Plato

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph. — Haile Selassie

If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. — Mel Thompson

Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything. — Alexander Hamilton

I just got back from seeing the photography exhibit by Ahn Sehong of Korean women who were used as sex slaves by the Japanese military, and were dumped on some barren field in China to fend off for themselves. Now in their 80′s and 90′s, Ahn Sehdong has captured their poverty and their sorrows in black-and-white images.

The exhibit is controversial in that right-wing Japanese are in denial about their shameful past. At the exhibit, they made a nuisance of themselves, speaking in loud voices and calling it “Korean propaganda.” One of them targeted a guard of Korean descent, and made faces at him showing hatred and anger. I admire the guard for keeping his dignity and not falling prey to the heckler’s aggression and provocations.

We had expected these right-wing hecklers to be the typical Japanese right-wingers: elderly, sometimes in military uniform, wearing a white band on the forehead or arm, and/or wearing some sort of military-looking cap on the head. But these were young people, so atypical right-winger, and we concluded that they were most probably paid to do an hour’s worth of heckling. We did notice one genuine protester, a man in his 60′s with a white band tied around each arm with an imprint of a red dot and some japanese characters. He spoke in a low voice to no one in particular. People around largely ignored him, but he was discretely and conspicuously protesting.

It is characteristic of the Japanese to shy away from controversy and anything that brings discomfort, and Nikon has reacted in typical Japanese form. Although Nikon had chosen to exhibit the works of Ahn Sehong, they have gone to court to have the exhibit terminated, bowing down to the heckling of right-wing illiterates.

We met with Ahn Sehdong before we left, congratulating him on his photo exhibit and encouraging him with our support in his endeavour to bring to the world’s attention, the plight of the Korean comfort women in China.

Ahn Sehong

Global Voices: Korean comfort woman photo exhibit sabotaged

Taiwan president Ma urges Japan to apologize for using sex slaves during WWII (10 December 2012)

Sixty-seven thousand five hundred tons — that is the amount of radioactive water at the Fukushima nuclear plant that somehow needs to be gotten rid of. As I understand it, this huge amount of radioactive water is located in the basements, hindering the engineers from getting to the generators (also located in the basements), that they would need to re-start in order to cool down the reactors. The TEPCO engineers have not been able to access the cooling systems since March 11, the day of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

Yesterday evening the 19th of April, the Chief Executive Officer of Areva, Anne Lauvergeon, came to Japan to especially announce at a press conference in Tokyo that they have come up with a solution to the crisis. They will build a machine, capable of decontaminating 50 tons of water an hour, enabling the recycling and reusing of this water to cool the reactors, and finally allowing access to the basement generators.

What seemed to me to be the light at the end of the tunnel, the break of dawn from the nightmare of hell… the hale-to-the-king moment … there was not one single word of the news conference mentioned in the major Japanese news sites (Kyodo and Japan Times). I found two posts that evening of this fantastic news, both of which were investment sites (the english-language Nikkei and the French Boursier).

So far, Japan’s solution had been to drop water into the reactors by helicopter. But what do they think this is? A forest fire? They also have had to dump radioactive water into the ocean to make way for more highly contaminated water. Now what sort of rocket science is that?

Japan should be rejoicing that a viable, practical, wonderful solution has been found. But perhaps Japan does not want to appear inadequate: 1. that it has had to have their major crisis solved by a foreigner, and 2. that that foreigner is a woman.

In a country known to relegate women to walk behind men, and in a country where the majority of the people are discreetly but intensely xenophobic, it is quite possible that the silence is a culturally induced face-saving measure.

Radioactive Water Treatment To Start As Early As May: Areva

Among all the Westerners in Japan, none were so unusually alarmed by the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reactor crisis than the French community in Tokyo. The first communique from the French Embassy reassured the people, telling them that the Japanese authorities have the situation in hand.

But then the media in France went into a frenzy, alarming the public about a meltdown and radioactive winds and more calamities. Frantic calls were made to relatives in Japan, and the French Embassy issued a second communique, stating that if it is unnecessary for you to be in Tokyo, they advise that you travel south of the archipelago or return to France.

Akin to a mass migration of lemmings, French people left the capital. Meanwhile, other Embassies, notably the English and the American, continued to reassure its nationals to go normally about their lives in Tokyo, and that they would be informed if there were other necessary steps to take.

We ask, who or what has set off the alarmist nature of Japan’s crisis, panicking the French people? Who would most benefit from this situation? Aside from the usual two-penny journalists who sensationalise the news in order to sell newspapers, I would put the blame on the Ecology or Green party and supporters thereof. They have the most to gain with fear-mongering in the news.

In their campaign to have nuclear energy eliminated from France, the Ecology Party and/or its supporters amplify the Fukushima crisis, without considering that this crisis was brought on by the unusual combination of earthquake and tsunami, two unforeseen natural calamities, and not by some human error or technological mishap, which would warrant an assessment.

One French journalist in Japan had posted on his Facebook wall that he had been directed to write this and that, and denies responsibility for the information. So based on this, can we say that the journalists write “news” to manipulate the opinions of the public to serve someone’s political agenda? He had also previously stated that “Westerners know more information than the Japanese,” a claim that is arrogant and unlikely to be true. It is his “feeders,” people with an agenda, supplying him with information and disinformation, true or baseless, with which public opinion will be manipulated with. If disinformation means “knowing more information than the Japanese,” he and similar journalists are mere ignorant pawns in the greater scheme of things, a boule de suif.

