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Japan wants US parachute drills grounded amid Okinawa anger


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Japan is opposed to a two-day parachuting drill that the US plans to conduct near the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. Local residents have protested such drills in the past, and this would be the third in two months.

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said the US military failed to notify the Japanese authorities seven days ahead of the exercise, as they are supposed to. In fact, Japan learned of the Americans’ plans from a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) filed with the aviation authorities, which is meant to keep civilian aircraft out of airspace where US military planes are flying during the exercise, NHK reported.

“We asked [the Americans] not to conduct the training and to delete the NOTAM. So far we have not received a response from the US site,” Inada told reporters on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting.

The parachuting exercises, which are planned for Wednesday and Thursday, would be conducted off the coast of the city of Uruma. Similar drills were conducted off the Kadena Airbase on the night of May 10 and on April 24.

The previous two drills sparked protest among Okinawans, who have not seen such exercises since 2011. After the second training, Deputy Okinawa Governor Moritake Tomikawa filed a protest with Japan’s Defense Ministry, expressing outrage and saying that such exercises cannot become routine.

Defense Minister Inada called the US move “regrettable,” saying the US should observe a 1996 bilateral agreement under which parachuting exercises should be conducted on the remote island of Iejima, off Okinawa’s main island, with the Kadena base used only as an exception.

“The United States did not offer sufficient explanation on why the exercise conducted (Wednesday) amounted to an exceptional case,” Inada said at a regular news conference. “It is extremely deplorable that it took place at Kadena Air Base without Japan and the United States able to share the same perception in advance,” she stressed.

The Kadena Airbase is one of several US military installations on Okinawa, a southern Japanese island that hosts some 70 percent of the US troops in Japan and is home to some 20,000 US service members, contractors, and their families.

During a parachuting drill in 1965, a trailer airdropped into a local village inadvertently landed on a schoolgirl, killing her.

The protest over the latest planned drill comes a day after Okinawa police arrested a US airman assigned to the Kadena base following a drunk hit-and-run. Staff Sergeant Miguel Angel Garza allegedly hit a car on Monday and fled the scene. The female driver of the second vehicle sustained minor injuries, Japanese authorities said.

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Thousands of Japanese rally in capital against ‘anti-terror’ bill


People demonstrate against a piece of “anti-terror” legislation in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, May 24, 2017.
Press TV 

Thousands of people have held a protest rally in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, to express their dissent against the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for putting forward a controversial “anti-terror” bill.

Demonstrators, carrying placards, flooded the capital’s streets on Wednesday evening. They said the government would be prosecuting practically everybody in the name of fighting terrorism if the bill was passed.

The protest came a day after the country’s lower house approved the “conspiracy bill,” which enlisted 277 new types of offences deemed by the lawmakers as threats against Japanese national security.

The government argues that with the help of the bill, if it is passed, it will be able to mount a crackdown on what it calls organized crime and punish those who plan to carry out “serious crimes” against the country.

The bill now needs to be ratified by the upper house, the House of Councilors — where Abe’s coalition has the upper hand — to become law.

While Tokyo argues that the legislation should be adopted before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 in an attempt to battle terrorism and organized crime, the opponents of the bill say they fear it would treat such offenses as sit-in demonstrations and violations of copyrights as “serious crimes.”

The government further argues that the law would be necessary to ratify the United Nations (UN)’s Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

The demonstrators in the Wednesday rally also protested against a number of other issues, including Japan’s nuclear power policies and the United States’ presence on the Japanese Okinawa Island.

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Fukushima: Japanese Government Guilty of Destroying Pacific Ocean

The Japanese Government has been ordered to pay tens of millions in compensation after it was found guilty of negligence causing the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Reports also claim that the ruling could also include other pacific nations like the US who could also be eligible for compensation from the Japanese government who has effectively poisoned the entire Pacific Ocean and damaged the world’s food chain beyond repair. YNW reports: The nuclear plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings, was also found guilty of negligence that led to the disaster that nuclear experts say will likely continue affecting wildlife and humans for the next 250,000 years.

Friday’s stunning ruling by the Maebashi District Court was the first to recognize negligence by the state and Tepco. Previously the Japanese government and Tepco, a subsidiary of General Electric, had strongly denied any wrongdoing, arguing they were the victims of bad luck. The judge called the massive tsunami “predictable” and said the major nuclear disaster, which is responsible for 300 tons of radioactive water entering the Pacific Ocean every single day, could have been avoided. According to Japan Times:

The district court ordered the two to pay damages totaling ¥38.55 million to 62 of 137 plaintiffs from 45 households located near the plant, which suffered a triple meltdown caused by the tsunami, awarding ¥70,000 to ¥3.5 million in compensation to each plaintiff. The plaintiffs had demanded the state and Tepco pay compensation of ¥11 million each — a total of about ¥1.5 billion — over the loss of local infrastructure and psychological stress they were subjected to after being forced to relocate to unfamiliar surroundings.

Citing a government estimate released in July 2002, the court said in the ruling that

“Tepco was capable of foreseeing several months after (the estimate) that a large tsunami posed a risk to the facility and could possibly flood its premises and damage safety equipment, such as the backup power generators.”

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It pointed out that the state should have ordered Tepco to take bolstered preventive measures, and criticized the utility for prioritizing costs over safety. Fukushima radiation has contaminated the entire Pacific Ocean. The nuclear disaster has contaminated the world’s largest ocean in only five years and it’s still leaking 300 tons of radioactive waste every day. According to a True Activist report:

Radioactive Debris from Fukushima approaching North America’s western coast.

If that weren’t bad enough, Fukushima continues to leak an astounding 300 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean every day. It will continue do so indefinitely as the source of the leak cannot be sealed as it is inaccessible to both humans and robots due to extremely high temperatures. It should come as no surprise, then, that Fukushima has contaminated the entire Pacific Ocean in just five years. This could easily be the worst environmental disaster in human history and it is almost never talked about by politicians, establishment scientists, or the news. It is interesting to note that TEPCO is a subsidiary partner with General Electric (also known as GE), one of the largest companies in the world, which has considerable control over numerous news corporations and politicians alike. Could this possibly explain the lack of news coverage Fukushima has received in the last five years? There is also evidence that GE knew about the poor condition of the Fukushima reactors for decades and did nothing. This led 1,400 Japanese citizens to sue GE for their role in the Fukushima nuclear disaster – and now have been found guilty.

Even if we can’t see the radiation itself, some parts of North America’s western coast have been feeling the effects for years. Not long after Fukushima, fish in Canada began bleeding from their gills, mouths, and eyeballs. This “disease” has been ignored by the government and has decimated native fish populations, including the North Pacific herring. Elsewhere in Western Canada, independent scientists have measured a 300% increase in the level of radiation. According to them, the amount of radiation in the Pacific Ocean is increasing every year. Why is this being ignored by the mainstream media? It might have something to do with the fact that the US and Canadian governments have banned their citizens from talking about Fukushima so “people don’t panic.”

Further south in Oregon, USA, starfish began losing legs and then disintegrating entirely when Fukushima radiation arrived there in 2013. Now, they are dying in record amounts, putting the entire oceanic ecosystem in that area at risk. However, government officials say Fukushima is not to blame even though radiation in Oregon tuna tripled after Fukushima. In 2014, radiation on California beaches increased by 500 percent. In response, government officials said that the radiation was coming from a mysterious “unknown” source and was nothing to worry about. However, Fukushima is having a bigger impact than just the West coast of North America. Scientists are now saying that the Pacific Ocean is already radioactive and is currently at least 5-10 times more radioactive than when the US government dropped numerous nuclear bombs in the Pacific during and after World War II. If we don’t start talking about Fukushima soon, we could all be in for a very unpleasant surprise.

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Fukushima Anniversary: Japan’s Historic Love-Hate Relationship with Nuclear Power

Global Research News Hour Episode 175

The United States knows that peaceful power from atomic energy is no dream of the future. ..To hasten the day when fear of the atom will begin to disappear from the minds of people, and the governments of the East and West, there are certain steps that can be taken now.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s address before the General Assembly of the United Nations on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, New York City, 1953


The island nation of Japan is ranked third in the world in terms of the number of functioning nuclear reactors on its territory.

Why would the one country to experience the destructive potential of nuclear power in wartime, the culture that gave the world ‘Godzilla,’ and has endured the meltdowns of three reactors in 2011 continue to embrace nuclear power?

As part of the Global Research News Hour’s commemoration of the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima Daichii nuclear catastrophe, we focus on the historical and political context of the disaster.

First up, we hear from Professor Peter Kuznick about the early years after the War. He explains the role of Japan in America’s postwar geostrategy, and comments on the public relations campaign that convinced the population of the Asian country to stop worrying and love nuclear power.

