Category Archives: Japan

How Japan Has Almost Eradicated Gun Crime

Harry Low writes for BBC World Service:

Japanese man points gun at cameraJapan has one of the lowest rates of gun crime in the world. In 2014 there were just six gun deaths, compared to 33,599 in the US. What is the secret?

If you want to buy a gun in Japan you need patience and determination. You have to attend an all-day class, take a written exam and pass a shooting-range test with a mark of at least 95%.

There are also mental health and drugs tests. Your criminal record is checked and police look for links to extremist groups. Then they check your relatives too – and even your work colleagues. And as well as having the power to deny gun licences, police also have sweeping powers to search and seize weapons.

That’s not all. Handguns are banned outright. Only shotguns and air rifles are allowed.



Cops of the Pacific? The US Military’s Role in Asia in the Age of Trump

Tim Shorrock writes for TomDispatch:

US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships sail in formation during a joint/bilateral field training exercise on November 12, 2014. […] In the last few years, the Obama administration and the Pentagon have used China’s expanding military might and the never-ending standoff with nuclearizing North Korea to incorporate Japan and South Korea ever more fully into a vision of an American-dominated Pacific. One stumbling block has been the deep animosity between the two countries, given that Japan colonized Korea from 1910 to 1945; later, during the Korean War, which devastated the peninsula, Japan profited handsomely by supplying US forces with vehicles and other military supplies. In addition, Korean anger over Japan’s refusal to apologize for its use of Korean sexual slaves (“comfort women”) during World War II remains a powerful force to overcome.

Until recently, the US has had the help of a compliant leader, President Park Guen-Hye who, just as the Trumpian moment begins, finds herself scrambling for her political life as the first Korean president to be legally toppled since 1960. (An interim president, Park’s conservative Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, will run the government until the Constitutional Court reviews the legality of her impeachment, a process that could take up to six months.) Despite all these problems, and while never quite publicly stating the obvious, American officials have been focused on putting in place a triangular alliance that would transform the Japanese and South Korean militaries into proxy forces capable of helping extend US power and influence ever further into Asia (and also, potentially, elsewhere in the world).

On the eve of Donald Trump‘s election, such arrangements were quickly reaching fruition. As 2016 draws to an end, the Pentagon appears to be rushing to make Obama’s Asian pivot and the militarization of the region that goes with it permanent before Trump can act or, for that matter, the United States can lose its Korean political allies (which could happen if Park’s conservative ruling party is replaced in next year’s elections).


Ivanka Trump’s Presence at Meeting With Japan’s Leader Raises Questions

Eric Lipton reports for The New York Times:

Image result for Ivanka Trump abeThe potential for conflicts of interest between President-elect Donald J. Trump and his family’s business ventures emerged again Thursday evening, when a photograph was distributed that showed his daughter Ivanka at a meeting between Mr. Trump and the prime minister of Japan.

News reporters were not allowed to attend the session, Mr. Trump’s first with a foreign head of government, and no summary was provided about what was discussed. A separate photograph was distributed — press photographers were not allowed to cover the event — showing that Jared Kushner, Ms. Trump’s husband, was present for at least part of the gathering.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan said after the meeting that he had a “very candid discussion” with Mr. Trump. He did not discuss who else attended the gathering or elaborate on the topics discussed.

Ms. Trump will be among the members of the president-elect’s family who will be placed in charge of Mr. Trump’s business enterprises, which include an international chain of hotels with operations in Latin America, Europe and North America.


Noam Chomsky on Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima and Presidential Legacy: “Nothing to Rave About”

Amy Goodman speaks with world-renowned political academic Noam Chomsky about President Obama becoming the first serving U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, Japan, where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb toward the end of World War II on what Chomsky calls “the grimmest day I can remember.” Chomsky examines the U.S. role in launching the nuclear age, Obama’s role in continuing it, and the rest of his legacy. “I don’t usually agree with Sarah Palin, but when she was ridiculing this—what she called this ‘hopey-changey stuff,’ she had a point. There were a few good things. … But opportunities that were available, especially in the first two years when he had Congress with him, just were not used. By the standards of U.S. presidential politics, it’s kind of nothing special either way, nothing to rave about, certainly.” (Democracy Now!)

Hiroshima: Last Military Act of World War II or First Act of the Cold War?

