Saturday, December 22, 2012

Arrest Over Disaster Debris Disposal Protest in Osaka Was Made by Security Police

It is as if the act of protesting against burning the disaster debris from Iwate in Osaka City were an act of terrorism.

Security Police is the direct descendant of the Special Political Police - a secret police - that had existed until it was finally disbanded by the General Headquarters (GHQ, US occupation force) in 1945.

Something does not add up. Masaki Shimoji, associate professor (public finance) at Hannan University in Osaka who was arrested by this police on December 9 for his October "offense" of disturbing the operation of JR Osaka station, has been detained in jail since his arrest. The first judge denied the prosecutor's request for detention, then the judge was swiftly replaced and the second judge granted the request.

His supposed offense of disturbing the JR Osaka station's operation was to cross the hallway from one exit to another.

Some said the offense was this protest that took place outside one of JR Osaka's exits. (Threatening, isn't it?) But then others quickly pointed out that the place where he and his small group were standing is a public sidewalk, not the JR Osaka station's property.

(Photo from Kingo999 blog, 12/9/2012)

On December 22, Professor Shimoji's colleagues and other university researchers including Constitutional scholars held a press conference, and protested the unfair detention of Shimoji and other activists and demanded the immediate release. In that press conference, it was revealed by one of the professors at Hannai University where Shimoji teaches that the police who arrested him was from the Security Police, and the university officials were complicit and fully cooperative, even without asking to see the search warrant. From this togetter, by someone (a nuclear physicist) watching the press conference video:

流通学部の島教授: 逮捕の事は9日夜知った。下地君とは頻繁に会う間柄ではなかったが10日朝、奥さんと朴さんが説明に行きたいという事だったので取り次いだ。経済学部長、学長、副学長に案内した。

Professor Shima, Faculty of Business [at Hannan University]: I learned about the arrest at night on December 9. I wasn't that close with Shimoji, but his wife and Mr. Park [fellow professor at Hannan] wanted to explain the situation to the school administrators in the morning of December 10, so I introduced them to the head of the Faculty of Economics, University President and Vice President.


It was then just a hunch, but I felt they had known [about the arrest]. They weren't surprised, and received the information quite calmly.


On Wednesday December 19, I asked to meet with the president and vice president, with two others from the support group [for Shimoji]. We asked them about the response group [that I heard the university had set up, regarding the arrest]. They said, "On December 6, two detectives from the Security Police Section 3, and a detective from Matsubara Police Station came, and notified us that the arrest would be made on December 8, and his office would be searched on December 10." The one in charge was an organization related to Matsubara Police.


Then, that information was relayed to the university president at 5PM, and the crisis response management group was set up, they said as a matter of fact. We were tremendously shocked. We don't know why the police had forewarned the university, but the university received a call from them that the arrest would be made on 9th instead. They said "OK".


[When the police came to the university to search Shimoji's office,] they didn't even read the search warrant. The university officials didn't ask for one, didn't even see one. Since it is the year-end, we will press the university in the beginning of January. On the university's website, the message is that of a neutral third party but in reality they are not. Aside from the issue of Shimoji, I am deeply disappointed that the self-governance of the university has deteriorated this much.

Nonetheless, some influential persons on Twitter say it's all Professor Shimoji's fault for "breaking the law". When asked "what law?", they say "Everyone breaks law here and there, to a varying degree, everyday."

This tweet is from Professor Yukio Hayakawa, who has no problem spreading and burning the disaster debris from Tohoku, as long as fear of radioactivity is the reason for opposition:


I wonder if making speeches on the street corners should be protected as freedom of speech and expression. I wonder if the citizens should be allowed to freely choose how to express their opinions. I wonder if the freedom to insist on a particular way of expressing an opinion when there are a variety of other ways should be allowed for the citizens.

I asked the professor, "Then who should decide what type of expression is allowed for the citizens? Government? Police?"

His answer was, "Obey the law."

So, as long as one obeys the law, there's nothing to fear. A recent US court case where the judge threw out the prosecution's case because the law was unjust would totally befuddle the professor.

George Orwell must have based his novels on 2012 post-Fukushima Japan.

(Information gathered from these togetters with links to videos, news articles:,,

Emperor to Minister of Reconstruction on Disaster Debris Disposal: "It Must Be Difficult with Asbestos..."

(CORRECTION: His Majesty's word on asbestos was to the Minister of Reconstruction, not to the Chief Cabinet Secretary, as was in the original title.)

The emperor of Japan continues to be one of very few people in public positions to express genuine concern over the March 11, 2011 disaster and its aftermath. At the one-year anniversary ceremony on March 11, 2012, the emperor spoke about the radiation contamination in Fukushima in a clear, straightforward, and compassionate manner:

"Further, this disaster [earthquake and tsunami] triggered a nuclear power plant accident. People had to evacuate from areas made dangerous by the nuclear accident, where they had lived and worked for many years. In order for them to go back and live safely there, we have a difficult problem of radiation contamination to overcome."

Sankei Shinbun, which has always covered the imperial family in a positive light, has this bit (last paragraph) from the recent luncheon at the imperial palace (12/22/2012):


His Majesty the Emperor and the Crown Prince attended the luncheon at the Imperial Palace with the cabinet ministers including Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. 50 people including the ministers, vice ministers and officials from the Imperial Household Agency attended.


19 ministers were invited, and all attended. The luncheon is a customary one at this time of the year. However, it was unusual this year because the Democratic Party of Japan just lost heavily in the recent Lower House Election, and many ministers including the finance minister Jojima and the education minister Tanaka lost in the election.


