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How to Prevent a War Between China and Japan – Bloomberg

How to Prevent a War Between China and Japan – Bloomberg.

Photos: Getty Images; Illustration by A. Babar

China and Japan, Asia’s two most powerful nations, are increasingly jousting in the skies and in the seas near a set of disputed islands. Although their economies remain deeply intertwined, relations between the two governments seem locked in an irreversible, dangerous downward spiral.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe further embittered feelings last week by visiting the controversial Yasukuni shrine, which honors the souls of Japan’s war dead, including 14 World War II leaders convicted as Class-A war criminals.

Needless to say, neither side seems terribly interested in a rapprochement. That’s a shame, because the deterioration in ties is fairly recent, stemming from a single incident involving the islands administered by Japan, which calls them the Senkakus, and claimed by China, which refers to them as the Diaoyu. A single, symbolic-but-generous gesture could well halt the slide.

Abe, though unquestionably a hawk on China, had nothing to do with the triggering event. In September 2012, then-Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ordered his government to buy several of the disputed islands from a private owner — an action which, in China’s view, effectively nationalized them.

Noda hadn’t intended to provoke the Chinese. On the contrary, he aimed to preempt a more aggressive gesture by hyper-nationalist politician Shintaro Ishihara — then Tokyo’s governor — who wanted to have the Tokyo metropolitan government purchase the islands and build on them to assert Japan’s sovereignty.

Still, barely two days before Noda’s decision, China’s then-President Hu Jintao had specifically warned him not to proceed. Hu’s concerns were legitimate. For years, China had quietly acceptedJapan’s “de facto” occupation of the islands even as it disputed sovereignty. By buying them, Japan appeared to be moving to “de jure” ownership. Given the nationalist mood in China, the Beijing government couldn’t risk appearing weak in its response.

If Abe really wanted to break the chain of escalation that has since played out between China and Japan, he could singlehandedly return to the status quo ante. He would only need to “sell” the islands to a private Japanese foundation or environmental group, ostensibly to preserve their undeveloped natural beauty.

Japanese hard-liners would no doubt regard such a move as a capitulation to China. It wouldn’t be. Even after a sale, Japan would continue its de facto occupation of the islands, as it has for decades. Since the islands’ purchase was made by a previous government, Abe’s Liberal Democrats need not feel bound by the decision. In fact, after pacifying his nationalist supporters by visiting Yasukuni, Abe may be in a stronger position to compromise on the islands.

In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month, Abe called for a summit with President Xi Jinping of China and said, “Now is the time to go back to that starting point.” Abe was referring to a bilateral agreement he reached with Hu in 2006, during a previous term as Japan’s prime minister. Selling the islands would be a critical first step toward returning to that calmer time.

If Abe wanted to be bolder, he could make the same offer to China that Japan has made to South Korea over a different set of disputed islands: to have the issue resolved by the International Court of Justice. The chances of China agreeing to this are minuscule. But by taking the moral high ground, Japan would both reaffirm its reasonableness, and satisfy the major precondition China has imposed on any Xi-Abe summit — acknowledging that sovereignty of the Senkakus/Diaoyu is in dispute.

Of course, if it’s hard to imagine an Abe administration reaching out to Beijing now, it’s equally hard to see Chinese leaders responding constructively. Yet on a simple cost-benefit analysis, Xi has incentive enough to scale back aggressive naval and air patrols of the waters surrounding the islands. He has just embarked on a set of difficult, potentially far-reaching economic reforms. Although he can’t afford to look weak domestically, he also can’t afford a geopolitical crisis that would disrupt China’s economy and possibly global trade.

A major rebalancing is gradually taking place in Asia as China’s economy becomes larger than Japan’s. But it isn’t in China’s interest to push for this rebalancing too aggressively. When I was in Tokyo in early December, I was struck by the intensity of concern over China’s aggressive posturing. The harder the Beijing government pushes now, the more rapidly Japan will move to upgrade its military capabilities and strengthen its alliances with the U.S. and countries ringing China.

Both sides need to find a way to ratchet down their words and deeds. Japan can and should take a first, small step forward by “going back” and selling the islands. Any Japanese leaders who doubt the wisdom of doing so should ask themselves a question: Are they really better off today than they were two years ago?

(Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, is author of “The Great Convergence: Asia, the West and the Logic of One World.”)

To contact the writer of this article: Kishore Mahbubani at kishore.mahbubani@mahbubani.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Nisid Hajari at nhajari@bloomberg.net.

