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The Sea Of Japan Mega-Quake Was Caused By
Nuclear Mayhem From 'Holy' Nuclear Reactors

By Yoichi Shimatsu
Exclusive To Rense

The death toll from the New Year's Day (O-shogatsu) mega-earthquake in western Japan's Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa prefecture, is still being tabulated by boat crews retrieving bloated bodies from the Sea of Japan (which adjoins China's Manchuria region, the Korean Peninsula and Siberia). The official estimate of 300 to 500 deaths is possibly too low, due the presences of unregistered illegal immigrants and foreigners on vacation. This essay offers a preliminary analysis of the most probable cause of undersea instability that triggered more than 13 temblors at the high end of Japan's Shindo scale of violent ground shaking.

The actual cause of this disaster for 15,000-plus area residents is being covered up, as usual, by the Government of Japan, that being the massive radioactivity releases into the underwater channel off the coast of the Noto Hanto from two super-reactors: The Monju nuclear fusion reactor and a nearby Fugen MOX fuel reactor, both in nearby Fukui Prefecture. The fact that those monstrous radioactivity-emitting units were decommissioned in less that two decades, a take-down process now in its final stages, indicates that Japanese nuclear physicists and their government sponsors have been well aware of the serious erosion and destabilization of undersea mountains off the northern coast of the Noto Hanto. Once again,another innocent rural population has been decimated, demoralized and bankrupted by nuclear power gone amok.

A travesty of religious tradition

The curiously named Monju and Fugen nuclear plants, named after Buddhist saints, are located about 225 km (140 miles) west from the tip of the Noto Peninsula, along a straight natural seafloor path that leads to Sado Island.(which is offshore from the quake-prone Niigata region to the northeast).

What is so striking about the Noto Quake is that the peninsula is a geologically stable area as compared with nearby Niigata to the east, the business hub of the Japan Sea region. Niigata is located along the tectonic pathway of the Pacific Plate. Less than 200 km apart, Niigata experiences powerful quakes on an average span of every 200 years; whereas the Noto Hanto and prefectures to the southwest are notably dormant, geologically stable with hardly a twitch of earth movement.

The contrast is due to underlying geology, with the Noto region being centered atop the Eurasian Plate that extends well into Japan's central highlands, whereas nearby Niigata sits very close to the coastal collision juncture of the Eurasian and Pacific Plates.

The geology(s) of safety and destruction

The relative stability of the Noto Hanto rests on underwater sandstone hills, which in the distant past were once landlocked mountains formed atop an alluvial plain millions of years ago. Japan, as such, was not an archipelago then but a vast land mass inhabited by elephants and monkeys crossing the low plain sealed from the Pacific waves. The Japan "sea" plain was then the outer rim of the Asian continent. Eventually, the water level rose dramatically, flooding the lower differing parts of the region under a placid Japan Sea.

The passage of geological time made invisible the other side of the ancient canyon that separates the Noto Hanto from its nearby vast underwater mountain range. Between that undersea mountain and the peninsula there exists a narrow channel, along a straight line between Fukui prefecture to the west, across the tip of the Noto Hanto and eastward onto Sado Island, off Niigata. The remoteness of Sado led to its use as a place of exile for foes of the Japanese emperors, notable the fanatic Buddhist reformer Nichiren, founder of the sect now known as Soka Gakkai.

More than a dozen powerful temblors

This near-shore undersea channel is exactly along the path of the 13 and possibly more temblors that wrecked the Noto Hanto, an important center of Japan's traditional crafts, which include handmade pottery, paper-making, silk spinning and fermenting of sake rice wine. The main township wrecked by the quake is Wajima - Wa is the ancient Chinese term for Japan and jima is, of course, "island", indicative a long tradition of trade and cultural exchanges with the ancient Chinese empire. This priceless cultural legacy from the venerable past is now wrecked, in near-total devastation, worsened by the lost of life of highly skilled artisans, craftsmen and their support base of farmers and foresters.

This cultural loss is the result of scientific hubris in the modern postwar quest for brute energy for industry, rail transport, powering television sets and home refrigeration, as promoted by the export-oriented Government of Japan. This process of "modernization" of a backward Snow Country region began with the ambitious program of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka (infamous for the Lockheed bribery scandal) of linking his hometown of Niigata to Tokyo with the extension of a Shinkansen super-fast rail line.

The blasphemy of nuclear energy

Worse, perhaps, was the decision of the national energy authority to install two experimental nuclear power plants, the Monju fast-breeder facility and the Fugen MOX fuel reactor in Fukui prefecture, less than 200 miles southwest of the Noto Peninsula. These experimental reactors were given holy names by the abbot of the Eihei-ji Zen Temple, a branch of Soto Zen and major training center for wannabee monks from Europe and the USA.

When approached by the chief of Japan's nuclear authority, the abbot used a huge ink brush to write the characters for Monju (Manjushi), the Buddha's charioteer and closest companion, and Fugen (Samatabhahadra), an elephant-riding deity of esoteric knowledge. These articles of blessing were proudly placed on the sites of the experimental reactors.

Improbably and perhaps as divine punishment of a heresy of sorts, both mega-reactors proved to be dismal failures, consuming more electricity than they produced. After a series of failed experiments that sent billions of volts and trillions of active particles into the sea channel between fragile banks of sandstone, both experimental programs were shut down, presumably for their high cost of operation but more disturbingly for some unspoken underlying cause. Obviously, the sea "walls" were starting to crumble.

Then, predictably, the channel along the Noto Hanto's northern shore collapsed along its length, triggering as least 13 undersea quakes that devastated Wajima and extended straight toward Sado Island, a hundred miles along the eastward trajectory.