Before the luncheon, His Majesty thanked them for their work this year, and said, "I hope you will remain in good health, and your new year will be a good year."


Then they spoke intimately over drinks. After speaking for a few minutes with Prime Minister Noda, His Majesty went to Chief Cabinet Minister Osamu Fujimura, who lost in the election, and thanked him for his work. "You must have been busy as Chief Cabinet Minister." "Please take good care of yourself."


With Minister of Reconstruction Tatsuo Hirano, asbestos in the disaster debris was the topic. After pointing out that asbestos cannot be [easily] measured like radiation, His Majesty said, "Isn't [the disposal of disaster debris that contains asbestos] rather difficult?" Further, His Majesty said, "We should pay attention so that people involved in the disposal won't regret it after they get old."

In the press conference on December 19 for his birthday (December 23), the emperor continued to express his concern and sympathy for people affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami and nuclear disaster:

(Imperial Household Agency's official translation)

Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for all the concern shown me by the people when I underwent heart surgery in February of this year, such as those who came to sign the register books at the Palace and elsewhere during this period. I would also like to thank all the people who continue to wish me well.

A year and nine months has gone by since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the cold, harsh winter is back again in the afflicted areas. There are people who are unable to return to their homes they used to live in because of radioactive contamination, and people who must spend their second winter in temporary housing covered in snow. My heart goes out to all those afflicted. The number of dead or missing at the time of the disaster was reported to be over 18,000, but since then, there have been more than 2,000 disaster-related deaths, bringing the total number of victims to over 20,000. Many who survived the terrible earthquake and tsunami lost their lives because of harsh living conditions where sufficient medical care and other needs could not be provided. I feel this is indeed a tragedy. Recovery and reconstruction efforts in the afflicted areas include radioactive decontamination, removal of possible asbestos-containing debris harmful to health, and other dangerous tasks. Many of these operations pose health risks to those engaged in them, which is of deep concern. The Empress and I observed the radioactive decontamination operation being carried out in the village of Kawauchi in Fukushima Prefecture. The work consisted of climbing onto a roof and hosing away the contamination with water, work requiring great caution and concentration, which could lead to an accident otherwise. I sincerely hope that all operations will be carried out safely.

(In the original Japanese)



Imperial Household Agency translated as if this were a cliche-ridden, politician's speech, with as little "I" as possible. In the original Japanese, it is much more personal; I could interpret that every single sentence is about how he thinks and feels. When he says "Many who survived the terrible earthquake and tsunami lost their lives because of harsh living conditions where sufficient medical care and other needs could not be provided", it is a harsh criticism of what the government did (rather, did not do) after the disaster. Not to mention describing decontamination and disaster debris disposal as "dangerous".

DPJ Leadership Election: Banri Kaieda Says He Will Enter, Willing to Run Personal Risk for the Sake of the Party

Literally, he says he will pick up chestnuts out of fire.

17th Century French poet La Fontaine wrote a fable, after Aesop, in which a cat is coerced by a monkey to pick up chestnuts in the hot embers. The cat did it, but burned its paws badly. The monkey ate all the chestnuts.

Mr. Kaieda is saying he will be the cat, even if he knows it will burn his paws - i.e. ruin his career as politician.

Mr. Kaieda, who lost to Mr. Noda in the second round of the leadership election in August last year, partly thanks to NHK's erroneous reporting, is so far the only candidate for the Democratic Party of Japan's leadership election scheduled for December 25.

Younger politicians with ambitions like Seiji Maehara and Goshi Hosono have already declared they are not running this time.

From Asahi Shinbun (12/22/2012):


Banri Kaieda, ex-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry and a Democratic Party of Japan member, held a press conference at a hotel in Tokyo on December 22 and declared his candidacy in the leadership election to be held on December 25. He said, "I have decided to enter the leadership election, to pick up chestnuts in the hot embers." Former Minister of Agriculture Hirotaka Akamatsu, former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akihiro Ohata, and the former Democratic Socialist Party group are expected to support him. Mr. Kaieda is the first person to declare candidacy in the leadership election.

Meanwhile, Japan Future Party under Ms. Yukiko Kada, governor of Shiga Prefecture is planning to work very closely with Social Democratic Party in the Lower House, forming a parliamentary group. Ms. Kada's party managed to send 7 members to the Lower House in the December 16 election, and there are two Social Democrats who survived the election.

As I posted previously, Ms. Kada has expressed her intention to work closely with the boy wonder's party (Japan Restoration Party).

I do have a feeling that people may wish DPJ were still in power.

Friday, December 21, 2012

San Onofre Nuke Plant: "Mitsubishi Heavy failed certain requirements", Says NRC

NRC says Mitsubishi Heavy Industries failed to meet requirements related to the mock-up and testing of re-designed components for the steam generators.

So-Cal Edison wants to restart Reactor 2 in March. It says independent experts from Areva, Westingshouse/Toshiba, and Intertek/Aptech conducted the operational assessment.

SCE insists the company didn't rely on Mitsubishi (as if it is a good thing; maybe it is...).

For more on the Mitsubishi-made steam generator problems at San Onofre, see my posts (here and here).

From Reuters (12/19/2012; emphasis is mine):

SCE's Calif. San Onofre restart plan didn't rely on Mitsubishi

* NRC says Mitsubishi Heavy failed certain requirements

* SCE wants to restart Unit 2 at San Onofre

* NRC may approve of San Onofre 2 restart in March

* San Onofre reactors shut in January

Dec 19 (Reuters) - California power company Southern California Edison (SCE) said it did not rely on testing by Japanese engineering firm Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd to develop its restart plan for Unit 2 at the San Onofre nuclear plant in California.