 

Chinese Media Compares Japan PM To “Terrorists And Fascists”; Blasts Abe’s Homage To “Devils”, Urges Boycott | Zero Hedge

Chinese Media Compares Japan PM To “Terrorists And Fascists”; Blasts Abe’s Homage To “Devils”, Urges Boycott | Zero Hedge.

On Thursday, Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe stunned the world by defying everyone – including the EU and the US whose embassy sent a tersely worded letter in which is said that it is “disappointed that Japan’s leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan’s neighbors” – when he visited the Yasukuni Shrine where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal after World War Two are honored along with those who died in battle, for the first time in 7 years. The response was fast and furious. Below, courtesy of Reuters, is a snapshot of the morning after in the Chinese media. The reviews of Abe’s action were not glowing.

In an editorial headlined “Abe’s paying homage to the devils makes people outraged”, the Chinese military’s People’s Liberation Army Daily said Abe’s action had “seriously undermined the stability of the region”.

“On one hand, Abe is paying homage to war criminals, and on the other hand, he talks about improving relations with China, South Korea and other countries,” the newspaper said. “It is simply a sham, a mouthful of lies.

“Today, the Chinese people have the ability to defend peace and they have a greater ability to stop all provocative militarism.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Abe’s visit to the shrine “has already attracted the Chinese people’s ire and denunciation”.

“How can a person who is not willing to face up to their own history, to facts, win the trust of the international community or cause people to believe he has a role to play in maintaining regional and global peace and stability?” Hua said at a daily news briefing.

In a separate commentary published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, or “Voice of China”, the Communist Party’s People’s Daily said: “History tells us that if people do not correctly understand the evils of the fascist war, cannot reflect on war crimes, a country can never (achieve) true rejuvenation.

The Global Times, an influential nationalistic tabloid owned by the People’s Daily, urged China to shut its door to Abe and other Japanese officials who have visited the shrine this year.

“If condemnations are China’s only recourse, then the nation is giving up its international political rights easily,” the newspaper said. “Ineffective countermeasures will make China be seen as a ‘paper tiger’ in the eyes of the rest of the world.

“In the eyes of China, Abe, behaving like a political villain, is much like the terrorists and fascists on the commonly seen blacklists.”

A survey on China’s Sina Weibo microblogging site on Thursday showed that almost 70 percent of respondents would support a boycott of Japanese goods, with many users expressing outrage at the shrine visit. The survey was later removed.

And yet, all of this appears set to blow over since China, like America, is now more focused on daily noise: the topic was not one of the most talked about on Weibo, with people being more distracted by the latest celebrity gossip and the upcoming new year.

 

China (And Korea) Blast Abe’s “Absolutely Unacceptable” Visit To War Shrine | Zero Hedge

China (And Korea) Blast Abe’s “Absolutely Unacceptable” Visit To War Shrine | Zero Hedge.

It has been 7 years and 4 months since the last Prime Ministerial visit to Yasukuni Shrine (a symbol of Japan’s past militarism – and its convicted war criminals – which appears to be resurrecting); but in what China describes as an act that is “absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people,” current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid tribute to the war dead today. The strong reaction was met with a rapid ‘apology’ of sorts as Abe stated officially, “I am aware that, because of misunderstandings, some people criticise a visit to Yasukuni shrine as an act of worshipping war criminals… [but] I have no intention at all to hurt the feelings of Chinese or South Korean people.”

In the past… (via Reuters)

China and South Korea have repeatedly expressed anger in the past over Japanese politicians’ visits to Yasukuni Shrinewhere Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal are honored along with war dead.

The shrine is seen in parts of Asia as a symbol of Japanese past militarism.

Abe’s Excuse…

Via AFP,

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday his visit to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine was a pledge that Japan would not go to war again and was not intended to hurt Chinese or South Koreans.

“I chose this day to report (to enshrined spirits) what we have done in the year since the administration launched and to pledge and determine that never again will people suffer in war,” he told reporters at the shrine.

I am aware that, because of misunderstandings, some people criticise a visit to Yasukuni shrine as an act of worshipping war criminals, but I made my visit to pledge to create an era where people will never suffer from catastrophe in war,” Abe said.

“I have no intention at all to hurt the feelings of Chinese or South Korean people.”

