,” said Hiroko Moriwaki, a librarian who lives in Tokyo.

“And many think that we do not need to,” she added. “Since the disaster, the reactors have not been operational and look around you; we have all the electricity that we need, there are no blackouts and everything is normal.

“Just after the earthquake, we were told to do everything we could to save energy, but not any more,” Moriwaki told DW.

“So maybe we have reached the point where we don’t actually need nuclear energy and that this is in fact an opportunity that the country can take advantage of,” she said.

Japan is an advanced and industrialized nation with vast amounts of skills and technologies that could be put to use to develop and then commercialize new sources of safe, environment-friendly energy, she said.

As well as solar and wind power, which are already visible across Japan, there are moves afoot to harness Japan’s tidal and wave energy, while vast amounts of potential geothermal energy remain virtually untapped.

“We have so much technology, so wouldn’t it be best to divert some of that away from more investment in nuclear energy and put it into fuel sources that are safer and do not harm the environment at all?” Moriwaki asked.

Japan’s energy needs

Critics of this approach – of which the government is one – say Japanese industry needs a secure supply of energy right now and that Japan is presently importing 84 percent of its energy needs, primarily in the form of coal, gas and oil. And that is both expensive and to blame for the nation’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases climbing.

Still, the Japanese public is far from convinced that nuclear energy is the answer.

“It’s complicated and we keep hearing from the government how important it is to have the nuclear plants operating again, but after Fukushima, I think, a lot of people no longer trust the operators or the government,” said Kanako Hosomura, a housewife whose family home is north of Tokyo and only about 250 km from the Fukushima plant.

Inquiries after the disaster revealed that TEPCO ignored experts’ warnings about the potential size and power of tsunami and had failed to take precautions such as ensuring a backup power supply in the event the generators used to cool the reactors were out of operation.

The government also came under fire after the media reported that it did not have a full understanding of the severity of the crisis, while it was also issuing statements that the situation was completely under control at the same time as drawing up plans to evacuate tens of millions of people from a huge swathe of eastern Japan.

“When it comes down to it, I have a young son and a family and their safety is my number one priority,” said Hosomura. “Maybe Japan was lucky the Fukushima disaster was not worse than it was. Maybe next time we will not be so lucky.”

http://dw.com/p/2RVwE?fb

October 22, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Anti-nuclear Power Protest Tents in Tokyo Removed

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Japanese officials led a predawn raid on August 21st to forcibly remove the protracted anti-nuclear power sit-in protest in front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) headquarters in central Tokyo. At around 3.30 a.m., some 100 security guards and court officials descended on the so-called “No Nukes Plaza,” a collection of tents that had occupied a corner of land in front of METI in government district of Kasumigaseki since September 11th, 2011.

It had been the longest surviving example of Japan’s post-Fukushima protest movement. The weekly Friday night vigils outside the nearby prime minister’s residence have also continued, albeit with far fewer participant numbers than their peak in 2012, when tens of thousands were gathering in Kasumigaseki.

The protest tents were started by veteran left-wing activists from Japan’s postwar period, though it was supported by a younger generation of activists. It soon achieved a significant level of international attention and mainstream press coverage. The “plaza” evolved into a polestar for the movement, hosting talks, film screenings, and other events that strove to keep the debate over nuclear power in the public eye. One of the tents was even turned into a de facto art museum with Fukushima-inspired exhibits.

The administration of Yoshihiko Noda of the Democratic Party of Japan (now the Democratic Party) left the tents alone, but following the return to power of Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party in late 2012, the government made it a priority to remove the protesters. In 2013, the government filed for the removal of the tents, which were manned 24 hours a day by activists. After this was approved by the courts, the activists appealed, claiming it was tantamount to suppressing freedom of speech and the right to free assembly, which is protected by the Constitution of Japan. The court also ordered the protesters to pay a daily fee of over \20,000 (approx. $200) for using government land.

In addition to the authorities, the protesters also attracted enemies from Japan’s ultra-nationalists. Beginning soon after they were erected, the tents were subject to regular attacks by right-wing activists and groups, including one as recently as the weekend before the eviction.