Both reactors at the 2,150-megawatt (MW) San Onofre plant shut in January due to tube wear problems in the units' new steam generators. Mitsubishi Heavy built those steam generators and installed them in 2010 and 2011.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said in a letter posted on its website that Mitsubishi Heavy failed to meet certain requirements related to the mock-up and testing of re-designed components for the steam generators that may be used to repair the San Onofre steam generators.

But in a statement Tuesday night, SCE, a unit of California power company Edison International, said it did not consult or rely upon the Mitsubishi testing under review by the NRC to create the utility's plan to restart Unit 2.

The NRC is also reviewing SCE's plan to restart Unit 2 and may issue a decision on that plan in March. The reactor cannot restart without the NRC's approval.

SCE's plan to restart Unit 2 includes preventive plugging of tubes in the steam generators and operating the 1,070-MW unit at 70 percent power for a five-month period.

San Onofre is one of the biggest power plants in California and its shutdown since January has caused reliability challenges for the Southern California power grid.


SCE said its team of experts conducted three independent operational assessments of tube wear. The assessments were done by units of nuclear engineering firm Areva SA of France, the Westinghouse Electric unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp , and international testers at Intertek/Aptech.

SCE said none of its experts based their review and recommendations on testing by Mitsubishi. SCE said this was confirmed Tuesday at an NRC public meeting in Rockville, Maryland.

SCE submitted technical information to the NRC in October in support of its proposed restart plan for Unit 2. That plan did not include a restart for Unit 3 in part because the steam generators in Unit 3 suffered more tube wear.

The company shut Unit 2 on Jan. 9 for a planned outage. Unit 3 shut on Jan. 31 after station operators detected a leak in a steam generator tube.

SCE operates San Onofre for its owners: SCE (78.21 percent), Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric (20 percent) and the city of Riverside (1.79 percent).

I think NRC's letter mentioned in the article is this. It's more a report than a letter, dated November 30, 2012. So NRC staff made a trip to Kobe, Japan to inspect Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' noncompliance. Interesting.

Addressed to the Quality Assurance Manager Mr. Otake, NRC says:

From October 9-17, 2012, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff conducted an inspection at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd (MHI) facility in Kobe, Japan. The purpose of this reactive inspection was to assess MHI’s compliance with the provisions of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 21, “Reporting of Defects and Noncompliance,” and selected portions of Appendix B, “Quality Assurance Program Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants and Fuel Reprocessing Plants,” to 10 CFR Part 50, “Domestic Licensing of Production and Utilization Facilities.”

This reactive inspection evaluated MHI’s quality assurance activities associated with the mock-up and testing of re-designed anti-vibration bars that may be used as a long-term repair of both Unit 2 and Unit 3 San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) steam generators. The inspection will assist the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) when and if modifications are installed at SONGS. The design and installation of the modification will require that the NRC conduct an independent review of the modification and possibly approval of the design change. The inspection evaluated if MHI’s design, manufacturing, preparation, and testing of the mock-up and testing of re-designed anti-vibration bars meet the applicable requirements of Appendix B to 10 CFR Part 50, 10 CFR Part 21, and American Society of Mechanical Engineers Code Section III, “Rules for Construction of Nuclear Facility Components”. The enclosed report presents the results of this inspection. This NRC inspection report does not constitute NRC endorsement of MHI’s overall quality assurance (QA) or 10 CFR Part 21 programs.

During this inspection, the NRC inspection team found that the implementation of your quality assurance program failed to meet certain NRC requirements imposed on MHI by its customers or NRC licensees. Specifically, MHI: 1) failed to verify the tube outside diameter straightness, tube bending radius, and total tube length conformed to the requirements identified in the purchase order and purchase specifications to Sumitomo Metal Corporation for the alloy 690 seamless tubes used to construct the steam generator u-tube bundle mock-up; and
2) failed to perform dedication of the commercial calibration services provided by Tokyo Sokki Kenkyujo Co., Ltd.
The enclosed Notice of Nonconformance (NON) cites these nonconformances, and the circumstances surrounding them are described in detail in the enclosed inspection report. Even though the NRC inspection team did not identify issues in all areas reviewed, in the response to the enclosed NON, MHI should document the results of the extent of condition and determine if there are any effects on other associated QA activities.

Please provide a written statement or explanation within 30 days from the date of this letter in accordance with the instructions specified in the enclosed NON. We will consider extending the response time if you show good cause for us to do so.

The letter is followed by the notice of nonconformance and the detailed inspection report.

Quick check on MHI's website, and there is still no mention of the accident.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Steel Beam Removed from Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool

It took TEPCO (most likely subcontractors, most likely Kajima and/or Hitachi) 3 months to finally remove the steel beam that had accidentally fallen into the Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool back in September.

About the beam, please see my posts, here and here (with video of the accident).

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos, 12/21/2012:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sweden's Ringhals Nuclear Reactor Shut Down Due to Seawater Infiltration, "No Safety Problem"

No details as to where in the system the seawater infiltrated.

From Channel News Asia, Quoting AFP (12/21/2012; emphasis is mine):

Swedish nuclear reactor shut after sea water infiltration

STOCKHOLM - A reactor in Sweden's biggest nuclear plant was stopped on Thursday after an infiltration of sea water, the operator Vattenfall and the national nuclear industry watchdog said.

"There is no safety problem" at Reactor 4 at the Ringhals plant near Gothenburg in the country's southwest, nuclear authority inspector Jan Gällsjo told the national TT news agency.

