Archive for Japan

Time To Let Japan Off The Hook

Posted in America, Britain, Europe, Germany, Modern World, News, Politics, Relationships, Spain, World War 2 with tags , , , , on 15/08/2015 by floroy1942
Emperor Pays Homage To The War Dead

Emperor Pays Homage To The War Dead

At every annual Remembrance Day in Japan we hear the same criticism of the country about the actions of Japan during W.W. II and I for one am getting a little tired of it. The war ended 70 years ago and still people criticise the Japanese people for their part in it. It is time this stopped and we all moved on.

Nazi Atrocities

Nazi Atrocities

We do not hear the same about Germany and its Nazi era, for it has moved on and become as respected as all the other nations in the world despite the concentration camps and mass killing of civilians. So why must Japan continue to suffer? I do not wish to minimise what this country did during the Second World War, but surely enough is enough.

We have heard over the years various apologies from previous Prime Ministers and the Emperor, but for this country it does not seem to be enough. Why?

Prisoners of War In A Japanese Camp

Prisoners of War In A Japanese Camp

It would seem that most of the reasons lie in the political sphere with countries like China, and to a certain extent South Korea. Japan, as a powerful ally of the USA in the Far East is considered an enemy by Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party thus has an interest in Japan looking like an aggressive nation run by war criminal-lovers, which of course is not true because Japan has remained a self-protectionist state since the war ended. China also gains by fostering anti-Japanese fervour in South Korea as a way of under-mining the relationship of the USA in South Korea.

Self Explanetory

Self Explanatory

Additionally, the political climate in South Korea makes it difficult for Japan to look sincere in its remorse. Many South Korean officials and politicians want stronger ties with Japan. But for historical reasons, being labelled pro-Japanese is the ‘kiss of death’ in Korean politics. To me it just does not make sense, for the war ended seventy years ago and while the world has forgiven Germany, we still keep demanding apologies from Japan. Enough people! Let the war fade into history just like all the others.

Britain In India

Britain In India

Otherwise, the Americans must keep on apologising for destroying the native Indian culture, Britain must apologise for what it did in India, Africa and many other parts of the world. The Spanish and Portuguese must apologise for what they did in South America, and so it goes on and on, never-ending. Hell’s bells, if we went back far enough we could have Norway apologising for the Vikings who killed hundreds of Saxons.

At some time or other, history must be declared history so let us remember with honour the dead of the Second World War, but stop nit-picking at Japan for its part in it. To continue in this vein helps no-one. What is good for Germany is good for Japan.

Roy.

Japan Stops Whale Hunting

Posted in Atlantic, Conservation, Environment, Europe, Modern World, Nature, News, Oceans, Pacific, Politics with tags , , , , on 02/04/2014 by floroy1942

I must admit to feeling satisfied when the International Court of Justice decreed that whale hunting by Japan was not for scientific research as they claimed. The only thing that surprised me is that it has taken so many years for them to decide this.

It was in 1986 that the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling, but Japan continued its hunting practices using the excuse that it was for scientific research. How killing whales can be called research is beyond me, but they got away with until now.

At last legal steps have been taken to stop this malpractice, which according to the latest reports, Japan has accepted today. It is well known the Japanese consider whale meat a delicacy that has been available to them since they first began hunting them in the 12th century. One can hardly imagine the number of whales they have killed since then.

The ban has received a mixed reception in Japan, with mainly the younger generation less inclined to be against it.

Up until this ban they were killing approximately one thousand Minke whales a year as part of the ‘scientific’ programme. Unfortunately for them Australia and various environmental groups challenged this and took it to the court and won. Japan had argued “that Australia’s legal action was an attempt to impose its own cultural conventions, equivalent to Hindus demanding an international ban on killing cows”.

Unfortunately the ban is only a temporary one while the system of whaling permits is examined, which could see the whaling fleets setting sail again soon. Japan also has a small fleet that hunts whales in the Pacific that does not seem to be affected by the ban.

It is fair to note that both Iceland and Finland refused to abide by the 1986 decision but do not kill as many as the Japanese. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the authorities can do something to stop our continued rape of the seas.

Roy.

What’s The Point Of The Rio+20 Environment Conference?

Posted in America, Britain, Environment, Forests, Oceans, Pacific, Plastic Rubbish, UN, United Nations with tags , , , , on 22/06/2012 by floroy1942

Why are so many world leaders gathering in Rio de Janeiro if they knew beforehand that it will accomplish nothing? The run-up to the conference has been splashed across the news for the past week, and any fool who imagined something useful would come out of it will be disappointed. I, like most other people, thought it a waste of time and that nothing would be achieved. We are not wrong!

Jaw Flapping and Empty Promises

When leaders get together in this fashion to discuss something as important as the future of mankind on this planet of ours, all we get is jaw flapping and empty promises.  The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNep) has a team of very gifted scientists who warned prior to the conference that humanity may be heading for a ‘tipping point’ which will become ‘irreversible’. That is to say, we are currently doing so much damage to our environment and the planet’s biodiversity, that we will soon reach a point where the damage cannot be undone.

