|Image from flickr|
Even after two weeks of the earthquake and tsunami which devastated Japan on March 11 around 240,000 people are sill shelters, reports Japan Today. While official death toll figures hover around 10,000, National Police Agency reported that more than 27,000 people were either missing or confirmed dead
Local police in Miyagi perfecture have posted information about more than 2,000 recovered bodies, including details of clothing and body type, in hopes of identifying them on their website
Recently the education board of Hiroshima Prefecture came forward telling its counterpart in Miyagi Prefecture that it could accept around 150 elementary school children and their 10 teachers for one year at two school buildings in the city of Etajima that are currently not in use, reported Japan Today. Children will be accommodated in public hostel facilities
Another city in the same Hiroshima prefecture, Akitakata, is also preparing to accept around 80 elementary school students so that their studies and future is not disturbed because of this natural calamity, the education board said.
Though most of the things are resuming or have been resumed, the toughest task in front of the Japanese authorities is how to clear the rubble, the broken pieces of glass, cars, trees, animal and human bodies, etc. Now after two weeks of the incidence hundreds of groups are turning up voluntarily to take this task on their hand.
In an effort to support rescuers and search for survivors much of the street debris has been cleaned up by the government and soldiers. Now, even though chances of finding someone still alive are very less, officials are concerned to avoid any accidental cleaning of corpses with debris. Corpses can not be cleaned up or buried without identifying and notifying the family.
Car executive nabbed for drug use in Japan
The renowned car company, Volkswagen, has taken a hit in Japan recently with a top executive being arrested for alleged cocaine use. The German national known as Thomas Siebert admitted to using cocaine on a regular basis after another drug was found to be addressed to him in the post. Japan has some of the strictest drug laws in the world, with the importation of Sudafed and Nyquil being illegal in the country, therefore the man is facing a lot of trouble. Drug offences in Japan are taken very seriously and can result in up to 10 years jail time, or even extradition.
The man was busted when Customs in Yokohama discovered a suspicious product in incoming mail from an overseas destination. Upon inspecting the substance, it was discovered to be amyl nitrate. The street name for the drug is Rush or Poppers, a drug that is sniffed and often used for sexual encounters within the LGBQT community.
Police raided the German executives home in Tokyo, and the man was forced to partake in a urine test which came out positive for drugs. Although the man does not admit to using any other drugs other than cocaine, he is being charged for the possession of the drug addressed to him and another male acquaintance residing at his address, meaning he is going to need to invest in a good drug defense attorney to help him fight his case to avoid a lengthy jail sentence or extradition back to his home country.
Despite not being aware of its top executives drug use, Volkswagen has put minimal distance between itself and Mr Siebert, stating that despite him being arrested on a personal matter they will take very little action on him until the facts have been verified. Having lived in Japan for more than 17 years, Siebert should be more than aware of the zero drug policy stance held by Japan. Hopefully it is not the end of his lengthy career working with Volkswagen in Japan.
This is not the first case of a car executive being arrested for drug offences in Japan in recent months. American Toyota executive, Julie Hamp was recently arrested for the importation of a narcotic painkiller known as oxycodone. After being appointed as a public relations officer for the company only three months prior, this was a huge hit for the company, despite the company stating she was an integral part of their team. Hamp has since been deported back to America after spending three months in jail. Toyota has replaced her position with a veteran in the company known as Shigeru Hayakawa.
It is not an uncommon practice to arrest foreigners who bring in medicinal substances used in their home country, although some drugs may receive special approval for their use. Often people who bring in medicinal drugs can spend up to 23 days in jail.
Siebert can fight his claim, however the result may not be what he desires. Hopefully there are no other car executives arrested for drug use in Japan in the coming months, as two in one month seems like quite a lot for a business that should be focussing on safe driving practices.
Japan is not at ease with its EEZ?
Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) are often a subject of strong disputes between countries. In the case of Japan, being able to keep its rich and resourceful marine territories has become a priority. Especially since its neighbor has become consistently offensive in that area, Japan needs to make major military investments in order to keep its hands on its sovereignty.
An EEZ is an exclusive economic zone, which is a sea zone prescribed by the United Nations over which state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of that zone. And in some areas, what is at stake can also represent great economic development for some countries. Marine resources, including energy production from water and wind, fishing rights and oil exploration, are the main reasons why EEZs are so often disputed.
Japan has disputes over its EEZ boundaries with all of its Asian neighbors, including Russia, the Republic of Korea, the People Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China Taiwan (ROC).
The East China Sea is one of the regions where these disputes are the most critical, especially between Japan and the PRC that concerns the different application of the 1982 UNCLOS, which both nations ratified. The dispute is based on “the natural prolongation of the continental shelf of China in the East China Sea,” which China claims that it extends to the Okinawa Trough (200 nautical miles further than where the territorial sea of China is measured).
