‘Japan’s defence ministry has made its biggest ever budget request, amid severe tensions with China over a maritime dispute in the East China Sea. The ministry is seeking 5.05 trillion yen (£29.4bn; $48.7bn) for the year – a 3.5% rise. If approved, it would mark the third year the defence budget had been increased, after a decade of cuts.
Earlier this month, the ministry described the security environment around Japan as “increasingly severe”. Beijing and Tokyo are engaged in a bitter dispute over islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. In its annual white paper, the ministry spoke of “great concern” over China’s activities in the East China Sea and also cited North Korea as a security threat.’
‘A range of scientific studies at Fukushima have begun to reveal the impact on the natural world from the radiation leaks at the power station in Japan caused by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Biological samples were obtained only after extensive delays following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown, limiting the information which could be gained about the impact of that disaster. Scientists, determined not to repeat the shortcomings of the Chernobyl studies, began gathering biological information only a few months after the meltdown of the Daiichi power plant in 2011.
Results of these studies are now beginning to reveal serious biological effects of the Fukushima radiation on non-human organisms ranging from plants to butterflies to birds. A series of articles summarising these studies has now been published in the Journal of Heredity. These describe widespread impacts, ranging from population declines to genetic damage to responses by the repair mechanisms that help organisms cope with radiation exposure. “A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster,” says Dr Timothy Mousseau of the University of South Carolina, lead author of one of the studies.’
- The Fukushima Health Crisis: Why New Studies Are Needed Now!
- Study: Japanese monkeys’ abnormal blood linked to Fukushima disaster
- Abnormal changes in small birds and the role of science
- Harvey Wasserman: Fukushima’s Children are Dying
- Global Physicians Issue Scathing Critique of UN Report on Fukushima
- UN Report: Fukushima radiation ‘unlikely’ to increase cancer rates
- Trace Levels of Fukushima Disaster Radionuclides in East Pacific Albacore
- Navy sailor suffering after Fukushima exposure: Others with same symptoms “told to be quiet”
- Ailing U.S. Sailors Sue TEPCO After Exposure to Radiation 30x Higher Than Normal
- U.S. sailors sue Tepco for $1 billion over alleged radiation exposure
- Radiation damage at the root of Chernobyl’s ecosystems
- Japan Nuclear Prof.: Fukushima plant now a ‘swamp of radioactive material’
- Japan Correspondent: It’s very scary, officials trying to brainwash public about Fukushima crisis
- TEPCO faces hurdles in construction of ice walls to block flow of contaminated water
- Will the Ice Wall Contain Fukushima’s Radiation? Interview with Paul Gunter
- No End in Sight for Nuclear Meltdown: Interview with Paul Gunter
- Manager at Japan’s Fukushima plant admits radioactive water ‘embarrassing’
- Japan’s Government Says It Must Restart Nuclear Reactors To Fuel The Country
- Fukushima, General Electric and the Obama Administration
- Unskilled and Destitute Are Hiring Targets for Fukushima Cleanup
- Concerns Over Measurement of Fukushima Fallout
‘Photos of Mao’s archenemy Chiang Kai-shek adorn the walls of a Beijing restaurant, and his face looks up at diners from the menu. Online, the deposed Chinese leader’s image is used to sell the kinds of lamps and swords he might have used. A liquor brand has patterned its bottle on Chiang’s memorial in Taipei. Twenty years ago, Chiang was considered an enemy of the people on mainland China. Today, he has become part of mainstream culture — sort of.
There has been a grudging acceptance of Chiang’s historical role in fighting against Japan following its invasion in the lead-up to World War II. Chiang later lost to Mao Zedong’s Communists in the Chinese civil war and fled in 1949 to Taiwan, where he ruled until his death in 1975. His revival on the mainland points to how China’s Communist Party uses history to make points about present-day politics. Chiang is doubly useful in that sense because China’s relations with Taiwan have been warming, while those with Japan are in steep decline.’
