Toward Pirate Communism: Tyranny and Anarchy
From Shiro Yabu’s Diary
*The following is the March section of the blog by Shiro Yabu, an anti-capitalist activist living in Japan.
English translation and editing by Adam Broinowski
12 March 2011
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant and Isodine
When I heard the news that coolant at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was not circulating, I thought about what I was going to do. My first thought was that the containment vessel would be breached. My second was if radioactive substance scatters, how near or far is Tokyo from Fukushima? The next thing I did was to go to the chemist to buy something with iodine in it. There was nothing on the shelves. So I had to buy some Isodine mouthwash. I don’t know if drinking it will help. I think I’m losing it a little. Isodine is in a way also iodine. It’s better than nothing.
13 March 2011
Giving my daughter Isodine and leaving for Aichi
On the morning of 12th March, I decided to take my daughter to my mother’s in Aichi. Isodine contains 7mg of iodine per 1ml. The dosage is 14ml for adults, and 7ml for children. But iodine should not be taken in large quantities, and Isodine should not be ingested. I didn’t want to give it to her.
So we left for Aichi to my mother’s. Luckily the train was running smoothly. But by the time we arrived in Nagoya, things in Fukushima had gotten worse. I planned to drop my daughter off and return to Tokyo, but decided against it. Fukushima is too bad. They say ‘be calm, be calm’, but do they mean that we simply be calm and wait to be exposed to radiation? If you can be calm now, you must start to evacuate.
Tokaido shinkansen line is running as normal
My wife left home at 8:30am and arrived at Nagoya at 11:15. The Tokaido shinkansen (west-bound) seems to be on schedule, and now my wife’s mother and her brother’s family with their baby are driving to us. I can’t see the highway report but they should be alright.
I’m not normally so concerned about my health but radiation is different. I never imagined myself so upset over health of children and infants.
While ads on the TV nag about the harm from smoking and passive smoking, there seems to be such indifference to radiation. It’s hard to believe. I wonder how those TV commentators can comment so casually without making the distinction between internal and external exposure to radiation.
For whom and what must we ‘be calm’?
Many systems are at a stand-still in the capital, which they’re calling a ‘crisis ward’. The Japan Business Federation has called to stop work and evacuate. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Corporation) would probably disagree with this solution.
The problem is not only the high risk of nuclear power, but also the exorbitant costs of cleaning up dispersed radioactive matter. When we are finally told about the radiation, we will criticise how TEPCO, the Ministry of Finance, and the Liberal Democratic Party exposed the people to risk. This is why the television is assuming indifference. Our immediate interests are entangled with the economy. Their financial interests are forcing us to ‘be calm’.
What’s going on with Tokai-mura by the way?
In the chaos surrounding Fukushima I forgot about [the nuclear plant at] Tokai-mura. The magnitude at Futaba-machi [town of Fukushima 1] measured ‘above 6’ while Tokai-mura measured ‘below 6’. The only news I can find about Tokai-mura is on burning cars piled on top of each other or absence of fire-trucks in town. I remember that Tokai-mura’s nuclear plant has a plutonium reprocessing plant. I hope no one has been fatally hurt. I can only hope. Damn.
14 March 2011
Annual radiation dosage
What does ‘annual radiation exposure’ mean? To say that levels at ‘fifty percent of annual radiation intake’ will not affect your health is incorrect. It would be less than pretty if you imbibed fifty percent of the allowable annual dose of alcohol or nicotine over one hour. Even if the drinker says they feel ok, their doctor would not see it like that. Whether they chose to imbibe the substance or not, it affects the likes of babies and pregnant women who have not given their consent. What does ‘a level that does not affect your health’ mean exactly? Even if it doesn’t lead to death, whatever they are doing is definitely harmful to people.
To all my friends
My friends in the Kantô area,
This may seem a bit extreme, but I’ve made a shelter for whoever wants to come to Aichi prefecture. When there’s a tsunami warning, anyone would move to higher ground. In this critical moment, life and death matters should be left to TEPCO employees and Government bureaucrats, to Hitachi, Toshiba and the Self-Defense Forces. We should move to higher ground and watch as the situation unfolds. If ‘the mountains in labor, bear a ridiculous mouse,’ all will be well. I hope it will be this way.
