ASIJ Essay Contest - Kari Wadden "The Lost Children of Japan: Restoring the Rights of Institutionalized 'Orphans'"2014/05/01 12:38

The Lost Children of Japan: Restoring the Rights of Institutionalized “Orphans”
By Kari Wadden

Only 309 children were adopted in 2010. - The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare

I remember watching Saki pick up the baby—not much smaller than her and propped up on a towel. She warmed new milk and held the infant in her arms just as a mother would, rocking and cooing barefoot on the floor of the communal kitchenette; her head barely reaching the countertop. Saki was six years old. Back then, I was a foreigner entering our neighborhood school and I was instantly drawn to her, sensing that she might be a potential outcast like me, with her husky voice, bowl-cut hair, and big pink glasses. That day she brought me to the large red orphanage across from the gates of school, I saw where she, the baby, and scores of other children lived.* It was a crowded and understaffed orphanage. It was what they called home. Later on I remember asking the always talkative and ebullient Saki, with my naively rude six-year-old curiosity, who made her obento lunches since she didn’t have a Mom and Dad. “The obasan,” she said, falling silent for a long moment, “but I hope someday it will be my new mom.”

*This scene is still vivid in my memory, but in most cases infants, babies, and toddlers are kept in separate facilities until they are three years old.

When I think back to that time and our memories together, I vividly remember the children there. I had always wondered, though, how did they end up in the orphanage? Why were there so many orphans in that house across from our school? What was life for them really like? What did their future hold? And the big question, Did they ever get adopted? And if not, why?

Saki’s likely permanent status as an orphan was the result of being inescapably stuck at the unfavorable end of the cumbersome process of adoption in Japan, a process that was, and is still now, riddled with skewed laws and powerful enduring cultural stigmas that would label her very birth, childhood, and possible adoption as a black mark in society. It is this potent combination of cultural and legal issues that keeps tens of thousands of children like her from being placed with loving families, undermining their human rights as guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution.

Saki and the other children at the facility were among the staggering number of Japanese so-called orphans living in one of the the nation’s 539 institutional children’s homes who most likely will never be adopted (Lee). In fact, ten years after our playing in the schoolyard together, Saki is almost certainly one of those 29,399 children (as of 2012) still in an orphanage (Lewis). She would now be seventeen and have just one year left before she is released at age eighteen. She and the baby she tried to mother that day are probably among the 83 percent of “orphans” (koji), who are not technically orphans in the English sense (the Japanese term is difficult to translate), but who were taken away from an abusive or neglectful parent (Lee). A majority of these children actually have guardians. A small number get a visit from a parent or a guardian every weekend; some have erratic and unpredictable visits from time to time, while others never receive a visit. And there are those who simply have no parents to visit at all.

A volunteer at a Japanese orphanage, Sophia Lee, tells a story that illustrates this predicament: At the orphanage a young boy or girl dressed in his or her best clothes waits by the door for Mom, but she never comes. Apparently this scene is common during New Year’s and other holidays. Lee, who has written extensively and knowledgeably about Japan’s national adoption policies, observes that the current system holds out the promise of children being reunited with parents and family members, but it seldom happens. Even in cases such as when a baby is left in a train station locker and the parents never found, courts may still rule the baby is unavailable for adoption because the mother or father “might be looking for it.” Legally, the baby, whose parents have plainly abandoned the little boy or girl, cannot be adopted because parental consent is compulsory (Goodman). But if the parents have disappeared, how can they consent to an adoption?  Tom and Kanoko Frederic, a couple living in Kanto who wished to adopt a young child, reflect on their unsuccessful attempts by remarking, “The problem was there were not enough children because a child’s guardian — usually the mother — has to agree to the adoption” (Lewis).

