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03 April 2021

Will Japan legalise gay marriage?

Last month, one of Japanese district courts, Sapporo District Court ruled that current Civil Law that does not recognise the same sex couple as legitimate married couple is unconstitutional. It was a revolutionary decision for Japanese judicial administration since Japanese constitution claims that marriage is recognised only if both sexes agree. But the court says this statement does not mean gay marriage is banned but to rule only individuals can decide who to marry. In the old days, it was common that parents of the couple decided who to marry without their will. Gay marriage was out of imagination. 

Rather the court paid attention to the other part of constitution that states all the people must be treated equal. So the current Civil law which only admits heterosexual couple to the marriage is unconstitutional. 

However, some claim gay marriage is not allowed in the constitution as says “both sexes” and traditional family value does not conform to gay marriage. 

As for public opinion survey, Asahi Shimbun Newspaper revealed that 65% of Japanese citizens of all ages support gay marriage. 5 years ago it was less than half. The society has drastically changed recently. 

Japanese parliament already has two openly gay members. Their party Constitutional Democratic Party proposes amendment of Civil law. 

Even among conservative side, current ruling party LDP, one of young representatives, KOIZUMI Shinjiro, whose father was Prime Minister between 2001 to 2005, said he is for gay marriage and he would be very considerate father if his child’s sexual orientation was same sex person when asked if he was pro-gay marriage and what he would do if his child was gay. 

Japan is not Christian nation so religious faith would not be an obstacle. Only the old values and peer pressure are problems. I guess it is a matter of time that Japan approve gay marriage legally and socially. 

Currently around 30 nations in the world legalised gay marraige. Among G7 nations Japan is the only nation that does not legalise gay marriage. Marriage equality is an urgent issue if Japan wants to join truly advanced members of the world. 

I would be proud of being Japanese and love my country more than ever if that happens. 

25 October 2020

Visited crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plants in process of abandonment: My Dark Tour Report

Last September I visited Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plants being in the process of abandonment. 9 and half years ago, diesel generator for emergency that had run 4 of 6 plants were destroyed by tsunami and released massive amount of radioactive to surrounding area in Fukushima prefecture, located about 200 kilometer away from Tokyo. What happened was inside these reactors, nuclear fuels lost coolants and melted and then hydrogen was touched with oxygen of air, that caused explosion. 

I joined two-day tour to the Fukushima nuclear plants and its nearby area. On the first day, my tour group was escorted by workers of TEPCO, which is responsible for the accident and current abandonment, to the site. 

Surprisingly, visitors were not required to wear protective suit to enter the site because most of the sites are already cleaned up. Even workers there do not need to wear ones. 

I could bring my own radioactive counter to back side of the plants.  The photo was just taken behind the No.1 plant which exploded first followed by No.3, No. 4 and No.2 explosions. All of the crippled 4 plants (No.1 to 4) were capped but nuclear debris are still inside the reactors and planned to take out a few years later. IMG_0009.JPG

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Compared to the level measured in Tokyo (photo below), it was detected extremely high level, over 80 micro SV. 

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That night we stayed at J Village sports athletes accommodation and training facility located 20 km away from the site, in which TEPCO and Japan’s defense force used during the crisis. Now the facility is back to normal as had been before the disaster.

 

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Last year some foreign Rugby teams used the facility during the Rugby World Cup tournament. It has a hotel-like accommodation and several field grounds for soccer or Rugby. Hotel room was cozy with a shower room. But the hotel has nice view big communal bathroom on top floor. 

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Next day we visited the cattle farm named Kibo no Bokujo (The Cattle farm of Hope) of more than 200 oxen abandoned after the disaster. It is located in Namie town, 10 km northwest of the nuclear plant site. The owner of the farm, Mr. Yoshizawa we met said he takes care of the abandoned oxen even the government instructed him to kill them. The farmland is enclosed by high-voltage electric wire to prevent oxen from escaping. Before the accident, Fukushima was known as one of greatest breeding place for oxen that had produced delicious beef. 

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He said he wanted to keep them until they naturally die to symbolise the responsibility of humankind who breed them and established nuclear power plants that affected their lives. 

He gets no income but pays annual cost of more than 10 million yen (around 100 thousand Euro or US$ worth). All the cattle are castrated so no more offspring will be created. The cost was funded mostly by donation. 

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This tour is not only for learning about the nuclear accident but the big earthquake and tsunami disaster. Over 20000 people in Northeast region Japan died or are still missing by that. 

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On the sea coast, 6 km away from Fukushima Daiichi plants there still remains of what happened in tsunami hit residential area. 

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The new museum in memorial of the disaster and nuclear accident was established and opened in September. 

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However, the disaster never ended. As fore-mentioned, the abandonment is still halfway and might even take another decades to finish.