Later, Canadian nuclear expert Gordon Edwards returns to the program to comment on Canada’s connections with the Japanese nuclear industry and on how the Fukushima disaster should have informed Canadian nuclear policy and regulations.

Finally, we hear from celebrated Kyoto-based anti-nuclear activist Aileen Mioko Smith about the evolution of the anti-nuclear movement within Japan.

We also hear from a short video produced by Fairewinds Energy Education ( outlining the fallacy of nuclear power as a strategy for fighting climate change.

 Peter Kuznick is Professor of History at American University in Washington D.C. And Director of that university’s Nuclear Studies Institute. . He is co-author with Akira Kimura of ‘Rethinking the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Japanese and American Perspectives’ (Horitsu Bunkasha, 2010), and co-author with Yuki Tanaka of ‘Genpatsu to hiroshima – genshiryoku heiwa riyo no shinso’ (Nuclear Power and Hiroshima: The Truth Behind the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Power (Iwanami, 2011).He also worked on ‘The Untold History of the United States’, a ten part Showtime documentary film series and book co-authored with Oliver Stone. 

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at . The show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at Listen in everyThursday at 6pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario –1  Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border.

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia, Canada. – Tune in  at its new time – Wednesdays at 4pm PT.

Radio station CFUV 101.9FM based at the University of Victoria airs the Global Research News Hour every Sunday from 7 to 8am PT.

CORTES COMMUNITY RADIO CKTZ  89.5 out of Manson’s Landing, B.C airs the show Tuesday mornings at 10am Pacific time.

Cowichan Valley Community Radio CICV 98.7 FM serving the Cowichan Lake area of Vancouver Island, BC airs the program Thursdays at 6am pacific time.

Campus and community radio CFMH 107.3fm in  Saint John, N.B. airs the Global Research News Hour Fridays at 10am.

Caper Radio CJBU 107.3FM in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia airs the Global Research News Hour starting Wednesday Morning from 8:00 to 9:00am. Find more details at 


1)  Dwight D. Eisenhower: ”Address Before the General Assembly of the United Nations on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, New York City.,” December 8, 1953. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.;

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75 years later, Japanese Americans recall pain of internment camps


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Seventy-five years ago on Sunday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which authorized the imprisonment of Japanese Americans.

by Melissa Fares

Joyce Nakamura Okazaki was 7 years old in 1942 when her family left their Los Angeles home and reported to a World War Two internment camp for Japanese Americans in California’s remote desert.

She recalls crowded rooms filled with cots and embarrassment that the toilets at Manzanar War Relocation Center had no privacy. “Like Nazi Germany, we Japanese Americans were put into concentration camps,” said Okazaki, now 82, while recognizing that detainees were not killed or tortured.

“We were constantly under threat if we went near the barbed wire fences.”

Seventy-five years ago on Sunday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which authorized the imprisonment of Japanese Americans.

Some 120,000 were held at 10 camps because of fears that Japanese Americans were enemy sympathizers. The United States had entered World War Two after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor about three months earlier.

Photos from the era show their dislocation and loss of freedom: Neatly dressed men in jackets and ties queuing on city streets next to luggage and sacks on their way to camps. A mother cradling a baby as she perches atop a bundle. Dusty and desolate barracks. A detainee driving a tractor in a prison camp field.

To commemorate the period, a year-long exhibition of photos, many by famed photographers Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange, and artifacts opened Friday at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Okazaki’s experience is captured in a photograph of her and her sister in their mother’s embrace at Manzanar, an image preserved in a Library of Congress archive.

Okazaki recalls a life of fear in the camp. “With barbed-wire fences and guard towers and sentries with rifles manning them, you become scared,” she said.

Some Japanese Americans see parallels between the internments and President Donald Trump’s executive order last month banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries.

“How you react to the Muslim ban today is how you would have reacted to the imprisonment of my grandparents and parents 75 years ago,” Representative Mark Takano, whose family was interned in the World War Two-era camps, said in Congress last month.


Former detainee Kanji Sahara recalls arriving at a camp at Santa Anita Park horse racetrack, just a half hour from his Los Angeles home, when he was 8.

“We were told to report to our local Christian church. There were 10 or 15 buses waiting there for us,” Sahara, now 82, said.

“As I got off the bus, I could see rows and rows of horse stables and barracks in the parking lot. That’s where we lived.”

The track was a temporary “assembly center” for more than 18,000 people, including future “Star Trek” actor George Takei.

After six months, Sahara and his family were transported to their permanent camp in Jerome, Arkansas. This time, they traveled by train.

“There were guards at the end of each car and the shades were drawn,” Sahara recalled of the trip.

But life in Jerome was an improvement.

“That’s the first thing I noticed – how many people lived in a barrack in Jerome compared to Santa Anita where we could barely move,” he said.

“I was like, ‘Hey! We’re coming up in the world.’”

Sahara and his family were allowed to leave the camp when he was 11, in 1945. Okazaki and her family left in July 1944. Their families were required to swear a loyalty oath to the United States to regain their freedom.

Okazaki objects to the term internment and prefers incarceration or imprisonment. “I was not an internee because I am a citizen. The definition of internment refers to enemy aliens in time of war,” she said.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill to grant reparations to surviving internees. They received $20,000 and an apology.

Click on to see a related photo essay >>>

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Extremely High Radiation Breaks down Fukushima “Clean-Up Robot” at Damaged Nuclear Reactor


A clean-up mission using a remotely operated robot at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has had to be aborted, as officials feared they could completely lose control of the probe affected by unexpectedly high levels of radiation.

The robot equipped with a high-pressure water pump and a camera designed to withstand up to 1,000 Sieverts of cumulative exposure had been pulled off the inactive Reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex earlier this week, The Japan Times reported Friday, citing the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The device reportedly broke down just two hour into the probe.

The failure led experts to rethink estimated levels of radiation inside the damaged reactor.

While last week TEPCO said it might stand at 530 Sieverts per hour – a dose that can almost instantly kill a human being, following the latest aborted mission a company official has said a reading of up to 600 Sieverts should be “basically correct.”

Even despite the considerable 30-percent margin of error for the revised estimate, the latest probe left no doubt that radiation levels are at record highs within the reactor. Even though it cannot be measured directly with a Geiger counter or dosimeter, the dose is calculated by its effect on the equipment.

Last month, a hole of no less than one square meter in size was discovered beneath the same reactor’s pressure vessel. The apparent opening in the metal grating is believed to have been caused by melted nuclear fuel, TEPCO then said.

The recent mission has demonstrated that the melted fuel is close to the studied area.

While extreme radiation levels have been registered within the reactor, officials insist that no leaks or increases outside have been detected.

The failure might force Japan to rethink the robot-based strategy it has adopted for locating melted fuel at Fukushima, according to The Japan Times.

The robot affected by radiation was supposed to wash off thick layers of dirt and other wreckage, clearing ways for another remotely controlled probe to enter the area, tasked with carrying out a more proper investigation to assess the state of the damaged nuclear reactor. Previously, even specially-made robots designed to probe the underwater depths beneath the power plant have crumbled and shut down affected by the radioactive substance inside the reactor.

Fukushima reactor’s radiation levels killed a cleaning robot 

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a blackout and subsequent failure of its cooling systems in March 2011, when it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. Three of the plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns, making the Fukushima nuclear disaster the worst since the Chernobyl catastrophe in Ukraine in 1986. TEPCO is so far in the early stages of assessing the damage, with the decommissioning of the nuclear facility expected to take decades.

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The Fukushima Disaster and the Future of Nuclear Power in Japan

An Interview with Former Prime Minister Kan Naoto


For more than two decades, the global nuclear industry has attempted to frame the debate on nuclear power within the context of climate change: nuclear power is better than any of the alternatives. So the argument went. Ambitious nuclear expansion plans inthe United States and Japan, two of the largest existing markets, and the growth of nuclear power in China appeared to show—superficially at least—that the technology had a future. At least in terms of political rhetoric and media perception, it appeared to be a winning argument. Then came March 11, 2011. Those most determined to promote nuclear power even cited the Fukushima Daiichi accident as a reason for expanding nuclear power: impacts were low, no one died, radiation levels are not a risk. So claimeda handful of commentators in the international (particularly English-language) media.

