Going back to vacationing Debito.org despite this time of crisis; my reasons why


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hello Blog.  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:

We as a people were always promised by The State that nuclear power was safe.  The promise was for full containment of dangerous materials and zero emissions of radiation.  Zero.  That promise has been broken.

I am not one to compromise on this because of the nature of radiation.  I don’t care how many millisieverts are a tolerable level or are equivalent to a chest X-ray etc.  Or how many millisieverts per hour are now an acceptable dose, since radiation exposure is a cumulative process (and especially since The State feels it can adjust the minimum tolerable levels for its workers out of mere political exigency).

We have been kept largely ignorant of the process and the dangers of nuclear power for generations.  Even now, we been kept in the dark about this very crisis as it unfolded.  It has led to us filling the information gaps ourselves, often with speculation instead of sufficient data to make an informed decision about how to react to the nuclear reactions.

This is not what we as a people signed up for.  I will not compromise with anything other than zero emissions because that necessarily leads to matters of degree, sliding scales, and dangerous tendencies towards compromise, as our land and food chain becomes irradiated for who knows how long.

Based upon that attitude, I raised issues that were on my mind on Debito.org, and as always offered a venue to minority and contrarian voices.  I have done this for decades.  There was nothing uncharacteristic about that.

This time, however, people who were otherwise level-headed commentators here over the years went out of their way to impugn my character — no longer restricting disagreements to the points raised — personally accusing me of trying to hurt people and scaremonger, even hawk books.

Usually I can take it — there are people out there who hate the fact that I still draw air; but I don’t expect a fair hearing from them.  But when it comes from otherwise rational people in irrational times, sorry, but that hurts.  I feel the need to go back to my break.

I am trying to help.  Always have.  But this crisis is affecting us all on some level and in many ways unpredictably.  But Debito.org is not nuclear fallout, and I resent it being treated as such.  The criticisms in my view should be directed at The State and the organizations that allowed people like TEPCO, once again, to get us into this mighty fine mess.

May people find the sense to level their sights on them instead, elsewhere, instead of shooting the messenger.

Arudou Debito

Another trustworthy source connected with the industry believes, short of a miracle, Fukushima reactors won’t be cooled enough in time to avoid “fission product release”


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  I’m sorry to keep quoting sources who wish to remain anonymous, but this is another person I trust, who says:  “Prefer to remain in the background – for now. Please rest assured, my sources are VERY HIGH up in the industry in the United States and are working 24 hours a day to follow this incident due to the dramatic potential ramifications if multiple units ‘meltdown’.”  However, he wishes for this information to be known, and chose Debito.org to be his venue.  Take this letter within that context.  Arudou Debito


March 18, 2011

In light of the debate occurring over the scope of the nuclear catastrophe on Debito-san’s blog I would like to present some information.

I am not the individual that made the original post (which some have asked Debito to remove) and I agree with some of the arguments refuting that post. Those who have asked Debito to remove the post should also state their credentials as well and provide a more detailed rebuttal to each issue (I do agree with some of the refuting conclusion). My credentials are presented further below.

However I would like to deal with one specific issue, using seawater to cool the reactor and reactor cooling, as this is within my area of expertise. Essentially the only thing that matters now is reactor cooling.

I am glad Debito displayed the original post. It has been interesting for me to watch others debate and react to this issue. I am flabbergasted that the Japanese government and TEPCO still call this a Level 5 incident. I believe it will end up being a Level 6, or if meltdown occurs, Level 7.

Regarding credentials; I have over 25 years experience as a registered professional engineer and have worked in the nuclear power industry. I have performed SSFI inspections (Safety System Functional Inspections) on several power plants and have performed one post accident investigation. My roles in the assessments related to the power distribution system for the reactor cooling system.

I have been discussing this issue with several colleagues, some of whom are top level experts in the nuclear industry and one who is in a position to have access to whatever information the U.S. government has. Because TEPCO has not been at all transparent and has been hesitant to issue any specific technical information on this disaster it is difficult to say for sure what is happening. We also have reason to believe that TEPCO or the government has not been completely forthright (for whatever reason) regarding radiation levels near the plant (but that is outside of my area of expertise).