‘Tokuro Inokuma, a former Imperial Japanese Army soldier, got his first taste of the horrors of war in 1945 when he scrambled to gather up the scattered limbs of his fellow servicemen, blown apart by a U.S. air raid in Japan. He was 16. One of a dwindling number of World War Two veterans, Inokuma now finds troubling echoes in Tokyo’s policy shift away from the pacifist ideals adhered to after 1945. “I find it quite dangerous … This is the path we once took,” said Inokuma, who fought in China soon after the deadly air strike, and survived two years in concentration camps in the then-Soviet Union following Japan’s surrender.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month took a historic step by ending a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since 1945. The move has riled China, whose ties with Japan have been frayed by a territorial row over East China Sea islets. “We have neither killed nor been killed (in battle) for almost 70 years. That’s unprecedented. It’s important we think hard about that,” Inokuma, 85, told Reuters in an interview. Proponents say Japan needs to be able to exercise its right of collective self-defense, or helping a friendly country under attack, to respond to a tougher security environment. Critics say the change makes Japan more likely to get sucked into overseas wars.’
- Japan Is Readying Stealth Technology for Future Aircraft
- How Japan Fell in Love With America’s Drones
- Japan eyes buying Ospreys as US looks to expand fleet to mainland
- Veteran politician Ozawa: Japan PM’s policy shift risks dangerous path
- AKB48 singer recruits for SDF as Abe boosts military
- Tokyo sued over growth of military power
- Japan Ditches Pacifist Constitution Clause, Legalizes Overseas Intervention
- Eric Margolis: War of the Rising Sun
- Japan’s Constitutional Revisionism – Bowing Low to Washington
- Thousands denounce Japanese PM Abe’s security shift
- Japanese man self-immolates in pro-pacifist constitution protest
- Japan Military Jets Scrambled Record 340 Times in April-June
‘If shame is the natural response to Hiroshima, how is one to respond to Nagasaki, especially in view of all the declassified government papers on the subject? According to Dr. Joseph Gerson’s With Hiroshima Eyes, some 74,000 were killed instantly at Nagasaki, another 75,000 were injured and 120,000 were poisoned.
If Hiroshima was unnecessary, how to justify Nagasaki?
The saving of thousands of US lives is held up as the official justification for the two atomic bombings. Leaving aside the ethical and legal question of slaughtering civilians to protect soldiers, what can be made of the Nagasaki bomb if Hiroshima’s incineration was not necessary?’
‘Sixty-nine years ago at 8:15 a.m., the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Destruction from the bomb was massive — shock waves, radiation and heat rays took the lives of some 140,000 people — nearly half of the town’s population. Three days later, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on the Japanese Nagasaki killing another 74,000. At Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, we hear from blast survivor Koji Hosokawa, who was 17 years old at the time. His 13-year-old sister, Yoko, died in the bombing. Hosokawa spoke to us next to the A-bomb Dome, one of the few structures in the city that survived the blast.’ (Democracy Now!)
‘World War II ended 69 years ago, but shells are still exploding off the coast of Okinawa. Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force explosive ordnance disposal technicians detonated two dozen U.S.-made munitions Wednesday morning about 800 yards from shore in Kadena town’s Mizugama district, an area known as the “sea wall,” close to Kadena Air Base.
Nineteen of the 24 rounds were 5-inch shells found near the mouth of Hija River in Kadena town along with an 81 mm mortar shell, according to Kadena Town official Nobukazu Kobashigawa. They were accompanied by four 5-inch shells found on the Yomitan Village side. “It is not surprising to find those shells because the beach is where the allied forces first landed during the Battle of Okinawa,” Kobashigawa said. “I am sure there are lots more.”’
‘Japan is poised for a historic shift in its defense policy by ending a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since World War Two, a major step away from post-war pacifism and a big political victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The change will significantly widen Japan’s military options by ending the ban on exercising “collective self-defense”, or aiding a friendly country under attack. It will also relax limits on activities in U.N.-led peace-keeping operations and “grey zone” incidents short of full-scale war, according to a draft government proposal made available to reporters.
