Wednesday, September 30, 2015

TPP - The Irony Of Atlanta City & Gambling?

Am I the only one who thinks it is totally ironic that the US city of Atlanta is currently the locus of the "endgame" of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations? A city of gambling, basically. OK, I get it. They do have a sense of humour.

Trade negotiators, as I have observed them since 1999 or so (in Seattle) are like guys in a poker game: They hold on to their hands and try to bluff the others that they won't lose. In the WTO talks, in Seattle, the entire third world, the so-called developing countries, the currently not-so-fortunate card-holders, suddenly stood up and said, enough is enough, this is a silly game, we are not playing anymore. Thus the World Trade Organization was brought to a halt.

And it is like chess. By the time of the "endgame" (this is the 20th round of the TPP talks) you are left with not much room to maneuver, hardly any pieces left, and an opponent with a plan. You never really know how close you are to "chess mate." Thus, the WTO "Development Round" never really went beyond the opening moves.

But - it is also like a casino. You lose a lot, knowing you could win big. Cut your losses, you drink some expensive champagne and pretend you are a big shot. Security cameras all over the place. You also ignore the rest of the population, like farmers and ordinary workers and working families, as you walk around the place in your tuxedo and flash your big grin, thinking only about your own great profits...

Atlanta City, indeed. How the very rich truly know how to flaunt it, and they know they can get away with it. Rarely does the media pick up on the tricks of the trade, and call a spade a spade...

Follow #TPP (E) and Shoko Uchida (J) - do suggest other tags or blog posts.

Top image from U.S. Teamsters

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Clean Diesel" Scandal Hits Japan?

If you follow car news, or wonder about the future of mobility - and/or care about the air we breathe, well, then you must have noticed that Volkswagen was caught on September 3 by the biggest story ever. Diesel cars use engines that are pretty powerful on less fuel compared to gasoline, but they also have more emissions of CO2 and worse, the Nitrogen compounds known as NOx. These combine on hot summer days to form smog and ozone and really bad stuff that will actually kill people.

So for a long time, diesel has had a bad rap, so to speak.

Then car manufacturers tried to remedy that by introducing all kinds of systems to clean the exhaust. Except, due to the terrific work by a small NGO in the US with just a staff of 25 or so people, it was revealed that Volkswagen had put a computer program algorithm in its engines, that could detect if the car was being tested or not.

In other words, if a test was going on, switch on the system to clean up the exhaust, and emit less NOx and other bad stuff. If driving as usual, no clean up system. Up to 40% more NOx emissions, as a result of ordinary driving with this setup.

This had been going on since at least 2009 in the VW Jetta, VW Beetle, VW Golf and Audi A3 (and others), according to this notice of violation from the US government (pdf).

So, VW is the only company putting illegal software in their cars? We don't know, at this point. Why not?

Car manufacturers do the testing, and submit the data to government agencies. Only now can we begin to hope that more independent testing will start.

Hats off - congratulations - to the small team of NGO clean air campaigners and experts who brought this to light. That I consider whistle-blowing at its very finest.

So-called "clean diesel" was just beginning to take off here in Japan, with all the Japanese car makers trying to introduce new models. VW doesn't sell any of its diesel cars in Japan, so the effect here is perhaps limited. News site calls it the "Diesel Shock" (J) which may stick.

But I'm disappointed by the lack of response by serious car news sites, or professional bodies, that may rely on outside sources.

And have you ever seen a more tame response than this from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (E)...?

Brussels, 23 September 2015 – In light of the latest emission testing news, ACEA recognises the gravity of the situation and is taking this very seriously. However, we cannot comment on an issue affecting one individual company. There is no evidence that this is an industry-wide issue.
In the EU, the legal requirements concerning motor vehicle pollutant emissions currently refer to a test cycle performed under common laboratory conditions. All Euro 6 diesel cars on the market have received a Euro 6 approval certificate issued by a member state approval authority that confirms they comply with the legal requirements.
Soon, Euro 6 will also require for the first time emissions testing of diesel cars under realistic driving conditions, making Europe the only region in the world to implement such real world testing for cars. The automotive industry is fully supporting the development of this new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test in order to ensure a more robust control on emissions. ACEA hopes that the RDE testing conditions and timings can be finalised urgently, so that the industry can get RDE-compliant vehicles into the market as soon as possible.
ACEA will continue to engage with the European Commission and national governments to address the current challenges and ensure that trust and confidence in the car industry and clean diesel technology are maintained.

One big automobile group, the Clean Diesel Promotion Association, (J) has not even bothered to update its website, and there are many other sites trying to convince Japanese car buyers that diesel is the hottest thing.

Not so fast, please.

I took until today (Thursday September 24) that this hit the news big time in Japan:

Top graph shows how few diesel cars are sold in Japan (0.1%) compared to Europe (40-70%).

Update: The Wall Street Journal thinks Japan's "big bet" on hybrid cars will benefit from the VW scandal.

Update 2: More trouble ahead, according to The New York Times? Key quote:

Some believe that using software to cheat on laboratory results goes beyond Volkswagen. While officially stated fuel efficiency and carbon-dioxide emissions figures have steadily improved over the years, real-world tests showed no corresponding improvement, according to the European Federation for Transport and Environment, an advocacy group based in Brussels. In fact, the group’s testing found that the average diesel car was producing emissions five times as high as what was permitted. Some vehicles from BMW and Opel emitted 10 times as much pollution on the road as in the lab. The difference between the lab and real-world results swelled to 40 percent last year, on average, from 8 percent in 2002, the group also found.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Not So Smart

If you are a tech geek and like to buy new smart phones all the time, do consider this interesting graph from Compound Interest - not much recycling going on in the smart phone industry, unfortunately. Click to enlarge.

