Academic Censorship in Japan

Quote: “In my view, pressures on Japanese scientists have been and remain heavy, as the battle over nuclear power remains intense. We treasure the bravery and rigor of the few scientists and government officials who have dared to speak including Koide Hiroaki and Kodama Katsuhiko.” Mark Selden, email to me, 2 April 2013.

Mark Selden is a Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program, Cornell University, a Coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, and Professor Emeritus of Sociology and History, State University of New York at Binghamton. A specialist on the modern and contemporary geopolitics, political economy and history of China, Japan and the Asia Pacific, his work ranges broadly across themes of war and revolution, inequality, development, regional and world social change, and historical memory. In 1968 he was a founding member of The Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars and for more than thirty years he was an editor of The Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars and its successor Critical Asian Studies. He is the author or editor of more than twenty-five books and editor of book series at Rowman & Littlefield, Routledge, M.E. Sharpe, and Lexington Publishers. Source:

It came to my attention in 2012 that internal academic pressure within Japan had the effect of delaying open publication of research papers related to the events and consequences of the multiple reactor disaster in Japan. japanese researchers were then reluctant to put have their contribution acknowledged in joint international research papers within the biological sciences. Japanese researchers were under pressure to make the choice between between contributing knowledge to the world openly and their academic and economic futures.

The situation is pathetic and shows the immorality and lawlessness of the nuclear slum, the corrupt influence of the nuclear slum in Japan and the world and the delay in knowledge nuclear industry represents in my opinion.

It has been more successful than the tobacco industry in claiming health benefit for a defective and dangerous product.

The dangers of the design and placement of the Fukushima Diiachi reactors have been known, debated and dismissed as fanciful paranoia by nuclear authorities prior to the turning of the first sod at the reactor park at Fukushima. The history is clear on this point. Excellent engineers were hounded from their jobs in the 1970s as General Electric and nuclear authorities used their disproportionate influence in the US political system to gain approval and export of these reactors to Japan.

The grave fears held by those who truly nuclear technology came to be tragically fulfilled in March 2011.

TEPCO, as I was advised by a Japanese person 2 years ago, took the decision to place its emergency generators and electrical switchgear in the Fukushima Diiachi basements, were they were known at the time to be prone to flooding, at the blueprint design stage of the reactor park.

This decision to place the emergency generators belong the potential flood line was even rejected by GE. GE, according to my source, pleaded with TEPCO to consider other options regarding the generator placements. TEPCO refused and so in 2011 the disaster commenced and has not stopped.

Authorities and the press need to demand access to the original TEPCO documents which show this penny pinching mentality contributed a fatal degree of negligence and worsened, most likely, the consequences Japan and the world are now suffering.

It is in order to cover up this level immense level of negligence that nuclear authorities have punished independent researchers in Japan over many years. This censorship via nuclear authoritarianism is not unique to Japan. Japan, with its close networks and institutional is more vulnerable to such illegal pressure than some other countries. However, the same social and political realities do exist in England and Australia. This disaster cannot be seen to be uniquely Japanese therefore.

In my opinion.

This is not a minority opinion. Expert researchers and commentators have observed the same process of organized and delegated suppression. The process is well explained in the following article:

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Censorship in Japan: The Fukushima Cover-up

by Richard Wilcox / June 29th, 2011

He who is most noble is he who raises his voice for those silenced by oppression.
– Jonathan Azaziah1

…the public wants what the public gets
– The Jam2

Twenty years ago when I first arrived in Japan I taught English to a Tokyo University associate professor in engineering. The young and normally reserved man sometimes complained about his boss who was a professor in nuclear engineering and gave him troublesome tasks at the office. I once asked him what he thought about earthquake-prone Japan using nuclear power and he replied, “it’s crazy.” Of course, Tokyo University is the hub of Japan’s nuclear power industry and most executives for TEPCO are graduates (as are many top politicians) from Japan’s most elite university.

