Japan

Quake disaster shakes Japanese economy

By Peter Symonds, 15 April 2011

None of the economic assessments deals with the immense social cost of the disasters for the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes, possessions and livelihoods.

Untrained labourers working in Japan’s nuclear industry

By John Chan, 14 April 2011

At the Fukushima plant, owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), 89 percent of the 10,303 workers were temporary contractors, subcontractors and sub-subcontractors.

Severity of Japan’s nuclear disaster raised to highest level

By Peter Symonds, 13 April 2011

While the government and its nuclear agencies were at pains to explain that the Fukushima crisis was not as bad as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, they had difficulty justifying the delay in lifting the ranking.

Japan’s nuclear cover-up

By Peter Symonds, 12 April 2011

From the outset, there has been a concerted effort to downplay the extent of the catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant and its ongoing dangers.

Japan promotes its nuclear industry at special ASEAN summit

By Joseph Santolan, 9 April 2011

Supposedly called to discuss ASEAN aid for Japan following the March 11 quake, the summit’s hidden agenda is to promote the Japanese nuclear industry.

Large aftershock hits northern Japan

By Peter Symonds, 9 April 2011

Three people died in the quake that left more than four million households without power, and disrupted gas and water supplies in Sendai and other urban areas.

Major parties in Japan move closer to “national unity”

By John Chan, 8 April 2011

In response to the earthquake and tsunami disaster, the Japanese political establishment is seeking to contain the popular anger that lies just beneath the surface of daily life.

US report points to serious dangers at Japanese nuclear plant

By Peter Symonds, 7 April 2011

The US nuclear regulator has confidentially identified risks at the Fukushima plant far beyond those mentioned by TEPCO and Japanese nuclear authorities.

Japan: TEPCO dumps radioactive water in sea

By Mike Head, 6 April 2011

With the Japanese government’s approval, TEPCO is pumping 11,500 metric tonnes of “low-level” contaminated water into the ocean from the Fukushima plant.

Japan’s tsunami victims left struggling to cope

By John Chan, 5 April 2011

For tens of thousands of people in northeastern Japan, who have lost homes, jobs and loved ones, the disaster is far from over.

Japanese authorities warn nuclear crisis to continue for months

By Patrick O’Connor, 4 April 2011

Authorities are only now beginning to learn of the full extent of the damage inflicted by the March 11 tsunami and subsequent multiple hydrogen explosions at the facility.

Situation at Japanese nuclear plant still “very serious”

By Mike Head, 2 April 2011

Three weeks after the disaster struck, serious doubts continue to surround the precise state of the nuclear plant and the levels of contamination in the surrounding areas.

No end in sight for Japan nuclear crisis

By Chris Talbot, 1 April 2011

Engineers are now suggesting it may take 30 years to make the Fukushima site safe.

Widening global implications of Japan nuclear crisis

By Chris Talbot, 31 March 2011

The Fukushima nuclear plants are emitting ever-increasing amounts of radioactive isotopes.

Reports indicate breach in Japanese nuclear reactor containment vessel

By Patrick O’Connor, 30 March 2011

The Fukushima plant owner, TEPCO, has reportedly admitted for the first time that core pressure containers may be damaged.

Contaminated water leaking from Japanese nuclear plant

By Peter Symonds, 29 March 2011

Highly radioactive water is seriously impeding efforts to bring the situation at the plant under control and threatening to further contaminate the surrounding environment.

Unanswered questions as radiation levels rise at Fukushima nuclear plant

By Chris Talbot, 28 March 2011

Workers were once again evacuated from the Fukushima nuclear power plant as radiation rose to extraordinarily high levels on Sunday.

Radioactive contamination spreading from damaged Japanese nuclear plant

By Barry Grey, 26 March 2011

There is mounting evidence that the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is emitting radioactivity more widely and at more toxic levels than acknowledged by the Japanese government.

Japanese government prepares to protect TEPCO from liability

By Mike Head, 25 March 2011

Radioactive contamination is spreading from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, adding to the huge damage bill caused by its breakdown.

Situation still unstable at crippled nuclear plant in Japan

By Chris Talbot, 24 March 2011

The events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are slipping off the front pages, but the situation in is still not under control.

Japanese PM calls for grand coalition government

By John Chan, 23 March 2011

The government’s appeal for “national unity” is designed to block any public criticism amid growing anger over the official response to the earthquake.

Discontent growing over Japanese government’s response to humanitarian disaster

By Mike Head, 22 March 2011

Anger is emerging over the Democratic Party government’s failure to provide basic services to the nearly half a million people rendered homeless.