Key quote:

The problem with extracting rare earths is that they don’t tend to occur in particularly concentrated amounts in the crust. As such, the techniques required to extract them are costly and labour intensive, limiting the places in which it’s economically viable to bother extracting them at all. The processes used to extract them can also be environmentally hazardous, which is also a limiting factor; in 2010, China cut its exports of rare earths by 40% based on its concerns regarding pollution. With this in mind, recycling the rare earth elements at the end of their lives would seem to be a no-brainer. However, there isn’t a single rare earth element whose end of use recycle rate is greater than 1%.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

No Deal For Abe On Friday?

None of the main stream media has so far noted that PM Abe may have lost a major battle on Friday, as he tried to enact the hugely controversial war bills that could allow Japan to engage in battle abroad. Opposed to this, a large coalition of people who want to maintain the current Article 9 of Japan's post-war Constitution. Over the past days and weeks, massive demonstrations outside the Diet, the Japanese Parliament, and in many other cities as well. It is going on tonight as I type this.

So, yesterday, Abe and his right-wing Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito (the political arm of the lay sect of 1950s style born-again Buddhist connected to Sokai Gakkai) seem to have failed to use their majority to enact this? Very confusing as main stream media has no updates late Friday. Confusing. Stay tuned for more.

Update: Video from outside the Diet late Friday night:

Update: As of midnight, NHK World has no news on the failure of "Japan's governing parties" to enact the bills on Friday...

NHK World: Japan's security bills may be enacted on Friday

Japan's governing parties seek to have a set of security bills enacted on Friday. But the largest opposition Democratic Party remains keen to block the plenary session of the Upper House from passing the legislation.

The legislation would allow the country to exercise its right to collective self-defense. It would also expand the role of Japan's Self-Defense Forces abroad.

Update 2: And of course, as everyone already knows, the bills were passed "early on Saturday morning" since this is what democracy is like in Japan: If you are a LDP lawmaker, you vote as LDP wants you to vote, or else. While this formally also applies to Komeito, apparently, this party has already begun to crumble as its major support base, the Buddhist Soka Gakkai members, are not happy with the party's support for Abe, especially regarding this issue.

More analysis here and here. Key quote:

Unable to muster support to formally amend Article 9 of the Constitution, which enshrines its pacifist sentiment, Abe opted instead to reinterpret the document for the purpose of his bills, ignoring warnings from scholars and lawyers that they are unconstitutional. The changes reinterpret the Constitution to allow Japan’s military to fight to protect its allies, which Abe argues is necessary because of threats from an increasingly belligerent China and unstable North Korea.

Friday, September 18, 2015

How Japan Got Rid of America's Nuclear Weapons, in 1991 and 1992

"A major step forward to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons," Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu said modestly.235 The offload was not instantaneous, however. The withdrawal of the nuclear weapons was cleared by President Bush's approval of the 91-92 Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization (NWDA) on November 5, 1991, which became National Security Directive 64 (NSD-64),236 but it would take nearly nine months before all nuclear weapons were removed from the fleet. "We could get the weapons home faster," by sending out replenishment ships to bring weapons back, "but it would be dangerous. We don't want a weapon accidentally dropped over the side," a Navy official said.237

Hans Kristensen Japan Under the US Nuclear Umbrella Section 5, "Nuclear War Planning in Japan"

Thursday, September 17, 2015

So, How Will the "War Bill" Deal With Nuclear Weapons?

The current debate in Tokyo's Parliament, the Diet, has not mentioned how Japan intends to deal with nuclear weapons, or nuclear defense. The current debate and the panic inside the Diet today is about "collective self-defense" but I am surprised there has been no mention of the role of nuclear weapons.

I used to be impressed by how Prime Minister Eisako Sato got the Norwegian Nobel Peace Price, for Japan's three principles: non-production, non-possession, and non-introduction of nuclear weapons.

Collective Self-defense. Take a deep breath, and try to define that concept. And tell us what Japan's nuclear umbrella means to you. I have not heard a single word about it, in the news, or the debate. has more:

Deployment of Nuclear Weapons in Japan
Allegations that the United States brought nuclear weapons into Japan despite the Japanese ban against nuclear weapons in its territory were frequent during the Cold War. Such allegations were always denied by Japanese governments. The newly declassified documents obtained for this report, however, provide important new reinforcement to these allegations. Indeed, references in these documents to U.S. nuclear weapon operations on Japanese soil and through Japanese harbors and territorial waters are commonplace. The strength of this evidence leaves little basis to continued insistence that the United States ever respected Japan's three non-nuclear principles.
In particular, the newly declassified documents disclose the following:
1. In 1972, during preparations to establish Yokosuka as the home port of the USS Midway (CV-41) the following year, the U.S. State Department recommended removing nuclear weapons from the aircraft carrier to avoid a conflict with Japan's non-nuclear policy. The Chief of Naval Operations, however, vetoed this move as "operationally unacceptable." Yokosuka subsequently served as the home port for the Midway for two decades.
2. During the 1970s and 1980s, special nuclear weapons training and nuclear weapons handling procedures existed for the USS Midway (CV-41). These special procedures, unique to this vessel, enabled nuclear weapons to be removed from the vessel outside Japanese territory. This capability apparently implemented an unwritten agreement under which Japan would permit the United States to bring nuclear weapons into Japanese ports as long as the United States did not remove offload them to shore. 


