If you prick a #Yakuza does he bleed? #Fukushima #Daiichi

I have been looking at the radiation maps of the Pacific Ocean following on from the Fukushima disaster and, people, it’s Not Good. The “plume” stretches across half the planet, although we’re assured by many authorities that there’s nothing to fear. The Los Angeles Times, for example, had this to say in 2014:

The amount of radiation that finally made it to Canada’s west coast by June 2013 was very small — less than 1 Becquerels per cubic meter. (Becquerels are the number of decay events per second per 260 gallons of water.) That is more than 1,000 times lower than acceptable limits in drinking water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Computer models that match fairly closely with the hard data that Smith collected suggest that the amount of radiation will peak in 2015 and 2016 in British Columbia, but it will never exceed about 5 Becquerels per cubic meter.
“Those levels of cesium 137 are still well below natural levels of radioactivity in the ocean,” said Smith.
Because of the structure of the currents, the radiation levels in Southern California are expected to peak a few years later, but by that time they will be even smaller than the highest levels of radiation expected in Canada.

The citizen group, Our Radioactive Oceans, disagrees with the figures from the LA Times but concurs with the conclusion:

Before we get into the details of what we are finding, it’s important to reiterate that almost any seawater sample from the Pacific will show traces of cesium-137, an isotope of cesium with a 30-year half-life, some of which is left over from nuclear weapons testing carried out in the 1950s to 1970s. The isotope cesium-134 is the “fingerprint” of Fukushima, but it decays much quicker (it has a 2-year half-life). When we find traces of cesium-134, we back-calculate from the amount we detected to determine how much was actually released from Fukushima in 2011. An equal amount of cesium-137 would have been released with it at the same time.
Our highest detection level to date came from a sample collected about 1,600 miles west of San Francisco that contained 11 Becquerels per cubic meter of cesium-137 and cesium-134. This means that in one cubic meter of seawater (about 264 gallons), 11 radioactive decay events per second can be attributed to cesium atoms of both isotopes. That is 50 percent higher than we’ve seen before, but even these levels are still more than 500 times lower than safety limits established by the US government for drinking water and well below limits of concern for direct exposure while swimming, boating, or other recreational activities. Our findings agree with those reported by the scientists who are part of the group Kelp Watch and by the team of Canadian scientists working under the INFORM umbrella.

And yet…

If there was nothing to worry about, why did Japan pass a state secrets act at the tail end of 2013 so “public servants or others with access to state secrets could be jailed for up to 10 years for leaking them. Journalists and others in the private sector convicted of encouraging such leaks could get up to five years if they use ‘grossly inappropriate’ means to solicit the information.” The law was seen by many as a way of muzzling news on the Fukushima disaster. Not only that:

Top officials in all ministries will be able to designate special state secrets in four categories – defense, diplomacy, counter-terrorism and counter espionage – that can be kept secret for up to 60 years and in some cases longer.

True democracy.

If there was nothing to worry about, why are servicemembers of the USS Ronald Reagan suing TEPCO for radiation exposure? According to Stars and Stripes (hardly a “fake news” outlet):

The suit was first filed in 2012 by a small group of sailors off the USS Ronald Reagan, who alleged that TEPCO’s misinformation coaxed U.S. forces closer to the affected areas and made them sick. More ailing servicemembers came forward citing exposure-related ailments such as unexplained cancers, excessive bleeding and thyroid issues.

If there was nothing to worry about, then why does the Pacific Ocean appear to be dying, according to “a new study” recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences?

Scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in California recently discovered that the number of dead sea creatures blanketing the floor of the Pacific is higher than it has ever been in the 24 years that monitoring has taken place, a phenomenon that the data suggests is a direct consequence of nuclear fallout from Fukushima.

