Fukushima cover up — CounterPunch

” It is literally impossible for the world community to get a clear understanding of, and truth about, the Fukushima nuclear disaster. This statement is based upon The Feature article in Columbia Journalism Review (“CJR”) d/d October 25, 2016 entitled: “Sinking a Bold Foray Into Watchdog Journalism in Japan” by Martin Fackler.

The scandalous subject matter of the article is frightening to its core. Essentially, it paints a picture of upending and abolishing a 3-year attempt by one of Japan’s oldest and most liberal/intellectual newspapers, The Asahi Shimbun (circ. 6.6 mln) in its effort of “watchdog journalism” of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In the end, the newspaper’s special watchdog division suffered un-preannounced abrupt closure.

The CJR article, whether intentionally or not, is an indictment of right wing political control of media throughout the world. The story is, moreover, extraordinarily scary and of deepest concern because no sources can be counted on for accurate, truthful reporting of an incident as powerful and deadly dangerous as the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima. Lest anybody in class forgets, three nuclear reactors at Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Power Plant experienced 100% meltdown, aka The China Syndrome over five years ago.

The molten cores of those reactors melted down to a stage called corium, which is a lumpy hunk of irradiating radionuclides so deadly that robotic cameras are zapped! The radioactivity is powerful, deadly and possessed of frightening longevity, 100s of years. Again for those who missed class, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) has no idea where those masses of sizzling hot radioactive goo are today. Did they burrow into the ground? Nobody knows, but it is known that those blobs of radioactivity are extraordinarily dangerous, as in deathly, erratically spewing radioactivity “who knows where”?

Fukushima is a national/worldwide emergency that is the worst kept secret ever because everybody knows it is happening; it is current; it is alive; it is deadly; it has killed (as explained in several prior articles) and will kill many more as well as maim countless people over many decades (a description of radiation’s gruesomeness follows later on in this article).

Yet, the Abe administration is talking to Olympic officials about conducting Olympic events, like baseball, in Fukushima for Tokyo 2020. Are they nuts, going off the deep end, gone mad, out of control? After all, TEPCO readily admits (1) the Fukushima cleanup will take decades to complete, if ever completed, and (2) nobody knows the whereabouts of the worlds most deadly radioactive blobs of sizzling hot masses of death and destruction, begging the question: Why is there a Chernobyl Exclusion Zone of 1,000 square miles after one nuclear meltdown 30 years ago, but yet Fukushima, with three meltdowns, each more severe than Chernobyl, is already being repopulated? It doesn’t compute!

The short answer is the Abe administration claims the radioactivity is being cleaned up. A much longer answer eschews the Abe administration by explaining the near impossibility of cleaning up radioactivity throughout the countryside. There are, after all, independent organizations with boots on the ground in Fukushima (documented in prior articles) that tell the truth, having measured dangerous levels of radiation throughout the region where clean up crews supposedly cleaned up.

The Columbia Journalism Review article, intentionally or not, paints a picture of “journalism by government decree” in Japan, which gainsays any kind of real journalism. It’s faux journalism, kinda like reading The Daily Disneyworld Journal & Times.

Based upon the CJR article: “The hastiness of the Asahi’s retreat raised fresh doubts about whether such watchdog journalism— an inherently risky enterprise that seeks to expose and debunk, and challenge the powerful—is even possible in Japan’s big national media, which are deeply tied to the nation’s political establishment.”

Japan’s journalists belong to “press clubs,” which are exclusively restricted to the big boys (and girls) from major media outlets, where stories are hand-fed according to government officialdom, period. It is the news, period! No questions asked, and this is how Asahi got into trouble. They set up a unit of 30-journalists to tell the truth about Fukushima and along the way won awards for journalism, until it suddenly, abruptly stopped. A big mystery ensues….

According to the CJR article, “The Investigative Reporting Section [Asahi] proved an instant success, winning Japan’s top journalism award two years in a row for its exposure of official cover-ups and shoddy decontamination work around the nuclear plant.”

Furthermore, according to the CJR article: “The abrupt about-face by the Asahi, a 137-year-old newspaper with 2,400 journalists that has been postwar Japan’s liberal media flagship, was an early victory for the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which had sought to silence critical voices as it moved to roll back Japan’s postwar pacifism, and restart its nuclear industry.”

And, furthermore, the truth be told: “In Japanese journalism, scoops usually just mean learning from the ministry officials today what they intend to do tomorrow,’ says Makoto Watanabe, a former reporter in the section who quit the Asahi in March because he felt blocked from doing investigative reporting. ‘We came up with different scoops that were unwelcome in the Prime Minister’s Office.”

It comes as no surprise that Reporters Without Borders lowered Japan’s rating from 11th in 2010 (but one has to wonder how they ever got that high) to 72nd in this years annual ranking of global press freedoms, released on April 20, 2016.

Koichi Nakano, a professor of politics at Sophia University in Tokyo, says: “Emasculating the Asahi allowed Abe to impose a grim new conformity on the media world.”