In July, the Supreme Court upheld the earlier ruling that the tents could be removed, meaning the protestors were out of legal options and effectively on borrowed time. METI officials no doubt deliberately chose the early morning to enforce the eviction so as to circumvent any resistance: the protesters were supported by a number of leftist activists known for aggressive hate speech counter-protests and who could be mobilized quickly.

When officials came to dismantle the tents, five activists were reportedly inside but were powerless to stop the proceedings, which took around 90 minutes. By Sunday morning, the tents were completely removed and the area where they previously stood was fenced off. Erecting any new tents was now impossible, but activists have vowed to continue their protest by sitting on chairs and standing at the same corner. Police initially blockaded even the sidewalks for some of Sunday, in fear of a backlash from the activists, though did relent and allow demonstrators to return to the site of their protest. One activist was arrested following a confrontation with police but was later released.

The anti-nuclear protest tents came to be seen as one of the pivotal aspects of the post-Fukushima movement, which blamed METI and the government for the crisis. Occupying the site was arguably just a symbolic gesture, but nonetheless an important one for Japan, where public land is strictly controlled and police and private security are quick to pounce on people who squat. No one else dared to do this kind of protest: the Friday night vigils pack up and go home at 8 p.m., and likewise the student group SEALDs, which generated much press coverage last year for its protests against the government’s controversial security legislation, was orderly and even praised for picking up trash after its demonstrations at Kasumigaseki.

As such, the tents were a renegade and unrepentant presence in the protest culture of Japan, and a constant reminder that the problems of Fukushima have still not been resolved even more than five years after the disaster.

The timing of the removal is also significant. It came shortly before the fifth anniversary of the sit-in, as well as during protests over the restarting of a reactor at Ikata Nuclear Power Plant. Unrest currently continues in Okinawa, too, as demonstrators clash daily with hundreds of riot police protecting the construction of new United States military helipads in the jungle near Takae.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/09/09/anti-nuclear-power-protest-tents-in-tokyo-removed/

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Anti-nuclear power protest tents forcibly removed from outside ministry

Yesterday I wrote a long-ish post about last weekend’s attack on the anti-nuclear power protest tents that have occupied a corner of land outside the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Kasumigaseki since 2011. I included some of the history of the tents and resistance against the orders calling for their removal. After the Supreme Court rejected the activists’ final appeal in late July, the end seemed nigh and it seems I jumped the gun.

The post about last week’s incident swiftly became obsolete when around 100 security guards and court officials arrived at the tents in the early hours of today, August 21st. Starting at 3.30 a.m. on the 1,807th day of the sit-in, it took all of 90 minutes for them to remove the tents, placards and other materials that were the signs of a five-year protest movement. There were apparently some five activists staying at the tents overnight but they could do nothing to prevent the removal.

 

The choice of the early morning to enforce the eviction was surely a deliberate one to avoid trouble with protestors. If it had been during the daytime, the activists could have quickly mobilised dozens, maybe even hundreds, of supporters, as we saw at last weekend’s incident. Earlier on August 21st, police and security guards completely barricaded the corner of the street in a show of force in case there was an ugly response from activists.

Today there was also a demonstration by a hate group in Kawaguchi City, on the outskirts of Tokyo, which consumed the manpower of the counter-protest group C.R.A.C., who otherwise may have rallied activists to the ministry.

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Ironically, I had been planning to go see the tents today, since I knew it might be my last chance. In the end, I missed my opportunity. Nonetheless I went to see the aftermath and found a mood that was muted yet resilient. There were no more tents; the iconic facade of the site was gone, replaced by large fences obstructing any new tents from being erected. But still there were some 15 protestors sitting on chairs, banners unfurled on the pavement and flags stuck into the hedges. A couple of activists were banging a drum. There was a police presence, of course: a few officers and some riot police vans. A random rightist was spewing forth anger at the protestors from the street while being physically held back by police officers. You can just about see him in the right of the photograph below.

