Japan is breaking its own radioactive records – as huge amounts of beta-ray emitting substances have been discovered at another reactor at the crippled Fukushima power plant. Meanwhile the government says the decontamination work scheduled to be completed by March – may take another 3 years. For more we’re joined by Alex Kerr – an expert on Japan.
INTERVIEW/ Takichi Nishiyama: Secrets protection law will silence government critics
Takichi Nishiyama, a former investigative journalist, warns that the state secrets protection bill approved by the Abe Cabinet on Oct. 25 will pave the way for “a secretive state that stifles criticism.”
“Democracy in Japan will be in name only, not in substance,” said Nishiyama, 82, who revealed the secret agreements reached by Japan and the United States concerning Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty in 1972.
The bill, submitted to the Diet the same day, will toughen penalties on public servants who leak “specified secrets” that could jeopardize Japan’s national security.
Critics say the legislation leaves room for arbitrarily designating confidential information and will hamper the people’s right to know.
Excerpts from Nishiyama’s interview follow.
* * *
In the half century after the end of World War II, Japan has not produced an active grass-roots movement that seeks official and accurate information from the state authorities.
The freedom of information law that took effect in 2001 did not provide for the people’s right to know. And it did not become a major issue when a revised bill including that right was scrapped.
The Japanese seem less interested in demanding the public disclosure of government information compared with other countries.
Few people appear interested in the state secrets protection law. The media, let alone the public, lack the power to pursue the problems inherent in the legislation.
Many secret agreements were concluded (about Okinawa) because the government had little regard for the people.
The Japanese government will try to protect secrets related to its alliance with the United States. The nuclear issue and the secret agreements concerning Okinawa both fall into this category.
The more Japan and the United States become inextricably linked in military terms, the more the conflicts with the Constitution will emerge.
After the Abe administration’s legislation is enacted, the designation of specified secrets can be renewed every five years. If it is extended every time it expires, information inconvenient to the government will never be disclosed.
A secretive state that stifles criticism will emerge, and the state authorities will tighten their control over the people’s access to information. Democracy in Japan will be in name only, not in substance.
Genuine secrets can result from diplomatic negotiations. But it is imperative the public is completely and accurately informed of the outcomes of such negotiations. If the government lies about the negotiations, it should be considered a political crime.
In that sense, the secret agreements on Okinawa constitute a most serious political crime.
While the Tokyo District Court and the Tokyo High Court both said secret deals were concluded, the Liberal Democratic Party government has continued to deny their existence.
The current administration, which has continued to lie to the Diet, is not qualified to submit the bill.
* * *
Nishiyama was a reporter for the Mainichi Shimbun and was arrested in 1972 on suspicion of getting a Foreign Ministry clerk to show him confidential diplomatic cables in relation to the secret Japan-U.S. agreements about Okinawa. A guilty verdict against him for violating the National Civil Service Law was finalized in 1978, four years after he left the newspaper.
(This article is based on an interview by Yuri Imamura.)
TOKYO (AP) — A proposed state secrecy law in Japan that imposes stiffer penalties on bureaucrats who leak information — and journalists who seek it — is spurring a public outcry, with opponents blasting it as a heavy-handed effort to hide what the government is doing and restrict press freedom.
The public’s top concern is that the government won’t say exactly what it wants to make secret. Critics say the law could allow the government to withhold information about whatever it wants and ultimately undermine Japan’s democracy.
The ruling party says the “secrecy protection” law, which the lower house of parliament could vote on as soon as Tuesday, is needed to allow the United States and other allies to share national security information with Japan. Along with the creation of a U.S.-style National Security Council in his office, it’s part of an effort by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to beef up Japan’s role in global security, and make a more authoritarian government at home.
The moves are welcomed by the United States, which wants a stronger Japan to counter China’s military rise, but they raise fears in Japan that the country could be edging back toward its militaristic past, when authorities severely restrained free speech.