William Blum wrote on the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1995:

Does winning World War II and the Cold War mean never having to say you’re sorry? The Germans have apologized to the Jews and to the Poles. The Japanese have apologized to the Chinese and the Koreans, and to the United States for failing to break off diplomatic relations before attacking Pearl Harbor. The Russians have apologized to the Poles for atrocities committed against civilians, and to the Japanese for abuse of prisoners. The Soviet Communist Party even apologized for foreign policy errors that “heightened tension with the West”.

Is there any reason for the United States to apologize to Japan for atomizing Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Those on opposing sides of this question are lining up in battle formation for the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the atom bombs on August 6 and 9, 1945. During last year’s heated controversy surrounding the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit on the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima, US veterans went ballistic. They condemned the emphasis on the ghastly deaths caused by the bomb and the lingering aftereffects of radiation, and took offense at the portrayal of Japanese civilians as blameless victims. An Air Force group said vets were “feeling nuked”.

In Japan, too, the anniversary has rekindled controversy. The mayors of the two Japanese cities in question spoke out about a wide “perception gap” between the two countries. Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima, surmounting a cultural distaste for offending, called the bombings “one of the two great crimes against humanity in the 20th Century, along with the Holocaust”.

Defenders of the US action counter that the bomb actually saved lives: It ended the war sooner and obviated the need for a land invasion. Estimates of the hypothetical saved-body count, however, which range from 20,000 to 1.2 million, owe more to political agendas than to objective projections.


Why Japan’s Conviction Rate Is 99%

In Japan, crime rates are low and the state incarcerates far fewer people than in other rich countries. But when people are accused of a crime they are almost always convicted. (The Economist)

In Japan, Tens of Thousands Anti-War Protesters Reject Return to Militarism

Jon Queally reports for Common Dreams:

Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the Japanese parliament building on Sunday to reject plans put forth by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that would see an aggressive expansion of the nation’s armed forces despite a long-standing constitutional mandate for a “defense only” military posture.

The enormous crowd—estimated by organizers as more than 120,000 people—is opposing a set of bills moving through the country’s legislature which would allow the country’s military to engage in overseas fighting and ratchet up spending on new weapons systems. Despite loud public protest against the plan, Abe has continued to defend the plan. Demonstrators carried banners reading “Peace Not War” and “Abe, Quit!”

“Sitting in front of TV and just complaining wouldn’t do,” Naoko Hiramatsu, a 44-year-old associate professor in French and one of the Tokyo protesters, told Reuters. Holding his four-year-old son in her arms, she continued, “If I don’t take action and try to put a stop on this, I will not be able to explain myself to my child in the future.”


The Firebombing of Tokyo

Rory Fanning wrote for Jacobin back in March:

Charred remains of Japanese civilians after the firebombing of Tokyo. Ishikawa Kouyou / Wikimedia Commons[9th March marked] the seventieth anniversary of the American firebombing of Tokyo, World War II’s deadliest day. More people died that night from napalm bombs than in the atomic strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But few in the United States are aware that the attack even took place.

The lack of ceremonies or official state apologies for the firebombing is unsurprising considering that many Americans see World War II as the “just war” fought by the “greatest generation.” These labels leave the war and the atrocities Americans committed during it largely untouched by critique.

The little that is available to study on the firebombing, at least here in the US, is told from the perspective of American crewmen and brass, through usually biased American military historians. Those seeking better understanding of the March 9 tragedy must wade through reams of history primarily devoted to strategy; the heroics of American soldiers; the awesome power behind the bombs unleashed that day; and a cult-like devotion to the B-29 Superfortress, the plane that dropped the napalm over Tokyo and the atomic bombs, and was the inspiration for George Lucas’s Millennium Falcon.

The overriding narrative surrounding the events of March 9, 1945 is that the American pilots and military strategists such as Gen. Curtis LeMay, the architect of the firebombing, had no other option but to carry out the mission. The Americans had “no choice” but to burn to death nearly one hundred thousand Japanese civilians.


70th Anniversary of US Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Interview with Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe

‘Seventy years ago today, at 8:15 in the morning, the U.S. dropped the world’s first 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. Three days later, the U.S. dropped a second atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing another 74,000. President Harry Truman announced the attack on Hiroshima in a nationally televised address on August 6, 1945. Today, as the sun came up in Hiroshima, tens of thousands began to gather in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park to commemorate the world’s first nuclear attack. We are joined by the acclaimed Japanese novelist and winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature, Kenzaburo Oe, whose books address political and social issues, including nuclear weapons and nuclear power. “If Mr. Obama were to come to the memorial ceremonies in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, for example, what he could do is come together with the hibakusha, the survivors, and share that moment of silence, and also express considering the issue of nuclear weapons from the perspective of all humanity and how important nuclear abolition is from that perspective—I think, would be the most important thing, and the most important thing that any politician or representative could do at this time,” says Oe, who has also spoken out in defense of Japan’s pacifist constitution, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed to amend in order to allow the country to send troops into conflict for the first time since World War II.’ (Democracy Now!)