One of the individuals I have been in contact with has been very accurate in predicting the events as they are unfolding. He was wrong in one of his predictions, that the situation would have resolved itself by now (either meltdown/melt through of the reactor pressure vessel of one of the units or restoration of station power).

We believe radiation is being released in three forms:

1. Slightly radioactive steam from the initial explosions. The initial explosions were caused when TEPCO vented the reactor pressure vessel, hydrogen was released and exploded.

2. Higher levels of radiation being released from burning fuel rods, especially in Unit 4, which was being used for spent fuel storage.

3. Higher levels of radiation from compromised containment in Unit 2 (and possibly other units) due to cracking or some other type of compromising of the containment. This was confirmed last Tuesday when TEPCO and the government reported the pressure in the reactor pressure vessel was at 1 atmosphere (the normal atmospheric pressure outside). Normally these are operating much higher. The fact that these units lost pressure indicates a crack or some type of other event that caused pressure to remain at atmospheric.

At this point the radiation being released is very serious and will undoubtedly cause deaths (most likely in the long term in the form of cancer) in the areas near the reactors (admitted yesterday by the head of TEPCO).

However, the level of radiation released if there is a meltdown of one reactor pressure vessel will dwarf the levels of radiation being released now (up to 10 x 10 to the 5th power higher). This is why cooling is imperative.

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.

We believe that initially the plant did have some limited AC and DC power available, and thus could run pumps and operate valves. However, it appears that they were still unable to keep adequate water on the core. We believe that because of this the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) pressure was allowed to increase to a point that no available pumps had adequate discharge head to overcome the high static pressure in the PRV. In this case the pumps that were pumping try to pump but no water is going into the vessel. We believe with certainty that the most important pump, the High Pressure Coolant Injection (HPCI) pump was not and still is not available. This is a very big pump, 400 horsepower or bigger and is probably too big for the current power available. This pump is capable of dumping 6,000 gallons per minute of cooling water into the RPV.

When they were venting to atmosphere it was clear they were having problems reducing pressure by venting to the torus (which serves as a quench tank during an accident). This led us to believe that the torus was operating at saturated conditions, which means it is not possible to reduce pressure unless the steam bubble in the torus can be collapsed. Obviously they could not do this so they vented to atmosphere and the subsequent explosions occurred. The fact that these initial explosions occurred was due to the fact that hydrogen was vented from the RPV. The presence of hydrogen during the vent was almost certainly due to the fact that the fuel cladding was damaged and the process of a meltdown was in the early stages (likely started very late Friday night or early Saturday morning).

When the fuel cladding material (Zirconium) gets very hot in the presence of moisture it begins to breakdown and hydrogen is formed. The explosions at U1 and U3 were clearly very large, and thus indicative that the operators were venting large volumes of hydrogen gas (along with steam). Because of the magnitude of the explosions (especially Unit 3) this is unmistakably indication of partial melting and deformation of the fuel rod assemblies. This represents the first stage of “melt down.” The fact that the Unit 3 explosion was much, much stronger than Unit 1 indicates the melt down was continuing to get progressively worse. As this melting and deformation progress, the fuel material will eventually drop to the bottom of the RPV. This represents the next stage of meltdown in which the fuel then begins to corrode and melt through the RPV. When this phase of the accident is reached it’s time to clear out (which TEPCO has done, leaving only 50 people on site) since there remains only one of the three fission product barriers intact, the drywell containment structure. At this point we believe that fuel assembly damage has occurred for sure, the core has likely deformed and started to melt, and the process of melting through the RPV has started.

Once you melt down the RPV, you have a “meltdown”. This has not occurred yet, but is still a possible scenario. The only way to avert this is to cool the reactor.

Using seawater to cool the reactor as well as dumping water with helicopters and using water cannons are acts of desperation. Specifically the use of seawater contaminates the reactor cooling system and essentially makes all units scrap and virtually incapable of being reused (good these cannot be reused in my opinion). This is a decision not taken lightly by a utility such as TEPCO.