Nuclear War Planning in Japan, by Hans Kristensen:

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    East Asia Nuclear Policy Project
Hans Kristensen Japan Under the US Nuclear Umbrella Section 5, "Nuclear War Planning in Japan"

Nuclear War Planning in Japan
Perhaps more surprising than the routine introduction of nuclear weapons onboard warships and aircraft is the fact that part of the U.S. nuclear warplan itself (SIOP) was built and maintained at Fuchu Air Station. Moreover, facilities in Japan were routinely used for nuclear Command and Control operations to exercise this warplan.
The SIOP was the first attempt to bring together under a single coordinated plan the numerous nuclear strike plans of the ever-increasing number of nuclear weapons assigned to ships, submarines, aircraft, and land-based missiles. Incorporating the objectives and guidance of the National Strategic Targeting and Attack Policy, the SIOP governed all attacks on all targets listed in the National Strategic Target List (NSTL). It determined the targets to be attacked, the efforts to be expended against each target consistent with the value or the target, and integrated individual strikes for mutual support through the establishment of attack corridors, timing, and by other means.199
In the Pacific, the activation of the SIOP had a major impact on nuclear war planning and necessitated major revisions of nuclear war plans in the region. Besides the task of maintaining up-to-date intelligence upon which to base revisions to the target list, and planning for use and delivery of weapons, approximately 30 members of CINCPAC's staff were engaged in analyzing existing plans and conducting war games on the PACOM portion of the SIOP. CINCPAC maintained permanent representation with the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at the Strategic Air Command's Omaha headquarters, as well as other representatives who served there on a temporary basis.200
The most important change involved CINCPAC's General War Plan (OPLAN 1-61), which contained the plans for use of U.S. forces in a general war with the Soviet Union in the period April 1961 to June 1962. OPLAN 1-61, which replaced CINCPAC's General Emergency Operation Plan 1-58 from 1958, included 10 annexes, one of which (Annex E) contained the Nuclear Planning Data and Target Lists for General War. The annex defined the targets to be destroyed during the initial nuclear attack and those targets that would require a pre-described level of destruction or neutralization during operations following the initial nuclear attack.201
Another major change involved Operations Plan 23-61 (OPLAN 23-61), which contained the plans for U.S. military operations in support of British forces during a forced withdrawal from Hong Kong. If China attempted to push out Britain with military force, the U.S. Pacific Command would if necessary respond with nuclear weapons. The nuclear annex (Annex E) to OPLAN 23-61 was completed in December 1961.202
A third change occurred in Operations Plan 27-60, which governed the defense of South Korea. OPLAN 27-60 was based on the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, and the Unified Command Plan. It was also based on UN resolutions regarding UN military assistance to South Korea, the Mutual Defense Treaty, and other agreements between the U.S. and the South Korea, as well as the Declaration of the Sixteen Nations Relating to the Armistice from July 1953. OPLAN 27-60 also provided for the use of nuclear weapons in the event of renewed communist aggression against South Korea, and a new nuclear annex (Annex E) was completed in August 1961. Despite the inclusion of nuclear forces in OPLAN 27-60, CINCPAC remarked that "the extent of operations in Korea are not to prejudice the primary task of securing Japan, Okinawa, and the Philippines."203
The perceived threat to Japan was important for the Japanese government's attitude towards U.S. nuclear operations in Japan. During U.S. preparations for two high-level talks between the U.S. Ambassador and the Japanese government in early 1963, the Ambassador made numerous references to the Chinese Communist threat to Japan. Yet CINCPAC intelligence believed that this threat had been overrated, considering that the prime threat was the Soviet Union. The overt threat to Japan would occur only in a general war situation, CINCPAC intelligence concluded, and would be primarily a Soviet threat.204
The SIOP Planning
The SIOP depended upon reliable Command and Control facilities in Japan and upon the cooperation with Japanese defense forces. Some of the Command and Control facilities were located in Japan and on Okinawa. Following the nuclear exercise High Heels II in September 1962, for example, which was the "most successful test of PACOM's communications system to date," two facilities listed for inclusion in Defense Communication Agency (DCA) Mid-Range Plan included Camp Drake, Japan, and Fort Buckner in Okinawa.205
In some cases, joint U.S.-Japanese exercises even involved nuclear operations. One of three air defense exercises held during 1962 with the Japan Air Self Defense Forces (JASDF), for example, had the objective to test coordinated air attack, air defense capability, and "nuclear broadcast procedures." The exercise included forces from the Pacific Air Force, 7th Fleet, Strategic Air Command (SAC), and the JASDF.206
The use of bases in Japan for strategic nuclear command and control operations continued in the mid-1960s when Yokota Air Base, together with Clark Air Base in the Philippines and Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, was designated as a dispersed operating site for Strategic Air Command's (SAC) new airborne command post aircraft. These specially equipped EC-135 aircraft, code-named Blue Eagle, would be kept airborne in a crisis to ensure continued command and control of U.S. nuclear forces despite a Soviet nuclear attack. During September 1965, Blue Eagle aircraft visited Yokota Air Base, as well as Clark Air Base and Kadena Air Base.207 During routine operations (DEFCON 5 and 4), Battle Staff Teams would make an average of three deployments a month to Blue Eagle support facilities in Japan, Okinawa, and the Philippines. Under increased defense conditions, deployment of staff and aircraft to the dispersal sites would escalate.208
Before long, however, not only would U.S. bases in Japan be used to support the SIOP, but part of the nuclear war plan itself was actually built there. In 1967, CINCPAC established the Pacific Operations Liaison Office (POLO) in Fifth Air Force facilities at Fuchu Air Station. POLO was responsible for the production of various planning documents for the execution of the SIOP. It also built PACOM's SIOP Reconnaissance Plan (Preplanned Reconnaissance Pacific (PRERECPAC)), and functioned as the nuclear operations liaison in the Western Pacific area. One of the branches at POLO was the Deputy for Command Center and Nuclear Operations branch, which included the Airborne Command Post Branch and the Nuclear Operations/Safety Branch.209
Planning and maintaining the nuclear war plans was a continuous and time-consuming process, and Fuchu Air Station was a frequent host for SIOP planning conferences. In October 1966, for example, CINCPAC directed his PACOM Operations Liaison Officer to hold the fifth annual PACOM Reconnaissance Conference at Fuchu Air Station. The conference planned and coordinated the use of reconnaissance assets under the SIOP to maximize target enemy coverage.210
As SIOP planning became more computerized and flexible, the need to located part of the function in Japan disappeared. Eventually, POLO was disestablished on July 15, 1972 in order to permit elimination of the Fifth Air Force's redundant and costly automated data processing facility at Fuchu, and the SIOP functions transferred to facilities at Kunia in Hawaii.211