However,from the start of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi on March 11 2011,the harsh reality of nuclear power was exposed to billions of people across the planet, and in particular to the population of Japan, including the more than 160,000 people displaced by the disaster, many of whom are still unable to return to their homes, and scores of millions more threatened had worst case scenarios occurred. One authoritative voice that has been central to exposing the myth-making of the nuclear industry and its supporters has been that of KanNaoto, Prime Minister in 2011. His conversion from promoter to stern critic may be simple to understand, but it is no less commendable for its bravery. When the survival of half the society you are elected to serve and protect is threatened by a technology that is essentially an expensive way to boil water, then something is clearly wrong. Japan avoided societal destruction thanks in large part to the dedication of workers at the crippled nuclear plant, but also to the intervention of Kan and his staff, and to luck. Had it not been for a leaking pipe into the cooling pool of Unit 4 that maintained sufficient water levels, the highly irradiated spent fuel in the pool, including the entire core only recently removed from the reactor core, would have been exposed, releasing an amount of radioactivity far in excess of that released from the other three reactors. The cascade of subsequent events would have meant total loss of control of the other reactors, including their spent fuel pools and requiring massive evacuation extending throughout metropolitan Tokyo, as Prime Minister Kan feared. That three former Prime Ministers of Japan are not just opposed to nuclear power but actively campaigning against it is unprecedented in global politics and is evidence of the scale of the threat that Fukushima posed to tens of millions ofJapanese.

The reality is thatin terms of electricity share and relative to renewable energy,nuclear power has been in decline globally for two decades.Since the FukushimaDaiichiaccident, this decline has only increased in pace. The nuclear industry knew full well that nuclear power could not be scaled up to the level required to make a serious impact on global emissions. But that was never the point. The industry adopted the climate-change argument as a survival strategy: to ensure extending the life of existing aging reactors and make possible the addition of some new nuclear capacity in the coming decades—sufficient at least to allow a core nuclear industrial infrastructure to survive to mid-century.The dream was to survive to mid-century, when limitless energy would be realized by the deployment of commercial plutonium fast-breeder reactors and other generation IV designs. It was always a myth, but it had a commercial and strategic rationale for the power companies, nuclear suppliers and their political allies.

The basis for the Fukushima Daiichi accident began long before March 11th 2011, when decisions were made to build and operate reactors in a nation almost uniquely vulnerable to major seismic events. More than five years on, the accident continues with a legacy that will stretch over the decades. Preventing the next catastrophic accident in Japan is now a passion of the former Prime Minister, joining as he has the majority of the people of Japan determined to transition to a society based on renewable energy. He is surely correct that the end of nuclear power in Japan is possible. The utilities remain in crisis, with only three reactors operating, and legal challenges have been launched across the nation. No matter what policy the government chooses, the basis for Japan’s entire nuclear fuel cycle policy, which is based on plutonium separation at Rokkasho-mura and its use in the Monju reactor and its fantasy successor reactors, is in a worse state than ever before. But as Kan Naoto knows better than most, this is an industry entrenched within the establishment and still wields enormous influence. Its end is not guaranteed. Determination and dedication will be needed to defeat it. Fortunately, the Japanese people have these in abundance. SB

The Interview 

Q: What is your central message?

Kan: Up until the accident at the Fukushima reactor, I too was confident that since Japanese technology is of high quality, no Chernobyl-like event was possible.

But in fact when I came face to face with Fukushima, I learned I was completely mistaken. I learned first and foremost that we stood on the brink of disaster: had the incident spread only slightly, half the territory of Japan, half the area of metropolitan Tokyo would have been irradiated and 50,000,000 people would have had to evacuate.

Half one’s country would be irradiated, nearly half of the population would have to flee: to the extent it’s conceivable, only defeat in major war is comparable.

That the risk was so enormous: that is what in the first place I want all of you, all the Japanese, all the world’s people to realize.

Q: You yourself are a physicist, yet you don’t believe in the first analysis that people can handle nuclear power? Don’t you believe that there are technical advances and that in the end it will be safe to use?

Kan: As a rule, all technologies involve risk. For example, automobiles have accidents; airplanes, too. But the scale of the risk if an accident happens affects the question whether or not to use that technology. You compare the plus of using it and on the other hand the minus of not using it. We learned that with nuclear reactors, the Fukushima nuclear reactors, the risk was such that 50,000,000 people nearly had to evacuate. Moreover, if we had not used nuclear reactors—in fact, after the incident, there was a period of about two years when we didn’t use nuclear power and there was no great impact on the public welfare, nor any economic impact either. So when you take these factors as a whole into account, in a broad sense there is no plus to using nuclear power. That is my judgment.

One more thing. In the matter of the difference between nuclear power and other technologies, controlling the radiation is in the final analysis extremely difficult.

For example, plutonium emits radiation for a long time. Its half-life is 24,000 years, so because nuclear waste contains plutonium—in its disposal, even if you let it sit and don’t use it—its half-life is 24,000 years, in effect forever. So it’s a very difficult technology to use—an additional point I want to make.

Q: It figured a bit ago in the lecture by Professor Prasser, that in third-generation reactors, risk can be avoided. What is your response?

Kan: It’s as Professor Khwostowa said: we’ve said that even with many nuclear reactors, an event inside a reactor like the Fukushima nuclear accident or a Chernobyl-sized event would occur only once in a million years; but in fact, in the past sixty years, we’ve had Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima. Professor Prasser says it’s getting gradually safer, but in fact accidents have happened with greater frequency and on a larger scale than was foreseen. So partial improvements are possible, as Professor Prasser says, but saying that doesn’t mean that accidents won’t happen. Equipment causes accidents, but so do humans.

Q: Today it’s five years after Fukushima. What is the situation in Japan today? We hear that there are plans beginning in 2018 to return the refugees to their homes. To what extent is the clean-up complete?

Kan: Let me describe conditions on site at Fukushima. Reactors #1, #2, #3 melted down, and the melted nuclear fuel still sits in the containment vessel; every day they introduce water to cool it. Radioactivity in the vessel of #2, they say, is 70 sieverts—not microsieverts or millisieverts, 70 sieverts. If humans approach a site that is radiating 70 sieverts, they die within five minutes. That situation has held ever since: that’s the current situation.

Moreover, the water they introduce leaves the containment vessel and is said to be recirculated, but in fact it mixes with groundwater, and some flows into the ocean. Prime Minister Abe used the words “under control,” but Japanese experts, including me, consider it not under control if part is flowing into the ocean. All the experts see it this way.

As for the area outside the site, more than 100,000 people have fled the Fukushima area.

So now the government is pushing residential decontamination and beyond that the decontamination of agricultural land.

Even if you decontaminate the soil, it’s only a temporary or partial reduction in radioactivity; in very many cases cesium comes down from the mountains, it returns.

The Fukushima prefectural government and the government say that certain of the areas where decontamination has been completed are habitable, so people have until 2018 to return; moreover, beyond that date, they won’t give aid to the people who have fled. But I and others think there’s still danger and that the support should be continued at the same level for people who conclude on their own that it’s still dangerous—that’s what we’re saying.

Given the conditions on site and the conditions of those who have fled, you simply can’t say that the clean-up is complete.

Q: Since the Fukushima accident, you have become a strong advocate of getting rid of nuclear reactors; yet in the end, the Abe regime came to power, and it is going in the opposite direction: three reactors are now in operation. As you see this happening, are you angry?

Kan: Clearly what Prime Minister Abe is trying to do—his nuclear reactor policy or energy policy—is mistaken. I am strongly opposed to current policy.

But are things moving steadily backward? Three reactors are indeed in operation. However, phrase it differently: only three are in operation. Why only three? Most—more than half the people—are still resisting strongly. From now on, if it should come to new nuclear plants, say, or to extending the licenses of existing nuclear plants, popular opposition is extremely strong, so that won’t be at all easy. In that sense, Japan’s situation today is a very harsh opposition—a tug of war—between the Abe government, intent on retrogression, and the people, who are heading toward abolishing nuclear reactors.

Two of Prime Minister Abe’s closest advisors are opposed to his policy on nuclear power.

One is his wife. The other is former Prime Minister Koizumi, who promoted him.

Q: Last question: please talk about the possibility that within ten years Japan will do away with nuclear power.

Kan: In the long run, it will disappear gradually. But if you ask whether it will disappear in the next ten years, I can’t say. For example, even in my own party opinion is divided; some hope to do away with it in the 2030s. So I can’t say whether it will disappear completely in the next ten years, but taking the long view, it will surely be gone, for example, by the year 2050 or 2070. The most important reason is economic. It has become clear that compared with other forms of energy, the cost of nuclear energy is high.

Q: Thank you.