He added that the presence of salt water in the pressurised water system was nonetheless an anomaly which needed to be fixed.

Earlier this month, a reactor at another Swedish nuclear plant was shut down after the nuclear watchdog said the operator had failed to comply with its safety requirements, safety officials said.

The Oskarshamn plant's number two reactor was taken out of service after the operator was unable to show the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority that standard maintenance work had been performed on two diesel generators used for emergency power supply.

Some 35 percent of electricity in Sweden is generated from nuclear power.

- AFP/al

In July this year, Reactor 2 at the same nuclear power plant shut down 9 hours after it was restarted, for causes unknown.

Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant in Shizuoka Prefecture had a problem of having seawater in the pressurized water reactor system last year. It turned out to be a very big problem.

OT: Research In Motion's Round Trip After Hours - Up 8%, Then Down 11%


The stock (RIMM) ended the regular session at $14.12 on high expectation of a better quarter. It is currently trading at $12:53, down 11% from the close.

The company that makes Blackberry mobile devices beat both top line and bottom line (i.e. it lost less than expected), but when the investors read the fine print, they'd rather be out.

Articles like this one ("RIM Rally Ain’t Over: Shares Jump After Earnings") by Wall Street Journal were written prematurely, obviously.

#Radioactive Japan Under LDP: Futaba-machi Assembly Finally Passes No-Confidence Resolution Against Mayor Idogawa

This is the assembly's third attempt, and this time all 8 assemblymen voted yes to demand Mayor Idogawa to step down.

Why? Because the mayor refuses to "move forward".

What's "moving forward" for the town which had to relocate to Saitama temporarily because of severe contamination from the nuclear accident?

Talking with the national government "constructively" to build intermediate storage facilities for nuclear waste in Futaba-machi, for a start. The first step will be to agree to the field survey by the national government.

The town may have no choice, but what these assemblymen are after seems to be more about money, a huge wad of money from the national government in exchange for simply agreeing to start talking.

Just change "intermediate storage facilities" with "nuclear reactors". It's the same old story. Simply agreeing to the survey will probably produce a ton of money for the town. Of all people, Mayor Idogawa should know very well.

Mr. Idogawa has been tirelessly campaigning for the people of his town, a changed man after the nuclear accident. Inconvenient for the town assembly, obviously.

For his account on March 11, 2011 as he experienced, see my post from February.

From Kyodo News (12/20/2012):

双葉町議会が町長不信任を可決 中間貯蔵施設の協議欠席で

Futaba-machi town assembly passes the no-confidence resolution against the mayor because he skipped the negotiation for intermediate storage facilities


The December Assembly of Futaba-machi, Fukushima Prefecture was held on December 20 in Kazo City in Saitama Prefecture where the town's government has been temporarily moved. Futaba-machi in Fukushima is one of the locations where the national government wants to conduct the feasibility study for building intermediate storage facilities to store contaminated soil from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The no-confidence resolution against Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa was unanimously passed by all eight assemblymen.


Unless the mayor dissolves the assembly within 10 days, according to the Local Autonomy Law, he will lose his job.


Mayor Idogawa said to the reporters, "I would like to sort things out quietly. I will decide over the weekend."


The resolution criticized the mayor for having skipped the negotiation in November whereby Governor of Fukushima Yuhei Sato and other seven mayors of municipalities in Futaba County agreed to the survey [for waste storage facilities].

Mayor Idogawa, in his December 20 letter to the town residents, explains why he refused to sit down with the fellow mayors and the governor of Fukushima:



As to the intermediate storage facility, we are told to accept without any discussion because it's only the field survey for now. But how will this survey be paid for? This facility is supposed to be there for only 30 years, but there is no formal agreement on that between the national government and us. No one can live near this facility. No one lives inside the 2 kilometer radius of Rokkasho-mura [where the Reprocessing Plant is located]. The 2 kilometer radius would include almost all central Futaba. What should we do then? That discussion should come before anything else. To conduct the boring survey means the start of construction. If we look at the budget [for the intermediate storage facility] there is a line item called "survey cost" under "development". As far as the administrative decision goes, this is the start of construction. Please understand that I've been trying my best to stall [the survey] so as not to give the government the fait accompli of construction started.

It should proceed after ample discussion and understanding of all the town residents. This is the first ever such project in Japan. It is the greatest loss for the town, and if we just let it proceed without any firm promise, our children will suffer. I would like to talk patiently with the new administration, and proceed so that our children would understand. Please know that we have suffered a great loss.

Earlier in his letter, he pleads with the residents to think about their "loss", that it's not just about the loss of tangible assets like real estate but intangible assets like health and future prospect.

His words clearly fell on deaf ears of eight assemblymen who see very tangible assets (money) in front of them.

Mayor Idogawa sees the details, and knows the process. So, they'd rather shut him up, and join others in pointing the bright sky on the horizon - "Look, that's the future..."

I wonder if he dissolves the assembly and calls the election. I doubt it.

It's a new Japan - Japan that cannot focus its attention long enough to think things through and simply latches on to soundbites. I guess that has been the global trend, but Japan manages to do it in the middle of the most severe nuclear accident in the country that has contaminated wide areas in Tohoku and Kanto.

#Radioactive Japan under LDP: "Government Should Tell People 20 Millisieverts Per Year Exposure Is Safe", Says Ms. Yoshiko Sakurai, Candidate for Cabinet Post Under Abe

She used to be an announcer who once reported sympathetically on children in the areas severely affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Time has passed and she has flipped to the pro-nuke spokeswoman along the way.