And The Chinese response…

Chinese foreign ministry Asian affairs dept head: Yasukuni visit “absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people” pic.twitter.com/c3skU6FnTn

— Austin Ramzy (@austinramzy) December 26, 2013

And the consequences…

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Abe Yasukuni visit: “The Japanese side must bear all consequences.” #uhoh

— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) December 26, 2013

The Chinese people are enraged…

Chinese netizens call for anti-Japan boycott and inquire about street protest on Strong Nation Forum http://t.co/FYp4SEjAmS

— Jessica Chen Weiss (@jessicacweiss) December 26, 2013

and The Koreans are now chiming in…

(LEAD) Abe’s Yasukuni visit to have diplomatic repercussions: Seoul http://t.co/n6iX6rz1pf

— Yonhap News Agency (@YonhapNews) December 26, 2013

 

China Slams Abe’s “Malicious Slander”; Warns Japan Is “Doomed To Failure” | Zero Hedge

China Slams Abe’s “Malicious Slander”; Warns Japan Is “Doomed To Failure” | Zero Hedge.

Events in the East China Sea since 2009 have thrust to the forefront the following frightening question: will China and Japan imminently go to war? Conventional answers in the affirmative point to the deep level of historical mistrust and a certain level of “unfinished business” in East Asian international politics, stemming from the heyday of Showa Japan’s imperialism across Asia. Those on the negative often point to the astronomical economic costs that would follow from a war that pinned the world’s first and third largest economies against its second in a fight over a few measly islands, undersea hydrocarbon reserves be damned.

I can’t pretend to arbitrate between these two camps but I find that far too many observers sympathize with the second camp based on rational impulse. Of course China and Japan wouldn’t fight a war! That’d ruin their economies! I sympathize with the Clausewtizean notion of war being a continuation of politics “by other means,” and the problems caused by information asymmetries (effectively handicapping rational decision-making), but the situation over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands can result in war even if the top leaders in Tokyo and Beijing are eminently rational.

Political scientist James D. Fearon’s path-breaking article “Rationalist Explanations for War” provides a still-relevant schema that’s wonderfully applicable to the contemporary situation between China and Japan in the East China Sea. Fearon’s paper was initially relevant because it challenged the overly simplistic rationalist’s dogma: if war is so costly, then there has to be some sort of diplomatic solution that is preferable to all parties involved — barring information asymmetries and communication deficits, such an agreement should and will be signed.

Of course, this doesn’t correspond to reality where we know that many incredibly costly wars have been fought (from the first World War to the Iran-Iraq War). So, if wars are costly — as one over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands is likely to be — why do they still occur? Well, the answer isn’t Japanese imperialism or because states just sometimes irrationally dislike each other (as the affirmative camp would argue). It’s more subtle.

Fearon’s “bargaining model” assumes a few dictums about state knowledge, behavior and expectations ex ante. I’ll cast the remainder of the model in terms of Japan and China since they’re our subjects of interest (and to avoid floating off into academic abstractions).

First, China and Japan both know that there is an actual probability distribution of the likely outcomes of the war. They don’t know what the actual distribution is, but they can estimate what is likely in terms of the costs and outcomes of going to war. For example, Japan can predict that it would suffer relatively low naval losses and would strengthen its administrative control of the islands; China could predict the same outcome, or it could interpret things in its favor. In essence, they acknowledge that war is predictable in its unpredictability.

Second, China and Japan want to limit risk or are neutral to risk, but definitely do not crave risk. War is fundamentally risky so this is tantamount to an acknowledgement that war is costlier than maintaining peace or negotiating an ex ante diplomatic solution.

The third assumption is a little dressed up in academic jargon: there can be no “issue indivisibility.” In plain English, this essentially means that whatever the states are fighting over (usually territory, but it could be a pot of gold) can be divided between them in an infinite number of ways on a line going from zero to one.Imagine that zero is Japan’s ideal preference (total Japanese control of the Senkakus and acknowledgement as such by China) and one is China’s ideal preference (total Chinese control of Diaoyu and acknowledgement by Japan). Fearon’s assumption requires that there exist points like 0.23 and 0.83 (and so forth) which set up some sort sharing between the warring parties. Even solutions, such as one proposed by Zheng Wang here at The Diplomat to establish a “peace zone,” could sit on this line.

If the third assumption sounds the shakiest to you that’s probably because it is. “Issue indivisibility” is a nasty problem and a subject of quite some research. It usually is at the heart of wars that seek to decide which state should control a territory such as a Holy City (the intractability of the Arab-Israeli conflict is said to be plagued by indivisible issues).

