The Shōguns of Japan


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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While researching for a forthcoming series of articles on the despots of the 20th century, I accumulated many interesting extraneous materials that presented themselves as subject-matter for some interesting articles. Herein, I have attempted to throw some light in a nutshell on the establishment of the shogunate (or bakufu) in Japan and its rule from the end of the twelfth century until the Meiji Restoration in the middle of the nineteenth century.

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Feudal Japan (Source: millparksc.libguides.com)

Feudal Japan (Source: millparksc.libguides.com)

After the 8th century, the system of public-land domain in Japan broke down, and various types of private landholdings consolidated into estates (shōen) came into being. These holdings, organized under the authority of the civil nobility and religious establishments, remained within the framework of the imperial government.

The Kamakura period

In Japanese, the term “shōgun” meaning “barbarian-quelling generalissimo” or a military ruler was first used during the Heian period. The title “shōgun was occasionally conferred on a general after a successful campaign.

Minamoto no Y.oritomo (May 9, 1147 – February 9, 1199), the 1st Kamakura shōgun

Minamoto no Y.oritomo (May 9, 1147 – February 9, 1199), the 1st Kamakura shōgun

In 1185, Minamoto no Yoritomo (May 9, 1147 – February 9, 1199), gained military control of Japan after his decisive victory over the rival Taira family at the battle of Dannoura. Yoritomo created his own military administration to serve beside the imperial court. In 1192, the imperial court sanctioned his authority and granted him the official rank of shōgun. His military administration was the first bakufu, or shogunate, commonly  known as the Kamakura shogunate.

The years 1192 to 1333, during which the basis of feudalism was firmly established in Japan is known as the Kamakura period, named after the city where Minamoto Yoritomo set up the headquarters of his military government.

During the 11th and 12th centuries, the military class – the buke or samurai, increased in numbers and prominence. The Kamakura culture was largely defined by the rise of the warrior class, which held martial skills and the ideals of duty, loyalty, and bravery in the highest regard. The cult of the sword and the practice of ritual suicide by disembowelment (seppuku) both emerged during this period.

The daimyō

At this time, the term “daimyō“(大名) came to be applied to those military lords who began exercising territorial control, and later proprietary rights, over the various private estates and hereditary land holdings into which the country had become divided. They were subordinate only to the shōgun. Usually, though not exclusively, a shōgun arose or a regent chosen from the daimyō warlords.

Following the daimyō were the warrior-caste of samurai, with the farmers, artisans, and traders ranking below.

Often, the daimyō hired the samurai to guard their land and paid them in land or food. A few daimyō paid the samurai in money.

In some smaller regions of Japan, the daimyō and the samurai were almost identical since a daimyō might be trained as a samurai, and a samurai might act as local rulers.

After Yoritomo died on February 9, 1199, the Kamakura shōguns lost real power to the Hōjō family while remaining titular rulers.

In 1274 and 1281, the Japanese warriors thwarted the invasion attempts by the Mongolian fleets under Kublai Khan with the aid of kamikaze (神風) or the “divine wind” of typhoons that decimated the enemy fleet.

The term Kamikaze was later used for the suicide attacks by military aviators officially known as Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (特別攻撃隊 literally: “Special attack unit”) abbreviated as Tokkō Tai (特攻隊) from the Empire of Japan. The Kamikaze attacks by the Tokkō Tai against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II destroyed warships more effectively than was possible with conventional attacks.

The financial strain imposed by the defense efforts against the Mongol attacks, however, aggravated the internal weaknesses in the regime. In 1331, Emperor Go-daigo Tennō tried to overthrow the shogunate and restore the monarchy. His efforts led to civil war and divided the imperial family into two rival factions and subsequent collapse of the bakufu in 1333.

Ashikaga Takauji (1305 – June 7, 1358), 1st Ashikaga shōgun.

Ashikaga Takauji (1305 – June 7, 1358), 1st Ashikaga shōgun.

Ashikaga Takauji received the title of shōgun in 1338 and established the Ashikaga shogunate. However, his successors enjoyed even less control over Japan than the Kamakura shōguns. Gradually, the country succumbed to civil war.

The Tokugawa period

Though the shōguns were nominally appointed by the emperor, between 1600 and 1868 they were the de facto rulers of Japan. Each shōgun during this period was a member of the Tokugawa clan.

Tokugawa Ieyasu (January 31, 1543 – June 1, 1616), 1st Tokugawa shogun.

Tokugawa Ieyasu (January 31, 1543 – June 1, 1616), 1st Tokugawa shōgun.

Tokugawa Ieyasu (January 31, 1543 – June 1, 1616) was the founder and the first shōgun of the Tokugawa, which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, and was the last feudal Japanese military regime.

The years of rule by the Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the Tokugawa bakufu, are recognized as the Tokugawa period or pre-modern period. Since they ruled from the Edo (now Tokyo) Castle they were also known as the Edo bakufu and the years of shogunate rule was likewise called the Edo period.

The Japanese society in the Tokugawa period, unlike the shogunates before it, was supposedly based on the strict class hierarchy.

The Tokugawa shogunate brought Japan the longest period of peace, constancy, and stability lasting well over 200 years.