The cooling system at the Tokai nuclear power station has stopped.
if the situation becomes that of Fukushima, a purge of radioactive material will start. This is the reality. What we need to do now is to not panic. Be calm, and face the reality. Please run.
No other concerns than saving energy?
TEPCO announced that ‘planned black-outs’ would commence from today. The TV focuses on bland issues like trains not running on time, and charging mobile phones. Japanese people tend to focus on the detail rather than on the big picture.
The federal and local governments are the problem. Faced with a paralysed mega-city, why are they not urging people to evacuate? This is an ‘unprecedented situation’. A thermal power plant by the sea is crippled and a nuclear power plant is erupting in Hydrogen explosions. Are they really thinking just a few days of ‘black-outs’ will fix the problems? It is appropriate to say that it will take a long time to recover electricity.
Now the concentration of people from the capital must be dispersed and gradually transplanted. Nursing mothers, babies, students on spring break, and pensioners must go first. We must urge voluntary evacuation of the metropolitan area to reduce its population. As the effects of disaster develop, material distribution will be crippled. If a shortage of food and water occurs in crowded Tokyo, social chaos will erupt. They should concentrate on using electricity for temporary street lights and railroads to move the population, instead of calling on the public to save energy.
While I feel hesitant to say this from higher ground in Aichi, a quiet panic seems to have taken hold of Tokyo. They must think calmly, and move quietly.
15 March 2011 0:09
Mass media’s judgement
It is mystery to me how media reports can loyally repeat antics and statements by the Japanese bureaucrats and Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), while also criticising the irresponsibility of Japanese bureaucrats. ‘Objective reporting’ provides evidence to viewers/readers so they can make their own decisions. Why do they even bother reporting the interests of NISA? Repeating NISA’s points will only mislead those whose personal decisions are based on the media.
History shows that the Japanese ruling class hides behind and does not take responsibility, at the time of crisis. When the command of the air was lost and people were being bombed in their homes during the Pacific War, they [the ruling elite] still vacillated about peace negotiations. It still took them a week [after the A-bombs] to offer unconditional surrender (sooner would have been better!). What possible advantage could we expect from these bureaucrats?
As people were exposed to radiation in Futaba-cho [the location of the Fukushima power plant], it was clear that the timing and range of evacuation orders by the government were inaccurate. It is no longer necessary to heed their claims that this ‘unprecedented’ situation is ‘unimaginable’.
As stated at the Citizen’s Nuclear Information Centre (CNIC), the full results of Three Mile Island [nuclear meltdown in Harrisburg, US] were only released 10 years after the fact. Nuclear experts today do not know exactly what is happening at Fukushima. It will take them decades to know the facts.
This is not the time to listen to the indecisive mumbling of bureaucrats. As conditions change every few hours, we must organize our options available today, tomorrow or the day after. I don’t mean to badger, but I must stress: the Tokyo metropolitan area is already a semi-disaster zone. It will be a disaster zone by next week.
March 15th at noon, Tokaido shinkansen runs as scheduled
Though full, the windows are open and it’s moving smoothly. On the train there are old couples, families with children, and lots of students.
Many have brought their pets. You can still get a seat.
16 March 2011 6:10
Hands up those who think Fukushima Daiichi will recover.
This morning a second fire erupted at No. 4 unit of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. At the press conference TEPCO said that they were ‘unable to confirm whether the first fire was put out’. The fire is in the north-west section of the unit – the same place as the day before. This revealed how carelessly TEPCO is dealing with the situation as their staff had only thought the fire was out by observing from afar.
At 6:45 am on 16 March, Masahisa Otsuki, the head of nuclear power management at TEPCO announced that the fire at 9:38am in No. 4 unit on 15 March was ‘naturally extinguished’ at 11am. However, a second fire was announced as having occurred at 5:45am and extinguished at 6:20am on 16 March. An apology was made for the mistake as ‘the staff had only observed it from afar.’ When asked if the first fire hadn’t been extinguished, Otsuki explained that they “could not get close enough to the reactor to determine the actual situation.”1
According to TEPCO, the staff called the fire station twice after witnessing the fire, but since the phone calls didn’t go though, they neglected to follow it up.