Interview by Vincenzo Capodici

Introduction by Shaun Burnie

Translation by Richard Minear

Tages Anzeiger (Zurich), February 4, 2016

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Open Letter to the Japanese Prime Minister on Eve of Visit to Pearl Harbor


by Dr:Richard Falk

Image result for Shinzo Abe CARTOON

[Prefatory Note: The press release and open letter to the Japanese Prime Minister concern the complex issues surrounding the ethos and politics of apology. I would have liked the statement to include an acknowledgement of accountability by the U.S. Government. President Barack Obama, several months ago, took a step in that direction by his visit to Hiroshima, the first sitting American president to do so, but he deliberately avoided language that could be construed as an apology, representing the event as ‘a tragedy’ of warfare, which it was of course, but it was also a flagrant violation of the laws of war due to the indiscriminate nature of the weaponry and an act of war that defied the prohibition of customary international law on violence that cannot be justified by ‘military necessity. Yet the open letter as it reads is primarily an initiative emanating from Japan, in worried reaction to the moves of Prime Minister Abe to disvalue, and if politically possible, abandon the constitutional provisions adopted after World War II to ensure that Japan would not again victimize itself and its neighbors by a revival of militarism in the future. That assurance is now in jeopardy. I am proud to be among the signatories. The full list follows the Japanese original version of the open letter, issued on Christmas Day. The letter is preceded by a press release also released today.]


Sunday, December 25, 2016

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Abe Calls for Clarification of His Understanding of the Asia-Pacific War

Washington, DC/Tokyo, Japan (December 25, 2016) – 53 international scholars, artists, and activists sent an Open Letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the eve of his upcoming visit to Pearl Harbor.

The signers include Oliver Stone, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, his co-author of “The Untold History of the United States” Peter Kuznick of American University, Richard Falk of Princeton University, Tetsuya Takahashi of the University of Tokyo, Lim Jie-Hyun of Sogang University (Korea), Shue Tuck Wong of Simon Fraser University (Canada), and Gavan McCormack of Australian National University.

Assessing the Prime Minister’s statements about the war, the signers ask whether he still doubts that Japan’s Asia-Pacific War was a war of aggression. They ask whether he has plans to visit China, Korea, other Asia-Pacific nations and other Allied nations to “mourn” the major victims of Japan’s war.

As Peter Kuznick comments, “Unlike Germany, Japan has never made a sincere effort to deal with or atone for its wartime atrocities that resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people. Prime Minister Abe has been in the forefront of efforts to whitewash Japanese history. We hope he will take this opportunity to once and for all correct that shameful record.”

As Mark Selden of Cornell University observes, “The time has come to lay to rest the denial of wartime responsibility and war atrocities by Japan and other nations to reduce frictions in an Asia-Pacific region that is experiencing rising conflicts.”


 Oliver Stone and internatonal scholars and activists send an Open Letter to Prime Minister Abe on the eve of his Pearl Harbor visit

53 international scholars, artists, and activists sent an Open Letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the eve of his upcoming visit to Pearl Harbor. See below English and Japanese versions, followed by the list of signers.

USS Arizona Memorial, which Mr. Abe plans to visit.

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe 

On the Occasion of Your Visit to Pearl Harbor 

December 25, 2016

Dear Mr. Abe,

You recently announced plans to visit Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i at the end of December 2016 to “mourn the victims” of the Japanese Navy’s attack on the U.S. naval base on December 8, 1941 (Tokyo Time).

In fact, Pearl Harbor was not the only place Japan attacked that day. The Japanese Army had attacked the northeastern shore of the Malay Peninsula one hour earlier and would go on to attack several other British and U.S. colonies and bases in the Asia-Pacific region later that day. Japan launched these attacks in order to secure the oil and other resources of Southeast Asia essential to extend its war of aggression against China.

Since this will be your first official visit to the place where Japan’s war against the United States began, we would like to raise the following questions concerning your previous statements about the war.

1) You were Deputy Executive Director of the “Diet Members’ League for the 50th Anniversary of the End of War,” which was established at the end of 1994 in order to counter parliamentary efforts to pass a resolution to critically reflect upon Japan’s aggressive war. Its Founding Statement asserts that Japan’s more than two million war-dead gave their lives for “Japan’s self-existence and self-defense, and peace of Asia.” The League’s Campaign Policy statement of April 13, 1995 rejected offering any apology or issuing the no-war pledge included in the parliamentary resolution to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of war. The League’s public statement of June 8, 1995 declared that the majority parties’ resolution draft was unacceptable because it admitted Japan’s “behaviors of aggression” and “colonial rule.” Mr. Abe, do you still hold such views about the war?

2) In the Diet questioning period of April 23, 2013, you as Prime Minister stated that “the definition of what constitutes ‘aggression’ has yet to be established in academia or in the international community.” Does that mean that you do not recognize Japan’s war against the Allied and Asia-Pacific nations and the preceding war against China as wars of aggression?

3) You state that you are going to visit Pearl Harbor to “mourn” the 2,400 Americans who perished in the attack. If that is the case, will you also be visiting China, Korea, other Asia-Pacific nations, or the other Allied nations for the purpose of “mourning” war victims in those countries who number in the tens of millions?

As Prime Minister, you have pressed for Constitutional revision including reinterpretation and revision of Article 9 to allow Japanese Self-Defense Forces to fight anywhere in the world. We ask that you reflect on the signal this sends to nations that suffered at Japan’s hands in the Asia-Pacific War.

(The list of signers follows the Japanese version.)









1) あなたは、1994年末に、日本の侵略戦争を反省する国会決議に対抗する目的で結成された「終戦五十周年議員連盟」の事務局長代理を務めていました。その結成趣意書には、日本の200万余の戦没者が「日本の自存自衛とアジアの平和」のために命を捧げたとあります。この連盟の1995年4月13日の運動方針では、終戦50周年を記念する国会決議に謝罪や不戦の誓いを入れることを拒否しています。1995年6月8日の声明では、与党の決議案が「侵略的行為」や「植民地支配」を認めていることから賛成できないと表明しています。安倍首相、あなたは今でもこの戦争についてこのような認識をお持ちですか。

2) 2013年4月23日の国会答弁では、首相として「侵略の定義は学界的にも国際的にも定まっていない」と答弁しています。ということは、あなたは、連合国およびアジア太平洋諸国に対する戦争と、すでに続行していた対中戦争を侵略戦争とは認めないということでしょうか。

3) あなたは、真珠湾攻撃で亡くなった約2400人の米国人の「慰霊」のために訪問するということです。それなら、中国や、朝鮮半島、他のアジア太平洋諸国、他の連合国における数千万にも上る戦争被害者の「慰霊」にも行く予定はありますか。



  1. [endif]Ikuro Anzai, Professor Emeritus, Ritsumeikan University 安斎育郎、立命館大学名誉教授
  1. [endif]Herbert P. Bix, emeritus professor of history and sociology, Binghamton University, SUNY ハーバート・P・ビックス、ニューヨーク州立大学ビンガムトン校歴史学・社会学名誉教授
  1. Peter van den Dungen, Formerly, Lecturer in Peace Studies, University of Bradford, UK, and general coordinator of the International Network of Museums for Peace ピーター・バン・デン・デュンゲン、元ブラッドフォード大学(英国)平和学教員、世界平和博物館ネットワーク総括コーディネーター
  1. Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut アレクシス・ダディン、コネチカット大学歴史学教授
  1. Richard Falk, Albert G. Professor of International Law and Practice, Emeritus, Princeton University リチャード・フォーク、プリンストン大学国際法名誉教授
  1. John Feffer, Director, Foreign Policy In Focus, ジョン・フェッファー、「フォーリン・ポリシー・イン・フォーカス」ディレクター
  1. Norma Field, Professor emerita, University of Chicago ノーマ・フィールド、シカゴ大学名誉教授
  1. Kay Fischer, Instructor, Ethnic Studies, Chabot Collegeケイ・フィッシャー、シャボット・カレッジ(カリフォルニア州)講師
  1. Atsushi Fujioka, Emeritus Professor, Ritsumeikan University 藤岡惇、立命館大学名誉教授
  1. Joseph Gerson (PhD), Vice-President, International Peace Bureau ジョセフ・ガーソン、国際平和ビューロー副会長
  1. Geoffrey C. Gunn, Emeritus, Nagasaki University ジェフリー・C・ガン、長崎大学名誉教授
  1. Kyung Hee Ha, Assistant Professor, Meiji University 河庚希、明治大学特任講師
  1. 1Laura Hein, Professor, Northwestern University ローラ・ハイン、ノースウェスタン大学教授(米国シカゴ)

