Category Archives: Japan

Japan’s Toxic Dumping Faces Growing Protests

Storage tanks for radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters)

The Japanese government’s decision one year ago to dump radioactive water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant storage tanks into the Pacific Ocean, starting in the spring of 2023, is facing increasing pressure to back off, especially in light of the facts that not only is it illegal but also morally reprehensible as well as a despicable disregard for the lifeblood of the ocean.

Meanwhile, in a startling maneuver indicative of desperation to convince citizens of its true worthiness, the Japanese government is using mind control tactics reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (Chatto & Windus, 1932), which depicts harmful effects that the expansion and development of a capitalist ideology can impose on a society.

To wit: Japanese citizens are outraged over a new government policy of brainwashing children by distributing flyers to primary school students claiming TEPCO’s “diluted, nuclear-contaminated water is safe.”

The government sent a total of 2.3 million booklets directly to elementary, junior and senior high schools across the nation in December in an effort to prevent reputational damage caused by the planned water discharge. The school staffers say the leaflets are unilaterally imposing the central government’s views on children. 1

A Fukushima resident surnamed Kataoka told the Global Times on Wednesday that the Japanese government’s move was a kind of mind control, and she was strongly opposed to it.2

Japanese citizens are fighting back as four separate civic organizations from Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures submitted a petition signed by 180,000 people to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and to Tokyo Electric Power Company on March 30th, 2022 expressing opposition to the government’s plan.

Additionally, Japanese environmental protection groups have organized national rallies in Tokyo and Fukushima, stating they will continue to rally in the streets until the government revokes its decision: “Once the nuclear-contaminated water is discharged into the sea, the result is irreversible. It’s not only Fukushima. The ocean connects the whole world. We hope we don’t discharge toxic substances into the sea,” said protester Ayumu Aoyanagi. “I am angry. They completely ignored public opinion. I hope people understand that the danger may not appear soon but will definitely affect our health in the future,” said another protester named Makiyo Takahashi.”3

Zhao Lijian of the Chinese Foreign Ministry claims the Japanese government has turned a deaf ear to any and all opposition, failing to provide any convincing evidence of the legitimacy of the discharge program, no reliable data on the contaminated water and effectiveness of purification devices, and no convincing evidence about environmental impact. 4

Moreover, “this water adds to the already nuclear polluted ocean. This threatens the lives and livelihoods of islanders heavily reliant on marine resources. These include inshore fisheries as well as pelagic fishes such as tuna. The former provides daily sustenance and food security, and the latter much needed foreign exchange via fishing licenses for distant water fishing nation fleets,” Vijay Naidu, adjunct professor at the School of Law and Social Sciences at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, told Al Jazeera5

The principal radioactive isotope to be released “tritium is a normal contaminant from the discharges, the cooling water from normal reactor operations, but this is the equivalent of several centuries worth of normal production of tritium that’s in this water, so it is a very large amount,” according to Tilman Ruff, a Nobel laureate and associate professor at the Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne in Australia. 6

Japan claims the radioactive water dump will be safe, however: “Obviously, the higher the level of exposure [to radiation], the greater the risk, but there is no level below which there is no effect,” Ruff said. “That is now really fairly conclusively proven, because in the last decade or so there have been impressive very large studies of large numbers of people exposed to low doses of radiation. At levels even a fraction of those that we receive from normal background [radiation] exposure from the rocks, from cosmic radiation. At even those very low levels, harmful effects have been demonstrated.”6

Chang Yen-chiang, director of the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea Research Institute of Dalian Maritime University is urging the international community to stop the discharge by first requesting the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion on the illegality of Japan’s dumping plan followed by motions to stop the process by China, South Korea, Russia, North Korea, and Pacific Island nations at the UN General Assembly.

Japan, as a signatory to: (1) the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (2) the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident (3) the Convention on Nuclear Safety (4) the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management, and (5) the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management has clearly and knowingly breached its obligations under international law.

According to the plan released by TEPCO for the disposal of nuclear-contaminated water generated by Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the country will soon begin official preparations for the release of the contaminated water and plans to begin long-term discharge of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean in the spring of 2023.

However, according to an article in People’s Daily Online d/d April 15, 2022: “Data from TEPCO showed that the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear accident still contains many kinds of radionuclides with a long half-life even after secondary treatment.”

Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace East Asia, claims the toxic water dump risks additional nuclear debris into the Pacific Ocean whereas the discharge is not the only option as “ the Japanese government once admitted that there is enough space near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and areas around Fukushima prefecture to build more storage facilities for the water.” (Global Times)

The Citizens Committee on Nuclear Energy recommends proper storage on land in Japan similar to storage the country uses for its national oil and petroleum reserves. “The argument that they make… is that, if this water was stored not for an indeterminate period, but even for a period of about 50-60 years, then, by then, the tritium will have decayed to a tiny fraction of what it is today and hardly be an issue.” (Al Jazeera)

Even though the US boldly approves of the dumping plan, the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory with a population of over 50,000 people, has declared Japan’s plan as “unacceptable.” In December 2021, the US territory adopted a joint resolution opposing any nation disposing of nuclear waste in the Pacific Ocean as well as suggesting the only acceptable option is long-term storage and processing using the best technology available.

In all similar circumstances, historical events have a way of swinging back and forth in time and landing smack dab in the middle of new controversies; for example, when it comes to radioactivity in the Pacific, memories are long. More than 300 atmospheric and underwater nuclear tests by the US, UK, and France from the 1940s, especially in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and French Polynesia, left uninhabitable land in many locations as well as long-term health disorders throughout the region. Japan’s dumping plans bring back haunting memories.

“Satyendra Prasad, the Chair of Pacific Islands Forum Ambassadors at the United Nations, reminded the world in September last year of the Pacific’s “ongoing struggle with the legacy of nuclear testing from the trans boundary contamination of homes and habitats to higher numbers of birth defects and cancers.” (Al Jazeera)

Meantime, and especially over the past couple of decades, Japan increasingly and fearlessly adheres to, and puts into actual practice, the overriding theme as expressed in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which is “the dangers of state control” whilst the father of liberalism John Locke (1632-1704) not surprisingly spins in his grave.

For example, in December 2013 Japan passed the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets Act providing for whistleblowing civil servants to face up to 10 years in prison and the journalists who work with them could face up to five years for leaking state secrets.

Here’s a major twist to that law: The guidelines empower the heads of 19 ministries and agencies to subjectively “designate which documents and subjects comprise state secrets.” In short, subjective judgment by any given state official determines who goes to jail.

“The result is that while civil servants will be aware of a document’s classification, journalists cannot be sure just what comprises a state secret. Whistleblowing civil servants and journalists could face arrest even if they are convinced they are acting in the public’s interest.”  7

Since Japan appears to be adhering to the precepts of Brave New World, it’s interesting to note that thirty years following publication of Brave New World, Huxley wrote Brave New World Revisited ((Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, Harper & Brothers, 1958.)) :

If the first half of the twentieth century was the era of the technical engineers, the second half may well be the era of the social engineers— and the twenty-first century, I suppose, will be the era of World Controllers, the scientific caste system and Brave New World.

Huxley warned that a Brave New World type of order could be the “final” or “ultimate” revolution when people have their liberties taken from them, but “they will enjoy their servitude and so never question it, let alone rebel.”

Really?

  1. “Booklets Touting Fukushima Plant Water Discharge Angers Schools”, The Asahi Shimbun, March 7, 2022.
  2. “Japanese Groups Voice Growing Opposition, Organize Rallies Over Govt’s Nuclear-Contaminated Water Dumping Plan Decided One Year Before”, Global Times, April 13, 2022.
  3. “Fukushima Residents Oppose Government Dumping Radioactive Water Into Ocean”, CGTN News, April 14, 2022.
  4. “Japan Severely Breaches Obligations Under International Law by Persisting in Discharge of Nuclear-contaminated Water Into Ocean”, People’s Daily Online, April 15, 2022.
  5. “‘Not a Dumping Ground’: Pacific Condemns Fukushima Water Plan”, Al Jazeera, February 14, 2022.
  6. Ibid.
  7. “Japan’s State Secrets Law, A Minefield for Journalists”, Committee to Protect Journalists-NY, November 4, 2014.
The post Japan’s Toxic Dumping Faces Growing Protests first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Don’t Let Them Get Us All Killed

It was a climate of unquestioned moral righteousness. The enemy was Fascism. The brutalities of Fascism were undisguised by pretense:  the concentration camps, the murder of opponents, the tortures by secret police, the burning of books, the total control of information, the roving gangs of thugs in the streets, the designation of “inferior” races deserving extermination, the infallible leader, the mass hysteria, the glorification of war, the invasion of other countries, the bombing of civilians. No literary work of imagination could create a more monstrous evil… But it is precisely that situation—where the enemy is undebatably evil—that produces a righteousness dangerous not only to the enemy but to ourselves, to countless innocent bystanders, and to future generations.

— Howard Zinn, The Bomb (City Lights, 2010), p. 29.

Nuclear War:  The Unimaginable and Real Threat

Aware that Ukraine could well become the next Afghanistan, and that we face the chance of a nuclear war and subsequent “nuclear winter” in which 2 billion people are at risk of starvation, voices of peace around the world continue to protest the militarism of irresponsible leaders of the governments of the NATO states, Russia, Japan, and other countries. There is even criticism of U.S. and Canadian support for Nazis in Ukraine. Now, when they should be focused on repairing relations between Russia and Ukraine, as well as between Russia and the NATO states, and thereby increasing the chances of humanity’s decent survival, instead these leaders are focused on “winning” their petty macho fest in Ukraine. For example, on the 6th of March, the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said that plans for Poland to send fighter jets to Ukraine have gotten “the green light” from the U.S. Luckily for our species, Biden did not listen to Blinken, and instead listened to the Secretary of Defense Lloyd James Austin III, a four-star general.

“Could the Russian invasion of Ukraine escalate to nuclear war? It’s unlikely but not impossible. That should terrify us,” writes foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer. “Unlikely but not impossible.” This is a common view today among serious international affairs analysts.

Many U.S. generals have never really been keen on the notion of nuclear war, in fact. “In 1945 the United States had eight five-star admirals and generals. Of the eight, seven are on the record saying the atomic bomb [dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki] was either militarily unnecessary, morally reprehensible, or both.”

Although “GHQ” (the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers) imposed strict censorship on discussions and photographs of the atomic bombs and its victims, the news did eventually spread via word of mouth, underground publications, etc., and people found out about the results of this U.S. experiment on the bodies of Japanese and Koreans. And over the course of the last three-quarters of a century, historians in Japan, the U.S., and other countries, such as Peter Kuznick, have done painstaking research to uncover the fact that one can say, in retrospect, that these two bombings were stupid and barbaric.

Most of us who are aware of the history of the bombings and who campaign for peace would agree with Stephen Bryen that “beyond all the rhetoric, and the sanctions [over the violence in Ukraine], Washington had better clear its head and start to think straight. That’s not happening right now but it is essential for our future security and well-being.”

By this time, our leaders should have learned from humanity’s past mistakes. Theodore A. Postol, a nuclear weapons technology expert and professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has asserted that “over the course of several U.S. administrations failing to take into account Russia’s core security concerns… ‘there’s no reflection at all’.” (Author’s italics). We are being led by ignorant, violent, reckless, macho-men.

Our Leaders Are Leading Us toward the Precipice of Global Dystopia

Here in Japan we are told that, for no reason, China could invade Taiwan at any moment, just as Russia invaded Ukraine, and that the best way to create security for ourselves would be for the U.S. and Japan to continue to build military bases on Ryukyu Islands. These are bases that are equipped with all kinds of lethal weapons, soldiers, and Osprey aircraft (for transporting such weapons and troops to places like China). They are building a new base in Henoko (on the main island of Uchinaa/Okinawa), on Miyako Island, and other Ryukyu Islands, all close to Taiwan. These two states are continually militarizing the islands of this region and putting our lives in jeopardy. One can, in fact, see the high mountains of Taiwan from Yonaguni Island (at the southernmost island of the Ryukyu Island chain, where a new base now sits) on a clear day, as the island is only 111 kilometers from Taiwan. In other words, they want us to believe that holding China by the throat with one hand, and a knife in the other, will improve our security.