Normally Fukushima Daiichi holds about 800 staff, but since the danger of radiation has increased, only 70 people were left as of March 15th. The rest of the crew were made to evacuate to Fukushima Daini [the second power plant].
The situation at Fukushima Daiichi will only worsen.
It’s impossible to recover.
As they try to stem the nuclear meltdown with seawater, even if it works, how many months (or years) will it take to cool? How many people will be necessary and how many will they be able to assemble? This is a job for workers who are prepared to be exposed to radiation. No one will do this work. Even Self-Defense Force troops will be withdrawn sooner or later.
Having used up the current batch of workers, as the temperature rises in the six units which no one approach, they continue emitting radioactive materials. One day in a long time from now, they will announce: “actually, all the workers were dead that day.” The government must order evacuations while there is still time.
To Friends in the city
Conditions are terrible at the Fukushima 1 plant. Now is not the time to worry about the volume of radioactive material or the wind direction. It’s as absurd as trying to guess the size of a tsunami as it crosses your coastline. As amateurs reliant on media information, we cannot make accurate decisions. Now is not the time for brilliant intellectual statements. Your helplessness should be driving you crazy. And rightly so. You only need 130 yen to get on a train. Call me if you get caught by a conductor.
17 March 2011 12:30
Foreigners are right at times like this
I spoke with a non-fiction writer who has been interviewing Chinese mafia in Kabuki-cho [Shinjuku]. He says that all of his subjects have left the city, so there’s no work. Whether they are afraid of earthquakes or nuclear fall-out is unclear. But Tokyo is already a place of evacuation for them. Americans, French and Germans have also gone. While foreigners of various ethnicities, occupations and classes have left, only Japanese seem to be staying in the city.
While care is needed when generalising about foreigners and Japanese, it seems that the foreigners are right at the moment. People in a foreign country develop a heightened capacity for ‘crisis management’. Lacking the many securities of everyday life, their awareness and critical judgement grows sharp. They also have various channels to inquire varied perspectives and information. Gathering information only from Japanese TV would seem so naïve to them. As a person without such independence, you should look to what foreigners are doing. In times like this, foreigners are right.
An evacuation zone of 20km radius is set around Fukushima 1. But it cannot be enforced. Some people evacuate first and some evacuate last. Others take no notice of the recommendations. I would like to think that whether they are the ones to evacuate or not to evacuate, each has reasons and obligations. While these actions are two different things, they share some things in common. While I cannot be more specific, as the state abandons people, perhaps these are two emergent positions against despotism. Maybe this clarifies the definition of despotism. Not just living in nature (or environment), nor only being exposed to the world. Perhaps this is the despotism of mean-spirited life.
I am thinking.
A ‘phenomenon’ or an ‘accident’? ‘Phenomenon’ and ‘accident’ are words of responsibility and preparedness. As a phenomenon, one is exposed to the world. As an ‘accident’ it is a question of living within the world. These humble words are contemptuous to despotism…
19 March 2011
What this nuclear disaster should destroy
TV shows the JDF (Japan Defense Force) helicopter at the nuclear plant, and we held our breaths as we watched as they hosed the reactor down. While this effort seems pointless, we create heroes because we know that they will die. NHK news reports that the radiation level is climbing, but assures that ‘it simply will not cause immediate health affects’. New ‘heroic spirits’ and new hibakusha are emerging in this spectacle of the nuclear city.
The lies and secrets in a complicit regime are repeated; ‘do not aggravate’, ‘do not cause panic’, ‘stay calm’. Who is being suppressed? The performance on TV is harming young women, pregnant women, mothers… those who bear children. Do these ‘specialists’ who insist there are ‘no immediate effects’ truly understand the serious [responsibility of] marriage, childbirth and child rearing? I suppose they find parents who worry when their child develops a fever stupid. These specialists are the stupidest of the stupid. They forget the bare fact that without such stupidity there would be no children born or raised.
