WARSAW, POLAND, November 15, 2013 – Friends of the Earth International today strongly denounced the Japanese government which stated at the UN climate talks that it is breaking its promises to reduce climate change-causing greenhouse gases. 
Japan is the world’s fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
“While the planet is hurtling towards catastrophic climate change, and thousands are dead due to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Japan announced it will not reduce its carbon emissions as much as previously promised. This Japanese announcement flies in the face of the scientific evidence recently released by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change,” said Dipti Bhatnagar, International Coordinator of the Climate Justice & Energy programme, Friends of the Earth International.
By Miki Toda and Koji Ueda, August 28, 2013. Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Photo: Koji Ueda
Third-generation fisherman Fumio Suzuki sets out into the Pacific Ocean every seven weeks. Not to catch fish to sell, but to catch fish that can be tested for radiation.
For the last 2 ½ years, fishermen from the port of Yotsukura near the strickenFukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant have been mostly stuck on land with little to do. There is no commercial fishing along most of the Fukushima coast. In a nation highly sensitive to food safety, there is no market for the fish caught near the stricken plant because the meltdowns it suffered contaminated the ocean water and marine life with radiation.
A sliver of hope emerged after recent sampling results showed a decline in radioactivity in some fish species. But a new crisis spawned by fresh leaks of radioactive water from the Fukushima plant last week may have dashed those prospects.
By Takashi Hirokawa, Jacob Adelman, Peter Langan & Yuji Okada, 26 August, 2013. Source: Bloomberg
Members of Fukushima prefecture panel inspect ALPS, a multiple nuclide removing system, at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture on Aug. 6, 2013. Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
Japan’s government will lead “emergency measures” to tackle radioactive water spills at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, wresting control of the disaster recovery from the plant’s heavily criticized operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)
“We’ve allowed Tokyo Electric to deal with the contaminated water situation on its own and they’ve essentially turned it into a game of ‘Whack-a-Mole,’” Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters today at Fukushima. “From now on, the government will move to the forefront.”
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is led by Motegi, “is working to draw up, by some time in September, both emergency measures and more fundamental steps to eliminate the roots of the contaminated water problem, as well as measures to be carried out going forward,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a response to written questions.
More than two years after the March 2011 nuclear disaster,Tokyo Electric’s recovery effort has taken a turn for the worse. Japan’s nuclear regulator last week questioned the company’s ability to deal with the crisis, echoing comments earlier in the month by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Continue reading
By Suvendrini Kakuchi, July 30, 2013. Source: Inter Press Service
Cranes stand around tsunami-crippled four reactors, from left, Unit 1 to Unit 4, at Fukushima Dadi-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan Sunday, March 11, 2012. Photo: AP /Kyodo News
Life for Yoshihiro Watanabe and his wife Mutsuko, mushroom and rice farmers from Fukushima, has changed drastically since the disastrous meltdowns in the Dai Ichi nuclear plant that was hit by a massive tsunami after a 9.0 strong earthquake struck on Mar. 11, 2011.
“Dangerous levels of radiation from the crippled nuclear reactors have effectively forced us to stop our mushroom cultivation and reduced our farming income almost 80 percent,” Watanabe told IPS.
He added that the family is also taking extreme care to protect their health by choosing only “safe” food, resulting in “a nerve-wracking lifestyle.” Exposure of food to radiation increases cancer risks.
By Tsuyoshi Inajima, April 11, 2013. Source: Bloomberg
Photo: Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Bloomberg
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s discovery of leaks in water storage pits at the wrecked Fukushima atomic station raises the risk the utility will be forced to dump radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean.
Leaks were found in three of seven pits in the past week, reducing the options for moving contaminated water from basements of reactor buildings. Water in the basements is from the months after the earthquake and tsunami disabled the plant two years ago, when disaster teams used hose pipes and pumps to try and cool the reactors.
While the company has since built a makeshift sealed cooling system, underground water is breaching basement walls at a rate of about 400 tons a day and becoming contaminated, according to Tepco’s estimate. With Japan’s rainy season approaching, contaminated water levels are likely to increase at the plant 220 kilometers (137 miles) northeast of Tokyo.
Reducing radiation levels in the water and pouring it into the sea is one of two options the utility has, said Kazuhiko Kudo, a research professor of nuclear engineering at Kyushu University. The other option is “to keep building above-ground storage tanks,” said Kudo. That’s a fight Tepco can’t win without stopping the underground water pouring into the basements, Kudo said.
Note: Read more about Japan’s most recent excursion into the world of extreme energy and extremely bad ideas, as covered on Climate Connections, here.
-The GJEP Team
By George Monbiot, March 14, 2013. Source: The Guardian
There may be catastrophic release of gas from methane hydrates buried beneath the deep sea. Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images
There’s only one way of knowing whether or not governments are serious about climate change: have they decided to leave most of their fossil fuel reserves in the ground? We have already discovered far more carbon than we can afford to burn, if we are not to commit the world to very dangerous levels of heating. Only if most of it – four-fifths according to a detailed estimate – is left where it sits is there a good chance of preventing more than2C of global warming.
Forgive me if you’ve heard me say this many times before. But it is the only point that is really worth making. It doesn’t matter how many wind turbines you build, or energy-saving lightbulbs you install, or more economical cars you manufacture: unless most of our fossil fuel reserves are declared off-limits they will, sooner or later, be extracted and burned. The question of whether it is sooner or whether it is later makes little difference: we have already identified more underground carbon than we can afford to burn between now and the year 3000.
