Posts Tagged ‘Japan’
The decision to ban Japan’s annual whaling drive off Antarctica, handed down by the United Nations’ highest court on Monday, was a hard-won victory for conservationists who long argued that Tokyo’s whaling research was a cover for commercial whaling.
The ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague halts a Japanese program that has captured more than 10,000 minke and other whales in the Southern Ocean each year since 1988 in the name of biological research.
Japan may not be ready to lay down its harpoons entirely. Though the ruling is final, it allows the Japanese to continue to hunt whales under a redesigned program, said Nanami Kurasawa, who heads a marine conservation group in Tokyo.
And the court’s decision does not affect smaller hunts that Japan carries out in the northern Pacific, or coastal whaling carried out on a smaller scale by local fishermen…
In a 12-to-4 judgment, the court found that Japan was in breach of its international obligations by catching and killing minke whales and issuing permits for hunting humpback and fin whales within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, established by the International Whaling Commission.
Reading a summary of the judgment, the presiding judge, Peter Tomka of Slovakia, said that the latest Japanese program, which was expanded in 2005, had involved the killing of thousands of minke whales and a number of fin whales, but that its “scientific output to date appears limited.” The ruling suggested that Japan’s whaling hunt was based on politics and logistics, rather than science…
Australia, a former whaling country, brought the suit against Japan in 2010, accusing the country of using a loophole to get around a 1986 worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling.
…Japan’s whaling program has struggled financially in recent years, as more Japanese consumers turn up their noses at whale meat and as environmental activists chasing whaling boats make the hunts more difficult. Hunts in recent years have relied on public subsidies, including money drawn from funds earmarked for Japan’s post-tsunami reconstruction.
Some critics said that Monday’s decision presented Japan with an opportunity to bow out of a practice that has become a drain on its finances, as well as a blow to its image abroad.
I think the Japanese politicians who constructed and defended the programmatic lie of scientific research to justify the annual whale slaughter should be converted to a diet of bat soup. From Guinea.
Trying to wash away radioactive contamination on the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan
A stunning new report indicates the U.S. Navy knew that sailors from the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan took major radiation hits from the Fukushima atomic power plant after its meltdowns and explosions nearly three years ago.
If true, the revelations cast new light on the $1 billion lawsuit filed by the sailors against Tokyo Electric Power. Many of the sailors are already suffering devastating health impacts, but are being stonewalled by Tepco and the Navy.
The Reagan had joined several other U.S. ships in Operation Tomodachi (“Friendship”) to aid victims of the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami. Photographic evidence and first-person testimony confirms that on March 12, 2011 the ship was within two miles of Fukushima Dai’ichi as the reactors there began to melt and explode.
In the midst of a snow storm, deck hands were enveloped in a warm cloud that came with a metallic taste. Sailors testify that the Reagan’s 5,500-member crew was told over the ship’s intercom to avoid drinking or bathing in desalinized water drawn from a radioactive sea. The huge carrier quickly ceased its humanitarian efforts and sailed 100 miles out to sea, where newly published internal Navy communications confirm it was still taking serious doses of radioactive fallout.
Scores of sailors from the Reagan and other ships stationed nearby now report a wide range of ailments reminiscent of those documented downwind from atomic bomb tests in the Pacific and Nevada, and at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. A similar metallic taste was described by pilots who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and by central Pennsylvanians downwind of Three Mile Island. Some parts of the atolls downwind from the South Pacific bomb tests remain uninhabitable six decades later.
Among the 81 plaintiffs in the federal class action are a sailor who was pregnant during the mission, and her “Baby A.G.,” born that October with multiple genetic mutations.
Officially, Tepco and the Navy say the dose levels were safe.
But a stunning new report by an American scholar based in Tokyo confirms that Naval officers communicated about what they knew to be the serious irradiation of the Reagan. Written by Kyle Cunningham and published in Japan Focus, “Mobilizing Nuclear Bias” describes the interplay between the U.S. and Japanese governments as Fukushima devolved into disaster.
Cunningham writes that transcribed conversations obtained through the Freedom of Information Act feature naval officials who acknowledge that even while 100 miles away from Fukushima, the Reagan’s readings “compared to just normal background [are] about 30 times what you would detect just on a normal air sample out to sea.”
On the nuclear-powered carrier “all of our continuous monitors alarmed at the same level, at this value. And then we took portable air samples on the flight deck and got the same value,” the transcript says.
RTFA. Lots to read. If you’re as cynical as I there will be no surprises. That doesn’t reduce the anger that swells in my heart, contempt for the tame military and civilian bureaucrats who ignore the criminal damage done to those who depended on them for safe guidance.
Their shame must lead to official and public condemnation – and sincere efforts to remedy the harm.