Japanese government delayed nuclear emergency measures to protect TEPCO profits

By Mike Head, 21 March 2011

As food and water contamination spreads to Tokyo, there is mounting evidence that government and company cover-ups have continued throughout the unfolding crisis.

Threat from Japanese nuclear emergency widens

By Chris Talbot and Patrick O’Connor, 19 March 2011

Radiation from Fukushima has now been detected as far away as California as Japan’s nuclear safety agency raised its assessment of the crisis from 4 to 5 on the 7-point scale.

Japanese emperor calls on the nation to “share the burden”

By John Chan, 18 March 2011

An unprecedented speech delivered by Japanese Emperor Akihito on Wednesday underscores the severity of the crisis facing the ruling Democratic Party government and the entire political establishment.

Japan disaster to intensify global economic contradictions

By Nick Beams, 18 March 2011

The Japanese earthquake disaster could well be the catalyst that sets off a new stage in the global financial breakdown that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Desperate efforts to prevent full meltdown at Fukushima

By Patrick O’Connor, 18 March 2011

TEPCO remains in charge of the emergency response, despite bearing primary responsibility for what is shaping up as the greatest corporate crime of the twenty-first century.

Japan nuclear emergency deepens

By Chris Talbot, 17 March 2011

Neither the Japanese government nor the utility company TEPCO are giving trustworthy accounts of the dimensions of the crisis.

Japan’s TEPCO: a history of nuclear disaster cover-ups

By Mike Head, 17 March 2011

The Tokyo Electric Power Company has a long, documented record of serious safety breaches, systemic cover-ups of potentially fatal disasters, and suppression of popular opposition.

Tsunami survivors endure freezing conditions and food shortages

By Patrick O’Connor, 17 March 2011

Six days after the natural disaster struck, the survivors are suffering extremely difficult conditions.

Japanese nuclear crisis escalates as emergency workers withdrawn

By Patrick O’Connor, 16 March 2011

Several nuclear reactors in the Fukushima facility remain at risk of total meltdown, following a series of explosions and fires.

Share markets slide in response to Japan disaster

By Nick Beams, 16 March 2011

Japanese equity markets have experienced their worst fall since the global share market crash of October 1987 in the wake of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck last Friday.

Who is responsible for the nuclear catastrophe in Japan?

By Patrick Martin, 16 March 2011

Over the past 40 years there have been repeated warnings of the danger of nuclear technology, as well as a series of incidents—Windscale, Fermi I, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl—that demonstrated the real-life consequences for millions of people.

Japanese disaster’s economic fallout spreads globally

By Mike Head, 15 March 2011

The tremendous shock to the Japanese economy has profound international implications.

Mounting human toll and nuclear emergency in Japan

By Mike Head, 15 March 2011

Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis worsened today, even as the full horror of the death and destruction left by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami continued to emerge.

Humanitarian disaster in wake of Japanese earthquake, tsunami

By Patrick O'Connor, 14 March 2011

Entire towns on the country’s north-east coast were wiped out by the 10-metre high wall of water.

The implications of the Japanese catastrophe

By Chris Talbot and Patrick Martin, 14 March 2011

The World Socialist Web Site expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of those who have died, to those who have been injured, and to those who have lost their homes and whose livelihoods have been swept away in this cataclysm.

A report from Tokyo

12 March 2011

A WSWS reader in Japan sent a report overnight on the earthquake’s impact in Tokyo and northern prefectures.

Japanese earthquake causes catastrophic damage

By Mike Head, 12 March 2011

The people of Japan have been struck by the largest quake in the country’s history, followed by tsunamis that have washed away thousands of homes.

WikiLeaks cables reveal closer US-Japan intelligence relations

By Oliver Campbell, 18 February 2011

The cables, from 2006 and 2008, underscore the growth of tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, and point to Washington’s attempts to undermine Chinese influence, in concert with its allies.

Japan and Russia in diplomatic row over disputed Kuril Islands

By John Chan, 17 February 2011

Talks between the Japanese and Russian foreign ministers broke down last week—another indication of sharp tensions in North East Asia.

Japan under growing international pressure for austerity measures

By Joe Lopez, 2 February 2011

Despite widespread public opposition, the Japanese government is determined to double the unpopular consumption tax.

South Korea and Japan discuss first-ever military agreements

By John Chan, 13 January 2011

The US is pushing its allies, Japan and South Korea, into closer defence relations as part of its broader efforts to counter Chinese influence in the region.