While the nuclear port visit debate raged in public, routine maintenance of the nuclear war plan was maintained in secrecy throughout the 1970s. In October 1974, for example, CINCPAC conducted a review of its emergency action procedures. In addition to Japan (and Okinawa), the team visited Guam, Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan to inspect the nuclear war fighting capability of facilities in those locations. This included: Command, Control, and Communications (C3) systems; the PACOM alert notification systems and procedures; the use, control, and storage of Sealed Authenticator Systems (SAS); emergency action procedures; and All-Source Information Center (ASIC) procedures. Units of interest were SIOP units, Emergency Action Message relay stations, command centers, and ASICs.212
Nuclear Command And Control Operations
Likewise, CINCPAC's Airborne Command Post (ABNCP), called Blue Eagle, exercised Command and Control of nuclear war during a number of deployments to Japan. Continuous air-borne alert had been canceled in January 1970 due to cost, and the aircraft maintained on a ground alert capable of taking off on short notice. In 1974, however, CINCPAC introduced a new "deployed ground alert" concept, in which Blue Eagle held random 24-28 hour ground alert watch periods in conjunction with bi-monthly deployments to forward airfields in the Western Pacific. Deployed ground alert periods were randomly scheduled to Yokota in Japan and Kadena on Okinawa, as well as to Clark Air Base in the Philippines and Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taiwan. By the end of 1974, a total of 20 deployed ground alerts to these bases had been carried out.213
A special objective of these deployments during 1974 involved the maintenance of communication with selected nuclear ballistic missiles submarines and nuclear-armed aircraft carriers deployed near Japan. The Navy normally used its own TACAMO C-130 aircraft for this function, but resources for TACAMO aircraft had been temporarily reduced. Yokota and Kadena (as well as the Clark and Kang air bases) had been chosen because they bordered the patrol areas for the ballistic missile submarines. From one of these bases, the Blue Eagle aircraft could quickly reach an operational orbit within VLF/LF/HF range with the capability to relay SIOP emergency action messages to the submarines.214
Testing of the system had begun in February 1973, and through January 1974 a total of 21 missions had been flown to maintain SIOP communication with the strategic nuclear submarines. The tests, however, demonstrated that communication could not be guaranteed. Best reception was in range up to 1,200 nautical miles, but during the 21 missions flown, only 12 reports had been received from the submarines. Analysis of 40 SSBN reports indicated that they had only received 21 emergency action messages. The overall success rate from the aircraft to the submarines was 52.5 percent. Testing continued through the year, usually with three operations a month to selected submarines, aircraft carriers, and Naval Communications facilities in Guam, Japan, and the Philippines.215
Throughout the 1970s, Blue Eagle deployed ground alert exercises to Japan continued. In 1975, for example, Blue Eagle conducted ten deployed ground alert exercises at Kadena (Okinawa) and Yokota Air Base in Japan, and at Clark Air Base in the Philippines.216 Routine deployments to Yokota and Kadena continued in 1978, and in September that year, the Japanese Defense Agency Command Center Overseas Study Team visited the airborne command post.217 Again, during 1979, Yokota and Kadena were among four bases in the Pacific receiving "the most frequent" airborne command post visits.218
Just as strategic nuclear submarines had exercised with airborne command post aircraft around Japan in the 1970s, strategic nuclear submarine operations continued throughout the 1980s. One tragic reminder came in April 1981, when the strategic nuclear submarine USS George Washington (SSBN-598) collided with the Japanese merchant vessel Missho Maru while "on routine operations" only 110 miles south-southwest of Sasebo, Japan. Two Japanese crew members were killed and another 13 rescued by Japanese destroyer after the Missho Maru sank.219
The incident sparked a political furor in Japan, straining U.S.-Japanese relations only a month before a scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Zanko Suzuki and President Ronald Reagan. The United States was criticized because it waited 24 hours before notifying the Japanese authorities. After two days of furor, President Reagan and other U.S. officials expressed regret over the accident but refused to say what a strategic submarine was doing so close to Japan (only 20 miles outside the 12-mile limit) or whether it was carrying nuclear missiles.220
Airborne Command Post aircraft deployments to Japan continued throughout the 1980s and have continued into the 1990s. In December 1991, for example, a ABNCP aircraft deployed to Yokota Air Base in Japan and Cubi Point in the Philippines to provide alternate command authority (ACA) to the region.221 Again in November 1992, an EC-135 aircraft deployed to Kadena Air Base in Japan and Osan Air Base in South Korea. During the deployment, battle staff training "covered all facets of the SIOP and theater nuclear [Command and Control]." Moreover, site surveys were conducted at each location to determine the feasibility of using those locations as Alternate Command Facility (ACF) sites. While Osan AB was found to be only marginally satisfactory, logistics support for the deployment at Kadena AB was considered "outstanding."222
Communication Facilities
In addition to such operational deployments, the U.S. also established a number of unique communication facilities in Japan that supported execution of U.S. nuclear war plans. This included Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) facilities that were one of the major components of the World Wide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS) that provided the means for the U.S. National Command Authorities (NCA) and subordinate commands to direct U.S. nuclear and non-nuclear forces. DSCA ground stations were installed at Camp Zama near Tokyo in 1981, at Fort Buckner on Okinawa, and at Misawa Air Base at Honshu.223
By the mid-1980s, Japan had become the host to the most extensive U.S. nuclear infrastructure in the Pacific with over two-dozens sites housing nuclear related facilities. Four of the U.S. Navy's six facilities designed to contact submerged submarines via very-low-frequency (VLF) transmissions, for example, were located in the Pacific; one of these was at Yosami in Japan. Moreover, four of five specially converted LORAN-C navigation beacons for communication with nuclear Trident submarines in the Pacific were located in Japan.224
These facilities were frequently involved in exercises that simulated execution of nuclear war plans. During the CINTEX-CRIMEX 85 exercise in February-March 1985, for example, the Seventh Fleet took part in an evaluation of the WWMCCS during a simulated period of deteriorating international political-military relations resulting in a large-scale conventional war and limited use of tactical nuclear weapons.225 Already by the early 1990s, however, the DSCS's capacity was already proving too limited to handle the ever-increasing amount of Command and Control data.226
The Nuclear Offload