For your information the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued what they call a “generic letter” in 1988. In this generic letter, which I have sent to Debito-san, the NRC basically addressed this identical event (not tsunami, but total loss of grid power, station service, onsite generation, backup generation, and batteries) and recommended plants using GE Mark 1 reactors address this issue. This was 23 years ago and most or all plants in the U.S. have addressed this issue. It is obvious TEPCO did not with these units. The conclusions in the NRC letter are based on severe accident PRA analyses, which identified two critical areas for the older GE Mark 1 containments that should be improved.

• Alternate water supply to drywell spray & injection
• Better PRV depressurization capability

It is ironic that these were the 2 technical problems that were preventing the plants from reestablishing control in the initial stages of this incident. Had they been able to spray down the torus and drywell, thereby rapidly decreasing RPV and torus pressure, the low head pumps would likely have been available to cover the core. If this would have occurred, they probably would not have needed to resort to seawater injection.

Regarding the management of the situation I have my opinions but will withhold them until the final resolution is reached.

I read the article in the Daily Mail, showing Akio Komiri breaking down and finally admitting that the radiation levels are potentially lethal.




Source letter from United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued what they call a “generic letter” in 1988 (PDF, download, click below:)

AOL News: WikiLeaks: Cables Show Japan Was Warned About Nuclear Plant Safety


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  Again, in a society that, if anything, overcompensates for safety, why is the handling of nuclear energy such an exception in Japan?  Arudou Debito


WikiLeaks: Cables Show Japan Was Warned About Nuclear Plant Safety

AOL News, Mar 16, 2011 – 3:33 PM

Theunis BatesTheunis Bates Contributor

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.

A new emergency response center was built at the Fukushima power plant. However, that facility was only designed to withstand 7.0-magnitude tremors. Friday’s seismic activity measured 9.0, and the plant has been rocked by three explosions in the past five days. It is now believed that the containment system around one of Fukushima’s reactors has cracked, allowing radioactive steam to escape into the atmosphere.

Other documents published by WikiLeaks also shine a light on Japan’s seemingly relaxed approach to nuclear safety. A 2006 cable from the Tokyo embassy detailed how a district court ordered a nuclear plant shut down in western Japan “due to safety concerns over its ability to withstand powerful earthquakes.”

The judge argued that local people might suffer radiation poisoning if there was a quake-caused accident at the Shika plant. That power station was only built to survive a 6.5-magnitude earthquake, in line with outdated regulations written two decades earlier.

However, the country’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency didn’t share those concerns, the cable reports. It argued that “the reactor is safe and that all safety analyses were appropriately conducted.” And in 2009, the high court overturned the closure order and declared that the reactor’s safety measures satisfied “the government’s quake resistance guidelines.”

Another cable sent from Tokyo to Washington in October 2008 alleged that the government had hidden past nuclear accidents. In 2008, Taro Kono — a senior member of Japan’s lower house of parliament — told U.S. diplomats that the ministry of economy, trade and industry was “covering up nuclear accidents, and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry.”

Kono also raised the issue of earthquakes and nuclear safety in the meeting. Citing “Japan’s extensive seismic activity” and “abundant groundwater,” he doubted government assurances that “a safe place to store nuclear waste” could be found in the “land of volcanoes.”

The overall picture that emerges from the cables is of a government afraid of interfering with the powerful nuclear industry, which supplies about one-third of Japan’s electricity. In his discussion with U.S. diplomats, Kono suggested that Japan’s culture of deference to authority and corporate power prevented officials from changing the country’s soft-touch regulation. He argued that industry ministers were “trapped” as they “inherited policies from people more senior to them, which they could then not challenge.”

Japanese officials who went on to work for the IAEA apparently shared this fear of confrontation. In 2009, the U.S. embassy in Vienna, Austria, labeled the IAEA’s outgoing safety director “a disappointment,” in part because of his failure to boost safety at home.

“[Tomihiro] Taniguchi has been a weak manager and advocate, particularly with respect to confronting Japan’s own safety practices, and he is a particular disappointment to the United States for his unloved-step-child treatment of the Office of Nuclear Security,” said the cable. “This … position requires a good manager and leader who is technically qualified in both safety and security.”