Today, “four out of five Japanese want to see Tokyo abandon nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima atomic crisis…”3 But any professional in industry, government or media would have no chance of career advancement if they spoke out against nuclear power. This problem is well documented in an article from Speigel, the German news magazine, which details the insidious and poisonous nuclear tentacles that penetrate the most important aspects of Japanese society.4

As a recent Japanese news editorial points out, a small cabal of criminals think they literally own the country and will not allow democracy or the free market to interfere with their aims to control the energy system:

[I]n adopting a scheme for paying damages to the victims of the accidents at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government has ended up guaranteeing the survival of Tokyo Electric Power Co. the operator of the stricken plant. Radioactive substances from Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant have contaminated surrounding cities, farms, forests and the ocean….

The federation’s staunch opposition to separation of generation and transmission was shown in its rejection of adoption of the “Smart Grid” system that the U.S. is eager to promote — a electricity network that can efficiently and stably deliver electricity supplies by intelligently integrating the behavior of power generation entities and power users. The federation quibbled, saying the Japanese transmission system was “already smart enough.” It fears that the Smart Grid might open the way for outsiders to enter the electricity market, thus breaking the monopoly of the nation’s 10 utilities….

The power industry is also reluctant to build facilities to change the frequency of the alternating currents, so that electricity generated in the western half of the country, where electricity’s frequency is 60 hertz, can be transmitted to the eastern half of Japan where electricity’s frequency is 50 hertz, or vice versa — even though such interchangeability would inevitably reduce regional imbalances of supply….This reluctance is based on a fear that the interchangeability issue may strengthen the argument for separation of power generation and transmission.5

About ten years ago I attended a press conference on the dangers of Japan’s nuclear power stations, which was held at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo. It was well attended due to the deadly Tokaimura nuclear accident which had just occurred in 1999. An audience member asked Kenji Higuchi — a journalist and teacher who has written several books about the dangers of nuclear power — why a documentary film about him and the dangers to Japan’s nuke workers, Nuclear Ginza,6 was not allowed to be shown on Japan’s government news station, NHK. “It was squashed from the top down.” I have shown the film many times over the years to my university students, but I can’t reach millions of people.

Fast forward to June of 2011 when Higuchi gave a lecture at a small but prestigious college in Tokyo. One conscientious Japanese professor at that college has been alerting his students to the nuke issue and promoting Higuchi’s books. My contact who attended the meeting of only 10 people said that it was Higuchi’s belief that he was not allowed a larger venue because he is too direct in his speaking manner and names the companies that are complicit with the Nuclear Industry. The students’s parents who work for some of those companies might not like hearing such bold criticisms. Higuchi also surmised that the government has implicitly threatened universities not to touch on the nuclear issue in any critical way, such as allowing anti-nuke rallies on their campuses.

I teach part-time at this particular college and have freely published many articles there, but for the first time my submission which was to be on the nuke disaster was turned down because the issue was deemed “too sensitive.” It is noteworthy that one of the more academically open, meaty and progressive-minded schools in Tokyo is now telling people to keep their mouths shut. When I wrote a reply to the editor asking that if I would submit to peer review they would still consider my article, I received no response.

At another school which has an elite science and engineering department, my first year students have responded well to my cynical jokes about nuclear power. When I open the windows in the morning and say, “hey let’s let in the fresh air and radiation, it’s good for you,” everyone nervously chuckles while shaking their heads. The students provide very sensible and conscientious written comments to the articles I give them to read about the nuclear situation.

On the other hand, by second year many students realize that if they are in certain fields of study, it will not do well for their careers to criticize nuclear power. When we had discussions about energy issues, many gave articulate defenses of the various forms alternative energies available and how they should be developed– but in the end some groups said, “but we still think nuclear is the best!”

There is another aspect to this problem, it is simply “air headedness.” When choosing topics for presentations, some groups came up with the uninspiring and disputatious topic of “global warming,” while others choose “beer,” “chocolate,” “television,” and so on. Not real substantive stuff. One teacher suggested to me the reason many students to do not want to think about Fukushima is because Japan previously considered itself superior to its neighbors and has now taken it on the chin. This is sore subject for Japanese pride and Fukushima was a rude awakening reminding Japanese that they are merely human after all. Another explanation may be more postmodern and universal: 3D-HDTV = Triple Dumbing – High Deafening Talmud Vision. Too much “bread and circuses” and “dread and circumcision” has damaged our humanity and empathy for nature and others.