Japan issues new defence guidelines aimed at China

By John Chan, 15 December 2010

The focus on strengthening Japan’s naval power is in line with US strategic efforts to maintain naval dominance in North East Asia and thus the potential to cut off China’s vital shipping routes.

Disputed Pacific islands spark tensions between Russia and Japan

By Andrea Peters, 5 November 2010

Diplomatic tensions have erupted between Russia and Japan, following a high-profile visit by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to the South Kuril Islands.

Sino-Japanese relations remain tense

By John Chan, 29 October 2010

None of the issues that erupted between Japan and China last month during a sharp dispute over the arrest of a Chinese trawler captain by Japanese authorities in waters near the contested Diaoyu/ Senkaku islands has been resolved.

Japan-China tensions over disputed islets unresolved

By John Chan, 11 October 2010

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao agreed last week to restore high-level talks between the two countries, but addressed none of the underlying issues.

China-Japan standoff continues over disputed islets

By John Chan, 29 September 2010

Tensions between Japan and China are continuing, amid new claims and counterclaims, despite Tokyo’s release of a Chinese trawler captain.

Japan releases trawler captain after China threatens economic war

By John Chan, 25 September 2010

The rapid escalation of a minor incident into a major confrontation between the world’s second and third largest economic powers has underlined the extreme tensions between the major powers.

Japan-China dispute in East China Sea flares up

By John Chan, 21 September 2010

Japan and China are both taking a hard-line stance in the diplomatic row that has erupted over Japan’s detention of a Chinese trawler captain in disputed waters in the East China Sea.

Economic crisis threatens to unleash global currency wars

By Barry Grey, 18 September 2010

Two events this week have highlighted the growth of global economic tensions and the slide toward international trade and currency wars.

Japan’s prime minister fends off leadership challenge

By John Chan, 16 September 2010

None of the conflicts behind the Democratic Party’s leadership contest on Tuesday has been resolved after Naoto Kan’s victory over Ichiro Ozawa.

Japan-China tensions flare up over disputed Diaoyu islets

By John Chan, 14 September 2010

Sharp diplomatic exchanges have erupted between Japan and China after two Japanese Coast Guard vessels reportedly collided with a Chinese fishing trawler in the waters off the disputed Diaoyu Islands last week.

Tense contest over Japan’s prime ministership

By John Chan, 11 September 2010

Next week’s ballot for the leadership of Japan’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the post of prime minister has brought to the surface deep divisions not only within the party but within the political establishment as a whole.

Japan’s new political crisis

By Peter Symonds, 4 September 2010

If Ichiro Ozawa wins the top job in the Democratic Party of Japan, he will become the country’s third prime minister in just over a year, reflecting deep-seated political instability fuelled by economic stagnation, a worsening social crisis and growing global antagonisms.

Japan’s prime minister faces leadership challenge

By Peter Symonds, 28 August 2010

Japan is heading for new political turmoil after key powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa announced a bid on Thursday to oust Naoto Kan as prime minister.

IMF tells Japanese government to raise consumption tax despite election defeat

By John Chan, 17 July 2010

Japan’s ruling Democratic Party lost its majority in the upper house of the Diet in last Sunday’s elections, amid mounting public hostility to the government’s proposed austerity measures.

Japanese government announces pro-business agenda

By Peter Symonds, 21 June 2010

Last week newly installed Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan unveiled new concessions to the corporate elite, even as he foreshadowed a doubling of the country highly unpopular sales tax.

New Japanese prime minister installed

By Peter Symonds, 8 June 2010

Naoto Kan faces the task of trying to revive the government’s fortunes before next month’s upper house elections, but confronts the same basic dilemma as his predecessor—how to implement policies that are widely unpopular.

Japanese prime minister resigns after just nine months

By Peter Symonds, 3 June 2010

The resignation follow a disastrous slump in the government’s poll ratings amid opposition to its decision to retain a major US military base on Okinawa, as well as growing economic uncertainty and rising social tensions.

Japan: Mass protest against US base on Okinawa

By John Chan, 29 April 2010

A rally of 90,000 people in Okinawa on Sunday against the continued presence of a US Marine air base has heightened the political crisis facing the Japanese government over the issue.

Japanese economy plagued by deflation and debt

By Alex Messenger, 25 March 2010

Recent economic statistics appear to show Japan is shaking off the worst of the global economic crisis, but the headline figures say nothing about the most critical issues, chronic deflation and public debt.

Japanese government reveals secret nuclear agreement with the US

By John Chan, 24 March 2010

The Japanese government has revealed the existence of a five-decades-old secret arrangement with the US, allowing the American military to bring nuclear weapons into the country.