 

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Earlier an activist had been arrested and was being held at a police station in Marunouchi, and many of others had gone there to call for his or her release. By chance, Masami Yoshizawa from Kibō no Bokujō (Farm of Hope) was also in the area, driving around a car with a fake cow on a trailer. He has previously brought actual diseased cattle to Tokyo in an attempt to remind bureaucrats of the continuing plight of Fukushima.

The activists told me that they would be continuing the protest at the site, only no longer with tents. Alternatively known in English as the Occupy Tents, Anti-Nuclear Occupy Tent, No Nukes Plaza or Tent Plaza, the central structures are now gone but the idea of the “plaza” survives.

However, Japan’s relatively harsh rules on public assembly may make it harder for protestors to gather at the location in greater numbers for events like they used to, since now they will literally just be standing or sitting on the street. In theory, any public demonstration is required to be registered with police in advance.

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In my post on August 20th, I wrote that “the fury of Fukushima lives on in Kasumigaseki”. Was that too optimistic? We shall see.

WILLIAM ANDREWS

https://throwoutyourbooks.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/anti-nuclear-power-protest-tents-forcibly-removed-ministry/

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

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

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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

‘We know about Fukushima’: Thousands rally in China over nuclear project fears

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Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Lianyungang, China, to protest against a possible French-Chinese nuclear project, according to local media. Clashes have been reported between police and demonstrators.

Photos and videos on social media show crowds of people shouting slogans and waving banners.

“There were several thousand people,” a hotel worker told AFP on condition of anonymity. 

Thousands in Lianyungang protest possible China-France nuclear project https://t.co/D7guEPGC9ppic.twitter.com/FYhMBftzyB

Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) August 8, 2016

“Building a nuclear waste processing plant in Lianyungang is a recipe for disaster for future generations, local people have a right to express anger,” another witness said.

Pictures also show demonstrators surrounded by police. A local resident identified as Xu described “clashes between police and protesters.”

 

Rumors have emerged that one of the activists was beaten to death. Police have denied those reports, and also said that officers have not clashed with demonstrators.

The protest was staged over an agreement between French nuclear fuel group Areva and China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), which took place in 2012. The companies agreed to build a reprocessing facility in China, but didn’t elaborate on the location.

But Lianyungang residents fear the plant will be constructed in their city, as China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) is currently building a nuclear object nearby, AFP reported.

连云港市民抗议兴建核废料处理厂 https://t.co/braDcGZbn8

艺术家王鹏 (@wangpeng89) August 7, 2016

The government kept the project a secret. People only found out about it recently. That’s why most people are worried,” local resident Sheng told The Financial Times. “Some speculate that the nuclear waste is from other countries and do not understand why the project should be built here instead of over there if it’s as safe and beneficial as they say.”

全世界唯一的核电站废料处理中心将在连云港建设!投资1000个亿工程!如果爆炸!连云港将寸草不生!辐射范围大概在800公里,连云港到上海500公里,到浙江杭州680公里,一旦爆炸意味着江苏浙江上海都将陷入万劫不复的未来 pic.twitter.com/gasVOBtda9

小李 (@a10024770291) August 8, 2016

Lianyungang is also situated near the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant, built by Russia in 2006. The site is set to become one of the biggest nuclear power plants in China, with two operational units and six additional units planned.

今夜,连云港没有赢家,
只有暴力和被打者的哀鸣,
鲜血染红了某些人的顶子,
第一个遇难者不知道是谁?
一棍从后脑敲下,
三十几人拳打脚踢,
…………
呼吁理性爱国,保护自身安全!
今夜无眠
祈求连云港的这些英雄都很平安 pic.twitter.com/GcdMTZomJY

Zhumengru (@xiaoru1989) August 8, 2016

We already have a chemical industrial park in Lianyungang and the pollution problem is quite worrying. Nuclear waste is far worse than normal chemical pollution,” local shop owner He told The Financial Times. “Also, we all know what happened to Fukushima in Japan after the nuclear accident. We are really worried.”