Taniguchi served as the executive director of Japan’s Nuclear Power Engineering Corp. — which is charged with addressing nuclear plant security in the aftermath of earthquakes — before becoming the deputy director general for the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security in 2001. Taniguchi left his job with the nuclear watchdog in September 2009, when another Japanese official, Yukiya Amano, was appointed director general of the IAEA.

Before leaving office, Taniguchi told a meeting of nuclear officials in 2008 that the international community needed to push for more nuclear power safeguards, according to a separate Vienna cable. “We should avoid another Chernobyl or nuclear 9/11,” he said. Unfortunately, such a disaster is now unfolding in Fukushima.


Helpful information sites for NJ regarding disaster information


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  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.  Arudou Debito

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


WHO site for Fukushima radiation information


Tepco (Tokyo Electric) Twitter feed in Japanese


Live Geiger Counter for Chiba (not always on-air; 0.16 is a normal reading)


Live Geiger Counter for Tokyo (not always on-air)


Contact numbers for European embassies in Japan


For North, Central, and South American Embassies in Japan


For Middle-Eastern embassies in Japan


For African embassies in Japan


Science Media Centre of Japan on Fukushima disaster (updated)


Mutantfrog’s outstanding reportage on various matters


Japanese cartoon for kids depicting Fukushima nuclear issue as power plants with constipation!


Hi Blog.  Here’s a novel way to explain away the entire Fukushima debacle — as a problem of backed-up 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?

Courtesy of JapanSugoi. Arudou Debito

John Harris on how Coca Cola could help Japan save a nuclear power plant’s worth of power: Switch off their 5.5 million vending machines


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

John R. Harris of Chiba, Japan writes (sources at bottom):

March 16, 2011:

Friends, people around the world are emailing us in Japan, asking how they can help us cope with the disaster here. Here’s how YOU can help:

We need to unleash a tsunami of social media on Coca-Cola asking them to unplug their vending machines across Japan — NOW!

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: “As challenges with power outages continue in many parts of the country, Coca-Cola Japan is supporting the government’s request to conserve energy by converting television and radio advertising to public service announcements to encourage energy conservation.”

We think that’s just not good enough. If you agree, please email:

Muhtar Kent, Chairman & CEO, The Coca-Cola Company

Or contact Coke on Twitter: @CocaCola

See sources below

Statement on the Japan Disaster

March 14, 2011
Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the people who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The Coca-Cola system has pledged 600 million Japanese yen (US $7.3 million) in cash and product donations to the relief effort. That contribution includes more than 7 million bottles of needed beverages, such as water, tea and sports drinks. Coca-Cola Japan and its 12 bottling partners will provide the beverages to national and local government authorities and other community groups for distribution. The system has also activated free dispensing of products from selected vending machines.

As challenges with power outages continue in many parts of the country, Coca-Cola Japan is supporting the government’s request to conserve energy by converting television and radio advertising to public service announcements to encourage energy conservation.

The Coca-Cola system in Japan continues to focus on the safety and well-being of our employees, and we continue to assess the conditions of our facilities in the hardest hit regions.

Coca-Cola Japan has sent its deepest condolences to those people impacted by the devastating earthquake and tsunami.”

* “According to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association (JVMA), there are about 5.51 million vending machines in Japan.” (source: article by Anne Carter on articlesbase.com)

Tokyo Gov Ishihara calls the tsunami “divine punishment” to wipe out the “egoism” of Japan. Need more evidence of his senility? Yet he’s running for election again.


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  If you needed further evidence of already preternaturally-bigoted Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s creeping senility, get a load of this:


The Japan Times Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ishihara sorry for quake gaffe

Kyodo News

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.

“I will take back (the remark) and offer a deep apology,” Ishihara said, adding that he should have thought about the feelings of the victims.

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai showed displeasure with Ishihara, telling reporters he hopes the Tokyo governor will consider the people affected by the disaster.