Toyota recall highlights crisis in global auto industry

By Alex Messenger, 12 February 2010

Toyota’s recall of eight million cars worldwide, and the protectionist response of the US government, media and unions, underscore the ongoing fallout in the international auto industry from the global financial crash.

Japanese finance minister quits

By John Chan, 19 January 2010

The resignation of Hirohisa Fujii as Japan’s finance minister is the first clear sign of crisis in the country’s Democrat-led government.

Amid new recessionary signs, Japan unveils major stimulus package

By John Chan, 11 December 2009

The Japanese government has announced an emergency stimulus package worth 7.2 trillion yen for the first quarter of 2010 in a bid to stave off what officials warn could be a “double-dip recession”.

New Japanese government under pressure to slash social spending

By John Chan, 12 November 2009

The government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is facing growing demands from big business to ditch its election promises, slash social spending and rein in mushrooming public debt.

Japan’s new government seeks to refashion US alliance

By John Chan, 4 November 2009

In the lead-up to US President Barack Obama’s first visit to Japan, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has signalled that his government is wanting to readjust the country’s longstanding alliance with the US.

Democrat government installed in Japan

By Peter Symonds, 17 September 2009

The Hatoyama government is the end product of a lengthy process that followed the break-up of the post-war relationships in the 1970s and 1980s. Powerful sections of the establishment concluded that a new instrument was required to aggressively prosecute its interests at home and abroad. That is precisely what the new administration will now be under enormous pressure to do.

Japan: Democrats prepare to slash public spending

By Peter Symonds, 11 September 2009

Even before it is sworn into office, the Hatoyama government is preparing to make deep cuts to the previous government’s stimulus spending.

The historic decline of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party

By Peter Symonds, 9 September 2009

The ignominious electoral collapse of the LDP amid the greatest global economic crisis since the 1930s is another sign that politics, not only in Japan but internationally, is entering uncharted and stormy waters.

Japan’s election: Divided Democrats prepare for office

By John Chan, 7 September 2009

The Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide victory in the country’s general elections on August 30. Yet despite its control of both houses of parliament, the next government will not be in a strong position.

Japan’s new government: Promise and reality

By John Chan, 2 September 2009

The gulf between the limited election pledges of the Democrats and the social realities facing broad layers of working people will quickly become evident.

Japanese voters sweep Liberal Democrats from office

By Peter Symonds, 31 August 2009

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan routed the Liberal Democratic Party in lower house elections yesterday, ending more than 50 years of almost continuous rule.

Japanese government faces landslide electoral defeat

By Peter Symonds, 29 August 2009

Japan is poised on the eve of a political sea change. All the opinion polling points to a landslide defeat in tomorrow’s election for the Liberal Democratic Party, which has held power almost continuously since its formation in 1955.

Japan’s elections: the Communist Party’s role

By Peter Symonds, 28 August 2009

At a critical turning point in Japanese politics, the Communist Party is positioning itself as a safety valve for the political establishment.

Japan’s fragile economy overshadows general election

By John Chan, 25 August 2009

The Japanese economy officially grew by 0.9 percent in the second quarter. The news, however, is unlikely to affect the outcome of Sunday’s general elections.

Japanese prime minister dissolves parliament and sets election date

By Peter Symonds, 23 July 2009

The ruling LDP heads into a general election trailing behind the opposition DPJ in all the polls and facing an end to its virtually unbroken 53-year rule.

Japanese PM calls crisis election

By Mike Head, 16 July 2009

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has called an early election for August 30, even though his LDP-led coalition seems almost certain to lose.

Japan: Ruling LDP in disarray

By John Chan, 9 July 2009

Japanese prime minister Taro Aso appointed two new cabinet ministers in the latest move to shore up his government.

Japan’s economy suffers record contraction

By Peter Symonds, 22 May 2009

The Japanese economy shrank by 4 percent in the first quarter of 2009 or an annualised rate of 15.2 percent. The plunge in GDP was the worst since records began in 1955 and the largest of any major industrialised country.

Japan’s alarmist reaction to North Korean missile test

By John Chan, 16 April 2009

One aspect of North Korea’s missile launch has been the Japanese government’s reaction. With his popularity at record lows, Prime Minister Taro Aso exaggerated the threat to divert attention from the crisis at home and boost the case for military rearmament.

Poverty, unemployment and homelessness hit Japanese workers

By Carol Divjak, 26 March 2009

With the Japanese economy hit hard by plummeting exports and a deep recession, hundreds of thousands of people are facing unemployment and poverty.

