Saturday, February 14, 2015

In Japan, poverty strikes first of all the children...




Fighting against inequality and poverty in Japan is said to be part of the Abe's reform since war’s end if I read the pro government newspaper Yomiuri shimbun after the PM speech this week at Diet.
"Abe said the government will take steps to promote women’s active participation in society and support employment of the elderly and young people. As part of measures to deal with poverty among children, he said the government also plans to eventually make preschool education free of charge and expand interest-free student loans." http://bit.ly/1zaM8lI

My comment, first of all politicians finally admit that their system did not work and they are not able nor prepared to cope with problems since the 1980's. "According to the OECD, inequalities are deeply rooted in Japanese society since the mid-1980s." Poverty exists in Japan and it is worth lots of news stories and I do one about it following Abe's speech at Parliament. Of course the Yomiuri is doing nothing else than propaganda for the government and it becomes a source of real concern. Asahi or especially the Mainichi reported earlier that it's the same Abe who's started to destroy the social aid measures and payment when he came to power late 2012, and isn't it the same who wanted to increase the indirect taxes on Japanese?

As sociology professor at Tokyo University Mr. Yuji Genda analysed: "Japanese economic prosperity hides a worrying phenomenon that continues to worsen for the elderly, the unemployed, and now the poor children."

This poor performance of Japan about social justice and equity (l'équité en Français) reflects real problems in the distribution of income, equal opportunities and social autonomy. To combat economic inequality, Japan prime minister says he is now thinking about the status of employment, public assistance, pensions and the minimum wage. A battle is engaged, it is time and urgent...

(From my news-report : Au Japon, la pauvreté frappe d'abord les enfants)

Japan. Street orphans, at Ueno. Tokyo, 1946 by Hayashi Tadahiko


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Kobe's Earthquake, 20 years ago what I saw was ruins, fear and abandon


 Kobe 20 years after

I reached Kobe January 17th 1995 in the evening. I caught the first Shinkansen opened from Tokyo to Nagoya, reached Kyoto, left my stuff at Gimmond hotel then I caught a car to Osaka and simply walked to Kobe following the elevated highway crashed on the road along the sea. I stayed 1 week reporting about the catastrophe for France Info, France Inter and RFI at that time. I stayed at the sailors hostel who welcome me and 7 other "refugees" including one company chairman and his 2 staff who were prisoners of the fire and the 15 or 20 aftershocks. What I saw when entering the devastated area was ruins, fear and abandon.

Devastation, abandon and misery, death. I ll never forget the firemen, hopeless like paralyzed, near by city hall and station with their red trucks screaming and their hose without water while people were dying in their houses and buildings, crashed or in fire. So many pictures of horrors. I also saw how the authorities, totally unprepared, were incapable to save lives in the early hours and first 2 days. There were no journalists on the land or so little until Thursday Friday, fear of an other huge quake kept them and also authorities to come and rescue in the first 3 days.

In memory of those who passed because of lack of security and crisis management, and simply say because of incompetence, shock or greed, we must watch authorities (and this goes beyond Japan) because it was to happen again and it did happen again in 2011 and people lost their lives again because of lack of preparation and it will happen again and for other reasons. Never surrender our journalistic power of observers and criticism if it is to save lives even so many try to silence us.

I wrote an account of event at that time that was conveyed to the German ambassador then (not the French whose Kobe and Osaka offices were basically closed, same as the big luxury hotels in Kobe who did not give any help to refugees and kept their doors closed…) The German ambassador has shown a lot of interest for my observations in time of crisis management thanks to our EU Press councilors and staff and German TV connections. He was the only one (I forgot his name in 1995) who had a decent and proper attitude among his foreign colleagues based in Japan diplomatic post in front of such catastrophe and he felt very fast what was to improve.

At that time the whole world was shocked to discover that Japan was “A giant with feet of clay”. Any help provided then was from individuals or some local associations, even the Kobe Yakuza provided us with fruits and water. They saved a lot of people and children, there were 120.000 refugees while in the same time, on Wednesday 18th, for instance, black officials cars were running away from Kobe and Rokko island as the gas emanation represented a major risk of explosion. There were leaks in the 20.000-ton liquid petroleum gas storage tanks, and 60.000 residents had to leave their homes.

I was there and reported live for France radio in front of Sumiyoshi. I told live to my colleague at Paris studio while describing the scene same as a “bombing” that it smells gas and it looks like we risk to have a massive explosion… It went on and on for days of fear and despair. People looking for water, food, blankets. At a point I met on the road from Nishinomiya to Kobe many refugees and especially I was amazed with a touching detail.

A Japanese young mother with her daughter walked on the same road as I and she was asking me where my house was. I told her, no I am reporting about Kobe’s people for France Radio. She started crying and said “so you come here to report about us”? She was in kind of shock and relief in the same time. I was exhausted going and walking all days from Nishinomiya to Kobe (there were no cars available) and I started to catch a bad cold with high fever. This young mother in tears absolutely forced me to take some of her cookies to feed myself. She had nothing I think her husband was missing, she had nowhere to go but she shared the little she had with a foreigner.

People of this country have so much dignity. So much more than their politicians or some of their elite (for instance the Kyoto Medical university who came to "assist" but who refused at first to repatriate anyone wounded or sick outside of Kobe in their university buses...) It’s time for the politicians to reach the level of morality of their citizens! Kobe 1995 earthquake showed the way.

15 years after Kobe and one year and 9 days (March 2nd 2010) before 2011 Tohoku earthquake - tsunami and Fukushima, I organised an event "Security and Crisis Management in the Megalopolis" about crisis management, terrorism, pandemics, catastrophes in megalopolis and whatsoever at the Fccj press club, as a director of the board. I invited several specialists such as the metropolitan government security boss Toshiyuki Shikata (ex JGSDFgeneral) of Teikyo University & Security Counselor to the Governor Ishihara of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and others such as commentator Minoru Morita. Shikata san and Morita san warned us of major accidents to come and the lack of measures to be able to handle major crisis. Facts proved General Shikata was right. Here is the link http://minorumorita.blogspot.jp/2010/02/morita-to-speak-on-fccjs-urban-security.html

I reported about Kobe's earthquake for my Francophone media partners, Saturday.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Paris "freedom march": L'Asie pas vraiment Charlie

This extraordinary photo by Martin Argyroglo created a real buzz in Internet, and looks like the Eugène Delacroix's "La liberté guidant le peuple." There is a resemblance between the two artworks. The photo is "The Triumph of the Republic", Place de la Nation, Paris where we can see many people perched on the statue...