I will not forgive you experts. This nuclear disaster will be an opportunity to destroy all of you.
Outflowing intelligence out of Tokyo
This event is too big to organize my thoughts. I am only going to think
approach it gradually. My notes from here on will be fragmented
until I get a real sense of the problem.
As a result of Fukushima, the long-term exodus of refugees from Tokyo is predictable. Publicising data from water and atmospheric tests in Tokyo will continue. But we don’t know if the exodus will stop or continue at the moment. As they are hosing down the plant, it looks like its going to be a long-term effort.
The universities and other schools in the metropolitan area will be affected. Young people are more prone to health effects by radiation. It would be nerve-wracking for young women. This will also cause a decline in foreign researchers and exchange students. Universities in Japan have no particular brand appeal in comparison to those in other countries. With the exception of Tokyo University, there will be a mainstream tendency to ‘bypass Kanto’.
Rejected by students, parents, faculty and researchers, universities will need to realign their programs. They will establish branches outside Kantô where possible. It will take 10 to 20 years for intelligence to flow from Kantô. By the time that happens Tokyo environment may recover. But the exodus and re-distribution of knowledge will create something bigger than anything Tokyo had achieved. For academics, Tokyo will become a place of the past.
20 March 2011
Playing soccer with kids
Two days ago, Nozomu Shibuya from VOL Collective came with his four-year-old son. My daughter had been bored, so it’s good that they can play. It’s better that kids play with each other. We bought a rubber ball and played soccer with the local kids in the playground, and got covered in sand.
They say that face-masks are effective to prevent exposure to radiation. They also say when you go home you must brush off all the dirt on your clothes and put them in a plastic bag. Then you take a shower. This routine is impossible for a child. Kids always get covered in dirt. What do they mean by “it doesn’t pose a risk to daily life”? Bullshit.
Two reasons why I call to evacuation
While some of my friends are still in the Metropolitan area, I’ll send one more reminder.
Three explosions; a breach in a reactor ceiling; three inoperative containment vessels; unmeasurable temperatures and pressure. Two waste dumping pools are exposed, and stand next to a cooling pool with 6400 fuel rods. This is beyond ‘the worse possible state’ any anti-nuke organisation has simulated.
If you are relying on luck without assessing or evacuating, you are being completely irresponsible. You’d better take this seriously. Even if we are unusually lucky and all the radioactive material flows into the ocean, it will not solve the problem, ever. We have been responsible and removed our friends from this gamble the atomic state is taking. In saying ‘nuclear power is safe, and there is no problem’, you become an accomplice in this hideous State gamble.
There are two things to be afraid of:
Poisoning by exposure to radioactive material.
The embarrassment that Japanese people remain ‘submissive to the state, even as a leak drips from the roof.’
This is a test of our dignity. We cannot give up yet. There are many things to do.
21 March 2011
Hegemony of disaster damages and reconstruction
When I lived in Tokyo, I’ve never had to watch TV, but I watched it all this week. It feels miserable.
I am going to call several people to make new paths for my life, not just by writing my blog entries, but also by talking with my friends in various places.
While the actual aftermath of Fukushima is yet to be seen, the current issue is the hegemonic struggle over damage and reconstruction. The Japanese archipelago will experience a rapid flow of population and community building, on a larger scale and over a longer duration than ever before. It’s not certain who is going to lead this. The state/capital may start planning a complete ‘national development’ while civilian movements will begin new projects to build communes. The tension between the Empire and multitude will intensify, through the conflict and mingling of these two. The focal point of class struggle has shifted to urban planning and urban development.
While there is no ground for optimism, we cannot always be pessimistic either. My stomach hurts.
Decommission and Mizuho Bank
Neither TEPCO nor the Government will clarify if they will decommission Fukushima 1. They barely say anything about this in press conferences. Even as the ceiling is bared to the sky, they remain evasive. Mizuho [main bank for TEPCO] will not transfer the money, or was that a system glitch? Either way, the financial/realty industry will fall into chaos. No matter hard they try, it’s only a matter of time. They deserve it.
23 March 2011
Decision to stay here permanently
I’d hoped our stay in Aichi would be temporary, but it doesn’t seem so at this point.
