A Modest Proposal for Defending Japan’s Remote Islands
( TIME )

Cooler heads have prevailed so far in the standoff between Japan and
China over disputed islands in the East China Sea. But it might be
time for Japan to put a few defenses there in case warmer heads
prevail the next time.

Japan has talked for years about stationing troops or equipment on
its far-flung Nansei Islands, which stretch some 700 miles (1,120 km)
southward from the home islands, and developing a modest capability
to conduct amphibious warfare. But so far, it’s amounted to little
more than vague plans and slogans.

If Chinese warships want to slip troops ashore on one of the hundreds
of remote islands that Japan owns or claims in the region, there’s
little to stop them. And to pry them off would require the help of
U.S. Marines -- with potentially dire consequences for U.S.-China
relations, not to mention the security of the entire region.

There’s no indication, of course, that China actually plans to seize
Japanese territory. Japan itself is officially pacifist and has
renounced the use of force in settling international disputes.
That’s all fine and good. But if Japan wants a little more say in
defending its territory, it could do so with a few modest steps.

Here’s where to start:

1. Put troops, ships and planes in the region and keep them there.
The exact mix and number can be argued all day, but the point is to
have a force that is substantial enough to dissuade anyone who might
be tempted to look for a quick and easy military option. A battalion
or so of ground troops, a squadron of patrol planes and a few small
or medium-size warships, based in the southernmost islands near
Taiwan, would probably suffice. Right now Japan has nothing south of
Okinawa, and very little even there. Might as well post a “Come on
in” sign.

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日本の苛立ち 中国紛争で米国は支援してくれるのか

Japan Frets over U.S. Support in China Dispute
( TIME )

When the U.S. Defense Secretary arrives in Asia this weekend, his
biggest challenge may not be convincing China that America will give
its full support to longtime ally Japan in the escalating dispute
over islands in the East China Sea. His biggest challenge may be
convincing Japan.

“There is a perception in Japan that the U.S. commitment is
ambiguous,” says Yoichiro Sato, director of international strategic
studies at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in southern Japan.
“If China thinks Japan will hesitate to respond or that America will
hesitate, that will embolden the Chinese. It’s better that America
sends a clear, explicit message now than have to respond to something
worse later.”

Officially, the U.S. takes no position on the Senkaku-Diaoyu dispute
or the many other conflicting territorial claims that are upsetting
the region. Under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, the U.S. is
obligated to respond to any attack on Japan or its territory. Pressed
to declare whether that security umbrella includes Senkaku/Diaoyu,
U.S. officials stated publicly that the treaty applies to “all areas
under Japanese administration” -- a seemingly clear nod to

But Sato says that’s not clear enough. The alliance also calls for
Japan to take “primary responsibility” for territorial defense.
That could give the U.S. a loophole to avoid confronting its most
important trading partner and leave Japan on its own, he says.

Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum CSIS in
Honolulu, says there’s little doubt that the U.S. would respond if
shooting were to break out between China and Japan. The key,
Glosserman says, is to make sure the Japanese know exactly what they
can count on from the U.S. -- and what, if anything, they can’t.

“The U.S. will be there, because if we aren’t, our credibility is
shot and the Japanese will never trust us again. That would transform
the regional security environment, and the Chinese will think they
have carte blanche,” says Glosserman. “But the problem is, do
Americans and Japanese agree on what ‘being there’ means? Does that
mean submarines? Surface warships? Helicopters with Marines
rappelling to the ground? The Americans need to understand what the
Japanese expect of them, because failure to do those things could
cause big problems.”

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Mutant Butterflies Found Near Fukushima
( TIME )

No matter how you cut it, finding mutant butterflies is hard to spin
as a positive result. But the knowledge gained from the pale grass
blue butterfly, a.k.a. Zizeeria maha, could potentially help down the
road as the country recovers from one of the world’s worst nuclear
power disasters.

According to a study published by Scientific Reports, researchers
started looking at butterflies near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
plant two months after the March 2011 tsunami damaged the reactors,
causing a potential radiation leak. Of the initial 100 butterflies
studied, 12% had mutations. But as the butterflies mated, the rate of
mutation in successive generations increased to 34%, showing that the
mutating genes were easily passed along to offspring.

The problems were widespread, with abnormalities found including
broken or wrinkled wings, changes in wing size, problems with legs,
antennae, abdomen and eyes and even shifts in color pattern.
Intrigued by the initial findings, researchers took a look at 200
butterflies in September and found that the mutation rate was
increasing in the latest generation of butterflies -- the ones that
were likely larvae around the time of the disaster -- with more than
half of new butterflies showing some kind of mutation.

