Posts tagged japan
Don’t look now, but the birthday of Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, is right around the corner, on Monday, with absurd celebrations and marathons and magic horses all weekend. But nothing would do more poetic justice to North Korea’s warped version of history and its “unacceptable” war-mongering rhetoric than to drown one of its oldest enemies in a sea of nuclear flames. Which absurdity will win out?
“North Korea warned Japan Friday that Tokyo would be the first target in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula if it continues to maintain its hostile posture,” reports South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency this morning in America, by way of a report from the DPRK’s state-run Korean Central News Agency. That’s pretty scary, especially since things had been calming down for a few days there — and especially considering the Pentagon can’t even make up its mind about what, exactly, Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities look like right now. But there’s sort of a loophole in today’s news. Notice how the warning reads: “if it” — as in Japan — “continues to maintain its hostile posture.” What the North Korean propaganda machine appears to be referring to is Tuesday’s action out of Japan, when it set up a slew of interceptor missiles in Tokyo as a precaution against North Korea’s declarations of war. And there have been plenty of precautionary measures from around the globe of late after what Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday called “unacceptable” rhetoric from the all too excitable Kim dynasty.
But there is a deeper, more immediate layer of trouble: By the time Sunday afternoon strikes in the U.S., so will the 101st birthday of Kim Il-Sung, the autocrat who formalized the dynasty’s way of rule in the 1960s and ’70s and who, according to the history of North Korea, was responsible for single-handedly defeating the Japanese. Just yesterday KCNA, the state-run news agency, pumped out a story about a painting of Kim Il-Sung’s white horse, which supposedly saved his life by spotting that North Korea’s Supreme Leader was on fire.
That sort of gives you an impression of how ridiculous — and ridiculously important — this occasion will be in Pyongyang. For showing off. For history. For might. And some experts have long voiced legitimate fears that the Kim might actually do something to mark that occasion, such as sending — or threatening to send — a medium-range missile into the territory of the grandfather of absurdity’s favorite enemy.
So what’s giving peace a chance? Well, mostly that North Korea has an actual history of making threats it never fulfills. But, at least for planning purposes, nuclear provocations might get in the way of North Korea’s big national marathon Sunday to celebrate Kim Il-Sung. “Despite warnings of pre-emptive nuclear strikes and imminent war, ahead of the marathon state TV showed a calm scene in Pyongyang yesterday, with North Koreans holding open air dances in preparation for their April 15 national holiday,” reported NK News, which adds, “Held every year on the streets of North Korea’s capital city, the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon will take place this Sunday as part of a broader multiple-day sports tournament held to commemorate the April 15 birthday of North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung.” There’s no way all that open-air dancing would be all for naught, right?
North Korea’s threat against Japan also comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in Seoul on Friday. He offered, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did yesterday, some very practical analysis that North Korea probably doesn’t want to hear — a lot of which revolved around not backing down (via the BBC):
The rhetoric that we’re hearing from North Korea is simply unacceptable – by any standard – and I am here to make it clear today on behalf of President Obama and the citizens of the United States and our bilateral security agreement, that the United States will, if needed, defend our allies and defend ourselves. source – Atlantic Wire
TOKYO — An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 hit east of Tokyo on Wednesday but no tsunami warning was issued and there were no initial reports of damage or troubles at area nuclear plants, the Japan Meteorological Agency and local media said.
The earthquake, which caused substantial shaking in Ibaragi and Chiba prefectures east of Tokyo, followed just a few hours after a magnitude 6.8 quake jolted northern Japan.
A tsunami warning was issued but later lifted after the northern Japan earthquake. Just over one year ago, the northeast coast was struck by a magnitude 9 earthquake, Japan’s strongest on record, and a massive tsunami, triggering the world’s. source – MSNBC
TOKYO (Newscore) – Japanese researchers have invented a speech-jamming gadget that painlessly forces people into silence.
Kazutaka Kurihara of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and Koji Tsukada of Ochanomizu University, developed a portable “SpeechJammer” gun that can silence people more than 30 meters away.
The device works by recording its target’s speech then firing their words back at them with a 0.2-second delay, which affects the brain’s cognitive processes and causes speakers to stutter before silencing them completely.
Describing the device in their research paper, Kurihara and Tsukada wrote, “In general, human speech is jammed by giving back to the speakers their own utterances at a delay of a few hundred milliseconds. This effect can disturb people without any physical discomfort, and disappears immediately by stopping speaking.”
They found that the device works better on people who were reading aloud than engaged in “spontaneous speech” and it cannot stop people making meaningless sounds, such as “ahhh,” that are uttered over a long time period.
Kurihara and Tsukada suggested the speech-jamming gun could be used to hush noisy speakers in public libraries or to silence people in group discussions who interrupt other people’s speeches.
