Fukushima´s impact

A 9.0 earthquake provoked a 15 meter Tsunami that hit the East coast of Japan and caused the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. There is still a high risk of radiation that keeps away workers from accessing the area to clean it up.

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Fukushima´s nuclear escape into the Pacific Ocean.

The 11th of March of 2011, as a consequence of the Tsunami, the cooling of the reactor and the power supply of the nuclear plant in Fukushima caused the nuclear disaster. During the first 3 days the nuclear cores of 3 of the 6 reactors melted and released radioactive substances. This substances that were released to the enviroment during an alarming period of time will not cause any changes in hereditary diseases and will not affect to the future Cancer rates according to the United Nations Scientific Commettee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. All of this was stated on the publication of the UNSCEAR that was revealed the 2nd of May, although the radiation that the citizens of Fukushima will receive during their lifetime will increase.

The Commette believes as well that there could be a probability that the cases of Thyroid Cancer increase in children as it happened with Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster, thats why they will study the situation. The workers that were exposed were evaluated too and there are no changes expected although the most exposed workers will recieve regular health checks.

The worst situation for that has happened in decades occured when the Tsunami reached the coast, 15 884 people died, 1 600 of them were people in temporary houseliving that didn’t have access to hospitals or healthcare. 300 000 people were evacuated from the Fukushima are including Tokioma town, with 15 800 residents, beacame ghost town leaving 6 000 homes, schools and business empty. At that time the residents in Fukushima just had a few hours to pack their belongings and leave. The emissions of cesium and iodine were released in to the enviroment exposing them to a high danger.

 

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– Cleaning up duty from workers in Fukushima.

Regarding to the ecosystem, the Committee believes that the effects on flora and fauna that have been caused are limited to the shoreline area adjacent to the nuclear plant. Any effect will be transient even though small traces of radioactive water have been recently found in Canada, and in tuna on the shores of the states of Oregon and Washington, thousands of miles away. What has been left around Fukushima’s nuclear plant is what is called “the red zone”. In which only workers well equiped with face masks and protective gear are allowed to get in. They spend most of their time filling up black bags with contaminated soil. The amount of Black bags is so big that what years ago were fields with crops, now are dead fields full of black bags. If not, the workers will be going around with a Geiger counter, to detect radiation or cleaning up the reactors of the plant. A nuclear plant than once had thousands of time more radiation the bomb thrown on Hiroshima.

 

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/final-word-on-the-health-risks-from-fukushima-accident/article6033840.ece

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/fukushima-radioactivity-found-in-oregon-and-washington-state-tuna/26459/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2618828/Fukishima-aftermath-Eerie-drone-footage-reveals-apocalyptic-wasteland-Japans-abandoned-east-coast.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/21/world/asia/japan-fukushima-visit-ripley/

Philippines seek cooperation in South China Sea dispute

On 21st May, the Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the Filipino president Aquino announced their cooperation against “illegal” Chinese activities and sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.

Shortly after, on May 22nd, the Vietnamese minister held a speech at the World Economic Forum in Manila, Philippines, saying that Vietnam is considering joining the Philippines in a lawsuit against China under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The declaration of cooperation from Wednesday was made only two days after Aquino accused China to violate an informal agreement from 2002 between the 10 ASEAN member states and China. Within this informal code of conduct, China and the ASEAN member states declared to refrain from building new structures, such as oil rigs, and occupying uninhibited reefs.

South China Sea: Interactive map (click it)

According to Filipino intelligence, China started to claim territory surrounding the Johnson South Reef, considered to be within the Filipino Exclusive Economic zone (EEZ), already in 2012. Several military surveillance photos were released on May 15th, providing evidence of Chinese construction sites on uninhibited reefs.

The EEZ is regulated by the UNCLOS, which was signed and ratified by China. The UNCLOS defines the EEZ of a state 200 miles from it’s shores.

On May 1st, China deployed an oil rig close to the Vietnamese shore, within an area Vietnam considers to be part of it’s EEZ.

After deploying the oil rig, Vietnamese boats tried to stop the Chinese vessels and by today (May 22nd), fights with ramming and water cannons between coast guards and fishing vessels of both states continue. No hard ammunition was reported to be used thus far, but demonstrations against Chinese sea occupation in Vietnam resulted in several deaths.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the main source of conflict in the South China Sea is about resources. Beside fishery and hydrocarbons, which are in high demand due to the forthcoming industrialization of the coastal areas, the South China Sea is expected to have at least seven billion barrels of oil reserves and 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Furthermore, about 50% of global oil tanker shipments routes through the South China Sea and traffic is significantly higher than in the Suez Canal or Panama Canal.