So, is the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu fundamentally indivisible? Probably in the sense of splitting sovereignty over the islands, but probably not in the sense of some ex ante bargain similar to what Zheng proposed. Even if the set of solutions isn’t infinitely divisible, whatever finite solutions exist might not fall within whatever range of solutions either Japan or China is willing to tolerate — leading to war.

Fearon actually doesn’t buy the indivisibility-leading-to-war theory himself. He reasons that generally almost every issue is complex enough to be divisible to a degree acceptable by each party (undermining the infinite divisibility requirement), and that states can link issues and offer payments to offset any asymmetrical outcome. In the Senkaku/Diaoyu case, this would mean a solution could hinge upon Japan making a broader apology for its aggression against China in the 20th century or China taking a harsher stance on North Korea (both unlikely).

Relevant to the Air Defense Identification Zone is Fearon’s description of war arising between rational states due to incentives to misrepresent capabilities. China and Japan’s leaders know more about their country’s actual willingness to go to war than anyone else, and it benefits to signal strong resolve on the issue to extract more concessions in any potential deal.Japan announcing its willingness to shoot down Chinese drones earlier this year and its most recent defense plans are example of this, and China’s ADIZ is probably the archetype of such a signal. Instead of extracting a good deal, what such declarations can do is force rational hands to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Fearon’s final explanation — regarding commitment problems leading to war — is slightly ancillary to the core discussion about the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands given Japan’s constitutional restraints on the use of force (rendering preemptive, preventative, and offensive wars largely irrelevant in the Japanese case). Regardless, the point remains that even if the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands might seem like a terribly silly thing for the world’s second and third largest economies to go to war over, war can still be likely.

As I observe events in the East China Sea, I mostly recall Fearon’s warnings on certain types of signals leading to brinksmanship (the divisibility issue is far murkier). Both Japan and China don’t seem to be relenting on these sorts of deleterious signals. Additionally, given that Chinese and Japanese diplomats haven’t had high-level contact in fourteen months, even the more primitive rationalist’s explanation, that war occurs because a lack of communication leads to rational miscalculations, becomes plausible.

A reflection on the possible rational reasons for China and Japan to go to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands highlights the seriousness of the ongoing brinksmanship in the East China Sea. If a war is fought over these long-contested islands, it will have an eminently rational explanation underlying all the historical mistrust and nationalism on the surface. War in the East China Sea is possible, despite the economic costs.

 

 

China Slams Abe’s “Malicious Slander”; Warns Japan Is “Doomed To Failure” | Zero Hedge

China Slams Abe’s “Malicious Slander”; Warns Japan Is “Doomed To Failure” | Zero Hedge.

Overnight rhetoric in Asia became increasingly heated when China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “strong dissastisfaction” at the slanderous actions of Abe’s Japanese government over the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and the “theft and embezzlement” of the Diaoyu Islands. “Japan’s attempt is doomed to failure,” China warned ominously and as we highlight below, a reflection on the possible rational reasons for China and Japan to go to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands highlights the seriousness of the ongoing brinksmanship in the East China Sea. If a war is fought over these long-contested islands, it will have an eminently rational explanation underlying all the historical mistrust and nationalism on the surface. War in the East China Sea is possible, despite the economic costs.

The ‘triangle’ of doom in the East China Sea…

Via Google Translate,

Q: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held in Japan recently – especially during the ASEAN summit, accusing China to unilaterally change the status of the East China Sea, East China Sea, said China’s air defense identification zone designation is improper for the high seas against the freedom of overflight, asked China to revoke the measure. What is your comment?

A: We have made some Japanese leaders use international slanderous remarks China expresses strong dissatisfaction.

Diaoyu Islands are China’s inherent territory. Japan over the Diaoyu Islands theft and embezzlement have always been illegal and invalid. Since last year, the Japanese deliberately provoked the Diaoyu Islands dispute, unilaterally change the status quo of the Diaoyu Islands issue is none other than the Japanese themselves. In this regard, the Chinese law to take the necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial fully justified, blameless.

East China’s air defense identification zone designation is intended to protect national defense aviation security measures, consistent with international law and international practice, do not affect the countries of aircraft overflight freedoms enjoyed under international law. Deliberate on this issue in Japan to China to launch an attack, an attempt to tamper with the concept, the implementation of double standards, mislead international public opinion, Japan’s attempt is doomed to failure.