The censorship of critics of the Nuke Industry can be seen at all levels. For example, even “[a] government official who released a book on May 20 criticizing the government’s response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster has been asked to leave his post…. [Mr.]Koga has… pushed for changes to the country’s energy policy, such as a separation of electric power generation and transmission fiercely opposed by power companies…”7 Obviously this fellow was looking for an early retirement and was “asked” to leave his prestigious career for telling the truth.

In the meantime, as the Fukushima nuclear reactors which have had “corium” meltdowns continue to irradiate the nearby environment– which ultimately puts all of Japan’s inhabitants in danger– we are being told to “forget about it and go back to sleep.” Yet we can see many hopeful signs of concerned citizens nationwide organizing to address the dangers of spreading radiation and to eventually put an end to nuclear power generation in Japan.

Mask of Zion [↩]
The Jam – Going Underground [↩]
Most Japanese wish to scrap reactors [↩]
Japan’s Nuclear Cartel [↩]
Power industry’s chokehold [↩]
Nuclear Ginza Japan’s secret at-risk labor force [↩]
Ministry official who released book criticizing gov’t over nuke crisis asked to resign [↩]

Richard Wilcox has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from a social science, holistic perspective. He teaches at a number of universities in the Tokyo, Japan area. His most recent interview with Jeff Rense is available. Many of his environmental articles are archived here. Read other articles by Richard.

This article was posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 at 8:01am and is filed under Censorship, Japan, Nuclear Proliferation, Security.
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See original site for external links.

Two years after the event TEPCO released photographs which clearly show the scale of the damage to the reactors, their containment buildings. Damage which allows the direct venting from damaged fuel rods located 4 stories high to emit radionuclides direct into the sea breeze.

I am still reviewing IAEA, Japanese government and US NRC statements relating to the fuel pool fire and emissions of 15 March 2011. An event which a review of Australian media presentations seemed to confuse and dramatically under report at the time. The assumption that the reactor Emergency Core Cooling System would prevent any disaster, promoted by nuclear industry since the 1960s despite the evidence to the contrary, has been showed to be wrong. The life span of the integral cooling, where it worked at all, is offically 8 hours. Nuclear industry congratulates itself that in Reactor 3 at Fukushima Diiachi the shattering, abnormal and destructive explosion which was transmitted, they say, to Reactor and was the primary event which caused the events of 15 March 2011, was “normal” and “expected” and “proof of safety”. As I watched Australian TV at the time and hear Australian “nuclear experts” proclaim the safety of the situation, I realized I was listening to the modern equivalent of a tobacco advert (Perfectly safe, it is good for digestion) or a 15 th century Papal Bull from the Vatican.

Is this really what the nuclear industry is made of? Where is it’s moral fibre? Is it not capable of telling any truth at all in these matters? I think not, not in its current degenerate state.

If Japan is too afraid to tell the truth, how am I or anyone else supposed to know the truth.

The truth we are told, sets us free. Why are Japanese researchers so bound up by such documented and observed official and social retardation?

The ones at the top are afraid. They must be dizzy with fear of discovery. Weak minded and fearful, the best they can do is spend millions of tax derived Yen in an abortive and wasteful attempt to ensure only their “Truth” appears on the internet as well as in the journals and mass media. They have lost, and urgently need to be spill the beans. And thus have some slim case for their pleading for mercy. For sure as day follows night, that will come. In my opinion.

The IAEA website Fukushima Diiachi accident update log for 15 March 2011 reports the temperature of the spent fuel pools at the plant. For spent fuel pool 4, the record gives “no data” for that pool.

Yet, we are told, the nuclear industry was in control. No they were not. The fuel pool was. In place of clear statements, we were given deceptive fudge.