Lianyungang, a port city in Jiangsu province, eastern China, has a population of around five million people. It is located some 480 kilometers (298 miles) north of Shanghai.

https://www.rt.com/news/355066-china-france-nuclear-protest/

 

August 8, 2016 Posted by | China | | Leave a comment

Japanese Government Wins in Supreme Court: Tents of Anti-Nuclear Groups Next to METI Ministry Building to Be Forcibly Removed

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On July 28, Japan’s Supreme Court handed down its ruling in a case filed originally by the national government over tents pitched by anti-nuclear groups outside buildings of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo. It upheld an earlier order that the groups evacuate and pay for their use of the land.

The court’s petty bench, led by Judge Naoto Ohtani, rejected an appeal made by members of the groups against a lower court ruling. The Tokyo District Court is expected to carry out the forcible removal of the tents upon the request of the government, though members of the groups are expected to resist.

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The three tents were erected almost five years ago—in September and October 2011—at the north corner of the premises of METI in a space along the sidewalk. Since then, members of a shadowy coalition of primarily far-left groups have continuously occupied them, displaying signs criticizing national nuclear policy and proclaiming the site a symbol of the anti-nuclear movement.

The groups had argued that setting up the tents fell within the concept of freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution, and that the suit by the government was an attempt to interfere with the expression of opinion in violation of that. The Tokyo District Court ruled in the first instance that the government’s filing of the suit was a proper part of managing national property and not unjust, and that it did not interfere with the expression of the same opinions by other means. The Tokyo High Court affirmed that in the second instance.

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The ruling includes an order that two defendants of the groups pay about JPY21,000 (USD206 at USD1 = JPY102) per day for use of the land, for a total of nearly JPY40 million (USD392,000) for the five-year period, plus interest.

http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japanese-government-wins-in-supreme-court-tents-of-anti-nuclear-groups-next-to-meti-ministry-building-to-be-forcibly-removed/

August 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Glory to Areva, benefactor of humanity!

Areva, you’d better venerate it or it’ll retaliate. When it comes to evoke the French nuclear corporation, you’d better choose your vocabulary in the praise glossary, if you do not want to be dragged into court.

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Areva has filed a libel suit against Jean-Jacques Mu, a former blogger on Club Mediapart, just for having relayed a critical article from the Anti-Nuclear Southeast Coordination.

Already in 1974, the anti-nuclear environmentalist newspaper La Gueule Ouverte, which did not mince words, warned its readers: “Corporations, fascism without borders. “

Heil Areva! Today’s freedom of reporting on the nuclear machinations and horrors is exerted only at the risk of citizens who believed to be in democracy.

 And since we need to know that no one is too small enough to dare challenge Areva, Areva is taking out a sledgehammer to crush a gadfly: Jean-Jacques Mu, retired, blogger, not belonging to any group or any party. Jean-Jacques Mu is now dragged into court by Areva for defamation. His offense ? To have relayed an article of CAN-84 (Anti-Nuclear Southeast Coordination) on his blog hosted by Mediapart.

On 27 July 2014, Areva spotted the article relayed by Jean-Jacques Mu on Mediapart. Areva’s lawyers found some terms that could be taken for libel into court: they contacted Mediapart which immediately removed the offending article. The matter could have stopped there. But a few days later (July 31, 2014) Areva finds that Jean-Jacques Mu released a new blog post, which though having removed the offending words, gave the link to the same article of the CAN-84 (Anti-Nuclear Southeast Coordination).

In August 2014 (the traditional summer month holiday in France), the lawyers of the Areva Corporation were not idle: they hired a bailiff who traced the IP code of the administrator of the CAN-84 (Anti-Nuclear Southeast Coordination) website as well as the one of the blogger Jean-jacques Mu.

CAN is a collective, there is no single author of the article: who cares, Areva filed a complaint against X and … against Jean-Jacques Mu, based on the Law on the Freedom of the Press of 29 July 1881, which states that if one can not condemn the author of the allegedly defamatory words, then the editor of the words, its media, its distributors, its peddlers, and therefore in the twenty-first century the bloggers-relayers will be the ones to be condemned.