The Meiji restoration

The Japanese proclivity for titular rulers prevailed, and in time a council of elders from the main branches of the Tokugawa clan ruled the country from behind the scenes. Since the title of shogun ultimately came from the emperor, he became a rallying point for those who sought to bring down the shogunate.

The 1866 alliance between Saigō Takamori, the leader of the Satsuma domain, and Kido Takayoshi, the leader of the Chōshū domain, formed the foundation of the Meiji restoration also known as the Meiji Ishin. These two leaders supported the titular Emperor Kōmei and challenged the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate.

Tokugawa Yoshinobu (October 28, 1837 – November 22, 1913) also known as Keiki was the 15th and last shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan.

Tokugawa Yoshinobu (October 28, 1837 – November 22, 1913) also known as Keiki was the 15th and last shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan.

The 15th Tokugawa shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, resigned and the Tokugawa shogunate came to an official end.

Emperor Kōmei died on January 30, 1867.

Meiji the Great, the 122nd Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from February 3, 1867 until his death on July 30, 1912

Meiji the Great, the 122nd Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from February 3, 1867 until his death on July 30, 1912

On February 3, 1867, the Meiji emperor, the 122nd Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession, ascended the throne. He reigned from February 3, 1867 until his death on July 30, 1912. During his lifetime, the emperor was known by his personal name Mutsuhito. But after his death, he was given the reign name, “Meiji“. His personal name “Mutsuhito” is never used in Japan in any official context.

On the night of December 9, 1867, the Kogosho Conference was held at the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the restoration of imperial rule (osei fukko) was declared.

Japan changed from being a feudal society to having a market economy. During this period the Western countries influenced the lifestyle of the Japanese.

In 1871, Japan adopted the prefecture system.

Click on this link for the shōgun timeline:  http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsFarEast/JapanShoguns.htm

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The China Syndrome


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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In the town outside of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the archway of hope still reads 'Nuclear Power Our Bright Future'

In the town outside of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the archway of hope still reads ‘Nuclear Power Our Bright Future’

On Friday March 11, 2011, at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC), a magnitude 9.0 (Mw) undersea mega-thrust earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan. The epicentre was about 43 miles (70 km) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku and the hypo-center was at an underwater depth of about 19 miles (30 km).

The Japanese refer to this earthquake as the Great East Japan Earthquake and as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Since modern record-keeping began in 1900, it was the fifth most powerful earthquake in the world and the most powerful known earthquake ever to have struck Japan. The earthquake moved Honshu (the main island of Japan) 8 feet (2.4 metres) east and shifted the Earth on its axis between 4 inches (10 cm) and 10 inches (25 cm).

An aerial view of the reactor buildings at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, north-eastern Japan.

An aerial view of the reactor buildings at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, north-eastern Japan.

Also, the earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves. In Miyako in Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture, tsunami waves reached heights of up to 133 feet (40.5 metres) and in the Sendai area, travelled up to 6 miles (10 km) inland.

Radioactive route: Journalists in protective gear are taken to the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 6. (Photo:  AP)

Radioactive route: Journalists in protective gear are taken to the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 6, 2011. (Photo: AP)

On March 11, 2011, after the Tōhoku earthquake and the ensuing 15-metre tsunami, a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns and release of radioactive materials from three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused a nuclear accident. All three cores melted in the first three days. Panic reigned at the plant while trying to deal with the three out-of-control reactors.

Used fuel generates heat, and needs to be cooled and shielded. This is initially performed by water in ponds, circulated by electric pumps through external heat exchangers, that dump the heat and maintain a low temperature. The ponds hold some fresh fuel and some used fuel, pending its transfer to the central used/spent fuel storage on site.

At the time of the accident, Unit 4’s reactor was undergoing maintenance. So, in addition to a large number of used fuel assemblies, unit 4’s pond also held a full core load of 548 fuel assemblies these having been removed at the end of November. A new set of problems arose as the fuel ponds, holding fresh and used fuel in the upper part of the reactor structures, were found to be depleted in water.

Masao Yoshida

Masao Yoshida was the plant manager during this Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, where he played a critical role by disobeying corporate headquarter orders to stop using seawater to cool the reactors

On March 12, 2011, about 28 hours after the tsunami struck, TEPCO executives ordered workers to start injecting seawater into Reactor No. 1. However, 21 minutes later, they ordered Yoshida to suspend the operation. Yoshida chose to ignore the order. That night, at 20:05 JST, the Japanese government again ordered seawater to be injected into Unit 1.

Early on Tuesday March 15, 2011, hydrogen explosions rocked reactor buildings 1, 3 and 4. Before dawn, Masao Yoshida, the director of the plant, remarked: “The worst-case scenario is a China syndrome.

On June 7, 2011, Yoshida was verbally reprimanded for defying the order and not reporting it earlier.

According to nuclear physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, the decision to use seawater arguably prevented a much greater disaster. The massive influx of seawater is the only thing that stopped the cores from exploding, according to Dr. Kaku, who added this was a last-ditch effort.