The spiritual among us will view Sumitomo and Nissan’s installation of its first-ever used-electric-vehicle-battery storage as a bit of divine reincarnation. But the idea is quite logical and practical. The two companies formed the 4R Energy Corporation in late 2010 and have now installed what they call the world’s first “large-scale power storage system” using exclusively used batteries from battery-electric vehicles in Osaka, Japan.
The system uses 16 electric-vehicle batteries to create what’s called a “smoothing effect” on the power output of a nearby solar farm by storing excess energy generated by the panels during sunnier times, then sending it back to the system when it is sun-constrained. Yes, that’s a fancy word for dark.
Spurred by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment, Sumitomo and Nissan announced the collaboration, whose four Rs stand for “Reuse, Resell, Refabricate and Recycle,” in 2009 and launched it a year later. Nissan, which was obviously trying to boost resale value for its battery-electric Leaf at the time by finding a money-generating home for its used-up battery packs, estimated at the time that sales of the Leaf battery-electric would generate 50,000 battery packs available for the secondary market by 2020…
Toyota is also investing time and money towards similar low-carbon, recycling targets – from two different directions: selling disused Prius batteries for low-cost electricity storage and solar backup to their car dealers and a much grander project at Toyota City’s EcoFul Town in Japan. The latter a holistic solution involving home-building, transportation and solar-generated electricity.
Neither of which takes anything away from the Nissan-Sumitomo project.
Pluripotent stem cells injected into a mouse embryo
A leading Japanese research institute has opened an investigation into a groundbreaking stem cell study after concerns were raised about its credibility.
The RIKEN centre in Kobe announced on Friday that it is looking into alleged irregularities in the work of biologist Haruko Obokata, who works at the institution. She shot to fame last month as the lead author on two papers1, 2 published in Nature that demonstrated a simple way to reprogram mature mice cells into an embryonic state by simply applying stress, such as exposure to acid or physical pressure on cell membranes. The RIKEN investigation follows allegations on blog sites about the use of duplicated images in Obokata’s papers, and numerous failed attempts to replicate her results…
That scepticism deepened last week when blogs such as PubPeer started noting what seem to be problems in the two Nature papers and in an earlier paper from 2011, which relates to the potential of stem cells in adult tissues…The corresponding author of that study, Charles Vacanti, an anaesthesiologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, told Nature that he learned only last week of a “mix up of some panels”. He has already contacted the journal to request a correction. “It certainly appears to have been an honest mistake [that] did not affect any of the data, the conclusions or any other component of the paper,” says Vacanti.
The problems in the two recent Nature papers, on both of which Obokata is a corresponding author (Vacanti is a co-author on both, and corresponding author on one), also relate to images…
Teruhiko Wakayama, a cloning specialist at Yamanashi University in Yamanashi prefecture, is a co-author on both of the papers and took most of the placental images. He admits that the two look similar but says it may be a case of simple confusion. Wakayama, who left RIKEN during the preparation of the manuscript, says he sent more than a hundred images to Obokata and suggests that there was confusion over which to use. He says he is now looking into the problem…
Some researchers do not see a problem yet. Qi Zhou, a cloning expert at the Institute of Zoology in Beijing, who says most of his mouse cells died after treatment with acid, says that “setting up the system is tricky”. “As an easy experiment in an experienced lab can be extremely difficult to others, I won’t comment on the authenticity of the work only based on the reproducibility of the technique in my lab,” says Zhou…
Wakayama says that his independent success in reproducing Obokata’s results is enough to convince him that the technique works. He also notes that the cells produced by Obokata are the only ones known — aside from those in newly fertilized embryos — to be able to produce, for example, placenta, so could not have been substituted cells. “I did it and found it myself,” he says. “I know the results are absolutely true.”
One of the delights of peer review can be failure to corroborate or replicate results. Doesn’t mean the original work is incorrect. It means the system is working.
And more work to corroborate is required.
Mayor Inamine [center] and his supporters celebrate re-election
Efforts to relocate a US base on Japan’s Okinawa appeared to suffer a new setback Sunday, 17 years after they began, with the reported electoral victory of an opponent of the project.
The mayor of the town of Nago on the east coast of Okinawa has won re-election, according to the TBS news station after the majority of votes were counted.
Susumu Inamine, supported by several leftist parties, is a strong opponent of the joint project by the US and Japanese governments to move the US Marines’ Futenma Air Station, sited in an urban area in the south of Okinawa, to Nago bay.
Understand, the mayor wants the base off the island altogether!
Last month, more than 17 years after Washington and Tokyo agreed to move the base from the densely populated urban area, the Okinawa government finally consented to a landfill that will enable new facilities to be built on the coast at Nago.