La République (Martin Argyroglo)

No need to hide it any longer, in Asian countries, it was "cheap Charlie." They did not really understand the historical day of Sunday, January 11th 2015, for the "Republican March". Its purpose flew well above the brain and the heart. Blame the mentality of local political regimes. Very little or no demonstration of solidarity. Only local French waved the flag, even though in Tokyo, less than 5% of Japan's French met on January 11 in front of the IFJ in a beautiful ceremony.

Marche Républicaine: L'Asie pas vraiment Charlie... et pas vraiment à l'aise sur la liberté d'expression. Inutile de le cacher plus longtemps, dans les pays asiatiques, la journée historique du dimanche 11 Janvier 2015, la "Marche Républicaine" leur est passé bien au dessus du cerveau, et du coeur, faute aux mentalités des régimes politiques locaux. Peu ou pas de manifestation de solidarité. Seuls les francais locaux ont agité le moulinet. Sur Tokyo, moins de 5 % des français du Japon se sont retrouvés le 11 Janvier devant l'IFJ pour une très belle cérémonie. 

C'est aussi l'analyse de mes confrères des Echos:

"Les médias de la région se sont intéressés au phénomène mais sans mobiliser les opinions publiques locales qui ont une culture de la revendication et une appréhension de la liberté d’expression très différentes de celles pratiquées en France. A Tokyo, plus de 200 personnes, essentiellement des ressortissants français, se sont retrouvées dans le centre de la ville, à l’Institut français, à l’appel des différentes associations représentant la communauté expatriée dans le pays. Ils ont déposé des fleurs et laissé des messages d’hommages à la mémoire des victimes des différentes attaques perpétrées à Paris. Dans la journée, le ministre japonais des Affaires étrangères, Fumio Kishida, était allé présenter ses condoléances à l’ambassadeur de France au Japon, expliquant qu’il “était inadmissible de s’attaquer à la liberté d’expression”. Les grands journaux japonais, qui avaient suivi les attaques et la traque des terroristes en fin de semaine dernière, ont toutefois réduit ce matin leur couverture des évènements français. Les marches organisées en France n’étaient ainsi pas évoquées en une des sites en anglais des principaux quotidiens généralistes du pays, le Yomiuri Shimbun et l’Asahi Shimbun... Dans plusieurs nations d’Asie, notamment celles abritant une importante communauté musulmane, (Indonésie, Malaisie, Brunei) la liberté de ton de Charlie Hebdo a pourtant été régulièrement critiquée, ces derniers jours, par des analystes ou des éditorialistes."


Analyse et revue de presse d'Europe destinée aux collègues francophones asiatiques... Par exemple la NHK qui n'a rien compris si l'on s'en tient aux commentaires très rares et bien tardifs car ses journalistes n'ont rien entendu des thèmes de la marche contre le terrorisme. 

"De nombreux chefs d'États et de gouvernements européens, ainsi que les dirigeants des institutions de l'Union européenne, étaient présents à Paris, hier, pour la marche républicaine. Aux côtés de la France, ils ont montré leur unité face au terrorisme après les attaques meurtrières de la semaine dernière.

Pour Euractiv, il s'agit d'"une journée historique où les politiques ont fait fi de leurs dissensions pour afficher une unité inédite". C'est le cas d'Angela Merkel, qui "a même incliné la tête sur l’épaule de François Hollande", et de "David Cameron qui s’oppose fermement aux positions plus fédéralistes de la France en matière européenne, et qui avait été le premier à annoncer sa venue aux côtés du Président français, et fait montre de fraternité", affirme le site Internet. Euractiv souligne qu'il y avait également "des invités plus gênants, tels que le chef de la diplomatie russe, Sergueï Lavrov ou encore Viktor Orban, le Premier ministre hongrois, régulièrement critiqué pour ses attaques envers la presse et l’indépendance des médias". Libération rappelle qu'en décembre dernier en Turquie, lors d'interpellations d'opposants au président Recep Tayyip Erdogan, "un patron d’une chaîne de télévision avait même été inculpé pour terrorisme".

Organisée de toute urgence par le ministre de l'Intérieur, une réunion internationale antiterroriste s'est tenue dimanche matin en présence notamment du ministre américain de la Justice Eric Holder, du commissaire européen aux Affaires intérieures et à la citoyenneté Dimitris Avramopoulos, du coordinateur de l'UE pour la lutte contre le terrorisme Gilles de Kerchove et de onze ministres européens de l'Intérieur. Bernard Cazeneuve a annoncé qu'ils souhaitaient "un renforcement des contrôles aux frontières extérieures de l’Union européenne et préconis[ai]ent une adaptation du système Schengen. Ils sont ainsi prêts à se confronter au Parlement européen qui bloque l’adoption d’un fichier européen des données des passagers aériens (PNR) pour des questions de protection de la vie privée", rapportent Les Échos. A la fin du mois, le Conseil des ministres "Justice et Affaires intérieures"  se focalisera sur ces questions, avant le prochain Conseil européen du 12 février consacré à la lutte contre le terrorisme.

Le ministre français de l'Intérieur a indiqué qu'ils avaient identifié deux champs sur lesquels ils souhaitaient renforcer leur coopération, "les moyens destinés à contrecarrer les déplacements de combattants étrangers et de toutes les filières ; la lutte contre les facteurs et les vecteurs de radicalisation notamment sur Internet", rapporte Ouest France. "Nous avons donc marqué avec force le besoin d’une plus grande coopération avec les entreprises de l’internet, pour garantir le signalement et le retrait, quand il est possible, des contenus illicites, notamment des contenus faisant l’apologie du terrorisme, ou appelant à la violence ou à la haine", a affirmé le ministre.