“My biggest concern is that it would be more difficult for the people to see the government’s decision-making process,” said Kyouji Yanagisawa, a former top defense official who was in charge of national security at the Prime Minister’s Office from 2004-2009. “That means we can’t check how or where the government made mistakes, or help the government make a wise decision.”
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Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster What Happened at Fukushima Video Documentary what caused the fukushima daiichi nuclear disaster facts and summary. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (福島第一原子力発電所事故 Fukushima Dai-ichi was a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. It is the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 and only the second disaster (along with Chernobyl) to measure Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
The plant comprised six separate boiling water reactors originally designed by General Electric (GE) and maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). At the time of the quake, reactor 4 had been de-fueled and reactors 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for planned maintenance. Immediately after the earthquake, the remaining reactors 1–3 shut down automatically and emergency generators came online to power electronics and coolant systems. However, the tsunami following the earthquake quickly flooded the low-lying rooms in which the emergency generators were housed. The flooded generators failed, cutting power to the critical pumps that must continuously circulate coolant water through a Generation II reactor for several days to keep it from melting down after shut down. After the pumps stopped, the reactors overheated due to the normal high radioactive decay heat produced in the first few days after nuclear reactor shutdown (smaller amounts of this heat normally continue to be released for years, but are not enough to cause fuel melting).
Dans la région de Fukushima, après l’accident nucléaire survenu en 2011, la vie des habitants continue, en intégrant au quotidien la pollution radioactive. Avec gravité, ces familles d’agriculteurs ou de pêcheurs qui s’efforcent désespérément de protéger leurs enfants, poursuivent malgré tout leur activité, encadrée par des outils de contrôle. Attachés à leur terre, ils disent leur haine du nucléaire, que la propagande leur a vendu comme un fleuron de la sécurité industrielle. Une mise en abyme du monde futur, à travers des témoignages de vies fracassées.
Fukushima, chronique d’un désastre.
An official from the newly created nuclear watchdog told Reuters on Monday that the highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Fukushima was creating an “emergency” that Tepco was not containing on its own.
The revelation amounted to an acknowledgement that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (Tepco) has yet to come to grips with the scale of the catastrophe, 2 1/2 years after the plant was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami. Tepco only recently admitted water had leaked at all.
Calling water containment at the Fukushima Daiichi station an “urgent issue,” Abe ordered the government for the first time to get involved to help struggling Tepco handle the crisis.
The leak from the plant 220 km northeast of Tokyo is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in a week. The water is spilling into the Pacific Ocean, but it was not immediately clear how much of a threat it poses.
As early as January this year, Tepco found fish contaminated with high levels of radiation inside a port at the plant. Local fishermen and independent researchers had already suspected a leak of radioactive water, but Tepco denied the claims.
Tetsu Nozaki, the chairman of the Fukushima fisheries federation said he had only heard of the latest estimates of the magnitude of the seepage from media reports.
Environmental group Greenpeace said Tepco had “anxiously hid the leaks” and urged Japan to seek international expertise.
“Greenpeace calls for the Japanese authorities to do all in their power to solve this situation, and that includes increased transparancy…and getting international expertise in to help find solutions,” Dr. Rianne Teule of Greenpeace International said in an emailed statement.
In the weeks after the disaster, the government allowed Tepco to dump tens of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water into the Pacific in an emergency move.
But the escalation of the crisis raises the risk of an even longer and more expensive clean-up, already forecast to take more than 40 years and cost $11 billion.
The admission further dents the credibility of Tepco, criticised for its failure to prepare for the tsunami and earthquake, for a confused response to the disaster and for covering up shortcomings.
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Leak: What You Should Know
Pictures: The Nuclear Cleanup Struggle at Fukushima
Two years have passed since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began but little has changed for the people still struggling with the fallout from the triple meltdown that forced 160,000 from their homes.
The vast majority of those that have lost their homes remain stuck in limbo without proper compensation for their losses from the plant operator, TEPCO, or support to move on with their lives. Families are separated, communities are disintegrating and the level of mistrust in the government’s promises is growing.