In the U.S. and other countries, people are told that only Big Brother knows best, that only he can keep us, the ignorant masses, safe from overseas villains. Unfortunately, for those who tell this tall tale, the U.S. has been threatening Russians, ever since the end of the Second World War, at a point in time right after the Soviet Union had lost millions of people fighting against Nazis. There was a time when “Official U.S. war plans, approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Dwight Eisenhower, stated that, if so much as a single Soviet tank division crossed into allied territory, the United States would respond with nukes.” Such was our government’s posture then toward our former ally the Soviet Union. And our message to Russians even now is essentially that they “better watch out.” After years of steady success with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), NATO’s official nuclear policy is “flexible response,” which allows the alliance to be “the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict, including in reply to an attack with conventional weapons.”

It surely has not been lost on Russians that former president Barack Obama, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, set aside $1 trillion of our tax dollars for nukes, to be spent over a span of 30 years, nor has it been lost on many Japanese that he did not apologize on our behalf when he visited Hiroshima. Some have even noticed that he actually clapped while watching footage of a mushroom cloud during that trip.

Biden has gone “full steam ahead” with increasing our reliance on nuclear weapons, following in the footsteps of his predecessors Trump and Obama. Yet, back in early December, Republican Senator Roger Wicker, perhaps feeling that Biden was not spooking Russians enough, made things extra clear with his words, “Military action could mean that we stand off with our ships in the black sea and we rain destruction on Russia capability, it could mean that,” and added, “We don’t rule out first-use nuclear action, we don’t think it will happen but there are certain things in negotiations, if you are going to be tough, that you don’t take off the table.” It is this toxic masculinity, this being “tough,” that could get us all killed.

Since our nukes were equipped in recent years with new super fuses that can destroy a large portion of Russia’s nukes even in their silos, Russia has been put into a situation where they must “use ‘em or lose ‘em” in the event that they are threatened with an imminent nuclear attack from the U.S. Unlike in the past, U.S. nuclear warheads now have “hard target kill capability.” This means it is possible to destroy “Russian and Chinese nuclear-tipped missiles and command posts in hardened silos or mountain sanctuaries, or to obliterate hardened military command and storage bunkers in North Korea, also considered a potential US nuclear target.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, a lone voice of sanity in the U.S. Congress, said she was moved by the Ukrainians, as well as by the Russians who are standing up for peace and said, “We must avoid the knee-jerk calls to make this conflict worse.”

Unlike established politicians in many other countries, very few in the U.S. have the foresight of Rep. Omar. U.S. politicians lack understanding of what happens in wars, and especially of the suffering produced by wars. Their sons are not foot soldiers, they are ignorant of U.S.-Russia relations, they do not know U.S. history, and they have the attitude of “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” with respect to what Americans long ago did to the Japanese and Koreans in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Thus we cannot rest easy, trusting that our lives are in good hands. They are not going to go out of their way to avoid unnecessary killing in Ukraine, whether of Ukrainians or Russians. As Bob Dylan’s song goes, “I’ve learned to hate Russians, all through my whole life. If another war comes, it’s them we must fight. To hate them and fear them, to run and to hide. You never ask questions, when God’s on your side.” (Starts at 4:00 in “With God on Our Side.” Such is our mentality in the U.S. after a half century of Cold War indoctrination, years of Roman Empire-like exaggeration of national security threats, two decades of the “war on terror,” and Russiagate.

Now, turning to their leaders, on the “enemy” side:  “Asked if Putin would use nuclear weapons, Mr [Leonid] Volkov [the former chief of staff for jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny] replied: “As he is crazy enough, we can expect unfortunately everything’.”

A Putin ally has specifically warned us of nuclear dystopia:  “Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council who also previously served as the country’s president and prime minister, wrote in a post on Russian social networking site VK.com that Russia has been ‘the target of the same mediocre and primitive game’ since the collapse of the Soviet Union. ‘This means that Russia must be humiliated, limited, shaken, divided and destroyed’… if Americans succeed in that objective, ‘here is the result: the largest nuclear power with an unstable political regime, weak leadership, a collapsed economy and the maximum number of nuclear warheads aimed at targets in the US and Europe’.” Hearing such words, some macho Americans will say as they always do that it is “time to get tough.” This is what happens when our foreign policies are decided by tough men like Biden and Putin.

It is not really reassuring to know that a “small number of [nuclear] bombs are reportedly kept under U.S. Air Force guard at six airbases in five European countries, ready to be delivered by respective national fighter planes,” and that we have nuclear missiles on submarines prowling the sea near Russia. It is not necessarily comforting that within striking range of Russia, there are missiles that could kill millions of people over there within days of the start of a nuclear war. The “nuclear weapons should have been removed from Turkey long ago. Now, whether they’re taken out or kept in, they are going to play some kind of role in the escalating tensions.” Those words were written in 2019. Could it be possible that the presence of nukes in several European countries did worry many Russians and actually increased the chances of war in Ukraine? Could it be true that “there are any number of scenarios in which Russian military doctrine foresees the use of nuclear weapons as a rational move, wars on its border being only one such example”?

The state of U.S. political culture and education is shameful. “60 percent of Americans would approve of killing 2 million Iranian civilians [with our nukes] to prevent an invasion of Iran that might kill 20,000 U.S. soldiers.” One single man, respected and selected by a small number of Democratic Party elites, a man named Joe Biden, has the authority to initiate nuclear strikes at any time on Russia.

Political scientist John Mearsheimer has argued for years that “the U.S., in pushing to expand NATO eastward and establishing friendly relations with Ukraine, has increased the likelihood of war between nuclear-armed powers and laid the groundwork for Vladimir Putin’s aggressive position toward Ukraine.”

“By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell—and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.” This quote has been ascribed to Adolf Hitler. A similar sentiment was expressed by Bob Marley as you “think you’re in heaven, but you’re living in hell.”

Help Needed:  War Resisters

Unlike the government leaders in the rich and powerful countries, and unlike the millions whose eyes are glued to TV and computer screens, some people are fully awake and aware, and are doing what they can to stop the war in Ukraine and build world peace. The activism and writings of Howard Zinn taught us there are always such people who stand up for social justice even in the darkest of times. The anti-nuclear weapons movement of the postwar period, extending from people like Peggy Duff and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) all the way to the anti-nuke protests of the 1980s, when tens of millions of Japanese signed antinuclear petitions, achieved significant victories, especially in terms of preventing the spread, testing, and use of nuclear weapons. The existence of various kinds of weapons of mass destruction, including new techniques of mass killing such as AI-controlled and cyber weapons, and new weapons made possible by nanotechnology, is making it more and more obvious that our choice is between ending the institution of war, or ending ourselves. In Japan, the elderly who know all about war, like the hibakusha, as well as the young, who know very little beyond what they learned from the mass media and their school textbooks, are beginning to take a stand. It is a beginning, and we have a long way to go to re-build the movement. All hands on deck!

Of course, we have to pressure our government officials to end this war. And if they do not start listening to our demands very soon, then we will have to kick them out of office, and replace them with leaders who do listen, and do respond. Every day of inaction brings us closer to the brink of global destruction, closer to the edge of the cliff towards which they have been pushing us all. Here are three of the tasks that our movement must take on:

(1) We have to raise public awareness of the dire need for peace.

(2) We need lots of people out on the streets and other visible places who are committed to tenaciously working on the project of increasing the costs of state violence. Right now, it is easy to start wars, while starting peace is difficult; we need to turn that around. The anti-nuke and peace movements of the past “brought about political pressure to end nuclear testing and stop the spread of the Bomb by mobilizing protesters—ranging from tens of thousands to even millions at its peak—that took to the streets in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia.” (Naturally, Japan also once had a large anti-nuclear weapons movement, as documented by Lawrence Wittner).

(3) CodePink brought us speeches from Abby Martin, Lee Camp, and Chris Hedges the other day that emphasized the importance of protecting freedom of expression, thereby joining other dissidents who warned earlier about censorship, such as Dissident Voice writer Rick Sterling. Not only advocates of global death and destruction have the right to speak but also advocates of life, the “greatest gift of all.” “We are the world, we are the children,” who have the right to not be nuked. Some elite extremists in government will soon start spouting lies, claiming that peace advocates are dangerous, that we are aiding and abetting our nations’ enemies in Russia, etc. The very word “peace” could become taboo. They want to silence and censor, and prevent our rational, humanitarian voices from being heard.

With millions of people now craving vengeance against Russia, and even against disempowered and disadvantaged Russians, let us build a global movement, people who refuse to take up weapons, who actively make it difficult for others to take up weapons, and who know that war is never the answer.

The post Don’t Let Them Get Us All Killed first appeared on Dissident Voice.

A Timeline of U.S. Crimes against Chinese

China has long been the home of a dynamic and multi-varied culture. Ancient Han Chinese built up an agrarian civilization centered on the Yellow River Basin and called their country the “Middle Kingdom,” with varying relations of conflict and cooperation with the nomadic and pastoral cultures surrounding them. Ancient Chinese pioneered a tolerant, inclusive, multi-faith, culturally diverse society. Muslim and Jewish communities have existed there for over one thousand years, for example. People of any ethnicity were allowed to serve as government officials by passing exams, under a meritocratic civil service exam system that continued for over a millennium, up until the beginning of the 20th century.

Their tradition of tolerance and diversity extends to the current era. 55 distinct, minority ethnicities are officially recognized, and benefit from affirmative action-like programs in education and employment. Until recently, they were exempt from the one-child policy. There are well over 100 languages spoken. American tourists to China discover that the foods to sample go far beyond the Peking, Sichuan, and Cantonese cuisine that they are familiar with. The rich variety of clothing and food encountered by a tourist walking down the street in Beijing easily rivals that of New York.

Sadly, however, the long-standing and well-documented history of racism against the Chinese appears to have greatly intensified recently, both in terms of the actions of the last three U.S. presidents (Obama, Trump, and Biden) as well as in terms of the opinions and behavior of the public in Western countries. This latter type of racism is undoubtedly more or less the result of overt brainwashing. There is both fear and loathing of China and Chinese people, and of other East Asian peoples. Anti-Asian hate crimes, hate speech, etc. inside the U.S. are at epidemic levels. The economic success of the People’s Republic of China and the Obama administration’s “Pivot to Asia” campaign have only worsened our ubiquitous Sinophobia, which goes back to the late 19th-century and early 20th-century Yellow Peril propaganda.

With that in mind, it might be instructive for Americans to consider how Chinese might view us and to review a rough chronological account of some of the major events in our history with the peoples of China.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person,” and Article 21 begins, “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” Let’s consider in what ways the people of our country and our government have repeatedly violated in China the human-rights principles that are behind those two articles.

1894-95, the First Sino-Japanese War. This was not the first violation, but it is a convenient place to start. Through this act of violence, the Empire of Japan acquired Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula. U.S. Secretary of State John W. Foster advised the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) and helped to draft the Treaty of Shimonoseki after the war, putting the U.S. stamp of approval on this thievery. In this way, the U.S. helped the Empire of Japan establish itself right in the heart of China. The First Sino-Japanese War, like all wars, was a violation of the right to life. Below I attach the label “Article 3” to such violations, borrowing this concept from the UDHR as a useful category. It was also a violation of the right of people to participate in government, which is Article 21 of the UDHR. In retrospect, one can say that the principles behind Article 3 and Article 21 were violated many times—by the Empire of Japan, and by the U.S. and other Western powers.

1899-1901. During these years, U.S. citizens joined the Eight-Nation Alliance, invaded China, and violently put down the anti-colonial struggle known in English as the Boxer Rebellion. Afterwards they pillaged artifacts and other valuables, and committed sexual violence against civilians.

1905. Under the Taft–Katsura Agreement we gave Korea to the Empire of Japan in exchange for the Philippines. This paved the way for the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) that got the Empire of Japan its “sphere of influence” over Korea and eventually facilitated their annexation of the country in 1910. Surely many Chinese remembered that a ruler of this country had twice aimed to conquer China by invading Korea (during the years 1592–98).