Worst case scenario - China syndrome

In Early May, 2011, Tepco sent engineers to recalibrate water level gauges in reactor No. 1. What they discovered was alarming: virtually all the fuel in the core had melted down. In other words, the zirconium alloy tubes that hold the uranium fuel and the fuel itself lies in a clump – either at the bottom of the pressure vessel, or in the basement below or possibly even outside the containment building.

Japanese Environment Minister Goshi Hosono

Goshi Hosono, Japanese Environment Minister

On December 19, 2011, in regard to where the nuclear fuel might be Goshi Hosono, Minister of State for the Nuclear Power Policy and Administration (Nuclear Accident
Minister) said there are 3 possibilities:

  1. In pressure vessel
  2. In containment vessel
  3. “In regard to that third possibility that some [nuclear] fuel may have worked its way out of the containment vessel and gone underneath it, I think there’s a very strong possibility…we think there is a strong possibility that some fuel is in that location as well.”

The phrase “China syndrome” now touted very much in the news is a fanciful term that should not be taken literally. It owes its origin to the movie China Syndrome, a 1979 terrific American thriller starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas. It tells the story of a television reporter and her cameraman who while doing a series of reports on alternative energy sources discover safety cover-ups at a nuclear power. The movie is based on a screenplay by director James Bridges and American screenwriters Mike Gray, and T.S. Cook.

While doing a series of reports on alternative energy sources, an opportunistic reporter Kimberly Wells (Jane Fonda) and her radical cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas) while visiting the (fictional) Ventana nuclear power plant outside Los Angeles, witness the plant going through an emergency shutdown (SCRAM). The movie describes a fictional worst-case result of a nuclear meltdown, where reactor components melt through their containment structures and into the underlying earth, “all the way to China.” Kimberly determined to publicise the incident soon finds herself entangled in a sinister conspiracy to keep the full impact of the incident a secret.

The China Syndrome

Click on the above image to read the full plot of the film China Syndrome.

The film “China Syndrome” was based on a number of real-life nuclear plant incidents and in particular the Brown’s Ferry Alabama Nuclear Power Plant Fire that occurred four years earlier in 1975.

The film was released on March 16, 1979, and 12 days later the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania suffered a partial meltdown. Luckily no one was hurt. Coincidentally, in one scene in the movie, physicist Dr. Elliott Lowell (Donald Hotton) says that the China Syndrome would transform “an area the size of Pennsylvania” permanently uninhabitable. The Three Mile Island incident helped turn The China Syndrome into a blockbuster.

Nuclear meltdown

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‘Worse than AIDS’ – sex ‘superbug’ discovered in Japan called disaster in waiting


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superbug-gonorrhea-aids-sex

Doctors are warning that a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea could be more deadly than AIDS, and are urging members of US Congress to spend $54 million for the development of a drug that would fight it.

“This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly,” Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, told CNBC.

The new strain of gonorrhea, H041, was first discovered in 2009 after a sex worker fell victim to the superbug in Japan. Medical officials reported that the medication-resilient ‘sex superbug’ was discovered in Hawaii in May 2011, and has since spread to California and Norway, the International Business Times reports.

Nearly 30 million people die from AIDS-related causes each year, and the H041 superbug could have similar consequences, according to Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine.

“Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days,” Christianson said. “This is very dangerous.”

The gonorrhea strain has not yet claimed any lives, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have asked Congress for $54 million to find an antibiotic to treat the strain.

In a Capitol Hill briefing last week, health officials said an education and public awareness campaign is crucial in minimizing the effective of HO41. William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition for STD Directors, said that if the ‘sex superbug’ spreads, it could quickly kill many people before a treatment is discovered. And that risk becomes increasingly more likely if Congress does not provide the funds to find a cure, he said.

“It’s an emergency situation. As time moves on, it’s getting more hazardous,” he told members of Congress.

“We have to keep beating the drum on this,” he added. “The potential for disaster is great.”

In the United States, there are 20 million new STD infections each year, which results in about $16 billion in medical costs, the CDC reports. More than 800,000 of these cases gonorrhea infections, most of which occur in young people ages 15 to 24. Gonorrhea is sometimes difficult to detect, since it shows no symptoms in about half of all women. Those who fall ill to the deadly strain may not notice it until it’s too late.

“That’s what’s kind of scary about this,” Smith said.

Although health officials have widely reported that cases of H041 were discovered in California, Hawaii and Norway, the CDC has disputed those claims and told CNBC on Monday that the infection has not been confirmed anywhere outside of Japan. The CDC did, however, make an announcement in 2011 that it was noticing greater gonorrhea bacterial resistance to certain types of antibiotics in Hawaii and California.

CDC officials said that the US and Norwegian cases were treated effectively with antibiotics not routinely recommended and that these cases were mistakenly identified as H041. But the agency continues to urge Congress for research funding, indicating that the risk of infection is high regardless of where the cases occurred.

Christianson is urging people to practice safe sex and get STD tests if they are in a new relationship, since a superbug infection could be around the corner.

“This is a disaster just waiting to happen,” he told CNBC. “It’s time to do something about it before it explodes. These superbugs, including the gonorrhea strain, are a health threat. We need to move now before it gets out of hand.”