The reluctance to consent to adoption in particular, and ultimately the plight of Japan’s orphans in general, though multifarious in its origins, can be traced to the significance of bloodlines and family ties in Japan. The legal concept of family is embodied in what is called the Koseki or Family Register, a government document that records each family member’s birth, marriage, and death under that family’s surname. Many of the reasons why adoption is undesirable and daunting stem from this record. When any child is born, he or she will be newly recorded in the family register. If for any reason the biological family is unable to care for the baby, he or she is put into an orphanage—such as the large red building that Saki and the baby lived in. As the child is raised in this institutional foster-care system (they are seldom placed in foster families), the biological family’s register will list his or her birth and status normally, not citing the status of living in a care facility. From glancing at the register, it would be impossible for anyone to discern whether the child was living at home or in an orphanage. However, as soon as the child is legally given up for adoption—moved out of the facility to permanently live as a member of a different family—the register will change the child’s status to that of legally adopted (“Adoption”). This can be pinpointed as the stage when the biological parents’ willingness to release their child for adoption completely halts. Single mothers, often already regarded by conservatives as ignominious blemishes on society, are explicitly identified and degraded by the change of register. The family register often has powerful consequences when the record of an adoption is discovered, such as if an employer requests it from a job applicant. Social stigmatization from potential spouses and their families who will settle for nothing less than a scandal-free koseki can turn biological parents into social pariahs, though the parents were only trying to do the right thing for a child they couldn't raise. For traditionally minded Japanese, a genealogy laid down in a koseki—both their own and the people around them—is clearly of great significance, and to show that an adoption took place is an indication to some that they were unfit to be married, to have a baby, or to raise children. Shaming from this public register can have damaging repercussions throughout an entire extended family (Lee; Lewis). But this pales in comparison to the koseki’s potential effect on a child who is consigned permanently to institutional care.

Why this crippling emphasis on family image? In Japan, there is a pervasive belief that personal character is deeply tied to blood and even biologically pre-determined. One historical belief was that if one’s parents were farmers from the countryside (inaka), one was also born to be a farmer. For nearly 1,000 years Japan maintained such a caste system. Similarly, and more recently, the assumptions underlying “purity of blood” were so strong that laws for mandatory eugenic sterilization of women with disabilities were on the books until as late as 1996 (Tsuchiya). At present, these beliefs reinforce the idea that “bad blood” exists in orphanages. Concerns range from whether the child’s biological parents have a criminal record, mental illness, or genes from an undesirable race. A child born of rape is considered an especially “un-ideal orphan” to prospective parents (Hayes & Habu). In adoption, this enduring fixation  on “pure” and “ impure” blood has led adoption agencies to take the draconian measure of preventing applicants from turning down or “rejecting” an available child. One study by Peter Hayes and Toshie Habu, who authored the book Adoption in Japan, found that more than half of the prospective parents decide to opt out of adoption after discovering that they would not know their child’s familial history; they were especially fearful of receiving a defective child. Even the current Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and his wife, who were unable to have children, decided against adoption because Abe’s wife believed she could not raise a biologically un-related child (“Japan PM's wife in rare interview”).

In addition to cultural and legal barriers to adoption, a lack of government interest in helping adoptive parents before and after the process of adoption erects further hurdles to adoption. The Child Welfare Office, which regulates the adoption of children who are wards of the state, provides little help to private orphanages that have the same objective it allegedly does of uniting a child in need with new loving parents. In rare cases in which adoption occurs, private agencies have paltry training to solve or even monitor problems faced by adoptive parents. Families rarely have a support system of other adoptive families; in reality, they typically move away to conceal and keep secret the adoption and avoid the problems caused by the family register (Sudia). Although the purpose of the Child Welfare Office is to oversee the well-being of the country’s most vulnerable citizens, it fails to safeguard some of their most basic rights.

The Japanese Constitution guarantees equal rights and freedom from discrimination for all Japanese. Article 14, in particular, appears to protect the rights of the approximately 30,000 children like Saki when it states that there shall be “no discrimination in political, economic, or social relations because of… family origin.” Furthermore, Japan has ratified the UN Treaty on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The widespread use of institutional care for children and the brutally difficult process of adoption clearly contradicts important clauses of this international agreement which Japan has pledged to uphold, which specifically includes “[to] recognize[e] that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.”

The Convention on the Rights of the Child concedes that it is sometimes necessary to remove children from their parents to protect them from “abuse or neglect of the child” and to place them, “if necessary” in “suitable institution.” But here, the guiding principle, as Article 3 states, is that “the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” Clearly, it is not in the best interest of foster children and actual orphans in Japan to live their entire childhood in institutions, and to be denied the possibility of growing up "in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.”

To better protect the rights of children, to better provide for their welfare, and to fulfill its obligations to its Constitution and the international treaties it has signed, Japan should take the following steps.

    • Change the national policy of the Child Welfare Office so that its emphasis and its goal is to place children in foster homes and with adoptive parents rather than in institutional orphanages
    • Change the legal standing of the family register to protect the privacy of children and their parents by preventing public disclosure of their koseki so that children who have been neglected, abused, abandoned, or orphaned can be adopted or placed in loving foster families
    • Change the cultural attitudes towards circumstances of birth, blood, and background

Altering the policy the Child Welfare Office is simply a matter of will. Revising the legal standing of the family registry is a matter of law. Reshaping cultural attitudes will require the most effort and many people might be skeptical that it is even possible. To those who are doubtful about the ability of the Japanese nation and people to change their cultural attitudes, I would like to offer this story.