Since the US is increasing it’s activity in the pacific, China might feel forced to secure this very important trade lane and to get the disputed territory and resources under control before external forces become a thread to the Chinese interest in the South China Sea.

The US announced it’s focus on the transpacific relations in 2010. Right now, the US is negotiating a free trade area, called Transpacific Partnership (TPP), with several states within the pacific ocean.

Besides the TPP, the US also announced on April 28th a military cooperation with the Philippines and will reactivate military bases within the Philippines.

Bibliography:

http://www.cfr.org/china/south-china-sea-tensions/p29790

http://www.fpri.org/articles/2013/09/imperative-american-strategy-southeast-asia

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/05/16/china-building-military-base-in-south-china-sea-on-territory-claimed-by-philippines-manila-says/

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/687720-vietnam-and-philippines-cooperate-to-oppose-china/?photo=2

http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/05/19/philippines-china-idINL3N0O52AK20140519

http://www.voanews.com/content/vietnam-pm-threatens-legal-actions-against-china-over-oil-rig/1919946.html

https://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetailsIII.aspx?&src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XXI~6&chapter=21&Temp=mtdsg3&lang=en

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/11/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-trans-pacific-partnership/

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/28/obama-says-us-philippine-military-pact-will-improve-asia-security/

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/87360/vietnam-mulls-legal-action-other-defense-options-vs-china—premier

Bangladesh mourns deaths of hundreds as building collapses

Written by Emanuele del Tufo, Maria Torres, Heli Haapanen, Dimitar Shadoura and Izabela Łojewska

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Image: AP/ A.M. Ahad

On May 8 over 800 people have been confirmed dead after a factory building collapsed on April 24 in Savar, a district of Dhaka Bangladesh. The  has been reported to be the deadliest disaster in the industrial history of Bangladesh. According to the BBC, the government investigations indicated sub-standard and weak construction materials of the building as the crucial reason of the collapse. The main architect admitted that the building was designed for shops and offices, not factories. The police arrested Mohammed Sohel Rana, owner of the Plaza Rana and Abdur Razzak Khan, the engineer who allowed the addition of three illegal stories to the building. Other Savar officials are also being charged for negligence. What appears to have triggered the collapse was a power cut and startup of generators which led to strong vibrations throughout the factory.

It is well known that many of the big Western companies exploit the population of countries like Bangladesh for cheap labor. After the disaster in the Asian country one of the questions that rises is how these companies should react. Different companies respond to this question in different ways. Some of them admit their relations with the factories in Bangladesh and promised compensation. Others denied their link with the tragedy despite the fact that there is clear evidence of their involvement in the building like their labels found in the debris.  According to Global Post both types of action are Public Relations strategies that aim to protect the companies from the bad reputation of operating in Bangladesh.

It’s no secret that working conditions in south-east Asia if not all over the continent are dreadful, but somebody has to take the blame for such a large-scale catastrophe. It wouldn’t take much to at least make an attempt to avoid these situations, foreign corporations should have invested in the maintenance of the infrastructure to ensure the safety of the workers and avoid risking their lives. However, it is not only the corporations’ fault, but also the Bangladeshi government for completely neglecting their national safety requirements. Also, it now appears logical that a building in such precarious conditions cannot hold super-heavy machinery, which has been reported by the CNN to be one of the reasons for the collapse, but if this would have been thought earlier, the collapse would not have happened.

Thanks to the information supported by Democracy Now!, a daily independent news source, we know more about this tragic event that happened in Bangladesh

During the famous May Day, also known as the International Workers Day, several protests took place in Bangladesh due to the collapse of the factory, taking the lives of over 800. The protesters demanded safety regulations in workplaces and also the promotion of women workers. In addition to this, the protesters requested the big companies present in the factory to increase their wages. Most workers earn approximately 38 dollars a month, roughly 21 cents per hour. The miserable working conditions in the region highlight the situation in the region.

German clothing company KiK said it was “surprised, shocked and appalled” to learn that its T-shirts and tops were found in the rubble. The company said it stopped doing business with the Rana Plaza factories in 2008. They promised to carry out an investigation.