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Re-posted from RT.com
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Inhuman Radiation Experiments


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by JOHN LaFORGE

Inhuman Radiation Experiments

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the declassification of top secret studies, done over a period of 60 years, in which the US conducted 2,000 radiation experiments on as many as 20,000 vulnerable US citizens.[i]

Victims included civilians, prison inmates, federal workers, hospital patients, pregnant women, infants, developmentally disabled children and military personnel — most of them powerless, poor, sick, elderly or terminally ill. Eileen Welsome’s 1999 exposé The Plutonium Files: America’s Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War details “the unspeakable scientific trials that reduced thousands of men, women, and even children to nameless specimens.”[ii]

The program employed industry and academic scientists who used their hapless patients or wards to see the immediate and short-term effects of radioactive contamination — with everything from plutonium to radioactive arsenic.[iii] The human subjects were mostly poisoned without their knowledge or consent.

An April 17, 1947 memo by Col. O.G. Haywood of the Army Corps of Engineers explained why the studies were classified. “It is desired that no document be released which refers to experiments with humans and might have adverse effect on public opinion or result in legal suits.”[iv]

In one Vanderbilt U. study, 829 pregnant women were unknowingly fed radioactive iron. In another, 188 children were given radioactive iron-laced lemonade. From 1963 to 1971, 67 inmates in Oregon and 64 prisoners in Washington had their testicles targeted with X-rays to see what doses made them sterile.[v]

At the Fernald State School, mentally retarded boys were fed radioactive iron and calcium but consent forms sent to parents didn’t mention radiation. Elsewhere psychiatric patients and infants were injected with radioactive iodine.[vi]

In a rare public condemnation, Clinton Administration Energy Sec. Hazel O’Leary confessed being aghast at the conduct of the scientists. She toldNewsweek in 1994: “I said, ‘Who were these people and why did this happen?’ The only thing I could think of was Nazi Germany.”[vii] None of the victims were provided follow-on medical care.

Scientists knew from the beginning of the 20th century that radiation can cause genetic and cell damage, cell death, radiation sickness and even death. A Presidential Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments was established in 1993 to investigate charges of unethical or criminal action by the experimenters. Its findings were published by Oxford U. Press in 1996 as The Human Radiation Experiments.

The abuse of X-radiation “therapy” was also conducted throughout the ’40s and ’50s. Everything from ringworm to tonsillitis was “treated” with X-radiation because the long-term risks were unknown or considered tolerable.

Children were routinely exposed to alarmingly high doses of radiation from devices like “fluoroscopes” to measure foot size in shoe stores.[viii]

Nasal radium capsules inserted in nostrils, used to attack hearing loss, are now thought to be the cause of cancers, thyroid and dental problems, immune dysfunction and more.[ix]

Experiments Spread Cancer Risks Far and Wide

In large scale experiments as late as 1985, the Energy Department deliberately produced reactor meltdowns which spewed radiation across Idaho and beyond.[x] The Air Force conducted at least eight deliberate meltdowns in the Utah desert, dispersing 14 times the radiation released by the partial meltdown of Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979.[xi]

The military even dumped radiation from planes and spread it across wide areas around and downwind of Oak Ridge, Tenn., Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Dugway, Utah. This “systematic radiation warfare program,” conducted between 1944 and 1961, was kept secret for 40 years.[xii]

“Radiation bombs” thrown from USAF planes intentionally spread radiation “unknown distances” endangering the young and old alike. One such experiment doused Utah with 60 times more radiation than escaped the Three Mile Island accident, according to Sen. John Glen, D-Ohio who released a report on the program 20 years ago.[xiii]

The Pentagon’s 235 above-ground nuclear bomb tests, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are not officially listed as radiation experiments. Yet between 250,000 and 500,000 U.S. military personnel were contaminated during their compulsory participation in the bomb tests and the post-war occupation of Japan.[xii]

Documents uncovered by the Advisory Committee show that the military knew there were serious radioactive fallout risks from its Nevada Test Site bomb blasts. The generals decided not to use a safer site in Florida, where fallout would have blown out to sea. “The officials determined it was probably not safe, but went ahead anyway,” said Pat Fitzgerald a scientist on the committee staff.[xv]

Dr. Gioacchino Failla, a Columbia University scientist who worked for the AEC, said at the time, “We should take some risk… we are faced with a war in which atomic weapons will undoubtedly be used, and we have to have some information about these things.”[xvi]

With the National Cancer Institute’s 1997 finding that all 160,000 million US citizens (in the country at the time of the bomb tests) were contaminated with fallout, it’s clear we did face war with atomic weapons — our own.

John LaForge works for the nuclear watchdog group Nukewatch in Wisconsin and edits its Quarterly newsletter.

