Sunday, March 27, 2016

Advocates to File Suit Against U.S. Government for Guam’s WWII Survivors

Published on March, 28, 2016 by TheGuamDailypost

By Post News Staff

embers of Guam World War II Reparations Advocates, Inc.
Members of Guam World War II Reparations Advocates Inc., a nonprofit organization under formation, announce their intention to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government on behalf of the island's wartime survivors, on March 28 Photo provided by Guam World War II Reparations Advocates Inc.

Advocates for wartime reparations to Guam’s World War II survivors announced this morning that they are filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government to secure payments for victims.

“We’re losing members of our island’s greatest generation on an almost daily basis,” said Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. in a press conference to announce the endeavour. “So instead of continuing to hope that the United States government will one day recognize the pain and suffering they endured during WWII, we have collectively decided to sue the federal government for the reparations that they truly deserve.”

The advocates, who are in the final stages of forming as a non-profit organization to be known as the Guam World War II Reparations Advocates, Inc., argue that the Obama administration’s recent moves to provide reparations to Holocaust survivors, Americans held hostage in Iran in 1979, and the president’s urging and role with Japan and South Korea’s reconciliation with regard to their long-standing WWII comfort women issue have negated the concern of certain member of Congress who have said that providing  reparations to Guam would set a precedent for other groups to follow.

“So if the concern is precedence setting, it's already been done,” said Senator Jim Espaldon.
The initial directors of the organization are Senator Blas, Senator Espaldon, former Governor Ada, former Speaker San Agustin, Vice Speaker Cruz, Senator Muna Barnes, and former Assistant Secretary Babauta. The attorneys representing the group in the impending suit are Washington, D.C.-based Attorneys Mauricio J. Tamargo, Jason Poblete, and Jeremy G. Ibrahim. The suit will be filed in Washington, D.C., and all court costs, attorneys fees and all other related expenses will be privately funded through donations and fundraising events.

“Guam’s Man’amko endured the greatest suffering during our island’s occupation by Japanese forces in World War II,” said Former Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta. “Their painful stories are remembered by their families and our people just as much as our island remembers that they were never made whole by the United States as others were after World War II.”

Hiroshima could teach leaders 'evil' of nuclear arm

Published on March 24, 2016 by Pacific Daily News

By Kyle Daly

HIROSHIMA, Japan — Keiko Ogura, 78, remembers a bright light, a strong blast and being knocked to the ground.

On Aug. 6, 1945, Ogura was 8 years old.

“When I came to myself, it seemed like evening,” she said.

The city of Hiroshima, she recalled, was dark. She couldn’t see. She couldn’t hear.

When she did come to, the first sound she heard was that of her little brother, crying.

In the moments and days that followed, Ogura would witness the destruction, pain and death caused by a single bomb dropped from a U.S. military aircraft in the final days of World War II.

On Tuesday, Ogura led a group of foreign reporters on a tour through the city’s memorial park and museum built near the hypocenter of an atomic blast that leveled the city more than 70 years ago, resulting in the deaths of more than 100,000 on that day and the months that followed.

Next month, leaders from the Group of Seven, the world’s seven most industrialized nations, will come to Hiroshima for the G-7 Foreign Ministers Meeting — one of 10 ministerial meetings held prior to the G-7 Summit in May.

The summit, a gathering of world leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, will be held in Ise-Shima, a city almost 200 miles southwest of Tokyo.

According to media reports, the Asia-Pacific region is one topic of discussion expected to be on the summit’s agenda, including North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. U.S. bases in Guam and Japan have been threatened by North Korea in the past.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui on Tuesday said he hopes the political leaders that gather in his city will come to understand the “absolute evil” of nuclear weapons.

“We have to create a situation where the absolute evil will not be used as we resolve our problems,” Matsui told foreign press through an interpreter at the city’s administrative offices on Tuesday. “I hope they’ll have such a determination, and this determination should be communicated from this place — Hiroshima.”

Matsui called Hiroshima a “symbol of peace” — a holy site where people who visit can compare the tragic event of 1945 with how the city is today.

“Because of the action of humankind, the city was devastated 70 years ago,” he said. “But immediately after that, through the action of humankind, we have established this peaceful city.”

In 1982, then-Hiroshima Mayor Takeshi Araki began a program that called on city mayors around the world to advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The Mayors for Peace program, which has almost 7,000 member cities, plans to continue lobbying the United Nations to make this goal a reality. Its primary campaign calls for the total nuclear disarmament by 2020.

Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands is considered a member city, according to the program’s website.

Ogura, who is known as a hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivor, said the reality of a nuclear bomb’s effects is difficult to understand, but by coming to Hiroshima, world leaders can understand.

“Our dream is to have President Obama visit,” she said.

A sitting U.S. president has never visited Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial, where Ogura retold her story on Tuesday. In 2008, Nancy Pelosi, then-House Speaker, became the highest U.S. official to visit the site.

It’s currently unclear if President Obama will visit Hiroshima in May during the G-7 summit.