1919. Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty violated Chinese people’s right to “take part in the government” of their country, first and foremost the right of the people of the Shandong Peninsula. (Article 21). The Treaty of Versailles was a huge betrayal for Chinese since China had backed up the Allied Triple Entente (Russia, France, and the UK plus Ireland) in World War I (1914-18). What did they get for all their sacrifices, which included 140,000 manual laborers sent to help the British and French on the Western Front? The Western powers handed the Shandong Peninsula to the Empire of Japan. (Shandong had been a colony of Germany before that). This sparked the May Fourth Movement, a sociopolitical movement that laid the groundwork for Chinese nationalism. “China’s failure to secure any gains at Versailles prompted the May 4th Movement and can be seen as a key juncture in the long and winding road from empire to nation-state,” writes Alex Calvo and Bao Qiaoni. The injustice of the Treaty of Versailles is just one example of how Chinese nationalism is not wholly the fault of the peoples of China, and how the successors of the Western powers then (who were in this case the U.S., the British Empire, France, and Italy) and Japan must take responsibility for it.

1937-72. During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), the Chinese Communist Revolution (1945-49, AKA, the War of Liberation), and after 1949, Washington backed up the Guomindang (i.e., the “Chinese Nationalist Party,” aka, Kuomintang or KMT). The U.S. was supposed to be fighting the Empire of Japan, not getting involved in China’s civil war. The Guomindang were not “freely chosen representatives” who were chosen by the people of China; they were one political party competing for dominance. China was up against the Empire of Japan, which, by that time, was a fully modernized military machine, and China needed Washington’s help, but we only helped one side, the Guomindang. The Guomindang leaders in turn, most prominently Chiang Kai-shek, helped themselves. (Article 21).

They saved up much or most of the financial resources and weapons they got from the U.S. for the big battle that they knew would come as soon as the Empire was defeated. They spent some of their resources fighting against the people of their own country. At least as early as 1937, the U.S. was financially supporting Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek). He and his Guomindang (Chinese Nationalist Party) wasted a lot of energy fighting against his own people rather than against the Empire of Japan.

China held back the Empire of Japan on their own from 1937 to 1941, which was before the Allies (with the exception of the Soviet Union) declared war on the Empire. But the peoples of China never received any thanks for that valiant struggle from the U.S. Between 25 million and 35 million people in China perished as a result of the War. Once the Chinese overcame the Empire of Japan, with U.S. help, in 1945, the struggle between the two parties exploded into a full-blown civil war as everyone expected. The Chinese Communist Party battled the Guomindang, and despite the Guomindang receiving generous support—the U.S. provided Jiang with almost $3 billion in aid and large supplies of arms throughout WWII—the Communists overcame the Guomindang in 1949.

U.S. histories always say that hostilities between the Guomindang and the Communists were put on hold during the War (1937-45), but this is not true. In fact, this support for Jiang Jieshi and his Guomindang was one of the reasons why Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. (See Paul L. Atwood, War and Empire: The American Way of Life [Pluto, 2010], Chapter 9). In other words, our involvement did not start on “December 7th, 1941,” the day that Roosevelt said would “live in infamy.” We were already involved, giving the Guomindang extra ammunition against the Empire of Japan, and we were, objectively speaking, helping them fight against the Communist Party of China. Jiang Jieshi was always presented to Americans as the hero, when in the end, it was mainly the Communists who held back the Empire of Japan until the U.S. joined the war in 1941. Jiang’s party, the Guomindang, had been known as slaughterers of communists since at least the Shanghai Massacre of 1927 and the subsequent White Terror years, so the U.S. government knew exactly with whom they were partnering all during these years 1937-72.

Washington was so satisfied with the work of Jiang Jieshi, after he had bided his time and wasted their money during the War, that they continued to prop up his government in Taiwan for decades afterwards (again violating the rights of Chinese people expressed in Article 21). “Chiang’s [Jiang Jieshi’s] nationalist army hoarded US aid monies, arms and material to such a degree that President Truman wrote that ‘the Chiangs, the Kungs and the Soongs (were) all thieves ‘having stolen some $750 million dollars of US funds’.” But the river of U.S. cash kept flowing to Taiwan.

Washington aided the Guomindang attacks on south China from Burma. (Article 21).

1945-present. The U.S. has violated the Chinese right to “security of person” by threatening nuclear war against China for the last several decades (not to mention the threat to the rest of the world through the possibility of “nuclear winter.” This is a violation of Article 3 since we have a right to security of person, i.e., the right to not be threatened with violence). There were U.S. nukes on the Korean Peninsula from 1958 to 1991, threatening China and other states. The U.S. is the state that introduced the problem of “The Bomb” to the world, and we are the only country who has actually dropped one on a city. Actually twice. We are, therefore, a real, credible threat to people around the world.

1945-78. During this period the U.S. blocked reconciliation between Tokyo and Beijing. This international tension resulted in less security for Chinese. (Article 3). On 12 August 1978 the two countries concluded a formal Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Now the People’s Republic of China is economically strong, but if they had been at peace during the years 1945-78 with the neighbor that had attacked them twice (during the First and Second Sino-Japanese Wars), they would have enjoyed much more security.

1949-53. The U.S. prosecuted the Korean War, leading to the death of 900,000 Chinese soldiers and 1.5 million Chinese civilians. (See Bruce Cumings, The Korean War, 2010, Chapter 1. This was a violation of Article 3).

1954-55, the First Taiwan Strait Crisis. Washington aided the Guomindang against the Communists. Hundreds of Chinese were killed (Articles 3 and 21).

1958, the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis. Washington again aided the Guomindang again, and this battle resulted again in the deaths of hundreds of Chinese (Articles 3 and 21). Besides threatening the lives of Chinese, this crisis” was also a nuclear crisis, according to Daniel Ellsberg. It almost resulted in a nuclear war with China.

1989, Western reporting on the Tiananmen Square protests. It is no coincidence that many tens of thousands of students and workers marched on Tiananmen Square the day before the funeral of Hu Yaobang (1915-89). Having been born into a poor peasant family, he was largely self-schooled. In the 1980s he had attempted to reform government in ways that were popular with workers and students, and immediately after his death they demanded that the government reassess his legacy. The protests began within an hour after he died on 15 April 1989. Western media have painted this as a student movement demanding Western-style, liberal, capitalist democracy, when actually the working class of China were deeply involved. “In Beijing, after the declaration of martial law, workers took to the streets, built barricades, and fraternized with advancing soldiers, effectively stopping them from reaching the city center. While students and intellectuals who spoke English did talk in abstract terms about ‘democracy,’ workers were primarily concerned with economic problems that were being exacerbated by market reforms introduced by the government, which they saw as the result of an undemocratic bureaucracy.” (See Working Class History: Everyday Acts of Resistance and Rebellion [PM Press, 2020], p. 82-83). The false history of this movement promoted by Western journalists lent power to capitalism and took it away from democracy (Article 21).

2000. Women who hoped to bring about a 21st century free from war organized what they called a “People’s Tribunal.” According to the Women’s Active Museum in Tokyo, the Tribunal “represented an effort by global civil society to break the cycle of impunity that perpetuates wartime sexual violence.” After that event, U.S. government officials would have known, or easily been able to find out about the crimes of sexual violence that Japanese committed against Chinese women up until 1945 through their system of “comfort women” stations. They could have demanded justice for the victims, which would have brought greater “security of person” to women in China and everywhere. There were already international laws against sex trafficking long before the time of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal in 1946, so the “comfort women” atrocity could have been prosecuted then. By the year 2000 it was clear that the U.S. had no excuse to not seek justice. The U.S. stand was made clear when Obama coerced South Korea and Japan to make a deal on the issue without involving the voices of the women themselves. They did this for the sake of “American strategic interests.” (Ignoring this history violates the principle of “security of person” in Article 3).

Even Jiang Jieshi could have thoroughly investigated the “comfort women” crimes in China but chose not to do so. (See Chapter 8 of Peipei Chu’s Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves, Oxford UP, 2014). One day, when those crimes are prosecuted, Chinese women, women in Okinawa/Ryukyu and in other islands of Japan (who are threatened constantly by military personnel from U.S. bases), and even women in the U.S. will be able to walk down the street feeling a little more secure. If and when they are violently attacked by a man, that attack will be recognized as a crime for which they can realistically seek justice.

2001-21. Destabilizing Afghanistan through our war there. This reduced security for people in China, which shares a border with Afghanistan (Article 3). Now they have to worry about Afghanistan becoming a “safe haven for militant groups targeting China.”

2010-present. iPhone manufacturing. We all know that U.S. corporations exploit Chinese workers, and many of us have heard that iPhones are made in sweatshops in China. We who have bought iPhones have voted to keep this system going. At “Foxconn City” (the Longhua factory complex) there were “18 reported suicide attempts that year alone and 14 confirmed deaths. Twenty more workers were talked down by Foxconn officials.” At one time, the complex of factories employed 450,000 workers. Some Americans might say, “That’s on the government of China, for their not protecting their workers, for their poor labor laws,” and argue that the problem is not our responsibility, but every time we buy an iPhone, we are communicating to businessmen in China and around the world that we want this exploitation to continue. Every purchase is a vote. One could argue that suicides are a violation of Article 3 and that extreme exploitation of workers and regularly logging 12-hour shifts is not good for democracy and the right to “take part in the government” of one’s country.

2014-present. Washington twisted the arm of South Korea to install THAAD (the U.S.-made “Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense” missile defense system) on the Korean Peninsula, complete with radar that enables Washington to see deep into China. It had been announced by 2014 and it was deployed in 2017. This is viewed as a threat to the lives of Chinese, as it surely must be, and it accelerates the arms race in East Asia. (Article 3).

2018. Former President Donald Trump started a trade war with Beijing, a policy that Trump’s successor will probably continue. This trade war will hurt many Chinese and American workers (Article 3).

2021. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China of carrying out genocide against Muslim Uighurs and other minority groups in the western region of Xinjiang. This has been debunked by The GrayZone in multiple reports and analyses. This big lie could easily lead to the violation of Article 3 as Washington continues to use it to build support for a war against China.

Conclusion

Even this short sketch of U.S. human rights violations above may be sufficient to conclude that our country has been a major violator of the rights of people in China, if not the number-one violator there during the last 127 years, and that we have not been good “neighbors.” (We could imagine the Pacific Rim as one very large “neighborhood”). Therefore, in terms of the moral standing of our country, neither the U.S. government nor American intellectuals are in a position to lecture China or the Chinese on their human rights record.

We who are U.S. civilians are not “in” East Asia, but our government stations many tens of thousands of soldiers and other military personnel on bases surrounding China, most obviously on the many bases of Okinawa (at least 31 bases), Japan (a dozen or so), and South Korea (15 or a few dozen, depending on how you count), not to mention the thousands of sailors on the aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines, etc., that constantly prowl the seas around China, or the personnel at the highly secretive “Naval Support Facility” of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. is a country that has yet to acknowledged for our many crimes. From their perspective, the U.S. is a hostile nation and a constant threat.

Beijing, on the other hand, has sought harmony at every stage in their dealings with Americans (although it is generally much more assertive than our submissive “client state” Japan). Confucianism defines ideals for both the family and for government, and social harmony is one of the main goals of Confucianism. It comes as no surprise, then, that China was the first nuke-have nation to propose and pledge a no-first-use policy, stating that they would not “be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances.” China and the U.S. are very different societies, but with full awareness of the wrongs that the U.S. has committed against Chinese, isn’t it about time that we live and let live? Rather than pointing our death-and-destruction war machine at Asia, why don’t we “pivot to peace”?

The post A Timeline of U.S. Crimes against Chinese first appeared on Dissident Voice.

WWII Redux: The Endpoint of U.S. Policy from Ukraine to Taiwan

“This is not going to be a war of Ukraine and Russia. This is going to be a European war, a full-fledged war.” So spoke Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky just days after berating the U.S. for beating the drums of war.

It is not hard to imagine how Zelensky’s words must have fallen on those European ears that were attentive.  His warning surely conjured up images of World War II when tens of millions of Europeans and Russians perished.

Zelensky’s words echoed those of Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte on the other side of the world at the Eastern edge of the great Eurasian land mass: “When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled flat.”  We can be sure that Duterte, like Zelensky, had in mind WWII which also consumed tens of millions of lives in East Asia.

