We post stories about the the Great 3.11 Disaster that occurred in Northern Japan in 2011.

Archive for July 2011

“Re-imagining Japan: The Challenge Ahead”: a collection of essays released by 80 leaders, CEOs, and academics, in July

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Dominic Barton, director of McKinsey and Co, the global consultancy group’s director, who launched the English version of the book “Re-imagining Japan, The Quest for a Future That Works” in Tokyo on July 12th, puts that question to 80 leaders, CEOs, investors, academics, journalists and prominent figures from the world of foreign affairs, sports and culture. He stated at the genesis of the rebuilding of Japan, that there is two crisis left in Japan: the natural disaster crisis, and the stagnation of the public debt issue, which he believes will have a more significant long term effect on the Japanese society: “The act of omission is the same as the act of commission”, meaning if you choose not to act you are just as guilty as if you act.

Kenji Hirokane, manga creator: “Japan could export nursing care for elderly to other countries”

Hirokane, who also participated to the launching of the book, said he often travels in China, Russia, US and India, making researches in order to make his artwork happen. “Mai Manga” ‘s unique characteristic is that it reflects facts and incidents happening in the real world. He said he is currently working on a story that reflects on the accident at the Fukushima power plant and also the natural disaster that occurred in Northern Japan.

He said along with the challenging issues of the Japanese economy, he is also reflecting on the aging Japanese society. Hirokane believes Japan could become a role model for the rest of the world, by addressing the aging society issue, if Japan manages to build a new business in the model of nursing care, Japan could export it to other countries such as China and the US when these countries will face the same issue.

Waichi Sekiguchi, the Nikkei newspaper senior editor: “Japanese managers must re-examine their motivations”

Sekiguchi reflected that the Japanese IT industry is losing its competitiveness in he global market. He said the Japanese are very creative in making new products but they have the tendency to created their own standards or develop products that are “too complicated”. Although the technologies and the products are well developed, prices are becoming too high that they lose their competitiveness in the over sea markets. “In addition, the competition in the domestic market is so harsh that companies have been spending too much energy in competing amongst each other, this phenomenon is the so called “Galapagos syndrome”, he added.

If Japan wants to have its technology adapted to the international standards, it will have to lobby proactively and Japanese people are not very good at speaking foreign languages and they take only few opportunities to attend and participate to international debates and conferences because Japanese companies and universities are cutting back on foreign channels. “Japanese companies have to reach international standards in changing the global strategies of the Japanese corporate”. In the past, it was not uncommon for Japanese scholars to go to the US and other countries to study the leading researches and be involved in local research projects. However, recently, researchers and scientists have showed a strong tendency to stay within the domestic clicks, and analysis shows that in terms of technology exchange with foreigners, Japanese engineers are more isolated than their counterparts in Korea or China. During the 1970’s and the 1980’s, the most important duty of Japanese companies was to export, although industry still sells an enormous amount of products overseas, the US government has confronted Tokyo in the 1990’s over a structural trade surplus. Through the negotiations, such as the structural impediments initiatives, and a US-Japan framework talks, Japan insisted on extending and cultivating the domestic market. The generation of domestic sales during that period has become today’s top management.

Tanaka Hitoshi, Former Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs: “What is needed is to deal with short term issues of the disasters in the context of the long term issues of the public debt, social reform, agricultural reform and external relations, building new relationships with the US and China”

“PM Kan will go out sooner or later, it is not important to write a story on when, or how, what is more important is the next government, what type of government we have and the formation of the next government is very crucial to us Japanese”.

“I worked with former PM Koizumi, he was a strong leader, he was determined and decisive, always thinking of strategies. We do not have comparable candidates to Koizumi.”

I talked about North Korea, the US, Eastern Asia, and China, I think China will become the key partner for Japan for policy making.

Written by Nathalie Stucky

July 13, 2011 at 12:18

Posted in Humanitarian

Japan Social Democratic Party: “No need for electrical energy from nuclear plants”

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Japan will not need electrical energy from nuclear plants this summer and next summer, according to SDP leader
Tokyo – 11.07.11 – Amid the struggle by Japan’s PM Naoto Kan (Democratic Party) to gain control of the Fukushima No1 nuclear power plant, Mrs Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan briefed the foreign correspondents in Tokyo about the new action plan her party brought up on May 25 to get Japan out of dependence from nuclear power plants.

At 2011 Athens International Meeting of Social Democratic Parties
In Athens last week, Mrs Fukushima attended a directors’ meeting of international social democratic parties throughout the world, with participants from some 75 countries and representatives from 90 social democratic parties, where she took the leadership to the discussions on “the lessons of Fukushima” and the project of her party to create a nuclear free nation.
Mrs Fukushima’s project received support from socialist parties from UK, France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Venezuela and Cyprus. A Resolution was passed with Socialists International, which supports a general direction heading towards a nuclear free world.
Mrs Fukushima said that one the one hand the SDP has a great obligation to be very active in the Japanese political scene but at the same time to ensure that the activities and what is happening in Japan is well understood by the international community, and make sure that information is shared by all.