Notes

[i] “Secret Radioactive Experiments to Bring Compensation by U.S.,” New York Times, Nov. 20, 1996

[ii] Eileen Welsome, The Plutonium Files, Delta Books, 1999, dust jacket

[iii] Welsome, The Plutonium Files, p. 9

[iv] “Radiation tests kept deliberately secret,” Washington Post, Dec. 16, 1994; Geoffrey Sea, “The Radiation Story No One Would Touch,” Project Censored, March/April 1994

[v] Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power, “American Nuclear Guinea Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on U.S. Citizens,” US Gov’t Printing Office, Nov. 1986, p. 2; St. Paul Pioneer, via New York Times, Jan. 4, 1994

[vi] “48 more human radiation experiments revealed, Minneapolis StarTribune, June 28, 1994; Milwaukee Journal, June 29, 1994

[vii] Newsweek, Dec. 27, 1994

[viii] Joseph Mangano, Mad Science: The Nuclear Power Experiment, OR Books, 2012, p. 36

[ix] “Nasal radium treatments of ’50s linked to cancer,” Milwaukee Journal, Aug. 31, 1994

[x] “Reactor core is melted in experiment,” Washington Post service, Milwaukee Journal, July 10, 1985

[xi] “Tests spewed radiation, paper reports,” AP, Milwaukee Journal, Oct. 11, 1994

[xii] “Secret U.S. experiments in ’40s and ’50s included dropping radiation from sky,” St. Paul Pioneer, Dec. 16, 1993

[xiii] Katherine Rizzo, Associated Press, “A bombshell: U.S. spread radiation,” Duluth News Tribune, Dec. 16, 1993

[xiv] Catherine Caufield, Multiple Exposures, p. 107; Greg Gordon in “Wellstone: Compensate atomic vets,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, Mach 17, 1995; Associated Press, “Panel Told of Exposure to Test Danger,” Tulsa World, Jan. 24, 1995

[xv] Philip Hilts, “Fallout Risk Near Atom Tests Was Known, Documents Show,” New York Times, March 15, 1995, p. A13; and Pat Ortmeyer, “Let Them Drink Milk,” Institute for Environmental & Energy Research, November 1997, pp. 3 & 11

[xvi] Philip J. Hilts, “Fallout Risk Near Atom Tests Was Known, Documents Show,” New York Times, March 15, 1995

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Re-posted from counterpunch.org

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Lawsuit Seeks Evacuation of Fukushima Children


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AP –  April 14, 2013

An aerial view of the reactor buildings at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, north-eastern Japan.

An aerial view of the reactor buildings at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, north-eastern Japan. Their demand: The right to live free of radiation. The plaintiffs who started the legal battle: 14 children. A Japanese appeals court is expected to rule soon on this unusual lawsuit, filed on behalf of the children by their parents and anti-nuclear activists in June 2011 in a district court in Fukushima city. — FILE PHOTO: AP/KYODO NEWS

THEIR demand: The right to live free of radiation. The plaintiffs who started the legal battle: 14 children.

A Japanese appeals court is expected to rule soon on this unusual lawsuit, filed on behalf of the children by their parents and anti-nuclear activists in June 2011 in a district court in Fukushima city, about 60 kilometres west of the crippled nuclear plant that spewed radiation when a massive earthquake and tsunami hit it more than two years ago.

The lawsuit argues that Koriyama, a city of 330,000, should evacuate its children to an area where radiation levels are no higher than natural background levels in the rest of Japan, or about 1 millisievert annual exposure.

In a culture that frowns upon challenging the authorities, the lawsuit highlights the rift in public opinion created by the baffling range in experts’ views on the health impact of low dose radiation. Although some experts say there is no need for children to be evacuated, parents are worried about the long-term impact on their children, who are more vulnerable to radiation than adults. Consuming contaminated food and water are additional risks.

After the Fukushima accident, the world’s worst since Chernobyl, Japan set an annual exposure limit of 20 millisieverts for determining whether people can live in an area or not. The average radiation for Koriyama is far below this cutoff point, but some “hot spots” around the city are above that level.

“This is the level at which there are no major effects on health and people can live there,” said Keita Kawamori, an official with the Japanese Cabinet Office. “Academic experts decided this was the safe level.”

A prominent medical doctor in charge of health safety in Fukushima has repeatedly urged calm, noting damage is measurable only at annual exposure of 100 millisieverts, or 100 times the normal level, and higher.

A lower court rejected the lawsuit’s demands in a December 2011 decision, saying radiation had not reached the 100-millisievert cutoff. The International Commission on Radiological Protection, the academic organisation on health and radiation, says risks decline with a drop exposure, but does not believe there is a cutoff below which there is no risk.

An appeal filed is still before Sendai High Court in nearby Miyagi Prefecture more than a year later.

After the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which emitted more radiation than the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, the Soviet government made it a priority to evacuate women and children from within a 30-kilometre radius of the plant, bigger than the 20-kilometre no-go zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

The number of children behind the original lawsuit dwindled to 10 for the appeal, and is now down to one as families left the prefecture voluntarily or the children grew older. Legally in Japan, a city has responsibility for children only through junior high (7th-9th grades), since high school is not compulsory.

But the case serves as a precedent for other Fukushima children.

Toshio Yanagihara

Toshio Yanagihara, a lawyer representing 14 children from Fukushima who started a legal battle for the right to live free of radiation, holds a leaflet urging quick action be taken. Picture: Yuri Kageyama Source: AP

Toshio Yanagihara, one of the lawyers, criticised the government as appearing more worried about a population exodus than in saving the children.