Jean-Jacques Mu faces a condemnation for having posted on his blog an article from the Anti-Nuclear Southeast Coordination, which he considered important to inform the public of.

What was it about? It was about the municipal council of Avignon and the signing of a contract between the city and the Areva Foundation. Like all the corporations, benefactors of humanity, Areva has a foundation that funds, among other things some educational projects.

Better to stuff early into the heads of the “children of a parent–teacher association” the propaganda conditioning them to worship profit ogres who will exploit them their whole lives while destroying the planet: It is cheap and pays off. And as the Ministry of Education’s pockets are increasingly empty, money even radioactive has no odor.

The article of CAN84 roundly blamed some EELV elected officials (Green Ecology Party) to have not voted against the signing of this contract with the Areva Foundation: they did not vote at all, they just got out of the room at the appropriate time.

Areva was only a secondary point of the article relayed by Jean-Jacques MU, which was aiming at the municipal council of Avignon. Yet Areva attacks the CAN84 and the blogger Jean-Jacques Mu, for a handful of forms as it considers defamatory because they are critical.

To be mentioned as the “giant of nuclear death” is bad for the image of Areva, and never mind if from its dirty uranium mines to its power plants operations its nuclear is nothing clean nor favorable to the bright future that its advertisements are promising us.

Good people, never mention “the Areva crimes” nor the permanent ongoing risks that this flagship of French industry poses to entire populations. Forget Chernobyl, forget Fukushima, forget the thyroid cancers that strike massively contaminated populations of children during the nuclear disasters that destroyed their cities, do not use the words “contaminate and kill children”, they could be badly perceived by susceptible Areva which will not hesitate to stick you with a court case.

It is obvious that the relay, in extenso for only 24 hours of a CAN84 article on the blog of Jean-Jacques Mu, has not infringed the notoriously booming business of the nuclear corporation. Areva, which manages to get in economic jeopardy while stirring billions, is very intolerant of criticisms from ordinary citizens and shows a much greater exigency for words in an article relayed by a blog that for the safety of workers in its uranium mines in Niger.

Since it is the freedom of information and expression that Areva is threatening through this libel case to be held in a Paris court on August 30, 2016, it is our responsibility to support Jean-Jacques MU, by raising awareness about this case, by being present in court on the day of the trial, by participating in the kitty that will give him the means that he does not have to prepare his defense.

At a time when corporations want whistleblowers to be condemned and track down the ordinary people who dare to criticize them, we answer: no, we will not be silenced!

https://blogs.mediapart.fr/juliette-keating/blog/300616/gloire-areva-bienfaitrice-de-lhumanite

July 11, 2016 Posted by | France | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Elections: Antinuclear Candidate’s Win Poses Risk to Plant Restarts

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Kansai Electric’s No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant on June 20. In March, a district court in Fukui prefecture issued an injunction halting the two reactors just months after they had been restarted.

Ex-journalist Satoshi Mitazono defeats incumbent Yuichiro Ito

TOKYO—The election Sunday of an antinuclear governor in the only Japanese prefecture with an operating nuclear power plant poses another risk to the government’s efforts to restart idled nuclear plants.

Former journalist Satoshi Mitazono defeated incumbent Kagoshima Gov. Yuichiro Ito largely by pledging to suspend operations at Kyushu Electric Power Co. ’s Sendai nuclear plant, which is located in the southern prefecture.

Mr. Mitazono’s victory underscores the strength of antinuclear sentiment in the country, even as Japanese companies such as Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. win orders to build plants abroad in countries searching for a reliable, emissions-free source of power.

Kyushu Electric shares tumbled 7.5% to a three-year low Monday.

The Japanese public remains skeptical about the safety of nuclear power after the 2011 triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, with many parents still screening food for radiation. Communities hosting the plants are resisting plans to restart reactors.