For now, however, Japan is likely to remain wary of putting boots on the ground in future multilateral operations such as the 1990-1991 Gulf War or the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, activities Abe himself has ruled out. The change will likely rile an increasingly assertive China, whose ties with Japan have chilled due to a maritime row, mutual mistrust and the legacy of Japan’s past military aggression, but will be welcomed by Tokyo’s ally Washington, which has long urged Japan to become a more equal partner in the alliance.’
- Japanese oppose overseas military role
- Australia backs increased military role for Japan
- Japan’s military is back — and open for business
- Abe’s Military Push May Please U.S. but Rattle Neighbors
- Japan fighter jet dispatch highest since Cold War
- Hagel, in Tokyo, moves to reassure Japan on security ties
- ‘Japan wants to spread military wings in way it hasn’t for decades’
- Japan boosts military forces to counter China
‘Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima will not include a call to kick Futenma air base out of the prefecture at next week’s ceremony commemorating the 69th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, prefectural officials said Thursday. The move comes six months after the governor approved a landfill project in Nago’s Henoko district needed to build a replacement base for the facility, which angered anti-base activists and a group representing the families of those lost in the battle.
It is also likely to increase tensions between Nakaima, who has indicated he wants to run for a third term this autumn, and his potential challenger, Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, who, although opposed to the Henoko relocation plan, is gaining ground among those who once backed Nakaima. More than 5,800 people attended last year’s June 23 ceremony, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Since 2012, the ceremony has included a recital of a peace declaration by the governor that calls on Tokyo to move Futenma outside Okinawa and to revise the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement to give local officials more authority over U.S. military personnel.’
‘There are now more millionaires in China than in Japan, as the wealthiest Chinese reaped huge returns from shadow-banking-related financial products, a new study revealed. China had 2,378,000 millionaire households in 2013, a rise of 82% from the previous year and almost double the 1,240,000 millionaire households in Japan, according to the Boston Consulting Group Global Wealth 2014 report. China’s millionaire population is now the world’s second-largest, trailing only the U.S., which boasted 7,135,000 millionaire households in 2013. BCG defines a millionaire household as those with $1 million in total liquid wealth, including stocks, cash and other financial investments but not real estate, collectibles or luxury items.’
‘To some, the long-stalled agreement to relocate a United States Marine base from a heavily populated area of Okinawa, Japan, to a smaller city might finally be seeing the light of day. During his visit to Japan in April, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, “We look forward to the facility’s construction beginning soon.” A few weeks later at a news conference in Tokyo, President Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed that progress had been made.
But for Susumu Inamine, mayor of the smaller city, Nago, the fight is far from over. In meetings at think tanks and with United States government officials this week, Mr. Inamine said that the government in Tokyo and Okinawa’s governor, who support the plan, did not speak for the island’s citizens. The city of Nago, he said, has the power to slow down or block construction of the base by deciding which roads or ports can be used and by exercising its authority to approve or deny certain permits. “What I really wanted to express here was if they unilaterally push forward this plan against the local people, it will not work well,” he said through an interpreter.’
‘Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be about to take one of his biggest steps yet to nudge Japan away from its postwar pacifism after a government advisory panel recommended Thursday that constitutional restrictions on the military be eased to allow Japanese forces to come to the aid of allied nations under attack. The panel, which was appointed by the Abe government, called on Japan to adopt a new legal interpretation of its war-renouncing Constitution that would permit an expanded role for its military, the Self-Defense Forces. Those forces have been strictly limited to protecting Japan’s own territory and people since they were created soon after World War II.