14.Hirofumi Hayashi, Professor, Kanto Gakuin University 林博史、関東学院大学教授

  1. Katsuya Hirano, Associate Professor of History, UCLA平野克弥、カリフォルニア大学ロスアンゼルス校准教授
  1. IKEDA Eriko, Chair of the Board, Women’s  Active  Museum on War  and  Peace(wam) 池田恵理子 アクティブ・ミュージアム「女たちの戦争と平和資料館」(wam)館長
  1. Masaie Ishihara, Professor Emeritus Okinawa International University 石原昌家、沖縄国際大学名誉教授
  1. Paul Jobin, Associate Research Fellow, Academia Sinica, Institute of Sociology

ポール・ジョバン 台湾国立中央研究院社会学研究所 アソシエート・リサーチ・フェロー

  1. John Junkerman, Documentary Filmmaker ジャン・ユンカーマン、ドキュメンタリー映画監督
  1. Nan Kim, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee ナン・キム(金永蘭)、ウィスコンシン大学ミルウォーキー校准教授
  1. KIM Puja, Professor of Gender History, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies金 富子、ジェンダー史、東京外国語大学教授
  1. Akira Kimura, Professor, Kagoshima University 木村朗、鹿児島大学教授

23.Tomomi Kinukawa, Instructor, San Francisco State University絹川知美、サンフランシスコ州立大学講師

  1. Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University ピーター・カズニック、アメリカン大学歴史学教授
  1. Kwon, Heok-Tae, Professor, Sungkonghoe University, Korea 権赫泰(クォン・ヒョクテ)、韓国・聖公会大学教授
  1. Lee Kyeong-Ju, Professor, Inha University (Korea) 李京柱、仁荷大学教授
  1. Miho Kim Lee, Co-founder of Eclipse Rising ミホ・キム・リー、「エクリプス・ライジング」共同創立者
  1. Lim Jie-Hyun, Professor of transnational history, director of Critical Global Studies Institute, Sogang University 林志弦(イム・ジヒョン)、西江大学教授(韓国)
  1. Akira Maeda, Professor, Tokyo Zokei University 前田 朗、東京造形大学教授
  1. Janice Matsumura, Associate Professor of History, Simon Fraser University, Canada ジャニス・マツムラ、サイモンフレイザー大学(カナダ)歴史学准教授

31.Tanya Maus, PhD, Director, Wilmington College Peace Resource Center, Wilmington, Ohio タニア・マウス、ウィルミントン大学(オハイオ州)平和資料センターディレクター

  1. David McNeill, Adjunct Professor, Sophia University デイビッド・マクニール、上智大学非常勤講師
  1. Gavan McCormack, Emeritus Professor, Australian National University ガバン・マコーマック、オーストラリア国立大学名誉教授
  1. Katherine Muzik, Ph.D., marine biologist, Kauai Island キャサリン・ミュージック、海洋生物学者(ハワイ・カウアイ島)
  1. Koichi Nakano, Professor, Sophia University 中野晃一、上智大学教授
  1. NAKANO Toshio, Professor Emeritus, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies中野敏男、社会理論・社会思想、東京外国語大学名誉教授
  1. Narusawa Muneo, Editor, Weekly Kinyobi, 成澤宗男、『週刊金曜日』編集部
  1. Satoko Oka Norimatsu, Editor, Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 乗松聡子、『アジア太平洋ジャーナル:ジャパンフォーカス』エディター
  1. John Price, Professor of History, University of Victoria, Canada ジョン・プライス、ビクトリア大学(カナダ)歴史学教授
  1. Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus, Brown University (U.S.A.) Veteran, United States Armyスティーブ・ラブソン、ブラウン大学(米国)名誉教授 米国陸軍退役軍人
  1. Sonia Ryang, Director, Chao Center for Asian Studies, Rice University ソニア・リャン、ライス大学(テキサス州)チャオ・アジア研究センターディレクター
  1. Daiyo Sawada, Emeritus Professor, University of Alberta ダイヨウ・サワダ、アルバータ大学名誉教授
  1. Mark Selden, Senior Research Associate, East Asia Program, Cornell University マーク・セルダン、コーネル大学東アジア研究プログラム上級研究員
  1. Oliver Stone, Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker オリバー・ストーン、アカデミー賞受賞映画監督
  1. Tetsuya Takahashi, Professor, University of Tokyo 高橋哲哉、東京大学教授
  1. Nobuyoshi Takashima, Professor Emeritus, the University of Ryukyus 高嶋伸欣、琉球大学名誉教授
  1. Akiko Takenaka, Associate Professor of Japanese History, University of Kentucky竹中晶子、ケンタッキー大学准教授
  1. Wesley Ueunten, Associate Professor, Asian American Studies Department, San Francisco State University ウェスリー・ウエウンテン、サンフランシスコ州立大学アジア・アメリカ研究学部准教授
  1. Aiko Utsumi, Professor Emeritus, Keisen University内海愛子、恵泉女学園大学名誉教授
  1. Shue Tuck Wong, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University シュエ・タク・ウォング、サイモンフレーザー大学(カナダ)名誉教授
  1. Yi Wu, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Clemson University イー・ウー、クレムゾン大学社会学・人類学部助教授
  1. Tomomi Yamaguchi, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Montana State University 山口智美、モンタナ州立大学人類学准教授
  1. Lisa Yoneyama, Professor, University of Toronto リサ・ヨネヤマ、トロント大学教授

Posted in JapanComments Off on Open Letter to the Japanese Prime Minister on Eve of Visit to Pearl Harbor

The World Should Remember the Nanjing Massacre (December 13 1937- January 1938)

Historical Justice and Morality: The World Should Remember the Nanjing Massacre (December 13 1937- January 1938)
December 13 marks the 3rd national commemoration of the Nanjing Massacre. Through the commemoration, also known as Nanjing Ji, Chinese people hope to, together with the rest of the world, remember the estimated 300,000 Chinese massacred during a six-week period 79 years ago by the imperial Japanese Army.

The annual event aims to engrave the dark days in the memory of Asia and the rest of the world for sustained peace.

The world has had a deeper recognition of the Nanjing Massacre over the past few years, thanks to a series of events. Besides the National Memorial Day, the historical documents of the Nanjing Massacre have been listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, and a series of exhibitions were also held around the world.

All those measures helped more people learn the truth about the Nanjing Massacre, one of the biggest massacres during World War II.

“World War II, indeed, started in China. The Chinese people, like all peoples in the war,  including the Japanese people, suffered terribly from this inhumanity,” Stephane Grimaldi, general director of the Caen Memorial, said at an exhibition on the Nanjing Massacre about a month ago.

The growing number of voices like Grimaldi’s shows that after people learn more about the Nanjing Massacre and the Chinese battleground, the world sees World War II with a new perspective.







The Nanjing Massacre was a horrendous crime against humanity and a very dark page in the history of mankind. Though 79 years have passed, history should not be altered with the passing of time, and facts not erased by crafty denials.

Today’s people commemorate the Nanjing Massacre for the purpose of upholding international justice.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly announced days earlier that he will visit Pearl Harbor to mourn the victims of the Japanese surprise attack 75 years ago. Japanese media then suggested he also visit the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing, China.

Media’s response can be better understood after taking Japan’s acts over historic issues into consideration. In recent years, Japan’s right-wing politicians, represented by the Abe government, have been attempting to revise history and turn back the clock.

They, for instance, paid multiple visits to the notorious war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, and even distorted history books, triggering doubts from its neighbors and the international community.

A few months ago, Japan’s education ministry revised some junior high school history textbook passages on Japan’s war atrocities, in which it whitewashed its war crimes by deleting its maleficence in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.

It is difficult to comprehend Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor as a true “historical trip.” Some said the Japanese government is using this friendly measure to relieve its historical burden from its alliance with the US, and serve its own strategic agenda.

Whether the strategic move succeeds or not, Abe’s opportunistic attitude to history is indeed risky. Historical facts cannot be distorted or forgotten since history is always there, even though some nations do not dare to touch it.

Americans will not forget the Pearl Harbor attack and the Pacific War, Southeast Asian nations will remember the ruin caused by Japanese invaders, and Chinese people will engrave the suffering brought about by Japanese militarists in their minds as well.

Japan has to be honest about its wartime aggression, which is a complete period of history, not a few sections for it to choose from. Recognizing history can neither be Japan’s strategic card nor diplomatic move.

History sheds light on the future. Remembering the Nanjing Massacre is about morality and historical justice. Will Japan shoulder its historic responsibility as war instigator and criminal? The world will be the judge.