Just recently TEPCO announced it will release processed contaminated water in which hazardous nuclear substances was filtered out but still tritium is contained to Pacific Ocean. They claim it is not hazardous to environment because tritium has very low-level of radiation, which experts claim outrageously wrong.

When I visited the crippled nuclear plants, I was requested to take a photo with a water bottle that contained tritium to appeal it is safe. 

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Well, it seems we have to continue fight against the nuclear industry. 

If you are interested in the tour, contact me through this blog or twitter. I can refer you to the travel agent. The cost is around 45000 yen (400 Euro or US$). Dark tour or I would say, good Study tour for you. 

04 May 2020

Introducing Japan's gayest TV drama "Ossan's Love" aired on mainstream TV channel

While I locked down myself to prevent novel corona virus spread at home. I just happened to rent DVD drama programs "Ossan's Love" which was aired in 2018 on one of Japan's mainstream TV network channels, TV Asahi. The drama consists of 7 episodes. Each episode was about 40 minutes long.

lgbt, gay, homosexuality

What was shocking to me is the comedy drama featured male gay love affairs all the way although it was aired on the mainstream channel and then it became so popular that subsequent film version was released in nationwide theatres and another version of the TV drama was aired on the same time frame next year.

The story took place in a real estate agency in Tokyo. The protagonist is 33 year-old male worker named Haruta (Middle in the picture.) Although the story evolved around him, the most important character was his supervisor Kurosawa (right edge in the photo), 55 year-old man, which in Japan commonly referred to as “Ossan” meaning “Old guy” usually middle aged.

Kurosawa was head of sales department of the real estate agency, equivalent to vice president of the company and a rich man. One day Kurosawa told Haruta that he loved him and would divorce his wife (Second from right) to be with him. Haruta was shocked to know that because he did not share love romance with his supervisor although he respected and liked him as a good business man.

Kurosawa then asked his wife for a divorce and then Haruta got involved in Kurosawas divorce quarrel. But Haruta also got in love affair with another man, Maki (left edge in the photo) in the office. But Maki had another love affair with another male worker. Two gay love triangles crossed over in the drama. Finally Kurosawa proposed marriage to Haruta.

The drama was all about gay love and love romance between man and woman was sidelined in the story. The gay male characters were portrayed as normal and decent person, not like psychopath or deviant ones. This is the big difference from the past. Gay characters were very normal and positive in the mainstream TV drama. Gay love romance was treated just as equivalent to straight people’s love.

Not just broadcast nationally on mainstream media but the show became so popular that film version and another version in which similar gay love story took place in an airline company using the same main casts next year. In 2019 version Kurosawa was a captain pilot of the airplane and Haruta was a flight attendant. Airline company is really existing company meaning commercial airline company sponsored the program. 

Recently in Japan, more people have positive views on gay relationship and more people have become supportive of gay marriage. In national assembly there are two openly gay members, who call for legalization of the same sex marriage. Some municipal governments approved of the same sex partnership and provide certificates for the residents.

This show reflects this social change.

If you are interested, you can watch the English version of the show on Netflix.

29 February 2020

Do we need Olympics?

Tokyo 2020 Olympics is on the verge of cancellation due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

The main stadium in Tokyo.

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It seems, this disease keeps spreading for months worldwide including the host nation, Japan. It is impossible to lock down. The only solution is invent the vaccine. Even someone found the one for the virus, it will take a few months or even years to bring it to practical use.

It is reported that IOC will decide whether to cancel the games by May at latest.

In my opinion, I don't care. I was actually against the Olympics to be held in Tokyo because of too much crowds and heavy traffic. Tokyo is already too crowded and busy.

Citizens don't want any more crowds in the city.

As for economic effect, it is just for a few weeks. It does not last so long and only benefits big companies who want to gain big money by sponsorship and construction of facilities.

In fact such things are true in every Olympics these days. It has been much commerialised for money making. Athletes have to do the matches in inadequate season and time to match with American TV broadcasting.

Summertime in Tokyo is too hot for athletes. It had to be scheduled in Autumn. 1964 Tokyo Olympics were held in October. But it was not good season for Americans because of baseball matches.

Swimmers had to swim early morning like 8AM in 1988 Seoul Olympics because that time was prime time in America.    

In early 20th century, Olympics were used to heighten nationalism like Nazi-Germany did in 1936 Berlin and America did in 2002 Salt Lake after 911.

It is said if the Olympics were cancelled, it may be postponed to next year's same season.

But you never know when the outbreak ends.

But most ideal thing is to cancel the event so there is no more fuss. Then no more Olympics from now.

Tokyo, Beijing, Paris, and Los Angeles. All cancelled. Or each event can be scaled down or disperse.

It costs so much money and places too much burdens on athletes.

It is a great timing to rethink the significance of Olympics. The Olympics may be one of remnants from former century.

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