“Rationalist Explanations For War” In The East China Sea

Submitted by Ankit Panda of The Diplomat,

Events in the East China Sea since 2009 have thrust to the forefront the following frightening question: will China and Japan imminently go to war? Conventional answers in the affirmative point to the deep level of historical mistrust and a certain level of “unfinished business” in East Asian international politics, stemming from the heyday of Showa Japan’s imperialism across Asia. Those on the negative often point to the astronomical economic costs that would follow from a war that pinned the world’s first and third largest economies against its second in a fight over a few measly islands, undersea hydrocarbon reserves be damned.

I can’t pretend to arbitrate between these two camps but I find that far too many observers sympathize with the second camp based on rational impulse. Of course China and Japan wouldn’t fight a war! That’d ruin their economies! I sympathize with the Clausewtizean notion of war being a continuation of politics “by other means,” and the problems caused by information asymmetries (effectively handicapping rational decision-making), but the situation over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands can result in war even if the top leaders in Tokyo and Beijing are eminently rational.

Political scientist James D. Fearon’s path-breaking article “Rationalist Explanations for War” provides a still-relevant schema that’s wonderfully applicable to the contemporary situation between China and Japan in the East China Sea. Fearon’s paper was initially relevant because it challenged the overly simplistic rationalist’s dogma: if war is so costly, then there has to be some sort of diplomatic solution that is preferable to all parties involved — barring information asymmetries and communication deficits, such an agreement should and will be signed.

Of course, this doesn’t correspond to reality where we know that many incredibly costly wars have been fought (from the first World War to the Iran-Iraq War). So, if wars are costly — as one over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands is likely to be — why do they still occur? Well, the answer isn’t Japanese imperialism or because states just sometimes irrationally dislike each other (as the affirmative camp would argue). It’s more subtle.

Fearon’s “bargaining model” assumes a few dictums about state knowledge, behavior and expectations ex ante. I’ll cast the remainder of the model in terms of Japan and China since they’re our subjects of interest (and to avoid floating off into academic abstractions).

First, China and Japan both know that there is an actual probability distribution of the likely outcomes of the war. They don’t know what the actual distribution is, but they can estimate what is likely in terms of the costs and outcomes of going to war. For example, Japan can predict that it would suffer relatively low naval losses and would strengthen its administrative control of the islands; China could predict the same outcome, or it could interpret things in its favor. In essence, they acknowledge that war is predictable in its unpredictability.

Second, China and Japan want to limit risk or are neutral to risk, but definitely do not crave risk. War is fundamentally risky so this is tantamount to an acknowledgement that war is costlier than maintaining peace or negotiating an ex ante diplomatic solution.

The third assumption is a little dressed up in academic jargon: there can be no “issue indivisibility.” In plain English, this essentially means that whatever the states are fighting over (usually territory, but it could be a pot of gold) can be divided between them in an infinite number of ways on a line going from zero to one. Imagine that zero is Japan’s ideal preference (total Japanese control of the Senkakus and acknowledgement as such by China) and one is China’s ideal preference (total Chinese control of Diaoyu and acknowledgement by Japan). Fearon’s assumption requires that there exist points like 0.23 and 0.83 (and so forth) which set up some sort sharing between the warring parties. Even solutions, such as one proposed by Zheng Wang here at The Diplomat to establish a “peace zone,” could sit on this line.

If the third assumption sounds the shakiest to you that’s probably because it is. “Issue indivisibility” is a nasty problem and a subject of quite some research. It usually is at the heart of wars that seek to decide which state should control a territory such as a Holy City (the intractability of the Arab-Israeli conflict is said to be plagued by indivisible issues).

So, is the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu fundamentally indivisible? Probably in the sense of splitting sovereignty over the islands, but probably not in the sense of some ex ante bargain similar to what Zheng proposed. Even if the set of solutions isn’t infinitely divisible, whatever finite solutions exist might not fall within whatever range of solutions either Japan or China is willing to tolerate — leading to war.

Fearon actually doesn’t buy the indivisibility-leading-to-war theory himself. He reasons that generally almost every issue is complex enough to be divisible to a degree acceptable by each party (undermining the infinite divisibility requirement), and that states can link issues and offer payments to offset any asymmetrical outcome. In the Senkaku/Diaoyu case, this would mean a solution could hinge upon Japan making a broader apology for its aggression against China in the 20th century or China taking a harsher stance on North Korea (both unlikely).