Radiation was detected in Tokyo’s water supply and in suburban vegetables. As fumes continue to rise from Fukushima plant, the situation will get worse. This is not an environment for raising children. My daughter will start the new semester in 10 days, so I’ve decided to have her transferred to a school here.
We’ve moved to Kasugai city, a satellite of Nagoya. When I was growing up here there were only rice fields, factories and unpaved roads, but now new apartments and large shopping centres for young families are everywhere. Though I’m not sure if we will stay here forever, but we will be okay for now. There are cars with Tama and Kasukabe number plates. Others seem to have the same idea and have moved here. Or some family might have left the fathers alone to work in the Metropolitan area. Now their kids are feeling anxious after losing their home and moving to a new place, but it will not last long. Once kids start school, they’ll forget things they left behind. In time they’ll even forget the place called Tokyo. They are going to live a life different from what we’d imagined. I’m starting to realise the power of brazen innocence; a sort of ‘divine violence’.
Damaging and being damaged in the metropolitan area
A few days ago, I received an email from Gen Hirai who criticised the situation in Tokyo that ‘those of us who are forced to stay and work in this city are certainly becoming like disposable day labourers of nuclear power plants.’ But I must stress that day labourers at nuclear plants not only get exposed to radiation but also are brainwashed [by the authorities] about the effects of radiation to the body. This means they allow their colleagues be effected by radiation as well. This also endagers the lives of local residents near nuclear plants. Radiation labourers (or ‘human resources’) are not just victims, but perpetrators and accomplices too.
Workers in Tokyo ought to ask themsleves what is their responsibility with regard to nuclear power. They need to calmly assess what choices they make and whether or not they conscious in their decision to expose others to radiation.
On TV in Tokyo, as it says that it’s ok, and it’s ok to leave women and children exposed, the levels of radiation, and the victims of radioactive exposure are being underestimated. A gross act of negligence in a metropolis of forty-million people is underway [child abandonment]. Ideally, group evacuation should begin and teachers should demand a safer environment for their students not to be exposed to radiation.
During the war, the Japanese masses made young men into suicide corps and made them dead, while vaguely knowing that they were not winning. I cannot help but be pessimistic about the decisions the descendants of these people will make, but I cannot stay pessimistic forever.
25 March 2011
Counterattack; Exodus from Nuclear Nation
I can no longer stand watching TV.
I’m hoping for a mass exodus from Kantô to Chûbu and Kansai. This weekend, I will join a discussion in Toyama with a group called “Life/Labor/Activism Network.” My colleague from VOL Shibuya will join too. I aim to emphasise the transition from passive evacuation to active exodus. We need to imagine a counterattack to the atomic State.
From the movement of people to the movement of refugees, we must aim to become vandals of the Japan archipelago. We must reconstruct urban living practice.
There is a call for an action in Tokyo on the same day, so I will repost here. Friends in Metropolitan area, you must gather.
Ginza demo parade, Sunday 27 March, meet 13:45, depart 14:00
26 March 2011
Avoiding the explosion will leave a giant Killing Stone
It’s been two weeks since I took shelter in Aichi. The meltdown at Fukushima 1 continues while consuming huge amounts of water, boron and people’s flesh and blood. Meanwhile, the situation is out of control as they have no choice but to release the steam, and radioactive material endlessly spews from the destroyed pipes. It reminds me of The Killing Stone. Another criticality could produce another explosion. Such trouble this killing stone causes.
I don’t want to admit it, but it will be a long battle.
Humans will be forced to leave Tôhoku and Kantô as radioactive materials gradually swallow the area. This year I turn 40. I will spend the rest of my life fighting this killing stone.
To an unestablished, spontaneous general strike
A group in Tokyo published a statement which I’m going to repost here.
English translation is here https://jfissures.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/to-all-the-working-people-%E2%80%93-call-for-de-nuke-general-strike/
29 March 2011
Towards another meltdown
Yesterday I gave a talk at a seminar in Toyama. As I explained the current situation, it helped me clarify what I am trying to do. In summary, the current nuclear disaster in the metropolitan area will develop in a chain-reaction that will shake the entire archipelago.