The United States is stoking tensions in both Europe and East Asia, with Ukraine and Taiwan as the current flashpoints on the doorsteps of Russia and China which are the targeted nations.  Let us be clear at the outset.  As we shall see, the endpoint of this process is not for the U.S. to do battle with Russia or China but to watch China and Russia fight it out with the neighbors to the ruin of both sides.  The US is to “lead from behind’ – as safely and remotely as can be arranged.

To make sense of this and react properly, we must be very clear-eyed about the goal of the U.S.  Neither Russia nor China has attacked or even threatened the U.S.  Nor are they in a position to do so – unless one believes that either is ready to embark on a suicidal nuclear war.

Why should the U.S. Elite and its media pour out a steady stream of anti-China and anti-Russia invective?  Why the steady eastward march of NATO since the end of the first Cold War?  The goal of the U.S. is crystal clear – it regards itself as the Exceptional Nation and entitled to be the number one power on the planet, eclipsing all others.

This goal is most explicitly stated in the well-known Wolfowitz Doctrine drawn shortly after the end of the first Cold War in 1992.  It proclaimed that the U.S.’s  “first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet union or elsewhere….”  It stated that no regional power must be allowed to emerge with the power and resources “sufficient to generate global power.”  It stated frankly “we must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global power.” (Emphasis, jw)

The Wolfowitz Doctrine is but the latest in a series of such proclamations that have proclaimed global domination as the goal of U.S. foreign policy since 1941 the year before the U.S. entered WWII.  This lineage is documented clearly in the book by the Quicny Institute’s Stephen Wertheim “Tomorrow, The World: The Birth of US Global Supremacy.

Let us consider China first and then Russia, the foremost target of the U.S., first.  China’s economy is number one in terms of PPP-GDP according to the IMF and has been since November, 2014.  It is growing faster than the U.S. economy and shows no signs of slowing down.  In a sense China has already won by this metric since economic power is the ultimate basis of all power.

But what about a military defeat of China?  Can the U.S. with its present vastly superior armed forces bring that about?  The historian, Alfred McCoy, answers that question in the way most do these days, with a clear “no”:

The most volatile flashpoint in Beijing’s grand strategy for breaking Washington’s geopolitical grip over Eurasia lies in the contested waters between China’s coast and the Pacific littoral, which the Chinese call “the first island chain.

But China’s clear advantage in any struggle over that first Pacific island chain is simply distance. …The tyranny of distance, in other words, means that the U.S. loss of that first island chain, along with its axial anchor on Eurasia’s Pacific littoral, should only be a matter of time.

Certainly the U.S. Elite recognizes this problem.  Do they have a solution?

Moreover, that is not the end of the “problem” for the U.S.  There are other powerful countries, like Japan, or rapidly rising economies in East Asia, easily the most dynamic economic region in the world.  These too will become peer competitors, and in the case of Japan, it already has been a competitor both before WWII and during the 1980s.

If we hop over to the Western edge of Eurasia, we see that the U.S. has a similar “problem” when it comes to Russia.  Here too the U.S. cannot defeat Russia in a conventional conflict nor have U.S. sanctions been able to bring it down.  How can the U.S. surmount this obstacle? And as in the case of East Asia the U.S. faces another economic competitor, Germany, or more accurately, the EU, with Germany at its core. How is the U.S. to deal with this dual threat?

One clue comes in the response of Joe Biden to both the tension over Taiwan and that over Ukraine.  Biden has said repeatedly that he will not send U.S. combat troops to fight Russia over Ukraine or to fight China over Taiwan.  But it will send materiel and weapons and also “advisors.”  And here too the U.S. has other peer competitors most notably Germany which has been the target of U.S. tariffs. The economist Michael Hudson puts it succinctly in a penetrating essay, “America’s real adversaries are its European and other allies: The U.S. aim is to keep them from trading with China and Russia.”

Such “difficulties for the U.S. were solved once before – in WWII.  One way of looking at WWII is that it was a combination of two great regional wars, one in East Asia and one in Europe.  In Europe the U.S. was minimally involved as Russia, the core of the USSR, battled it out with Germany, sustaining great damage to life and economy.  Both Germany and Russia were economic basket cases when the war was over, two countries lying in ruins.

The US provided weapons and materiel to Russia but was minimally involved militarily, only entering late in the game.  The same happened in East Asia with Japan in the role of Germany and China in the role of Russia.  Both Japan and China were devastated in the same way as were Russia and Europe.  This was not an unconscious strategy on the part of the United States.  As Harry Truman, then a Senator, declared in 1941: “If we see that Germany is winning the war, we ought to help Russia; and if that Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible.. . ”

At the end of it all the U.S. emerged as the most powerful economic and military power on the planet.  McCoy spells it out:

Like all past imperial hegemons, U.S. global power has similarly rested on geopolitical dominance over Eurasia, now home to 70% of the world’s population and productivity. After the Axis alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan failed to conquer that vast land mass, the Allied victory in World War II allowed Washington, as historian John Darwin put it, to build its “colossal imperium… on an unprecedented scale,” becoming the first power in history to control the strategic axial points “at both ends of Eurasia.

As a critical first step, the U.S. formed the NATO alliance in 1949, establishing major military installations in Germany and naval bases in Italy to ensure control of the western side of Eurasia. After its defeat of Japan, as the new overlord of the world’s largest ocean, the Pacific, Washington dictated the terms of four key mutual-defense pacts in the region with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia and so acquired a vast range of military bases along the Pacific littoral that would secure the eastern end of Eurasia. To tie the two axial ends of that vast land mass into a strategic perimeter, Washington ringed the continent’s southern rim with successive chains of steel, including three navy fleets, hundreds of combat aircraft, and most recently, a string of 60 drone bases stretching from Sicily to the Pacific island of Guam.

The U.S. was able to become the dominant power on the planet because all peer competitors were left in ruins by the two great regional wars in Europe and East Asia, wars which are grouped under the heading of WWII.

If Europe is plunged into a war of Russia against the EU powers with the U.S. “leading from behind,” with material and weapons, who will benefit?  And if East Asia is plunged into a war of China against Japan and whatever allies it can drum up, with the U.S. “leading from behind,” who will benefit?

It is pretty clear that such a replay of WWII will benefit the U.S.  In WWII while Eurasia suffered tens of millions of deaths, the US suffered about 400,000 – a terrible toll certainly but nothing like that seen in Eurasia.  And with the economies and territories of Eurasia, East and West, in ruins, the U.S. will emerge on top, in the catbird seat, and able to dictate terms to the world.  WWII redux.

But what about the danger of nuclear war growing out of such conflicts?  The U.S. has a history of nuclear “brinksmanship,” going back to the earliest post-WWII days.  It is a country that has shown itself willing to risk nuclear holocaust.

Are there U.S. policy makers criminal enough to see this policy of provocation through to the end?  I will leave that to the reader to answer.

The Peoples of East and West Eurasia are the ones who will suffer most in this scenario.  And they are the ones who can stop the madness by living peacefully with Russia and China rather than serving as cannon fodder for the U.S.  There are clear signs of dissent from the European “allies” of the U.S., especially Germany but the influence of the U.S. remains powerful.  Germany and many other countries are after all occupied by tens of thousands of U.S. troops, their media heavily influenced by the U.S. and with the organization that commands European troops, NATO, under U.S. command.  Which way will it go?

In East Asia the situation is the same.  Japan is the key but the hatred of China among the Elite is intense.  Will the Japanese people and the other peoples of East Asia be able to put the brakes on the drive to war?

Some say that a two-front conflict like this is U.S. overreach.  But certainly, if war is raging on or near the territories of both Russia and China, there is little likelihood that one can aid the other.

Given the power of modern weaponry, this impending world war will be much more damaging than WWII by far.  The criminality that is on the way to unleashing it is almost beyond comprehension.

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The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Calls for Escalating US Aggression against Russia

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists emerged after World War II as a voice for peace by some of the scientists who developed the then ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Now, its mission has drifted into being an echo chamber for the US imperial project urging President Biden to take even more destabilizing actions against Russia.

Dropping the A-bombs

By the time that the scientists at the top-secret Manhattan Project had developed the atomic bomb and the US military had worked out the logistics for deploying it, World War II was for all intents and purposes over. By early May 1945, Germany had unconditionally surrendered; in large part due to the efforts of the Red Army defeating the Nazi Wehrmacht, but at the horrific cost of 27,000,000 Soviet lives. The Japanese too had been defeated militarily and had agreed to “unconditional surrender” with the one caveat that Emperor Hirohito be spared.

So, the world’s emerging hegemon had a problem. It had the ultimate weapon to impose its policy of world domination (i.e., today’s official US national security doctrine of global “full spectrum dominance”). But what good is this ultimate weapon if it is a secret? And, even if known, would the world believe that the US has the will to unleash such a destructive force?

President Truman had the solution – nuke Japan. All the military targets in Japan had been destroyed, but an even stronger message of the US’s determination to enforce imperial hegemony was made by annihilating the civilian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

The Japanese promptly surrendered, offering up the life of their emperor. The US accepted, but did not execute the emperor, who was more useful alive than dead. Besides, the leniency gesture reinforced the message that the US would capriciously bomb at will. Even when President Obama visited Hiroshima in 2016, he pointedly offered “no apology” for the destruction his country had wrought.

Dawn of the Cold War

The quick Japanese surrender in August 1945 had another cause, which many modern historians consider more overriding than the US bombs. The Soviets, engaged with their western front, had remained neutral in the war with Japan, but had promised the Allies to join the war effort against Japan once the Germans were defeated. At the same time the US dropped the bombs, the USSR declared war with Japan causing Tokyo to capitulate.

The dropping of the atomic bombs was the first salvo of the Cold War, signifying the end of the US wartime alliance of convenience with the Soviet Union. Truman’s rush to nuke Japan had the dual advantage of making known his “hammer” over the Kremlin as well as denying the USSR time to advance east and have a seat in the surrender agreement with Japan. The Soviets had not developed atomic weapons on the assumption – which proved to be essentially correct – that World War II would be over before they could be deployed to defeat the Axis powers.

In the immediate post-war period, the Soviets and their allies were existentially threatened by the unambiguous intention of the US and its allies to destroy them. As a defensive measure, the Soviet Union had no choice but to develop a deterrent nuclear force, testing its first atomic bomb in 1949.

Although the Soviets pledged to use their nuclear arsenal only in defense and renounced “first strike,” the US didn’t. Soon the Cold War arms race threatened the planet with destruction. The emergent construct of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) was a fragile arrangement for the future of humanity.

Emergence of the Bulletin by scientists for peace

Voices of peace arose from the very inventers of the atomic bomb. Immediately after the destructive power of the atom was rained on Japan and even before the Soviet Union developed their deterrent force, former Manhattan Project scientists Eugene Rabinowitch and Hyman Goldsmith founded the Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, subsequently renamed the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Other notables associated with the Bulletin were nuclear physicist Hans Bethe, Soviet space scientist Anatoli Blagonravov, Jewish-German émigré and developer of quantum mechanics Max Born, physicist “father of the atomic bomb” turned anti-nuclear proliferation activist J. Robert Oppenheimer, British polymath peace activist Bertrand Russell, Soviet physicist Nikolay Semyonov, and Albert Einstein.

The Bulletin’s Doomsday Clock, unveiled in 1947, was set at seven minutes to midnight. The clock was intended as an educational tool to serve “as a vivid symbol of these multiplying perils, its hands showing how close to extinction we are.”

The Pugwash Conferences, an effort at peace in the early part of the Cold War, were an outgrowth of the Bulletin in its formative years in the 1950s.

Mission drift at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Today, the risk of nuclear annihilation, not to mention global warming and other threats, has never been greater, according to the Bulletin’s Doomsday Clock. But the Bulletin has morphed from an advocate for peace and against other threats to humanity to something else.

From an organization run by scientists, the current governing board of the Bulletin has hardly a scientist in sight. Its president and CEO is Rachel Bronson, a political scientist who came out of the US security establishment NGO world, including the Council on Foreign Relations (Wall Street’s think tank) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (ranked the top military think tank in the world). Its chair, David Kuhlman, is a corporate consultant specializing in helping “clients identify pathways to profitable growth.” Its secretary, Steve Ramsey, formerly worked for defense contractor General Electric. Former Secretary of State and accused war criminal Madeleine Albright does promotionals for the Bulletin.

The Bulletin maintains a liberal façade and still publishes articles that contribute to peace and environmentalism. In that way, its role in collusion with the US imperial project is insidious, because the patina of peace is used to legitimize its mission drift.