The issue had been deadlocked for years, with huge opposition to any new base among Okinawans fed up with playing host to an outsized share of the US military presence in Japan…
The mayor of Nago does not have the right to overthrow plans to relocate the base but could refuse to approve the use of roads and other facilities necessary for building works…
Okinawa’s Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, long a thorn in the central government’s side, gave the plan his approval after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised Okinawa financial aid of at least $2.9 billion every year until fiscal 2021.
A bribe of $8,000 per resident per year.
Opponents support the removal of the US base from the town of Ginowan but want it relocated out of Okinawa altogether.
Let me insert an educated guess here. Founded on over a half-century of watching our Cold Warriors in action. I guarantee there is a secret treaty stashed in the GOUSA that specifies US troops will leave Okinawa and Japan ONLY when the United States says so – a treaty signed after Japan’s unconditional surrender in 1945.
Japan has even elected national governments on this issue and then rec’d an unpublished phone call from the White House – most recently from Obama in his first term – and then announced they wouldn’t be able to close the US Base in Okinawa. No further discussion allowed. So much for transparency, enlightened democracy.
Verdict of the International Military Tribunal
A Japanese cabinet member visited a shrine seen by critics as a symbol of Tokyo’s wartime aggression on Wednesday, pouring salt on a fresh wound after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pilgrimage there last week drew sharp criticism from China and South Korea.
Internal Affairs Minister Yoshitaka Shindo said he thought his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine was unlikely to become a diplomatic issue…
But Beijing and Seoul have repeatedly expressed anger over politicians’ visits to Yasukuni, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal after World War Two are honored along with those who died in battle.
Both China and Korea suffered under Japanese rule, with parts of China occupied from the 1930s and Korea colonized from 1910 to 1945. Japanese leaders have apologized in the past but many in China and South Korea doubt the sincerity of the apologies, partly because of contradictory remarks by politicians.
China condemned Wednesday’s visit, which it said exposed Japan’s war crimes and attempts to “challenge the outcomes of the world’s anti-fascist war“…
Underscoring the deteriorating ties between Asia’s two biggest economies, China said its leaders would not meet Abe after he visited Yasukuni on Thursday, the first visit by a serving Japanese prime minister since 2006.
The quality of Reuters commentary continues to deteriorate. They end the article with one of those fatuous boilerplate sentences famous in diplomatic annals: “Experts see his visit as an attempt to recast Japan’s wartime past in a less apologetic light and revive national pride.”
Which experts, working for which governments — and what sort of national pride is raised by visiting a memorial best-known even in Japan as important to the nation’s greed and brutality to all other Asian nations? There are beaucoup alternatives popular among the Japanese people.
Can you imagine Angela Merkel or Giorgio Napolitano paying a visit of remembrance to Hitler’s bunker or the Esso station in Milan where Mussolini’s body was laid out for the public to spit on. Do you think President Obama should wander through Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina to visit Jesse Helms’ grave? The last and most unrepentant racist elected to the US Senate on a platform of opposing civil rights for non-white Americans – forever!
Right-wing nationalism in Japan only means one policy in the last century of Asian history. Military might and political will commanded to serve Japanese corporate Zaibatsu.
Bertha, the world’s largest tunnel boring machine, started digging under Seattle on Tuesday as it chewed through the north wall of the 80-ft deep trench where it was assembled after being shipped in pieces from its manufacturer in Japan. Designed to bore a 1.7 mile tunnel for State Route 99 under the Seattle city center to replace the old viaduct, the machine will both dig out soil and lay a concrete tunnel wall as it goes.
Though Bertha’s construction is one for the record books, it’s only half the story. The other is the SR 99 tunnel itself. The city of Seattle rests on a remarkable geology and the design of both Bertha and the tunnel reflect this. Almost the whole area is one huge glacial redeposit with a complex mixture of soils – some of which is less stable than one would like in an earthquake zone. Furthermore, the city center is heavily built up with the tunnel has to travel under about 160 buildings and the viaduct, which is still in use…
The tunneling route is divided into ten zones. The first of these is where Bertha will go slow, only about six feet per day, as the engineers monitor the huge machine. One drawback of building something unique for a unique job in a unique location is that it isn’t possible to thoroughly test it until it’s actually on the job. As Bertha begins it’s job, the engineers will keep an eye on its workings. There are also three “safe havens” where the crew can crawl forward to inspect the front of the machine. Once the engineers are satisfied, Bertha will speed up until it’s pushing its 326 ft length at 35 ft per day…
In 14 months, the SR 99 tunnel will breach the surface near the intersection of Sixth Avenue North and Harrison Street and the new highway section is scheduled to open in 2015.
The Italian half of my family rejoices. Some of the best hard-rock tunneling equipment and workers come from Italy. That’s how some of my kin got to the Rockies. That and coal mines.