The reinterpretation would allow Japanese armed forces to act in limited cases even when Japan is not at risk, such as by shooting down a North Korean missile headed toward the United States, something it cannot legally do now. The proposed change would also allow Japanese forces to play a larger role in United Nations peacekeeping operations, the panel said. Though Japan has sent troops to peacekeeping operations since 1992, they act under severe constraints. If accepted, it would represent a fundamental shift in the stance of Japan’s military.’
- Feeling Triumphalist in Tokyo: The Real Reasons Nationalism Is Back in Japan
- Japan weighs abandoning pacifism (Video)
- New Axis: NATO, Japan Deepen Partnership, Discuss Ukraine
- Japan split over revision to pacifist constitution
- Protecting the peace Constitution
- Obama Begins Asia Tour By Reassuring Japan The U.S. Stands With Them (Video)
- Obama, Abe under pressure to salvage signature Pacific trade pact
- Abe faces push-back in aim to free Japan military from constitution
- Japan expands army footprint for first time in 40 years, risks angering China
- Japan Sends Troops to Island, Risking China Tensions
- Japan PM Chucks Ban on Exporting Weapons
- Neo-Fascism and the Resurgence of Militarism in Japan
- U.S. to help in ‘elimination’ of sensitive Japanese nuclear stockpile
- Japan Has Nuclear ‘Bomb in the Basement,’ and China Isn’t Happy
- Japan To Commemorate Kamikaze Pilots (Video)
- U.S. Official: Beijing Preparing For ‘Short, Sharp’ War With Japan
- Japan’s chief cabinet secretary rejects charges country lurching toward militarism
- Nile Bowie: Is Japan’s Shinzo Abe pivoting to the past?
- U.S. may get official nod to bring in nukes in emergency
- Disputed islands: Japan gives teachers new instructions
‘The FORBES Global 2000 is a comprehensive list of the world’s largest, most powerful public companies, as measured by revenues, profits, assets and market value. We weight the four numbers equally to come up with a composite score, in pursuit of our goal to best capture the full picture of corporate size. This year, the Global 2000 companies hail from 62 countries, up from 46 in our inaugural 2003 ranking. In total, they raked in revenues of $38 trillion and profits of $3 trillion, with assets worth $161 trillion and a market value of $44 trillion. All those totals are higher than a year ago, with the largest growth being in market value (up 13% year-over-year). These firms employ 90 million people worldwide.
For the first time, China is home to the world’s three biggest public companies and five of the top 10. State-controlled Chinese bank ICBC holds onto its No.1 spot for a second consecutive year, while China Construction Bank takes second place and Agricultural Bank of China moves up five spots to third. They’re joined in the top 10 by the other member of the “Big Four” Chinese banks, Bank of China, at No.9. As China gains ground, its best frenemy – the United States – account for the other half of the top 10 spots. Berkshire Hathaway and Wells Fargo WFC +0.1% both move up four spots to No.5 and No. 9, respectively. J.P. Morgan slides to fourth place as its total composite score slipped behind Agricultural Bank of China. Say goodbye to the two Europe-based companies in Top 10 last year, Royal Dutch Shell (No.11) and HSBC Holdings (No.14).’
‘China is pressing for a vast Asia-Pacific free trade agreement, a senior official said Wednesday, as a rival US-led deal that excludes the Asian giant has yet to reach agreement. Wang Shouwen, an assistant commerce minister, told reporters at a briefing that China has proposed setting up a working group to study the feasibility of an Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (FTAAP). The proposal comes ahead of a meeting in May of trade ministers from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which China will host.
…The United States has been trying to secure agreement on a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a grouping of 12 nations including Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Mexico. All belong to APEC. But the US-led trade talks have become hung up on issues related to Japan’s tightly-guarded auto and agricultural sectors. There had been hopes that Tokyo and Washington might break an impasse in the stalled talks during US President Barack Obama’s visit to Japan last week, but they failed to clinch a deal and negotiations continue.