Fanning the flames of anti-Chinese sentiment, the Bulletin promotes the conspiracy theory that the Chinese artificially developed COVID-19, featuring journalist Nicholas Wade’s “How COVID-19’s origins were obscured, by the East and the West.” However, scientific evidence points to natural origins of the virus. Anti-Russian sentiment is promoted with journalist Matt Field’s “Russian media spreading disinformation about US bioweapons as troops mass near Ukraine.” Where are the scientists advocating for peace?

The Bulletin covers the Ukraine crisis

Another case in point of its devolution is the article “How to mix sanctions and diplomacy to avert disaster in Ukraine,” published in the Bulletin on February 1. The article advocates for sanctions that would “severely and quickly devastate Russia’s powerful energy export sector.” Echoing Washington’s talking points, the article couches its recommendations as responding to Russian aggression but actually proposes nothing to de-escalate the conflict.

It is beyond ironic that an organization that purports to be warning against the dangers of nuclear holocaust is making a full-throated defense of an even more aggressive posture by one of the world’s leading nuclear powers.

Yes, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist’s Doomsday Clock is now 100 seconds to midnight, and they are trying to push it closer to Armageddon.

The view of the Bulletin’s Ukraine article is that the current crisis is Putin’s “own making.” In contrast, the article explains that the US has diplomatically “initiated” talks with Russia. There is no mention of the forward deployment of US troops or sending lethal aid to Ukraine. There is no recognition of aggressive actions by NATO such as stationing assault ABM missile systems in Romania and possibly Poland. Off limits is allusion to the US shredding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Hidden from sight in the aforementioned article and another published the same day on “How the demise of an arms control treaty foreshadowed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine” is the US-orchestrated Ukraine coup in 2014 that installed an anti-Russian regime there. The latter article’s meticulously detailed history of the region notes “Moscow invaded and annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea,” but not the coup that precipitated it.

Reasonable peace proposals

There is not a word in these articles of how some of the Russian initiatives might prevent hostilities and make the region more secure with a reduced likelihood of war. And certainly, there is none of the following reasonable peace proposals:

+Russia and the US shall not use the territory of other countries to prepare or conduct attacks against the other.

+Neither party shall deploy short- or intermediate-range missiles abroad or in areas where these weapons could reach targets inside the other’s territory.

+Neither party shall deploy nuclear weapons abroad, and any such weapons already deployed must be returned.

+Both parties shall eliminate any infrastructure for deploying nuclear weapons outside their own territories.

+Neither party shall conduct military exercises with scenarios involving the use of nuclear weapons.

+Neither party shall train military or civilian personnel from non-nuclear countries to use nuclear weapons.

The above peace measures are what in fact Russia proposed, but are considered “non-starters” by the US and presumably by the Bulletin.

Citing the Atlantic Council, the US-based think tank for NATO, the Bulletin explains that the sanctions that they are advocating would cause the Russian economy to “experience significant chaos.” These sanctions that the Bulletin calls for are a form of warfare just as deadly as dropping bombs. Sanctions kill! Instead of supporting peaceful measures to reduce tensions in the Ukraine, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has become a cheerleader for Washington.

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Annihilating the Virus Enemy in Japan

Men wearing Japanese imperial military uniform visit the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Japan August 15, 2019, on the 74th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War Two. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 18,515 people had lost their lives to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by 24 January 2022. Of those deaths, four were minors, i.e., 19 years of age or younger. At this point, nobody can say exactly why the Archipelago of Japan has emerged relatively unscathed by the virus, but it has been clear for many months that Japanese have little to worry about.

Somehow, however, this has not translated into victory celebrations or a round of applause for government health officials for preventing a public health disaster, or much praise for the residents of Japan for their very diligent cooperation with government health guidelines. Indeed, the panicked language continues, such that we were recently told by journalists that Japan is “bracing” for the omicron variant. The government is now considering vaccine booster shots for everyone, not just health workers. The Nation’s borders were sealed quickly and tightly when omicron emerged in November. And even now we are told that we need greater security, and that local and national government agencies are willing and able to provide it, as long as we all trust and obey them.

With full awareness of the relatively low lethality of the virus, there is still widespread fear and a (mis)recognition that we are all in an exceptional situation now, one that will require, for our own health, greater austerity and sacrifices, and even more violations of Japan’s constitution. Nicknamed the Peace Constitution and promulgated in 1947, it is not yet clear whether it will be weakened through a “state of exception” in which the constitution is set aside “temporarily,” or through “amendment by interpretation,” or through actual legal revision, but what now appears almost inevitable is that elite ultranationalist forces in government will continue to take advantage of the present crisis to weaken the human-rights-defending potential of the Constitution, deprive the people of their civil liberties, and dismantle Japan’s fragile democracy.

With awareness of COVID-19’s impact on class struggle, we are now beginning to get a picture of who the losers and winners in Japan might ultimately be. Some of the key winners may include pharmaceutical and biotech companies, big business in general, universities and companies with public-private partnerships, liberal intellectuals in the fields of medicine and economics, pro-U.S. factions, and the ultranationalist political party Nippon Ishin no Kai (“Japan Innovation Party”), who are considering calling for the creation of an emergency situation clause in the Constitution. The losers will probably include not only the working class but also single mothers, victims of domestic violence, homeless people, small business owners and employees, immigrants, asylum seekers, and children without parents or with parents who cannot take care of them.

Healthy hygiene is important for us all, but we have to be careful that this discourse does not cause a loss of freedom, such as what we saw with the obsession with terrorism and national security after 9/11. Many people believe that a nation-state is supposed to achieve health security in the same way that it is supposed to achieve national security, i.e., by annihilating the enemy. If we are not careful, a similar bloodthirsty logic can take over, whether the enemy is a country, a terrorist, an insect, or a virus. Whether you use a nuclear bomb, a pesticide, or an mRNA vaccine, when the people are in a warring mood, the goal becomes annihilating the foreign Other. This is key to understanding COVID-19 deceptions.

Giorgio Agamben (1942-), the philosopher who, for many years, has deeply probed the question of the political uses of movements for greater “biosecurity,” emphasizes how the state exaggerates the bio-threats, just as it exaggerated terrorism and advertises itself as the savior of the people. He writes that “We could argue that, once terrorism ceased to exist as a cause for measures of exception, the invention of an epidemic offers the ideal pretext for widening them beyond all known limits” (Where Are We Now? The Epidemic as Politics, Valeria Dani, trans., Kindle edition [Rowman & Littlefield, 2021] p. 13). The “limitation of freedom” that is imposed by governments seems limitless, just as the desire for security is limitless (Where Are We Now? p. 38). Governments tell us that we need more security, we believe them, we desire more security, and then they intervene to satisfy that desire. (I have previously discussed the state of exception in Japan here). Just as governments were supposed to be the only ones who could protect us from terrorism, especially after 9/11, now they tell us that only they can protect us from nature.

The following quote often attributed to the Nazi war criminal Hermann Göring (1893-1946) seems appropriate for today. “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” Many advocates of peace are aware of this problem, how states gain power by exaggerating threats from the outsiders within our communities and from people in foreign countries. Fear of the unknown plays into their hands.

More specifically, the system or the “regime” that we are now struggling under is the modern ideology of the plague that was famously described by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975) and other works. This is aptly explained by Carlos Salzani:

It has been noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is a biopolitical dream (or rather nightmare) come true—and in fact Foucault’s poignant analyses of the intertwined evolution of politics and medicine in modernity have been evoked from the very beginning. To describe the mutations of power between the seventeenth and eighteenth century, Foucault tellingly used three models based precisely on infectious diseases. In the lecture on 15 January 1975 of his 1974-1975 course at the Collège de France titled [“Abnormal”] and, more in depth, in the opening of the chapter on panopticism of Discipline and Punish (published a month later, in February 1975), he counterpoised the management of leprosy and that of the plague as two distinct modalities of control and organization: whereas the former required the leper’s exclusion from society, the latter installed a disciplinary mechanism that mobilized society in its totality. Both models, Foucault noted, are very ancient, but in a sense at the dawn of modernity the plague model became prevalent. According to Foucault’s by-now famous distinction, the exclusion of lepers (premodern power) is a negative model based on rejection and prohibition and pursuing the dream of purifying the community; the plague model (modern, disciplinary power), to the contrary, is a positive technology of power demanding the inclusion of the infected within a space meticulously analyzed, partitioned, organized, and controlled, with the concomitant production of an appropriate knowledge. Exclusion is replaced by quarantine, rejection by inclusion and the assignment to each individual of a proper name and a proper place. The goal is no longer that of purifying the community but rather of producing a healthy population. This model contradicts the “literary dream of the plague,” all those political fables (like Camus’ or Saramago’s) which liken the plague to orgiastic outbursts of lawlessness, disorder, and confusion; the “political dream of the plague” is instead precisely the contrary, “the marvelous moment when political power is exercised to the full. Plague is the moment when the spatial partitioning and subdivision (quadrillage) of a population is taken to its extreme point.” In truth, the plague is met by order, discipline, hierarchy, control: “The plague-stricken town […] is the utopia of the perfectly governed city.” (Author’s italics).

Salzani explains that Foucault defined biopolitics as “the peculiarly modern political focus on the preservation of life,” and notes that this goes back to Cicero’s words, Salus populi suprema lex esto. (The health/safety of the people should be the supreme law). In “An Essay concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government” (1690) John Locke wrote, “Salus populi suprema lex is certainly so just and fundamental a rule, that he who sincerely follows it cannot dangerously err.” And every American knows from our “Declaration of Independence” that we have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Many people are familiar with the words, “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” And ominously from the perspective of government officials, the Declaration also told us that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”

But the “Declaration of Independence” does not claim that safety and health are supreme, that they are far more important than liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There are limits to how much safety should be demanded, especially in times and places where governments do not respect human rights or democracy. Too much emphasis on safety can permanently damage democratic institutions. As the Japanese internist Dr. Irohira Tetsurō has argued, it is not possible for a society to simultaneously enjoy freedom of expression, freedom of profit, and zero [coronavirus] infections (Japanese weekly magazine, Shūkan Kinyōbi 1322 [26 March 2021] p. 34). Just as in China, some politicians in Japan have advocated the dangerous social goal of “zero corona.”

Kiuchi Minoru, like many politicians of the largely ultranationalist ruling party LDP, expressed worry about what would happen if Japan’s national legislative assembly did “not function when an urgent response is required.” Many Japanese believe that quick responses from the government will be necessary in the future when pandemics and natural disasters occur. This kind of concern was behind the 2020 revision of the 2012 Act on Special Measures against Novel Influenza, etc. (Shingata infuruenza tō taisaku tokubetsu sochi hō), which is now often abbreviated as the “Special Measures Law” in English. (The English translation of the law can be found on the page entitled “Japanese Law Translation” at the website of the Ministry of Justice). This Special Measures Law was revised on 13 March 2020 by the Diet (i.e., Japan’s national legislative assembly). In the midst of the crisis presented by the new coronavirus, the Diet granted the prime minister “the authority to declare a state of emergency in the event of the spread of an infectious disease that could gravely affect people’s lives.”

The next day, on 14 March, the revision came into effect, and Prime Minister Abe Shinzō gave a speech saying that the new law would prevent the spread of the virus and that the government would be asking the public to accept “substantial difficulties and inconveniences.”

At first glance, this new Special Measures Law sounds like a fair and reasonable response to a dangerous virus, until one recalls that the “state of emergency,” or “state of exception,” is precisely how the Nazis of Germany got their start. Some Japanese scholars of law have pointed out the danger of such a thing happening in Japan, such as the scholar of modern German history, Professor Ishida Yūji at the Graduate School of the University of Tokyo. The Weimar Constitution was once thought of as the most democratic constitution in the world, but it was through the abuse of the state of emergency clause (Article 48), which gave the president the power to issue an emergency decree, that Adolf Hitler rose to power. According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia,

Embedded within the Weimar Constitution was an article that encompassed the right/left political tension and would be fundamental to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. This was Article 48, which stated that “If public security and order are seriously disturbed or endangered within the German Reich, the President of the Reich may take measures necessary for their restoration, intervening if need be with the assistance of the armed forces.” It also allowed the President to suspend civil liberties guaranteed in the Weimar Constitution.