When considering the awards Asahi won during its short foray into investigative journalism, like Japan’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for reporting about a gag-order on scientists after the Fukushima disaster and the government’s failure to release information about radiation to evacuating residents, now that Asahi has been forced to put a lid on “investigative journalism” and it must toe the line in “press clubs,” any and all information about the dangers or status of Fukushima are ipso facto suspect!

The world is dead silent on credible information about the world’s biggest disaster! (Which causes one to stop and think… really a lot.)

The evidence is abundantly clear that there is no trustworthy source of information about the world’s biggest nuclear disaster, and likely one of the biggest dangers to the planet in human history. However, time will tell as radiation exposure takes years to show up in the human body. It’s a silent killer but cumulates over time. Fukushima radiation goes on and on, but nobody knows what to do. To say the situation is scandalous is such a gross understatement that it is difficult to take it as seriously as it really should be taken. But, it is scandalous, not just in Japan but for the entire planet.

After all, consider this, 30 years after the fact, horribly deformed Chernobyl children are found in over 300 asylums in the Belarus backwoods deep in the countryside. Equally as bad but maybe more odious, as of today, Chernobyl radiation (since 1986) is already affecting 2nd generation kids.

According to USA Today, Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster, April 17, 2016: “There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma.”

It’s taken 30 years for the world, via an article in USA Today, to begin to understand how devastating, over decades, not over a few years, radiation exposure is to people. It is a silent killer that cumulates in the body over time and passes from generation to generation to generation, endless destruction that cannot be stopped! ”

by Robert Hunziker

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Journalist makes documentary film after spending 2 years in Fukushima — Mainichi

” After over two years in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, and recording some 250 hours’ worth of footage, a journalist is putting his work out in the form of a 3 hour and 45 minute documentary film.

A producer and editor for “The Will: If Only There Were no Nuclear Plant” praised the film as a “treasure-trove of imagery,” so well does it capture the emotions of Fukushima residents and tense situations. In one such scene, the film’s protagonist rushes to the home of a fellow dairy farmer who has committed suicide, a scene filmed after that farmer’s obituary just happened to come to bear while the journalist who made the film was on-site.

That journalist was Naomi Toyoda, 57, who got his start as a freelance reporter back in 1982. A cram school teacher until then, he was spurred to act after seeing reports of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon on television. He would spend 20 years reporting on Palestine, and 10 years covering Iraq’s depleted uranium rounds.

“It’s deep reporting, different than constantly dealing with the latest stories like in the mass media,” says Toyoda. He runs his camera only after building a relationship of trust with his subjects, after they begin to show their natural selves.

Despite his time reporting from battlefields, Toyoda was still struck with doubt while working in Fukushima Prefecture. “I didn’t know what I should do,” he says, to help the residents there who have been forced to live their lives together with the threat of radiation.

The documentary film ends with the protagonist walking with a dosimeter around a temporary storage site for radioactive waste that resulted from decontamination work. Toyoda, in an expression of determination, says, “Three years after the nuclear disaster, nothing is solved. I’m going to keep on reporting.” ”

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**Japan’s new secrets bill threatens to muzzle the press and whistleblowers — The Daily Beast

An ominous new bill in Japan, on its way to becoming law, would give the government expanded powers to classify nearly anything as a secret and intimidate the press into silence.

The best way to deal with foul smelling things is to put a lid over them (臭いものに蓋をする)–Japanese proverb

The Japanese government, which already has a long history of cover-ups and opaqueness, is on its way to becoming even less open and transparent after the lower house the Diet, Japan’s parliament, passed the Designated Secrets Bill on Tuesday. With new powers to classify nearly anything as a state secret and harsh punishments for leakers that can easily be used to intimidate whistleblowers and stifle press freedom, many in Japan worry that the if the bill becomes law it will be only the first step towards even more severe erosions of freedom in the country.

The bill, which can criminalize investigative reporting of the government or its policies, still needs to pass the Diet’s upper house to become law and is meeting some last minute opposition on its way there. In politically complacent Japan, thousands of citizens took to the street in the last two weeks to protest the measure. Diet members are voicing disapproval and news organizations are standing opposed. Even cute Japanese celebrities have voiced their opposition, a sure sign that this is serious business in the land of the rising sun. Last week, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced their disapproval and concerns, noting the “the Secrets bill threatens transparency… (it) includes serious threats to whistle-blowers and even journalists reporting on secrets”.

With only 30% of the public supporting them, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party bloc pushed the legislation ostensibly to “ensure that Japan can share secrets with the US and other countries”. However, even politicians inside the ruling bloc are saying, “It can’t be denied that another purpose is to muzzle the press, shut up whistleblowers, and ensure that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima ceases to be an embarrassment before the Olympics.”

The Special Secrets Bill is based on a failed anti-spying bill proposed by Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone (LDP) in the 1980s. Currently there are already several laws on the books that punish civil servants for leaking secret information obtained on the job. The new law would enact harsher punishment to leakers and ominously would allow journalists who obtained information by “inappropriate means” and whistleblowers to be jailed for up to ten years. The law would also allow the police to raid the offices of media organizations and seize evidence at their discretion.