Posted in China, JapanComments Off on The World Should Remember the Nanjing Massacre (December 13 1937- January 1938)

Contemporary Political Dynamics Of Japanese Nationalism


This essay examines why nationalism seems to be on the rise in Asia and beyond at a time when globalization is also becoming more salient, by focusing on the political dynamics that propelled both changes in Japan in the post-Cold War era. The more open and liberal type of nationalism that appeared in Japan in the 1980s to the mid-1990s was followed by an abrupt revisionist backlash beginning in the late 1990s. This illiberal, authoritarian turn in contemporary nationalism was confirmed and accelerated during the premiership of Koizumi Jun’ichiro (2001-06), when further neoliberal reforms were simultaneously implemented. I argue that the New Right transformation of Japanese politics –the combined ascendancy of economic liberalism and political illiberalism—is the driving force of contemporary nationalism in Japan.

Jingoism and Revisionism

According to annual surveys conducted by the Cabinet Office, in recent years negative sentiments vis-à-vis China and South Korea have risen sharply in Japan. The 2014 survey revealed that 93% per cent of the Japanese respondents have negative sentiments towards China, as it appears to be a growing threat to Japan. The rise took place in two stages, first in the mid-2000s, during the government of Koizumi, when he made annual pilgrimages to Yasukuni Shrine that derailed bilateral relations, and then further in the early 2010s as tensions rose over the Senkaku/Diaoyu territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

Regarding Japanese sentiments vis-à-vis South Korea, there was a sharp drop in positive feelings in 2012 as bilateral relations deteriorated following President Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Takeshima/Dokdo islets also subject to competing claims of sovereignty similar to the standoff with China, allegedly out of frustration with the lack of progress in dealing with the “comfort women” (the women who were subjected to sexual slavery in wartime military brothels at the behest of Japanese military authorities) issue. The same 2014 Cabinet Office survey indicates that 66.4 per cent of Japanese harbor negative sentiments towards South Korea.

Considering the fact that negative sentiments against China were consistently around 20 per cent until the June 4th Incident in 1989, while those against South Korea less than 40 per cent until as recently as 2011, these are worrisome developments that raise concerns about the future of Northeast Asia.

Moreover, a study of influential conservative monthly magazines, Shokun! and Seiron, also confirms similar trends of growing antipathy in the media. Articles with titles that include such words as han-nichi (anti-Japan), invariably in relation to China and Korea, dramatically increased in the late 1990s, and continued to rise sharply through the 2000s (Jomaru, 2011, 390-392). The popular Manga Ken Kanryu (Hating the Korean Wave Manga) published in 2005 broke the hate-mongering taboo, and spawned a countless number of similar publications, whose principal message was hatred of Korea and China. Today, sensationalist books and magazines that fan anti-China and/or anti-Korea sentiments have become an alarmingly ubiquitous feature of Japanese bookstores, and indeed, commuter trains, where the adverts of populist weeklies persistently exhibit hate messages targeting these two nations.


Zaitokukai Demonstrations Target ethnic Koreans in Japan

While there has been no violence or riots against the Chinese or the Koreans in Japan in recent years, hate demonstrations against the Zainichi Korean population have become a prominent social issue, particularly since the establishment of Zaitokukai (short hand for Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai, Citizens’ Group Against Special Rights for Koreans in Japan in 2007. “Ordinary” Japanese, who previously were content to consume hate-mongering publications and spread jingoistic messages on the Internet against the Zainichi population subsequently took to the streets and spewed invective while terrorizing ethnic Korean permanent residents of Japan (Noma 2013; Sakamoto 2011). Zainichi are targeted based on groundless beliefs that they are accorded special privileges and because they are the collateral damage of worsening relations with South Korea over unresolved historical grievances and clashing territorial claims, anger over North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals, and anxieties generated by Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons program.

Secondly, there has been a spectacular ascent of historical revisionism in mainstream politics and media. The sharp rise in hate-mongering articles in conservative media mentioned above was directly triggered by reports in 1996 that all Ministry of Education approved history textbooks for use in junior high schools from 1997 included references to “comfort women.” In a virulent reaction to this development, revisionist nationalists in politics and in the media launched an organized revisionist counterattack. Revisionists champion an exculpatory and valorizing narrative of Japan’s wartime actions and seek to revise the prevailing mainstream consensus that they condemn as ‘masochistic’ for being too critical of Japan’s conduct.

Thus, in January 1997, Tsukurukai (short hand name for Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho o Tsukurukai, Japan Society for History Textbook Reform) was launched by rightwing media figures and academics, while in February, the late Nakagawa Shoichi and Abe Shinzo led a group of junior revisionist politicians to launch the Young Parliamentarians Association that Consider Japan’s Future and History Education, and in May, Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi) was established as a powerful lobby group that brought together neonationalist intellectuals and business leaders with the religious right (Shintoist groups as well as new religions). Nippon Kaigi also has a parliamentary arm with members mostly hailing from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the party that has dominated Japanese politics since it was established in 1955. This flowering of the revisionist movement on multiple fronts came to a head in 1997. From the very beginning, such rightwing/conservative media conglomerates as Fuji-Sankei group (that publishes Seiron as well as Sankei newspaper) and Bungei Shunju (that used to publish Shokun! among others) provided a media platform for these concerted efforts (Tawara 1997; Sasagase et al 2015; McNeill 2015).

Although serious scholars in the late 1990s dismissed revisionist claims as baseless, and in conflict with available evidence, by the time Abe succeeded Koizumi as Prime Minister in 2006, all reference to the “comfort women” disappeared from the main texts of the government-approved textbooks.

One key point that needs to be made at this juncture is that these two phenomena—jingoism and revisionism—are essentially elite-driven processes rather than reflecting grassroots sentiments or public opinion. Political and media elites took the lead in fanning negative sentiments against Japan’s neighbors, often, of course, in response to what they considered to be provocations by their Chinese and Korean counterparts. However, when we look at the chronology of these developments, it is evident that xenophobia among the Japanese people was instigated by the political and media elites

While it is entirely appropriate to ask in what sense the “top-down” xenophobia (anti-China and anti-Korea sentiments in particular) and historical revisionism discussed here constitute “nationalism,” these are clearly worrisome trends that stoke risings tension between Japan and its East Asian neighbors, where anti-Japanese sentiments are a touchstone of “nationalism.”

Neo/liberal Path to Nationalism

The rise of contemporary nationalism since the late 1990s is all the more curious once we consider how it all came about in the first place. After all, Japan was seemingly set on a steady path to neoliberal internationalism since the 1980s.

Image Revisionists seek to rehabilitate the inglorious wartime past

When the Basic Treaty with South Korea was signed in 1965, the Joint Communiqué noted the “regrets” (ikan) and “deep remorse” (fukaku hansei) expressed by the Japanese side and similarly, when diplomatic ties between the People’s Republic of China and Japan were established in 1972, the Joint Communiqué stated that, “The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself” (sekinin wo tsukanshi, fukaku hansei suru) (Hattori 2015, 9-10; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 1972).

While leaders of the countries at the time considered these expressions sufficient and appropriate, the issue of war memory gained in salience and became a diplomatic issue in the shape of the history textbook controversy that erupted in 1982 over alleged changes in the wording of Japanese descriptions of its invasion of China (that turned out to be incorrect). In response, Japan issued the 1982 Miyazawa Statement on History Textbooks by Chief Cabinet Secretary Miyazawa Kiichi noting that the “spirit in the Japan-ROK Joint Communiqué and the Japan-China Joint Communiqué naturally should also be respected in Japan’s school education and government textbook authorization. Recently, however, the Republic of Korea, China, and others have been criticizing some descriptions in Japanese textbooks. From the perspective of building friendship and goodwill with neighboring countries, Japan will pay due attention to these criticisms and make corrections at the Government’s responsibility” (Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan 1982).

This led to the adoption of the so-called “neighboring countries” clause in the Ministry of Education criteria for textbook approval that stipulates that “due consideration should be made from the point of view of international understanding and international cooperation when dealing with modern history issues that involve neighboring Asian countries.” Improvements have since been made in history textbooks, but in contemporary Japan this clause is hotly contested by the revisionist right; by 2015 PM Abe has all but abandoned it.

On August 15, 1985, marking the 40th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, then Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro paid an official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. The Chinese government protested his visit, noting that the Class-A war criminals that were found guilty of orchestrating Japan’s rampage in Asia are enshrined there. By 1986, Nakasone decided to suspend future visits to the shrine in consideration of the Chinese criticisms and subsequently admonished Prime Minister Koizumi not to visit, arguing that doing so undermines national interests.

What is crucial to understand here is that Northeast Asia, and indeed, the whole world, was going through a period of liberal opening in the 1980s as the Cold War was nearing its end. China embarked on its extensive economic reforms in 1978, and they were further accelerated by the mid-1980s. This led to a somewhat more pluralistic society and political leadership—a country that was now rather different from the time when Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai held power. Similarly, the democratization movement was flaring up in Korea throughout the 1980s, resulting in the June 29 Declaration of democratization in 1987, as the military dictators lost their grip on power. Even in the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985 and began the process of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (opening, transparency) that ushered in the dissolution of the Soviet Union. China, however, crushed the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement in 1989 as its leaders resorted to violence in a bid to prevent a Soviet-type scenario, deny popular demands for representative government and preserve the communist party’s monopoly of power. These developments indicate that even in authoritarian regimes, the government was no longer able to fully control popular demands and address public concerns, and that their polities were becoming more pluralistic, and thus, less stable.