The endless battles with non-nuclear countries over nuclear port visits, along with the overall thaw in the Cold War, gradually eroded the justification for maintaining tactical nuclear weapons at sea. During Congressional hearings in 1988, the U.S. Navy had pledged its commitment to modernizing its nuclear stockpile "through vigorous and sustained efforts."227 But behind the scenes the Navy had already taken its first steps toward a denuclearization of its combat fleet.
In early 1989, the U.S. Navy acknowledged that it had decided to scrap three tactical nuclear weapon systems: the ASROC ship-launched anti-submarine rocket; the SUBROC submarine-launched anti-submarine rocket; and the Terrier ship-launched anti-air missile. As a result, nearly 1,200 nuclear warheads would be removed from 142 ships and 27 submarines. While the move dramatically reduced the number of nuclear-capable ships, another 2,490 non-strategic nuclear weapons would remain in the fleet.228 The withdrawal of ASROC, SUBROC, and Terrier nuclear warheads was completed in early 1990.
Meanwhile, pressure was building in the White House for a complete removal of tactical nuclear weapons from the fleet. President Bush's national security advisor, Brent Scowcroft, reportedly "leaned on" Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney to eliminate the weapons in an effort to undercut growing opposition in Scandinavia, the Pacific, and the Far East to nuclear port calls. Senior aides to Cheney, who opposed removal of nuclear cruise missiles from submarines, were overridden when Admiral Frank Kelso, the Chief of Naval Operations, made it clear that he did not object.229
On September 9, 1991, the idea had progressed so far that CINCPAC ordered his component commanders and the Commander for U.S. Forces in Korea to study the role of non-strategic nuclear forces in the Pacific. In doing so, CINCPAC reminded that non-strategic nuclear forces had played an important role in U.S. policy since the Korean War. Although their principle rationale related to the U.S.-Soviet Cold War confrontation, he pointed to new threats in the future, including the break-up of the Soviet Union, the refocus of U.S. national military strategy on regionalism and forward presence, the resurgence of ethnic and cultural conflicts, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.230
But events evolved too fast for any study. Only two days later, on September 11, the CJCS directed CINCPAC to develop a plan for the removal of nuclear artillery projectiles, nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles, nuclear strike bombs, and nuclear depth bombs "at the earliest opportunity."231
Then, on September 27, 1991, President Bush announced that all nuclear weapons would be offloaded from U.S. Navy surface ships and attack submarines and all ground-based nuclear weapons would be withdrawn to the United States. "From Saturday on," Pentagon spokesperson Pete Williams said shortly after the announcement, "no U.S. Navy surface ships or attack submarines have deployed from their ports with any tactical nuclear weapons on board."232
The move solved the Japanese dilemma. Not only had the U.S. government announced in public that nuclear weapons would no longer be present on surface ships and attack submarines. It also said there would no longer be a need for a Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) policy for the vessels, the practice that had so complicated the relationships with Japan and numerous other countries around the world. The NCND policy would remain in effect, however, for strategic submarines and for bases and Air Force facilities where nuclear materials are stored "for obvious security reasons," the Pentagon said.233 For naval forces, a "modified" NCND policy was ordered:
    It is general U.S. policy not to deploy nuclear weapons aboard surface ships, attack submarines, and naval aircraft. However, we do not discuss the presence or absence of nuclear weapons aboard specific ships, submarines, or aircraft.234
"A major step forward to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons," Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu said modestly.235 The offload was not instantaneous, however. The withdrawal of the nuclear weapons was cleared by President Bush's approval of the 91-92 Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization (NWDA) on November 5, 1991, which became National Security Directive 64 (NSD-64),236 but it would take nearly nine months before all nuclear weapons were removed from the fleet. "We could get the weapons home faster," by sending out replenishment ships to bring weapons back, "but it would be dangerous. We don't want a weapon accidentally dropped over the side," a Navy official said.237 Warships that had sailed on overseas deployments even a few days before the announcement still carried their nominal load of nuclear weapons. At the time of the announcement, the U.S. Navy had several hundred nuclear strike bombs and depth charges onboard half a dozen aircraft carriers. Another 100 or so nuclear-tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles were onboard attack submarines, cruisers, and destroyers. The USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) battle group, for example, had departed Norfolk Naval Base on the U.S. East Coast barely a week before the announcement. It carried a standard loadout of 100-120 nuclear bombs and depth charges onboard the carrier, and several nuclear Tomahawk missiles onboard the submarines, cruisers, and destroyers in the group.238
The initiative required the withdrawal of over 2,000 nuclear weapons worldwide,239 and for CINCPAC it meant that nuclear weapons would be "removed at the first opportunity from ships homeported overseas."240 By late February 1992, the Navy said it was "getting pretty close to having most of them [the nuclear weapons] off-loaded now." As more of the nuclear-armed ships returned to port, Admiral Crowe said the Navy was "down to a handful of ships" that still had them onboard.241 Finally, on July 2, 1992, President Bush announced that all nuclear weapons had been withdrawn.242
Despite the offload, CINCPAC was initially directed to retain the capability to regenerate and/or re-deploy naval nuclear weapons in a timely manner, and to ensure that storage and other necessary support infrastructure was maintained. Nuclear annexes to Operational Plans and non-SIOP options were to be maintained, and the annexes should include planning factors, timelines, and rationale to regenerate and/or re-deploy sea-based tactical nuclear weapons systems.243
For the surface fleet, however, the option to re-deploy nuclear weapons ended only a few years later, when the U.S. decided as part of the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review that surface ships and aircraft carriers should no longer have the capability to carry nuclear weapons at all. For cruisers and destroyers this meant loosing the ability to carry and launch nuclear-tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles. For the aircraft carriers, this means that for the first time since the 1950s, flat-tops were no longer part of the U.S. nuclear strike force. Only attack submarines would continue to train and plan nuclear Tomahawk missions, although their weapons would be stored on land under normal circumstances.
The benefits from these events to the Japanese government were immediate not only because of the U.S. initiative itself, but also because other nuclear powers operating in the waters around Japan soon followed suit. In connection with the arrival of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Invincible to Yokosuka in July 1992, for example, the British Embassy in Tokyo readily confirmed in a letter to the Japanese Peace Resources Cooperative that Royal Navy ships and aircraft "no longer have the capability to deploy nuclear weapons."244 Japan's nuclear battle was finally over.