Relevant to the Air Defense Identification Zone is Fearon’s description of war arising between rational states due to incentives to misrepresent capabilities. China and Japan’s leaders know more about their country’s actual willingness to go to war than anyone else, and it benefits to signal strong resolve on the issue to extract more concessions in any potential deal. Japan announcing its willingness to shoot down Chinese drones earlier this year and its most recent defense plans are example of this, and China’s ADIZ is probably the archetype of such a signal. Instead of extracting a good deal, what such declarations can do is force rational hands to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Fearon’s final explanation — regarding commitment problems leading to war — is slightly ancillary to the core discussion about the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands given Japan’s constitutional restraints on the use of force (rendering preemptive, preventative, and offensive wars largely irrelevant in the Japanese case). Regardless, the point remains that even if the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands might seem like a terribly silly thing for the world’s second and third largest economies to go to war over, war can still be likely.

As I observe events in the East China Sea, I mostly recall Fearon’s warnings on certain types of signals leading to brinksmanship (the divisibility issue is far murkier). Both Japan and China don’t seem to be relenting on these sorts of deleterious signals. Additionally, given that Chinese and Japanese diplomats haven’t had high-level contact in fourteen months, even the more primitive rationalist’s explanation, that war occurs because a lack of communication leads to rational miscalculations, becomes plausible.

A reflection on the possible rational reasons for China and Japan to go to war over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands highlights the seriousness of the ongoing brinksmanship in the East China Sea. If a war is fought over these long-contested islands, it will have an eminently rational explanation underlying all the historical mistrust and nationalism on the surface. War in the East China Sea is possible, despite the economic costs.

 

Japan Reacts to Fukushima Crisis By Banning Journalism Washington’s Blog

Japan Reacts to Fukushima Crisis By Banning Journalism Washington’s Blog.

Japan – Like the U.S. – Turns to Censorship

2 weeks after the Fukushima accident, we reported that the government responded to the nuclear accident by trying to raise acceptable radiation levels and pretending that radiation is good for us.

We noted earlier this month:

Japan will likely pass a new anti-whistleblowing law in an attempt to silence criticism of Tepco and the government:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is planning a state secrets act that critics say could curtail public access to information on a wide range of issues, including tensions with China and theFukushima nuclear crisis.

The new law would dramatically expand the definition of official secrets and journalists convicted under it could be jailed for up to five years.

In reality, reporters covering Fukushima have long been harassed and censored.

Unfortunately, this is coming to pass. As EneNews reports:

Associated Press, Nov. 26, 2013: Japan’s more powerful lower house of Parliament approved a state secrecy bill late Tuesday […] Critics say it might sway authorities to withhold more information about nuclear power plants […] The move is welcomed by the United States […] lawyer Hiroyasu Maki said the bill’s definition of secrets is so vague and broad that it could easily be expanded to include radiation data […] Journalists who obtain information “inappropriately” or “wrongfully” can get up to five years in prison, prompting criticism that it would make officials more secretive and intimidate the media. Attempted leaks or inappropriate reporting, complicity or solicitation are also considered illegal. […] Japan’s proposed law also designates the prime minister as a third-party overseer.

BBC, Nov. 26, 2013: Japan approves new state secrecy bill to combat leaks […] The bill now goes to the upper house, where it is also likely to be passed.

The Australian, Nov. 25, 2013: Japanese press baulks at push for ‘fascist’ secrecy laws […] Taro Yamamoto [an upper house lawmaker] said the law threatened to recreate a fascist state in Japan. “This secrecy law represents a coup d’etat by a particular group of politicians and bureaucrats,” he told a press conference in Tokyo. “I believe the secrecy bill will eventually lead to the repression of the average person. It will allow those in power to crack down on anyone who is criticising them – the path we are on is the recreation of a fascist state.” He said the withholding of radiation data after the Fukushima disaster showed the Japanese government was predisposed to hiding information from its citizens and this law would only make things worse. […] The Asahi Shimbun newspaper likened the law to “conspiracy” regulations in pre-war Japan and said it could be used to stymie access to facts on nuclear accidents […]

Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan president Lucy Birmingham: “We are alarmed by the text of the bill, as well as associated statements made by some ruling party lawmakers, relating to the potential targeting of journalists for prosecution and imprisonment.”