This was the Constitution’s “fatal flaw,” and it is probably also what Asō Tarō referred to as the “Nazi Trick.” Asō, one of the right-hand men of the former prime minister Abe, is presently the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. In 2013 he made the notorious suggestion, “Why don’t we learn from that (Nazi) trick?” (Various translations appeared in English). He made this statement in connection with the debate over the revision of the Constitution.

Ishida explains:

The fact that a minister who made such a comment and undermined the trust of the nation is able to retain his post shows the true nature of the [Abe] administration. The LDP [Liberal Democratic Party] will use this experience to try to write an emergency clause into the Constitution… A state of emergency gives the government the authority to suspend the normal constitutional legal order (i.e., separation of powers and the guarantee of human rights) and take emergency measures in emergency situations such as war, civil war, depression, and major disasters.

Ishida is the author of two books in Japanese relating to this fatal flaw in the Weimar constitution. He is the author of Hitler and Nazi Germany (Hitoraa to Nachi Doitsu [Kodansha Gendai Shinsho, 2015]) and the co-author with Hasebe Yasuo of Nazi “Tricks” and the State of Emergency Clause (Nachisu no “teguchi” to kinkyūjitai jokō [Shūeisha shinsho, 2017]). Thus it is not surprising that he was one of the first to raise the alarm when the Special Measures Law was revised in March 2020. For Ishida it was “incomprehensible” that all of the opposition parties, with the exception of the Communist Party and the Reiwa Shinsengumi, voted in favor of this law, when it does not require the prime minister to obtain prior approval from the Diet, who are the representatives of the people, when declaring a state of emergency. He said that the original 2012 law should have been corrected regardless of the fact that it was passed under the administration of the Democratic Party of Japan (Minshutō, a liberal opposition party to the left of the ruling LDP). This law gives the executive branch the authority to place restrictions on the fundamental rights of the citizens. He argues that it could easily wind up allowing Japan’s ultranationalist government to completely abandon the Constitution.

Hitler’s government, formed in January of 1933, was a coalition between the Nazi Party and the German National People’s Party (who were traditional conservatives). The Nazi Party had received 33.1% of the vote, so Hitler’s government initially came into power as a minority government. On 27 February 1933 the parliament building went up in flames. This was the famous “Reichstag Fire,” which happened just before election day (on 5 March). An atmosphere of panic and terror followed, and the Nazis blamed the fire on the communists.

On the day after the fire, the “Emergency Decree for the Protection of the German People” was passed. This was a declaration of a state of emergency. Democratic institutions were suspended, freedom of speech was restricted, and the right to own property and the right to trial before imprisonment were removed.

A month after the state of emergency was declared, on 24 March, the Enabling Act (Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich, or “Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich”]) was rammed through the Reichstag. This law granted legislative power to the Hitler Cabinet. Hitler could now rule by decree. By July, Hitler and the Nazi Party had managed to establish a one-party system, with the Nazis as the sole ruling power. This was only six months after the Nazis had taken the reins of government. The parliament gradually ceased to function as a true legislature, to the extent that people wondered why the Reichstag even existed.

Ishida suspects that the government of Japan is likewise doing rehearsals for a state of emergency clause that would allow prime ministers to side-step the constitution. His warnings about Japan’s state-of-emergency legislative changes echo the those of Giorgio Agamben, who warned in 2020 and earlier that making the state of exception as permanent as possible is one of the primary goals of getting people to panic about biosecurity. According to Agamben, health security used to be “at the margins of political calculations” but is now becoming an “essential component of state and international political strategies” (Where Are We Now? p. 55). What certain politicians may now be hoping for is a permanent state of emergency.

Former Lower House Speaker Ibuki Fumiaki said at a meeting for an LDP faction on 12 March 2020, the day before the Special Measures Law was revised, that we must not “play too much or drink too much.” Suzuki Miho, the Mainichi journalist who interviewed Ishida, wrote that this statement reminded her of the World War II-era slogan in Japan “We will sacrifice everything for the victory” (Hoshigarimasen, katsu made wa), and she sensed anxiety about the virus among the people. With little known about it, there is an atmosphere of people coerced into enduring their suffering.

It does seem that when people are so focused on contributing to a “war effort,” they can easily lose awareness of the fact that their rights are being stolen from them. On 7 April 2020, a few weeks after the Special Measures Law became law, Abe did declare a state of emergency, making use of his new power under the revised law. Even at that early point, Abe wielded the mighty authority to restrict people’s right to freedom of movement and assembly. Yet, Ishida notes, a poll conducted by the Mainichi on the following day, indicated that 72% of the respondents approved of Abe’s declaration, and only 20% disapproved.

Another troubling feature of the Special Measures Law for Ishida is that it allows for a wide range of compulsory measures to be taken, such as requests to refrain from mingling with other people outside one’s home; restrictions on the use of schools and assembly halls; the prime minister’s new power to give instructions to NHK (Japan’s national broadcaster); and his power to expropriate land, buildings, and supplies. He warns that the day may not be far off when rallies and demonstrations become impossible, when people “clam up” no matter how dissatisfied they are with the government. In his view, too, Japan’s Diet is now weak, as was the Reichstag when Hitler became chancellor.

Many lawyers have made statements against the Special Measures Law, too. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), an organization of lawyers with 42,991 members, opposed it, in fact. Their concern was not with the parallels with Nazi history or the state of exception but with the negative effects on COVID-19 patients and businesses. They worry that patients may be stigmatized and human rights may be violated:

Anyone may contract COVID-19 because of its significant transmissibility. People infected do not deserve blame for their contraction of the virus, whereas the amendment bill presented this time ignores such circumstances and seeks to impose obligations by means of punishment without adequate deliberation. It neglects the aims of and the historical background to the legislation of the Infectious Diseases Act and makes light of the fundamental human rights of those who are affected by infectious diseases.

This is exactly the situation that Agamben describes when writing, “the citizen no longer has a right to health (‘health safety’) but is instead forced by law to be healthy (‘biosecurity’)” (Where Are We Now? p. 56).

As the JFBA statement explains, in the past “…there was groundless discrimination or prejudice” against patients suffering from Hansen’s disease, (AIDS), and other infectious diseases in Japan. That is “the historical background to the legislation of the Infectious Diseases Act.” (The full name of the Infectious Diseases Act is the “Act on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases and Medical Care for Patients with Infectious Diseases,” or Kansenshō no yobō oyobi kansenshō no kanja ni taisuru iryō ni kan suru hōritsu. This law has been part of Japan’s infectious disease surveillance system since 1 April 1999. The JFBA opposes both these laws, the Infectious Diseases Act and the Special Measures Act). The JFBA statement also cites violations of worker’s rights, such as dismissals of unvaccinated workers; increases in hate speech against minorities; and people infected with COVID being unable to vote.

The Special Measures Law was established at a time when Japanese perceived, correctly or incorrectly, that Japan needed more biosecurity, and many people were unaware of the fact that a “state of exception,” in the sense of an ideological operation, was in the works. Although historians like Ishida and lawyers such as those with the JFBA have raised concerns, Japan’s journalists are not problematizing this law.

Yet, the Special Measures Law may be the greatest threat to Japan’s Peace Constitution in decades. This is because it opens the way for a state of exception in which prime ministers and prefectural governors possess the authority to issue decrees that have the effect of a law. While the Peace Constitution still exists, prime ministers and prefectural governors are able to do things during an official state of emergency that they could not normally do. However weak or gentle such decrees may appear, they could set the stage for much more Draconian decrees in the future, and there is no guarantee that future prime ministers and governors will not abuse their new power.

This Special Measures Law may even weaken the authority of the Diet, and violate Article 41, which says, “The Diet shall be the highest organ of state power, and shall be the sole law-making organ of the State.” Contrary to Article 41, the Special Measures Law gives the prime minister the authority to suspend certain articles of the constitution whenever there is a war, economic crisis, or pandemic. Setting aside the constitution in this way is dangerous because there is no clear end in sight. Japan has had at least three major crises in the last two decades: 9/11, “3/11” (the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami), and the 2020 coronavirus crisis, and as a result of all three, the Constitution has been violated and rights have been trampled on.

Who can be sure, for example, that what happened to Japan and Germany during WWII, where people like Adolf Eichmann (1906-62) and Tōjō Hideki (1884-1948) went about their work calmly and confidently organizing massacres as if they were harvesting cabbage, will not happen again. Under a state of exception, when the constitution is repeatedly ignored, powerful officials are often in a position where they are able to say with a straight face that they are just following orders. No illegal acts are committed because the constitution is no longer in effect. In the case of Japan now, coronavirus justice depends solely on the judgment of a small number of individuals, primarily the prime minister and the regional governors.

Governors can “request” a state of emergency for their prefecture from the prime minister. The way this process seems to work is that the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare distributes information to prefectural government offices and, based on that information, if the number of COVID-19 cases is sufficiently large, governors single-handedly make a decision to request a state of emergency for their region from the prime minister. If the prime minister is convinced (as he always is), he complies with the governor’s request and issues a state of emergency for that prefecture. It is a win-win situation for the prime minister and the governors. This system of declaring states of emergency empowers governors of regions with large case numbers, including ultranationalists like Tokyo Governor Koiki Yuriko and Osaka Governor Yoshimura Hirofumi (who has been likened to Adolf Hitler), not only liberals like Aichi Governor Ōmura Hideaki and Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny. This overly empowers a small number of elite officials; encourages unconstitutional and undemocratic governance; and hurts the lives of many people, such as those working in the restaurant industry.

The lawyers group JFBA predicted the last problem. Governors, with the cooperation of the prime minister, can force business operators to “change their operating hours or take other measures and, in the event of non-compliance with the order,” they “can impose petty fines and publicize the fact of having issued the request and order,” which hurts the reputation of the business operator/owner.

There is a lack of regulation of governors as they punish businesses for not cooperating with their biosecurity protocols. The JFBA explains that the law does not provide clear criteria for issuing the request or order, “while the scope of the authority granted to the prefectural governors is quite extensive.”

Such orders from governors can cause “immediate” and “grave” consequences, they warn, for people who work at businesses operating under severe conditions, and those people could “lose their livelihood or even their lives.” They emphasize the difficult situation that restaurant owners find themselves in:

The businesses involved in dine-in food service or serving alcoholic beverages, namely the major target of the request/order, are not engaged in operations which are harmful in themselves. It is too cruel to require them to change operating hours (which could be critical to their trade), etc. only because there are risks of spreading infection in food and drink establishments regardless of how hard they try to contain it. If such request or order is due, it must be combined with the necessary and adequate compensation defined in the Constitution of Japan as “just compensation there for” for businesses that are affected.

What compensation will be given to affected businesses has not been spelled out and, in the future, governors could theoretically lash out at certain persons in an arbitrary and unjust way, e.g., attacking the restaurants that are on the side of their personal enemies or political opponents. Orders from governors could impinge on the rights of business owners to provide products and services. “Additionally, the indifferent issuance and publicizing of the request/order may produce unjustifiable reputational damage or discrimination and prejudice, and entails violations of the business operators’ honor, right to privacy, and freedom of business.” For restaurant owners, employees, and many others, the new emphasis on hygiene, sanitization, and biosecurity presents them with the danger of worsened health, stigmatization, and the loss of human rights. One person’s safety is another person’s danger.

Tokyo Governor Koike has, in fact, already ordered four restaurants to pay 250,000 yen (USD $2,000) fines for refusing to shorten their business hours, which they were ordered to do under her state of emergency. While it may be fine to call Japan’s biosecurity policies “lockdown lite,” these fines demonstrate that the Special Measures Law does have legal teeth in it. In the words of the JFBA, this law grants “broad authority to the prefectural governors for the purposes of containing the spread of COVID-19.” According to Japan’s constitution, people have the right to work (Article 27) and the right to own property (Article 29). Article 31 states that “no person shall be deprived of life or liberty, nor shall any other criminal penalty be imposed, except according to procedure established by law.” Under Article 21 Japanese are also supposed to enjoy the right of assembly and association. One could argue that the rights of the above four restaurant owners have been violated.