The Buddhists at Soka Gakkai/Komeito and others who have actively voted for and keeps on supporting LDP and the current government, if they care at all, may they remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and find a better way forward for Japan. How can they call themselves Buddhists, is my question? How can they support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who's grandfather was part of Japan' deal in 1960 to pretend that Japan is an independent country... How can Komeito continue to pretend to be anything like the parties in Europe, like the German Christian Democratic Union, with leaders like Adenauer or Merkel. What are they thinking?

Interesting documentary about the origin of nuclear weapons, and how accidentally the Bikini Islands and the nearby ocean region got contaminated. And Japanese fishermen got badly hurt.. Without warning from the USA. And much more. Key to this story is also Andrei Sakhharov, Soviet scientist and peace advocate, who got the Nobel Peace Price in 1995.

This is way back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and we should be so much better at dealing with these issues, in 2015.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Do Join The CUJ Facebook Page!

We resisted this for a long time, but social media is a way to reach out to more people. Do join Consumers Union of Japan, and our humble Facebook page, if you are so inclined.

I wish consumer organizations in other countries would also pick up "peace" as a major theme.

How about it?

On the left in the photo, let me introduce Oono-san, who edits the Nikkan Berita website. Cool dude who lives in Chichibu, Saitama. He knows all about Okinawa, if you need a quote (or some history of the issue). Or labour issues, or more. On the right, our very special ladies from the No! GMO Campaign. They know even more about genetic engineering and why we shouldn't be eating the stuff,  than I do.

If you like Facebook, do sign up!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Huge Demonstrations For Peace In Japan - 2015

Events this week could lead to a change in Japan's Constitution, but tens of thousands of people or even more are demonstrating on the streets to keep Article 9, that prohibits Japan from taking part in war zones abroad.

I hope that of course, "War is Over" and that Japan will continue to contribute to peace.

Great to see such mass events in front of the Diet, the Japanese Parliament, where the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito (do google them, why would a Buddhist sect support Japan going to war?) are arguing for Japan's right to collective self-defense and thus stepping into all kinds of war zones.

The opposition parties need to get their act together.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tens of thousands of protesters surrounded the Diet building in Tokyo on Monday amid growing public opposition to controversial national security bills that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to have passed this week.
The mass rally in the center of Japan's capital came after a similar one at the end of last month that its organizers said attracted about 120,000 people at the same site.
The government-sponsored bills would greatly expand the scope of the Self-Defense Forces' overseas activities, including allowing Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of its allies under armed attack even if Japan itself is not attacked.
Led by young people including members of Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s, or SEALDs, leaders of opposition parties, including the Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party, and Noble laureate for literature Kenzaburo Oe are expected to take part in the rally.