The Key Man in the Pacific

Dr Brendan John Nelson (born 19 August 1958) is a former Australian politician and former federal Opposition leader. He served as a member of the Australian House of Representatives from the 1996 federal election until 19 October 2009 as the Liberal member for Bradfield, a northern Sydney seat. A doctor by profession, he came to public prominence as the Federal President of the Australian Medical Association (1993–95), and served as a Minister in the third and fourth terms of the Howard Government, serving as Minister for Education, Science and Training (2001–06) and Minister for Defense (2006–2007). Following the 2007 federal election, at which the Howard Government was defeated, Nelson was elected leader of the federal Liberal parliamentary group in a contest against former Minister for Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull, and became the Leader of the Opposition on 3 December 2007. On 16 September 2008, in a second contest following a spill motion, Nelson lost the leadership of the Opposition and the Liberal Party to Turnbull. On 25 August 2009 he announced his forthcoming retirement from politics. In September 2009, the Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced Nelson as the next Ambassador to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg as well as Australia’s Special Representative at the World Health Organization and NATO. He remained Member for Bradfield until officially resigning on 19 October 2009, sparking the 2009 Bradfield by-election.

Brendan Nelson is currently a key character in the pacific zone. He represents until now, the Australian foreing policy. And as we know, Australia is the larger economy in the pacific having a place in the permanent security council in the UN. Brendan Nelson is the one, who the countries have to negociate with. For example in July in 2007 Nelson had to travel to Beijing to explain to the chinese that the Defence Update, as well as growing trilateral ties between  Australia, Japan and USA, didn’t mean that Australia in any way supports a policy of containment of China. Australia and Japan signed a Joint Declaration on security Cooperation in March 2007, signed by Brendan Nelson for example.

In January 1994, Nelson joined the Tasmanian branch of the Liberal Party of Australia. On 30 January 1995, he announced his nomination for the preselection contest for Bradfield, a safe Liberal seat in which Pymble was located and held since 1974 by shadow minister David Connolly. He was supported in his bid by former AMA president Dr Bruce Shepherd, who served as his campaign treasurer. On 1 March 1995 at a Liberal gathering, he renounced his view that Labor governments had been better for Australia, and stated that he believed Medicare was unsustainable and that voluntary work programs for the unemployed would build self-esteem, and advocated a consumption tax. On 13 May 1995 he gained the party’s endorsement on a 96-to-93 vote against incumbent MP and shadow minister David Connolly, despite the latter having the support of Liberal leader John Howard and deputy leader Peter Costello. Nelson claimed his win was “a victory for liberalism”. After the preselection, Nelson worked on an Aboriginal health program for the Cape York Peninsula, and in June, following his retirement as president of the AMA, went to the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, on behalf of World Vision to hear about that country’s struggles with AIDS—only three months after losing his younger brother to the disease.

After being elected as the member for Bradfield in the federal election on 2 March 1996, at which the Keating government was defeated and John Howard became Prime Minister, Nelson worked as a government backbencher. Nelson was a vocal opponent of the views of Independent MP Pauline Hanson. On 6 October, he proposed a bipartisan condemnation of her statements along lines already suggested by Labor Opposition leader Kim Beazley. Finally, Nelson was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defense in 2001.

After the 2001 federal election he was promoted directly to Cabinet with the senior portfolio of Minister for Education, Science and Training. He introduced a series of radical changes to Australia’s higher education system that simultaneously imposed more direct government control over the management of universities while also allowing them to earn more revenue by charging higher fees to students. He extended the government’s policy of directing more federal funding to non-government schools, as well as becoming more involved in reviewing the state education systems. In 2005 he introduced Voluntary Student Unionism. He was a popular target for student activism because of these changes.

In 2005 Nelson expressed support for giving parents the option of having students exposed to the controversial subject of intelligent design. However he emphasized that evolution should always hold first place. He later said that intelligent design should only be taught in religion or philosophy classes.

After his rapid promotion to Cabinet, Nelson was spoken of as a possible future Liberal leader. On 24 January 2006, then Prime Minister John Howard announced Nelson’s promotion from the Education, Science and Training portfolio to the high profile Defense portfolio.

On 16 September 2009, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd appointed Nelson as the Ambassador to the European Union and NATO along with former Federal Labor Leader, Kim Beazley as the Australian Ambassador to the United States of America. Nelson accepted the appointment from his former rival and commended Rudd’s decision on appointing Beazley as Ambassador to the USA. Nelson officially resigned from Federal Parliament the same day, ending 13 years as the member for Bradfield.

Nuevas medidas en Japón

El primer ministro japonés, Naoto Kan, anunció el pasado 10 de mayo, que su Gobierno revisará la política energética del país, que hace un uso escaso de las renovables y depende mucho de la nuclear. Kan señaló que la energía nuclear y la procedente de combustibles fósiles han sido claves en el desarrollo y economía de Japón, pero ha añadido que, a partir de ahora, debe poner mas empeño en energías como la solar y otras renovables.

“En cuanto a la energía eólica y solar, nuestro país está retrasado, así que vamos a abrir el camino en este sentido, como están haciendo otros países occidentales”, ha destacado el primer ministro.

