Sovereign Debt Jubilee, Japanese-Style

Joanna Pianko protests with Occupy Chicago outside the Federal Reserve Bank October 3, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators are protesting what they believe is greed and corruption among banking and business leaders who corrupt democracy.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Ellen Brown for Web Of Debt Blog – If the Federal Reserve raises the fed funds rate to 3.5% and sells its federal securities into the market, as it is proposing to do, by 2026 the projected tab will be $830 billion annually. That’s nearly $1 trillion owed by the taxpayers every year, just for interest. Personal income taxes are at record highs, ringing in at $550 billion in the first four months of fiscal year 2017, or $1.6 trillion annually. But even at those high levels, handing over $830 billion to bondholders will wipe out over half the annual personal income tax take. Yet what is the alternative? Japan seems to have found one. While the US government is busy driving up its “sovereign” debt and the interest owed on it, Japan has been canceling its debt at the rate of $720 billion (¥80tn) per year. How? By selling the debt to its own central bank, which returns the interest to the government. While most central banks have ended their quantitative easing programs and are planning to sell their federal securities, the Bank of Japan continues to aggressively buy its government’s debt. An interest-free debt owed to oneself that is rolled over from year to year is effectively void – a debt “jubilee.” As noted by fund manager Eric Lonergan in a February 2017 article: The Bank of Japan is in the process of owning most of the outstanding government debt of Japan (it currently owns around 40%).

Nationwide Protests Oppose ‘Anti-Conspiracy’ Bill, As Japan Moves To Remilitarize

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By Lisa Torio for Waging Nonviolence – Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “anti-conspiracy” bill entered the upper house of parliament in early April, thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets in protest. Demonstrations against the bill actually started in December, when Abe’s plan became known to the public, but their intensity has grown in recent weeks. As the ruling coalition is pushing to pass the bill before the end of the legislative session on June 18, hundreds of people are staging daily demonstrations in front of the government offices to demand lawmakers scrap the bill, which lies at the intersection of Japan’s struggles. “This bill cuts across all issues because our lives depend on our right to resist,” said Keiko Makimoto, a retired elementary school teacher, who has been participating in the anti-nuclear demonstrations in front of the government offices nearly every week since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. “I’m here today so that I can keep fighting everyday.” While Abe says the bill is tailored to combat terrorism and organized crime ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, the scope of the proposed legislation is so broadly defined that it could give law enforcement agencies the ability to target activists and ordinary citizens they suspect of “preparing to commit a crime.”

Time For Peace Negotiations In Korea, Not Escalation

Thaad Protest in South Korea

By staff for Center for Peace and Disarmament at People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. The state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula is more volatile than ever, now that President Park has been impeached and new government is to be constituted through an early presidential election in South Korea. The Trump administration, in the meantime, is fueling the escalating tension even further with messages that it will not rule out a preemptive strike on North Korea, and that it will redeploy strategic nuclear warheads to South Korea if necessary. The situation is further destabilized by the Trump administration’s decision to send an aircraft carrier to waters near the Korean Peninsula. The latest military stance and strategy of Washington, however, completely overlooks the desire of Koreans for peace. The Kim Jong-un government in Pyongyang meanwhile has warned of another upcoming nuclear test it intends to conduct, poised as it is to show off its growing nuclear capabilities. An existing crisis is already escalating in Northeast Asia over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system that the South Korean and U.S. governments have decided to deploy in South Korea. All these acts of military bravado, taking hostage the lives and peace of Koreans, must cease now. It is time for policymakers to be responsible and return to dialogue and negotiations and stop fueling the growing tensions.

Japanese Government’s Liable For Negligence Over Fukushma

Relatives visit a family grave in Iwate prefecture on the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima meltdown this month. Photograph: Jiji Press/AFP/Getty

By Justin McCurry for The Guardian – A court in Japan has ruled that negligence by the state contributed to the triple meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 and awarded significant damages to evacuees. Although courts have awarded damages arising from the disaster in other cases, Friday’s ruling is the first time the government has been held liable. The Maebashi district court near Tokyo awarded ¥38.55m (£270,000) to 137 people who were forced to evacuate their homes in the days after three of Fukushima Daiichi’s six reactors suffered a catastrophic meltdown, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Japan Detains Movement Leader To Silence Struggle Against U.S. Military Bases

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By Michael Caster for Waging Nonviolence – On October 17, Hiroji Yamashiro was arrested for cutting a wire fence at a protest against a U.S. military base in Okinawa. He has been held in detention ever since. Yamashiro, the chairman of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, has been a fixture of the nonviolent opposition to military base expansion on the island for years. The 64-year-old Yamashiro had undergone cancer treatment in 2015, and medical tests two months into his detention revealed a decline in his health. Nevertheless, since his arrest almost five months ago, he has been held in pre-trial detention — mostly in solitary confinement, denied bail and any contact with his family.

Robots Dying Rapidly When They Try To Clean Up Fukushima

The scarred landscape inside the exclusion zone close to the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan Getty

By Niamh McIntyre For Independent – A Japanese company tasked with cleaning up Fukushima, the site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, has admitted that its attempts to probe the site are failing repeatedly due to incredibly high levels of radiation. The nuclear meltdown at Fukushima in 2011 was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami which left around 18,000 people dead and more than a million buildings destroyed. At least 100,000 people living near the plant were forced to leave their homes. High rates of mental health problems and post-traumatic stress disorder have been observed within the displaced population.