SDP action plan to stop nuclear power plants in Japan by 2020
On May 25, the SDP made an announcement of the action plan to eliminate dependence on nuclear energy, specifically to have zero nuclear power plants in Japan by 2020, and reliance on natural reliable energy sources. Mrs Fukushima said the SDP is two years ahead of Germany’s plan to start eliminate their power plants by 2022.

Mrs Fukushima reminded that for a long time already, the SDP has been the only party in Japan that was willing to free the country from atomic power plant: “recently, after the nuclear accident, many other parties in Japan have began to adopt the idea of ending our reliance on nuclear power plants”.

Mrs Fukushima said that her party has come out with specific numbers and data which was not available for a long time before the accident, as the power companies were refusing to release them: “For this summer, and for next summer, according to the calculations provided by my party, if electric companies and other average people are cooperative and creative in the way they use and save electric power, we will be able to meet electrical energy needs without relying on any nuclear power plant at all”.

Two lessons were learned from the Fukushima accident: first is that if an accident actually occurs, people have difficult time controlling the accident. And bringing the plant to closure is a very difficult task. Also the SDP came up with a report that shows that in Europe, there are very few earthquakes, except in Southern Europe, but almost none in Finland, Sweden or Northern Europe, whereas Japan sits up on four tectonic plates. Therefore, there is a big danger for nuclear power plants accidents in Japan: “Worldwide, the average age of operating nuclear power plants is about 22 years, in Japan however we have 54 power plants and 19 currently operating, out of 54 plants, 3 are over 40 years of age, therefore, the older the power plant is the more quickly it should get closed up”.

The closing of the Hamaoka plant
In regard to the Hamaoka power plant, the SDP did a great deal of work to get it shut down. We have raised question in the Diet and we also approached PM Kan to convince them that this should be done.
It is said that the area of Hamaoka will probably subjected to a magnitude 8 or a higher earthquake within the next 30 years. The probability is over 70 to 80 percent: “As a result, looking at all the data, we can see that this power plant is build on a soil that is very unsafe with regards to earthquakes”.

PM Kan’s stress tests
In regards of the stress tests suddenly announced by Mr Kan, the SDP feels that although it is not enough to have a stress test, it is better than going ahead and restarting these reactors without any special conditions at all. Mr Kan’s announcement of the stress tests is like a strong stop to this great momentum that has been brought up by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry): “METI wanted to restart the nuclear power plants at all cost, and they were very enthusiastic about this. The fact that these stress tests put a stop to this momentum is a good thing”.

At a press conference on the same day, the government announced that they would conduct these stress tests in two phases. Mrs Fukushima said: “we feel very strongly that the government should actually do a complete inspection of the safety standards. In the case of Fukushima, the safety standards established by NISA (Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency) and by (JAEC) Japan Atomic Energy Commission were obviously inadequate, therefore a serial safety inspection should be done”.

Nathalie and Kyoko

Written by Nathalie Stucky

July 13, 2011 at 11:34

Posted in Humanitarian

Over speed is the cause of the Glacier Express train accident of July 23rd 2010

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The Swiss mountain train accident occured between Fiesch and Lax, in the Swiss Canton of Valais. “One Japanese tourist (64) was killed and 42 other passengers were injured”, the Chief of Valais Police spokesman said. Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn (MGB) supports the driver, he will continue “another kind of job” withing the company “but not in the service of the trains circulations”.

The final report by the Swiss Federal Office for Public Transport has showed that the accident that leaned 3 wagons was caused by an “over speed”.

The final report released on January 20, 2011 has approved that the driver was driving at 56km/h, in a curve he was supposed to take at 35km/h. “The train has not derailed, however under the centrifuge effect, the train has leaned on its side.

The Federal train accidents experts have been studying the geology of the ground, the influence of the meteo, the tracks, the possible deformation of the tracks, the driving materials, the possibilities to maintain the time table by respecting the speed limits.

The final report also showed that the MGB has not requested the driver to drive faster in order to maintain the time table.

MGB has made several offers to the driver to work in another sector. The driver has so far accepted the offer. Independently from the verdict which will be made public in the framework of his prosecution in course which is under the supervision of the office of justice of the Canton of Valais.

Nathalie and Kyoko

Written by Nathalie Stucky

July 13, 2011 at 10:29

Posted in Humanitarian

Tokyo – Japan is the only country to which Egypt has requested aid for future planning

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“Japanese people have certain cultural sensitivities, and they do not really push in whatever they believe in as clearly as some others do.” Sadako Ogata, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in Tokyo on July 6.

JICA aid to Arab Spring aftermath is no “Santa Claus” aid, JICA president said.

“We do not just give money around”. “Development assistance is a much more complicated process of discussing with the recipient government over what they consider as various plans, whether it is technical assistance”

Last year, JICA has been providing 2.46 billion Japanese Yen technical assistance to Egypt and Tunisia. Sadako Ogata said the science and technology education in Tunisia and Egypt improved a lot in the past two years, yet the so called Arab Spring was foreseeable, as job opportunities were lacking in these regions.