Far from agreeing to leave existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground, governments and corporations are spending hundreds of billions prospecting for new reserves, and finding ways to extract ever more exotic forms of buried carbon. Every time they succeed, press reports gush like a Texan oil well in the 1920s.
This mindless enthusiasm has now greeted the Japanese government’s announcement that it has successfully extracted natural gas from methane hydrates (otherwise known as clathrates) buried under the bed of the sea.
By Jacob Chamberlain, March 13, 2013. Source: Common Dreams
Farmers from across Japan staged a protest in Tokyo on Tuesday over signs that the Japanese government will soon sign on to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership “free-trade” agreement with the U.S. and other nations.
Saying the TPP will only result in “a drastic agreement that will change the way the nation deals with food,” the farmers urged Japan’s leaders not to back the deal or join the talks.
Roughly four thousand people joined Japan’s Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (Ja-Zenchu) and other groups linked to the farm and fish industries to express opposition to a deal they say will compromise the integrity of their livelihoods.
Akira Banzai, head of JA-Zenchu, said at the rally that both “anxiety and anger” is “spreading around us because we have not received a sufficient explanation from the government,” as to what the TPP will entail for the food industry of Japan.
Note: Next up- mining the moon.
-The GJEP Team
By Hiroko Tabuchi, March 12, 2013. Source: The New York Times
Gas flames from a burner on a deep-sea drilling vessel tapping methane hydrate in the Pacific off central Japan. Photo: Jogmec, via European Pressphoto Agency
TOKYO — Japan said Tuesday that it had extracted gas from offshore deposits of methane hydrate — sometimes called “flammable ice” — a breakthrough that officials and experts said could be a step toward tapping a promising but still little-understood energy source.
The gas, whose extraction from the undersea hydrate was thought to be a world first, could provide an alternative source of energy to known oil and gas reserves. That could be crucial especially for Japan, which is the world’s biggest importer of liquefied natural gasand is engaged in a public debate about whether to resume the country’s heavy reliance on nuclear power.
Experts estimate that the carbon found in gas hydrates worldwide totals at least twice the amount of carbon in all of the earth’s other fossil fuels, making it a potential game-changer for energy-poor countries like Japan. The exact properties of undersea hydrates and how they might affect the environment are still poorly understood, however, as is the potential for making extraction commercially viable. Continue reading
November 29 2012. Source: UNAC, Via Campesina Africa, GRAIN
UNAC member walking along the Nacala Corridor rail line, in Mecubúri District, Nampula Province, June 2012. Photo: GRAIN
The Brazilian government and private sector are collaborating with Japan to push a large-scale agribusiness project in Northern Mozambique. The project, called ProSavana, will make 14 million hectares of land available to Brazilian agribusiness companies for the production of soybeans, maize and other commodity crops that will be exported by Japanese multinationals. This area of Mozambique, known as the Nacala Corridor, is home to millions of farming families who are at risk of losing their lands in the process.
The Nacala Corridor stretches along a rail line that runs from the port of Nacala, in Nampula Province, into the two northern districts of Zambézia Province and ends in Lichinga, in Niassa Province. It is the most densely populated region of the country. With its fertile soils and its consistent and generous rainfall, millions of small farmers work these lands to produce food for their families and for local and regional markets.
But now ProSavana proposes to make these same lands available to Japanese and Brazilian companies to establish large industrial farms and produce low cost commodity crops for export. Through ProSavana, they intend to transform the Nacala Corridor into an African version of the Brazilian cerrado, where savannah lands were converted to vast soybean and sugar cane plantations. Continue reading
Note: The following is a statement from La Via Campesina and several peasant farming unions in Mozambique regarding a trilateral deal between Japan, Brazil and Mozambique. Projects like this, which are ushered in under the veil of the green economy, are sure to displace communities and destroy intact ecosystems, paving the way for export-based agribusiness and biofuel plantations. As the global North struggles to wean our society off fossil fuels, it is imperative that we don’t support false solutions like biofuels that provide the foundation for these disastrous projects.
-The GJEP Team
October 25, 2012. Source: La Via Campesina
We, peasants of the Provincial Nucleus of Peasants in Nampula, the Provincial Nucleus of Peasants in Zambezia, the Provincial Peasants Union of Niassa and the Provincial Union of Peasants of Cabo Delgado, and who are all members of the National Peasants’ Union (UNAC), met on the 11th of October 2012, in the town of Nampula with the aim of discussing and analyzing the ProSavana Programme.
The ProSavana Programme is a triangular project between the Republic of Mozambique, the Federal Republic of Brazil and Japan, for the development of large-scale agriculture in the Nacala Development Corridor, affecting 14 districts in the provinces of Niassa, Nampula and Zambezia, covering an area of approximately 14 million hectares. The project was inspired by an earlier agricultural development project implemented by the Brazilian and Japanese governments in the Brazilian Cerrado (savannah), where large-scale industrial farming of monocrops (mainly soybeans) is now practiced. This Brazilian project led to a degradation of the environment and the near extinction of indigenous communities living in the affected areas. The Nacala Corridor was chosen because its savannah has similar characteristics to the Brazilian Cerrado, in terms of its climate and agroecology, and because of the ease with which products can be exported.
Ever since hearing about the ProSavana Programme, we have noticed a lack of information and transparency from the main stakeholders involved (the governments of Mozambique, Brazil and Japan), and this is why we held the aforementioned meeting.