“Japanese politics is tainted with egoism and populism. We need to use tsunami to wipe out egoism, which has rusted onto the mentality of Japanese over a long period of time,” Ishihara, who is seeking re-election for a fourth term on April 10, told reporters Monday. “I think (the disaster) is ‘tembatsu’ (divine punishment), although I feel sorry for disaster victims.”






(2011年3月15日06時18分  読売新聞)


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:


(click on the link above to open video, courtesy Dave Spector)

Yet, as you read above, this 78-year-old is running once again for the Tokyo Governorship!

Some societies have a built-in conservative bent, but if the Tokyo electorate puts this decrepit bigoted coot back in office for yet another term, I will fear for the sanity of the Tokyo public.  We have mandatory retirement ages for Japanese bureaucrats.  We’ve even enforced them on some politicians (cf. former PMs Miyazawa and Nakasone, who were eliminated in 2003 despite re-election thanks to the LDP introducing an age limit of 73).  I think we should have them enforced in this case as well.  We need people who not only do not live in the past, but also live on this plane of existence.  Arudou Debito

Discussion: Is Japan in danger of a nuclear disaster or not? What source to trust?


Hi Blog.  I have to admit being thoroughly confused about what’s going on at Fukushima’s nuclear power plant.  Are we in danger of a nuclear meltdown or aren’t we?

I’m hearing from NHK and the connected authorities that there is no cause for concern and everything is under control (as roofs get blown off plant buildings).

I’m also hearing from overseas sources that there is little cause for alarm.  For example, here.

Yet I’m hearing from sources on the ground without an interest in the nuclear power industry making statements like these:

(Source is anonymized, but is a trustworthy on about matters dealing with U.S. 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.

Now, let’s remember how the GOJ is treating the casualty numbers.  They are reporting 1600 casualties right now.  That’s because they do not even consider a person “dead” until they are identified, so even though they have thousands of bodies piled up, they won’t report them yet as “dead”.  That is the way the GOJ operates.   They are simply not forthcoming with information.  The US Govt. was extremely frustrated at this way of operating during the Kobe earthquake.  The US Government could not get adequate situational awareness because the GOJ was simply not forthcoming.  This is no different.

Right now, the GOJ “officials have yet to confirm a meltdown because IT IS TOO HOT INSIDE THE TO CHECK.” (cnn.com) So, do they expect the reactor to cool down so they can check and confirm that the rods are actually melting?  Noriyuki Shikata, a spokesman for Japan’s prime minister, said Sunday the situation was “under control.” (cnn.com).   Under control? You can’t confirm if the rods are melting because it’s too hot to check, but everything is under control?

Stephanie Cooke, editor of Nuclear Intelligence Weekly for the atomic-energy community, said best summarized the GOJ on this issue by saying “The more they say they’re in control, the more I sense things may be out of control. (cnn.com)”


So which is it?  Again, Debito.org is disinclined to trust official sources given their record regarding safety and forthcomingness (witness 1999’s nuclear accident at Tokai-mura and the consequent media debacle).  But I wish I knew what to believe.  Suggestions and links from Debito.org Readers welcome.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE MARCH 16: The thing that I don’t get about recent developments is that Japanese society tends to overcompensate in regards to safety issues.  Why don’t we see that happening whenever there’s a case of nuclear energy?  “Just stay indoors for the duration” is not what I would call adequate safety advice.

Thinking of donating blood in Japan? Mutantfrog translates the regulations on who can’t.


Hi Blog.  Just a quick one.  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.  Arudou Debito


ARUDOU Debito’s new book on sale: “IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan”



“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.

Preview the first 11 pages of IN APPROPRIATE by clicking here.
Under book cover, click “Preview”.