Pushing economic growth, education and creating job opportunities was a difficult task: “JICA has been experiencing difficulties in educating youth in science and technology and at the same time meeting the industrial needs. The benefits of growth have not been reaching the right kind of people: the majority of youth, and they were not able to voice their fairness frustration”, Ogata said at a press conference in Tokyo.

“Science and technology education is something that the world, especially the developing world expects a lot from Japan, and JICA has been at the forefront in doing this kind of education in the parts of the world where technical aid is wanted.”

“We are trying to make sure that JICA development assistance in whatever place will keep the balance between development and inclusiveness to the beneficiary, and especially high education has to be kept very much in mind.”

Election expertise request to Japan

Egypt has requested “very future oriented” assistance from Japan: “First, Egypt has already requested an election support to Japan for the election of the People’s Assembly in September.” JICA has sent Japanese election experts to the High Election Committee of Egypt. The group has already started working, has already organized a series of lectures, and also the planning of how to prepare the coming election.

To Tunisia, JICA has sent an election system specialist to able to help Egypt to prepare for the election of National Constituent Assembly in October.

Egypt is starting the planning of the new five years plan (2012 to 2016), and JICA has already responded to their request by sending several experts.

“Japan is the only country to which Egypt made these requests for future planning, such as organization structure and election process”.

“The Japanese social and economic capacity building is really helping the Ministry’s planning and International Cooperation of Egypt, and our experts are the ones who are going along in whatever they think is the necessary conditions to develop”. Ogata also said that Japan has not being that interfering in the development assistance: “Japan has a certain cultural sensitivities, and most of Japanese people do not really push in whatever they think or believe in as clearly as some others do”. Ogata says there has been a lot of progress in democracy building in these Arab countries, but that their people were not given the freedom to chose their leaders.

Ogata says she was rather surprised that the Planning Ministry has made those requests to Japan. “And Japan is the only country to which it went to ask for these experts for planning the economic and social structures and institutions as well as the election observers”. Professor Shirato, from Tokai University, very well known for being a specialist in election process planning, has gone to Tunisia too. Over history, Japan has sent these election planning specialists to South-East Asian countries when they were going through elections, however these requests from Egypt coming so soon after all these difficulties have rose was a surprise to JICA’s president: “Japan has never been dominating any of these Arab countries in a way, so we have been a helpful partner but we never dominated.”

Nathalie and Kyoko

Written by Nathalie Stucky

July 12, 2011 at 23:12

Posted in Humanitarian

Influential Japanese intellectual group launches appeal to ban use of nuclear energy

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Tokyo – July 11, 2011 – Four months after the beginning of the nuclear disaster in Japan, an influential committee of scientists and intellectuals of Japan, criticizing the influence of the IAEA, has launched a world appeal to ban any form of nuclear energy in the world.

The Committee of Seven for World Peace Appeal was established in Japan in 1955 by seven influential intellectuals at the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the United Nations, appealing to strengthen the role of the UN and to seek the abolition of war. Leading the movement at the time were such famous Japanese as Hideki Yukawa (Nobel Laureate in physics in 1949), Shinichiro Tomonaga (Nobel Laureate in physics in 1965) and Yasunari Kawabata (Nobel Laureate in literature in 1968) and pioneering feminist Raicho Hiratsuka. Since then the committee has released more than 100 appeals for world peace, nuclear disarmament and other issues of global importance, and among recent members were 2002 Nobel Laureate in physics Masatoshi Koshiba and novest Hisashi Inoue.

July 11 – Tokyo, Mushakoji Kinhide, Japanese researcher on international politics, professor and and former vice-rector of the United Nations University in Tokyo and four other current members of the World Peace Committee strongly called to ban all forms of nuclear energy in Japan and in the world. Mushakoji Kinhide said in a press conference on July 11, that he was mostly shocked by the strength of the influence of the IAEA over the public’s opinion on usage of nuclear energy. He said the IAEA should also increase research in the crisis management in a nuclear power plant accident by re-thinking the human rights, nad the rights to live in peace of the victims of such an accident, called the “hibakusha”. “We had three nuclear explosions in Japan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and now Fukushima”.

Michiji Konuma, Physicist and Professor at Keio University and Musashi Institute of Technology said that the IAEA has to play an active role in reminding the public that nuclear power plants are not necessarily built anywhere because of the consequences of accidents: “The problem is that people in Japan and in the world strongly believe we need nuclear energy, mainly due to mass production and mass consumption. We want to remind that this is not the case. This is why we launch an appeal today to stop nuclear energy, not only in Japan, but also elsewhere in the world.” In the case of Japan, the country has not been making enough efforts in thinking to change the energy resources. “The Japanese state has chosen to built power plants, knowing it was a tsunami country”, this should be seen as a threat of the right to live in peace. “Rather thinking about the compensation plans, we should be thinking of the victims themselves, their human rights. If the UN and the IAEA supports the construction of nuclear power plants they should calculate the danger and they should think about the victims themselves instead of thinking the compensation plan”, said Satoru Ikeuchi, astrophysicist.

Nathalie and Kyoko

Written by Nathalie Stucky

July 12, 2011 at 21:28

Posted in Humanitarian