During the year that Saki and I played together in the schoolyard, there were several abductions of young Japanese school children. Parents and schools across the country were alarmed. In our classes we were instructed to walk home in groups, and shrill portable alarms were distributed to us so that we could set off these bohan buzzers if we felt threatened. Homes, restaurants, and stores across the country began to display yellow plastic posters that signified safe havens for children. Although Japanese society can be criticized for a value system that sometimes seems to be carved in stone, there is also a personal desire to do the right thing that is at the core of Japanese identity. When I was a first-grader, the individuals who created countless safe havens across the country collaborated and showed a concern for children who were not their own.

If the plight of Japanese orphans was better known, their rights under the Constitution upheld, and the Convention of the Rights of the Child honored, Japan could and would change its attitude towards young children who suffer deprivation through no fault of their own and who should be able to “grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.”

Ten years ago my friend Saki took it upon herself as a six year old to care for a baby who also had no mother. Surely the legal issues and cultural attitudes in Japan can change to allow open-hearted families to care for a lonely child hoping for a home.

Work Cited
“Adoption.” Japan’s Children’s Rights Network.

Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Goodman, Roger. Children of the Japanese State. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Hayes, Peter and Habu, Toshie. Adoption in Japan: Comparing Policies for Children in Need. London: Routledge, 2006.

Japanese Constitution.

“Japan PM's wife in rare interview” The BBC. October 12, 2006.   

Sudia, Cecelia. “Child Welfare Services in Japan: An Overview.” Children Today. March 1988. 26-28.

Lee, Sophelia. “Sophelia’s Adventures in Japan.”

Lewis, Charles. “Cultural and legal hurdles block path to child adoptions in Japan.” The Japan Times. September 30, 2013.

Tsuchiya, Takashi. “Eugenic Sterilizations in Japan and Recent Demands for Apology: A Report.” Newsletter of the Network on Ethics and Intellectual Disability, Vol.3, No.1 [Fall 1997], pp.1-4.

調査報告書の発表2014/05/01 13:02




【メディア掲載】 『第三文明』6月号「人権と私」2014/05/01 14:06

ASIJ Essay Contest- Billy Fujii "The Japanese State Secrets Law"2014/05/01 16:59

The Japanese State Secrets Law
by Billy Fujii

Tanabe Akihiro, a carpenter, moves away from the Fukushima area settling in the fifty-kilometer radius of the nuclear power plant with his family of four. Ten years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, due to the exposure of radiation, his eldest son of two is showing a conspicuous development of thyroid cancer as well as his wife's burgeoning breast cancer. One summer night at a bar, he begins to talk to a stranger who turns out to be a doctor helping out the Fukushima children. Doctor Yoshi, slightly drunk, informs Akihiro about the confidential government data which displays the certain regions where cancer is prevalent. Hearing this, Akihiro disseminates this 'state secret' as a documentary to the New York Times; however, he and the doctor are immediately arrested, while Tanabe's family undergoes an investigation all warranted by Japan's state secrets law.

Do you think this story was just made-up? Believe it or not, it is starting to become a harsh reality in the near future of Japan.

Japan, known as the heaven for spies, recently established the State Secrets Law under the pressure from "Washington to protect state secrets - including intelligence shared by the US", especially at a time of regional tensions between China and Korea. Likewise, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated, "The bill was necessary for Japan to cooperate more closely on security with allies such as the United States by preventing leaks of sensitive information." The law was erected with the intent to strengthen the punishment for individuals who disclose information that threatens national security. This law enables the government to indefinitely keep sensitive data away from the public and classify any information as a state secret that relates to the following: defense, diplomacy, counter-terrorism, and counter-espionage. With Wikileaks along with Edward Snowden, Japan seeks to obstruct those who leak the country's confidential information to the public. Edward Snowden played a significant role in leaking NSA's classified information to the public, becoming a major political traitor to the United States. His motivation arose from seeing that the NSA violated many of the human rights that were supposed to be protected according to the Constitution. His main objective was to question the appropriateness of the government concealing data from the public. Without further discussion, Japan aspires to make certain that there is no leakage of the state secrets. The critics of this new law are mainly concerned with its ambiguity, its violation of basic human rights, and its threat to democracy.