“There are still many cases in which the negative aspects of speech become a barrier to the peaceful resolution of conflicts,” the authors said. source – Fox News
Biden to sell debt ceiling deal during trip to China, Japan
Vice President Biden will tout the debt ceiling deal during a trip to China and Japan, two holders of huge amounts of U.S. debt.
Biden will travel to top lender China on Wednesday and to Japan, the second-biggest holder of U.S. bonds, on Aug. 22. The vice president “will be in a good position to talk about the very strong deficit package that we concluded here recently,” Undersecterary of the Treasury Lael Brainard told reporters Monday in comments previewing the vice president’s visit.
The debt-ceiling deal signed by President Obama could cut up to $2.5 trillion from budget deficits over the next decade, but it was a smaller package than the grand bargain Obama flirted with striking.
Standard & Poor’s downgraded the nation’s AAA rating to AA+ a few days after Obama signed the legislation. S&P had called for a $4 trillion package, and said it was left uncertain that U.S. politicians could agree to a larger deficit-reduction package. source – The Hill
Japan comes clean
TOKYO (AP) – Japan raised the crisis level at its crippled nuclear plant Tuesday to a severity on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, citing high overall radiation leaks that have contaminated the air, tap water, vegetables and seawater.
Japanese nuclear regulators said they raised the rating from 5 to 7 – the highest level on an international scale of nuclear accidents overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency – after new assessments of radiation leaks from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant since it was disabled by the March 11 tsunami.
Japan raises severity level at the crippled nuclear plant to a 7 — the highest on the international scale, which puts it on par with the ’86 Chernobyl disaster — as new setback discovered with radioactive water leaking into the sea. Fox News
The new ranking signifies a “major accident” that includes widespread effects on the environment and health, according to the Vienna-based IAEA. But Japanese officials played down any health effects and stressed that the harm caused by Chernobyl still far outweighs that caused by the Fukushima plant. The revision came a day after the government added five communities to a list of places people should leave to avoid long-term radiation exposure. A 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius already had been cleared around the plant.
The news was received with chagrin by residents in Iitate, one of the five communities, where high levels of radiation have been detected in the soil. The village of 6,200 people is about 40 kilometers from the Fukushima plant. ”It’s very shocking to me,” said Miyuki Ichisawa, 52, who runs a coffee shop in Iitate. “Now the government is officially telling us this accident is at the same level of Chernobyl.”
Japanese officials said the leaks from the Fukushima plant so far amount to a tenth of the radiation emitted in the Chernobyl disaster, but said they eventually could exceed Chernobyl’s emissions if the crisis continues. ”This reconfirms that this is an extremely major disaster. We are very sorry to the public, people living near the nuclear complex and the international community for causing such a serious accident,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.” source – My Way
TOKYO – A magnitude-7.4 aftershock rattled Japan on Thursday night, knocking out power across a large swath of the northern part of the country nearly a month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened the northeastern coast.
Japan’s meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning but canceled it about 90 minutes later. Officials said power was out in all of three northern prefectures (states) and in parts of two others. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or damage. The aftershock was the strongest since the March 11 megaquake and tsunami that killed some 25,000 people, tore apart hundreds of thousands of homes and caused an ongoing crisis at a nuclear power plant.
The operator of the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant said there was no immediate sign of new problems caused by the aftershock, and Japan’s nuclear safety agency says workers there retreated to a quake-resistant shelter in the complex. None were injured. The crisis there started when the tsunami knocked out cooling systems. Workers have not been able to restore them. Thursday’s quake knocked out several power lines at the Onagawa nuclear power plant north of Sendai, which has been shut down since the tsunami. One remaining line was supplying power to the plant and radiation monitoring devices detected no abnormalities. The plant’s spent fuel pools briefly lost cooling capacity but an emergency diesel generator quickly kicked in.” source – Yahoo News
Japanese workers battling to stop a radioactive water leak into the Pacific from the beleaguered nuclear power plant have resorted to using newspaper and sawdust to try and block the pipes.
TEPCO workers were using a polymer mixed with shredded paper and sawdust to try to close off pipes through which the water has flowed into a cracked concrete pit at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, from where it has run into the sea. An earlier attempt to seal the crack with cement failed to stop the leak.
“From the afternoon, the workers began pouring polymeric powder, sawdust, newspaper – things we could think of to clog up the holes,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency.
“So far, there has not been any clear indication that the volume of leaking water has been reduced.”
Officials attempted attempting to seal the recently discovered crack located in a concrete pit near Reactor Two. It followed failed attempts to use concrete to close the crack, which is believed to have led to radiation leakage into run-off water that then flows into the sea. The latest samples of contaminated seawater show radiation levels at 4,000 times the legal level.
There was no difference in the amount of water running out after they poured cement into the pit,” said a nuclear safety agency official. “Tepco needs to take steps to stop the leak once and for all.” source – Telegraph UK