3/11:The Fallout

3/11:The Fallout
Just what the heck is going on?

Monday, 25 November 2013

Official Secrets

You're probably reading this because of the links on Facebook and Twitter (if not, the introduction/explanation is below, in 'Forbidden Colors').  If you're worried or angry about what 's happening around you, you might think - "Sure, but what can I do about it? I feel so helpless. I live in Japan and if I speak out too much about this, I might lose my job."

Yes, we know that. "Gaijin" in Japan are supposed to behave like friendly, bumbling tourist stereotypes. The Japanese line up the hoops and then expect us to jump though them like good little lapdogs. Well, consider this; you can become fluent in japanese, you can work hard, do your best, cultivate good friendships, but at the end of the day, you will STILL have your job taken away when you have outlived your usefulness, because you are an outsider and you always will be. Don't kid yourself that you have integrated yourself into society, becuase you haven't.  

Therefore, if you have want to stop feeling helpless and afraid, Excalibur has three recomendations;

1) If you're a Gaijin resident in Japan, begin your individual campaign of civil disobedience. Refuse to pay your local tax, refuse to pay your electricity bill, refuse to cooperate with police officers or government officials, if necessary refuse to speak the local language. If you can't refuse, try to make as much disruption and inconvenience as you can while engaging with bureaucracy. You might think you have too much to lose by becoming a troublemaker  - really, you haven't.

2)  If you're a foreign national planning to come to Japan to live, work or study, please reconsider your decision. Perhaps you don't know what you're letting yourself in for. Perhaps you think you know how this country works; you're mistaken. 

3)  If you're young, Japanese, and reading this, consider studying or working abroad. Start making your arrangements to leave, and start choosing a destination that's right for you. This is not a country for young people.

4) Lastly, please buy a copy of "3/11: The Fallout". The link to Amazon is here. This book offers practical advice on what to do if you find yourself in the middle of a natural disaster, and raises funds for the homeless families in Tohoku (yes, that's right. They're still homeless. This is Japan, and nobody wants to take responsibilty for rehousing them - what else did you expect?)

You can choose to ignore this post, to laugh at it, to leave comments below or not, to buy the book or not. The choice is yours. It always has been.

We are Excalibur. You will hear from us again soon.

Forbidden Colors

On 25th November 1970, right-wing novelist Yukio Mishima was the last person to commit the ritual samurai suicide known as 'Seppuku'. He drove into the SDF army garrison at Ichigaya, Tokyo with his gang of private bodyguards (known as the Shield Society), took the commanding officer hostage, and called on the troops present to overthrow the government and return Japan to 'traditional discipline and values'.
Mishima's attempted coup failed, but forty-three years later, we have a similar situation - less dramatic, but infinitely more dangerous.

This week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is rushing new State Secrecy legislation through  the Lower House with no referendum, no public debate, and hardly any press coverage. It will give the government further powers to arrest and imprison anyone who disagrees with what the Government is trying to do.
Most of the bill's contents are preoccupied with the security of the nuclear power industry, because a) Abe wants to switch the atomic plants back on as quickly as possible and b) he wants the power to eliminate whistle blowers who try to warn the public of existing safety problems.
Why the big hurry to restart the nuclear program, while the Fukushima plant is still in such a fragile condition?
Because Japan has almost no fossil fuels of its own. It has deliberately neglected research into renewable energy sources because it's been in bed with the nuclear lobbyists for decades. Since 3/11. Japan has been importing energy, which has inceased its trade deficit (it has the world's largest national debt at one quadrillion yen - that's USD 10.5 trillion). This is crippling Abe's attempts at economic revival. In a situation like this, any country has two choices; generate the power at home (nuclear power being the only option) or go and get the reserves from elsewhere. 
This second choice has caused the current territorial dispute with China concerning the uninhabited Senkaku Islands and the oil and gas reserves said to lie beneath them. On 22nd November, China announced an "air defense identification zone" covering the disputed islands, bringing Japan and China one step closer to armed conflict.
In the current Parliamentary sessions, Abe is overtly attacking three pillars of Japanese democracy: the 1946 Constitution which renounces war, the education law which puts a curb on nationalism, and the security treaty with the United States. Two of his allies are the Shinto Association of Political Leadership, and the Shinto Political Alliance Diet Members’ Association, which are determined to restore “traditional Japanese spiritual values.”
By “traditional Shinto”, of course, they mean the early 20th Century.  If we go back a couple of thousand years to the origins of Shinto, we find it was an animist, nature-based faith similar to Celtic Paganism. Shinto taught every material thing, every tree, every stone, every river, held a spark of the divine (a Kamisama) and the lives of human beings were linked to the earth by a system of festivals and ceremonies. The emphasis on the Emperor as religious and military head of state was only added recently, after the Meiji Restoration of 1868. 
 Now fast-forward to 2013, and ‘nature’ is as stunted as a bonsai tree, and rural Japan is covered from coast to coast by concrete roads and dams, overhead power lines, electrical pylons, and decaying farm buildings, creating one of the ugliest-looking countries in the world.
This rapid slide from conservatism to fascism was triggered by 3/11. It didn't start it, but it sure did accelerate it. Nobody can predict how such 3/11-style 'Black Swan' events (as they are called by economists) will affect the world in the future. The Philippines has suffered one of the most tragic and devastating typhoons in global history. The aftermath of Superstorm Sandy is a very real problem for many New Yorkers, one year on. Japan’s own coast has been hit by fatal storm surges in the past (which are separate from tsunamis), the last one being at Ise Bay in 1959. There is a very real possibility that you, the person reading this, will be caught up in a natural disaster at some point in the future - and then you'll find out whether the Government can help you or not.

If you're fine with that, or if you think Japan is such an insignificant nation that it doesn't matter what it gets up to, then stop reading now. If what you've read makes you concerned, or worried, then read the next blog post - titled "Official Secrets".  

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Fields of Fire

Do not be discouraged or deceived; Excalibur is still here. It has been increasingly difficult to continue the blog, and to be honest, we do not know how long we can keep going. Rest assured, however, we shall continue blogging when we can … until the end (whatever shape that end will take).

The eyes of the world this week is on the removal of the fuel rods. Due to international pressure, and Japan's grudging realization of the reality that they cannot do this on their own, the plant clean-up has become a global operation with foreign experts and equipment. This does not change the fact, however, that the removal of the fuel rods is going to be a logistical nightmare.

Fuel rod removal starts 

The situation of the Japanese government is that they are determined to resume nuclear power, and environment-destroying construction projects, because they believe it is the only way to save the economy. Most Japanese know deep in their hearts that this is  self-destructive path to take, but they are powerless to stop their own rulers, and so they adopt the feudal attitude of "follow the leader" because it is the path of least resistance. After all, if you simply do what your superior tells you to do, you don't have the burden of responsibility. PM Abe is keen to encourage this attitude when he revises the Constitution, because one of the changes he intends to make is to remove any mentions of civil rights.

 Conspicuous among its proposals is the deletion of almost all references to the universality of freedom, equality and human rights. 

Having said that, the Abe steamroller is not succeeding in crushing everything in its path. Some very high-profile celebrities have stood up and denounced the rush to switch the nuclear power plants back on. One of them is no less than Junichiro Koizumi, the most charismatic ex-Prime Minister in recent history.

Koizumi Vs. the Nuclear Village 

Also, a storm of publicity blew up when a junior politician took the unthinkable and unprecedented step of approaching the Emperor of japan and handing him a letter, which said something like "Dear Emperor, we're kind of worried about radioactive contamination. Maybe we could use a bit of help."

Letter to Emperor cause uproar

More news when  we get it.