Selon le journal allemand Bild, "le massacre perpétré à Charlie Hebdo pourrait annoncer une vague d'attaques en Europe par des terroristes djihadistes", rapporte La Tribune. Le site de l'hebdomadaire rappelle que "le Hamburger Morgenpost, un quotidien allemand de Hambourg qui avait publié des caricatures de Mahomet provenant du magazine Charlie Hebdo a été dimanche matin la cible d'une attaque avec un engin incendiaire". "La situation n'est pas très différente d'un pays à l'autre", estime Slate. En Europe, "des centaines voire des milliers de jeunes [partent] pour faire le djihad (…) nombre d'entre eux reviennent pour porter la terreur en Europe" et "en face se développent des mouvements racistes ou xénophobes que les partis établis n’arrivent ni à comprendre ni à combattre". Pour le site Internet, "les racines et les conséquences sont analogues. Elles exigent un traitement européen, sur les deux fronts, intérieur et extérieur". Fin de citation. 

A quand un prix "Charlie" de la liberté d'expression ?



Tokyo était Charlie 


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Have you tried Christmas in Tokyo?



Christmas Eve 2014 in Tokyo... People rush, strictly marshalled by police and security staff this time nearby Tokyo station, pale lighting for the on going station 100th anniversary. Thousands of folks are packing to see a few LED lights and enjoying the view. More because everyone's here happy to be together and queue and wait than because of the show, poor in fact. But what shines catches crowds and on my right and my left everyone clicks and clicks. I like the pic of this young couple all of a sudden illuminated on the spot, the photo is showing their simple happiness to share together this moment. Oh boy that’s what counts after all.

I wonder though if, 3 years after Fukushima, people really understand what energy savings and life sustainability mean. I'm afraid not. Of course it's a pretty-like postcard. Does this really reflect Japan's reality what’s shown here in the heart of Tokyo? Other folks are glued windows watching on Ginza near by. Amazing enough, I did not see lots of people carrying many packets in hands in Tokyo streets. I did not see many children either. But I saw lots of Japanese young girls running after their Xmas date. With not fancy smiles or no exorbitant clothes on top. Wise on the surface. Some parts of Toyo are empty, except the usual Nihonbashi, Shibuya, Omote Sando, Shinjuku. Not much shopping, of course with the 8% tax… except Chinese Hong-Kongese and Indonesians (or were they Malaysians?) tourists with their hands full of bags, ギフトパッケージしてください and expensive watches, rings, bracelets bought at Tiffany, plus Mikimoto pearls necklaces.

Not far from Ginza, in Yurakucho, near my press club, on Xmas eve, the anti nuclear are there and demonstrate massively just after "Abe chan" was "theoretically re-elected prime minister until the next Lower House election up to four years away" as one paper puts it. These (numerous) anti-nuke folks choose to scream their anger for the victims of nuclear accidents and against the company managing the turmoil, against Abe etc. While other Japanese suddenly caught by loud megaphones are rushing home in the cold, heading back to their suburbs to breathe at least from the city lights rush, stress and exhaustion and cheers quietly in front of a good bottle of French wine for "Kurisumasu-クリスマス!"


As I had to catch the time mood, I could not end up my stroll around Tokyo centre watching how Japanese feel tonight, prior to write my news report for my Francophone news channels partners, without being captured by a radically different view: a huge Santa Claus, blue painted (LED influence again?) standing at a shop near the Tokyo International Forum and not so far a lonely Winnie the Pooh who grabbed the eyes of tons of (again) Chinese and Hong Kongese tourists!

Today is 25th, back to work in Japan, slow motion anyway until New Year 2015 celebrations. Oh Oh Oh that will be really nice and really Japanese festival with a sparkling mood. It will be much better than the local Japanese TV's pre-agitated "happy Xmas anyway" in Tokyo centre, lacking more and more total imagination and creativity, on a 24th of December, actually lacking to give a national atmosphere perspective and celebration of what the archipelago is and that should be reflected in the capital, methinks...  Anaesthesia syndrome?



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Emmanuel Macron's arrow in Tokyo: "Innovative mindset"


Emmanuel Macron on Japanese television 

"Japan-France economic relations opportunities emphasise how strategic are these two mature countries, facing (having) similar challenges", the Nikkei writes about French minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron: "日仏の経済関係がいかに戦略的かを強調する機会にしたい。この2つの成熟した国は、改革や成長などの面で同様の課題を抱えている"

The minister accompanied by Senator EELV Jean-Vincent Place, met his South Korean counterpart in Seoul and his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo.

To the three arrows of Prime Minister Abe’s policy stimulus (monetary, fiscal, reformer), Macron responded with "three pillars". First, "financial restructuring". "Our mission is to reduce public spending," said the minister during a speech in Paris Europlace financial forum. "This is the first time that we have such an offensive program.”

Emmanuel Macron highlighted France “offensive" reforms to Japanese investors in Tokyo. Boost growth he repeated. Guest on Japanese TV, Macron answered in English to questions of the Japanese reporters. Macron is very ambitious about the future of the French economy. "Clearing and structural reforms" are required he said at a news gathering with French and Japanese media at the French embassy later in the day, prior to fly back to Paris with his cabinet team.

A significant visit for the Minister. "Bercy" (French ministry of economy Paris quarters) reminded that France is the 3rd largest investor in Japan behind the United States and the Netherlands while Japan is the first Asian investor in France. Praised last week by Francois Hollande, the dynamic Emmanuel Macron could see himself targeting several points with his French archer's bow: growth, structural reforms and “move frontiers” thanks to innovative mindset.

Innovation, that's the point, and it requires a spiritual revolution, as seen in the start-up firms blooming in France with new partnerships created now in Japan.