It was in this context that Japan under Nakasone was also pushing through neoliberal reforms with the professed ambition to play a stronger leadership role in the liberal economic order. Japan was part of the 1985 Plaza Accord that triggered the rapid appreciation of the yen (which in turn unleashed the bubble economy in Japan), and a key participant in the Uruguay Round of multinational trade negotiations since 1986. Following the June 4th Incident, Japan joined the western sanctions against China, but it also became the first country to lift them, with Prime Minister Kaifu Toshiki visiting Beijing in 1991, followed by the Emperor’s visit in 1992.

Beyond the economy, the 1990-91 Persian Gulf Crisis tested Japan’s liberal internationalist orientation as Iraq invaded Kuwait. Japan’s “checkbook diplomacy,” contributing $13 billion towards the coalition campaign but committing no troops, drew U.S. criticism for ducking the risks of combat due to constitutional constraints on its military forces. As the Cold War was coming to an end, there was growing pressure from the U.S. and its European allies for Japan to play a leadership role not merely in the global economy, but also in the security arena. Overcoming strong political opposition, the government succeeded in enacting the Peacekeeping Operation Law in 1992 allowing the dispatch of military forces in UN-sanctioned peacekeeping efforts.

Japanese political leaders at the time, including the nationalist Nakasone, thought that Japan’s prestige would benefit significantly from military normalization. They also understood that reconciliation with the former victims of Japan’s militarist past, most particularly, China and South Korea, was an absolute prerequisite to realize those ambitions. This is why they were prepared to go a long way in trying to come to grips with the past. It is possible to say that even ardent nationalist sentiments during this period displayed distinctly liberal characteristics.

Thus, when the first victim of Japan’s comfort women system appeared in front of the TV cameras in 1991 calling for the Japanese state to assume its responsibility, the government conducted an investigation including interviews with former comfort women that led to the 1993 Kono Statement (Kono Yohei was Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan in 1993) and subsequently established the Asian Women’s Fund in 1995 to provide redress to these aging victims. Also in 1993, Prime Minister Hosokawa Morihiro became the first Japanese prime minister to publicly acknowledge that Japan was engaged in a “war of aggression” in the Second World War (Hosokawa 2010, pp. 30-31). This liberal trends regarding war responsibility culminated in the Murayama Statement of 1995 acknowledging and apologizing for Japanese wartime aggression (Murayama Tomiichi was the socialist Prime Minister in 1995 in a coalition government with the LDP).

Illiberal, Revisionist Turn

The liberal opening up of societies around the world continued in the post-Cold War era, and it seemed as if the vexing history issues that emerged were going to be resolved by the same liberal political elites. Liberalization of political systems, however, also meant that liberal elites were no longer in full control of social demands, or in fact, even of government policies. The quest for international reconciliation over history issues turned into an unpredictable process involving multiple actors that are not neatly divided across national lines. As mentioned in section 1 above, certain political and media elites manipulated anti-China/anti-Korea sentiments and historical revisionism for their own purposes from the late 1990s. Indeed, nationalists’ grandstanding in the late 1990s onward has intensified tensions across borders, reinforcing nationalist discourse in their respective countries at the expense of moderates.

Several different factors coalesced to further the illiberal, revisionist turn. First, after more than fifty years since WWII, the late 1990s saw a rapid generational turnover among political elites, with those with direct personal experience of the war replaced by younger politicians with no such experience who were building political careers in the post-Cold War era in which there was no apparent rival ideology to neoliberalism. In many cases, they were also born and raised in privilege as hereditary scions of political dynasties. These new elites often opposed expressions of war guilt and contrition, and disavowed the reconciliation initiatives of previous generations. They are also prone to exhibit a rather more cynical, neoliberal worldview, according to which self-interested actors vie to get ahead at the expense of each other in domestic politics as well as international relations.

Tellingly, while Miyazawa in 1991 was the first postwar prime minister to hail from a political dynasty (he had also served as an elite bureaucrat like many of his predecessors), since 1996 to date no less than seven of the ten prime ministers came from political dynasties.2 The oligarchic tendency becomes even more striking when one considers the fact that of these hereditary prime ministers, Abe, Fukuda Yasuo, Asō Tarō, and Hatoyama Yukio are, in fact, sons or grandsons of postwar prime ministers. While not all of the hereditary politicians share a revisionist outlook, their predominance, particularly at the very top, does point to the emergence of a privileged ruling class. In fact, it is highly ironic that in Northeast Asia, where “nationalism” has raised regional tensions to unprecedented levels, Japan and its neighbors, China, South Korea, and North Korea, are all currently led by hereditary politicians.

Significantly, the rightward political shift in Japan in the 21st century coincides with economic decline, creating a volatile context for a rising tide of nationalism. Japan faces prolonged economic stagnation, relative decline, and mushrooming public debt, in addition to growing disparities between rich and poor that undermine the norms and values that have been a foundation of postwar national cohesion. In other words, the oligarchic political tendency is also evident in the economic sphere, in a country known for, and proud of, its egalitarian society. Insecurity and precarity hit the lower strata of society and youth especially hard, leading to increased suicide, divorce, non-marriage, deflation and lower productivity because firms no longer invest in training disposable workers. In this acute social crisis, political leaders sought to divert attention to “external enemies.”


poster for the Rally Against Precarity

Again, on this front Japan was not alone or unique, as the predominance of neoliberal economic policies everywhere meant that the social fabric was torn apart as oligarchic governments often lacked the fiscal resources, or indeed political will, to ensure minimum standards of national wellbeing. “Nationalism” or xenophobic campaigns provided a “no-cost” alternative to provision of adequate social security, enabling the ruling elites to dodge their responsibilities and offer a false sense of national unity that elided the marginalization and expansion of the “have-nots.” As Dr. Samuel Johnson famously remarked as early as 1775, patriotism is ‘the last refuge of a scoundrel’ while in contemporary Japan it constitutes conservatives’ palliative for what ails the nation.

Last, but not least, these processes were accelerated by neoliberal internationalist policy orientation that we noted earlier. There are four key elements in this process. First, since the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) electoral system was introduced in 1994, the LDP became a much more centralized party. Diversity of internal opinions that used to moderate (or dilute, depending on one’s point of view) the overall party stance, and thus, offered a thriving environment for consensus-seeking moderates, was replaced by the predominance of uncompromising conservatives with extreme views. Second, electoral system reform was soon followed by administrative reform that centralized power in the prime minister’s office. This confluence of developments facilitated the emergence of a “top-down” style of governance that was inspired by the neoliberal, corporate model. Third, electoral system reform and the party realignment that ensued brought about the demise of the Left, namely the Japan Socialist Party, that used to provide effective opposition and served as a check on the reactionary inclinations of LDP governments. When Murayama, the Socialist prime minister, stepped down in 1996, moderates in the LDP also lost their pivotal position in the evolving coalition politics. Fourth, by 1998, it became evident that the new main rival for the LDP-led government was the neoliberal Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ); overall, these rivals for power occupy the same ideological niche. After Prime Minister Obuchi Keizō failed to spend his way out of economic stagnation, a new neoliberal consensus emerged between the DPJ and Koizumi’s LDP that signaled the beginning of an era of ideational politics. This marked the end of the era of interest politics in Japan, when the government had ample resources to satisfy its supporters and silence opponents. The ideas, ideologies, and identities that the LDP would effectively mobilize in the new era were nationalistic, revisionist, and even xenophobic to a degree.

The late 1990s thus served as a transition period when these changes in the illiberal, revisionist direction were emerging, but it was not until the 2000s under Koizumi that these changes accelerated.

Xenophobia, Revisionism, and Authoritarianism under Koizumi and Abe

While there is no denying Koizumi’s strong charisma and mastery of political theatrics, it would be a mistake to overlook the institutional underpinning that was put into place by his predecessors in analyzing the sources of his effectiveness as a political leader. Koizumi was fortunate in being able to make use of the newly concentrated power afforded him as the leader of the LDP and as prime minister to marginalize critics, promote loyal followers, and propel his agenda. His neoliberal agenda of “structural reform with no sacred cows” was not always popular within the party, but he shrewdly made up for it by fanning and exploiting “nationalistic” sentiments. His annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine were a case in point. There is no record of interest on his part in Yasukuni before or after he served as prime minister (unlike Abe, who deeply cares about it). Koizumi nevertheless claimed that the visits were a matter of his “heart” and dismissed Chinese and Korean criticisms as domestic interference. He thus shrewdly invoked nationalist symbols to appear as a resolute leader and advance his economic program, a marked contrast to PM Abe who invokes economic reform to divert criticism from his revisionist agenda targeting wartime history and the constitution along with ramping up Japan’s security profile.

