If it's not the shareholders and not the local government...

... then who is the one who makes the decision about nuclear power?

Utilities defy shareholders' antinuke calls


Staff writers

Nine electric utilities held annual shareholders' meetings Wednesday, with antinuclear investors causing a ruckus by pushing them to shut down their atomic plants and increase the use of renewable energy.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co. also faced rare criticism from local governments, which own a considerable stake in the regional power companies and have started scrutinizing their financial structures after the catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

"Public confidence in Tepco has been damaged," and the company has to seriously try to change itself, Tokyo Vice Gov. Naoki Inose told the meeting. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is Tepco's largest stakeholder.

Shareholders voted in favor of the plan to nationalize the utility.

Not a single proposal by shareholders was approved.

Kepco shareholders said no to all 28 motions made Wednesday to shift from nuclear power and fossil fuels to renewable energy, including one backed by the mayors of Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto that would have obliged the utility to eventually abolish its 11 reactors.


Money or Magic?

Does anyone have a magic wand we could borrow?

Japan's infrastructure needs rebuilding, the parts of Japan devastated by last year's tsunami and earthquake need rebuilding, and our aging population is starting to claim their social security pensions. This means Japan has big bills to pay. And that is why Japan needs a magic wand.

The ruling party planned to finance all this through a hike in the sales tax. No one likes taxes. No one likes to live in a country where bridges fall down, tunnels collapse, harbors are unusable, and the electricity and water supplies fail, either. The lesser evil seems to be raising the tax in order to pay for what needs to be fixed.

Even the opposition parties agree on this.

Actually, everyone agrees except the ruling party's disgraced Ichiro Ozawa.

His idea is for him to resign from the ruling party in protest of the proposed tax hike and take his buddies with him. This means Japan will have to stop dealing with rebuilding the infrastructure and go through the fuss and feathers of an election which Mr. Ozawa has pinned his political hopes to.

Is the expensive and time consuming rigamarole of an election really what Japan most needs at this point in time?

Did I mention that Mr. Ozawa represents Iwate, the prefecture hardest hit by last year's tsunami? The prefecture most in need of rebuilding?

If Mr. Ozawa were willing to pay for the necessary rebuilding out of his very own pocket, he might be forgiven his election, but he has been strangely silent on this point.

So, if you happen to have an extra magic wand, please send it to Tokyo.
Thank you!


Would you want these people as neighbors?

I don't think so. Read what they buried in the backyard they rented. And now they are asking for a new lease?!

Friday, June 15, 2012 [Japan Times online]

Agent Orange at base in '80s: U.S. vet

Nearby residents of Futenma possibly tainted by leaking barrels


Special to The Japan Times

The U.S. Marine Corps buried a massive stockpile of Agent Orange at the Futenma air station in Okinawa, possibly poisoning the base's former head of maintenance and potentially contaminating nearby residents and the ground beneath the base, The Japan Times recently learned from interviews with U.S. veterans.

[photo--unable to reproduce here, but I want you to know it exists]Deep deception: The worksite where Kris Roberts unearthed over 100 leaking barrels is seen in a photo taken in summer 1981. KRIS ROBERTS

The barrels were apparently abandoned in Okinawa at the end of the Vietnam War — when the U.S. government banned the dioxin-laden defoliant for health reasons — and were buried at the installation in the city of Ginowan after the Pentagon ignored requests to safely dispose of them, according to the veterans who served at the installation in the 1970s and 1980s.

PS: Did you read that bit about being abandoned for "health reasons"? Hah! Whose health?


We missed it

Tokyo on Wednesday, June 6, was covered by clouds and sprinkled by intermittent rain--especially in the morning, when we should have been able to witness the planet Venus's transit across the sun. For simple folk like me, it would have been interesting because of the event's rarity. But scientists have a much deeper interest. Here is how they explain the significance of the Venus transit:

Planetary transits have enduring scientific value.

"Timing the transit from two widely separated places on the Earth's surface allows you to work out the distance to Venus and hence the size of the solar system," explained Fred Watson, astronomer-in-chief at the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

Scientists say it also allows them to learn more about how to decipher the atmospheres of planets outside our solar system as they cross in front of their own stars.

Only six transits have ever been observed — in 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and 2004 — because they need magnification to be seen properly, though the event has happened 53 times between 2000 BC and 2004.


It's About Time

The wheels of the law grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. Thank goodness!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Aum fugitive Kikuchi collared in Kanagawa


Aum Shinrikyo cultist Naoko Kikuchi was arrested Sunday night after spending 17 years on the lam following the deadly 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, investigative sources said.

Kikuchi, formerly a senior member of the doomsday cult, was taken into custody in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, and transferred to the Metropolitan Police Department in nearby Tokyo, where she was arrested for murder and attempted murder in connection with the sarin attack.

Kikuchi, 40, is one of a trio of Aum fugitives that had eluded police until Makoto Hirata turned himself in on New Year's Eve last year after more than 16 years on the run.

Kikuchi allegedly helped make the deadly gas and an anesthetic that was used to initiate Aum followers and subdue those who grew skeptical of the cult's deranged guru, Shoko Asahara, 57.


Spring and the Animals

First it was a penguin, now it's a "tanuki" raccoon dog. Animals just wanna have fun.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Raccoon dog evades palace guards


Staff writer

Imperial Palace guards continued efforts Friday to shoo away a "tanuki" raccoon dog that has been hiding in a gap in a stone wall at the palace moat.

The 30-cm-long raccoon dog was spotted near the moat by a passerby Thursday morning. When a police officer went to the site, the animal escaped to the stone wall.

The Environment Ministry, which oversees the environment around the palace, tried and failed Thursday to catch the wayward critter. Tanuki in folklore are fond of making mischief.

The gap is big enough to hold the raccoon dog comfortably, and it appears to be in good health. The animal apparently inhabits the palace compound.

The ministry plans to leave a wooden board it has placed in hopes the raccoon dog will use it to escape. Mikihiro Yoshino, general affairs chief of the ministry division supervising the Imperial Palace moats, said they won't try again to catch the animal unless it is injured.

"The raccoon dog is a wild animal. So we will just wait for it to come out from the gap in the wall and return to where it came from," Yoshino said.

Naturalist Hiroshi Sasaki said at least five or six raccoon dogs inhabit the grounds of the Imperial Palace, and at least 1,000 reside in Tokyo's 23 wards.

"They are also in the Roppongi, Shibuya and Shinjuku areas," he said. "I have seen them around the statue of Hachiko (at Shibuya Station) and on a street along Shinjuku Alta."

According to Sasaki, raccoon dogs mainly inhabit areas with rich plant life such as at the Imperial Palace, but some live in residential and factory districts. He hasn't heard of them causing any trouble in Tokyo, apart from eating plants in flower pots.

The species has inhabited Tokyo since around the Edo Period (1603-1867), and their population in Tokyo has remained level or has slightly increased in recent years, he said.

Sasaki advises people to refrain from feeding them because they easily grow attached to humans.

"If you give them food, they soon start to show up (at the same spot) every day," he said. "This is the season raccoon dogs come out with babies. Keeping a certain distance is the best thing for us and the animals."