Despite all the empty promises made by governments during the last twenty years of the conference, improvements have been made on only four issues like green house gases and the ozone layer, while the rest, which include the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, preservation measures for the world’s oceans and seas, safeguarding the world-wide fresh water supplies and over-population are still awaiting any concrete proposals after twenty years.

Brazilian President

It is without doubt ironic that this years conference is being held in Rio, situated in a country that is doing more than any other to contribute to the devastating storms, floods and drought being experienced in the western hemisphere by decimating the Brazilian rain forest.  

The Amazon, the largest rain forest on the planet, is steadily being burnt and hacked away, and at the current rate will be a shadow of its former self in just a decade or two. The world’s oceans are rapidly becoming a cesspool of discarded plastic and rubbish, and the fish stocks are being decimated without being given time to recover. Fairly soon water shortages in many countries will become so acute, as to cause mass migration to areas more capable of sustaining human life. This in itself will cause major upheaval across the world.

Another problem such conferences fail to discuss is the steadily climbing over-population in the world. China is the only country that has imposed limits on how many children a married couple may have in order to stem the booming population growth, and that was enacted in 1978.

Population Growth

India is another nation with an unsustainable population growth, but is doing nothing to address the problem. Within a couple of decades we will surely see many other countries enforcing a similar rule to that of China, for population growth is expanding like a runaway train, and pretty soon the Earth will simply not be able to sustain that level of life.

Biodiversity is also being hit hard, and soon we will begin to see the effects of our carelessness as more and more species of plants, insects and animals disappear for ever. 

But can we expect governments to address these problems comprehensively, not on your life! As an example let me use the oil producing countries and the oil industry. They refuse to even hear about removing the subsidies on fossil fuels – why? Because the former will sell less oil and the latter will make less profit!

The World’s Plastic Islands

Knowing full well about the country-sized gyres that have become floating islands of discarded plastic in all our oceans, does any government look to ban a simple thing like the plastic bag – No? Why? – Because it is being blocked by the plastic industry.

The Brazilian government has the power to stop illegal loggers and farmers devastating the forest with their activities, but do they do it – no! Why? – Because there’s money in it.

Biodiversity Loss

Why don’t the fishing nations crack down on illegal fishing and declare far more areas of our oceans protected in order to allow the fish stocks to recover? Why are the Japanese still allowed to ignore the ban on hunting whales with the laughable excuse that ‘its for research’?

We all need to put some serious thought into these problems and force governments to take positive action to save the planet, for if the scientists are correct, we have a very small window of opportunity to act before its too late.

Roy. 

When Disaster Strikes – Haiti Versus Japan

Posted in Britain, Environment, Europe, Haiti, Oceans, Pacific, UK, United Nations, USA with tags , , , , , , , , on 17/04/2011 by floroy1942

Whenever disaster strikes, a media frenzy ensues followed by countries scurrying to offer the most money for reconstruction and humanitarian aid.

It has almost gotten to the stage where it has become a game among the richest nations to see who can ‘pledge’ the most. The offers are well intended, but the country that is suffering rarely gets to see all the money that is initially promised. It is worthy to note that some South American states and Arab nations made no effort whatsoever to donate or assist in the disaster while even tiny countries like Andorra managed to raise funds.

This Guardian report shows the amount of donations by country:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/jan/14/haiti-quake-aid-pledges-country-donations

A Haitian Victim

This scenario was nowhere more evident than the earthquake that hit Haiti, where pledges were in excess of $14 billion for immediate aid on the ground, and cash donations to help in the recovery. Much of the money has still to materialise, and probably never will.

Many nations considered the cancelling of debts owed to them by the Haitian government to be a sufficient donation to rebuild the country, which sadly was of no use to the Haitian people at that time when thousands were dead, and with their capitol razed to the ground.

Haiti Earthquake:

Emergency Aid Team – Haiti

The response of individuals, charity organizations, and rescue teams was immediate and their contribution gratefully received, but alas, the flow of money from countries making huge pledges for clearing the rubble and rebuilding left much to be desired.

Now, some 20 months after the disaster, Haitians are not much better off than they were a year ago. Less than 5% of the rubble has been cleared, and tens of thousands still live in makeshift emergency camps.

Haiti – One Year On:

And now we have another world catastrophe on our hands in the form of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Once again a country needs the assistance and monetary help of others to overcome a disaster, although to a much lessor degree than Haiti.

Japan Tsunami:

Japan Earthquake Aftermath

Naturally, Haiti and Japan are poles apart when it comes to wealth, and I might add, importance. Haiti is an impoverished island in the Caribbean, while Japan is a major player on the world stage with an economy Haitians can only dream about. As always, a huge effort was made on the part of individuals, organizations, and in some cases governments, from across the world after the initial impact. Much was done to rescue people from the rubble left by the huge  wave that hit the coast.