During her tour, Ogura pointed to the clear blue sky — gesturing past the eerie remains of the A-bomb dome, a building that survived the blast — and described the exact mid-air location where the bomb exploded. She also walked along a river, telling reporters about the dead bodies that were floating in the water following the bombing.

“I remember all night, the city was burning,” she said.

The bomb didn’t harm Ogura that day. That morning, her father, who had a “strange feeling” something bad might happen, told Ogura not to go to school. So the 8-year-old stayed home. The family’s house was located about a mile and a half from the bomb’s hypocenter.

After the blast, Ogura did receive “invisible scars” from the scenes she witnessed.

“A couple of victims died in front of me after drinking water from my hand,” she said. “So I blamed myself. ‘I’m a bad girl. I killed them,’ I thought.”

It was frowned upon to give water to people who had burns, she said, so she kept her actions a secret for years.

“And that became my trauma for a long time,” she said. “I suffered from very, very severe nightmares.”

To Ogura, those who need to learn about the horrors of such a destructive weapon are youths.

“The most important thing is that the younger people should know the reality of the nuclear weapon … and then lead the way.”

Editor’s note: Pacific Daily News was invited this week to join other foreign journalists in Hiroshima, Japan, for a press tour organized by the 2016 G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Hiroshima Support and Promotion Council, in partnership with the Foreign Press Center Japan, ahead of the foreign ministers meeting in April. PDN journalist and Content Coach Kyle Daly is reporting from Japan.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Five Years on and the Fukushima Crisis Is Far From Over

Published on Sunday, February 28, 2016 by Greenpeace Blog

By Shaun Burnie

Five years ago the Rainbow Warrior sailed along the Fukushima coast conducting radiation sampling. Now it's back, and has Japan's ex-Prime Minister on board.

Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior sailing past the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, five years after the accident. Greenpeace has launched an underwater investigation into the marine impacts of radioactive contamination resulting from the 2011 nuclear disaster on the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: Christian Åslund/Greenpeace)

Scotland is over 9,000 km from Japan, but there’s something the two countries have in common. Along the Scottish coastline, buried in riverbeds, and mixed into the Irish Sea, you can find significant radioactive contamination coming from the other side of the world. Yes, radioactive contamination. All the way from Japan.

Since the 1970s, Sellafield, a nuclear-reprocessing plant in northwest England has been contracted to process high level nuclear waste spent fuel from Japanese reactors. More than 4000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel was shipped from Japan to Sellafield, including waste from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. As result of reprocessing at Sellafield, more than 8 million litres of low level nuclear waste is discharged into the ocean every day. It’s been labelled the “most hazardous place in Europe” – with levels of contamination in the fields, soils and estuaries at a level that can only be described as a nuclear disaster zone. In fact, the Irish Sea is arguably the most radioactively contaminated sea in the world

We’re about to approach the five-year anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and this is a stark reminder that no matter where you are or how far away, nuclear power has a local and global impact.

I remember waking up to the news on March 11, 2011. Though I was at home in Scotland, I’ve never felt so connected to the people of Japan. Having spent decades with Greenpeace actively campaigning against nuclear power in Japan, I knew deep down that a catastrophic accident was only a matter of time. With media requests coming in thick and fast, I recall appearing on BBC World News live. In mid-interview, as I was talking about the specific threat at Fukushima, I was interrupted as the news crossed to Japan where Reactor 3 exploded.

Greenpeace Japan sent a team to the Fukushima evacuation zone to conduct independent radiation testing; and researchers on the Rainbow Warrior, kitted up in full body chemical suits, pulled floating seaweed from the surrounding area to use as samples. Our results were unfortunately as you would expect – high levels of contamination.  Subsequently, we’ve also found radiation is still so widespread that it’s unsafe for people to return across large parts of Fukushima.

But there’s another reason the Rainbow Warrior is here. A Greenpeace Japan research vessel is conducting underwater marine radiation surveys within a 20km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, with the Rainbow Warrior acting as campaign ship. As with the radioactive contamination near my home in Scotland, Greenpeace is aiming to further the understanding of the impacts and future threats from nuclear power and in particular the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

For Mr Naoto Kan, who was Japan’s leader when the disaster hit, this voyage is as much personal as it is political. In the years since 2011  he has spoken out publicly against the nuclear industry, standing alongside millions of Japanese people opposed to nuclear power – a far cry from the current “tone-deaf” Abe administration, which is desperately trying to save a nuclear industry in crisis. Opposed by the majority of citizens, and beset by enormous technical, financial and legal obstacles, it’s an effort that I believe is doomed to failure.

But there’s hope.

Like the many communities across the country that are switching to innovative renewable power projects, Mr Kan knows that nuclear should be buried in the past. Renewables in Japan are rising. In the 2015 fiscal year, solar power capable of generating an estimated 13 TWh was newly installed – more than the two Sendai reactors in southern Japan that were restarted that year can produce.

For Japan to go 100% renewable it must urgently formulate more ambitious targets; stop all planned investments in new coal power plants and finally abandon plans to restart its aging reactors and remove the institutional and financial obstacles to renewable energy growth.

A nuclear free future is not only possible it is essential. Renewable energy is the only safe and secure energy for the people of Japan and the world.