“I don’t understand why an economic power like Japan won’t evacuate the children – something even the fascist government did during World War II,” he said, referring to the mass evacuation of children during the 1940s to avoid air bombings. “This is child abuse.”

After Chernobyl, thousands of children got thyroid cancer. Some medical experts say leukemia, heart failure and other diseases that followed may be linked to radiation.

In Fukushima, at least three cases of thyroid cancer have been diagnosed among children, although there’s no evidence of a link with the nuclear disaster. There are no comparative figures on thyroid cancer in other areas of Japan.

The children in the lawsuit and their families are all anonymous, and details about them are not disclosed, to protect them from possible backlash of ostracism and bullying.

“Why is Japan, our Fukushima, about to repeat the mistakes of Chernobyl?” wrote a mother of one of the children in a statement submitted to the court. “Isn’t it up to us adults to protect our children?”

The trial has attracted scant attention in the mainstream Japanese media but it has drawn support from anti-nuclear protesters, who have periodically held massive rallies.

Among the high-profile supporters are musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, Manga artist Tetsuya Chiba and American linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky.

“There is no better measure of the moral health of a society than how it treats the most vulnerable people within it, and none or more vulnerable, or more precious, than children who are the victims of unconscionable actions,” Chomsky wrote in a message.

A 12-year-old, among those who filed the lawsuit but have since left the area, said she was worried.

“Even if I am careful, I may get cancer, and the baby I have may be hurt,” she said in a hand-written statement.

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KUDANKULAM N-PLANT IN DANGER? SUPPLIER HELD FOR SHODDY PARTS


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By Kumar Chellappan

Posted on April 8, 2013 in the pioneer

ZiO-Podolsk Engineering Plant manufactures steam generators for NPPs of the Russian design

ZiO-Podolsk Engineering Plant manufactures steam generators for NPPs of the Russian design.

Against the backdrop of the arrest of Sergei Shutov, a director of Zio-Podolsk, a subsidiary of Rosatom, on charges of corruption, fraud and supplying cheap Ukrainian steel blanks and steam generators in nuclear reactors, former chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Dr A Gopalakrishnan has demanded an immediate investigation into the safety of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in India as it was Podolsk that had supplied components for the reactor.

He demanded constitution of an independent body of nuclear engineering specialists to ascertain the KNPP’s safety.

This is the first time in the history of the Indian nuclear establishment, a former chief regulator, who is respected all over the nuclear world for his no-nonsense approach, has questioned the claims of the Government that the plant is foolproof and “greener than even green”.

Gopalakrishnan, a nuclear power engineer with more than five decades of experience, said nothing was right with the 1,000 MW reactor built with Russian assistance. “The inordinate delay in the commissioning of the plant and the silence of the country’s nuclear regulator, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, has substantiated our doubts about the safety and security of the plant,” said the country’s former chief nuclear regulator.

Addressing the delegates of the all-India convention on “approach to the power question in the country”, organised jointly by People’s Committee for Safe Energy (PECOSE, promoted by the Lefts) and Breakthrough Science Society, Gopalakrishnan, said the silence maintained by both the Department of Atomic Energy and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, was disgusting and dubious. “The AERB chairman should have been here to address the doubts in our minds. But they are avoiding the people,” he thundered.

He said there were many corruption charges. “Remember, these charges were made by the investigating agency in Russia, their equivalent of India’s CBI. There are charges that inferior quality materials have gone into the crucial components of the reactor being built at Kudankulam.

These are not allegations raised by journalists or social activists. The Russian Government itself had declared the other day about the arrest of Shutov, director of Zio-Podolsk, a Rosatom subsidiary, which supplied the KNPP reactor,” said Dr Gopalakrishnan.

Shutov was arrested on charges of corruption, fraud and for supplying cheap Ukrainian steel blanks and steam generators in nuclear reactors built by Rosatom. “The scope of this scandal could reach every reactor built and supplied by Russia over the past several years. This demands immediate investigation,” a spokesman of Russian security service had told the country’s media.

Gopalakrishnan pointed out that the initial agreement for building the nuclear plant was signed between India and the then USSR in 1988. By 1991 the USSR disintegrated. “The subsidiary units which were supplying the components for the Russian nuclear establishment too fell into undesirable hands. The arrest of the Zio-Podolsk executive in connection with the distribution of cheap and fraudulent materials to reactors is shocking because the same company had supplied components to the nuclear reactor at Kudankulam. Let the Russian authorities themselves come here, examine the entire components and certify that they are of good quality,” Gopalakrishnan said.

He described the claims of YN Dudkin, head of the Russian Specialists Group, that the Kudankulam reactors were the safest in the world as a ploy to hoodwink the people as well as the Centre. “It is the claim of a salesman. We want an official assurance from the Russian Atomic Energy Regulator. Then let’s constitute a body of independent nuclear engineering specialists and have a discussion on the thorny issues. The reactor should be cleared only after these formalities,” he said.