Now rumored to be selected to Shinzo Abe's new cabinet, 67-year-old Ms. Sakurai spoke to the officials of Futaba County of Fukushima Prefecture, and told them the standard for decontamination and radiation exposure needs to be loosened to preserve the life and living of people in Fukushima.

She says 20 millisieverts for adults, and 10 millisieverts for children are safe, and the government should guarantee it.

I have this sinking feeling that she will become the Minister of the Environment, if she was speaking about decontamination and radiation exposure in Fukushima.

People may soon start to miss Goshi Hosono and his disaster debris dolls.

From Kahoku Shinpo (12/9/2012):


On December 8, journalist Yoshiko Sakurai gave a speech in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture to a group of assemblymen from 8 municipalities in Futaba County. She said, "The standard of 1 millisievert/year radiation exposure for decontamination should be loosened in order to revive your home towns." Many Futaba County residents continue to remain away from their homes due to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, and some assemblymen got angry in the Q&A session.


Ms. Sakurai forcefully said, "There is a wide range of opinions regarding radiation, but politicians should see the facts. Only scientific facts [regarding radiation] available to the human race are the epidemiological data from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl. UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection have already concluded that there is no [statistical] significance of radiation below 100 millisieverts."


Further, she declared, "To set 1 millisievert per year as standard for decontamination, which is scientifically baseless, and to create large piles of dirt, you are creating a new problem yourselves. It's the national government's responsibility to say that up to 20 millisieverts/year is safe for adults, and 10 millisieverts/year is safe for children. You, as municipal assemblymen, should not lose your head like the residents."


Her remarks stirred angry feeling in the assemblymen gathered, who asked her, "Can you really guarantee the safety?", "1 millisievert [per year] is the last resort for the evacuees." Ms. Sakurai responded, "I'm not surprised by your anger and disappointment. It's important to continue the discussion toward the facts. I will get involved until the recovery and revival of Fukushima."

So you get angry? I don't care, she says.

I was afraid she would be the next Minister of the Environment, but I've just happened on a suggestion that's far worse. She may become the Minister of Education.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

South Koreans Choose Daughter of Dictator as New President

Ms. Park Geun Hye is the daughter of the nation's longest-serving dictator Park Chung-hee.

East Asians love political dynasties, despite their lip service to the otherwise. With the election of Shinzo Abe, Japan is after all a proud member of East Asia.

From Bloomberg News (12/19/2012):

Park Geun Hye was elected president of South Korea, becoming the first woman to lead Asia’s fourth- biggest economy more than 30 years after her father’s reign as dictator ended with his assassination.

Park, 60, of the ruling New Frontier Party, led main opposition nominee Moon Jae In, 51.7 percent to 47.9 percent with 94.2 percent of the vote counted, the National Election Commission said on its website as of 12:55 a.m. local time. Moon, 59, conceded defeat, saying he was sorry he couldn’t fulfill the expectations of his supporters.

The never-married daughter of the nation’s longest-serving dictator will lead a country with one of the world’s most entrenched gender gaps. She must confront a slowing economy, widening income disparity and re-engagement with North Korea after the totalitarian state’s rocket launch last week.

“Park’s victory is historically symbolic,” said Lee Nae Young, a political science professor at Korea University in Seoul. “Voters decided she will offer the most stable leadership to navigate the country through a global recession, and mounting internal and external uncertainties, especially in foreign affairs and national security.”

Park will take office on Feb. 25, when President Lee Myung Bak’s single five-year term ends.

“This is your victory,” she told a crowd in Seoul. “You’ve opened a new era and I will carry your trust deeply in my heart.”

(Full article at the link)

This is your victory. This is a new era. Hmmm. Where have I seen these words before?

What's historical about her victory escapes me, other than the fact that she is a woman. I suppose that's enough as "historical".

#Radioactive Japan: "New Nuke Plants Possible in a Safe Location", Says LDP's Abe

Japan is trying its best to pretend that the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident has been a minor inconvenience that no amount of newly printed money cannot overcome.

After all, this is the country that has perfected the theater called "Kabuki", where a person dressed in black is on the stage assisting the actors but everyone in the audience is expected to see but pretend not to see.

From Tokyo Shinbun in the December 1, 2012 article (part):


Mr. Abe emphasized that he would do his utmost best to introduce renewable energy sources for 3 years if his party returned to power. But he also pointed out that "moving away from dependence on nuclear energy through innovation may not make rapid progress", and said, "As a matter of course, we should study if it makes sense to use the state-of-the-art technology to build (a new nuclear power plant) in a very safe location."


As to the restart of the existing nuclear power plants, he said "It should be decided by the government made of politicians elected by the citizens."

Well, Mr. Abe, less than 25% of the eligible citizens voted for your party candidates in the Small District Election, and only about 16% voted for your party in the Proportional Representation Election. You do not have a mandate.

As to your very safe location for a new nuke plant, where?

Even if there is a safe place somewhere in the earthquake and tsunami-prone mountainous archipelago whacked by seasonal typhoons, Japan continues to have three gravest threats to nuclear safety: politicians, bureaucrats, and electric power companies.

Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi may be able to sell their systems in foreign countries, but the Japanese in Japan are uniquely incapable of handling this technology.

But that doesn't even occur to the third-generation politician who is the head of the triumphant LDP.

In the meantime, Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is fast running out of workers willing to work for as little as 140,000 yen (US$1,660) a month with no benefits.