Critics of the new legislation pointed out the equivocal terms used in the law such as "reference to 'other types of information' that will be classified as protected, and making it illegal for journalists to use 'inappropriate methods' would give the government wide-ranging power in controlling the media." What constitutes a state secret? What are the other types of information? What are the inappropriate methods? The Japan Times commented that there was an apparent ambiguity in many articles in the bill. The Japanese lawyer association, Nichiberen, also conveyed that the range of what constitutes a state secret is too wide and perplexing. How would a citizen or a journalist know what subjects are considered state secrets? How would a citizen or a journalist know what they are allowed to ask or say? Mizuho Fukushima, an opposition Member of Parliament said, "There are few specifics in the law, which means it can be used to hide whatever the government wishes to keep away from public scrutiny." The lack of detail creates an irresolute ambience and a feeling of uncertainty among the citizens. Like Bloomberg says, "Ambiguity reigns."

The state secrets law infringes upon the right to information. Some critics perceived the law as a marking of return to the days of prewar and wartime Japanese militarism, when the government enacted the Peace Preservation Act allowing political opponents to be arrested and imprisoned. Japan's state secrets law is similar to the prewar military secrets-protection law that allowed Japan to "vaguely categorize secrets and ban access to military-related areas, and punish the formation of "spy groups" (political enemies).

Suppose the Japanese intelligence field discovers through certain sources that a terrorist is devising a plan to have a bomb attack in Tokyo in the next few days, and then the Japanese government classifies this information as a 'state secret.' The governing Liberal Democratic Party conceals this information from the public and decides that only the eminent political figures along with a few others should evacuate out of Tokyo to ensure that there would be no chaos and trepidation among the citizens.

Should the public be notified about this information? Is it not the citizens' right to this information? The government should apprise the citizens of this information, especially when it may have a significant threat or impact on the citizens' lives. "The government has a history of covering up vital information and postponing crucial decisions," said an Asahi Shimbun op-ed. The people indubitably have the right to information: the Japanese history of World War ll should not repeat itself.

The state secrets law also endangers the freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Along with numerous media corporations, The Mainichi Shinbun expressed its censure: the bill proposes that administrative organs be given unlimited authority at their own discretion to designate as special secrets information identified as relating to foreign diplomacy, espionage and terrorism. Penalties extend not only to those who leak confidential government information, but also to those who acquire it. Journalism, particularly investigative journalism is at risk. Similarly, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan displayed their concerns: "In particular, we are alarmed by the text of the bill, as well as associated statements made by some ruling party lawmakers relating to the potential targeting of journalists for prosecution and imprisonment. It is at the very heart of investigative journalism in open societies to uncover secrets and to inform the people about the activities of government. Such journalism is not a crime, but rather a crucial part of the checks-and-balances that go hand-in-hand with democracy." Since the media is limited in what it is allowed to ask or say, the Japanese government is beginning to manipulate the media.

The media's duty is to distribute unknown or vital information to the public, but now with this new state secrets law, the media cannot inform the citizens. If the law says that the government can also arrest people who acquire the secret information, how will journalists know what they are allowed to ask or say? How will the journalist know if the topic that he or she is researching is considered a state secret? No matter how much the government limits the information, it has no right to limit the media. Lawrence Repeta, a law professor at Meiji University, issued a statement: there is a demand by the established political forces for greater control over the people. This fits with the notion that the state should have broad authority to act in secret. It seems very clear that the law would have a chilling effect on journalism in Japan. "The activities of the media could be restricted under the newly enacted state secrecy law," said Shigeru Ishiba, an executive of the governing Liberal Democratic Party. The government is exploiting the media, taking the law to its own advantage.

The new secrecy law is detrimental to the human right of freedom of speech. "Citizens protesting against the state secrets bill are committing an act of terrorism," wrote Shigeru Ishiba on his blog. Does the term "counter-terrorism" apply to the people demonstrating against the government? Are the citizens not allowed to make their voices heard? It is the citizen's human right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression. I regret to say that the government of Japan is taking a step too far.

China is renowned for concealing sensitive information from the public, particularly that which is inauspicious towards the government. A major issue still unremitting today is China's censorship of the Internet and other types of media. For example, in 2009, China blocked YouTube, a video -sharing site, "condemning a video released by the Tibetan government-in-exile" displaying footage of "the brutal beating of Tibetan protestors and the wounds of a young man called Tendar." The censorship in the People's Republic of China allows the government to censor events including the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989, police brutality, religion, anti-government movements, and a wide range of the other subjects that may cause problems for the government. The censorship in China violates many of the basic human rights similar to that of Japan's state secrets law such as right to information, freedom of expression, and freedom of speech. Japan is moving away from being a democratic society, becoming more of a totalitarian society.