The political scientist and activist Douglas Lummis has underscored how dear the Constitution has been to the hearts of millions of people throughout the Archipelago of Japan:

Under the protection of the human rights provisions of the Constitution, Japan developed a politically active civil society, and this civil society in turn made protection, or better, full realization of the Constitution its principal piece of business. The country’s ruling elites made the amendment of Article 9 and the remilitarization of the country its first goal as far back as the 1950s; the civil society has so far prevented this. If the Constitution was not legitimized by the Diet vote in 1947, it surely was legitimized in the decades of struggle by the civil society to preserve it.

One of the most dramatic examples was the 1960 US-Japan Security Treaty Uprising (or “Anpō” protests. “By the time the protests climaxed in June 1960, an estimated 30 million people—about one-third of Japan’s population at the time—participated in some manner in cities, villages, and towns all across the nation”). These were protests for peace and the sovereignty of the people, against the US-Japan Security Treaty, which is the treaty that continues to this day to allow the U.S. to station troops on Japanese soil.

Peace-loving people and others throughout the Archipelago have often brought out the best in the Constitution, using it during the three quarters of a century since it was promulgated to build a foundation of peace, democracy, and human rights. Now the question is, “Will Japanese civil society stay strong, maintain a ‘politically active civil society,’ and continue to breathe life into the Constitution? Or, does the Constitution have one foot in the grave already?” For the sake of the people of East Asia and future generations of Japanese, let us hope that the former is true, that Asō Tarō’s ultranationalist dream of the death of the Peace Constitution does not occur. He was ignorantly but cunningly plotting for its death on 29 July 2013 when speaking before an ultranationalist audience: “It should be done quietly. One day everybody woke up and found that the Weimar Constitution had been changed, replaced by the Nazi Constitution. It changed without anyone noticing. Maybe we could learn from that. No hullabaloo.”

Lummis points out Asō’s ignorance: “The Weimar Constitution was never amended by the Nazis; the Nazis did not take over the government ‘quietly’.” Indeed, it was not “amended.” It was state-of-exceptionized. It is not necessarily true “that the LDP is aiming for a Nazi-type regime. They have their own, local, model for authoritarian government: the Japanese government as it was before 1945.” It is an undemocratic and militarist past that nobody in East Asia except former colonizers and colonizer-collaborators looks back on with nostalgia.

Many thanks to Olivier Clarinval for answering several questions about how current government health policies in the Global North are threatening democracy.

The post Annihilating the Virus Enemy in Japan first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Fukushima Takes a Turn for the Worse

Tokyo Electric Power Company-TEPCO- has been attempting to decommission three nuclear meltdowns in reactors No. 1 No. 2, and No. 3 for 11 years now. Over time, impossible issues grow and glow, putting one assertion after another into the anti-nuke coffers.

The problems, issues, enormous danger, and ill timing of deconstruction of a nuclear disaster is always unexpectedly complicated by something new. That’s the nature of nuclear meltdowns, aka: China Syndrome debacles.

As of today, TEPCO is suffering some very serious setbacks that have “impossible to deal with” written all over the issues.

Making all matters nuclear even worse, which applies to the current mess at Fukushima’s highly toxic scenario, Gordon Edwards’ following statement becomes more and more embedded in nuclear lore: “It’s impossible to dispose of nuclear waste.” 1

Disposing of nuclear waste is like “running in place” to complete a marathon. There’s no end in sight.

As a quickie aside from the horrendous details of the current TEPCO debacle, news from Europe brings forth the issue of nuclear power emboldened as somehow suitable to help the EU transition to “cleaner power,” as described by EU sources. France supports the crazed nuke proposal but Germany is holding its nose. According to German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke: “Nuclear energy could lead to environmental disasters and large amounts of nuclear waste. 2   Duh!

Minister Lemke nailed it. And, TEPCO is living proof (barely) of the unthinkable becoming thinkable and disastrous for humanity. Of course, meltdowns are never supposed to happen, but they do.

One meltdown is like thousands of industrial accidents in succession over generations of lifetimes. What a mess to leave for children’s children’s children over several generations. They’ll hate you for this!

In Fukushima’s case, regarding three nuclear power plants that melted all-the-way (China Syndrome), TEPCO still does not know how to handle the enormously radioactive nuclear fuel debris, or corium, sizzling hot radioactive lumps of melted fuel rods and container material in No. 1, No 2 and No.3, They’re not even 100% sure where all of the corium is and whether it’s getting into underground water resources. What a disaster that would be… what if it is already… Never mind.

The newest wrinkle at TEPCO involves the continuous flow of water necessary to keep the destroyed reactors’ hot stuff from exposure to air, thus spreading explosively red-hot radioactivity across the countryside. That constant flow of water is an absolute necessity to prevent an explosion of all explosions, likely emptying the streets of Tokyo in a mass of screaming, kicking, and trampling event to “get out of town” ASAP, commonly known as “mass evacuation.”

The cooling water continuously poured over the creaky dilapidated ruins itself turns radioactive, almost instantaneously, and must be processed via an Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) to remove most radioactive materials (???) housed in a 17-meter (56 feet) tall building on the grounds of the disaster zone.

Here’s the new big danger:  as it processes radioactive contaminated water, it flushes out “slurry” of highly concentrated radioactive material that has to go somewhere. But where to put it?

How to handle and dispose of the radioactive slurry from the ALPS is almost and, in fact, may be, an impossible quagmire. It’s a big one as the storage containers for the tainted slurry quickly degrade because of the high concentration of radioactive slurry. These storage containers of highly radioactive slurry, in turn, have to be constantly replaced as the radioactivity slurry eats away at the containers’ liners.

Radioactive slurry is muddy and resembles a shampoo in appearance, and it contains highly radioactive Strontium readings that reach tens of millions of Becquerel’s per cubic centimeter. Whereas, according to the EPA, 148 Becquerel’s per cubic meter, not centimeter, is the safe level for human exposure. Thus, tens of millions per cubic centimeter is “off the charts” dangerous! Instant death, as one cubic meter equals one million cubic centimeters. Ahem!

Since March 2013, TEPCO has accumulated 3,373 special vessels that hold these highly toxic radioactive slurry concentrations. But, because the integrity of the vessels deteriorates so quickly, the durability of the containers reaches a limit, meaning the vessels will need replacement by mid 2025.

Making matters ever worse, if that is possible, the NRA has actually accused TEPCO of “underestimating the impact issue of the radioactivity on the containers linings,” claiming TEPCO improperly measured the slurry density when conducting dose evaluations. Whereas, the density level is always highest at the bottom, not the top where TEPCO did the evaluations, thus failing to measure and report the most radioactive of the slurry. Not a small error.

As of June 2021, NRA’s own assessment of the containers concluded that 31 radioactive super hot containers had already reached the end of operating life. And, another 56 would need replacement within the next 2 years.

Transferring slurry is a time-consuming highly dangerous horrific job, which exposes yet a second issue of unacceptable risks of radioactive substances released into the air during transfer of slurry. TEPCO expects to open and close the transfers remotely (no surprise there). But, TEPCO, as of January 2, 2022, has not yet revealed acceptable plans for dealing with the necessary transfer of slurry from weakening, almost deteriorated containers, into fresh, new containers. 3

Meanwhile, additional batches of a massive succession of containers that must be transferred to new containers will be reaching the end of shelf life, shortly.

Another nightmarish problem has surfaced for TEPCO. Yes, another one. In the aftermath of the 2011 blowup, TEPCO stored radioactive water in underground spaces below two buildings near reactor No.4. Bags of a mineral known as zeolite were placed to absorb cesium. Twenty-six tons (52,000 lbs.) of bags are still immersed with radiation readings of 4 Sieverts per hour, enough to kill half of all workers in the immediate vicinity within one hour. The bags need to be removed.

TEPCO intends to robotically start removing the highly radioactive bags, starting in 2023, but does not know where the bags should be stored. Where do you store radioactive bags containing enough radioactive power to kill someone within one hour of exposure?

Additionally (there’s more) the amount of radioactive rubble, soil, and felled trees at the plant site totals 480,000 cubic meters, as of 2021. TEPCO is setting up a special incinerator to dispose of this. Where to dispose of the incinerated waste is unknown. This is one more add-on to the horrors of what to do with radioactive material that stays hot for centuries upon centuries. Where to put it?

Where to put it? Which is the bane of the nuclear power industry. For example, America’s nuke plants are full of huge open pools of water containing tons of spent nuclear fuel rods. If exposed to open air, spent fuel rods erupt into a sizzling zirconium fire followed by massive radiation bursts of the most toxic material known to humanity. It can upend an entire countryside and force evacuation of major cities.

According to the widely recognized nuclear expert Paul Blanch: “Continual storage in spent fuel pools is the most unsafe thing you could do.” 4

It’s not just Fukushima that rattles the nerves of people who understand the high risk game of nuclear power. America is loaded with nuclear power plants with open pools of water that hold highly radioactive spent fuel rods.

What to do with it?

  1. Gordon Edwards in The Age of Nuclear Waste From Fukushima to Indian Point.
  2. “EU Plans to Label Gas and Nuclear Energy ‘Green’ Prompts Row”, BBC News, January 2, 2022.
  3. “TEPCO Slow to Respond to Growing Crisis at Fukushima Plant”, The Asahi Shimbun, January 2, 2022.
  4. “Nuclear Fuel Buried 108 Feet from the Sea”, March 19, 2021.
The post Fukushima Takes a Turn for the Worse first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Japan’s Upcoming Nuclear Waste Dump

Nuclear waste is an interminable curse that eternally haunts the future of civilization for hundreds/thousands of years.

The challenge of making nuclear power safer doesn’t end after the power has been generated. Nuclear fuel remains dangerously radioactive for thousands of years after it is no longer useful in a commercial reactor.1

There are 440 nuclear power plants in the world, all of which use nuclear fission, prompting one simple question: Is the process of generating heat via nuclear fission with a byproduct of extremely toxic radioactive waste lasting hundreds, or more, years for purposes of simply “boiling water” the epitome of human stupidity?

In April 2021, the Japanese government announced its decision to discharge nuclear waste from Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean via a sub-seabed pipeline. At least 1.2 million tons of tritium-laced toxic water will be discharged.

As it happens, nuclear powers of the world regularly dump nuclear waste into the ocean in violation of the London Convention (1972) and the London Protocol (1996), which are the two principal international agreements against dumping nuclear waste into the oceans. But, they get around the rules by dumping under the cover of “detailed environmental impact assessments.”

The last known “deliberate nuclear waste dumping into the ocean,” outside of the “good graces” of what the industry refers to as “detailed environmental impact assessments” that somehow (questionably, mysteriously, are you kidding me!) seem to justify dumping toxic nuclear waste was October 1993 when the Russian navy illegally dumped 900 tons of nuclear waste into international waters off the coast of Vladivostok near Japan and Korea. Moscow claimed they were running out of storage space and that “radioactive waste is not hazardous and the dumping would be according to international norms.” Sound familiar?

In 1993 Japan called the Russian dumping “extremely regrettable.” Yet, at the time, Tokyo Electric Power Company was itself discharging radioactivity into the ocean. At the time, Japanese power stations were allowed to dump nuclear waste into the ocean based upon “detailed environmental impact assessments.” (OMG is this real?) 2

Jinzaburo Takagi, a physicist working with the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre in Tokyo, says: ‘If the Russians had done an impact assessment for their dumping, it would have proved safer than the Japanese power plants.’ He says local authorities in Japan have measured elevated levels of radionuclides in shellfish and seaweed near the nuclear plants. If the Japanese criticize Russian dumping, says Takagi, ‘then they will have to abandon the option of dumping nuclear waste,((Ibid.))

The abovementioned series of conflicting events surrounding disposal of nuclear waste brings to mind the complexity and hypocrisy that runs throughout the nuclear industry. It stems from the hideous fact that the industry does not know what to do with radioactive waste, which is the most toxic material on the face of the planet; they do make up weird excuses and protocols to actually dump the toxic material into international waters. Not only that, but, as mentioned in the quoted article above, “local authorities in Japan have measured elevated levels of radionuclides in shellfish and seaweed near the nuclear plants.” That’s a prime example of human insanity at work. And, that was 30 years ago, but it’s a safe bet that it’s the same today.

The bitter truth is that the citizens of the world are stuck with nuclear power and its offbeat craziness and its horrific potential destructiveness because the major powers have it and want to keep it.

