“Japan needs to put data in English”, says International Atomic Energy Agency

IAEA to work with Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on Fukushima nuclear disaster monitoring 

Yukiya Amano, Director General of the U.N. nuclear agency, was in Japan this week for an annual official visit. He pointed out that “Ocean contamination monitoring is extremely important, and the IAEA will help as much as possible.”
Yukiya Amano, Director General of the U.N. nuclear agency, was in Japan this week for an annual official visit. He pointed out that “Ocean contamination monitoring is extremely important, and the IAEA will help as much as possible.”

After a meeting held in Tokyo with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, and the Chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), Shunichi Tanaka on Thursday last week,  it was decided that experts from the U.N. atomic energy agency will start helping Japan to monitor the radioactive water leaks around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by November.

Earlier last week, the chairman of the NRA admitted that another “careless” accident resulted in the leak of 7 tons of highly radioactive water from a pipe mistakenly disconnected by a worker at the crippled facility for a period of more than an hour. Reportedly 6 among 11 workers were affected by the incident. They were wearing waterproof jackets, protective gears and full-face masks and it was reportedly “highly unlikely” that they suffered from internal exposure, the plant’s operator said. The facility reported 300 ton of radioactive water leaking from a storage tank into the groundwater last August as workers over-filled the already  over capacity tanks. Last week, TEPCO said 430 liters of radioactive water leaked from another tank due to the miscalculation of the inclination of the ground where the tank was built.

According to Yasuhiro Muroishi, an expert from the Radiation Monitoring Division of the NRA, Yukia Amano also pointed out that the NRA’s lack of information displayed in English language on its homepage was an issue. “We need more manpower to conduct the translations of the reports submitted by the Japanese side when international experts will start their joint radiation monitoring of the sea,” Yasuhiro Muroishi said.

The radiation leaks continue 

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently said that Japan is open to foreign expertise regarding the contaminated water problem. In a speech at the International Olympic Committee’s general meeting in Argentina in September, he was criticized for declaring that the radioactive water leaks at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had been “completely blocked,” within a zone of 0.3 square kilometers in the plant’s port area. Earlier this week, TEPCO announced that 1.4 becquerels per liter of radioactive cesium-137 was detected in sea water taken from around 1 km around the plant. Experts say that cesium-137, which has a half-life of about 30 years can cause cancer and accumulates in fish. Last month, Korea banned fish imports from certain prefectures in Japan, concerned by the increasing radioactive water leaks.

In Fukushima, the kids aren’t all right, says documentary A2-B-C (Sept.14th)

The strangely titled documentary  A2-B-C  which examines the lives of the children in Fukushima prefecture who have been diagnosed with thyroid cysts and nodules and how it affects them and their families—will be shown at 5pm on September 14th at the PIA Film Festival in Tokyo. The title comes from the code that is used to indicate the test results of thyroid screening. The Japanese government vehemently denies any links to thyroid cancer or thyroid abnormalities in Fukushima children and the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March of 2011; the film lets the viewer decide for themselves whether they believe it or not. What it does not shy away from is depicting the fog of uncertainty and fright of those children and their loves ones, dealing with the fear of developing full-blown thyroid cancer, and living in a contaminated area.

The director of the film, Ian Thomas Ash, in a brief talk with JSRC, stated the most surprising thing he uncovered during the filming was the blame-the-victim mentality of the Japanese government. “Some mothers of children positively diagnosed with thyroid cysts and nodules were told by the doctors or officials, ‘Your fear of radiation and your excessive worrying caused this to happen.’ In other case, the parents were told, ‘Well, you live outside the evacuation zone, so even if this is related to the radiation—it was your decision to stay and your financial burden to bear (自己責任).’ It’s as if they really believed that radiation stopped at the imaginary lines drawn by the Japanese government.” He notes  A2-B-C is the second in a series of documentary films which will follow up on the initial findings.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the world in his efforts to get the Olympic bid that there was no problem at Fukushima and “that it was 250 kilometers from Tokyo.” For those living in Fukushima, there appears to be more than a few serious problems remaining. This 71-minute film that may not change how you think of nuclear power but may make you wonder about what the finals costs are of having it.

Doglegs disabled pro-wrestling: The fight club that wants you to stare

They’re uncomfortable sights, even for seasoned ringside aficionados: A deaf man and his opponent–paralysed from the waist down–bound at both hands and feet, reduced to head butting. Two men, normally wheelchair bound, writhe around on the canvas ring delivering blows to one-another with their elbows. It feels dangerous, almost wrong.

doglegs6

The members of Doglegs, the self-described “superhandicapped” pro wrestling league, aren’t looking for your pity, however. They want you to watch, wide-eyed, and feel the power, the ability, and the fire hidden inside their unusual frames.

 

The idea for Doglegs was born in 1991 at a volunteer group for the disabled. Two men were arguing over a mutual romantic interest, and as the argument became more heated punches were thrown and a brawl began. The group went wild, both fighters and spectators, at the sudden, electrical feeling of strength and empowerment the fight had given them. The leader of the volunteer group saw the potential: pro wrestling as a platform for these fiery fighters to be seen, and to challenge the public’s views towards disability.

 

Fast-forward 20 years and Doglegs has developed quite a following, with public tournaments several times a year and somewhere around 30 fighters dogging it out. Disabilities range from those physically able-bodied, but afflicted with mental illnesses like alcoholism and clinical depression, to “miracle heavy class”, where fighters are unable to stand. Audience members are often also disabled or come from the disabled care community, along with a core base of able bodied supporters and fans. But regardless of their background, after seeing a Doglegs match viewers are left with much to think regarding their preconceptions of the disabled.