Japan Relief Effort:

The United States military among others were mobilised to bring initial aid to the survivors in a coordinated effort with the Japanese. Most of the aid money pledged to the Japan disaster relief effort appears at the moment to be coming from private sources with celeb’s and sports stars etc. making donations.

It is true that as Japan is among the world’s most successful economies, there is no requirement for massive donations of cash to aid the recovery. For the most part, I think the nation has received what it needed most, and that was experts on the ground to help with the immediate aftermath.

Aid Teams In Japan

Like Haiti, Japan now has many thousands of its citizens living in emergency accommodation and like Haiti, a huge area of devastation must be cleared before new houses, shops and other businesses can be built. The one big question that comes to mind is , how will Japan cope in comparison to Haiti?

It’s my bet that all signs of this latest disaster will have long disappeared in Japan while the citizens of Haiti are still trying to clear the rubble of their country’s capitol. Personally, I doubt if they will be over their troubles in five years time, such is the shortness of memory of world governments as they move on to the next catastrophe.

It is clear that Japan’s infrastructure is far better able to cope with such an event than that of Haiti, but also, on the world scene Japan is of much more importance than poor impoverished Haiti, and this will be reflected in how quickly the two countries get back to normal.

All nations who have economic ties with Japan will certainly want to see the country back on it’s feet quickly so that business can get back to normal. As for Haiti, well that’s something else isn’t it?

Roy.

Related post:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/haiti-what-happened-to-all-the-money/

Fukushima – A Disaster Waiting In The Wings?

Posted in Environment, Modern World, Nuclear, Oceans, Radioactive Waste, Toxic Waste with tags , , , , , , , on 13/04/2011 by floroy1942

Should we be concerned at the latest news of a hike in the severity level at the Fukushima nuclear generating plant to 7, bringing it on a par with Chernobyl?

Chernobyl Reactor Building

We can all remember what happened at the Russian plant, but the experts tell us there is no danger of a repeat. Now that is reassuring news, certainly to the Japanese, and probably for the rest of us too.

The whole episode however leaves me with some questions, most important of which is, why was a nuclear plant built on the coast in an earthquake/tsunami zone? Reactor One was opened in July 1967, and since then another five have been built on the same site.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/Noqk78bjE-Q

The Cause Of A Tsunami

It is safe to assume that we did not know as much in 1967 as we do now about earthquakes and the effects, but even so, it seems to me the Japanese were taking a big chance in building such a facility right on the sea shore.

I can well imagine their desire to have a ready supply of water for cooling the reactor, but then surely, better precautions should have been taken to protect the installation against the possibility of a tsunami.

The Tsunami Strikes

History has shown us on many occasions that earthquakes under the sea cause tsunami’s, so it should be obvious, even in 1967, that the site would be prone to just such an event.

I freely admit, I am no nuclear scientist or structural engineer, but it seems to me that building such a plant on the coast at Fukushima, knowing the possibilities, should have received more attention.

The main difference between Chernobyl and Fukushima is that in the former accident the reactor vessel ruptured, releasing large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere, whereas in the latter, this did not happen and the reactor vessel remained intact. Contrary to popular opinion, there is never a chance of a nuclear explosion at a nuclear power plant, even if meltdown does occur.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/Z69rtx3YlE0

Fukushima Reactor

Each reactor at the Fukushima plant has a secondary containment vessel which is designed to prevent the release of radioactive particles into the atmosphere even in the event of a reactor containment vessel breach. This was not the case at Chernobyl and indeed, very few Russian plants had such a safety facility (lessons learned).

Furthermore, The Chernobyl reactor was ‘fired up’ at the time of the accident while experiments were carried out on the power generators for the emergency cooling system. At Fukushima the reactor shut-down automatically when the earthquake was detected.

Typical Reactor Cooling System Generator

It would seem that the problems began at Fukushima when the various backup cooling pumps, that supply the core with water to keep it from overheating, lost power when the tsunami destroyed the generators supplying the pumps. It would appear that perhaps more protection should have been given to these vital components.

Fukushima Damage

The disaster at Fukushima, though of natural causes, does indicate that more attention must be given to the siting of nuclear power plants, especially in earthquake prone countries around the famous ‘Ring of Fire’ bordering the Pacific. It indicates that all nuclear plants should be inspected to see what improvements can be made to the operating systems when a natural disaster strikes, and most specifcally, protection of the cooling apparatus.

Anyone wishing for a simple straight-forward explanation of the events at Fukushima should visit the following site:

http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/

Its all well and good for armchair ‘experts’ to give their opinions, and as we all know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I should hope that some valuable lessons have been learned from this disaster and steps are taken to see such an event is never repeated.

Fukushima Heros

In the meantime, we should not forget the brave men and women who have been working tirelessly to prevent a major disaster at Fukushima at the risk of their own well-being. I salute you!

One thing is sure, we are a long way from doing away with our nuclear power plants despite all the hype that has been generated, for until the scientists come up with something better we are stuck with it. At this moment in time we have no other way of keeping up with the ever increasing demands for power.

Roy. 

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