The indefensible Hiroshima revisionism that haunts America to this day

Christian Appy writes for TomDispatch:

The indefensible Hiroshima revisionism that haunts America to this dayHere we are, 70 years after the nuclear obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I’m wondering if we’ve come even one step closer to a moral reckoning with our status as the world’s only country to use atomic weapons to slaughter human beings. Will an American president ever offer a formal apology? Will our country ever regret the dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” those two bombs that burned hotter than the sun? Will it absorb the way they instantly vaporized thousands of victims, incinerated tens of thousands more, and created unimaginably powerful shockwaves and firestorms that ravaged everything for miles beyond ground zero? Will it finally come to grips with the “black rain” that spread radiation and killed even more people — slowly and painfully — leading in the end to a death toll for the two cities conservatively estimated at more than 250,000?

Given the last seven decades of perpetual militarization and nuclear “modernization” in this country, the answer may seem like an obvious no. Still, as a historian, I’ve been trying to dig a little deeper into our lack of national contrition. As I have, an odd fragment of Americana kept coming to mind, a line from the popular 1970 tearjerker Love Story: “Love,” says the female lead when her boyfriend begins to apologize, “means never having to say you’re sorry.” It has to be one of the dumbest definitions ever to lodge in American memory, since real love often requires the strength to apologize and make amends.


Tokyo Electric executives to be charged over Fukushima nuclear disaster

Kentaro Hamada and Osamu Tsukimori report for Reuters:

A Japanese civilian judiciary panel on Friday forced prosecutors to indict three former Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) executives for failing to take measures to prevent the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The decision is unlikely to lead to a conviction of the former executives, after prosecutors twice said they would not bring charges, but means they will be summoned to appear in court to give evidence.

Tokyo prosecutors in January rejected the panel’s judgment that the three should be charged, citing insufficient evidence. But the 11 unidentified citizens on the panel forced the indictment after a second vote, which makes an indictment mandatory.

The three are former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, and former executives Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69.

Citizens’ panels, made up of residents selected by lottery, are a rarely used but high-profile feature of Japan’s legal system introduced after World War Two to curb bureaucratic overreach.


Target Tokyo: WikiLeaks reveals NSA spied on Japanese PM Shinzō Abe and companies like Mitsubishi

Anthony Cuthbertson reports for International Business Times:

CartoonThe US National Security Agency (NSA) undertook systematic mass surveillance of Japanese politicians, ministries and corporations over a number of years, according to recently published documents. The revelations come from whistleblowing organisation WikiLeaks, which released a list of 35 top secret targets in Japan on Friday morning (31 July).

The most high-profile target listed in the “Target Tokyo” documents is the current Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe, while corporations named include car-manufacturing giant Mitsubishi. The documents also reveal that the US bugged Japan’s confidential G8 proposals on climate change, as well as spying on Japan’s secret World Trade Organisation (WTO) plan.

The period of spying on Abe dates from the Prime Minister’s first term in office, lasting from September 2006 until September 2007. Abe has since returned to office and the latest leaks will come as a major embarrassment for the US and in particular President Barack Obama who just months ago described Japan as “one of America’s closest allies in the world” during a meeting with Abe in Washington. They also follow similar leaks revealing intimate surveillance on other allies that include Brazil, France and Germany.


What really goes on at G7? Interview with Nick Dearden

‘Nick Dearden, Director of NGO Global Justice Now, talks about what is really going on at the summit in the Bavarian town of Schloss Elmau. As the leaders of the richest countries on the globe meet to discuss improving the world, are they really just planning policies to benefit elites in Western countries? Plus what is The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and how is it making it easier for big corporations to buy up land in developing countries.’ (Going Underground)

Where Japanese fight a US military base with kayaks

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports for BBC News:

Graphic[…] Okinawa makes up just 0.6% of Japan’s land mass but, as the locals will never tire of telling you, it hosts over 70% of the US bases in Japan.

The people of Okinawa are weary of the 70 years of “semi-occupation”. They have long complained of the noise and danger from US planes and helicopters flying day and night.