Macron also lectured students of the well known Waseda university:
マクロン氏は今年8月に史上2番目の若さで経済大臣に就任し、現在36歳。
過去には銀行幹部、大統領経済顧問も務めていた、まさにフランス政界切っての”エリート”です。
そんな若きリーダーの講演を生で聞く又とない機会ですので、奮ってご参加ください。

【講演者】フランス共和国 エマニュエル・マクロン経済・産業・デジタル大臣
【講演テーマ】 ”Facing reforms: What does it take for France”
【講演言語】英語(日本語の同時通訳無し)
【日時】2014年11月25日(火)12:30開場、13:10開演(13:00に会場締め切ります。余裕をもってお越しください)
【場所】早稲田大学 11号館5階502教室
【対象】本学学生、教職員、その他一般

【主催】早稲田大学 現代政治経済研究所
【協力】EUIJ早稲田

Macron is different and the Japanese liked his visit, and praised him. Rare case in the archipelago where emotions are normally buried deep down. Now is time to consolidate.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Banzai, banzai, banzai" The Abenomics in turmoil! Abe falls to 39% in opinion polls

Abe and his LDP friends Banzai for... the dissolution!

"Banzai, banzai, banzai"... After the Parliament dissolution, I reported last night and the whole week about the obsession of Abe for reigning in Nagatacho following Friday Lower House dissolution. I commented for my Francophone television and radio partners in France and overseas. Main talk is focussing on institutions, daily reality and analyse them, describing real people life. Not just jawing on the beautiful rich and happy and major firms rising profits.

A Kyodo News agency survey on Friday found that about 63% of people did not understand Mr Abe's reasons for going to the polls early. A separate survey by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper found that only 39% supported Mr Abe. Interesting to see if the right wing conservative who use Shinzo Abe will attack the Asahi methodology about opinion polls* for their extremist "ethno nationalism" (nationalisme ethnique ou nationalisme ethno-culturel en Français)" as Louis Schweitzer (Louis Schweitzer, Special Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Japan and former boss of Renault-Nissan) once said at a journalist breakfast at the French embassy.

What do the foreign media write? Here is the New York Times: “... However, many political experts said they also detected deep pessimism in Mr. Abe’s decision: He was essentially admitting that he did not see the economy regaining energy any time soon, they said, and that he would rather face the voters now than after they have become unhappier.

Abenomics are losing steam

“There is only one reason to call an election now, and that is the fear that things will be only worse if he waits,” said Gerald L. Curtis, a specialist on Japanese politics at Columbia University. “The expectation of political stability and an Abe administration unchallenged for six years, that so many thought just two weeks ago was the most likely scenario, is now history.” Even so, Mr. Abe was betting that his party was still more appealing to voters than the main opposition party, the Democrats, who have fallen into disarray since their defeat two years ago.

In fact, experts said, one reason to call an early election is to deny the Democrats and other opposition parties the chance to enlist a full slate of candidates and mount a serious challenge. Mr. Abe called Tuesday for early elections, raising fears not only that his vaunted program for economic revival was faltering, but that his popularity might fade with it" the New York Times writes.

 Abe's economy adviser Hamada at FPCJ: "taxes should be lower, consumption and corporate"

The Abenomics are described with a three "arrows" symbole. It is an economic policy made of three "arrows“ A reference to Japanese lord Mori Motonari of the sixteenth century. Mori gave to each of his three sons one arrow asking them to break it. This was done. Then he gave them each three arrows, asking them again. But the three arrows together could not be broken. Japan likes history symbols, or to play theatre in politics such as in the Kabuki theatre where comedians are actually controlled and readjusted by men dressed in black behind them, guiding their clothing or their position. Abenomics are an expansive fiscal policy, monetary policy designed to get Japan's deflation and structural reforms, in particular the consolidation of public finances. But Japan falling into recession in the third quarter has raised doubts about the effectiveness of these measures

Under Abe's get richer, poor get poorer Abenomics’ policy administration short comings and policy making, his failure to convince the Japanese of the necessity of the sudden snap election, his refusal to acknowledge that his "Abenomics" do not work for people, and the result is that the popularity of the Prime Minister is at the lowest, 39% good opinions. That's the reality picture at this time today in Japan.

I commented the gap coming between Japanese and their political leaders, the anaesthesia of the Japanese audiences hammered by increasing pressure of the nationalists policies of Abe and his right wingers and the fear for social liberties, as stated by unions and opposition political parties.

Some of my comments to Kyodo news agency for Japanese newspapers

I reported in French about things my Japanese people surveys reveal and about things Japanese journalists friends and commentators tell me about. Some ask me to talk on TV or in the media for that purpose because they simply cannot themselves voice or report in details or too directly about it, except about the calendar of Abe's events ahead provided by the "Kantei Abe machine" the army of communicators some being ex scholars, some ex advertising agencies, even ex media, including representatives of the right wing organisations having a seat at Kantei. Well the point is that this Abenomics serial movie show the incompetence of these communicators unable to avoid the falling popularity trends. They should be changed. They might already having been changed or "reinforced" actually. Nothing good for the media. I already talked about the subject in this 20 years old blog, please research here.

The self censorship of Japanese journalist including those working in the centre or centre-left press has a strange flavour describing a lack of press freedom. Is Japan democracy things getting sour? Japan went from 22nd to 53rd in the world rankings on press freedom by RSF "Reporters Without Borders" in 2013.


Asahi shimbun, 8 million copies, Japanese version of New York Times/Le Monde 
Asahi officials kowtow to the right wing.

An example with the torments suffered by the daily Press: The Asahi Shimbun, violently attacked in the Abe administration... * Do read on this point the report of my colleague Philippe Pons of Le Monde. "Asahi dans la tourmente." I talked about the Asahi several times, I reported and mentioned about it last night too on French TV.

Growing sense of frustration or blank arrogance?