The Japanese government aims to revive at least 32 of the 54 reactors it shut down following the Fukushima disaster, and plans for nuclear power to account for about a fifth of the nation’s total electricity generation by 2030. It also hopes to double the contribution from renewable energy to meet a goal of cutting the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by about a quarter from 2013 levels.

 

Nuclear power is also seen by many analysts and policy makers as key to Japan’s energy security. The country is forced to import nearly all of its fossil fuel.

Relying on oil and gas is not sustainable, with huge costs to people’s health and the economy, and serious consequences for the environment,” said Hooman Peimani, research fellow at the Tokyo-based Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre.

Yet the government’s goals for nuclear look increasingly ambitious as local communities fight back. In March, a district court in Fukui prefecture issued an injunction halting two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co. ’s Takahama nuclear plant just months after they had been restarted. The court said Kansai Electric had failed to show the public that the reactors were safe, despite having met stricter safety standards established after the Fukushima accident.

The only other nuclear plant now scheduled to be restarted is Shikoku Electric Power Co. ’s plant in Ikata, in southern Ehime prefecture. The restart is slated for August.

The people are worried,” Mr. Mitazono said in a TV interview shortly after the election Sunday night. “We will not operate nuclear reactors when their safety cannot be guaranteed.”

The fight against nuclear at home has Japanese plant operators seeking business overseas—particularly in China and India. Hitachi last week said it would work with plant operator Japan Atomic Power to build and run nuclear plants in the U.K.

Toshiba, through U.S. unit Westinghouse Electric, hopes to secure contracts to build 45 nuclear reactors by 2030. Westinghouse is already building four reactors each in the U.S. and China. Toshiba said last week that it is eyeing 12 more deals in India, three in the U.K., and a total of five in the U.S. and Turkey.

Having nuclear plants idled is costly for Japan’s utilities, which are competing in a newly deregulated retail market. Restarting the Sendai plant has enabled Kyushu Electric to cut its imports and consumption of fossil fuels, which helped it log a profit in the year ended in March.

Mizuho Securities Co. analyst Norimasa Shinya said in a note to clients Monday that if the Sendai plant were to remain shut after planned maintenance checks later this year, Kyushu Electric’s recurring profit would fall by nearly a third, or about 18 billion yen ($176 million), in the current business year.

Kyushu Electric declined to comment on the impact of a possible shutdown at Sendai. “We have not been told to halt operations, nor do we know when, if, or how such a request would be made,” a spokesman said. “Voters voted on a wide array of issues, and not just on nuclear.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/japan-elections-antinuclear-candidates-win-poses-risk-to-plant-restarts-1468232103

 

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | 4 Comments

Many voters unaware what 2/3 majority means for Constitution revision

Nuclear energy and safety were not among the major concerns of the Japanese voters, for whom the main issue remained economic policy. To the exception of Fukushima Prefecture (Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant) and of Kagoshima Prefecture (Sendai Nuclear plant) were voters elected anti-nuke candidates.

11 july 2016

With the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) having focused its campaign for the July 10 House of Councillors election on economic issues, many voters say they weren’t aware what securing a two-thirds majority in the upper house meant for parties in favor of revising the pacifist Constitution — that is, they can initiate constitutional amendment in the chamber, a Mainichi Shimbun poll shows.

“It ended without us (and the voters) being on the same page,” said Katsuya Okada, head of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), as he spoke to the media amidst a barrage of camera flashes at his party’s headquarters in Tokyo’s Nagatacho district on the night of July 10. The DP had tried to rally voters around the idea of stopping the ruling coalition and some opposition parties from gaining enough seats to amend the Constitution, while the LDP buried this issue by talking only about the economy. In the end, the LDP came out the clear victor.

Did voters even know about the “two-thirds majority” and its importance for constitutional amendment? On July 10, the Mainichi Shimbun interviewed 150 eligible voters around the country, and 83 of them, or almost 60 percent, said they “didn’t know” what the two-thirds majority meant in terms of constitutional revisions. When asked what issue influenced them the most in their vote, most answered things that were closely related to their lives, like economic or social welfare policies. Only about 10 percent said constitutional amendment was the most influential issue for them.