Look over there, say "beyond (anti, or graduating from, whatever) nuclear" politicians and activists, pointing to the sky on the horizon. That's the future we will go. No, look this way, say pro-nuclear politicians and activists (yes there are such people), pointing to a different part of the sky on the horizon. That's the future we will go. People, caught in the middle, move about here and there, but eventually herded into some directions, all looking up at the sky for bright future. They are unaware that they've been stepping on piles of shit.

My only hope is the fact that Mr. Taro Yamamoto got more than 70,000 votes in a district in Tokyo; he pointed to the piles of shit and told people, look, we have to do something about these first, it's all over the place.

Clearly that's too much detail for most people.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Japanese Election: LDP Managed to Win 2/3 of Seats Even Though It Only Got 42% of Votes Cast

Or only 25% of all eligible voters (103,959,866 voters)

Before it disappears, from Tokyo Shinbun (12/18/2012; English labels are mine):

Tokyo Shinbun comments in the article:


The current election system for the Lower House is Small Electoral District Election and Proportional Representation Election. The Small Electoral District Election is aimed at creating a two-party systems by concentrating the votes, and LDP won three times as many seats as the percentage of the votes in the total eligible voters indicates. It is an incredible dissociation from the public opinion.

The Small Electoral District Election elects 300 representatives and the Proportional Representation Election elects 180 representatives. There is only one winner in each Small District.

The Small District system is conductive to giving major, established parties more seats.

It is highly ironic that it was Ichiro Ozawa who successfully pushed for the adoption of the Small District Election format. Thanks to his system, all his followers lost in the Small District Election, who had to fight under the unfamiliar, fluffy party name of Japan Future. Mr. Ozawa, under the tutelage of Kakuei Tanaka, pushed for the electoral reform in order to create the "two-party system" for political stability. It has resulted in a huge swing, instead.

The US has the Small District Election system, but not foolhardy enough to elect all representatives all at once.

Australia Is Celebrating Japan's LDP Win, Sending Share Prices of Uranium Miners Soaring

Australian uranium miners are positive that the reactors in Japan will be back on shortly under the LDP administration, as they are certain that US$100 million a day spent on extra coal, oil and gas is simply unsustainable for Japan. Australia is here to help, they say.

Sydney Morning Herald reports the shares of Paladin soared more than 8% on Monday following the Japanese election results:

(The announcer looks pretty, but her Australian English is scary.)

Also from the paper's article (12/18/2012; emphasis is mine):

Producers bullish on Japanese demand

by Paddy Manning

GLOBAL uranium demand is set to rebound as Japan's nuclear reactors are gradually switched back on by the new Liberal Democratic Party government, elected over the weekend.

Greg Hall, managing director of junior Toro Energy, said Japan had been spending an additional $US100 million a day on extra coal, oil and gas, which represented a ''very, very high cost''.

After the weekend's election, he said the country now had the political will to restart its reactors. A new independent safety authority would be in place by April and Japan's nuclear power capacity would be restored through 2013-15.

Shares in uranium producers Paladin Energy and Rio Tinto's Energy Resources Australia surged on Monday - by 8 per cent and 5 per cent respectively - and the spot price of uranium oxide neared $US44 a pound.

Paladin Energy chief John Borshoff predicted Germany, too, would eventually return to the nuclear power fold. ''Germany can't survive on a no-nuclear basis with all the countries around it pouring electricity into the country. How could Japan survive as an island country?''

Mr Borshoff said it was impossible for Japan to do without 27 per cent of its electricity-generating capacity. ''We've been working on the basis the nuclear programs will resume in some modified form. Germany have set an irreversible path but I believe in eight-10 years they'll be back on the drawing board.''

UBS resources analyst Glyn Lawcock welcomed the Japanese news saying it had been a ''torrid'' 18 months for uranium markets since the closure of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor after last year's Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Japan shut its fleet of 54 reactors in the wake of the partial meltdown, causing power shortages and a rise in energy prices as coal, oil and gas made up the shortfall.

Spot uranium prices fell from their pre-Fukushima level of about $US65/lb to a low of $US40.80 in November and have recovered somewhat since.

Mr Lawcock said until recently investors had been concerned that Japan, which had deferred some deliveries of uranium as stockpiles rose, would turn around and become a net seller into the world market. Paladin was better placed than ERA to benefit, he said, because three-quarters of its output would be sold at prices linked to a rising spot market.

UBS commodities analyst Tom Price said the Fukushima Daiichi reactor was one of Japan's oldest and slated for closure within two years. ''Fukushima was a genuine tragedy but nuclear is a genuine alternative for baseload power stations to coal, and relatively cheap, once built,'' he said.

The indefinite deferral of BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam expansion, and the re-election of the LDP in Japan, were ''two bull points'' for the uranium price and UBS was forecasting a recovery to $US50/lb in 2013, and $US55/lb in 2014 and a long-term price of $US65/lb, he said.

Toro Energy is expecting a decision this week from federal Environment Minister Tony Burke on its 100 per cent-owned Wiluna uranium mine in Western Australia. Toro shares were unchanged on Monday at 11.5¢.

"Mr Borshoff said it was impossible for Japan to do without 27 per cent of its electricity-generating capacity" ??

Mr. Borshoff clearly isn't aware (or chooses not to be aware) that Japan has been doing without the so-called 27% of electricity-generating capacity ever since March 11, 2011, and all it has suffered was a manufactured threat of rolling blackouts thanks to then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano and NISA's Nishimura.

"UBS commodities analyst Tom Price...'Fukushima was a genuine tragedy but nuclear is a genuine alternative for baseload power stations to coal, and relatively cheap, once built'"??