People rally against controversial security-related bills being debated in the House of Councillors, in front of the National Diet Building in Tokyo on Sept. 14, 2015. (Mainichi)
People rally against controversial security-related bills being debated in the House of Councillors, in front of the National Diet Building in Tokyo on Sept. 14, 2015. (Mainichi)

The bills are currently under deliberation in the upper house of the Diet, after the ruling coalition, led by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, pushed them through the lower house in July.

Do support our effort to keep Japan out or war zones. I work for Consumers Union of Japan, with a focus on peace. CUJ was founded in 1969 so we have a long history. And we like the new wave of protests:

Drone footage.

Do check out Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s, or SEALDs, (English)

SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy) is a platform of emergency actions by students to protect a free and democratic Japan. We are a group of youths from late teens to early 20s. We aim to rethink and enact democracy.

We uphold the tradition of freedom and democracy in Japan that has been built for the past 70 years after the World War . Our principal aim is to protect the Constitution of Japan which is fundamental to this tradition. The philosophy of Japans Peace Constitution is a project that is yet to be accomplished. In order to protect our Constitution which is currently in danger, we state a clear vision with focus on Constitutionalism, Social Security, and National Security.

The situation of Japanese politics continues to worsen. In 2014, the Secret Protection Law and the right to collective defense have been forcibly passed, severely undermining the fundamental ideas enshrined in the Constitution of Japan. In the meantime, a new social security system needed to deal with the rising rate of poverty and aging population does not seem to be emerging. Another challenge is posed by the increasing tension among East Asian countries. In this coming July, the Abe administration will pass a series of security laws that will enable Japan to execute the right of collective defense abroad. The ultimate aim of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is to amend the Peace Constitution after the Upper House election next year. We believe we are in a critical period this year for the future of Japan.

We as the young generation have to be the ones to think about these issues and present a realistic vision. We ask all the liberals across the conventional political spectrum to form a united front to protect Japan’s tradition of liberal democracy. We also urge each and every member of the society to face up to this task, think through the issues at hand, and take actions. The actions each of us takes in the coming months will become a shield that will protect freedom and democracy in Japan.

Top photo from Kyodo. by 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Et Tu, Tea???

Do you drink "English tea" from Harrods, or Earl Grey from Twinings? Thinking it is worth the heavy price? Or Kirin's Afternoon Tea? Maybe you think the NGO Rain Forest Alliance label makes it worth even a little extra?

So did I, until BBC and others revealed indescribable conditions for the workers at the plantations at India's Assam tea plantations. Shocking.

BBC: The bitter story behind the UK's national drink

Several of Britain's biggest tea brands, including PG Tips, Tetleys and Twinings, have said they will work to improve the tea estates they buy from in India after a BBC investigation found dangerous and degrading living and working conditions. Harrods has stopped selling some tea products in response, and Rainforest Alliance, the ethical certification organisation, has conceded the investigation has revealed flaws in its audit process. The joint investigation by Radio 4's File on Four and BBC News in Assam, north-east India, found workers living in broken houses with terrible sanitation.

This is not just about Britain. Tea from Assam, India is being sold all over the world, including Japan.

Unilever, which owns PG Tips and Liptons, says it takes the issues the BBC has raised seriously, but that progress has been made. However, the company recognises "there is still more to be done to raise standards" and says it is "working with our suppliers to achieve responsible and sustainable practices". Harrods says it has removed Doomur Dullung tea from its shelves in response to the BBC investigation, but noted it hasn't bought any tea from the garden this year. Meanwhile Taylors of Harrogate, which owns the Yorkshire Tea brand, told the BBC the company was "extremely concerned" by the BBC's findings and said it was "investigating as a matter of urgency".

Not a word on these fancy, expensively managed Japanese websites about the recent BBC story.

It is easy to search for Assam Tea, and find all kinds of companies in Japan that features it, like Little Mermaid or  Brooks or "Pure Fresh Tea" Tea Club or even Kirin's "Afternoon Tea" - not a word so far about the news about the terrible conditions in Assam, India.

Kirin clearly cares more about its plastic bottles than about the conditions of the workers harvesting the tea it sells. Pecology? What on earth is going on? Kirin, you can do so much better.

Some products even carry the label of an NGO, that should protect biodiversity.

Rainforest Alliance tries to defend itself here:

The Rainforest Alliance Responds to Allegations Made by the BBC Regarding Tea Estates in Assam, India

As with any tropical crop, tea presents a number of environmental and social challenges. The Rainforest Alliance has been aware of these challenges since we began working in the tea sector in 2007. We take the allegations and assertions made in the BBC File on 4 and other programmes seriously and commend the BBC team for highlighting what remain systemic and deep-rooted issues in the tea sector within regions such as Assam. An investigation into the allegations is currently underway.
Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms are certified to the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standard. The SAN is an independent organization consisting of a range of conservation groups including the Rainforest Alliance ( The standards developed by the SAN comply with the Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling (ISEAL) Alliance.

In India the accredited certification bodies authorized by the SAN to carry out audits include RA-Cert, IMO-India and Indocert. These bodies are accredited by the IOAS, the International Organic Accreditation Service. For the past six years, the Rainforest Alliance has provided training and guidance to the tea sector in Assam on improvements to social and environmental impacts of production, mainly focussed on the rigorous requirements of the SAN standard.