Friends Of Earth Calls For Resistance To Trump & Abe Trade Talks

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By Erich Pica for The Huffington Post – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe met with Donald Trump for a two-day summit in Washington, D.C. on February 10 and at Mar-a-lago, Trump’s golf resort in Florida, on February 11. They met to iron out the trade and economic relationship between the world’s first and third largest economies. The backdrop was the Trump plan for a bilateral U.S.-Japan trade agreement that would cement the two countries’ economic relationship now that the U.S. has withdrawn from negotiations for a multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with Japan and eleven other countries. The two right-wing and nationalistic heads of state announced after the conclusion of Friday’s formal talks that they had agreed to establish a formal “bilateral dialogue framework” on trade and related economic and security issues. The “dialogue” negotiations will be co-chaired by U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso.

75th Anniversary Of Imprisonment Of Japanese: Anti-Immigrants Long Roots

Oakland, Calif., Mar. 1942. A large sign reading "I am an American" placed in the window of a store on December 8, the day after Pearl Harbor. The store was eventually closed after the issuance of E.O. 9066. (Photo: Dorothea Lange)

By Dorothy M. Ehrlich for ACLU – Seventy-five years ago, in one of the darkest moments in American history, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. Immediately, the federal government began forcing 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry into concentration camps for fear they posed a threat to national security. For many years, we have recognized the infamous date of the order, February 19, 1942, with a “Day of Remembrance” at ceremonies throughout the nation designed to ensure that this indelible stain on our democracy is never forgotten. It is ordinarily a solemn occasion and a day of reflection. But on this day, the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, our current anti-Muslim crisis sounds a chilling echo of that earlier injustice, which must not be ignored. This year we are called to transform our quiet reflection into a fierce resistance.

Okinawan Peacemaker Needs Help From Peace Community

Okinawa Hiroji Yamashiro speaks to sit-in and blockade protesters. Source The Japan Times

By Lawrence Repeta for the Japan Times. There, a 64-year-old antiwar activist has been held in detention on trivial charges for more than 70 days. Over the past two years of peaceful protests against U.S. military base expansion in northern Okinawa, Hiroji Yamashiro emerged as the face of Okinawan resistance, the man with a megaphone in hand who urged crowds of protesters to speak out. Arrested on Oct. 17 and denied visits by anyone other than his attorneys since then, he has been silenced.

Challenge To Prime Minister Abe’s Militarism Makes Big News Outside U.S. Media

A huge cloud above Hiroshima, a few hours after the initial explosion on Aug. 6, 1945. (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum/U.S. Army via AP)

By Staff of World Beyond War – You recently announced plans to visit Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i at the end of December 2016 to “mourn the victims” of the Japanese Navy’s attack on the U.S. naval base on December 8, 1941 (Tokyo Time). In fact, Pearl Harbor was not the only place Japan attacked that day. The Japanese Army had attacked the northeastern shore of the Malay Peninsula one hour earlier and would go on to attack several other British and U.S. colonies and bases in the Asia-Pacific region later that day. Japan launched these attacks in order to secure the oil and other resources of Southeast Asia essential to extend its war of aggression against China. Since this will be your first official visit to the place where Japan’s war against the United States began

Sea Shepherd To Obstruct Japanese

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By Staff of Sea Shepherd – After final preparations in Australia, two Sea Shepherd vessels are now on their way to the Southern Ocean to intercept the Japanese whaling fleet in a bid stop their slaughter of Minke whales. The marine conservation organization’s flagship vessel the Steve Irwin departed Saturday from Seaworks, Williamstown in Melbourne, followed by its fast new patrol vessel the Ocean Warrior, which departed from Hobart, Tasmania on Sunday. They’re now on their way to the vast Southern Ocean in an effort to prevent the Japanese whaling fleet, which left Japan on November 18th, from killing its self-allocated quota of 333 Minke whales.

Ruling Coalition Gives Up Trying To Pass TPP-Ratifying Bill

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By Tomohiro Osaki for The Japan Times – After a new round of calls for the resignation of Japan’s gaffe-prone agricultural minister, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition on Wednesday gave up trying to pass a bill to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement through a special Lower House committee. The failure by the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito coalition to adopt the bill at the committee tasked with TPP deliberations — a key step toward its passage through the Lower House plenary session…

US Military In Okinawa Spy On Journalists

Bulletins internes compilés par la Division des enquêtes criminelles du corps des Marines des Etats-Unis (USMC) photo:Jon Mitchell

By Staff of RSF – The surveillance is revealed in 305 pages of documents published by British journalist Jon Mitchell, who obtained them under the US Freedom of Information Act. They consist of internal “intelligence bulletins” issued by the Criminal Investigation Division of the US Marine Corps in Okinawa Prefecture in May, June and July, emails written by senior officials and reports circulated by the US military police in one of the US camps.

Japan, South Korea Halt Wheat Imports Following Discovery

Wheat stands ready for harvest in a field near Anthony, Kan.

By Staff of MintPress News – MINNEAPOLIS — The discovery of unapproved GMO wheat in a Washington state farmers’ field could have serious consequences for U.S. exports of the staple crop. On July 29, the USDA published a statement from its Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS),confirming the discovery of “22 genetically engineered (GE) wheat plants growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington State.”

Japan: Road To Hyperinflation Or Cure For Debt Deflation?

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By Ellen Brown for Web of Debt – When then-Fed Governor Ben Bernanke gave his famous helicopter money speech to the Japanese in 2002, he was talking about something quite different from the quantitative easing they actually got and other central banks later mimicked. Quoting Milton Friedman, he said the government could reverse a deflation simply by printing money and dropping it from helicopters. A gift of free money with no strings attached, it would find its way into the real economy and trigger the demand needed to power productivity and employment.