When asked, “Do you know what the number ‘two-thirds’ means?” a 29-year-old man working in building management who responded to the Mainichi Shimbun poll in front of JR Akabane Station in Kita Ward, Tokyo, responded, “Does that number have something to do with employment?” When the man was told that this was “the number of Diet seats needed for initiating constitutional amendment,” he was surprised and said, “Does that mean Article 9 is going to be messed around with? People don’t know this, do they?”

Based on a prediction that voter turnout would be about 50 percent, the poll was conducted on 75 people who voted and 75 people who didn’t. Among those who voted, 29 people did not know the significance of “two-thirds,” and among those who didn’t vote 54 did not know. Most people who didn’t know and were told the meaning of the number appeared uninterested.

Even among those who knew the significance of securing two-thirds of the vote, many people were more influenced by other issues. A 57-year-old self-employed man in Kagoshima Prefecture said, “As someone operating a tiny business outside of Tokyo, economic policies are most important to me.”

On the night of July 10, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not talk about the changes to the Constitution the LDP is looking to bring about. There is no denying that because of the LDP avoiding the topic of the supreme law, debate over constitutional amendment never heated up in the election.

A 21-year-old company employee in Toyama Prefecture explained why she didn’t vote. “I didn’t know what the main issues of the election were. I thought that it would be better not to vote than to just vote without a good reason.”

Due to low voter turnout, those aiming for constitutional amendment have reached their desired two-thirds majority, and a movement to change the country is set to truly begin.

* Interviewees’ opinions on constitutional reform

– It is necessary to consider amendment to make the Constitution match with today’s world, but don’t change the fundamentals of basic human rights and pacifism. (50-year-old female, company employee, Akita Prefecture)

– If necessary it’s OK to change the Constitution, but currently we have not yet had a national debate about this, so it’s too early. (37-year-old male, company employee, Tokyo)

– I don’t want us to do something and then regret it, like the United Kingdom after its referendum result to leave the European Union. I want the issue to be thought over carefully. (47-year-old female, company employee, Tokyo)

– We’ve been peaceful up until now, so we don’t need to change it. (20-year-old male, company employee, Kanagawa Prefecture)

– As long as we have the Self-Defense Forces and they are active, we have to change the Constitution (to clearly allow for those forces). (51-year-old male, company employee, Shiga Prefecture)

– A proposal for constitutional amendment will be a good opportunity for people to think about the Constitution. (65-year-old male, unemployed, Nara Prefecture)

– It’s not that I’m for or against amendment, the problem is that the current administration is too forceful in moving policies forward, when there should be in-depth debate. We shouldn’t rush to amend the Constitution. (34-year-old male, self-employed, Shimane Prefecture)

– We need to create a sovereign Constitution. We shouldn’t depend on another country for our defense. (65-year-old male, taxi driver, Yamaguchi Prefecture)

– I oppose amendment. The current way where we just pay money and are protected by the United States is better. I don’t want us to participate in wars. (56-year-old male, company employee, Fukuoka Prefecture)

* Why eligible voters chose not to vote

– I can’t trust politicians. (18-year-old female, vocational school student, Tokyo)

– I have my hands full with my everyday life. Increasing my income comes before everything else. (40-year-old male, company employee, Kyoto Prefecture)

– There are no candidates or parties I support. I don’t like the ruling parties’ forceful methods, but when it comes to the opposition parties, though they talk about joining forces against the ruling parties, they advocate different policies from each other. (29-year-old male, company employee, Hyogo Prefecture)

– I feel powerless against the hard-line stance of the Abe administration. (66-year-old female, unemployed, Hiroshima Prefecture)

– I didn’t know what the main election issue was. Maybe it’s because my electoral district was merged, but I never once saw the candidates. (43-year-old female, housewife, Kochi Prefecture)

– I don’t feel like a House of Councillors election affects my life. (56-year-old male, civil servant, Ehime Prefecture)

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160711/p2a/00m/0na/026000c

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment