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30 December 2011

2011 is a nuke year

The biggest news this year is muti-meltdown of Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants caused by magnitude 9.0 earthquake. Massive radiation was released out of the plants.

A lot people died by the earthquake and tsunami, but damage by the nuclear accident will go on for a long time. Since March 11, bad news continued endlessly. Every day is like living in hell. It is said the nuclear power plants is now stabilized but no one knows how nuclear reactor is like at this point. It will take years to just know actual situation. To fix and clean-up it will take decades.

 

I went to Fukushima prefecture to join clean-up efforts.

nuclear power

I joined anti-nuke demonstration march in Tokyo. I watched nuclear related documentary films and read books on nuclear power generation. 

nuclear power

In Tokyo, a big political movement is collecting signatures to call for the referendum for demanding the government to halt nuclear power generation. I am one of signature collectors.

The activists set up the tents in the government building district to show the will to protest nuclear power. The Japanese government is considering lowering dependency of nuclear power generation but still approves exporting nuclear power technology overseas.

 

We have to raise voice to change things better, not counting on politicians or beaucrats any more. That is what I learned this year.

 

I hope 2012 will be opening of new energy era such as solar power, wind power, micro-hydrogen, and so on. Of course I know it is not a very easy thing to do.

07 December 2011

Book on US Occupation of Japan after WW2 "Washington Heights"

A book "Washington Heights" is written by a female journalist, AKIO Satoko. She studied how the United States government managed occupied Japan after the country defeated his enemy. Then she spotlighted on "Washington Heights," which was exclusive residential area for the U.S. military personnels located in the center of Tokyo. The area was built after the war was over by the order of U.S. occupational force. Before the war, it was Japanese imperial army's property. It was located next to Meiji Jingu Shrine, memorial shrine for the Meiji Emperor (crowned between 1868-1912) .

history,military

After the Olympic the place turned to famous public park, Yoyogi Park and Japan's public broadcasting station, NHK building.

The book mainly described episodes of Japan's Occupied era (1945-1952) and economic booming era until Tokyo Olympic in 1964. When the U.S. force arrived in Japan, they occupied many places in Tokyo for its administration purpose. The General Head Quarter was placed in Dai-ichi Life Insurance Building near the Imperial Palace.

history, military,

But they needed housing for soldiers and staff working for the G.H.Q. So they ordered the Japanese government to build housing block for Americans, requiring facilities and equipment  equivalent to American standard of that time. That was the hell of a big job for the Japanese government because the places were all burnt down, and shortage of goods.

The Washington Heights, American style housing provided Japanese new culture and lifestyle. Because American personnels and their family living there wanted entertainment, many Japanese entertainers were recruited for performances for them. That caused a big entertainment icon, Journey's Production, which has released many great talents to Japan's showbiz until now. Morie Hana, a famous Japanese fashion designer opened clothing shop for women living in the residential area. She studied most sophisticated western clothing during that time. As for food culture, Japanese learnt fresh vegetable farming to meet demands from Americans. Japanese learnt how to farm vegetable for the fresh salad taking sanitation into account.

As for how Americans thought about occupying Japan was described as well.

When Americans first arrived in Japan after the war, they were surprised because their former enemy citizens were so friendly to them. Many Japanese in fact, felt liberated when the war was over. So occupation worked more smoothly than expected. The U.S. occupation in fact provided democratization of Japan including women's suffrage, reform of biased wealth distribution towards elite class. The U.S. aim was to demilitalize Japan so they thought cracking down feudal customs and elite class power was best way to do.

The U.S. at that time were so worried about communist threat from Soviet Union. So they treated Japan nicely although Japan was a former enemy.

Most interesting episode noted in the book was that a former Japanese military officer met Afro-American man working as lower rank staff of G.H.Q. who told him that Blacks were glad when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

The conclusion of the book was U.S. occupation provided Japan great things but we have to remember Japan has been controlled by U.S. since that time and even after Japan recovered independence, we are always facing indirect occupation by the U.S. such as military bases in Okinawa, Tokyo, and diplomatic pressure to liberalize trade and commerce.  

Recently the U.S. hegemony has been on the edge as you see "Lehman Shock" and "Occupy Wall Street" movement. The U.S. can no longer function as a role model for Japanese.

Thanks to the U.S. we could have developed the nation acquiring many great things from them but it is time we develop us ourselves in our own way.

19 November 2011

Film "Mississippi Burning" and President Obama

The story is one Afro-American civil activist disappeared somewhere in Missippi 1964 and FBI men searched for them. Then they faced brutality of local people. The film described how uncivilized and scary deep South like Mississippi was.

I remember when I was in America, Afro-American professor of Black Studies criticized the film because the main characters were two good white men saving poor Afro-Americans. In fact, the film was made from white people's perspective.

When we, Japanese hear about Mississippi, first thing to come up is "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain. But reality is racist conservative deep South. Now things have changed a little bit better, I guess.

America has changed since that time, which was proven by the fact that Obama was elected as President. However, it seemed he dissappointed those who voted for him. His supporters believed Obama can understand pain of the poor people because he shared the same experience. After he was elected, what appears to be was he was after all, American President just like other Presidents, who had different skin color. He had to serve for rich white men who dominate the country's wealth. He had to keep sending troops to the battle fields to save America's pride and military industry.

The consequence is "Occupy Wall Street." Now new type of seggregation emerged in a country of democracy and freedom. The rich and the poor.

Agony goes on as life goes on.

23 October 2011

True lesbian story "Юрико, до свидания."

The title is Russian but it is Japanese film about two Japanese women who had a sexual relationship in 1920's. It means "Yuriko, Good-bye!."

One of them is Yoshiko Yuasa, who was a translator for Russian literature. The other is Yuriko Nakajo, a novelist. They met in Tokyo and started to have sexual relationship and then travelled to Moscow together to study Russian.

Can you believe women in those days had relationship like today's gay couple? Indeed they did. They did it openly. Japan in those days was much more male chevinist society than today. Women did not have rights to vote. Women were expected to get married to men which their parents designated and work at home. But they could not resist passion they shared with each other.

The couple had 3 years of relationship and aparted. Yuriko later married a communist activist and then after the war, she became a leading figure of post-wolrd-war-2 democratic movement. She was actually a bi-sexual woman whereas Yoshiko was truly lesbian woman who had relationship with Geisha woman before she met Yuriko.

I went to see the movie on the first showing in Tokyo. The director, Sachi Hamano, and two actresses who played the couple appeared on the stage before the showing. The actresses were very pretty. Their act, especially lesbian sex scene was very fantastic and erotic.

There were viewers from foreign countries at the theatre. I don't know if they understood the language. I think they should be more curious than Japanese viewers were.

The film itself was great one although it did not describe their life in Moscow. The film was mainly about how they met and developed relationship before they went to Moscow.

I wonder if this film is shown in foreign country or translated version of it is produced.

Translated version should be like two western women met in London or Berlin and travelled to Moscow in 1920's or 1930's. Living together there in the cold Moscow. I recommend Nicole Kidman, or Jodie Foster to play the two.

The below is preview of the film (Only Japanese).