As radioactive material disperses into the atmosphere, Tokyo is shaking at its foundations. Is Tokyo a base for rescuing Tôhoku, or is it itself the victim? The debate continues. As the ‘metropolitan area is safe’ drones from the government, TEPCO pressures workers to continue work. At the same time, an exodus to the west of pregnant women and parents with infants has begun. Young workers are calling for general strike. Now in Tokyo, families are torn apart as they are forced to choose whether to evacuate or not, whether to stay at workplace or not. To use the metaphor of nuclear fuel in Fukushima, the fuel cladding the market society/nuclear family, once believed to be ‘absolutely safe’ is gradually falling apart. No matter how much the government tries to control it, this movement cannot be stopped. In the Metropolitan population of 38,000,000, 1 percent means 380,000, 5 percent means 1,900,000 people. As the threads of corporate society unravel, women, children, young labourers (and foreigners) spill out and accumulate in different cities.
Another meltdown will begin; a meltdown of population that will fragment and leak from corporate society. Non-metropolitan cities will be awash with a new population and the ‘Japan’ of old will no longer exist. This huge population and intelligent potential will burn up the entire archipelago.
I am excited and feel inspired.
Don’t Underestimate Nukes
An offensive statement on the net:
It is not important who is responsible for the current situation.
The people know who is guilty of this crime.
We don’t have a future if we don’t do something about Fukushima together.
You had better think about what you can do.
What an arrogant and irresponsible statement.
Nothing can be done about Fukushima. No one can get near it. While more and more people will be exposed to radiation unless we admit this reality immediately. What does [the writer] mean by “we together”? Is he proposing to work at nuclear plant? How else could he say something this arrogant? Don’t think that you could change the reality with such a spiritualist statement. Enough self-satisfaction. Don’t underestimate the nuke. Piss off.
30 March 2011
The rehabilitation of the private
Excessive levels of iodine were measured in tap water in Chiba on 22 March.
On 29 March, independent water management groups in Northern Chiba reported that in sampled water which had been drawn from the Edo river and processed at a refinery (Nagareyama city), they found irradiated iodine (336 becquerels), which exceeded the legal limit (300 becquerels per kilo). Water from this refinery goes to [7 cities]. The refinery also manages the water supply of [3 other] cities. Residents were advised to throw out 1-2 buckets of water before use, although no water remains from the 22 March.2
There’s no meaning in publishing this a week after the discovery. What is Chiba prefecture going to do? What is the Japanese Government going to do? (As much as I don’t feel like repeating this question.)
It’s too late for surprise. This has been predicted for a long time. But this kind of prediction never shows up publicly, as a matter of principle.
On TV, several related events are shown, the most moving of which was a primary school evacuation. According to the emergency drill, staff were to evacuate students to the 3rd floor or roof of the school. But staff realised that the scale of this tsunami was far bigger than anticipated. They disobeyed instructions and left the school grounds for the hills behind the town. After they reached the hill, they saw the tsunami consume the entire school.
This episode teaches us that human life and death are governed by personal concerns. Disaster management can only provide guidelines. These are merely texts that disaster drill consultants put together within budget and time limitations stipulated by the government. Life and death are not dependent upon a successful or unsuccessful disaster prevention plan, but by an individual confronting a singular situation.
These students and teachers survived because the teachers thought ‘oh shit‘ and ignored the drill. Other disaster zones have reported similar situations. A disaster creates a utopian experience of a return to the personal within a wider context.
Nuclear power disasters are no exception. While the Government should be criticised for concealing information and acting on the spur of the moment, it will be more important that individuals will be able to experience personal ownership of their lives through the disaster. It may not be so polished as I am surrounded by total disaster, but what I (we) want to state is: ‘the private is the political.’
‘TEPCO negligent’, 16 March 2011, Yomiuri Shinbun. For a detailed list see, http://dailynews.yahoo.co.jp/fc/domestic/fukushima_nuclear_plant/wiki_header/?hn=8
Nikkei Newspaper, 23:15, 29 March, 2011, see http://read2ch.com/r/newsplus/1301414493/