Category Archives: Japan

Japan | Move over Chernobyl, Fukushima is now officially the worst nuclear power disaster in history

by John LaForge

The radiation dispersed into the environment by the three reactor meltdowns at Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan has exceeded that of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, so we may stop calling it the “second worst” nuclear power disaster in history.

Japan | As Japan’s workers are facing increasing economic difficulties, Student Debt is still a major concern in the country

by Tsutomu Teramoto

In Japan, the student loan issue is so serious that at last the government now started a programme of scholarships and grants since this April. Despite its limits, the implementation of this programme was only made possible thanks to the pressure of social movements, making voices heard for improving the student loan system. This year, about 25,000 students can get these scholarships and grants. Of course, the problems are not solved at all.

Early trace of life from 3.95 Ga sedimentary rocks in Labrador, Canada

A group of scientists including Takayuki Tashiro, Akizumi Ishida, Masako Hori, Motoko Igisu, Mizuho Koike, Pauline Méjean, Naoto Takahata, Yuji Sano, Tsuyoshi Komiya find evidence of early life in Canada. The scientists write:

The vestiges of life in Eoarchean rocks have the potential to elucidate the origin of life. However, gathering evidence from many terrains is not always possible, and biogenic graphite has thus far been found only in the 3.7–3.8 Ga (gigayears ago) Isua supracrustal belt. Here we present the total organic carbon contents and carbon isotope values of graphite (δ13Corg) and carbonate (δ13Ccarb) in the oldest metasedimentary rocks from northern Labrador. Some pelitic rocks have low δ13Corg values of −28.2, comparable to the lowest value in younger rocks. The consistency between crystallization temperatures of the graphite and metamorphic temperature of the host rocks establishes that the graphite does not originate from later contamination. A clear correlation between the δ13Corg values and metamorphic grade indicates that variations in the δ13Corg values are due to metamorphism, and that the pre-metamorphic value was lower than the minimum value. We concluded that the large fractionation between the δ13Ccarb and δ13Corg values, up to 25‰, indicates the oldest evidence of organisms greater than 3.95 Ga. The discovery of the biogenic graphite enables geochemical study of the biogenic materials themselves, and will provide insight into early life not only on Earth but also on other planets.

US and DPRK still insist on playing the power game

As relations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea further deteriorate, some East Asian countries are busy strengthening their militaries. At the United Nations forum on disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday, the US and the DPRK accused each other of posing a nuclear threat. US envoy Robert Wood elaborated on President Donald Trump’s top priority: protect the US and its allies against the “growing threat” from the DPRK, for which Washington will use “the full range of capabilities at our disposal”.

Precarity as Freedom? Youth, Neoliberalism and the Dissolution of ‘Japan, Inc.’

by Shuto Fukuoka

It would not be an overstatement to say that the Japanese youth of today are significantly foreign to the one a couple of decades ago, in relation to their lives, values, and consciousness. Throughout the post-war period, and particularly the past two decades, Japan witnessed dramatic socioeconomic transformation. Japanese society was founded on long-lasting jobs, marriages, and quite-uniform connections under the order of ‘Japan, Inc.’ ‘Lifetime employment’ (shushin koyō) and the ‘seniority-based payment system’ (nenkō joretsu) served as the very bedrock of Japanese corporate philosophy – a system underpinned by both hierarchies of age and, at the same time, an egalitarian approach to human relations.