Dudkin had claimed that two Russian reactors, each of 1,000 MW are functioning normally in China. “Do you know that the Chinese are examining the entire reactor components following the arrest of the Zio-Podolsk executive,” said Gopalakrishnan.

The former AERB chairman was highly critical of the stance of APJ Abdul Kalam, former President, who declared the plant safer after a two-hour whirlwind tour in Kudankulam. “Who authorised Kalam to make such a statement? He is only a missile engineer and does not know anything about nuclear energy. How can such a person make a statement like that?” asked Gopalakrishnan.

According to Gopalakrishnan, more than the energy requirements of the country, what weighed in the minds of the people who lead the UPA Government was personal gains. “They have thrown to winds the well thought out Indian nuclear plan conceived and developed by Dr Homi J Bhabha and Dr Vikram Sarabhai. Dr Bhabha and Dr Sarabhai wanted India to be free from the shackles of the western world which controls the uranium reserve of the world. The Bhabha Plan was to build a network of nuclear reactors to harness the vast thorium reserve of the country. But we will never reach a stage where we can make use of the Thorium reserves if we import of nuclear reactors,” he said.

Gopalakrishnan pointed out that it is humanly impossible to meet 40 or 50 per cent of the country’s energy needs through nuclear power. “You require hundreds of reactors. Do we have the space for that? Remember that all the reactors we are planning to import run on enriched uranium. We do not have uranium resources. The companies selling these reactors to us will give fuel for two years which will be renewed subject to their satisfaction about our conduct. Our nuclear sovereignty has been surrendered to the western powers by the Manmohan Singh Government,” charged Gopalakrishnan.

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Nuclear meltdown

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TEPCO: Fukushima Fuel Cooling System Stops Again Leaking Radioactive Water


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Radioactive route: Journalists in protective gear are taken to the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 6. (Photo:  AP)

Radioactive route: Journalists in protective gear taken to the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 6. (Photo: AP)

At every nuclear electrical power plant, spent nuclear fuel is kept cool to avoid it from overheating that may trigger a self-sustaining atomic reaction leading to a meltdown.

At the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant there are seven vast clay-lined storage pits each measuring 60 meters long, 53 meters wide and 6 meters deep. Three layers of protective waterproof lining cover each pit.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said last Friday that one of the systems, pool #2 that keeps spent atomic fuel cool, failed temporarily at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. On Saturday, TEPCO said that around 120 tons of contaminated water with an estimated 710 billion becquerel of radioactivity probably leaked into the ground under the power plant. The process of pumping the remaining 13,000 tons of the water in the pool #2 into other tanks would take days. How the water escaped will remain a mystery until they drain and check the faulty pits. TEPCO did not give any explanation about where the leaked contaminated water might have ended up.

On late Sunday, TEPCO confirmed that a second underground storage pool #3, has leaked three liters of radioactive water at the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 power plant. However, the water level inside pool #3, has not gone down, indicating the leak is not that large. According to TEPCO, since this second leak is small, there are no plans to drain pool #3 into another storage area.

TEPCO is transferring the remaining water in pool #2 to two other pits. However, the water leaking from pool #3 is raising questions about the trustworthiness of all the pools and the risk to the environment.

Aside from the pools, the power plant has another headache. TEPCO stores tainted seawater perpetually needed to cool the melted fuel rods of the damaged reactors, in makeshift storage tanks. Unfortunately, the holding capacity of these makeshift tanks is running out quickly. On Sunday, Masayuki Ono, a senior TEPCO official said at a news conference that it is difficult for the plant to store all the tainted radioactive seawater in the temporary tanks.

At Fukushima, the site of the worst nuclear crisis in a generation, reactors went into meltdown and spewed radiation over a wide area polluting farmland and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee from their homes.

Although the natural disaster claimed around 19,000 lives, no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the atomic catastrophe. However, activist groups such as Greenpeace say that the long-term health effects for people in the area are being vastly underestimated by a government pledged to a powerful nuclear industry. Although many voters in Japan distrust the technology, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has openly said Japan must consider continued use of nuclear as a less-expensive energy source to power the world’s third-largest economy.

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Major Fault Line Found Running Under Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant, Japan


 

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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

The oldest commercial reactor in Japan is Tsuruga #1 in the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture. It is operated by the Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) and was commissioned on March 14, 1970 with a capacity of 357 MW.

Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (The Japan Atomic Company)

Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (The Japan Atomic Company)

In March 1981, drainage from this reactor caused a release of radioactivity. The forty-day cover-up of a spill of 16 tons of radioactive primary cooling water was revealed only in April 1981.

Tsuruga #1 reactor has been shut down for safety inspection since January 26th, 2011 and has yet to be restarted.

A second reactor Tsuruga -#2 was commissioned on February 17, 1987 with 1160 MW capacity. The constructions of two new nuclear reactors, Tsuruga -#3 and Tsuruga -#4 have been planned, but have been delayed due to the need for seismic upgrades even before the March 2011 earthquake.

On May 2, 2011, officials in Kyodo announced the presence of higher levels of radioactivity in the cooling water, JAPC admitted technical problems and announced to check for radioactivity daily, instead of the standard procedure of checking once per week.