Even among foreign journalists, there is a growing sense of frustration as seen at the press conference of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe November 18th. Several foreign correspondents, usually invited to the Kantei for Abe's media appearance, were turned down. They were not even informed of it although it was the rule (see the email screen-shot). No reasons were given, no apologies were offered. Just a sudden (so Japanese) change of rule by people unfamiliar with procedures and respect of rules even with foreigners. The kind of thing that the US and EU fight with their Japanese counterparts in international negotiations, "structural impediments on trade, FTA, TPP etc... We discovered later that day there were still free seats (5 free seats according to a colleague) for the foreign press at Abe's press conference. But the press service of the Kantei (global communication something they say) did not invite members of the foreign press, they just did not invite them to attend. They just did not respect their words of informing them if they are in or not in. One German, French and Italian journalist were among those waiting. Is it a bureaucratic incompetence? Is it related to the fear of prime minister Abe for everything "foreign" or is it just a blank arrogance under the less popular Abe regime? As a foreign media "baron" commented, hearing it from foreign ambassadors in Japan: "Japan does not have any respect for the press... and control their moves, spooks on them, bug their phones, their emails..."


Analysts say it is perhaps the best timing for Abe to get a fresh mandate to try to eliminate any possibility of the mounting scandals sending his government into a downward spiral. The opposition parties are in disarray, the public's focus is on the economy and few voters would oppose delaying a tax increase. In the first half of next year, 2015, Abe plans to tackle contentious issues that could erode support for his government, namely legislation to expand Japan's military role and restart nuclear power plants.

"The Democratic Party has unfortunately not restored to the point that we can ask voters to entrust us with the government," admitted Yukio Edano, the secretary general of the DPJ, at the foreign correspondents press club.

To be followed...


* "Asahi dans la tourmente" http://bit.ly/1r6UDKC

[This blog story is originally written in French, translated into English, the appropriate version is the French version]

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Report from Fukushima Dai-Ichi: "Weakening nuclear contamination is peak target now!"


Fukushima Dai Ichi invited foreign media correspondents question the plant manager Akira Ono

Reporting for my media partners from Fukushima Dai Ichi crippled nuclear plant November 12th 2014, I'm here with my green cap among my 12 colleagues, holding my ICR in direction of plant manager Akira Ono さん of Tepco during press briefing following 3 excruciating hours visit on Dai-Ichi under complete protective equipment. We walked around the reactors and water treatment systems, including strontium deposit units, among debris, pipes and tanks along with the nowadays 6000 nuclear workers on a daily task. It is my 5th report within Fukushima Dai Ichi crippled nuclear plant.

A few world journalists were invited to visit the Fukushima DaiIchi nuclear plant Wednesday. Here we stand after the visit on site with FD1 plant director Akira Ono who speaks from the main earthquake-proof building at the tsunami-crippled nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima: "The contaminated water is the most pressing problem we must tackle. There is no doubt about that, our effort to mitigate the problem is at its peak now. Though I cannot say exactly when, I hope things start getting better when the measures start taking effect.” 


Fukushima nuclear workers 

A little bit of hope after the accomplished removal of rods at Reactor 4 and the cleaning of contaminated water with the Alps system. But all around us we could see plenty of storage tanks made to handle huge amount of contaminated water. Around R1 the peak radiation was at 700 microsieverts! Lower on site.  Photo due to one of the kindest photographer I worked with at FD1, Shizuo Kambayashi さん from pool report.  

I asked about technologies used to address contamination and opening to foreign companies to Ono san and also asked about the 3 workers who were injured at Fukushima Dai Ichi plant friday, they suffer fractures after a steel railing fell from the top of one of the numerous tanks being constructed to store contaminated water, I was told their life is not threatened. 

Tepco is now building a new 8 storeys building for all workers to rest during work session. I saw lots of them resting in corridors of protected buildings. I also met a few workers and Tepco employees I had met 3 years ago on my first visit. They are fine. I was impressed with the story of one of them, W... さん who worked on the plant March 11 2011 with the late Yoshida san. Very impressive statement he gave me about the "Fukushima 50" heroes of March 2011.

The dose of nuclear radiation the foreign media received is around 0,02 mSv (Millisievert). Some peak radiation reached at Reactor 1 was 700 μSv (Microsieverts). 

 FD1 plant manager Akira Ono

 Alps contaminated water system

Reactor 4 pool, "mission accomplished"

Briefing from Tepco communication team prior to embark for Fukushima Dai Ichi

 In the Tepco bus, between J Village and Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear plant, dosimeter shows low μSv


Pool reports

Monday, November 10, 2014

La chasse aux sorcières au Japon, le début des jours sombres ?

Peinture de guerre, musée des JSDF, Hokkaido

Le Professeur Jeff Kingston de l'Université TUJ de Tokyo explique dans un récit et commentaire lumineux paru dans le Japan Times en date du 8 Novembre 2014 comment la droite nationaliste japonaise libérée sous Shinzo Abe harcèle les enseignants et les universités ainsi que les médias, japonais et étrangers.

Exemple de menaces et violences à Hokusei Gakuen University à Sapporo sur Takashi Uemura, ancien journaliste de l'Asahi Shimbun. J'espère que des publications comme Courrier International, Express, Nouvel Obs, Le Figaro ou Le Monde vont enfin s'y intéresser, et ouvrir le volet nauséabond de ces tristes héritiers des sectes nationalistes japonaises d'avant guerre qui avaient impliqué le Japon dans une guerre d'invasion en Asie, profitant en particulier aux grandes firmes d'alors. (voir: Zaibatsu, "Tanaka Mémos")

Le New York Times y a consacré de nombreux articles. "Pressure in Japan to Forget Sins of War", "Conservative Group Urges Changes at Japanese War Shrine", "Japan's Illiberal Secrecy Law", en présentant l'exemple de groupuscules xénophobes japonais violents: les Net Right (netto uyoku), complètement "tombés dans le fanatisme" selon des résidents français de longue date installés au Japon. Ces groupes, ce sont souvent les mêmes que l'on retrouve au sanctuaire Yasukuni le 15 août, "se cachent derrière: des pseudonymes qui crachent leur vitriol de désinformation sur l'Internet, érodent les libertés démocratiques, censurent la vérité qui dérange, dégradant la dignité du Japon." (NYT)

