Tag: japan

Japan, S. Korea Ink Controversial Intelligence Deal

South Korea and Japan reached a controversial deal Monday to share defense intelligence, Japanese officials said, despite protests from opposition parties and activists in Seoul.

Japan controlled the Korean peninsula as a colony from 1910-1945, with the legacy of the harsh rule marring relations with both North and South Korea today.

South Korea and Japan were on the verge of signing a deal in June 2012, but Seoul suddenly backtracked, with Japanese media blaming anti-Japanese sentiment among the South Korean public for the move.

Japan to Join China and US in Contesting Rodrigo Duterte

The election of Rodrigo Duterte the President of the Philippines last May was seen as a landmark event in the tricky and dangerous contest unfolding in the waters of the South China Sea and in the Southeast Asia as a whole. Though this event has not overwritten the initial scenario of the geopolitical game played in the region, it certainly has altered it.

The main contestants, i.e., the US, China and Japan, cannot ignore the changes, as they might be indicative of a potential shift in the foreign policy of the country, the territory of which defines the eastern border of the South China Sea.

The geopolitical location of the Philippines renders its foreign policy trends strategically important. Has there been a shift in the country’s policy, and if so, in what direction?

Most Japanese See US as a Threat, Survey Reveals

A poll conducted earlier this year revealed the majority of Japanese view the US as a threat to Japan, despite playing a less important role in the world than they did a decade ago.

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in April and May in Japan revealed that the majority of Japanese people view their ally, the United States, as one of the major threats to their country. They also believe the US is playing a less important role in the world than it did 10 years ago. Perhaps paradoxically, however, most of the 1000 respondents still share a favorable view of the US.
According to the poll, 72% have favorable view of the US in general. However, 61% of them see America as being in decline, as compared to a decade ago. Fifty-two percent of respondents named the US as 6th out of 8 major threats to their nation, after cyberattacks from other nations, Daesh and China’s emergence as a world power. Global climate change and economic instability are also among the top threats.

Japanese Ex-PM Koizumi: Abe ‘Lied’ Claiming Fukushima ‘Under Control’

On Wednesday, former Japanese Premier Junichiro Koizumi said that current Japanese President Shinzo Abe told a “lie” by downplaying the damage wrought by the Fukushima nuclear accident, and claiming that the radioactivity contaminating the site was “under control.”

After a March 2011 tsunami and earthquake caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Koizumi, who served as premier from 2001 to 2006, began sharply criticizing nuclear power, saying he was “ashamed” for believing that nuclear energy was a clean, safe and cheap energy alternative for Japan.

Tokyo’s Messages to Beijing

August 15 is among the most significant and all-important days both for the politics of Japan and its immediate neighbours that watch, ever more closely each year, everything happening in one of the leading Asian countries. The reasons are clear enough.

Let us recall that on this very day 71 years ago, Emperor Hirohito accepted the terms of surrender that had been outlined by the Allied countries at the Potsdam Conference three weeks earlier. Since then, August 15, 1945 in Japan has been considered the day of the end of war in the Asian-Pacific region, the war that was knowingly launched by so-called Marco Polo Bridge Incident of June 7, 1937 outside Beijing.

Japanese Police Are Spying on Muslims, Despite The Constitution

Police in Tokyo have monitored the activities of Muslims in Japan, based on their religion alone, since at least 2008. A court case challenging the constitutionality of this surveillance program was recently denied.

On May 31, 2016, Japan’s Supreme Court dismissed the case questioning the legality of conducting surveillance on and profiling Muslims in Japan, even though surveillance based on religion or ethnicity is generally illegal under Japan’s constitution, which enshrines the right to privacy, equal protection under the law, and freedom of religion. This marked the culmination of several years of lawsuits by the same group of plaintiffs in different courts, resulting in a variety of judgments.

‘I Do Not Want Any Children to Develop Cancer Like Me’, a Fukushima Resident Says

Independent filmmaker Ian Thomas Ash has uploaded to YouTube a four-part interview with a young woman from Fukushima Prefecture who has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Now 20, the interviewee was 15 years old when, following theMarch 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex lost power and the ability to cool fuel in the reactors. The lack of cooling caused a series of hydrogen explosions that severely damaged four of the six reactors at the Daiichi complex.

As a result of the explosions and subsequent fires, nuclear contamination was spread over a large part of Japan’s northeast. The young woman interviewed in the documentary, who wishes to remain unidentified, is one of 166 Fukushima residents who were 18 or younger at the time of the nuclear disaster who have been diagnosed with or suspected of having thyroid cancer (as of February 2016).

While some attribute the rise in cases of thyroid cancer to more rigorous screening, Ash notes that 74.5% of young people aged 18-21 as of April 1, 2014 who were living in Fukushima at the time of the nuclear accident have not yet taken part in the official thyroid ultrasound examination.

Taking Back Japan, One History Textbook at a Time?

After spending most of the past 20 years living in Japan, to me 2015 seemed like a turning point for the country. 70 years after the end of World War II, and despite massive demonstrations all over the country, in September 2015 Japan’s ruling coalition, led by Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), used cloture to force the implementation of new security laws that will allow Japan to engage in military action outside of the country. Thanks to this new legislation, Japan effectively renounced 70 years of pacifism and can now go to war again.

For many of my friends—long-term “foreign” residents with deep connections to and equally deep knowledge of Japan—the Abe government’s relentless effort to “make Japan great again” was like a nightmare come true. The country we had all come to love seems like it might be disappearing, leading us to ask whether our children will have a future here.

The forced passage of the new security legislation was simply the most striking example of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s steady attempt, over the past three years, to incrementally shift Japan rightward. Abe is perhaps the first prime minister to directly and loudly criticize the media, and has been accused of trying to turn NHK, Japan’s nominally impartial national broadcaster, into a government mouthpiece that promotes the current Japanese position on regional territorial disputes with South Korea, Russia, China and Taiwan.

How Japanese Officials Can Atone for Fukushima

The meltdowns and release of radiation from the Fukushima Daaichi nuclear power plant has been an ongoing crisis for five years. Nuclear engineer Koide Hiroaki has been one of the most trenchant critics of how the Japanese government and power company TEPCO (mis)handled the disaster. In a wide-ranging interview at Counterpunch, he offered a way for officials, who have gone unpunished, to atone.

Right now the people of Fukushima have been abandoned in the areas of the highest levels of radiation. And abandoned people have to find a way to live. Farmers produce agricultural goods, dairy farmers produce dairy products, and ranchers produce meat; these people must do so in order to live. They are not the ones to be blamed at all.

As the Japanese state is absolutely unreliable in this matter, these people have no choice but to go on producing food in that place, all the while suffering further exposure. So I don’t think we can throw out the food they produce there under those conditions. Inevitably someone has to consume that food.