Though the researchers involved with the work have been reluctant to pin Fukushima as a potential cause — National Geographic, which covered the study recently, did not even mention Fukushima — the timing of the discovery suggests that Fukushima is, perhaps, the cause. According to the data, this sudden explosion in so-called “sea snot”, which is the name given to the masses of dead sea creatures that sink to the ocean floor as food, has skyrocketed since the Fukushima incident occurred.

Go to the energy news site, ENENEWS, and search on “Fukushima”, and you get these reassuring headlines:

  • Scientists fear Fukushima radiation hitting US to worsen
  • “Humanly impossible” to clean up [Fukushima] due to shockingly high radiation levels
  • “Potential Global Catastrophe” from Fukushima Unit 2 highly radioactive fuel…Reactor could be destroyed, “making Tokyo area uninhabitable”

And that’s just from this month! LOL

But, to be honest, that’s not what I want to cover in this post. I want to talk about the construction and socio-mechanics of the Daiichi nuclear plant at Fukushima. Shall we begin?

We know that the reactors for the nuclear plant were designed by General Electric and that the Fukushima disaster occurred in March 2011.

Cross-section sketch of a typical BWR Mark I containment, as used in Units 1 to 5. The reactor core (1) consists of fuel rods and moderator rods (39) which are moved in and out by the device (31). Around the pressure vessel (8), there is an outer containment (19) which is closed by a concrete plug (2). When fuel rods are moved in or out, the crane (26) will move this plug to the pool for facilities (3). Steam from the dry well (11) can move to the wet well (24) through jet nozzles (14) to condense there (18). In the spent fuel pool (5), the used fuel rods (27) are stored.

In 2011, it was revealed that GE scientists resigned in protest over the nuclear reactor design:

after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing–the Mark 1–was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident … Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant…are Mark 1s.

While the basic flaws of the Mark 1 have apparently been corrected somewhat (including at Fukushima, or so we’re told), one must still wonder about a spent rod cooling tank situated in mid-air (where coolant has to consistently and powerfully pumped into), rather than at a lower point where gravity will help you out…y’know, just in case something happens to the tectonically-vulnerable site where the reactor is situated.

So we definitely have flaws from General Electric but, I’m happy to say, it didn’t affect their share price. Whew. Relief all round, amirite?

But that’s just half the equation. Sure, blame the tsunami, blame TEPCO, blame GE. But there’s one other teeny tiny little group that also has a lot to do with the Daiichi disaster. I’m referring, of course, to the Yakuza. According to CNN:

The yakuza is a blanket term for Japan’s organized crime groups: The country’s mafia. They were traditionally federations of gamblers and street merchants, but while the yakuza like to tout their history as going back hundreds of years, the oldest continuous group is, author Kazuhiko Murakami estimates, probably the Aizukotetsu-kai in Kyoto, founded in the 1870s.

The Yakuza have a long involvement with construction in Japan.

While many yakuza groups started as loosely run gambling associations, they really came into their own in the chaos after World War II, first running the black markets, providing gambling, and entertainment — even managing some of Japan’s top post-war stars and singers — before moving into construction, real estate, and engaging in extortion, blackmail, and fraud. And then of course, politics. [my emphasis]

I have always been fascinated with the people who tried to exterminate my race during WWII. Don’t get me wrong, I love their food and the non-violent bits of their culture (as Chinese-derived as they are) and, unlike the Jews and Europeans in general, I have no wish to sustain a multi-generational grudge, but if Japan is mentioned, my ears do prick. Thinking of Fukushima got me thinking…about the bushido code and whether the yakuza like to masturbate by thinking that they are as honorable as the indentured warriors to some random historical Japanese warlord in times past. I thought it must be so. After all, how else can criminal and murderous thugs justify their own existences? Was I correct? It seems I was. The Japan Subculture Research Center describes the yakuza as :

The yakuza aka the Japanese mafia are quasi-legal organized crime groups in Japan. There are currently close to 80,000 members. While not illegal, the larger organized crime groups are recognized and regulated under the organized crime control laws. The groups exist out in the open with office buildings, business cards, and are celebrated in movies, comics, games and fanzines.Their primary sources of revenue are extortion, racketeering, financial fraud, blackmail, stock market manipulation, drugs, and the entertainment industry. They are called (boryokudan/violent groups) by the police. They refer to themselves as humanitarian groups aka ninkyodantai and claim to be civic organizations that preserve the peace in Japan and provide welfare to the needy. They were very active after the great Tohoku earthquake (March 11th, 2011) and did provide substantial aid to the victims of the disaster for the first few weeks immediately after the disaster. Part of this was calculate PR, part of it stemmed from a desire to live up to their carefully cultivated public image. [my emphasis]

Comedy gold, if I do say so myself.

This is also interesting because, back in 2011, I read a couple of news reports that detailed yakuza skimming money during the construction of the Daiichi plant, resulting in concrete-filled plumping, pipes that were not connected to anything, and substandard foundations. I can’t find any of those reports now, but what I have found is no less damning, which is the recruitment of unskilled and ignorant men for the unprotected work of cleaning up the Fukushima site. The reports are legion, from RT:

Revelations from a Fukushima cleanup worker-turned-whistleblower have exposed the plant’s chaotic system of subcontractors, their alleged mafia connections and the super-exploitation of indigent workers doing this dangerous work … The allegations, contained in an investigative report by Reuters, have also exposed deeply-rooted problems within Japan’s nuclear industry as a whole.

to euronews:

Shizuya Nishiyama says he’s scrubbed down radioactive hotspots in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant twice:
“We’re an easy target for recruiters,” said the 57-year-old homeless man. “We turn up here with all our bags, wheeling them around and around the station and we’re easy to spot. Then they say to us: ‘are you looking for work? Are you hungry?’ And if we haven’t eaten anything, they then offer to find us a job,” said Nishiyama.

to Reuters:

…[H]omeless men were rounded up at Sendai’s train station by Sasa, then put to work clearing radioactive soil and debris in Fukushima City for less than minimum wage, according to police and accounts of those involved. The men reported up through a chain of three other companies to Obayashi, Japan’s second-largest construction company.
Obayashi, which is one of more than 20 major contractors involved in government-funded radiation removal projects, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. But the spate of arrests has shown that members of Japan’s three largest criminal syndicates – Yamaguchi-gumi, Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai – had set up black-market recruiting agencies under Obayashi.

Reuters also found five firms working for the Ministry of Environment that could not be identified. They had no construction ministry registration, no listed phone number or website, and Reuters could not find a basic corporate registration disclosing ownership. There was also no record of the firms in the database of Japan’s largest credit research firm, Teikoku Databank.

Falsifying of records, insufficient radiation protection, skimming paycheques, pressganging the homeless and ignorant. To what level will these “humanitarian” “welfare” groups not stoop?

We have always believed that the Japanese are somehow the most civilised race in Asia. They’re innovative, cultured, mannered. They invented sushi, for cryin’ out loud! But if Fukushima shows us anything–besides the horrendous cost of nuclear enery generation–it’s that Japan’s “culture” masks a terrible and ruthless mechanism of exploitation and banditry. And I’m not even getting into their well-entrenched chauvinism. If do-gooders believe that it is in the planet’s best interests to turn their self-righteousness on the Philippines, China and Central Europe, then it follows that they must examine Japan more closely. The Yakuza are a plague that have infiltrated all levels of Japan’s economy and ignoring them is turning a blind eye to utter criminality and wholesale exploitation.

In the aftermath of Fukushima, we must shine a light on the Yakuza and the atrocities they’ve committed in the name of “welfare” and “humanitarianism”. To be honest, up till now, it hasn’t bothered me that the East Asian country is nothing but an outpost of malfeasance. But the effects of such behaviour are now affecting the rest of the world. Time to examine the most consistently admired nation in Asia a bit more closely, I think.

© KS Augustin, 2017

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