Friday, February 28, 2014

201 Accidents at #Fukushima I NPP? "No Way," Says Worker at the Plant, "It's More Like 1,000"

"Happy", who's been tweeting from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant since March 2011, tweeted on the news that Nuclear Regulation Authority told the Lower House Budget Committee that there have been 201 accidents at the plant since March 2011 earthquake.

He says "1,000" is more like it. OK that makes more sense. Almost one a day.

"Happy"'s tweet:



This number [201] is only the ones that have been publicly disclosed. If you include "hiyari hatto" [a Japanese word that means "an incident that almost became a more serious accident") by all companies at the plant, the number would be over 1,000.

Prime Minister asks "Why?" He doesn't seem to understand. But that's because Prime Minister is not paying serious attention to the restoration [ongoing work] of Fukushima I NPP.

From what I've read since 2011, "Happy" seldom voices a direct criticism of politicians. This tweet is one of the rare cases.


"Hiyari" - making one's blood turn cold
"Hatto" - startled

(OT) Unintended Humor on a Street Corner Somewhere in Tokyo: "Abe LDP Heading for Dead End"

The left poster with Prime Minister Abe says: "Japan Has Started to Move. Retake Japan. That's the responsibility of Tokyo. Liberal Democratic Party."

The poster to the right of the LDP poster is by a landowner who probably owns a lot where the poster is displayed: "Dead End that way (with a blue arrow pointing in the direction of the LDP poster)."

(H/T @aoshizu on Twitter)

(For Record, Before This Too Disappears) Bloomberg: Gold Fix Study Shows Signs of Decade of Bank Manipulation

The direction of the manipulation, researchers Rosa Abrantes-Metz (New York University’s Stern School of Business Professor) and Albert Metz (a managing director at Moody’s Investors Service) argue, is predominantly DOWN.

Oh what a surprise. (Not.)

After the UK's Financial Times pulled at a lightening speed a similar article accusing the London Gold Fix participants for manipulating the gold price, I feel the need to save the article for my personal record, as one of the last "conspiracy theories" may turn out to be not "conspiracy theory" but reality.

(But who cares about reality these days?)

The banks setting the gold fix are Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, HSBC, and Societe Generale. Bloomberg says these banks has set up a committee to consider reforms. (Much like TEPCO trying to explain how the nuclear accident happened.)

From Bloomberg News (2/28/2014; emphasis is mine):

Gold Fix Study Shows Signs of Decade of Bank Manipulation

By Liam Vaughan Feb 28, 2014 1:07 AM PT

The London gold fix, the benchmark used by miners, jewelers and central banks to value the metal, may have been manipulated for a decade by the banks setting it, researchers say.

Unusual trading patterns around 3 p.m. in London, when the so-called afternoon fix is set on a private conference call between five of the biggest gold dealers, are a sign of collusive behavior and should be investigated, New York University’s Stern School of Business Professor Rosa Abrantes-Metz and Albert Metz, a managing director at Moody’s Investors Service, wrote in a draft research paper.

Video: Are Gold Prices Being Manipulated by Banks?

“The structure of the benchmark is certainly conducive to collusion and manipulation, and the empirical data are consistent with price artificiality,” they say in the report, which hasn’t yet been submitted for publication. “It is likely that co-operation between participants may be occurring.”

The paper is the first to raise the possibility that the five banks overseeing the century-old rate -- Barclays Plc (BARC), Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), Bank of Nova Scotia, HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Societe Generale SA (GLE) -- may have been actively working together to manipulate the benchmark. It also adds to pressure on the firms to overhaul the way the rate is calculated. Authorities around the world, already investigating the manipulation of benchmarks from interest rates to foreign exchange, are examining the $20 trillion gold market for signs of wrongdoing.

Union Jacks

Officials at London Gold Market Fixing Ltd., the company owned by the banks that administer the rate, referred requests for comment to Societe Generale, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the group. Officials at Barclays, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Societe Generale declined to comment on the report and the future of the benchmark. Joe Konecny, a spokesman for Bank of Nova Scotia, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Abrantes-Metz advises the European Union and the International Organization of Securities Commissions on financial benchmarks. Her 2008 paper “Libor Manipulation?” helped uncover the rigging of the London interbank offered rate, which has led financial firms including Barclays Plc and UBS AG to be fined about $6 billion in total. She is a paid expert witness to lawyers, providing economic analysis for litigation. Metz heads credit policy research at ratings company Moody’s.

The rate-setting ritual dates back to 1919. Dealers in the early years met in a wood-paneled room in Rothschild’s office in the City of London and raised little Union Jacks to indicate interest. Now the fix is calculated twice a day on telephone conferences at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. London time. The calls usually last 10 minutes, though they can run more than an hour.