A group of 40 citizens of Otsu prefecture Kyodo started a lawsuit at the Otsu District Court against the Japan Atomic Power Company on November 8, 2011. At that time, the two reactors of the plant were shut down for regular check-ups. They sought a provisional court order to delay the restart of the reactors at the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant. They argued that:

  • Lake Biwa, could be contaminated if a nuclear accident occurs at the plant.
  • The people, living in the region of Kansai depended on this largest lake of Japan as the source of drinking water.
  • If an accident happens, it would endanger the health of all residents.
  • The Tsuruga plant is built on a site with a fault under it, and a severe accident could occur during an earthquake.
  • Since it was first operational in 1970, the Tsuruga #1 reactor has been more than 40 years in service.
  • The Tsuruga plant was insufficiently protected against a tsunami.
  • The ongoing regular checks were done under the government’s safety and technological standards, and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima had proven that those regulations were insufficient.
  • The reactors should remain shut down until the cause of the disaster in Fukushima has been fully investigated.
  • Regular checks should be performed under the new safety standards.

A fire broke out in Tsuruga #1 reactor on November 12, 2011. After extinguishing the fire JAPC reported that there were no casualties and no leakage of radiation, because the reactor was closed for inspection.

On March 5, 2012 a group of seismic researchers revealed the possibility of a 7.4 magnitude or even more potent earthquake under the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant.

Prior to this date in 2008 the Japanese governmental Earthquake Research Committee and Japan Atomic Power had calculated that the Urasoko fault was running 39 kilometers near Tsuruga and 250 meters (825 feet) from Tsuruga -#1 and Tsuruga -#2 reactor buildings. This main Uraosko fault and several other smaller faults extending from it and running directly under the Tsuruga -#2 plant could trigger a 7.2 magnitude quake and a 1.7 meter land displacement.

On December 10, 2012 a team of experts from the Nuclear Regulation Authority who investigated the geological layer under the plant headed by commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki reported to fellow members that because of the “highly possible,” the so-called crush zone running underneath Tsuruga -#2 reactor is an active fault restarting reactors at the Tsuruga nuclear plant would be difficult. In a press conference after the meeting, Shimazaki said the fact that a large fault like Urasoko exists on the plant’s premises was also taken into account. “If plant operators know there is an active fault at the site in the first place, they will usually not build (a nuclear complex) there,” he added.

The focus of the discussion is a zone of crushed rock called D-1, which is believed to extend from the Urazoko fault toward the plant’s Tsuruga #2 reactor. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said: “As things stand now, we cannot conduct a safety evaluation of the Tsuruga #2 reactor to resume operation.”

If the crush zone beneath the Tsuruga plant is determined to be active, its two reactors would theoretically have to be scrapped because the plant operators are not allowed to build reactors and facilities important for safe operations directly above active faults. Japan Atomic Power Company which runs the plant, said in a statement that the outcome was “totally unacceptable” and vowed to have a separate investigation conducted on the premises. If a different finding isn’t reached, it will have no option, but to scrap the reactors.

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Earthquake: 7.3 Mwp – OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN


Earthquake

7.3 Mwp – OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

7.3 Mwp - OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

Preliminary Earthquake Report
Magnitude 7.3 Mwp
Date-Time
  • 7 Dec 2012 08:18:24 UTC
  • 7 Dec 2012 18:18:24 near epicenter
  • 7 Dec 2012 03:18:24 standard time in your timezone
Location 37.889N 144.090E
Depth 36 km
Distances
  • 284 km (176 miles) E (97 degrees) of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
  • 296 km (184 miles) ENE (71 degrees) of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
  • 319 km (198 miles) E (86 degrees) of Fukushima, Honshu, Japan
  • 459 km (285 miles) NE (56 degrees) of TOKYO, Japan
Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 13.9 km; Vertical 7.0 km
Parameters Nph = 421; Dmin = 465.2 km; Rmss = 0.94 seconds; Gp = 31°
M-type = Mwp; Version = 9
Event ID us c000e5n4

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After the 7.3 earthquake Fairewinds Podcast: December 9, 2012 (Part 1 of 2)

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After the 7.3 earthquake Fairewinds Podcast: December 9, 2012 (Part 2 of 2)


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NEWS: Collapse of Road Tunnel Leading to Mt. Fuji. Nine Dead.


Japan Road Tunnel Collapse

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Rescue teams in central Japan are still trying to reach several missing people after the collapse of a major road tunnel.

Police say five people were killed and a number of cars remain trapped in the nearly five-kilometre long Sasago tunnel.

The structure was built into hills leading to Mount Fuji, about 80 kilometres west of Tokyo.

CCTV images showed the collapse of several ceiling panels along a roughly 60 metre stretch of the road.

Drivers described narrow escapes from falling debris, and a long walk through the darkness after abandoning their cars.

“At one point I realised that my car was in split in two and there weren’t any other vehicles behind me,” said one woman.

Smoke was seen billowing from the tunnel, thought to have been caused by at least one car catching fire.

There has been no word yet on why the structure, which opened in 1977, suddenly collapsed.

Officials say there was no earthquake in the area this morning.

Source: euronews

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