Release of Fukushima wastewater threatens workers

We reprint below an article by Otis Grotewohl, originally published in Workers World, about the Japanese government’s release of wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the Pacific Ocean.

Otis notes that, while the government in Tokyo has claimed the process is safe, many people are skeptical, including the Japanese opposition parties, fishermen, local residents and environmental campaigners. Greenpeace Japan states that Tokyo’s decision “disregards scientific evidence, violates the human rights of communities in Japan and the Pacific region, and is non-compliant with international maritime law.”

The Chinese government has announced a ban on imports of Japanese seafood in response to the discharge. Japan, in league with the US and other imperialist powers, is now criticizing China for this ban and for spreading disinformation. “Just as the Japanese government and its Western enablers accuse China of ‘disinformation,’ the capitalist rulers of Washington and Tokyo are waging a major public relations campaign to convince people in the region that seafood from the Pacific Ocean will still be safe to consume after the release of wastewater.”

As Otis points out, the Japanese government’s action is a threat to the health and safety of people in the region, and is being carried out solely in accordance with “the material needs and desires of the employing class.” China meanwhile has taken a clear lead on renewable energy and biodiversity, and is advocating for the interests of ordinary people both in China and throughout the region.

“Anyone concerned with the well-being of humanity and our ecosystem should defend China and stand in solidarity with workers in the Asia-Pacific region who are being threatened with a polluted ocean, poisoned water and contaminated seafood.”

The Japanese government began releasing wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Aug. 24. The controversial move has angered workers throughout the region, sparking numerous protests in South Korea, China and Japan.

Following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 — which destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulting in three nuclear meltdowns, three hydrogen explosions and a release of radioactive contaminants — the nuclear company Tepco started pumping in water to cool down the reactors’ fuel rods. 

Radioactive wastewater has been added to tanks every day since then, and more than 1,000 tanks have been filled. The government of Tokyo argues the process is “no longer sustainable” to maintain and promises people that “after treatment and dilution the ‘water is safe to release.’” (BBC, Aug. 24) Many people in the area are understandably skeptical.

More than a million metric tonnes of water stored at the nuclear plant is expected to be discharged over the next 30 years, and there are mixed feelings among scientists about this. Among those who are most supportive of Japan’s plan is the United Nations nuclear “watchdog” known as the International Atomic Energy Agency. Many more people oppose the plan, especially environmentalists and workers in the fishing industry who are familiar with the Pacific Ocean.

Continue reading Release of Fukushima wastewater threatens workers

Is Japan once again treading the path of aggressive militarism?

We are pleased to publish the below article about the dangers of revived Japanese militarism, and its historical antecedents, which has been submitted to us by James De Burghe, a British socialist long resident in the People’s Republic of China.

James outlines how Shinzo Abe, a former Japanese Prime Minister assassinated in 2022, imbibed far-right, racist and militarist views from his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who had been in charge of economic policy when the Japanese occupied northeast China. Initially imprisoned as a class A war criminal by the American occupation authorities after Japan’s defeat in World War 2, he was soon released in order to play a key part in setting up the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has largely dominated Japanese politics ever since, eventually serving as Prime Minister, 1957-1960.

Abe, who served as Prime Minister from 2006-2007 and again from 2012-2020, followed in the same path as his notorious grandparent, controversially revising school textbooks, declining to apologize for – or even acknowledge – Japanese war crimes, and seeking to repeal or revise Article 9, the supposed ‘peace clause’ of the post-war Japanese constitution.

These revanchist policies are now being pursued with a vengeance under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, leading to fraught relations with Japan’s neighbors, along with increasing resistance from people at home.

There are alarming signs that Japan is once again drifting towards becoming a fascist-led aggressive militaristic state. The legacy of Nobusuke Kishi has borne fruit through the efforts of his grandson, Shinzo Abe, who was Japanese Prime Minister from 2006–2007 and 2012–2020.     

Nobusuke Kishi was the minister who ran Japan’s economic policy in Japanese-occupied Manchuria from 1937 to 1940. He was a convinced supporter of the Yamato race theory that proclaimed Japan as a racially superior nation.  Kishi had nothing but contempt for the Chinese as a people, and he regarded them as “dogs – that need to be trained to obey us without question”. His brutal policies led directly to the deaths of thousands of Chinese civilians forced to work a 120-hour week at gunpoint for meagre food rations. There was no attempt to make working conditions safe, and many slave laborers perished through accidents with molten metals. Thousands more perished from starvation and disease or were executed. Kishi believed there was no point to establishing the rule of law in Manchukuo (as the Japanese called north east China when it was under their occupation) – instead brute force was what was needed to maintain Japanese control.

Continue reading Is Japan once again treading the path of aggressive militarism?