  • “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.
  • “ARUDOU Debito, or David Aldwinckle as I know him, has written an unbelievable novel called IN APPROPRIATE. I say ‘unbelievable’ because if you haven’t experienced a divorce in Japan, you would simply not believe this sort of thing could happen.  Drawing on true stories, Debito has managed to weave together a heartbreaking tale around the injustice that sadly exists in modern Japan.  Perhaps this will be a legacy for those of us who lived through this experience, and for our children who suffered
    under this system.”
    John Evans, Left-Behind Parent



“IN APPROPRIATE:  A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in Japan”

ISBN for paperback version: 978-1-257-02640-1

ISBN for ebook: 978-1-257-02648-7

Author: ARUDOU Debito

Language: English

Publisher: Lulu Enterprises Inc., New York

Date of Publication:  March 15, 2011

Length: 149 pages

Price: USD$10.00 (downloadable eBook), USD$14.00 (paperback, plus postage)

Anchor site at publisher:  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/arudoudebito


(NB: The author suggests that readers who are not aesthetically wedded to paper-bound books consider downloading electronic versions online.  It’s far cheaper, more ecologically friendly, and you get a copy within minutes.  This is the future of publishing. Give it a try.)

If you would like to order a copy of IN APPROPRIATE, you have several options:

1) PAPERBACK VERSION FROM AMAZON and other online stores (at prices they assess)

You will soon be able to order a paperbound copy via Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. This may take a few weeks to come online.  I will have links to Amazon etc. here as they become available.


Lulu.com has a site devoted to this book, from which you can order immediately as a print-on-demand paperbound copy (more ecologically sound than traditional first-run printing systems, with no stocks to take care of).  Click below to purchase:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.


If you are not hidebound to actual paper books, you can download one as a pdf from Lulu.com and read it on your computer screen (information about reading platforms and Adobe Digital Editions software available here for free). Click below to purchase:

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

4) EBOOK (at USD$10.00)

This will be downloadable at Lulu.com soon, as soon as it is converted to epub format (it takes a while), as well as downloadable from Amazon and other iBookstores, for reading on your iPad, Kindle, etc.

5) REGULAR BOOKSTORES (at prices they assess).

The book has an ISBN (978-1-257-02640-1), so it can be ordered from any brick-and-mortar bookstore.  Take the number to the clerk and put it on order.

I hope you enjoy my novel IN APPROPRIATE.

I enjoyed writing my first fiction work.

If you like it, please consider recommending it to others.

Your support will enable me to write more novels and continue on in this direction.

ARUDOU Debito (debito@debito.org)

Read my other nonfiction books here.

also see


Foreign Minister Maehara resigns due to donations from a “foreigner” (a Zainichi, that is)


Hi Blog. Debito.org is currently on vacation while I am getting my next novel published, but this recent issue is germane enough to this blog that I’ll at least put the issue up and let people comment.


From the Japan Times (excerpt):
Monday, March 7, 2011
Maehara quits Cabinet over donations
Foreign minister leaves Kan in lurch before Group of Eight meet
By Masami Ito

Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara announced his resignation Sunday to take responsibility for illegally accepting donations from a foreign national, further damaging the already shaky Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan…

Last Friday, 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.

According to Maehara, the donor owns a Korean barbecue restaurant in the neighborhood where he moved to while in junior high school in Yamashina, Kyoto Prefecture.

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110307a1.html
Other articles with new angles and information are welcome. Please enclose entire text in Comments Section for the record.

COMMENT: As we’ve discussed on The Community:

A writes: Does anyone else get the impression from the media coverage of (now ex-) foreign minister Maehara’s dealings that the crime was not accepting money, but accepting money from foreigners?

D writes: Don’t most countries forbid donations from foreigners to politicians and political campaigns? Which, on the surface, seems pretty reasonable, given the danger of having foreign countries influence internal politics. That the woman in question was probably zainichi(?) raises the usual criticisms of why Koreans born in Japan are still considered “foreign”. But that seems like a separate issue this time. Yes, maybe she should be Japanese. Whether she is or isn’t, though, a law forbidding foreign investment into local politics seems pretty bog standard.

M writes: As a comparison, it is *illegal* to do this in America:

J writes: Not sure exactly what point you are trying to make, the page lists all sorts of activities, but specifically states that green card holders are exempt, which seems to be the closest analogue of the current case. FWIW, I think that in order for an individual to make a donation in the UK, they have to be on the electoral roll (which eg would rule me out, though I might also be ineligible due to non-residency).