Dejando a un lado el nuevo plan de energías renovables, el primer ministro japonés anunció esa misma semana, que renunciaba a su sueldo de mandatario, aunque conservará el que le corresponde por ser diputado, mientras dure la crisis nuclear que vive Fukushima desde el pasado 11 de marzo, según fuentes nacionales.

“Voy a continuar cobrando mi retribución como miembro del Parlamento, pero no la relativa al cargo de primer ministro ni sus primas correspondientes”, ha explicado Kan en una rueda de prensa.

Por otro lado, Kan ha explicado que de momento no hay fecha para la aprobación de la segunda parte del presupuesto extraordinario con el que el Gobierno tiene que hacer frente a los gastos para la reconstrucción de las zonas devastadas por el terremoto y tsunami del pasado 11 de marzo. Esta segunda partida presupuestaría es necesaria para complementar la primera, de 32.700 millones de euros (48.500 millones de dólares) y aprobada el pasado 30 de abril, destinada a la fabricación de viviendas temporales para las personas que se quedaron sin hogar y para la retirada de escombros.

Asimismo,en los últimos días,la compañía Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), operadora de la central atómica, reportó pérdidas económicas por más de 15 mil millones de dólares, las más graves de su historia, a la vez que anunció la dimisión de su presidente, Masataka Shimzu, quien asumió la responsabilidad por el desastre nuclear, reportó la agencia de noticias Kyodo.

Se trata de la mayor pérdida neta registrada en la historia por una compañía nipona no financiera, empujada por los números rojos extraordinarios de 12 mil 631 millones de dólares a causa de la crisis nuclear en Fukushima.

The impact of Bin Laden’s death in the pacific zone.

The recent event of the Osama Bin Laden’s death, who represented the highest authority and the head of world-renowned Al-Qaeda group, has meant great questions and movements worldwide, including in the Pacific’s area that althought they just have a small influence of Muslim in their region, the conflict of terrorism may also be affect them.

Following the death of Bin Laden, the terrorist group began to reorganize and just two weeks after it had declared a new interim chief Egyptian Saif al-Adel, who joined the Al Qaeda a few years ago. The fear of terrorist attacks becomes larger to learn that He has a stranglehold on the military camp and has experience as a strategist, althought he doesn’t possess the charisma and popularity of Bin Laden. Adel seems to take seriously their role in the recent attacks in Pakistan, due to the death of former leader.

Australia has even more worries because the stepmother of the interim chief is Australian. Rabiah Hutchinson married Mustafa Hamid stepfather of the new head, in the last decade when they met in Afghanistan. Security agency of Australia had been chasing Mrs. Hutchinson before she fled to Afghanistan because the links with the terrorist group.

Australia isn’t the only country with fears, in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines continue to appear even hundreds of radicals. One of the most threatening radical base is in Indonesia. It is suspected that they have been financed by Al Qaeda for the attacks in Bali nightclub killing over 200 people in 2002 and two suicide bombs in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta in 2009.

The last summit of the G-20 was in Korea. The meet was on last May 19th with countries such as China, Japan, Indonesia and Australia who are in the Pacific zone, along with other large economies like the U.S., canada, france, Spain, Germany, etc. One of the topics in the summit was the issue of terrorism and the situation of the Osama’s death. The meeting lasted two days, but they still are unresolved what actions thay have to take in front to this intangible threat.

Politics in the Pacific

The politic in the Pacific area is quiet for now. Korea is the next who will have presidential elections shortly. For this, it was held on April 27 partial elections, in which the Democratic Party (DP), led by Sohn Hak defeated strongly his opponent Kang Jae, leader of Grand National Party (GNP). The change is now favoring the left side being the socialist party, the people doesn’t longer want more right-wing party.

Not only were national elections this time. Last Wednesday there was also province-level elections in which three of the four provinces was victorious DP. In every victory meant more than 35% of the vote, and the highest percentage was the national with 51%. Even with a number of studies, the result was completely contrary to the predictions, because the current government is the GNP.

The speculation was increases and political view was affected too. Is obvious that the people want change and the current government will face a renewal process, since it’s likely that with the power that seems to have the DP, it could be now more aggressive.
That is why Prime Minister Kim Hwang took the loss and tries to repair the unhappiness of citizen, calling representatives and government agencies to give solution to the citizen problems’s.

As for the international aspect, other Pacific countries are aware of whether the change occurs. This would represent a change in Korean foreign policy, because the DP manages a policy very different from the present in Korea. Even the president with these events, has had to send uncorrected the free trade agreement signed with the United States. And if this change has to happen we just hope the best for all and for the Koreans.