Japan has a history of pretending to be a democratic country and has regularly disregarded petitions by its citizens even when numbered by the hundreds of thousands. Tokyo governor Ishihara recently announced that the city would go on burning radioactive waste and line the concentrated radioactive ashes in bags on landfills in Tokyo Bay, ready to be swept away by the next typhoon, and he stated that the more than 250,000 signatures presented to have a referendum to decide together about the future of nuclear power amounted to nothing to him. He calls anti-nuclear activists “monkeys”, is famous for his racial slurs in speeches and is a disgrace to the Akutagawa literary prize that was awarded to him years ago. He actually deemed the latest nominees to be “a parade of rubbish” as reported by Mainichi Daily News and we can at least thank him for resigning from the panel of judges. Ishihara also declared in the press that the earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 20,000 of his compatriots was a form of “divine punishment” : “The identity of the Japanese people is selfishness. The Japanese people must take advantage of this tsunami as means of washing away their selfish greed. I really do think this is divine punishment.” Yet he is very popular and that tells us something about the real, “modern” Japan. Ishihara personnally reminds me of Asahara, the founder of the terrorist Aum cult who had recruited among the Japanese elite – maybe he is a member of the cult which survives under the name Aleph? Tokyo is a large shareholder in TEPCO.
Hopefully, Osaka Mayor Hashimoto, also a populist albeit younger, will show more concern for his people and more cleverness when he will receive petitions today. Japan has slipped behind China and in some respect North Korea as well thanks to elders like Ishihara who make sure that retired bureaucrats end up in indecent overpaid sinecures and that the construction sector blanket Japan in concrete: these elder men are directly responsible for the 200% of GDP national debt which went into absurd concrete projects and of the fall of Japan on all fronts: environmental, economic, social, cultural etc. If the younger generation impersonated by Hashimoto just follows in their corrupted schemes, in spite of populist claims for a change, Japan is finished as a developed country. Osaka is a major shareholder in KEPCO and a bankrupt city.
Mainichi Daily News – Civic group files petition with Osaka city over nuclear power
OSAKA (Kyodo) — A civic group seeking a referendum on whether to keep nuclear power plants said Tuesday it has filed a direct petition with the city of Osaka to hold a plebiscite on the issue in the wake of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The group said it has submitted about 55,000 valid signatures, well over the legally required minimum figure of 42,673, one-fiftieth of the eligible voters in the city, to ask the government to hold a referendum on power plants run by Kansai Electric Power Co.
Hajime Imai, the secretary general of the group, Let’s Decide/Citizen-initiated National Referendum on Nuclear Power, said, “As a citizen of the city of Osaka, which is the largest shareholder in Kansai Electric, we have a responsibility and right to engage in the future of nuclear plants.”
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto will summon the city assembly within 20 days and submit a draft ordinance with feedback on whether to support the proposal.
A majority vote by the assembly is required to hold a referendum but Hashimoto’s regional political party, the Osaka Restoration Association, is taking a cautious stance as the mayor is reluctant to hold one, citing the huge costs involved.
Under the proposed ordinance, all Osaka city residents aged 16 or over, including permanent foreign residents, would be asked to vote on whether to allow the nuclear plants to keep operating.
The ordinance will also oblige the mayor and city assembly to ask the power company and the central government to act in accordance with the result of the referendum.
The group began gathering signatures on Dec. 10 in Tokyo and Osaka. In Tokyo, the group has collected some 250,000 signatures, far more than the legal requirement to call on the Tokyo metropolitan government to hold a referendum, it said.
(Mainichi Japan) February 14, 2012
(2012 February 23 Update) It sent an ugly chill down my spine when I read that Wikipedia article on Ishihara mentions :
According to noted politician Kōichi Hamada, Ishihara gave financial and political support to Aum Shinrikyo, a religious cult that was involved in several murders and assassination attempts during the early 1990s. Immediately after the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, Ishihara dropped out of national politics, suddenly ending a 25-year career in the Diet. In 1999, he ran on an independent platform and was elected governor of Tokyo.
Source: 浜田幸一. 「ハマコーの非常事態宣言」 (1995.7) ISBN 4391117622