New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Fissures in the Planetary Apparatus

April 07, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Ecology, Economy, Guest Author

Japan Struggles to Survive the Unimaginable

by Sabu Kohso

While we are observing the new impetus of global uprising against capitalism and the state, the catastrophic situation is arising in Japan. Triggered by the earthquake and tsunami of maximal scale, Northeastern part of Honshu has been devastated by the increasing number of losses and refugees, and the worsening nuclear disaster.

The activity of the planet has shown not only its unequivocal nonhuman force but also the degree in which our societies and their apparatuses forged by capitalism are relying on, merging with, implicated in and expanding over the planet in an extremely ominous manner. What the so-called natural disaster is showing on this occasion is nothing but the implication of the apparatus on the environment and its fatal effects.

In this situation, we intend to translate, quote and analyze as much information as possible from Japanese into English, and translate your encouragements, comments, suggestions, analysis, proposals and anything written in English into Japanese for the vantage point of the people struggling there and everywhere.

At the moment in Japan, the government is trying to make the situation look as normal as possible, by veiling crucial information on the degree of radiation and the calamitous condition of the reactors. This menacing situation notwithstanding, it does not show any intention to terminate its pro-nuclear power policy. In accordance with the benefit of TEPCO (The Tokyo Electric Power Co), it is instigating temporal blackout in large areas outside central Tokyo, as if sending the message to the people: “no nuclear power, no electricity.”

It also makes tremendous efforts to isolate and contain the stricken areas and the increasing number of refugees, by mobilizing massive number of the Self Defense Forces, mainly for driving the business as usual of the capitalist operations. Meanwhile the media is seeking to reproduce the image of a society without dissent by orchestrating the campaign to “Save Japan in Unity.” Some proxy intellectuals are inflaming patriotism even by awakening the nationalist sentiment from the fascist regime of the past.

Nonetheless, as the contamination worsens and expands, resident foreigners have begun to leave Japan, and some Japanese who are able to have begun their exodus to the west. The agony, anger, and angst of the people, especially those who have to sustain their livelihood in Tokyo and northward therefrom, are unimaginable. It is a reminder of the stories from the Cyber Punk era in terms of dystopia finally realized.

Meanwhile activists of an anti-authoritarian vein are striving to begin various campaigns: a call for a de-nuke general strike; a new anti-nuclear movement; protests against the government and TEPCO; establishment of refugees’ communes in metropolises such as Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka; and sending the “People Rescue Troops” to the stricken north. A mass mobilization is yet to be seen.

Facing the imminent possibility of catastrophe, the people are also expecting a long-term struggle — for survival and to break out of the pro-nuclear governance. Taking into consideration the situation in Japan, we find it necessary to establish a global network to create a current of both resources and persons in and out of Japan, the accursed and confined archipelago. To begin with, we are preparing a place for exchanging critical voices from there and elsewhere, to find a way out of the dystopian cul-de-sac, and to create a path to undo and reorient the course of the world whose worst effects are manifest there at the moment.

Coming on the heels of the “catastrophic situation arising in Japan,” this post is part of a solidarity effort to translate information between Japanese and English sources, including “encouragements, comments, suggestions, analysis, proposals,” and other supportive materials to assist “the people struggling there and everywhere.” To participate in this project and learn more about it, please visit:

0 Comments to “Fissures in the Planetary Apparatus”

  1. The Fukushima catastrophe is a classic example of the consequences of the ‘illusion of certainty’. The teams of people who designed, constructed, and operated the nuclear plants were convinced that they had taken account of every possibility that might cause the breakdown of the systems of nuclear fission. Therefore, they concluded that nothing can go wrong.
    Indeed, Malcolm Grimston’s account for the BBC [April 11 2011] of the breakdown at Fukushima suggests that at an early point the managers were right. At the onset of the earthquake, nuclear fission stopped, as planned. And when the electricity for operating the water pumps for cooling the fuel rods cut out, the back up diesel generators started up and pumped the waters to the containment vessels. Everything was going as planned. The fuel rods were in water and cooling. All precautions to withstand the quaking of the earth had worked.
    But unlike other nuclear plants in NE Japan, Fukushima was next to the ocean. In fact it was a seaside resort. The force 9 quake, and all the aftershocks, had occurred under the sea. A 15 metre tsunami was generated, traveling at high speed across the Pacific to the USA, New Zealand, and Japan.
    Malcolm Grimston makes it clear that Fukushima nuclear plant was designed to withstand a 6 metre tsunami. As all the pictures showed, the 15 metre tsunami swept away everything in its path: towns, villages, and most of their buildings flattened; cars, lorries, boats washed away; the residents taken away into the sea to drown in their thousands.
    It was the tsunami that caused the catastrophe. The back up diesel generators stopped. Water stopped. The water in the fuel pools and vessels boiled. Pressure in the containment vessels became too high. The gases had to be vented, and in doing so radioactive elements were released into the air. The pressure led to cracks in some vessels and ponds, and radioactive water leaked into the sea.
    Whatever else was happening, the priority of the operators was to get water flowing over the fuel rods to keep them cool, and to stop them overheating and exploding and causing massive radioactive contamination. Perhaps, in future, it may be possible to design a plant that is not so dependent upon clean water.
    If the effects of the tsunami had been thought through more rigorously, then the catastrophe may not have occurred. Although looking at the flows of the wave, it is difficult to predict exactly the wave action. It is safer to conclude that the plant should not have been built by the sea.
    The Fukushima disaster has reminded us all exactly how dangerous nuclear power plants are………when something goes wrong. We have also been reminded that the spread of radioactivity is global as well as local.


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