Nuclear power plants needs electricity from other power plants to operate, not at all suitable for baseload power stations. And for him to say nuclear is cheap once the plant is built, I suppose he is assuming an accident will never happen.

Mr. Greg Hall, managing director of junior Toro Energy talks about the "political will to restart the reactors".

LDP won two-thirds of the seats by getting votes of only 25% of eligible voters (or 42% of votes actually cast). It's hardly a mandate, but yes political will will be there, which has hardly anything to do with what the majority of the citizens want.

Mr. Hall says one thing that greatly distresses me: new independent safety authority will be in place by April. Hmmm. Either he doesn't know about the Nuclear Regulatory Authority that exists already, or the current Nuclear Regulatory Authority will be ditched, as I've been fearing all along.

Japan Future Party Leader Kada Says She Will Work With Japan Restoration Party's Toru Hashimoto

She says she has worked closely with Osaka City Mayor Toru Hashimoto, aka boy-wonder in this blog, and she will continue to do so in the national politics.

All right, very well said, Ms. Kada. People who are concerned about nuclear plants, radiation contamination, excessive power of the government, TPP, tax increase, tampering with the Constitution can now ditch your party without feeling bad.

So much for that "graduating from nuclear" slogan.

Also, she clearly wants to run for the Upper House and continue to receive salary as the governor of Shiga Prefecture. The first thing she would therefore "amend" is Local Autonomy Law established in the same year as the Constitution, in 1947.

From Asahi Shinbun, reporting her words to the reporters in Tokyo (12/17/2012):


"It is very likely that I will cooperate with Mr. Hashimoto", says Japan Future Party leader Kada


The reason why a governor cannot also be a representative in the National Diet is simply because of the Local Autonomy Law imported from the United States after the World War II. In France, holding two offices concurrently is the principle. European systems including that of Germany allow local governors and mayors to be the members of the Upper House, as a matter of course. [National] government policies will become more actionable when the voices from the local government are reflected in the policies.


In this election, Mr. (Toru) Hashimoto (Deputy Leader of Japan Restoration Party said) "Change the law that restricts concurrent serving in the Upper House." I will campaign for that change, together with Mr. Hashimoto. What I want the residents of Shiga Prefecture to understand is that I am not neglecting the prefecture. I will make suggestions [to the national government] for better government in Shiga. We are forced to operate with wasteful spending, vertical organizational structure and inefficiency. I have worked with (Mr. Hashimoto) for a long time in the Kansai Wide-Area Alliance [supra-prefectural body made of mayors and governors in Kansai]. It is very likely that I will cooperate with Mr. Hashimoto (in the national politics).

European readers, is she correct? Are your governors and mayors also your upper-house councilors?

It's really ironic of her to speak of "waste", when I recall it was her who cut the funding for the fixed stations that monitored radioactive materials and radiation levels because they were "wasteful".

Now that the alliance with Ichiro Ozawa has gone nowhere in the election, she is renewing the overture to the boy wonder.

Victorious Abe's Priority: Amend Constitution So That Only a Majority Vote Is Needed to Amend It

The LDP president who can fast-eat curry and rice with pork cutlet on top, who can steal a seat from a senior citizen on JR train and pretend he's asleep after scolding him for scolding him, and a third-generation politician whose grandfather, having been arrested as "Class-A war criminal" after the World War II, was somehow escaped execution and later became the prime minister of Japan, wants to change the Japanese Constitution.

Why? Because he wants his cabinet to be the one to break through the crisis. (Whatever that means.)

Why does that have anything to do with changing the Constitution? Who knows. Because he can, probably. With two-third majority in the Lower House, his party can override any objection from the Upper House which is dominated by the opposition.

Specifically, he wants to first change the Article 96 of the Japanese Constitution, which says (in original English, from Prime Minister's Office website; emphasis is mine):

Article 96. Amendments to this Constitution shall be initiated by the Diet, through a concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all the members of each House and shall thereupon be submitted to the people for ratification, which shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of all votes cast thereon, at a special referendum or at such election as the Diet shall specify.
Amendments when so ratified shall immediately be promulgated by the Emperor in the name of the people, as an integral part of this Constitution.

According to Yomiuri Shinbun (12/18/2012), Abe wants to ditch this, and make it so that only a simple majority is needed to amend the Constitution. If he wants, he can ditch the national referendum part with his party's two-third majority in the Lower House.

Good luck, Japan, because it's only the beginning. His pet plan for the Constitution reads like a horror story for those who believe there is something to be said about "fundamental human rights" and "inalienable rights" of citizens.

For a start, the proud ideal expressed in the Foreword that positions Japan to "occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth" will be ditched in its entirety under Abe's plan.

The rest is too depressing for me to elaborate right now, but suffice to say Abe wants to reduce the Constitution to a mere LDP party manifest. His "amended" constitution reads just like one, an election manifest to be ditched as convenience dictates. More I read, it is not even an election manifest. It is more like an announcement by a municipal government to the residents, telling them their water may stop due to construction.

It may not be long that anyone who insists on adherence to the Constitution will be branded as "terrorists".