And so with exaggerated news alarming the electorate, Sarkozy wisely sent government planes to “evacuate” French nationals, further reinforcing the feeling of panic. But the majority of the French who were repatriated were not from the calamity-stricken area, but from a city 400km from the epicentre, infrastructure-wise unaffected by the earthquake nor the tsunami, and 250km far from Fukushima’s nuclear reactors, Tokyo.

While the ideals of the Ecology party may be commendable, their under-handed alarming of the public by sensationalising the news is contemptible. They may have captured the vote of the unsophisticated electorate, but with actions that are dishonourable.

Political agendas can serve both good and bad purposes, but there are also serious consequences wrought by the alarmist nature of the news of the events in Japan. For business enterprises that rely on good news and political-economical stability, the news-scares have literally scared off business in and with Japan. It is a collateral damage that is unfortunate but one where I would personally raise a fist to, at half-wit journalists and the media who do not intelligently assess information fed to them to print and disseminate to an unwary public.

So we read news that the radiation level in Tokyo following the nuclear plant explosions at Fukushima (explosion at nuclear reactor 1 occurred on Saturday, 12 March, the day after the earthquake-tsunami catastrophe; and a second explosion at nuclear reactor 3 occurred on 13 March, Sunday), has risen 20 times, but still at a safe level. The next questions that come to mind but are not expanded on by these journalists are: What is this level? What is the safe level? At what level is it not safe?

The exact units of measurement vary, but light radiation sickness begins at about 50–100 rad (0.5–1 gray (Gy), 0.5–1 Sv, 50–100 rem, 50,000–100,000 mrem). The SI unit of radiation dose equivalent is the sievert, 1/1000 of a rem (1 mrem = 0.01 mSv). — Wikipedia

At a facility in Shinjuku Ward, a maximum level of 0.809 microsievert was detected at around 10am, but the hourly level went down to 0.151 microsievert after 11am (16 March, Wednesday). These figures compare with 0.035 to 0.038 microsievert detected Monday (14 March). Fifty (50) microsieverts is absorbed when one takes a chest X-ray. — Japan Times

So when journalists say that the radiation level in Tokyo has increased 20 times but is not detrimental to your health, the “not detrimental to your health” phrase doesn’t sound believable because the “20 times” sounds “detrimental” to your health. Except for the article in the Japan Times published Wednesday, all other articles on Tuesday using this phrase (that the “radiation levels has increased 20 times but is not detrimental to your health”), do not mention numbers and figures to substantiate their affirmation, only that stressful number “20 times.”

Little does the unsuspecting public know that 20 times of the fraction .04 mSv is .80 mSv. Based on the above maximum level, 80.9 mrem, computed as 0.01x mrem=.809 mSv, is significantly less than the 50,000 mrem, the level where radiation sickness occurs.

In conclusion, when journalists of dubious intelligence report that the radiation levels have risen 20 times without substantiating numbers or figures or calculations, they are SENSATIONALISING the news, causing a panic situation that affects business very badly and consequently, our financial future.

Radioactivité au Japon et en France

Amnesty International: Stand in solidarity with Burma’s political prisoners

To stand with the people of Burma, all you need to do is:

1. Read the list of cases (on the Amnesty Intl website) and decide which prisoner(s) you would like to support through this action
2. Write their name on your right hand
3. Hold your right hand out, palm facing the camera and take a picture
4. Then either:
a. Login to Flickr upload your picture and add it to the group or
b. Email your picture to amnestyphotoaction@gmail.com or
c. Text it to +44(0)7733 134 670
5. Have a friend do the same.

All photos will be collected and taken to the summit meeting of political leaders from Asia and Europe in Brussels in October – the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Amnesty will call on these leaders to press for freedom for Burma’s political prisoners.

On their behalf, thank you.

update 15 July 2013: Burma to free political prisoners

AmnestyInternationalLogo Sunday 30th August marks the International Day of the Disappeared:

James Balao, an activist working on Indigenous Peoples rights, was forcibly disappeared on 17 September 2008 in Baguio City, Philippines. He was last seen near his home being roughly bundled by armed men into a white van. One of the men who took him shouted at onlookers, and told them not to interfere because they were police officers arresting James. A court has ordered the authorities to reveal where he is, and do no further harm to him, but has not authorised his family to look for him in places of detention. He is one of hundreds of Filipinos who have been forcibly disappeared and have not been found yet .

James, a member of the Indigenous Benguet Ibaloi tribe in the Cordillera region in Northern Philippines, dedicated himself to research and fighting for Indigenous Peoples rights, particularly ancestral land rights. He contributed to the drafting of the Philippines’ Constitution. He is one of the founding members of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), an alliance of local organizations from the different Indigenous tribes in the Cordillera region.

Take action! Join the call to Surface James Balao and Stop Enforced Disappearances in the Philippines. Take photos of yourself or with friends, ideally in front of a local landmark to show international solidarity, holding up a message such as: “End Enforced Disappearances — the world is watching” or “Where is James Balao?”

The photos will be used as part of an international solidarity campaign on the one-year anniversary of James’ disappearance. Email photos to philmasteam@gmail.com or online.communities@amnesty.org by 31 October 2009.

Amnesty International

About James Balao and His Disappearance

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