Unregulated Process

Firms declare how many bars of gold they want to buy or sell at the current spot price, based on orders from clients and themselves. The price is increased or reduced until the buy and sell amounts are within 50 bars, or about 620 kilograms, of each other, at which point the fix is set.

Traders relay shifts in supply and demand to clients during the call and take fresh orders to buy or sell as the price changes, according to the website of London Gold Market Fixing, where the results are published. At 3 p.m. yesterday, the price was $1,332.25 an ounce. The process is unregulated and the five banks can trade gold and its derivatives throughout the call.

Bloomberg News reported in November concerns among traders and economists that the fixing banks and their clients had an unfair advantage because information gleaned from the calls provided an insight into the future direction of prices and banks can bet on spot and derivatives markets during the call.

All Down

Abrantes-Metz and Metz screened intraday trading in the spot gold market from 2001 to 2013 for sudden, unexplained moves that may indicate illegal behavior. From 2004, they observed frequent spikes in spot gold prices during the afternoon call. The moves weren’t replicated during the morning call and hadn’t happened before 2004, they found.

Large price moves during the afternoon call were also overwhelmingly in the same direction: down. On days when the authors identified large price moves during the fix, they were downwards at least two-thirds of the time in six different years between 2004 and 2013. In 2010, large moves during the fix were negative 92 percent of the time, the authors found.

There’s no obvious explanation as to why the patterns began in 2004, why they were more prevalent in the afternoon fixing, and why price moves tended to be downwards, Abrantes-Metz said in a telephone interview this week.

“This is a first attempt to uncover potentially manipulative behavior and the results are concerning,” she said. “It’s down to regulators to establish why there are such striking patterns but banks have the means, motive and opportunity to manipulate the fixing. The results are consistent with the possibility of collusion.”

Bafin, FCA

Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest lender, said in January that it will withdraw from the panels setting the gold and silver fixings. German financial markets regulator Bafin interviewed the Frankfurt-based bank’s employees as part of a probe into the potential manipulation of gold and silver prices.

“In general, research that finds certain price patterns does not as such constitute evidence of manipulation,” said Thorsten Polleit, chief economist at Frankfurt-based precious-metals broker Degussa Goldhandel GmbH and a former Barclays economist. “However, it might encourage interest in finding out more about the sources of these price patterns.”

‘Appropriate Oversight’

The five banks that oversee the fixing set up a steering committee and will appoint external advisers to consider reforms before EU legislation on financial benchmarks’ regulation and oversight comes into force, Bloomberg reported last month.

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority is also scrutinizing how prices are calculated. The regulator published a report this week outlining its remit for regulating commodities including gold, saying that while it’s responsible for commodities derivatives, it doesn’t regulate physical commodities.

“Abusive behavior can occur in the physical commodity markets which in turn can have an impact on, or be directly linked with, financial market activity and prices,” the FCA said in the report. “The regulatory regime -- both in the U.K. and internationally -- needs to be adapted to ensure robust and appropriate oversight.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Liam Vaughan in London at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Heather Smith at; Edward Evans at

Also from Bloomberg, Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has filed for bankruptcy in Japan. Bitcoin is a virtual currency based on trust of the users, much like the paper-based fiat currencies of the world.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

There Have Been 201 Accidents at #Fukushima I NPP Since March 11, 2011, Says Nuclear Regulation Authority; PM Abe Says "Regrettable"

If the number is correct, it has been 5 to 6 accidents ("toraburu" - trouble, as Japanese call them) per month since March 11, 2011. Reading tweets by workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, I would have thought the number was much, much higher (like one per day).

From Jiji Tsushin (2/27/2014):


201 accidents at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, says Nuclear Regulation Authority


In the Budget Committee in the Lower House on February 27, Chairman Shunichi Tanaka of Nuclear Regulation Authority said the number of accidents that have taken place in Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant since the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake is "201, including oil leaks from the vehicles inside the plant compound and including those documented by the Nuclear Regulation Agency." His remark was in response to the question by Mr. Ryo Kasai of Japanese Communist Party.


Initially, Mr. Tanaka said the number of incidents that NRA was aware of was 107. Mr. Kasai criticized [Mr Tanaka] as "hiding accidents". Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, "It is hard to understand why (accidents) happen, but when they do it is very regrettable, and [TEPCO] should do its atmost best to prevent accidents from happening."

It's not that Mr. Abe does not quite understand; he doesn't quite care. That's the feeling I get, seeing him and reading the comment like this which is devoid of any meaning, even though he was the one who declared "the national government at the forefront" in dealing with the Fukushima I NPP accident.

The concept of "Japan, the beautiful country" is all he cares. Not the real thing.