Chinese President Xi Jinping in October said at the APEC business forum in Indonesia that his country will “commit itself to building a trans-Pacific regional cooperation framework that benefits all parties”. The comments were interpreted by Chinese media as criticism of the TPP — a key part of Obama’s economic and strategic policy.’
‘A new report by the World Bank shows that China is all but guaranteed to surpass the US this year as the world’s largest economy, currently just a hair’s breadth away from claiming the top spot, while India stands at a solid third place.
The study, put together under the World Bank’s International Comparison Program, analyzed the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of various nations. By using PPP, says the report, researchers were allowed to essentially equalize the disparate currencies of the countries that were studied, and compare “size and price levels of economies around the world.”
The numbers, all of which are from 2011, show that China’s overall GDP was 87% of that of the US, more than double the 43% that Chinese GDP was in relation to the US in 2005. India experienced similar growth, jumping from 19% of US GDP in 2005 to 37% in 2011; in the process, India vaulted from the tenth-largest world economy to the third-largest in the span of just six years.’
Japan’s largest organized crime group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, recently launched its own website. But if you’re hoping to see guys with crazy tattoos, dramatic gun battles, bloody sword fights, and fingers being chopped off — and who isn’t? — it may disappoint. For starters, the site looks like it was created in the late 1990s. Still, the criminal syndicate is hoping it’ll serve as a recruitment tool as the membership of yakuza organizations shrink and public support for them falls. And the branding reflects this; the site at first appears to be for an organization known as the Banish Drugs and Purify The Nation League — or Drug Expulsion of Land Purification Alliance, as Google translates it. The “purify the nation” thing is potentially unsettling, but it still doesn’t sound like a criminal organization.
But it was founded by one. The then-leader of the Yamaguchi-gumi founded it in 1963 as a group “dedicated to the eradication of amphetamine abuse.” Sources familiar with the syndicate told VICE News that the site was launched under the Banish Drugs… monicker to, one, remind Yamaguchi-gumi members to behave themselves, and two, to convince people that the Yamaguchi-gumi is not “an anti-social force,” as they’re called by police, and are instead a “humanitarian organization.” However, veteran police detective told us that they suspect the site may be a signal that the Yamaguchi-gumi plans to expand their operations. Japan has 21 designated organized crime-groups — the yakuza — each with their own corporate logo, office, and business cards. The groups are patriarchal pseudo-family organizations structured like a pyramid, with the top boss known as the oyabun ["father figure"] and those under him known as kobun ["children"]. They each control different regions of the country.
The UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the Japanese government must halt its whaling programme in the Antarctic. It agreed with Australia, which brought the case in May 2010, that the programme was not for scientific research as claimed by Tokyo.
Japan said it would abide by the decision but added it “regrets and is deeply disappointed by the decision”. Australia argued that the programme was commercial whaling in disguise.
The court’s decision is considered legally binding. Japan had argued that the suit brought by Australia was an attempt to impose its cultural norms on Japan.
‘World-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MITProfessor Noam Chomsky traveled to Japan last week ahead of the three-year anniversary of the Fukushima crisis. Chomsky, now 85 years old, met with Fukushima survivors, including families who evacuated the area after the meltdown. “[It's] particularly horrifying that this is happening in Japan with its unique, horrendous experiences with the impact of nuclear explosions, which we don’t have to discuss,” Chomsky says. “And it’s particularly horrifying when happening to children — but unfortunately, this is what happens all the time.”‘ (Democracy Now!)
General Electric faces two multibillion-dollar class actions from people hurt by the Fukushima nuclear disaster and its aftermath, who say GE and GE-Hitachi failed to properly design and maintain the power plant. One 2-page summons and notice in New York County Supreme Court demands compensatory damages of at least $3 million per plaintiff, but does not estimate the size of the class.
No one died in the radiation leak set off by a tsunami, but more than 100,000 people were evacuated. At $3 million apiece, damages would come to $300 billion. If granted, such an award could wipe out General Electric, which Forbes calls the second-largest company in the world. GE has 10 billion shares outstanding, and is trading at about $26, giving it a market capitalization of about $260 billion.