The auditing process in the certification system consists of annual programmed audits and, where necessary, unscheduled audits. When complaints are received, a research audit may be performed. This is an unscheduled inspection that corresponds to a complaint about a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farm or cooperative. The objective is to thoroughly investigate the farm’s compliance with the SAN standards in question. If the farm is not in compliance, it may lose certification immediately or be given a deadline to correct problems identified. As a result of the BBC’s allegations, unscheduled research audits of Rainforest Alliance Certified farms in the Assam region are being carried out by the local certification bodies. If estates are found to be engaged in practices that violate the SAN standard, further action will be taken up to and including certificate termination.
On the issue of underage labor: While employment of young workers is permitted under Indian law between the ages of 14 to 18, the SAN standard has a stricter requirement and minimum age of 15, as well as other requirements to ensure that estates that do employ young workers have additional measures in place to protect them. This is a critical criterion that must be fulfilled for a farm to be certified; if this criterion is breached, the farm would lose its certificate.

With regard to personal protective equipment: Under the SAN standard, farms must provide appropriate personal protective equipment for free, and all workers must wear it when applying agrochemicals. This is also a critical criterion and failure to comply would result in a farm losing its certificate.

On housing and sanitation issues: The SAN standard currently includes multiple criteria and requirements related to the working and living conditions of workers on farms, including the following:
5.14 Housing provided by the farm for permanent or temporary workers living there must be well-designed, built and maintained to foster good hygienic, health and safety conditions. Living quarters must be separated from production areas. The design, size and construction of dormitories, barracks and other housing, type and quantity of furniture, and number and location of sanitary facilities, showers, and washing and cooking areas must comply with applicable laws.

This criterion is not a critical criterion, but a continuous improvement requirement. This means that a certified estate may not be fully compliant with this criterion as long as it is in compliance with all critical criteria, has an overall compliance score of at least 80% across all criteria, and has a compliance score of at least 50% in any one principle, such as principle 5, Fair Treatment and Good Working Conditions for Workers. Non-compliances are recorded in the audit report; they are checked on an annual basis and farms are expected to resolve them over time. Failure to do so leads to a reduction in the certification score, which can in turn lead to farms losing their certification.
Estates usually have programs to continuously improve the housing they provide. The tea sector in Assam, including the farms visited by the BBC, has suffered from severe pressure on costs of production in recent years, caused by low world tea prices coupled with low local tea production as a result of drought, severe pest infestations and periodic flooding. Unfortunately, many estates in the region have had to close down in the face of difficult economic times. Therefore we are working with the tea industry and estates to find solutions that are economically viable while significantly improving conditions on farms.

It is important to note that the January 2016 version of the SAN Sustainable Agriculture Standard – subject to SAN board approval in October 2015 -- includes the same requirement for housing to be clean, safe and healthy, but with an important difference: It will be a critical criterion, meaning that estates will not be able to be certified if this requirement is not met.

Concerning the issue of wage levels: As a certification system, we are advocating for increased attention to the issue and are working with the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling (ISEAL) Alliance to define a common concept of a living wage that we would use along with the Fairtrade Labelling Organization , UTZ and Social Accountability International. The new 2016 SAN Sustainable Agriculture Standard will push tea plantations to pay a living wage within the framework of the ISEAL Living Wage coalition.

India is the second largest tea producer in the world, and the region faces ongoing challenges in the tea sector. The Rainforest Alliance strongly believes that certification and the training that is part of the process can result in long-term change and improvement for citizens and communities around the world. While not a perfect system – which is one reason why the SAN standard is periodically revised and updated -- certification is transparent and provides a way for workers and concerned citizens to report problems that need to be investigated and addressed. We applaud the companies that manage and buy from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and the people who work on certified farms, the vast majority of whom are dedicated to improving social and environmental conditions to benefit their lives and those of their families and neighbors. We will continue to support the efforts of these producers and companies and stay with them on their evolving path to sustainability.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

"My Number" Becomes Law In Japan

Today, rather suddenly, Japan's government enacted a law that will give everyone living in Japan an ID number, and that means a lot of changes for our tax system here, as well as the social security/health insurance coverage/plus alpha*

It also means Japan joins the ranks of nations where the government and its agencies can get much more data on its citizens. This includes the right to access our bank account information. Employers will be a big part of this system, as people working for firms will get their "My Number" through the company they work for.

There is no opt-out, like in the US system (from 1936), or the Swedish system (from (1947) - back in that northern European bastion of civil rights (right...) you can get a temporary ID number if you need it, say for a sensitive medical examination or if you have other special reasons. Something for Japan to consider, as I point out in my September essay for the Japanese magazine we publish over at Consumers Union of Japan (E).

Subscribe to Consumers Report thru this page (J)

The Mainichi/Kyodo goes further in wondering if this really will be possible to implement, without a lot of pain, for example due to data leaks, and for all the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions here, who do not have a permanent address:

Japan enacts law to allow gov't access to personal bank data

(...) Following massive personal data leaks from the Japan Pension Service following cyberattacks in May, deliberation of the bill was stopped for three months after it cleared the House of Representatives and only resumed last week. The legislation was modified to delay linking the ID numbers with people's pension data until November 2017 at the latest.
The government also aims to use the ID numbers to identify victims of disasters and smoothly deliver assistance funds.
With the numbering scheme set to launch in January, concerns are growing over slow preparations by municipalities as well as small and medium-sized companies to update data systems and boost security.
Companies will be required to manage all of their employees' ID numbers and include them in tax-related documents.
A government survey also showed that of the 55 million households across Japan scheduled to receive the ID numbers by mail, at least 2.75 million, or 5 percent, may not be able to get them as they reside away from their registered addresses. Those people include senior citizens in hospitals and nursing homes.