Representative Kasai of Communist Party criticizes, but I don't think his party cares either, judging from what Communist Party's stance turned out to be during the Tokyo gubernatorial election. If the plant keeps having one accident after another, they can use the accidents to criticize the Abe administration and look good in the eyes of current supporters and potential voters in the future election. No incentive for them to push for comprehensible measures.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Obama Signed Off on Nuclear Deal with Vietnam, Allowing Nuclear Fuel Sale and Uranium Enrichment

As he openly demands Japan to return 300 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium that the US gave as part of "Atoms for Peace" for his concern for nuclear proliferation (to the delight of China for another chance to bash Japan), President Obama allows the US to sell nuclear fuel and technology to Vietnam, and allows Vietnam to enrich uranium if they want to.

Why? According to The Hill, to counter China.

It's a curious timing, as Vietnam has just postponed the construction of its first nuclear power plant (to be built by Russian companies) for six years. Vietnam's second nuclear power plant is to be built by the Japanese consortium, but there is no news of delay for that one.

The Hill (2/24/2014; emphasis is mine):

Obama OKs nuke deal with Vietnam

President Obama signed off Monday on a controversial civilian nuclear deal with Vietnam.

The cooperation agreement with the communist nation allows the U.S. to sell nuclear fuel and technology to its former foe. It aims to help guarantee Vietnams' energy independence as China asserts a more prominent role in the region.

“I have determined that the performance of the Agreement will promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defense and security,” Obama wrote in a memo for the secretaries of State and Energy.
The deal aims to get Vietnam to import the fuel it needs for its reactors instead of producing it domestically. But it doesn't bar the country from conducting its own uranium enrichment, raising concerns about nuclear proliferation.

The agreement is also seen as a potential complicating factor in the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran. Iran has repeatedly accused nuclear powers, and the United States in particular, of a double standard in terms of which nations are allowed to run nuclear programs that are allegedly for civilian purposes only.

Japan Under Prime Minister Abe: Back to the Future (to Pre-World War II)?

Someone is ripping the pages off over 300 copies of Anne Frank's "Diary of a Young Girl" in libraries in parts of Tokyo and Yokohama. The police thinks the same person may be doing it.

Minami Kyushu City in Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu has applied to the UNESCO to have over 300 pieces of farewell letters by "kamikaze" pilots during the World War II designated as "world heritage", so that people will remember how awful a war is. (Anne Frank's "Diary" is designated as "world heritage".)

Kasai City in Hyogo Prefecture wants to memorialize the runway used by kamikaze pilots during the World War II as a historic site.

William Pesek, Bloomberg's columnist in Tokyo wonders aloud: Where is Prime Minister Abe?

From Bloomberg News (2/23/2014):

Is Abe Encouraging Japan's Nut Jobs?

There's a reason the nuns in Queens had me and my classmates read Anne Frank's "The Diary of a Young Girl" several times -- the same reason that's made the book required reading around the globe. The 15-year-old's account of hiding from the Nazis is impervious to nut jobs who argue the Holocaust is fiction.

Shockingly, in recent days at least 282 copies of Frank's memoirs have been vandalized at 36 libraries across Tokyo -- their pages torn or defaced. No one knows who did it, or why. But it requires an acrobatic feat of compartmentalization not to see the connection to Japan's own recent efforts to deface history.

Earlier this month, the southern Japanese city of Minami Kyushu asked the U.N. World Heritage organization to enshrine farewell letters written by World War II kamikaze suicide pilots alongside documents like Frank's diaries and the Magna Carta. The request drew an immediate rebuke from China and stirred up Japan's right wing. What many see as evidence of Japan's wartime fanaticism, nationalists view as testaments to manly duty and devotion to the Emperor.

I have no evidence that Japan's right-wingers are behind this clearly coordinated campaign to desecrate Frank's work. Anti-Semitism isn't particularly pervasive among Japanese (although one extremist group is organizing a 125th birthday party for the Fuhrer so fans can "converse, listening to Wagner's music and enjoying wine together"). But it would be a coincidence of astounding proportions if this shameful vandalism weren't related to the kamikaze letters controversy.

One has to ask to what extent the return of nationalistic leader Shinzo Abe has encouraged such behavior. Though most attention has focused on Abe's efforts to revive the economy, right-wingers have delighted in the prime minister's other initiatives -- to whitewash textbooks, beautify Japan's wartime aggression, load the governing board of national broadcaster NHK with like-minded conservatives, and embolden the nation's military.

No, I'm not suggesting Abe bears responsibility for the Frank diary attacks. But his 14 months in office have created an atmosphere that's encouraging fringe activists, who may believe Abe secretly supports them. Intentionally or not, the Prime Minister has fed this impression by visiting Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 World War II Class A war criminals, and hinting that he wants to revisit a past apology for the military's sex-slave program. Among Abe's picks for the NHK board is a man who claims the Nanjing Massacre of the 1930s never happened.

When Abe and his ilk explain why Japan should be able to honor its dead soldiers and rewrite its pacifist constitution, they highlight how their nation has been a model global citizen. The argument is not without merit. For 68 years now, Japan has been a peaceful, generous, and reasonably cooperative power.