- The Fukushima Deception: Cover-Up at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- Fukushima Three Years Later, Myths & Misconceptions: Interview with Tim Judson and Kevin Kamps
- Fukushima 3 Years later, what have we learned?: Interview with Kevin Camps
- Ex-Japanese PM: Fukushima Meltdown Was Worse Than Chernobyl & Why He Now Opposes Nuclear Power
- Fukushima Could Make Japan a Leader In Nuclear Cleanup Tech
The number of yakuza, Japan’s organized crime group members, hit its lowest record since the country’s first anti-organized crime laws passed in 1992, the National Police Agency announced this week. The number of yakuza had hovered around 80,000 for almost 18 years up to 2011 but the nationwide criminalization of paying the yakuza or doing business with them has dealt a blow to these quasi-legal organizations. However, like many things in Japan, the statistics and the reality are always slightly askew.
According to the National Police Agency, yakuza membership peaked in 1963, at approximately 184,100 members. Since the implementation of the anti-organized crime laws in 1992, the number of active members “has been approximately at the same level” of roughly 80,000. But by the end of 2011 membership was starting to seriously decline down to 70,300 members. (32,700 regular members and 37,600 associates.)
Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Three Years Later, Who is Responsible?: Interview with Chiho Kaneko and Arnie Gundersen
‘Nuclear power engineer Arnie Gunderson and journalist Chiho Kaneko discuss a lawsuit to hold General Electric and other reactor manufacturing companies responsible and the Japanese public’s attitude toward nuclear energy.’ (The Real News)
- Nuclear lobby still gagging independent coverage three years after disaster
- Fukushima’s children at centre of debate over rates of thyroid cancer
- Fukushima operator may have to dump contaminated water into Pacific
- Japanese film director turns his camera on Fukushima fallout
- Japan’s Fukushima recovery: What’s been done and what’s still to do
- U.S. Nuclear Agency Hid Concerns, Hailed Safety Record as Fukushima Melted
- Lingering Problems At Fukushima Raise Questions About Nuclear Power Safety In US: Interview with David Lochbaum and Susan Stranahan (Video)
- Wikipedia: Nuclear power whistleblowers
- Fukushima Radiation To Reach West Coast In April, Experts Weigh In On How Dangerous It Is
- Japan Marks 3 Years Since Triple Disaster, 270k Survivors Still Can’t Go Home
- In Pictures: The Fukushima children who have to play indoors
- Hundreds rally in Tokyo against dropped Fukushima crisis charges
- “If She Bleeds, She Can’t Lead” Pro-Nuclear Abe-Loyalist Elected Tokyo Governor
- Meet the Robots of Fukushima Daiichi
- At Fukushima, a radioactive mess wrapped up in plastic with nowhere to go
- Japan’s nuclear regulator raps Fukushima operator over radiation readings
Scientists in Japan are trying to create a computer program smart enough to pass the University of Tokyo’s entrance exam, it appears. The project, led by Noriko Arai at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics, is trying to see how fast artificial intelligence might replace the human brain so that people can start training in completely new areas. “If society as a whole can see a possible change coming in the future, we can get prepared now,” she tells the Kyodo news agency.
But there’s also another purpose behind the Can A Robot Get Into The University of Tokyo? project, which began in 2011. If machines cannot replace human beings, then “we need to clarify what is missing and move to develop the technology,” says Noriko Arai. Last year, a robot passed a mock test for Japan’s most competitive university entrance exam – but fell short of a 50% score. In a recent interview with the Observer newspaper, Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, predicted computers would outsmart humans by 2029.
