by Ralph Nader
The Nader Page
January 24, 2014
Last month, the ruling Japanese coalition parties quickly rammed through Parliament a state secrets law. We Americans better take notice.
Under its provisions the government alone decides what are state secrets and any civil servants who divulge any “secrets” can be jailed for up to 10 years. Journalists caught in the web of this vaguely defined law can be jailed for up to 5 years.
Government officials have been upset at the constant disclosures of their laxity by regulatory officials before and after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster in 2011, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
Week after week, reports appear in the press revealing the seriousness of the contaminated water flow, the inaccessible radioactive material deep inside these reactors and the need to stop these leaking sites from further poisoning the land, food and ocean. Officials now estimate that it could take up to 40 years to clean up and decommission the reactors.
Other factors are also feeding this sure sign of a democratic setback. Militarism is raising its democracy-menacing head, prompted by friction with China over the South China Sea. Dismayingly, U.S. militarists are pushing for a larger Japanese military budget. China is the latest national security justification for our “pivot to East Asia” provoked in part by our military-industrial complex.
Draconian secrecy in government and fast-tracking bills through legislative bodies are bad omens for freedom of the Japanese press and freedom to dissent by the Japanese people. Freedom of information and robust debate (the latter cut off sharply by Japan’s parliament in December 5, 2013) are the currencies of democracy.
There is good reason why the New York Times continues to cover the deteriorating conditions in the desolate, evacuated Fukushima area. Our country has licensed many reactors here with the same designs and many of the same inadequate safety and inspection standards. Some reactors here are near earthquake faults with surrounding populations which cannot be safely evacuated in case of serious damage to the electric plant. The two Indian Point aging reactors that are 30 miles north of New York City are a case in point.
The less we are able to know about the past and present conditions of Fukushima, the less we will learn about atomic reactors in our own country.
Fortunately many of Japan’s most famous scientists, including Nobel laureates, Toshihide Maskawa and Hideki Shirakawa, have led the opposition against this new state secrecy legislation with 3,000 academics signing a public letter of protest. These scientists and academics declared the government’s secrecy law a threat to “the pacifist principles and fundamental human rights established by the constitution and should be rejected immediately.”
Following this statement, the Japan Scientists’ Association, Japan’s mass media companies, citizens associations, lawyers’ organizations and some regional legislatures opposed the legislation. Polls show the public also opposes this attack on democracy. The present ruling parties remain adamant. They cite as reasons for state secrecy “national security and fighting terrorism.” Sound familiar?
History is always present in the minds of many Japanese people. They know what happened in Japan when the unchallenged slide toward militarization of Japanese society led to the intimidating tyranny that drove the invasion of China, Korea and Southeast Asia before and after Pearl Harbor. By 1945, Japan was in ruins, ending with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The American people have to be alert to our government’s needless military and political provocations of China, which is worried about encirclement by surrounding U.S.-allied nations and U.S. air and sea power. Washington might better turn immediate attention to U.S. trade policies that have facilitated U.S. companies shipping American jobs and whole industries to China.
The Obama administration must become more alert to authoritarian trends in Japan that its policies have been either encouraging or knowingly ignoring – often behind the curtains of our own chronic secrecy.
The lessons of history beckon.
[DS added the video.]
Ralph Nader On The Dangers of Nuclear Power – 1974
eyegosurf on Jan 23, 2014
Ralph Nader speaks to the Santa Barbara community about the dangers of nuclear energy in 1974. The video was produced by Ira Opper and Charles Bensinger, Innovision Video Productions.
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Reblogged this on flying cuttlefish picayune and commented:
Even essays on the cover-up are covered up!
What happened to the terms of surrender?
Prescient indeed. It would be interesting to collate the current data as to what the exact number of plants in the USA was in 2000.
Also we should consider this: if ocean temperatures are rising as has been asserted by those specialized in marine ecosystem science, it is suggested this is increasing evaporation and thus levels of precipitation globally.
Presumably one could reasonably infer this means Pacific radiation is likely to be even more widespread. Right now for example in the UK we are experiencing unprecedented flooding and the Atlantic wind and rain is hammering us as I write.
Are world-wide governments monitoring this catastrophic situation adequately? I have seen little evidence that this is so; nor that it is even a priority right now. Clearly the status-quo statisticians fear a panic and potential social upheaval, should these empirical truths be acknowledged publicly.
The US Energy Information Administration website states there are “currently 65 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 104 nuclear reactors in 31 states.”
I haven’t searched for the year 2000, but clearly the 1000 plant figure was ambitious in 1974, so presumably public opinion made a substantial difference.
However, it only takes one Chernobyl or now, a Fukushima multiple core meltdown, to render the “official” safety statistics irrelevant.
The World Nuclear Association website says “There are currently 437 operable civil nuclear power nuclear reactors around the world, with a further 71 under construction.”
The gigantic deep Olkiluoto Island storage facility under development in Finland is utterly surreal and almost beyond rational apprehension
I should perhaps reiterate the WNA statement ~ “civil nuclear power nuclear reactors…” In other words, those that are not secret, being operated covertly under state camouflage for “defense” purposes.
Like Chernobyl Fukushima released a very large quantity of harmful Cesium-137. The EU financed research on a treatment for victims of contamination, especially in Belarus. They developed a pectin-based supplement that removed about 65% of the harmful Cesium-137 from the body. That product is called Vitapect and is the gold standard for proven Cesium removal.
Thanks for that advice taurus, more here