Greenpeace has experts with “boots-on-the-ground” at Fukushima since the beginning. Here’s Greenpeace’s take on the situation, as of recent:

There are many technical and radiological reasons to be opposed to discharging Fukushima waste water into the Pacific Ocean. And Greenpeace East Asia has reported on these and continues to investigate. But the decision also affects you on a fundamental level. It should rightly trigger an outrage. In the 21st century, when the world’s oceans are already under the most severe threats including the climate and biodiversity emergencies, a decision by any government to deliberately contaminate the Pacific with radioactivity because it’s the least cost/cheapest option when there are clear alternatives seems so perverse. That it is Japan, given its historical role in securing the prohibition on nuclear dumping in the London Convention and London Protocol, makes it all the more tragic. 3

Further to the point of the future impact of dumping toxic radioactive water from TEPCO’s storage water tanks into the Pacific Ocean: Tsinghua University analyzed the diffusion process of the treated Fukushima contaminated water to be discharged into the ocean from 2023 onward. The results show that the tritium, which is the main pollutant, will spread to the whole of the North Pacific in 1200 days. 4

The Tsinghua University analysis went on to discuss the risks, stating:

Large amounts of radionuclides can affect marine biological chains and adversely influence marine fisheries and human health. The global effects of Fukushima discharge, which will last 30 to 40 years, remain unknown.

As stated by Tsinghua, the pollutants will reach as far as the coast of North America to the east and as far as Australia to the south. Eventually, the South Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean (2400 days) will be affected. On day 3600 the pollutants will cover almost the entire Pacific Ocean.

According to a UN news release d/d April 2021:

Three independent UN human rights experts expressed deep regret on Thursday over Japan’s decision to discharge potentially still radioactive Fukushima nuclear plant water into the ocean, warning that it could impact millions across the Pacific region.

The experts call the decision by Japan “very concerning,”

Moreover, according to the UN:

While Japan said that the tritium levels are very low and do not pose a threat to human health, scientists warn that in the water, the isotope organically binds to other molecules, moving up the food chain affecting plants and fish and humans.

Moreover, they say the radioactive hazards of tritium have been underestimated and could pose risks to humans and the environment for over 100 years.

  1. Nuclear Waste, Union of Concerned Scientists, April 22, 2016.`
  2. “Nuclear Dumping at Sea Goads Japan Into Action”, NewScientist, November 6, 1993.
  3. Shaun Burnie, The Japanese Government and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster – History Repeating Itself? Greenpeace, November 17, 2021.
  4. “Tracking Contaminated Water From The Fukushima Nuclear Accident”, Phys.org, December 2, 2021.
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Significant Changes of Direction by the West in Relation to China

Two recent articles have recently appeared in the Russian journal Strategic Culture that point to significant changes that are occurring among western nations toward Russia and China. These changes have been in the wind for some time but in recent months the tempo has accelerated. Both Russia and China are pointing the way to a new system, the ramifications of which will have extraordinary effects on the geopolitical world.

The first of these articles was written by Finian Cunningham and appeared in Strategic Culture on 13 October. The article “Veering to the Abyss … U.S. and Allies are Intellectually Comatose” is based on an interview that Mr Cunningham did with the American academic Professor Michael Brenner.

Professor Brenner commences his argument by pointing to what he calls an abject failure of political leadership and strategic thinking. This failure is most clearly seen with regard to Washington’s persistent antagonism towards China and its inability to conduct meaningful dialogue and diplomacy with Beijing for the purpose of resolving major issues.

The situation is so dire in Professor Brenner’s view that what he calls a lamentable lack of strategic and political thinking by the United States is driving the rest of the world to an abyss.

Brenner says that “any description of a coherent strategic design to the Biden administration is misplaced.” Rather, he sees Biden’s control over his national security team as tenuous. United States officials such as secretary of state Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan as being unanimous in their view that China is a lethal threat to American dominance. These two see a confrontational approach as being the only logical response to China’s growth.

Washington thinks only in terms of a coercive mindset because that is the only concept that they are capable of. The only way this can be resolved is for the United States to take responsibility for the deteriorating relationship between the two countries.

Brenner points to the recent development of the AUKUS (Australia, United Kingdom and the United States) as a political gesture that is designed to achieve two ends: first, to place an immediate obstacle in the way of Sino-Australian relations, and second, to tighten the United States grasp on Canberra’s foreign policy options in the Asia Pacific region.

He describes the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as someone who is just posturing, Brenner is not the first person to point out that there will be economic losses as a consequence of Australia’s posture toward China. It is difficult to understand how Australia could, in fact, follow a foreign policy that is so detrimental to its economic relationship with China, which is far and away its biggest trading partner. One of the alarming features is that Morrison’s suicidal conduct toward trading relationships with China has had so little effect on his popularity. The Australian media has played a major role in not alerting the readership to the economic dangers of Australia’s blind adherence to American foreign policy wishes with regard to China.

An even more significant point than the deteriorating relationship between China and Australia is Brenner’s acknowledgement of the fundamental change in Japan’s relationship with China, that he describes as a 90° shift in its attitude. He referred to the recent meeting of the presidents of the two countries where they agreed to pursue “constructive and stable relations” based on an increased dialogue.

The second article worthy of mention is an editorial which appeared in Strategic Culture on 15 October entitled “Best Laid Plans… Washington’s Zero-Sum Mindset Alienates Allies.” The editors of Strategic Culture see the consequences of Washington’s Cold War style confrontational policy towards China as being responsible for an ever-growing rift with United States’ allies in both Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. This was evident during the G-20 and ASEAN discussions both held this week where numerous countries expressed their deep misgivings about Washington’s relentless push for divisive relationships with China.

These allies were caught totally unaware by the formation earlier this month of the new tripartite relationship between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS). This development completely blindsided the United States’ European allies.

It is not too difficult to see the reasons for Europe’s alarm over any deterioration in a relationship with China. China is now their most important trading partner, having recently overtaken the United States in that role. Germany, which is the most important economy in the European context, is now heavily dependent on China’s market. The Germans would clearly resist any attempts by the Americans to diminish China’s important role in their trading relationship.

The editorial also observes that many Asian nations have also become alarmed by Washington’s Cold War activism towards China.  Although several of the ASEAN nations have a dispute with China over access to what they regarded as territorial waters, that is a dispute that is being resolved by consultations between the parties, which is a classic Asian means of resolving difficulties between parties.

In what has become a rather tiresome repetition, the United States talks about upholding what they are pleased to call the “rules based international order.” This is a particularly tiresome phrase for many countries who distinguish the so-called rules based international order from the long-standing and well-established system of international law. These countries correctly recognise the rules based international order as simply a device whereby the Americans and their allies impose their view of what they want to see happen upon the rest of the world. It is in short simply another means of seeking to maintain their dominance over others.

Strategic Culture concludes by saying that the world is ineluctably diverging from the United States and that is because the world is now finding that American power is the fundamental irreconcilable problem, rather than a solution.

These two articles are important because they highlight what is a fundamental trend in world geopolitics. That is that the world is moving away from a framework constructed by the United States and which dominated for much of the post-World War II period. As such it is a trend to be encouraged.

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China and Japan Show Signs of a Closer Relationship

When Japan selected its new prime minister Fumio Kishida on 4 October 2021, there were concerns that his known conservative views did not augur well for Japan’s relationship with China. Thus far, however, those fears appear to have been overly pessimistic. Four days ago on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Japan formal diplomatic ties, the Japanese Prime Minister telephoned his Chinese counterpart.

By all accounts, the conversation was very friendly. For his part Xi noted that Japan and China were close neighbours and he cited an ancient Chinese saying that good neighbourliness is a treasure of a country. He made the point that the development of friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries is in line with the fundamental interests of both countries and their people, and also conducive to Asian and even global peace, stability and prosperity.

Xi Jinping’s comments to his Japanese counterpart were notable for the positive spin he placed on the relationship, highlighting the potential that existed between both countries to benefit from cordial relations. And in what has become a trademark of Xi’s approach to international relations, he stressed that both should seek a “win-win” approach to their relationship. They should practice true multilateralism, carry forward the East Asian wisdom of seeking harmony without uniformity and work together to coordinate their response to global challenges.

For his part, Kishida extended his congratulations on China’s National Day. He said that under the current international and regional circumstances Japan-China relations were entering a new era. He expressed Japan’s willingness to work with China in the new era that their relationship was entering. He saw the 50th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic relations as an opportunity to make a joint effort in building a constructive and stable relationship between the two countries.

Kishida stressed that the two sides should manage their differences through dialogue. He said that Japan was ready to work with China to continuously strengthen economic co-operation. He saw merit in continuously strengthening people to people exchanges. Potential also existed in working together on issues such is the response to COVID 19 and also climate change.

Both leaders expressed the view that the conversation was both important and timely. They agreed to continue their interaction through various means to ensure that their relationship continued in the right direction.

This may be seen as a remarkable event on a number of bases. The relationship between Japan and China has not been an easy one. Part of this has been the influence of the United States, whose hostility to China has a long history. The United States has asserted an enormous influence on Japan since the end of World War II. Today there are still approximately 80,000 United States troops stationed in Japan, about 2/3 of whom are on the island of Okinawa.

This presence is extraordinary. It is more than 75 years since the end of World War II and yet one of the victorious powers in that war, the United States, continues to occupy the defeated Japanese long after any possible basis for the occupation ceased. The Japanese economy has been strong and today it remains the world’s third largest economy. Its constitution prohibits the formulation of belligerent forces, and even if it did, it is difficult to imagine modern Japan having any belligerent attitudes to its neighbours. Japan has created an extremely modern economy and in most respects is superior to that of its American equivalents.

On the face of it there is no legitimate basis for the continued occupation of the country by an extensive United States occupying force. The reason is not difficult to conceive. For the United States, Japan provides a series of major bases, home to 80,000+ troops, located in proximity to China.

The United States’ hostility to China is the overwhelming reason for their continued occupation, in much the same way that the presence of United States troops in Germany is linked to their hostility to Russia.  Mr Kishida’s discussions with the Chinese president, and the expressions of friendship and hopes for improved relationships are therefore highly significant.

There have been other moves taken that signify a different and better relationship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China. China is now Japan’s largest trading partner.  Total trade last year amounted to more than $350 billion. The nature of the relationship between Japan and China, as exemplified by Mr Kishida’s remarks, makes a continuation of that relationship a strong likelihood of continued growth.

In the light of these developments, it is all the more curious that Japan has allowed itself to be a part of the so-called Quad of nations, along with the United States, India and Australia, that is manifestly anti-China in its intentions and outlook. The inclusion of India in this group is also extremely odd. India has a long-established relationship with Russia, and in 2017 became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Notwithstanding some border disputes with China, that country in 2020 became India’s largest trading partner.

The formation of the AUKUS group of nations this year would have given both India and Japan pause to consider just how sincere the United States is in its QUAD relationship. Manifestly, the existence of this group does nothing for the relationship of either Japan or India with China.

The challenge for Mr Kishida will be to develop further his country’s relationship with China in the face of what will obviously be United States hostility and every attempt being made by the United States to undermine any moves towards deeper cooperation between Japan and China. The contact between Kishida and Xi and the sentiments expressed by both men as quoted above clearly signal that the Japanese are intent on moving beyond the Cold War mantra that marked the attitude and behaviour of Kishida’s predecessors.

The reaction of the Americans to these moves by Japan to approve its relationship with China will be interesting. It is a safe bet that the move towards improving the relationship will not be welcomed by the Americans. There has thus far been no overt United States response to the Kishida-Xi telephone call, although it is a safe bet that they would not have been happy with the cordiality of the meeting and the positive public comments of both the Japanese and Chinese leaders.

Perhaps the Americans feel that the large number of troops that remain in Japan, and the acquiescence of previous Japanese leaders to United States wishes on the China relationship will sufficiently hamper Kishida from giving effect to the sentiments he expressed in the conversation with Xi.  In that they are almost certainly mistaken. For the first time in decades the Japanese are actually looking to Japan’s vital interests rather than being an echo chamber for United States’ interests.

As such, the election of Mr Kishida may be yet another signal that the situation in East Asia continues to alter radically. It is a development that will make the Americans unhappy, but it is a sign that the political landscape is undergoing inexorable change.

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