Posted by debito on 20th March 2011
I’m going back to vacationing Debito.org. Originally, I said that I would be doing so until April. I broke that promise to myself because of the emergency — an unforeseen perfect-storm crisis of earthquake-tsunami-nuclear accident — that has plunged my country into debilitation on many levels. However, I’m going back into hibernation and a much-needed break. It’s been tough blogging about this event. It has brought out the worst in some of the most loyal and supportive Debito.org Commenters, who have decided to impugn my very character, despite the fact I’m doing what I’ve always done: raised issues that were on my mind and that I thought deserved attention and discussion.
My fundamental attitude towards the Fukushima Crisis:
Posted in debito.org blog and website biz | 39 Comments »
Posted by debito on 20th March 2011
Another qualified source commenting exclusively to Debito.org:
“Below is our assessment of the situation (this is speculative because TEPCO has not released further information, which may lead us to draw more severe or less severe conclusions). I hope the situation is less severe and they have been able to provide at least minimally cooling.
“We believe the cooling situation has become dire. We think at this point, barring a miracle, they clearly are not going to be able to establish any reasonable means of core cooling for the affected units before suffering severe core damage, which means the potential for large fission product release. The wind direction will be up to Mother Nature. The spent fuel pool fire is interesting and very troublesome. There are no barriers against fission product release if the spent fuel rods are involved in the fire. We don’t know the cause of the spent pool fire and nobody’s talking either, which may lead one to draw much more interesting conclusions which are too highly speculative for me to mention.
“Below is a technical explanation upon which we base these conclusions.
“The earthquake and tsunami caused a “perfect storm” event. That is total loss of onsite power, backup generation, utility station service power, and eventually a loss of DC power due to the fact that the AC power system was not available to charge the station batteries. This is an event that has not occurred before…”
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Japanese Government, Uncategorized, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 64 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th March 2011
AOL News: The Japanese government has said it is doing all it can to contain the crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which was critically damaged in last week’s earthquake. But according to U.S. diplomatic papers released by WikiLeaks, that atomic disaster might have been avoided if only the government had acted on earlier safety warnings.
An unnamed official from the International Atomic Energy Agency is quotedin a 2008 cable from the American embassy in Tokyo as saying that a strong earthquake would pose a “serious problem” for Japan’s nuclear power stations. The official added that the country’s nuclear safety guidelines were dangerously out of date, as they had only been “revised three times in the last 35 years.”
Following that warning, Japan’s government pledged to raise security at all of its nuclear facilities,reports The Daily Telegraph, which published the cable. But questions are now being asked about whether authorities really took the nuclear watchdog’s worries seriously…
Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government | 5 Comments »
Posted by debito on 18th March 2011
Here are some multilingual sites that might be helpful to NJ regarding disaster prevention and relief. This is by no means exhaustive. Debito.org Readers, please feel free to add more sites below that you think might be helpful:
Japanese Cabinet site on policies towards NJ residents (includes disaster information) (multilingual)
Live Streaming of NHK-World in English
EARTHQUAKE INFO for ENGLISH SPEAKERS in Japan 日本語がわからない方々のための英語の地震情報
Tepco (Tokyo Electric) Twitter feed in Japanese
Live Geiger Counter for Chiba (not always on-air; 0.16 is a normal reading)
Contact numbers for embassies in Japan
Science Media Centre of Japan on Fukushima disaster (updated)
Mutantfrog’s outstanding reportage on various matters
Posted in Practical advice, 日本語 | No Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th March 2011
Here’s a novel way to explain away the entire Fukushima debacle — as a problem of nuclear waste. See video below for kids depicting Fukushima as a constipated patient who can be cured by “doctors” and “medicine”. Note how radiation is depicted as “farts”, merely amounting to “a bad smell”. English subtitles included.
If only the diagnosis and cure were so simple. Or the metaphor more accurate.
Anyway, this is part of the process of lulling the Japanese public into complacency (keeping public calm and order as people in the path of the disaster merely wait for it to play itself out). How much more distortion and deception can an educated people take?
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 15 Comments »
Posted by debito on 17th March 2011
John Harris writes: Across eastern Japan we are experiencing rolling power cuts and train service cuts to compensate for the nuclear plant outages. This interruption of normal life hugely ramps up public anxiety.
In the midst of all this, the 5,510,000 vending machines across Japan* are still operating. According to a report I read years ago, these machines require electricity equivalent to the output of an entire nuclear power plant.
The most power-hungry are the soft-drink machines that have both refrigeration and heating (for hot canned coffee). Coca-Cola has perhaps the largest network of beverage machines across Japan. Unlike domestic rivals, as a global company Coca-Cola must listen to consumers around the world. So if concerned Americans, Canadians, Europeans and everyone else speak up forcefully, Coke must act. And Japanese domestic operators will be forced to follow suit.
So, please, spread this message via email, Twitter and Facebook to everyone you know. And please email Coca-Cola’s CEO asking him to pull the plug on his vending machines in Japan.
Coca-Cola knows they have a problem, as you can tell by the message on their corporate website:
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Food, Gaiatsu, Media, Practical advice | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 16th March 2011
Kyodo: Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara apologized Tuesday for his remark that the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami last week represented “divine punishment” of the Japanese people who have been tainted with egoism.
COMMENT: This from a man who claimed in public a decade ago that foreigners in Japan would riot in the event of a natural disaster (er, such as this one?) and that the SDF should be deployed to round them up — and also questioned the kokutai loyalties of citizens who have foreign roots. It seems this time, by issuing an unusual retraction (you think he’ll ever retract the foreigner riots claim now that it hasn’t happened?), he realized that this particular Senior Moment was going too far.