Activist Kazuyuki Tokune: “I may be arrested some day for my anti-nuclear activity […] But that doesn’t stop me.”

Lawrence Repeta, a law professor at Meiji University in Tokyo: “This is a severe threat on freedom to report in Japan […] It appears the Abe administration has decided that they can get a lot of what they want, which is to escape oversight, to decrease transparency in the government by passing a law that grants the government and officials broad authority to designate information as secret.”

U.S. Charge d’Affairs Kurt Tong: It’s a positive step that would make Japan a “more effective alliance partner.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “This law is designed to protect the safety of the people.”

See also: Japan Deputy Prime Minister talks about “learning from the Nazis” — Previously said to let elderly people “hurry up and die” (VIDEO)

Rather than addressing the problems head-on, the Japanese government is circling the wagons.

Unfortunately, the United States is no better. Specifically, the American government:

As we noted 6 months after Fukushima melted down:

American and Canadian authorities have virtually stopped monitoring airborne radiation, and are not testing fish for radiation. (Indeed, the EPA reacted to Fukushima by raising “acceptable” radiation levels.)

***

The failure of the American, Canadian and other governments to test for and share results is making it difficult to hold an open scientific debate about what is happening.

Earlier this year, the acting EPA director signed a revised version of the EPA’s Protective Action Guide for radiological incidents, which radically relaxing the safety guidelines agencies follow in the wake of a nuclear-reactor meltdown or other unexpected release of radiation.  EPA whistleblowers called it “a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace.”

As we noted right after Fukushima happened, this is standard operating procedure for government these days:

When the economy imploded in 2008, how did the government respond?

Did it crack down on fraud? Force bankrupt companies to admit that their speculative gambling with our money had failed? Rein in the funny business?

Of course not!

The government just helped cover up how bad things were, used claims of national security to keep everything in the dark, and changed basic rules and definitions to allow the game to continue. See thisthisthis and this.

When BP – through criminal negligence – blew out the Deepwater Horizon oil well, the government helped cover it up (the cover up is ongoing).

The government also changed the testing standards for seafood to pretend that higher levels of toxic PAHs in our food was business-as-usual.

So now that Japan is suffering the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl – if not of all time – is the government riding to the rescue to help fix the problem, or at least to provide accurate information to its citizens so they can make informed decisions?

Of course not!

The EPA is closing ranks with the nuclear power industry ….

Indeed, some government scientists and media shills are now “reexamining” old studies that show that radioactive substances like plutonium cause cancer to argue that they helpprevent cancer.

It is not just bubbleheads like Ann Coulter saying this. Government scientists from thePacific Northwest National Laboratories and pro-nuclear hacks like Lawrence Solomonare saying this. [Update.]

In other words, this is a concerted propaganda campaign to cover up the severity of a major nuclear accident by raising acceptable levels of radiation and saying that a little radiation is good for us.

Any time the results of bad government policy is revealed, the government just covers it up rather than changing the policy.

 

Testosterone Pit – Home – The End Of Nuclear Energy In Japan?

Testosterone Pit – Home – The End Of Nuclear Energy In Japan?. (FULL ARTICLE)

“I’m calling for zero nuclear power,” said Junichiro Koizumi, the hugely popular former prime minister of Japan, on Tuesday at a lecture in Nagoya.

He’d served from 2001 to 2006. In 2005, he’d led the Liberal Democratic Party to win an extraordinarily large parliamentary majority. Then he groomed Shinzo Abe to become his successor. By September 2006, Abe was PM – only to get kicked out a year later. Now that Abe is PM again and is trying to restore the scandal-plagued nuclear industry to its former glory, Koizumi’s words ripped into his policies at the perfect moment.

Though retired from politics since 2009, Koizumi remains influential. He was pro-nuclear throughout his career. But on Tuesday, he said that the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 and the subsequent nuclear fiasco in Fukushima should be used as an opportunity to build a resource-recycling society. And he called on his former protégé to abandon nuclear power…

 

On Japan’s Surging Electricity Prices | Zero Hedge

On Japan’s Surging Electricity Prices | Zero Hedge.

 

5.8 Magnitude Quake Shakes Fukushima | Zero Hedge

5.8 Magnitude Quake Shakes Fukushima | Zero Hedge.

 

Out On a Limb – Clusterfuck Nation

Out On a Limb – Clusterfuck Nation.

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