But butterflies can be particularly susceptible to radiation; not all
animals will suffer a similar fate, which is exactly why researchers
want more tests done on different species. “Sensitivity [to
irradiation] varies between species, so research should be conducted
on other animals,” Joji Otaki, an associate professor at the
University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, told the Japan Times.

Fortunately for humans, they generally fare better than butterflies
when it comes to handling radiation. Hopefully much better.

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No Fading Away For MacArthur Over Here
( TIME )

More than six decades after U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur
stepped down as lord and master of Japan, he remains a towering
figure of the postwar era -- an enigmatic, controversial and yet
revered figure who helped rebuild and remake Japan from the ashes of

Ordinary citizens can get a glimpse into the MacArthur persona during
a rare public viewing this week of MacArthur’s former office
overlooking the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo. The spare,
wood-paneled room has been carefully preserved and is open to the
public to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the return of the
former General Headquarters building to its civilian owner.

“MacArthur was very important to Japan’s recovery,” says John
Mock, visiting professor of anthropology at Temple University in
Tokyo. “In terms of managing day-to-day affairs, he didn’t have to
do a lot. His job was to be a figurehead and he did that very, very
well. He was this august, distant figure -- almost imperial-like --
and that is exactly what the Japanese needed.”

MacArthur had a well-developed sense of theater and chose his
headquarters carefully. The Dai-Ichi Insurance Co. was one of the few
intact structures left in Tokyo at the end of the war. It stood
across a wide boulevard from the palace. MacArthur requisitioned the
building, gave the company three days to move out and moved into an
office on the sixth floor. From there he could look across a moat and
high walls onto the palace grounds.

MacArthur refused to call on the Emperor. When eventually Hirohito
made the pilgrimage across the street to MacArthur’s office, a photo
was released of the tall, relaxed MacArthur standing next to the
diminutive and buttoned-up Emperor, making clear to all who was in

MacArthur was relieved of his post in April 1951 for publicly
disagreeing with President Harry Truman over handling of the war in
Korea. He returned to the U.S. and in a farewell address to Congress
he said, “I now close my military career and just fade away, an old
soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see
that duty.”

In Japan, neither MacArthur, nor his office, has faded away.

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Report: Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Was Man-Made
( TIME )

An independent parliamentary committee issued a report on Thursday on
last year’s crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, concluding
that the disaster was “man-made” and the result of “collusion”
between Japan’s regulatory bodies and Tokyo Electric Power Co.
(TEPCO), the operator of the facility and Japan’s largest utility.
Together, the report reads, “they effectively betrayed the nation’s
right to be safe from nuclear accidents.”

The report eviscerates authorities’ infamous claim that the events of
March 11, 2011 -- which led to the world’s worst nuclear disaster
since Chernobyl -- in which some 150,000 people were evacuated, were
soteigai, or unimaginable, and therefore beyond prevention. On the
contrary, the 10 members of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent
Investigation Commission concluded that “the direct causes of the
accident were all foreseeable.” After a six-month independent
investigation, the authors said the plant was unable to withstand the
9.0 earthquake and the tsunami that followed simply because TEPCO and
the regulators overseeing nuclear power and safety “failed to
correctly develop the most basic safety requirements.”

Power generation began anyway. It’s impossible to say whether the
report, had it been released a week ago, would have changed that. But
it will certainly strengthen the resolve of the growing ranks of those
who oppose nuclear power in Japan. The report plainly confirms what
many have feared -- that the government was so invested in using
nuclear power to bolster Japan’s high standard of living and
manufacturing-based economy that it balked at enforcing vigorous safety
standards that could have slowed it down. After the 1970s oil crisis,
Japan aggressively built nuclear reactors around the archipelago as a
way to secure the nation’s energy independence. “Nuclear power became
an unstoppable force, immune to scrutiny by civil society,” wrote
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the chairman of the commission, in the report. Before
March 11, Japan relied on nuclear power for about 30% of its energy
supply and was the world’s third largest nuclear power consumer after
the U.S. and France.

The investigation also raises serious questions about how much of the
damage that caused the triple meltdown in the reactors at Fukushima
was attributable to the earthquake and what the risks are for other
plants in earthquake-prone areas. Previous investigations have found no
evidence of significant earthquake damage at the plant, but the
committee says there is not enough substantive evidence to support
that. “We conclude that TEPCO was too quick to cite the tsunami as the
cause of the nuclear accident and deny that the earthquake caused any
damage,” the authors wrote. Much of the damage that could shed light
on which natural disaster caused which problem is still inside the
reactors’ containers, where radiation levels are still too high for
anyone to go poke around. The report recommends that a new commission
be set up to look into the cause of damage.

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