Most of all they complain of the young men of the US Marine Corps, who are seen as drunken, violent and a threat to Okinawan women.

In fact the statistics speak otherwise – the incidence of rape, murder and other crimes by American personnel in Okinawa is low.

But a small number of horrific cases have done huge harm – in particular the 1995 gang rape of a 13-year-old Okinawan schoolgirl by four US Marines changed attitudes here dramatically.

It’s a big reason why the US government wants to move Futenma, the largest Marine base in Okinawa, out of the densely populated south of the island to a remote spot 60km away.’


Effort by Japan to Stifle News Media Is Working

Martin Fackler reports for The New York Times:

It was an unexpected act of protest that shook Japan’s carefully managed media world: Shigeaki Koga, a regular television commentator and fierce critic of the political establishment, abruptly departed from the scripted conversation during a live TV news program to announce that this would be his last day on the show because, as he put it, network executives had succumbed to political pressure for his removal.

“I have suffered intense bashing by the prime minister’s office,” Mr. Koga told his visibly flabbergasted host late last month, saying he had been removed as commentator because of critical statements he had made about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Later in the program, Mr. Koga held up a sign that read “I am not Abe,” a play on the slogan of solidarity for journalists slain in January at a French satirical newspaper.

The outburst created a public firestorm, and not only because of the spectacle of Mr. Koga, a dour-faced former top government official, seemingly throwing away his career as a television commentator in front of millions of viewers. His angry show of defiance also focused national attention on the right-leaning government’s increased strong-arming of the news media to reduce critical coverage.’


US, Japan Unveil New Military ‘Guidelines’ with Eye on China

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

US and Japanese officials today unveiled the broad strokes of a new set of “guidelines”for military cooperation, eliminating long-standing geographical restrictions on Japan’s involvement that were and are necessitated by the country’s constitution limiting their military engagements.

Pressed heavily by the US to the biggest military buildup since the end of WW2, and with hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe only too willing to go along, US officials are calling the deal an “historic transition” for Japan.

[…] US interests in confronting China militarily are informing much of this policy, with the planned “Asia pivot” by the Pentagon somewhat blunted by a major new US war against ISIS.

The US has been verbally picking fights with China over naval claims for several years now, backing literally every other country in the region whenever claimed naval territory overlaps, and talking up confrontations in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.’


Japan is again the America’s largest creditor but…

Asia Times reports:

Japan overtook China in February as the biggest creditor to the U.S., regaining the place it last held at the beginning of the fiscal crisis in 2008. However, it wasn’t a case of Japan buying more than its neighbor, but rather a case of China selling more of its holdings.

[…] The changes reflect the different economic situations the two countries are in. As China’s economic growth slows, it needs fewer dollar assets to prevent the yuan from strengthening. Now China may need to sell dollar assets to keep the yuan from falling as capital outflows increase. In fact, China has been steadily selling U.S. government debt since November 2013, when its holdings peaked at $1.3167 trillion.

Meanwhile, Japan has been increasing its holdings of U.S. treasuries since December 2012 when Shinzo Abe was elected prime minister on a platform to reignite that country’s moribund economy by sparking inflation and weakening the yen. Since then, Japan has bought $113.2 billion of U.S. debt, pushing the yen’s value down 30%.’


Tokyo firebombing: Survivors recall most destructive air raid in history

Julian Ryall reports for DW:

‘[…] A total of 279 B-29 Superfortresses took part in the raid, dropping 1,665 tons of bombs on the Japanese capital. The majority were 230kg cluster bombs that each released 38 bomblets carrying napalm at an altitude of around 750 meters.

The weapons were able to burn straight through the flimsy homes, schools and hospitals in what was primarily a residential district.

As well as the 100,000 who were killed, an estimated 125,000 were injured and 1.5 million lost their homes. The raid killed more people than the comparable attack on the German city of Dresden, as well as the immediate casualties of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki five months later. The firestorm also destroyed countless small companies churning out equipment for the Japanese war effort.’


Japan vs. the Islamic State

‘The brutal beheadings of Japanese nationals Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa by the Islamic State in January have shocked the island nation and lent momentum to an effort to expand the limitations imposed on its constitution and military after its defeat by the United States in World War II. Leftists in Japan fear that the incident will encourage a departure from the country’s pacifist constitution, whose Article 9 states that “the Japanese people forever renounce… the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.” Right-wingers, meanwhile, see an opportunity to allow Japan to assert itself as a truly sovereign state. In the wake of the Islamic State beheadings, VICE News reports from Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to re-militarize the pacifist nation has inspired protests from the left.’ (VICE News)

Japan Mulls Creating Its Own CIA

Mina Pollmann reports for The Diplomat:

Japan Mulls Creating Its Own CIAAs Japan recovers from the shock of the hostage crisis, lawmakers are beginning to consider how they could have responded to the situation better. One of the key issues being discussed is how to overcome Japan’s reliance on foreign intelligence agencies to gather information abroad, because Japan does not currently have an independent intelligence-gathering entity.

A Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) project team is looking into changing that. The team, chaired by House of Representatives lawmaker Takeshi Iwaya, will look at the possibility of creating an independent intelligence-gathering agency like the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency or the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service. The team will meet with U.S. and British experts and learn about the British model firsthand over the summer. They are scheduled to draft a proposal by this autumn.’


Japan Announces Plans for the First Hotel Run by Robots

Natasha Geiling reports for Smithsonian:

[…] The two-story, 72-room Henn-na Hotel, which is slated to open July 17, will be staffed by ten robots that will greet guests, carry their luggage and clean their rooms. According to The Telegraph, the robots, created by robotics company Kokoro, will be an especially humanoid model known as an “actroid.” Actroid robots are generally based on young Japanese women, and they can speak fluent Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English, as well as mimic body language and human behaviors such as blinking and hand gestures. Three actroids will staff the front desk, dealing with customers as they check in to the hotel. Four will act as porters, carrying guests’ luggage, while another group will focus on cleaning the hotel. The hotel itself will also feature some high-tech amenities, such as facial recognition software that will allow guests to enter locked rooms without a key, and room temperatures monitored by a panel that detects a guest’s body heat.’


U.S. Bolsters Missile-Defense Presence in Japan

Brendan McGarry reports for DoD Buzz:

U.S. Bolsters Missile-Defense Presence in JapanThe U.S. is bolstering its ability to intercept ballistic missiles fired from North Korea with the deployment of another missile-defense radar in central Japan.

In a joint announcement on Friday, the U.S. and Japanese governments said a second so-called Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system, or AN/TPY-2, made by Raytheon Co. has been installed on the island nation.

The announcement follows discussions last year between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe involving deployment of the technology that drew opposition from China.’


Asia’s military budgets surge as armies go high-tech

Hamish McDonald reports for Asian Review:

‘[…] With their economies moving into the so-called middle-income bracket — higher in the case of fully developed Singapore — governments have more to spend on advanced military platforms and weapons. Southeast Asia’s defense spending grew by 5% on the year to nearly $36 billion in 2013, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, just ahead of the 4.7% increase for East Asia to $282 billion.

Meanwhile, established defense manufacturers in Europe, Russia and North America are eager to sell, with lavish export credits being made available to sweeten deals. Closer to the region, Japan and South Korea, the industrial giants of East Asia, are also entering the arms bazaar.

China’s growing assertiveness in claiming the South China Sea as sovereign territory — against counterclaims from five Southeast Asian countries — has brought encouragement from the U.S., Japan, India and Australia, and help in enhancing the capabilities of regional armed forces and coast guards.

Consequently, the region is seeing large-scale acquisitions of equipment aimed at establishing the ability to contest control and make potential rivals think twice about intruding.’


Japan Is Back and So Is Nationalism

LATEST NEWS: Japan’s Abe re-elected in landslide despite low turnout

Nadeem Shad writes for The Diplomat:

‘[…] For years nationalism in Japan was relegated to the sidelines. Prevalent before and during the Second World War it found intellectual and political space in the Kokugaku School, the works of Inoue Tetsujirō; before being institutionalized by the state in the form of a corrupted version of Bushido or in Japan’s vision of a “Co-Prosperity Sphere.”

After Japan’s defeat, nationalists faced a much more difficult environment, typified by Japan’s new pacifist constitution. For decades after the war, nationalism was kept alive by a relatively small cadre of political and intellectual elites. Incidents included the 1986 school textbook controversy, 2001 textbook controversy, and the concept of nihonjinron. However, none of these small movements gained any traction in mainstream political and social imagination.

Now, under Shinzo Abe, nationalism is making a disconcerting return to the forefront of Japanese politics. This has manifest in several ways. The first example was the lightning rise of the Japan Restoration Party to become the third-largest party in the Diet in its first election in 2012, displacing the NKP in the process. The party is by perhaps Japan’s leading nationalist, former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, whose his controversial proposal to buy the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands prompted their nationalization by the Japanese state, a move that sparked a serious downturn in Sino-Japanese relations.’