Je les ai vus et approchés il y a quelques années lors de la rédaction d'ouvrages ou d'articles sur le Japon d'après la seconde guerre mondiale et la guerre du Pacifique. Ils voulaient que l'on parle de leur engagement, tout en masquant leurs méthodes violentes, critiquées par les japonais "ordinaires" qui leur tournent le dos. Sauf que depuis ces dernières années, depuis le livre le "Japon qui peut dire Non" de Ishihara et Morita, précédant une politique débridée niant les responsabilités japonaises durant les terribles années de colonisation et de guerre, depuis le soutien de Junichiro Koizumi aux conflits des années Bush, depuis la catastrophe de 2011, Fukushima et Tsunami, et aussi parce que depuis 1945, les japonais n'ont jamais eu le temps ou le loisir de revisiter librement leur passé indépendamment sans que les Etats Unis leur tiennent le porte plume, on assiste avec stupeur au sursaut, au retour du nationalisme ethnique japonais et de la xénophobie.

Je me suis aperçu que certains de ces extrémistes japonais sont désormais infiltrés sur ma page Facebook, sur mon compte Twitter, et sur LinkedIn. Ils surveillent mon blog, mes questions au press club, je reçois des emails menaçants. Bon ce n'est pas Isis et quoi qu'il en soit je m'exprime ici, encore et toujours, plus longuement que dans mes papiers d'actualités. Certains de mes collègues, américains britanniques ou français et moi-même avons présenté ces cas devant nos ambassadeurs au Japon et je l'ai fait devant des ambassadeurs étrangers dont le prédécesseur de l'actuelle ambassadeur des Etats-Unis d'Amérique Caroline Kennedy, devant un ancien ambassadeur de France occupant aujourd'hui de hautes fonctions au Quai d'Orsay, ou lors de rendez-vous de presse avec le conseiller politique de notre Ambassade car ces mouvements nationalistes xénophobes japonais n'hésitent pas à "cracher leur vitriol de désinformation" dans les rédactions en chefs et les mouvements associatifs au Japon et outre-mer. Afin de critiquer insidieusement le journaliste, le professeur, le diplomate, voire aussi l'entrepreneur.

Les médias japonais se refusent généralement à évoquer ces cas, en particulier la NHK dont son nouveau président et son conseil d'administration qui est placé, via des filtres bureaucratiques, directement sous contrôle de l'administration de Shinzo Abe et ses communicants. Mais pire encore, ceux qui perpétuent ces idées d'une résurgence d'un Japon aligné sur de semblables ambitions dévastatrices des années 1940-1945, sont aussi devenus aujourd'hui des extrémistes, liés volontairement par les herbages familiaux, enfants et petits enfants, neveux ou nièces, cousins qui en 2014 épousent dorénavant les thèses des criminels de guerre condamnés jadis devant les tribunaux. Criminels condamnés dirait on aujourd'hui pour terrorisme ou meurtres politiques. Nous savons souvent mais pas toujours qui se cache derrière cet homme politique, Shinzo Abe, un peu à l'étroit dans ses habits de premier ministre. Nous avons évoqué les actes de la Nippon Kaigi, d'Issuikai, des Uyoku dantai (右翼団体) ils doivent être pris très au sérieux, tant leurs forces demeurent très actives, près de 100.000 personnes au Japon, en 2013.

Des réminiscences des Aikokusha (愛国社, "Society of Patriots”) Black Dragon Society (黑龍會 kokuryukai) Genyosha (玄洋社 "Black Ocean Society”) La société des patriotes a été réactivée en toute visibilité lors de l'arrivée temporaire aux affaires des Démocrates du Minshuto. Aujourd'hui très active, cette société dite des "patriotes" est particulièrement toxique, mélange d'une nostalgie pour le Japon Impérial du 4e siècle (sic), couplée aux réinventions du culte impérial sous l'Ere Meiji dite de modernisation (sic). Leur dernière méthode est d'approcher des médias étrangers et de les infiltrer par des méthodes habituelles de corruption et passe-droits.

Pourquoi les "décideurs" étrangers en dehors des américains ou des chinois n'y prêtent-ils aucune attention ne cesse de me surprendre? Nous voici d'ores et déjà prévenus! Reste l'espoir que le Japon et ceux qui vivent dans ce grand pays, la majorité étant éprise de paix et de liberté, au moins celle d'entreprendre, sauront contenir ses propres excès générés par l'ignorance et la colère d'un mal-être si commun aux grandes nations aux sociétés déchirées par l'égoïsme et la violence des fanatismes, le Japon n'y échappe pas.



2) Article en anglais de Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan.

Right-wing witch hunt signals dark days in Japan
BY JEFF KINGSTON
SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES
NOV 8, 2014

Many Japanese and long-time Japan observers have expressed dismay about the recrudescence of self-righteous nationalism under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has emboldened right-wing extremists now threatening democratic institutions and civil liberties.

“The revisionist right in Japan with the active encouragement, if not involvement, of the Abe government has succeeded in controlling NHK news, intimidating Asahi Shimbun and now academia,” says Koichi Nakano, a professor of political science at Sophia University.

Abe has presided over the mainstreaming of reactionary extremism in his quest to rewrite and rehabilitate Japan’s wartime past in Asia, and in doing so instigates widespread international criticism. Any other national leader who did the same for their nation’s egregious history would merit a similar reaction.

This past week, Hokusei Gakuen University in Sapporo moved to fire part-time lecturer Takashi Uemura, a former Asahi Shimbun journalist, because right-wing goons had threatened violence if he wasn’t removed. The university was reportedly inundated with threatening letters and phone calls demanding the teacher’s dismissal for his controversial articles in the 1990s about the comfort women system.

What started as a clash over history has morphed into a broader political battle over national identity and Japan’s democratic values. Nakano worries that “each time a university succumbs to right-wing intimidation, ‘success’ encourages more terrorist threats.”

Reactionaries maintain that the Asahi and its reporters tarnished Japan’s international reputation, but as Hokkaido University historian Philip Seaton explains, it is the “efforts by a small but powerful minority in Japan to deny atrocities that sullies Japan’s name in international eyes.”