‘Legendary actor, author and activist, George Takei, best known for playing Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek, appears on Democracy Now! for an extended interview. In this excerpt, he talks about his role as World War II veteran Sam Kimura in “Allegiance: A New American Musical.” The musical tells the story of a Japanese-American family who is relocated from their farm after the attack on Pearl Harbor and placed in an internment camp in Wyoming. This parallels part of Takei’s own family history. At the age of five, his family was shipped to a Japanese-American internment camp in Rohwer, Arkansas.’ (Democracy Now!)
All of contemporary bioethics springs from the Nuremberg Doctors Trial in 1947. Seven Nazi doctors and officials were hanged and nine received severe prison sentences for performing experiments on an estimated 25,000 prisoners in concentration camps without their consent. Only about 1,200 died but many were maimed and psychologically scarred.
So did the US do to the hundreds of Japanese medical personnel who experimented on Chinese civilians and prisoners of war of many nationalities, including Chinese, Koreans, Russians, Australians, and Americans? They killed an estimated 3,000 people in the infamous Unit 731 in Harbin, in northeastern China before and during World War II – plus tens of thousands of civilians when they field-tested germ warfare. Many of the doctors were academics from Japan’s leading medical schools.
Well, almost nothing. Twelve doctors were tried and found guilty by the Soviets in the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials in 1949, but they were all repatriated in 1956. American authorities dismissed the trials as Soviet propaganda. Many of the doctors in Unit 731 went on to successful careers in Japan after the War. The commander of the unit, Shirō Ishii, lived in relative obscurity but his successor late in the war, Kitano Masaji, became head of one of Japan’s leading pharmaceutical companies.
How did the Japanese doctors escape justice?
A fascinating answer appears in the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. The broad outline of the story has been well documented, even if it is not widely known. To cut a long story short, the Americans struck a deal with the doctors. They traded immunity from prosecution for access to scientific information from the ghastly Japanese experiments – many of which are too grim to detail here. (If you have the stomach for it, a remorseful doctor describes, at the age of 90, some of his vivisection experiments in an article in the Japan Times.)
More than 100 copies of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, plus many other related works that make mention of her or the Holocaust, have been ripped apart recently in Tokyo—the capital of a country where sales of the diary are second only to those in the US. Per Kyodo News, some 265 books in total have been vandalized at 31 libraries since last month, with one library describing its affected books as “unusable” after some 10 to 20 pages were torn from them. A library worker in West Tokyo adds, “Each and every book which comes up under the index of Anne Frank has been damaged at our library.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called for an investigation, and points out that “the geographic scope of these incidents strongly suggest an organized effort to denigrate the memory of the most famous of the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis in the World War II Holocaust.” For now, “we don’t know why this happened or who did it,” Japan’s library council head tells the AFP. A BBC correspondent points out that Japan has neither a history of Jewish settlement nor a history of anti-Semitism.
Japanese-Americans are holding a Day of Remembrance this week for community elders who were unlawfully locked in internment camps during World War II. But for many people — including U.S. judicial authorities — the specter of the camps is hardly a thing of the past. “You are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told University of Hawaii law students earlier this month. “In times of war, the laws fall silent.”
For many former detainees who will tell their stories during remembrance events Wednesday [Feb 19th], Scalia’s words are a sobering reminder that national security at times trumps constitutional rights. They think of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of private communications or the indefinite detentions of alleged terrorism suspects — mostly Arab and Muslim men — under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The Day of Remembrance marks not only the day in 1942 when President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order allowing the internment of 120,000 people of Japanese origin after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor; it also serves as “a reminder to our communities — our civil rights are still not protected,” said Karen Korematsu, whose father, Fred Korematsu, famously challenged his detention in the landmark Supreme Court case Korematsu v. United States in 1944.
Karen Korematsu cited the NDAA’s indefinite detentions as one attack on civil rights now faced primarily by American Muslims. Among the other issues they say they face are the mass infiltration of mosque communities by law enforcement and harassment by Transportation Security Administration staff at U.S. borders. “Even (Scalia) said this could happen again. That’s why education (on Japanese-American internment and civil rights) is so important,” Korematsu said.