Koizumi’s “Children”-1st time elected politicians-obediently follow him to Yasukuni Shrine

The hardcore nationalists, who disliked Koizumi’s privatization and deregulation reforms that they viewed as a sellout to U.S. corporate interests, nevertheless cheered him as he stubbornly refused to cave in to Chinese and Korean criticisms and continued to visit Yasukuni (Nakano 2006, 403). The New Right technique Koizumi employed replicates Margaret Thatcher’s mobilization of nationalist support for the Falklands War when her monetarist economic policies were proving deeply unpopular in the early 1980s. Ultimately, as Koizumi’s signature reform project of postal privatization encountered stiff opposition from within the LDP, he took the unusually authoritarian route of firing uncooperative ministers from the cabinet, expelling from the party Diet members opposed to his scheme, and called a snap election for the lower house to counter the upper house’s rejection of his bill. Such a move on his part would not have been possible without the centralized power conferred on him by the political and administrative reforms of the 1990s.

One should note here also that under Koizumi there was a decisive shift away from the internationalist foreign policy orientation that Japan adopted since the 1980s. The Koizumi premiership in Japan overlapped with the presidency of George W. Bush in the U.S. In a striking departure from prevailing assumptions that Japan needs to reconcile with China and Korea as a pre-condition for military normalization, Koizumi even went so far as to claim that “There is no such thing as U.S.-Japan relationship that is too close. Some people maintain that maybe we should pay more attention to other issues and that it would probably be better to strengthen relations with other countries. I do not share such views. The U.S.-Japan relationship, the closer, more intimate it is, the easier it is for us to establish better relations with China, with South Korea, and other nations in Asia” (Prime Minister of Japan 2005). The Bush Administration perceived Koizumi’s instrumental use of revisionism as “healthy nationalism” allowing Japan to assume a greater, if subordinate, military role in the alliance framework, damaging the prospects for reconciliation with its former victims.

Given the loss of economic opportunities, however, the Japanese business community ensured that when Koizumi finally stepped down, his successor, Abe, would work to rebuild Japan’s ties with China by refraining from visiting Yasukuni Shrine. Abe duly acted pragmatically at the time (though he later said that he regretted not having visited Yasukuni as prime minister), and in any case, his first stint at the premiership lasted only for a year as he suffered a humiliating upper house election defeat in 2007 at the hands of the then ascendant DPJ. Within that year, however, Abe changed the Basic Law on Education to include “love of country” as a goal of education, upgraded the Defense Agency to a full-fledged ministry, and set the rules for conducting an eventual referendum for constitutional revision.

When Abe returned to power in December 2012, he faced a rather different set of political conditions. The rival DPJ suffered a catastrophic defeat, while there were a couple of new parties that were positioning themselves even further to the right of the LDP on many issues and were indeed willing to collaborate to advance this agenda. Abe also successfully silenced potential dissent from big business by giving a boost to stock prices with the reflationary policies of “Abenomics,” devaluing the yen to make Japanese exports more competitive, and advocating restarts of Japan’s idled nuclear reactors.

Abe also gained the enthusiastic backing of the Sankei and Yomiuri newspapers, which acted as media cheerleaders for his policies and pit bulls for his critics. Having suffered from negative media coverage in his first premiership, Abe sought to tighten his grip on the media, placing a trusted henchman with no media experience as the head of Japan’s flagship public broadcaster, NHK.

Once the upper house election of summer 2013 was out of the way, with a handsome victory for Abe’s ruling coalition, he revealed his true colors by setting up the National Security Council, pushing through the highly controversial Designated Secrets Law that gave largely unchecked discretionary power to government officials to designate documents as state secrets, and visiting Yasukuni Shrine on the first year anniversary of his second premiership. In July 2014, he further revised the official government interpretation of the constitution to enable Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense by a mere cabinet decision – something that successive postwar LDP governments had repeatedly acknowledged would require constitutional amendment.

The prospects for revision have been strengthened by Abe’s 2016 electoral victory, but there are no longer doubts about Abe’s real agenda as Abenomics increasingly seems to have promised more than it has delivered and, because its main success is boosting stock market prices, critics dismiss it as welfare for the wealthy. Abe has also tried to position himself as an advocate for womenomics, but here again the rhetoric exceeds the reality. He reshuffled his cabinet in September 2014 with his media spin masters emphasizing the record number of five women ministers (plus a woman policy chief for the LDP)3, but nearly all of these women politicians were better known for their far-right revisionist views than for their feminist policy orientation. Indeed, Yamatani Eriko (National Police and Disaster Management Minister), Takaichi Sanae (Internal Affairs and Communications Minister), and Inada Tomomi (LDP Policy Chief), in particular, were notorious for their anti-feminist and extreme revisionist views, in addition to dubious ties to Neo-Nazi and/or xenophobic activists.

The revisionists launched orchestrated, vitriolic attacks in 2014 against the liberal-leaning Asahi newspaper after it retracted a handful of articles on the “comfort women” from the 1990s that were based in part on false testimony. Abe also seized the opportunity to attack the critical newspaper and served as cheerleader-in-chief even as emboldened extremists issued death threats against a university that employed one of the former Asahi journalists who wrote some of the “comfort women” stories that were not in fact based on the false testimony. This McCarthyism-style campaign by reactionary nationalists threatens press and academic freedoms in Japan while intimidating moderates. (Uemura with Yamaguchi 2015).

When Abe called a snap election in December 2014 to consolidate his hold on power, the LDP’s official campaign pledge included a passage that said, “We shall act to restore Japan’s honor and national interest by presenting firm counterarguments against groundless accusations based on falsehood through external communication to the international community,” a thinly veiled reference to its plan to use the Asahi retraction to challenge the consensus that the “comfort women” were sex slaves (Liberal Democratic Party 2014). This revisionist campaign aims to convey the misleading impression that the whole of the sex slave system was an Asahi fabrication, and rewrite Japan’s shared history with Asia in ways that imperil Japan’s regional interests.

Moreover, Abe pursues this revisionist agenda internationally, as Japanese diplomats in New York sought unsuccessfully to have McGraw-Hill revise its description of the comfort women in an American history textbook (Fackler 2015). This provoked a public relations disaster for Japan and publication of a letter by a group of US-based historians (including eminent scholars such as Carol Gluck and Sheldon Garon) expressing “dismay at recent attempts by the Japanese government to suppress statements in history textbooks both in Japan and elsewhere about the euphemistically named ‘comfort women’ who suffered under a brutal system of sexual exploitation in the service of the Japanese imperial army during World War II” in the newsmagazine of the American Historical Association (Dudden et al. 2015, 33). Since the U.S. government remains firmly opposed to revision of the Kono Statement, Abe and his supporters have conducted hit-and-run attacks against it in the Diet to discredit this mea culpa while denouncing the 1996 UN Coomaraswamy Report on “comfort women” (UN Commission of Human Rights 1996). Revisionists are thus waging a campaign to deny that Japan was responsible for forced recruitment of young women and that the “comfort women” system constituted sexual slavery, again tarnishing the dignity of the nation and its victims.

Choreographing Closer US-Japan Security Ties 2015

Abe’s self-righteous nationalism and strong revisionist streak has alienated neighbors and made Washington increasingly abashed. Even if the Pentagon thinks of Abe as their man in Japan because he has delivered more on America’s longstanding security requests than the rest of Japan’s post-WWII prime minsters combined, he is making himself an awkward partner because nobody can pretend that shirking the burdens of the past is anything but narrow-minded and counterproductive nationalism.

This article is adapted from Nakano Koichi, “Political Dynamics of Contemporary Japanese Nationalism” in Jeff Kingston, ed., Asian Nationalisms Reconsidered (Routledge, 2016).


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1  Neoliberalism refers to a set of “small government” policies, including privatization, deregulation, elimination of trade barriers, and cuts in public expenditure, that generally result in a widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Only Mori Yoshirō (who comes from a family of local politicians) in the LDP, and Kan Naoto and Noda Yoshihiko from the Democratic Party of Japan served as prime ministers despite lacking family connections in national politics. Abe is counted once even though he served on two separate occasions, 2006-07 and 2012- present.

Koizumi’s first cabinet also had five women ministers.

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