Under the law government branches other than the defense ministry would have the power to designate information as state secrets. The bill has even grants no longer existent agencies the power to classify secrets.

The law names four categories of ‘special secrets’, which would be covered by protection – national security, diplomacy, counter-terrorism and counter-espionage. Yet, despite the bill’s enlargement of the state’s power over information, it contains no oversight process to act as a check on ministries and government agencies designating large amounts of information as ‘secret’ for capricious or self-interested reasons.

Under the new law, the Ministry of Financial Services could put a lid on the scandal of mega-banks loaning money to the yakuza, Japan’s mafia, by classifying their “business improvement orders” as matters of national security and making them state secrets. The SESC could declare the reasons for delisting a company from the stock exchange “classified” for similar reasons. This is not reassuring of those wishing to invest in the Japanese stock market, which has already been dogged by compliance and disclosure issues.

And most tellingly, Masako Mori, the Minister of Justice, has declared that nuclear related information will most likely be a designated secret. For the Abe administration this would be fantastic way to deal with the issue of tons of radiated water leaking from the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant since the triple meltdown in March of 2011. There seems to be no end to stopping the toxic waste leaks there but the new legislation would allow the administration to plug the information leaks permanently.

As the radioactive water from Japan’s nuclear disaster continues to pour into the ocean and our food supply, it is an ominous sign that the Japanese government refuses to disclose information about the levels of pollution or timely information about the next nuclear accident. And security issues at Japan’s nuclear power plants being, which hold enough plutonium to make hundreds of atomic weapons, including reports that they’re manned by the yakuza, could also be hidden by under the guise of state secrets.

Before Japan was selected to host the 2020 Olympics, Prime Minister Abe spoke at the General Meeting of the International Olympic Committee, where he assured them, “The Fukushima nuclear accident is under control.” This was followed by revelations of large amounts of radioactive water leaking from the power plant, and the remaining water tanks emitting radiation levels so high that anyone working around them would be exposed to a lethal dose within hours. It made Abe look perfidious or clueless or both. He seems anxious not to lose face again.

Mizuho Fukushima, former leader of the Social Democratic Party, compared the bill to the pre-World War II Peace Maintenance Preservation Laws and other Secrecy laws at the time, remarking that there was a time in police-state Japan when the weather reports could be considered “secret.”

““Once you open the door to such kind of laws, the government will have the right to designate anything as a state secret and by speaking about it or mentioning it, you can be arrested and prosecuted.” Ms. Fukushima explained, “Especially during war time, it was very difficult for defendants and lawyers to fight their court cases, because they were not told what exactly what was the state secret that they had been accused of having revealed.”

Outspoken Upper House Councilor Taro Yamamoto, who is known to be a strong supporter of investigative journalism, minces no words: “The path that Japan is taking is the recreation of a fascist state. I strongly believe that this secrecy bill represents a planned coup d’état by a group of politicians and bureaucrats,” he warned.

While his statement may seem alarmist, even a senior official of the National Police Agency agrees. “I would say this is Abe’s attempt to make sure that his own shady issues aren’t brought to light, and a misuse of legislative power.

Ironically, In a country that worships cute celebrities, the first real reporting on the problems with the bill began in September, when Norika Fujiwara, an actress who is also the goodwill ambassador for the Japanese Red Cross, came out against the law on her blog. She indicated it would threaten freedom of speech and democracy itself and urged her fans to pressure the government to kill the bill. When a beautiful celebrity takes up arms against legislation in Japan, even the media takes notice. And after taking notice, they didn’t like what they found.

The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association, the Civil Broadcasters Federation, and most major news organizations in Japan’s have expressed staunch opposition to the bill. In a rare journey into the political arena, even The Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan, which includes both Japanese journalists and non-resident journalists, issued a strong protest against the bill on November 11th. The Japanese media, almost without exception、reported the details of the statement.

“We are alarmed by the text of the bill… relating to the potential targeting of journalists for prosecution and imprisonment. It is at the very heart of investigative journalism in open societies to uncover secrets and to inform the people about the activities of government. Such journalism is not a crime, but rather a crucial part of the checks-and-balances that go hand-in-hand with democracy. The current text of the bill seems to suggest that freedom of the press is no longer a constitutional right, but merely something for which government officials “must show sufficient consideration.” Moreover, the “Designated Secrets Bill” specifically warns journalists that they must not engage in “inappropriate methods” in conducting investigations of government policy. This appears to be a direct threat aimed at the media profession and is unacceptably open to wide interpretations in individual cases. Such vague language could be, in effect, a license for government officials to prosecute journalists almost as they please.”

If history does repeat itself, it would seem very likely that as Ms. Fukushima fears, Japan is about to take a giant step back into its oppressive past. When one also considers Prime Minister Abe’s stated ambition to restart Japan’s nuclear power plants and remove Article 9 from the constitution, the article which prevents Japan from waging war, it seems like the Empire of The Sun may be moving towards darker times. ”

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