B writes:  [to Debito] I know you’re busy with your book, but I would love to read your thoughts about the situation with Foreign Minister Maehara and this rule/law about not allowing politicians to receive foreigners (even a Zainichi Korean). 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. I hope you’ll put up something on your site.

There you go. Does not Mindan also financially contribute to Japan’s political process?  Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Charisma Men, unite against the identity enforcers”


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free


Charisma Men, unite against the identity enforcers

The Japan Times March 1, 2011

Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110301ad.html

English teachers in Japan get a bum rap. Not always taken seriously as professionals, and often denied advancement opportunities in the workplace, they are seen as people over here on a lark. They get accused of taking advantage of Japanese society to earn easy money, canoodle with the locals, then go home. They even get blamed (JBC, Sept. 7, 2010) for the low level of English in Japan.

They are also often derided as “losers,” as evidenced by the comic strip “Charisma Man.”

First featured in a Nagoya newsmagazine and later collated into a book, “Charisma Man” tells the story of a scrawny Caucasian nebbish who escapes his job serving fast food in Canada, comes to Japan, and instantly transforms into a buff, lantern-jawed lothario, able to seduce Japanese women in a single bound.

He can defy all Japanese rules, coming out on top of any situation through charisma alone. His nemesis is Western Woman, who sees through the facade and reduces him back to nebbish status with a single glare.

To be sure, “Charisma Man” is a hilarious series, offering home truths for people frustrated by the lack of professionalism in their colleagues, or by the disparate ways in which men and women are treated in Japanese society.

The problem is, like many comic strips about an employment sector, it stereotypes dangerously: It makes anyone in eikaiwa look like frauds, as if they’re “faking it” as unqualified professionals. Unable to get a job “back home” in anything meaningful, they’re merely marking time in Japan. I know several professional educators who hate the strip, because their students read it and ignorantly point at them as an example.

But 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. One of the problems with the world is the lack of social mobility — the lack of opportunity for people to realize their potential, to decide their own fate, to redesign themselves as they please.

Either by bad luck or poor guidance, many people get slotted from an early age into social roles that are disadvantageous, e.g., “geek,” “loner,” “fat chick,” “spaz,” “slacker,” “weirdo,” “psycho” . . .

This leads to broken dreams and embittered souls. Witness the phenomenon of the hikikomori (social dropouts who can’t even leave their bedrooms), or the Akihabara knifings of 2008 (where the killer was expressly sick of being part of the make-gumi, or loser class). As some people disparagingly say, these people need to go out and get laid.

Well, that’s exactly what Charisma Man did. He got out of his “burger-flipping class” and found himself on the sweeter side of society here.

Point is, why should anyone be stuck somewhere they’re not able to make a better life for themselves?

That is the very essence of the immigrant: Someone who was dealt a bad hand in their birthplace emigrates and gets a fresh cut of the cards. If they move and provide a valued, profitable service to their new society, bully for them.

Now, of course, Charisma Man is not a template. He’s a humorous stereotype about someone who gets what he really doesn’t deserve.

But he must be viewed in the proper perspective — not as an indictment of English teaching or of teachers in general. Charisma Man is a bubble-era social parasite. He will probably not remain in Japan for good, because he has little incentive to learn about the society that is treating him so well.

So what I’m speaking out against here is the Identity Police. Why should they be given carte blanche to force people back into the inferior positions they managed to escape from?

Whenever somebody insinuates “You don’t really belong in Japan” or “You’re really a loser back home,” that person should be told: “Japan is my home and I belong here just fine. I’m not just coasting along on charisma.” A decent job and a secure income is sufficient proof of socially acceptable services rendered.

In other words, tell the Identity Police to go police somebody else’s identity. All you readers out there being derided as Charisma Men — unite. Be proud that you’re making a better way for yourself. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a second chance at life.

Arudou Debito has completed a new novel entitled “In Appropriate,” on child abductions in Japan. On sale in March. Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp

My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out tomorrow, March 1, on “Charisma Man and the Identity Police”


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  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!  Arudou Debito

UPDATE:  Here it is.  Text up for commentary tomorrow.