These reactionaries are now inflicting infinitely more damage on Japan’s reputation than a handful of newspaper articles in the 1990s. It is scandalous that the so-called Net Right (netto uyoku) of extremists, lurking behind pseudonyms and spewing ill-informed vitriol on the Internet, are eroding democratic freedoms, censoring inconvenient truths and degrading Japan’s dignity.

As Martin Fackler of the New York Times recently wrote (Oct. 29), these cyberactivists “have gained an outsize influence with the rise of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s conservative government, which shares the goal of ending negative portrayal of Japan’s history, and with the acquiescence of a society too uninterested or scared to speak out.”

Fackler goes on to note several examples around Japan where the Net Right has imposed its agenda through thuggery.

Japan’s cyber-terrorists sound like religious extremists, threatening “divine retribution” in the form of gas canisters packed with nails. By stopping towns from erecting repentant war memorials, caterwauling on the Internet and scaring employers into firing “undesirables,” these vigilantes represent Japan in jackboots. It is like the 1930s, when ultranationalists hounded respected academics such as Tatsukichi Minobe and Tadao Yanaihara from their posts.

The Net Right embodies Japan’s 21st-century McCarthyism, from an era when communist hysteria in the United States unleashed a witch hunt that trampled on democratic freedoms.

“Defending academic freedom must be sacrosanct,” Seaton says. “To terminate the ex-Asahi reporter’s contract simply sends the message that ‘intimidation works.’ This incident could initiate a dangerous slide toward the muzzling and dismissal of researchers working on sensitive issues.”

Andrew Horvat, former president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, points out that Uemura “has been caught in the crossfire of a proxy war on the comfort women issue. The aim of the rightists is to undermine the reputation of the Asahi, a liberal paper, and he has become a pawn in this game.”

Tomomi Yamaguchi, a professor of anthropology at Montana State University, says Uemura has been on the right’s hit list from the mid-2000s largely due to vilification by Tsutomu Nishioka, a professor at Tokyo Christian University.

Satoko Norimatsu, director of the Vancouver-based Peace Philosophy Centre, speculates that Hokusei itself is a target because of its 1995 Peace Declaration, which goes much further than the Murayama Statement in acknowledging Japan’s war responsibility and obligation to atone. Back then, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama condemned Japanese aggression in Asia and called for an end to “self-righteous nationalism.”

“The Abe regime has clearly abetted this mobilization of right-wing extremists against academic, media and other institutions,” asserts Andrew DeWit, a professor of public policy at Rikkyo University. “Allowing extremists to intimidate academe will not foster the learning environment that Japanese universities require in order to become the ‘super global universities’ envisioned in Abenomics. You cannot have it both ways, winking at ultra-nationalism that targets academe while at the same time actually building globally competitive institutions of critical inquiry.”

Alexis Dudden, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut, argues that post-1945 Japan has advanced because of the ability to study, learn and teach in an open atmosphere.

“Since then, Japanese society and all who engage with it have benefited and thrived because of this fundamental freedom guaranteed in the 1947 Constitution,” says Dudden, who believes that “turning away now degrades Japan’s capacities to lead and defines a ‘safe’ society as one that cowers from bullies and sanitizes history to fit contingent political demands.”

Sven Saaler, a professor of history at Sophia University, notes that “right-wingers have been pushing their agenda constantly with violence. They have actually violently attacked journalists, newspaper offices and politicians.”

Mark Mullins, a professor of Japanese studies at the University of Auckland, warns that right-wing threats must be taken seriously.

“Recall that in 1990 Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima was shot by rightists for expressing his views about the Emperor and war responsibility; and in 2006, Koichi Kato, a moderate (Liberal Democratic Party) politician, had his house in Yamagata burned down for his criticism of Prime Minister (Junichiro) Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine.”

Saaler sees a broader pattern.

“In recent years, pressure by right-wing groups has led to cinemas canceling movies dealing with sensitive war-related issues; hotels canceling the reservations of conference rooms for symposia dealing with such issues; and museums canceling or revising exhibitions with sensitive contents,” he says.

The Peace Philosophy Centre’s Norimatsu thinks things are getting worse under the Abe regime.

“(There has been) widespread anti-China and anti-Korea sentiments (and) books of that kind becoming best-sellers, hate demonstrations, assaults on history by the nation’s leaders that trickle down to the general public, page-ripping of Anne Frank’s diaries, hiding of ‘Barefoot Gen’ in school libraries, assaults on protest tents in Okinawa and anti-nuclear tents in Tokyo, and public places refusing to rent space to groups that discuss issues like the Constitution and anti-nuclear power,” she says.

Amid this rightist chill, Mullins is worried that “academic freedom — and freedom of speech more broadly — is clearly threatened and is a legitimate concern for those who care about the future of democracy in Japan.”

Sophia’s Nakano laments that Abe exacerbates the situation.

“When an important principle of liberal democracy is under attack, the government should be playing an active role to condemn the attacks in strongest terms,” he says, but instead points out that it is actually fanning the fires.

Saaler’s suggests that, “The situation can be compared to Weimar Germany, where the authorities turned a blind eye to right-wing activities and let right-wing violence go largely unpunished.”

Here we remain far from descending into that Nazi abyss, but government tolerance for intolerance and hooliganism makes a mockery of the rule of law, democratic norms and the Olympic spirit.

[For readers interested in the Hokusei affair, here is a link to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan press conference by Koichi Nakano and Jiro Yamaguchi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNjWHwCQbcE ]

Jeff Kingston is the director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan.
EoQ

Japan Times: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/11/08/commentary/japan-commentary/right-wing-witch-hunt-signals-dark-days-japan

New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/world/asia/japanese-village-grappling-with-wartime-sins-comes-under-attack.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/world/asia/japan-yasukuni-shrine-izokukai.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/30/opinion/international/japans-illiberal-secrecy-law.html

Rappel JPRI: "The 1955 System and the American Connection"
http://www.jpri.org/publications/workingpapers/wp11.html

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Japan and North Korea talks on cold war era abductions



An empty chair, the one of Kim Jong-Un. (L) So Tae Ha, chairman of North Korea's special investigation committee and (R) Junichi Ihara director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of Gaimusho. Ihara leads a Japanese government mission dispatched to North Korea for the first time since November 2004, writes Image China.