China rebukes Japan nationalists over denying Nanjing massacre

Press TV reports:

‘Speaking at his country’s first state commemoration of the Nanjing massacre on Saturday, Xi Jinping criticized Japanese nationalists for denying the atrocity.

“Anyone who tries to deny the massacre will not be allowed by history, the souls of the 300,000 deceased victims, 1.3 billion Chinese people and all people loving peace and justice in the world,” Xi said, adding, “Forgetting history is a betrayal, and denying a crime is to repeat a crime.”

He, however, stated that while history must never be forgotten, China should not bear hatred against an entire region “just because a small minority of militarists set off an invasion and war.”’


Adult nappies ‘outsell baby nappies’ in Japan

News on Japan reports:

‘Adult nappies are outselling nappies for babies in Japan, analysts at Pew Research Center believe.

Incontinence is a common problem among the elderly population and, with the average age of populations across the world increasing, the Japanese market is leading the way

In Japan, people aged 65-and-over account for around a quarter of the overall population, increasing from 17.4% in 2000..’


Japan: Okinawa elects leader determined to halt new US Marine air base

Justin McCurry reports for Christian Science Monitor:

GraphicPreliminary work on a controversial new US Marine Corps base on the strategically important Japanese island of Okinawa took a blow Sunday when voters there elected a new governor who is fiercely opposed to the base.

The election was dominated by the US military presence, including the long-planned closure of Futenma, a base and runway situated in the midst of a densely populated city, and the construction of a new Marine air base in a remote and pristine offshore location farther north.

But the election of Takeshi Onaga may cast doubt on the base move, which has been the subject of wrangling for nearly 20 years.

Mr. Onaga would like to move the US base entirely off Okinawa. He is the first candidate for governor to openly oppose the US military base and win an election.’


Nomi Prins: Why the Financial and Political System Failed and Stability Matters

Editor’s Note: Nomi Prins is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs and a former senior managing director at Bear Stearns. I would HIGHLY recommend reading her new book “All The Presidents’ Bankers“, quite possibly the best work on the history of America’s financial elite that has ever been written. She is also author of “It Takes A Pillage” and a novel “Black Tuesday“. You can check out more of her work at her website, or via the select links below.

Nomi Prins writes:

‘The recent spike in global political-financial volatility that was temporarily soothed by European Central Bank (ECB) covered bond buying and Bank of Japan (BOJ) stimulus reveals another crack in the six-year-old throw-money-at-the-banks strategies of politicians and central bankers. The premise of using banks as credit portals to transport public funds from the government to citizens is as inefficient as it is not happening. The power elite may exude belabored moans about slow growth and rising inequality in speeches and press releases, but they continue to find ways to provide liquidity, sustenance and comfort to financial institutions, not to populations.

The very fact – that without excessive artificial stimulation or the promise of it – more hell breaks loose – is one that government heads neither admit, nor appear to discuss. But the truth is that the global financial system has already failed. Big banks have been propped up, and their capital bases rejuvenated, by various means of external intervention, not their own business models.

In late October, the Federal Reserve released its latest 2015 stress test scenarios. They don’t even exceed the parameters of what actually took place during the 2008-2009-crisis period. This makes them, though statistically viable, completely irrelevant in an inevitable full-scale meltdown of greater magnitude. This Sunday [Oct 26th], the ECB announced that 25 banks failed their tests, none of which were the biggest banks (that received the most help). These tests are the equivalent of SAT exams for which students provide the questions and answers, and a few get thrown under the bus for cheating to make it all look legit.

Regardless of the outcome of the next set of tests, it’s the very need for them that should be examined. If we had a more controllable, stable, accountable and transparent system (let alone one not in constant litigation and crime-committing mode) neither the pretense of well-thought-out stress tests making a difference in crisis preparation, nor the administering of them, would be necessary as a soothing tool. But we don’t. We have an unreformed (legally and morally) international banking system still laden with risk and losses, whose major players control more assets than ever before, with our help.’


The Top Censored Stories of 2014: Interview with Mickey Huff

Abby Martin interviews, Mickey Huff, Director of Project Censored, about some of the top 25 censored stories of 2014, covering everything from the lack of police brutality statistics to the impact of ocean acidification.’ (Breaking the Set)

Debunking the Myth of Why the Atomic Bombs Were Necessary

Abby Martin reflects on the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and explains why this wasn’t a necessary action in order to end World War II.’ (Breaking the Set)