 

Director Heath Cozens wants to spread this mind-blowing opportunity to a wider audience. For the past three years, he has been documenting the lives of Doglegs wrestlers, with the hope of introducing their struggles and glories to people in and outside of Japan.

doglegs5

His film centers around “Sambo” Shintaro, a man with cerebral palsy who is one of the heartbroken brawlers from the very first Doglegs fight. After 20 years, Shintaro is ready to retire from the league and focus on living a happy, normal life. Doglegs leader and organiser of the original volunteer group, Yukinori “Antithesis” Kitajima won’t make it easy on him, however. The able-bodied fighter challenges Shintaro to the match of a lifetime, on which his future hangs.

 

The bouts may be difficult to watch for some–seemingly “weak” people being violently beaten for the sake of entertainment. But that uncomfortableness is part of the film.

 

Says Cozens, “Hopefully, people will have unresolved questions and conflicting emotions forcing them to reassess their own assumptions about disability, how disabled people should be treated, and who gets to decide: Is what Doglegs is doing aspirational, healthy, fun? Or does it exacerbate and endanger already vulnerable people?”

 

For Doglegs brawlers themselves, wrestling is unquestionably about empowerment, and giving the finger to a society that often pushes them to the wayside. Says Shintaro, in an AFP news clip about the league, “This is a thing disabled people aren’t supposed to do, but we do it–and that’s why I like it.”

 

Cozens sees that as one of the keys to the film. “A lot of non-disabled people have resistance to seeing disabled people–they avert their eyes. But people with disabilities need to be seen to be recognized on a human level.  How do we bridge the gap? In this film, with drama, humor, and a dash of violence. In other words, entertainment. When people can empathize with the characters, then they start to see beyond their disabilities.”

doglegs1 doglegs3

Currently, Cozens is seeking the financial support necessary to complete post-production on the film. He has high hopes for its release. “I hope the disabled people who watch will be inspired by the Doglegs fighters’ bravery and bravado, to live life on their own, unapologetic, terms. Maybe we’ll see some Doglegs spin-offs happening in the States?  It’s already happening here in Japan.”

 

For those who want a sneak peek of what it’s all about, on June 2, the crew will be hosting a fundraiser to help raise awareness of the film and funds to complete post-production. Along with live music and special guests, the event will feature two real, live Doglegs matches–an opportunity for attendees to find out how empowering disabled pro wrestling can be, for both them and the fighters.

 

Check out http://doglegsmovie.com/ for more info about the Doglegs documentary, and get details for Party for the Right to Fight! on Sunday, June 2 at Las Chicas in Aoyama.

Sayonara Speed Tribes (暴走族サヨナラ) opens April 12. Run & catch it!

There was a time when Japan’s so-called Speed Tribes aka 暴走族 (bosozoku) terrorized the nation. What first started out as a bunch of kids imitating the US Hell’s Angels generated into a massive outpouring of alienated youth and vicious in gang fighting and traffic obstruction that became a national problem.  By 1976, what was once rebel youth had already started being incorporated into the Japanese mafia, with the Yamaguchi-gumi taking over the Musho-Mado (生無魔道), one bike gang.

The National Police Agency in their White Paper on Crime circa that period noted, “少年を主体とした暴走族は、車による暴走行為にとどまらず、その機動力を利用して、広域にわたって強盗、強姦等の悪質な犯罪を行っている。
 暴走族の少年に対する補導状況について、最近3年間の推移をみると、表4-6のとおりで、犯罪によって補導された少年は、昭和51年は2,309人で、前年に比べ減少したが、強盗、強姦、放火等の凶悪犯で補導された暴走族の少年は、51年には172人と著しい増加傾向にあり、暴走族の悪質化が一層浮き彫りにされた。
〔事例1〕 暴走族「生無魔道」グループは、暴力団山口組組員を相談役に置いて、同組を背景に入会金5,000円、月会費3,000円を徴集していたが、同グループの少年がグループから脱会しようとしたところ、落とし前と称して5万円を恐喝したほか、同様の方法で脱会者15人から総額53万円を恐喝していた(京都)。
〔事例2〕 暴走族「狼」グループの少年5人は、アベックを襲って強姦することを共謀し、深夜暴走中アベックを見つけては、その女性をグループのたまり場であるアパートに連行し、輪姦を続けていた(静岡)”

Over time, changes in the laws and massive police crackdowns started putting the gangs out of business, but some of the members can’t leave the past behind. Jamie Morris’s new film is a documentary on the fading out of the bosozoku focussing on one former member who wants to keep the speed demon tradition alive.

The web site explains the film, Sayonara Speed Tribes, as follows: Japan’s infamous ‘Speed Tribes’ – kamikaze styled biker gangs- have, for decades, delighted would-be rebels and terrorized the general public. Idolized in the underground, demonized by the mass media and hunted by the police, their numbers continue to dwindle into extinction. As an OB (Old Bro) Hazuki is tasked with passing on a dying tradition, but more importantly he must search out a new road or become extinct himself.

Check out the trailer here below: (just click on the image)

63687_550118355016259_1218202295_n.jpg

We at JSRC haven’t had a chance to see the entire film yet but from what we have, it looks damn interesting. If you’re interested in Japanese subculture, fast and furious rebellion, and motorcycles–catch this film when it opens this week in Shimokitazawa.

April: 12th/13th/20th 7pm (50 mins running time)
Tollywood Theatre, Shimokitzawa:http://homepage1.nifty.com/tollywood/map/map.html
TICKETS: ¥1,000
FOR RESERVATIONS: info@figure8productions.com
Check ahead, the film may be sold out but you can always take your chances and go anyway. Live on the edge.

If you can’t catch the film, details of getting the DVD are here.