Japan and North Korea have mainly attracted the attention of authorities and Japanese media this week as a delegation left for Pyongyang at the invitation of the North Korean regime to obtain information about the investigation on the fate of Japanese kidnapped during the Cold War. The delegation of about a dozen people had to spend four days in the North Korean capital, the first time in ten years. These discussions restarted directly between Japan and North Korea concerning the "kidnapped" Japanese held captive by Pyongyang which is a very serious scar in Japan. The history of the Japanese hostages is emblematic of the climate that prevailed in the years of confrontation USA USSR. Still in vogue in Pyongyang. A high Japanese LDP politician, a close one, has spoken to me in Tokyo, he told me that around 400 people, were kidnapped (Megumi Yokota) others naively journeying to North Korea in the 1970s, 1980s. They were and are never allowed to return to Japan. History sometimes unknown outside of Asia while UN debates on violations of human rights have systematic place right now on the issue of detention camps in North Korea. After years of denials, the North Korean government finally confirmed a decade ago that it kidnapped over a dozen Japanese nationals during the 1970's and 80's. While North Korea repatriated a handful of those kidnapped, and claims the rest have died, Japanese authorities suspect there may still be more Japanese nationals being held in the DPRK. Talks reactivated earlier this year after North Korea announced an investigation in exchange for Japan lifting some of its sanctions.


Français

Le Japon et la Corée du Nord ont attiré majoritairement l’attention des autorités et medias japonais cette semaine car une délégation japonaise est partie pour Pyongyang à l'invitation du régime nord-coréen pour obtenir des informations sur l'enquête concernant le sort des Japonais kidnappés en pleine Guerre Froide. Cette délégation d'une dizaine de personnes devait passer quatre jours dans la capitale nord-coréenne, une première depuis dix ans. Ces discussions relancées directement entre le Japon et la Corée du nord sur le sort des “kidnappées” japonais retenus prisonniers par Pyongyang sont une affaire très sérieuse au Japon. L’histoire de ces otages japonais est emblématique du climat qui prévalait dans les années de confrontation USA URSS. Toujours en vogue à Pyongyang. Un très haut responsable politique japonais du PLD, un proche, me parlait à Tokyo de 400 personnes, certaines kidnappées (Megumi Yokota) d’autres naïvement partis en Corée du Nord dans les années 1970, 1980 interdits de rentrer au Japon. Histoire parfois méconnue hors d’Asie alors que des débats des Nations Unies sur les violations des droits de l'homme systématiques ont lieu en ce moment même dans des camps de détention en Corée du Nord.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Not nationalist enough? 小渕優子 Obuchi Yuko, 松島 みどりMatsushima Midori forced out of politics!

Not nationalist enough? Matsushima Midori L Yuko Obuchi. R

Japan's Justice Minister Midori Matsushima resigned, hours after the resignation of Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi. Ms Obuchi is alleged to have misused funds from her political support groups and other donations. Ms Matsushima had distributed paper fans carrying her image and policies at a festival in her constituency, according to government TV NHK.

This is news big scam. Every politician receives and distributes money in Japan politics. The chief of factions (reborn) distribute the money. The corporation gives money to politicians. I saw an example myself of interaction between the construction Zenekon industry paying a famous politicians from Hokkaido. I heard from many politicians that they receive tribe money. Each sector needs to pass laws and play favours to politicians who can face the enormous cost of paying back to their generous donators and to their constituencies. Politics is costly. How come incompetent people and short sighted policies not in the benefit of people are perpetuated? This is why in my morning subway survey: I could see and hear that Japanese society remains totally apathetic to Nagatacho's scandals, politics and Shinzo Abe's #whatevernomics.

小渕優子 Yuko Obuchi. 松島 みどり, Matsushima Midori. Now my question is : Who are the LDP people sneaky enough to manipulate Minshuto Diet MP and push them into digging dirt and expel rising female politicians?

In Japan, women remain targets of ”親父” dirty tricks & money politics. This being said, the Obuchi money case is typical of local politics, each other mingling in a cosy sticky relationship, with favours to return. But the most infamous case is Midori Matsushima who stepped down "over her alleged violation of the election law by distributing paper fans to constituents, which could count as a donation banned under the law." Every politicians in Japan offers gifts, pins, fans, T-Shirts, Mugs, Food stuffed with banknotes... Every politician in Japan is paid by a lobby. Remember cases of politicians who left LDP and cried to come back and had to pay huge "fine" to return? Remember the LDP Jun chan Lion PR policy or Minshuto Hatoyama - Noda gifts offered prior to elections?
The thing here is not about the fundamental of Japanese money politics. There are negligences but the Obuchi Matsushima case is about a society where women are said "no" to top jobs by the Oyajis. It is a blow to the international image of Japan. Obuchi was seen as the first female prime minister to come. Her father was a prime minister and was not an easy rider, he had determination and proved it on Japan US military disagreements, he died. Maybe Ozawa knows a lot about it?



One thing is that these 2 are female politicians and are much less "nationalist" compared to the other women of Abe's cabinet and LDP top jobs. I give you an example: I emceed Matsushima at the press club recently, in Tokyo, September 26th 2014. I asked her at the end of the event if she would go to pray to the Yasukuni shrine for the Autumn festival and Matsushima (who worked 15 years as an Asahi journalist) answered to my question: "no and not as a politician and no need to be pushed by any group" for that (Nippon Kaigi or others?) Then the Sankei shimbun (in its usual hysteria) commented that the Justice minister Matsushima did not have enough respect and regards for the divinity of the Yasukuni shrine...


I reported last night on my networks partners about the beginning of an era of Shinzo Abe's politics instability.