Yet Abe's rightward turn could squander much of the "soft power" Japan amassed since then
. Japanese don't tend to track events in Richmond, Virginia and Glendale, California very closely. But it’s in these two American cities that officials in Tokyo can get a glimpse of their nation's future. It's not pretty.

On Feb. 6, the Virginia legislature passed a bill to change textbooks to say the Sea of Japan is also known as the East Sea. It may not seem like a big deal, but the move outraged Japan. The change came at the behest of fast-rising contingent of Korean-American voters who are wielding that power to right what they view as historical wrongs by Japan 7,000 miles away. Tokyo has also taken great umbrage at a "comfort women" statue in the Los Angeles area erected by Asian Americans, and protests from Japanese diplomats and an online petition to President Barack Obama have gone unheeded. More and more, Chinese-Americans are showing up at Japanese consulates with protest placards, including in December when Abe visited Yasukuni.

As Abe preaches the glory of patriotism more than capitalism, expect Korea and China to intensify efforts around the world to shame Tokyo. Take Xi Jinping's trip to Germany next month. According to Reuters, the Chinese president plans to highlight Germany's atonement for the sins of World War II, in order to embarrass Japan. It's a reminder that statements from Japanese politicians have repeatedly undercut the country's many apologies for its wartime behavior.

Abe's mandate from voters is the economy, not prettifying some ugly moments in the nation's history. He should get back to that job. But first he must unequivocally condemn the Frank attacks in clear and strong terms. Few issues are more cut-and-dry than the need to denounce anti-Semitism in all forms. This isn't an issue to be left to Abe's cabinet chief, Yoshihide Suga, whose name isn't widely known outside Japan. Suga has promised a full investigation. But this is a task for the nation's leader, and Abe's silence is, like much of his other signaling thus far, damaging the nation's interests.

Mr. Pesek seems to think the culprit behind the defaced copies of Anne Frank's "Diary" is an Abe supporter. It is indeed possible that his supporters are that dumb.

JTA (2/21/2014; emphasis is mine) notes that Anne Frank's "Diary" is extremely popular in Japan, with the number of copies sold only next to the United States:

Vandals destroy copies of Anne Frank’s diary in Japan

(JTA) — More than 100 copies of Anne Frank’s “Diary of a Young Girl” have been vandalized in public libraries in Japan’s capital Tokyo.

Pages have been ripped from at least 265 copies of the diary and other related books, Japanese officials told the BBC on Thursday. It is not clear who is behind the vandalism, they said.

Anne Frank’s diary was written during World War II, while the teenager hid from the Nazis in occupied Amsterdam. The book made her a symbol of the suffering of Jews during the war.

The head of Japan’s library council, Satomi Murata, told the French AFP news agency that five of Tokyo’s wards had reported the vandalism so far. “We don’t know why this happened or who did it,” he added.

Toshihiro Obayashi, a library official in West Tokyo’s Suginsami area, said, “Each and every book which comes up under the index of Anne Frank has been damaged at our library.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement that it was shocked and concerned by the incidents, and called for the authorities to investigate.

“The geographic scope of these incidents strongly suggest an organized effort to denigrate the memory of the most famous of the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis in the World War II Holocaust,” Associate Dean Abraham Cooper said.

Rotem Kowner, a professor of Japanese history and culture at Israel’s University of Haifa, told the BBC that the book has been exceptionally popular and successful in Japan.

He said that in terms of absolute numbers of copies of the book sold, Japan is second only to the United States.

About 30,000 Japanese tourists visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam every year, about 5,000 visitors more than the number of visitors from Israel.

Japan is also the only East Asian country with statues and a museum in memory of Anne Frank.

Monday, February 24, 2014

(OT) The Conspiracy Theory Is True: Agents Infiltrate Websites Intending To "Manipulate, Deceive, And Destroy Reputations"

From Zero Hedge, summarizing the latest revelation from Edward Snowden by way of Glenn Greenwald(2/24/2014; emphasis is mine):

In the annals of internet conspiracy theories, none is more pervasive than the one speculating paid government plants infiltrate websites, social network sites, and comment sections with an intent to sow discord, troll, and generally manipulate, deceive and destroy reputations. Guess what: it was all true.

And this time we have a pretty slideshow of formerly confidential data prepared by the UK NSA equivalent, the GCHQ, to confirm it, and Edward Snowden to thank for disclosing it. The messenger in this case is Glenn Greenwald, who has released the data in an article in his new website,, which he summarizes as follows: "by publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself." Call it Stasi for "Generation Internet."

Greenwald's latest revelation focuses on GCHQ’s previously secret unit, the JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group).

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.

For more and for pretty Powerpoint presentation, go to Zero Hedge.