A point to note is that the refined plutonium for those reactors originated in France. As recalled by a journalism colleague in Tokyo, Tom Caldwell, Greenpeace tailed the French vessel in event of its capsizing in a Pacific storm with sufficient plutonium to put a quick end to life on Earth. A Japanese self-defense force destroyer, thus, escorted the plutonium ship to protect it from "eco-terrorists."

A nearly Futile Protest

In the early 1990s, as an editor with an English-language newspaper in Tokyo, I visited the Nihon Kai (Japan Sea region) with my news photographer colleague Takashi Morizumi, who was a famed international journalist tracking the world's nuclear sites from Chernobyl to Semipalatisnk in Kazhakstan and the A-bomb test site near Las Vegas, which reputedly caused fatal cancer for John Wayne and American Indians on that movie set.

Steering off a major highway, Morizumi drove the rented car along country pathways past swamps, rice fields and tiny straw-roofed villages. In contrast to the normally cloudy weather, the sky was brilliant blue. The journey was an idyllic throwback to a timeless past of peasant life in an unchanging Asia. At last I spotted the other shore and we parked near a hill, which obscured public sight of the Monju fast-breeder reactor then under construction.

Running a bit late, we approached the small cluster of maybe 60 protesters, nearly all from the Tokyo region, holding limp anti-nuke banners in the faint shoreline breeze. They seemed tame, or was it "tamed"?. This pathetic complacency would not do for a news story. They livened up upon seeing their idol Morizumi with his cameras strapped around his neck, and then slumped under excuses for a poor turnout of protesters, none of them local residents.

Given my childhood background in the USA, I strode up to the line of security guards and a couple of policemen and started haranguing them about violating our constitutional rights and taxpayer yen by refusing us entry into the Monju fusion plant. Several guards blocked my progress ominously so I shouted in their faces to taunt them to push me back, which they soon did in robotic reaction. Then the young fellows jumped into the fray, hurling vulgar curse words at the government stooges. Morizumi leaped into action, snapping dozens of photos of the tense confrontation with all that shoving and sweating.

Then one of guards, who seemed to be senior ranked, pled with me to halt the confrontation, and my response was: "Only if we are allowed in sight of the new reactor." After a conference with a suit, probably the contractor, the police retreated about 30 yards, thereby allowing photos of the fusion reactor's tall dome.

Then, some of the local supporters at last arrived with bento (lunch boxes) for our motley crew, who sat on the sand and some resting on their backs after the arduous battle. As the sun rose to high noon, the sand become burning hot, and so the protest leader said, "We've done a lot today, so let's pack the garbage and go back to Tokyo." Wow, I thought, what weekend warriors! A bunch of peasants not old-time samurai.

To Tokyo in disappointment

Morizumi strode back to the rent-a-car in a hurry. I asked "What's the hurry? Now we've got time to drive to Niigata to see some of those famous light-complexioned "Bijin" (beauties) of Niigata, at the heart of the Snow Country. He responded, "Take a local bus then. I must get back to Tokyo before the sunset deadline and deliver these photos for the coming week's magazine edition instead of next week's run." A workaholic, indeed.

Disappointed by his professional discipline, I complained: "Well, there goes my personal essay on meeting a Snow Country beauty, which a lot of readers will find way more interesting than our reportage of this miserably under-attended protest!"

Driving recklessly, Morizumi grumbled: "Yoichi-kun, you are a ridiculous dreamer. The photos are great stuff that will mobilize the entire anti-nuke movement throughout Japan. It's thrilling to the average Japanese. Being a Yankee cowboy at heart, only a gunfight gives you a rise."

OK, alright, have it your way, I wanted to grumble but kept my mouth shut lest he swerved off the road into a dung-filled rice paddy. Later, when we reached the highway, he turned toward me to repeat: "You are a cowboy, a violence-prone American, but this is a country where people are polite and courteous. That's what gets the right response!"

Now that jab angered me, but I kept my mouth shut so that we would not collide with an oncoming dump truck. "Morizumi-san, my ancestors were tough samurai who led the Meiji Restoration and they beat the hell out of the Shogun with great impoliteness. Being nice does not bring about much-needed social change, much less a social revolution." Response: "That was a long time ago, this is today, the world of law and timidity in Japan was created by your American Occupation." End of debate or, should I say, conversation. Yeah, I was personally responsible for MacArthur's introduction of voter democracy and also family names for all the backward nameless peasants. Well, my Dad in U.S, intelligence was here way back then and did whatever he could for their benefit.

Shooters without guns

I got dropped off at a remote train station from where he sped on towards the magazine office. Luckily, the rail line led straight to Roppongi, where a half-block walk from the subway put me on the usual bar stool where low-grade tequila was served with fake 7-up for a rather tasteless and weak slammer. A colleague from the editorial desk, one of the usual suspects, an American guy, happened to drop in. "You're back early from the trip to the Japan Sea. How'd it go?"

"Great, fantastic, nearly got arrested and was a hero for a slew of gorgeous local girls." Then he said, "Let's get out of this dump and head to that row of hooch houses for some Niigata sake." Many years later I met one of those Snow Country beauties that Yasunari Kawabata wrote about:in his memorable novel "Snow Country" (1935). They all have sheer pale skin tone, pink cheeks and unfortunately a wide smile. Her teeth were disgustingly blackish brown from chain smoking. Then her fiance came strolling in the bar to shake my hand. Never had a worse night in my life. I'm never going back.

Then again, maybe I will someday, to witness the recovery of the towns and villages of the Noto Hanto from the impact of the quake and gaze at the abandoned sites of the Monju and Fugen reactors. I hope that it will be snowing.