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Japanese Election: Voter Turnout at 59.32%, Lowest Since World War II, and Pro-Nuke LDP Is Back

(Chart from Yomiuri Shinbun)

Fantastic (literally) results for flag-waving Liberal (joke) Democratic (joke) Party under the leader whose leadership ability was supposedly proven by fast-eating the pork cutlet on curry & rice and grabbing a train seat from a senior citizen: 294 seats (pre-election 118)

Boy-wonder and Ishihara's Japan Restoration Party which is already talking about working very, very close with LDP: 54 (pre-election 11)

Punishing results for Democratic Party of Japan under the leader who had declared "cold shutdown state" exactly a year prior: 57 seats (pre-election 230)

"Why bothered at all?" results for Japan Future Party under the leader who hid Ichiro Ozawa until very last and who was busy selling her books than campaigning for the candidate who was fighting PM Noda: 9 seats (pre-election 61, mostly Ichiro Ozawa's and Shizuka Kamei's parties)

Noda's gambit to call an election in December did not pay off. He probably underestimated the extent of people's disappointment and probably hatred for his party over the last 3 years, particularly the last 21 months.

While DPJ has been crushed, the guilty party of the Fukushima nuclear disaster all won. Naoto Kan and Banri Kaieda lost in the district election but survived because of the proportional representation part of the election. Yukio Edano, Goshi Hosono, Noda Yoshihiko all won decisively. So did Seiji Maehara.

Noda's Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura lost, first time in the election history since 1947. DPJ's "kingmaker" Sengoku also lost. Good riddance. So did Makiko Tanaka, the daughter of Kakuei Tanaka. She apparently lost the support of the backers she inherited from her father, who was a very powerful prime minister of Japan. DPJ couldn't get enough proportional representation votes to have them elected.

Ichiro Ozawa handily won in his district, but his bet on Ms. Kada went very badly for his followers. Ms. Yukiko Miyake, who switched from her own district in Gunma Prefecture to Chiba 4th District to fight PM Noda ended 3rd, out of 4 candidates. Not even close.

Only Ichiro Ozawa and Shizuka Kamei won in the Small District Election, on their own strength, for Ms. Kada's Japan Future Party. Everyone else lost. 7 people won the proportional representation part of the election; none of them was a new candidate under Ms. Kada. Mr. Tetsunari Iida lost both small district and proportional representation, despite his rearranging the proportional representation ranking on the day to submit the document to the election board so that he would be ranked No.1.

Now, Twitter is full of extremely disappointed net citizens busy blaming the generation who get their news from TV and newspaper only and many of whom probably voted for LDP candidates. But from the viewpoints from these people,

  • After suffering 3 years under DPJ, there is no way they want to allow the party to rule;

  • But looking around for alternatives, there's only LDP and Komei that they sort of know and are familiar with;

  • There are people that they've never seen or heard before, from the parties that they never seen or heard before, suddenly coming to their districts and trying to push some fancy-sounding ideas like "graduating from nuke" without details that they can understand.

For them, particularly older people, "Why should we trust these people? They don't even know us, don't know what we need, never worked for us. Now they want our votes?"

But now, the pork-cutlet president of LDP has already declared his first priority is (drum rolls please...):

Change the Constitution.

Why? Because it is his pet project. What does he want to change? Article 9, about Japan renouncing wars. And any reference to "fundamental human rights" Why does he want to do it? Because now he can, he has "the mandate"! But that's a whole another very disturbing and depressing topic later.

I'm seriously worried that the Nuclear Regulatory Authority will be disbanded under the LDP rule, and their scientific, truthful work of examining and recognizing active faults in the nuclear power plants in Japan (in Tsuruga and Higashidori so far) will be nullified.

The only bright spot was Tokyo 8th District, where Taro Yamamoto, though lost to Shintaro Ishihara's ultra-hawkish son who wanted to ban personal radiation survey meters, won more than 72,000 votes despite he had decided to run only one day prior to the start of official election campaign period. He didn't talk about fluffy ideals and future goals, but about children in high-radiation Fukushima, food contamination from radiation, about truly ending the nuclear accident. After the defeat, they are still the specifics he talks about.

Strangely, Japanese Twitter is full of people who accuse Mr. Yamamoto for having run. A lot of Japanese people on the net are screaming the election was rigged. Why? Because the internet polls that they saw all the way up to the election day showed their favorite party Japan Future Party with over 30% (here's one from Reuters, archived).

If Internet polls are correct and true, Ron Paul would be the president of the United States now.

(UPDATED) Japanese Election: 99% of Polling Stations in Gunma Prefecture Will Close As Early As 5PM Instead of 8PM, to Save Money

(UPDATE) See my latest post for election results.

(UPDATE) It turns out that Tottori Prefecture in Chugoku Region closed the polling stations as early as 4PM (Yomiuri Shinbun). The reasons? To alleviate the undue burden on the witnesses at the polling stations (i.e. save money) and start counting sooner (i.e. save money).

ALL polling stations in Fukushima Prefecture close at 6PM, according to Sankei Shinbun. 85% of polling stations in Akita, 64% in Iwate, 57% in Miyagi will also close early. The reasons? To save energy (yes, we have to fight global warming) and to be safe, as winter is cold and dark.



According to Yomiuri Shinbun's December 10, 2012 article, more than 99% of 953 polling stations in Gunma Prefecture will close early, instead of being open until 8PM like everywhere else in Japan.

Yomiuri says the municipalities in Gunma have always been like that, closing the stations earlier so that they could start counting the votes right at 8PM and announce the result first in the nation.

From the article, it is only one municipality (Minakami) that will keep the polling stations open until 8PM. 17 municipalities will close at 5PM, 11 will close at 6PM, 23 will close at 7PM.

There seem to be two reasons:

  • Why waste money keeping the stations open? We can close early and start counting early, so everyone can go home early.

  • The sun sets early and it gets dark early in the winter, so it's dangerous on the streets.

Uh... it is as if they were still in pre-Meiji era with no electricity...