But this old fool has long lost the mental software governing prudence befitting a person in high office. For a milder (but concrete) example, check out this video, where Ishihara gets all snitty because he was trying to make another speech about how the world was not going the way he wants it (when asked to offer a few seconds of encouragement to runners in this year’s Tokyo Marathon on February 27). Watch to the very end where you hear him characteristically grumbling about being cut off mid-rant:
Posted in Bad Social Science, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 8 Comments »
Posted by debito on 15th March 2011
From a trustworthy source about the US military:
March 14, 2011: You are absolutely right to have zero trust in Government of Japan (GOJ) or Japanese-controlled press on this. The Japanese authorities simply won’t confirm the meltdown that is occurring. Here are some of the facts from the western press:
1. The USS Ronald Reagan, located 100 miles Northeast, had to relocate due to a radioactive plume cloud heading their way.
2. 17 members of the Reagan’s helicopter crews doing rescue missions have tested positive for radioactivity. All helos are being decontaminated as they return to the Reagan.
3. The Navy has tested positively for airborne radioactivity up to 100 miles away from the plant.
4. The Japanese are pumping saltwater in to cool the rods. This is only done as a last-ditch effort, since salt corrodes the reactors. After that, they are out of options.
5. Cesium has been detected by the Navy in the air. The presence of this element in the air is an indication that the rods have actually started melting.
6. The plant at Onagawa is also experiencing abnormally high radiation levels. This plant is much closer to Tokyo…
Posted in Discussions, Japanese Government, Media | 70 Comments »
Posted by debito on 14th March 2011
Roy Berman at Mutantfrog translates the Japanese Red Cross’s regulations on who cannot donate blood in Japan. I can’t. So if you want to help bloodwise, check here first to make sure you don’t get disqualified for your trouble.
Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies | 10 Comments »
Posted by debito on 12th March 2011
For the record, we here at Debito.org are all present and accounted for. I’ve also heard from my friends in Tokyo and Sendai, and no casualties yet. Hope Debito.org Readers are all safe and away from privation. Our condolences to victims and their families and friends.
Posted in debito.org blog and website biz | 21 Comments »
Posted by debito on 9th March 2011
ARUDOU Debito is proud to announce the release of his first novel:
IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
Gary Schmidt, a small-town American boy, meets a Japanese girl in college and follows her to Japan to start a family. Little does he know that her conservative Japanese clan has hidden agendas and secret intentions. Gary eventually realizes that he must escape their clutches – and convince his family to do the same before it’s too late!
More plot synopsis for Debito.org Readers:
IN APPROPRIATE is a book about child abductions in Japan, where after a divorce, a non-Japanese man comes back to Japan to retrieve his children back to America. Although a work of fiction, it is an amalgam of several true stories of divorce and Left-Behind Parents in Japan.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR “IN APPROPRIATE”:
“ARUDOU Debito’s depiction of how quickly life gets turned upside down by the crazy family rules in Japan will do more than just grab your attention. It will make you cry at the strange and deplorable tale of love lost in Japan. IN APPROPRIATE sheds necessary light on the twisted norms and laws in Japan that not only allow, but also encourage parents to abduct their children from one another. A must-read primer on the issue.” — Eric Kalmus, Children’s Rights Network Japan (www.crnjapan.net), and Left-Behind Parent.
Ordering options for paperback and ebook follow, with a link to an eleven-page excerpt.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Child Abductions, Cultural Issue, Good News, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 10 Comments »
Posted by debito on 8th March 2011
Japan Times: Foreign Minister Maehara admitted receiving ¥50,000 in donations from a South Korean permanent resident of Japan who lives in Kyoto. But according to the Liberal Democratic Party, which brought up the issue during a Diet committee last Friday, the donations total ¥200,000 over the past four years.
Maehara said at the press conference that total donations from the person came to at least ¥250,000 over five years.
The Political Funds Control Law stipulates that it is illegal for politicians to accept contributions from non-Japanese residents and foreign companies. If found guilty, the politician could potentially face up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to ¥500,000, and also have his or her voting rights suspended.
COMMENT from Debito.org Reader: For one, it clearly demonstrates that foreigners with special status are STILL considered foreigners regardless, and two should draw attention to the fact that this rule is meant to prevent foreigners living in Japan from gaining political power through an activity like political (and in Maehara’s case possibly even a personal) donations–something that every politician relies on, no matter the country.
Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 13 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st March 2011
There is one aspect of the “Charisma Man” phenomenon that is little talked about: what I will call “Immigrant vs. Identity Police.” Let’s take Charisma Man’s side in this column, and suggest why he too might have been given a bum rap.
Charisma Man is initially a tragic figure. He’s stuck in a dead-end job “back home” and derided for being a dud. His predicament might be his fault (due to a lack of education or motivation) or might not be (due to a lack of economic opportunity in his neighborhood). But either way, he’s depicted as a loser.
So he comes to Japan and is again stuck in a dead-end job. But this time he winds up being a “winner” in some respects. He is finally getting something always denied: a modicum of respect. Earned or not, respect can be transformational in a person’s development. Charisma Man remakes his identity.
However, then come the Identity Police, be it the reader or the (rather offensive stereotype of) Western Woman. They’re trying to force Charisma Man back to the predestination of failure. That’s unfortunate…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Education, Humor, Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 14 Comments »
Posted by debito on 1st March 2011
My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column comes out in a few hours. It’s a lighter one this time, talking about the “Charisma Man” phenomenon (the hilarious comic book about the Caucasian loser who comes over to Japan to teach English, and transforms into a lantern-jawed lothario instantly) — and actually comes to the defense of those maligned by the stereotype. I titled it “Charisma Man and the Identity Police”. Have a read tomorrow, March 2, 2011!
UPDATE: Here it is. Text up for commentary tomorrow.
Posted in Articles & Publications | Comments Off