Shimatsu, Yoichi


Japan’s Official Meltdown in Meaning: Tohoku Quake and Nuclear Monitoring

By Yoichi Shimatsu
New America Media

On March 13, Japan’s Prime Minister's office imposed information control on news related to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, citing the legal grounds of Article 15 of the Constitution. However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano's explanation might seem confusing, because Article 15 has nothing to do with limiting information releases related to national security.

The text of Article 15 reads:

"The people have the inalienable right to choose their public officials and to dismiss them. 2) All public officials are servants of the whole community and not of any group thereof. 3) Universal adult suffrage is guaranteed with regard to the election of public officials. 4) In all elections, secrecy of the ballot shall not be violated. A voter shall not be answerable, publicly or privately, for the choice he has made."

Article 15 contains nary a mention of censorship--in fact, quite the opposite.

Japan's Tsunami & Nuclear Plants: Humans, Not Nature, Made This Crisis

By Yoichi Shimatsu
New America Media

The Wave, reminiscent of Hokusai's masterful woodblock print, blew past Japan's shoreline defenses of harbor breakwaters and gigantic four-legged blocks called tetrapods, lifting ships to ram through seawalls and crash onto downtown parking lots. Seaside areas were soon emptied of cars and houses dragged up and back out to sea. Wave heights of up to10 meters (33 feet) are staggering, but before deeming these as unimaginable, consider the historical Sanriku tsunami that towered to 15 meters (nearly 50 feet) and killed 27,000 people in 1896.

Nature's terrifying power, however we may dread it, is only as great as the human-caused vulnerability of our civilization. Soon after Christmas 2004, I volunteered for the rescue operation on the day after the Indian Ocean tsunami and simultaneously did an on-site field study on the causes of fatalities in southern Thailand.