Japanese opposition party in crisis

By John Chan, 20 March 2009

A fund-raising scandal has exposed the fragility of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), once thought to be marching unstoppably toward office.

Economic slump deepens in Japan as exports collapse

By Peter Symonds, 26 February 2009

The collapse of Japanese exports last month underscores just how rapidly economic recession is turning into a full-blown depression—and not just in Japan.

Japanese government in crisis as recession deepens

By John Chan, 23 February 2009

As Japan confronts its worst recession since World War II, the government is in disarray, with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) heading toward defeat in general elections due by September.

Record slump in Japan: a sign of deepening global recession

By Peter Symonds, 18 February 2009

Economic data released on Monday revealed that the world’s second largest economy contracted at an annualised rate of 12.7 percent for the final quarter of 2008—the steepest decline since 1974. Deutsche Bank in Tokyo bluntly predicted a “severe depression” in Japan, lasting at least until late 2010.

Former Japanese air force chief justifies colonialism and militarism

By John Chan, 8 January 2009

Last year’s scandal involving the Japan Air Self-Defence Force chief of staff Toshio Tamogami has highlighted the resurgence of militarism within sections of the political establishment. Tamogami was sacked from his post in October after he won an essay competition with an entry that justified Japanese military aggression in the 1930s and 1940s.

Japanese government flounders amid worsening recession

By John Chan, 18 December 2008

Less than three months after assuming office, the future of Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso is in doubt as both the economy and his government’s approval ratings have plunged sharply.

North Asian summit: an empty show of unity

13 December 2008

The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea will meet today for their first-ever joint summit. While the meeting is billed as a show of Asian unity in the face of the deepening global economic crisis, the longstanding animosities and tensions that blocked collaboration in the past are not far below the surface.

Signs of political radicalisation in Japan, despite its confused direction

By John Chan, 24 November 2008

There are signs of a growing radicalisation among young people in Japan provoked by their own worsening prospects and the deepening gulf between rich and poor, amid the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s.

Japan sinks into recession

By Peter Symonds, 19 November 2008

The Japanese economy has officially entered recession for the first time since 2001 after the release of figures on Monday showing a second quarter of negative GDP growth.

Global economic crisis hits Japanese banks, exporters

By Peter Symonds, 29 October 2008

Despite claims that Japan was well positioned to weather the crisis, the world’s second largest economy is rapidly being dragged into the financial and economic maelstrom sweeping the globe.

More signs of recession in Japan

By Peter Symonds, 22 October 2008

After weeks of wild fluctuations on the Japanese and global stock markets, further indications have emerged this week that the world's second largest economy is in recession.

Asian stocks tumble after rejection of US bailout package

By John Chan, 2 October 2008

All major share markets across Asia tumbled badly on Tuesday after the US House of Representatives rejected the Bush administration's $US700 billion rescue package for Wall Street.

Taro Aso: third Japanese prime minister in two years

An offbeat image

By John Chan, 27 September 2008

The lower house of Japanese parliament, the Diet, endorsed Taro Aso as Japan’s new prime minister on Wednesday, after he won the post of president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on September 22. Aso takes over from former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, amid low support for the LDP government, a global financial crisis and signs of recession in the Japanese economy.

Japan’s ruling party to select new prime minister as economy slides into recession

Aso’s opponents

By John Chan, 20 September 2008

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is due to pick a replacement for outgoing Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Monday.

The American “financial tsunami” hits Asia

Regional downturn

By John Chan, 18 September 2008

The American financial crisis has sent shockwaves throughout Asia over the past few days as governments, banks and corporations scramble to cope with plunging share prices, international financial turmoil and the prospects of a serious downturn in the US and other major economies.

Japan’s prime minister quits amid signs of economic downturn

Koizumi’s record

By Peter Symonds, 3 September 2008

Confronting a slowing economy and continuing political deadlock, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda abruptly resigned on Monday after just under a year in power. While Fukuda expressed the hope that his resignation would prevent “a political vacuum,” his successor will face the same problems that plagued his term in office.

Japan-South Korea tension heightens over disputed islets

By John Chan, 4 August 2008

After an attempted rapprochement earlier this year, relations between South Korea and Japan have deteriorated since the Japanese government’s decision on July 14 to include its claim over the tiny Dokdo islets (known as Takeshima in Japan) into teaching guidelines for middle school teachers. The South Korean government of President Lee Myung-bak immediately reacted by stirring up Korean nationalism as a means of diverting attention from widespread opposition to his administration.