In 1995, the PRC discovered a natural gas field in the Sea that lies in an area where the two nation EEZ claims overlap, increasing tensions between the two countries. These tensions grew even worse after rounds of disputes over island ownership in the same Sea triggered both official and civilian protests between China and Japan. It has therefore become an issue that both militaries have to be ready to deal with and Japan has been preparing for such scenarios.
In 2011, Japan selected the Lockeed Martin F-35A lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (known as JSF) for its next generation of fighter jets. In June of this year, the U.S. State Department notified Congress of a potential $1.7 billion foreign military sales case for Japan to buy four Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye for the Japanese Air Self Defense Force. The aircraft is specialized in information surveillance and reconnaissance, which is one of Japan’s main needs in its disputes with China.
Japan also invested in a major Helicopter destroyer, a carrier with impressive size and abilities. The JS Izumo is capable of the simultaneous landing or takeoff of five helicopters at the same time, due to its large size, which is almost unprecedented. Experts say that it could even potentially be used in the future to launch fighter jets or other fixed wing aircraft, since it’s the largest warship in Japan’s fleet since World War II.
Recent changes within the Japanese defense would facilitate military partnership between the U.S. and Japan. Japan is also looking for help and partnership from the old continent, as officials know they can’t only rely on the U.S. for both military materials and partnerships.
In the margins of the G7, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with French President François Hollande to express his concerns about escalating tensions in the South China Sea. Japan could be actively looking to extend its military partnerships, as the French are well known in offering promising military equipment especially in the navy/marine sector.
The historical French Constructions Industrielles de La Mediterrannée (CNIM) has recently proven its abilities to be ahead of its time for Naval designs with the L-Cat, a high-speed sea connector for amphibious operations, still missing in Japan’s fleet but that could prove to be useful when fast pace assault or evacuation is required in an island with shallow waters, which Japan has plenty of.
There is no doubt that Japan is accomplishing something huge by increasing its forces at sea. Not only is it essential for Japan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but it is also a promise to the Japanese that their government is protecting their borders strongly and won’t fail under pressures from their large neighbor. Historically, Japan has often proven that it could stand strong and that’s exactly what it is doing today. We shall soon witness new major investments to enhance Japan’s already powerful self-defense forces.
By increasing its self-defense force, Japan pushes back on China and inspires the nation to change its offensive behavior in the Sea of Japan and in the East China Sea. Japan is becoming increasingly a major military force at sea and is on its way to offering more military partnerships with the world’s leading nations. Not only tying into the U.S. Navy’s networked battle force, but also opening the path to more partnerships that could go far beyond its territorial limits.
Planned Japanese Self Defense Force Aircraft Buys, Destroyer Upgrades Could Tie into U.S Navy’s Networked Battle Force, USNI News, Sam LaGrone, June 10th 2015
Japan, France wary of Beijing’s reclamation binge in South China Sea, Japan Times, June 7th 2015
Japan Quake and Tsunami Disaster; Marks One Year, Quick Recovery
|Flowers kept by Japanese to offer prayers|
It is the end of Japan’s most difficult year. Last year on the same day of 11th March, Japan experienced one of the strongest Earthquakes in its history, along with one of the most devastating tsunami which destroyed towns and villages and sea life. Life had almost stopped in Japan when another disaster took place, nuclear radiation leak, world’s worst nuclear disaster in quarter century.
Even after the massive cleanup of cities, many towns are still undergoing reconstruction plans. The plan is to shift the residential areas to higher town to protect the citizens from any of this kinds of natural calamity.
To mark one year of disaster, in the morning that the tsunami hit northeastern coastal town of Rikuzentakata, some people from across Japan gathered to pray in front of mere one pine tree in barrenness, a symbol of survival. They visited the places where their houses were and where their friends once lived, and placed flowers and small gifts for them and offered prayers for them.
Many Japanese people will spend their Sunday mourning the tragedy and some will join street rallies to bring some required changes in their country following a year of turmoil and soul searching. They will be demonstrating Anti nuclear slogans in planned rallies in major cities, including Tokyo. A human chain will surround the parliament building. Organizers have also gathered up signing petitions, asking the government to stop the resumption of Fukushima nuclear reactors which were stopped after the meltdown.
The government said that the damaged Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant, where three reactor cores melted down after the earthquake and tsunami had failed their vital cooling systems, is stable and that radiation coming from the plant has reduced significantly. Though the plant’s chief acknowledged journalists visiting the complex recently that it remains in a fragile state, and makeshift equipment some mended with tape could be seen keeping crucial systems running. [Read: Japan marks one year since quake and tsunami disaster]
The Wall Street Journal reports that Tokyo is spending Y20.9 trillion ($258 billion)—about the size of the annual gross domestic product of Portugal—to rebuild the northeast. The spending further bloats Japan’s government debts (already the worst in the world) fueling concerns about their sustainability. [Read: One Year After Disaster, Japan Reflects, Clamors]
Presently, including the Fukushima nuclear reactors, 52 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are stopped since last year for inspection and testing and any repair work which might be required. Japan is highly dependent on other countries for oil and other minerals, thus nuclear power is one of the major source of energy for the island.
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