What are human rights and where did they begin? Human rights are the rights that every human (child, woman, man) is entitled to. Through diffusion, the idea of human rights spread quickly throughout Europe becoming more elaborate. In fact, the initial human rights law began in Britain, which were called the British Petition of Rights and the British Bill of Rights. The concept of human rights became more stable after the American Revolution, when the U.S. Constitution was written. In the annals of human history, through the abuses of Napoleon, Hitler, and others, the full concrete development of human rights was finally established. 

We must not forget that for over a period of more than a thousand years, human rights have been fought for in many wars and protests. Human rights took such a long time to eventually attain. I am afraid that with the new state secrets law established, the Japanese government may be heading back towards the days of prewar, when the people hardly had any human rights. The Japanese government should be more wary about its decisions, so that its actions will lead to a better future.

In the end, the people have an obligation related to every human right. Just because we have the right to the freedom of speech, that doesn't mean anyone should be allowed to say whatever he or she wants. As the people who receive the benefits from the freedom of speech and freedom of expression, we shouldn't be allowed to cyber bully or say anything offensive. In just a few generations, technology such as the Internet and the mass media has been advancing at an unimaginable speed. With just one individual, comments or opinions can propagate throughout all regions in the world. Considering this, as the beneficiaries of the human rights, we should not only think about our own human rights, but also be cautious of violating the rights of others.


Blair, Gavin J. "Japan State Secrets Bill Raises Press Freedom Concerns." The Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 17 Jan. 2014.

Branigan, Tania. "China Blocks YouTube." Guardian News and Media, 25 Mar. 2009. Web. 17 Jan. 2014.

"Censorship in China." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. <>.

"Edward Snowden Biography." A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.

History of Human Rights. N.p.: Venus Project, Zeitgeist Movement, 06 Dec. 2009. Video.

Hong, Cai. "Japan's New State Secrets Law Called Threat to Freedoms." China Daily USA. China Daily USA, 09 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. 

McCurry, Justin. "Japan Whistleblowers Face Crackdown under Proposed State Secrets Law." Guardian News and Media, 06 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. 

McDonnell, Justin. "Japan's State Secrets Bill Polarizes Society." The Diplomat. The Diplomat, 28 Nov. 2013. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. 

Pesek, William. "Japan's Secrets Bill Turns Journalists Into Terrorists." Bloomberg, 03 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. 

Tainaka, Masato. "Foreign Journalists in Japan Raise Concerns over State Secrets Protection Bill." AJW by The Asahi Shimbun. The Asahi Shimbun, 04 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. 

ASIJ Essay Contest- Faysal Demir "The Muted Outrage: Persecution of Rohingyas in Burma"2014/05/01 17:09

The Muted Outrage: Persecution of Rohingyas in Burma
By Faysal Demir

All humans are born under the protection of a set of natural rights that guarantee them freedom and dignity, and to which they are entitled simply through the merit of being human. The first and foremost amongst these rights, the one which gives essence to all others and which provides the basis for all peaceable interaction, is the right to life. We cannot speak of having achieved a global standard of human welfare or of having realized the ideals envisioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights so long as there are places in the world where this most fundamental principle is disregarded and violated. Despite commendable efforts by some humanitarians, there are still countless instances of violence and bloodshed menacing mankind in every corner of the globe while the greater part of the so-called civilized world looks on with indifference. The survivors of these conflicts are left to the mercy of the vanquishers who strip them of all sovereignty over their own persons and treat them without the least shred of respect and dignity due fellow human beings. Such atrocities rarely come into the attention of the rest of humanity until oppression and bondage have long become established as the status quo. 

There is a danger history will repeat itself once more, as the plight of another people is ignored and pleas for help fall on deaf ears. The Rohingya of Burma, a Muslim minority concentrated mainly in the westernmost state of Arakan, have been maltreated and disregarded in their own country for more than half a century (Timeline). They are amongst the world's most unwanted, most persecuted and most harassed ethnic groups, they have no legal standing as citizens, no freedom to marry or have children without government approval, and no place to go to once they are arbitrarily deposed from their homes, as has happened a multitude of times. The latest phase in their calamitous history began when, in the June of 2012, a group of Rohingya was accused of raping a Buddhist woman, triggering a series of retaliations that soon turned into a full-scale campaign to wipe them out and expel them from the country. In the two years that have passed since then, with the world quietly watching, hundreds have been slaughtered, more than 140,000 displaced and subjected to unspeakable abuses by traffickers who take advantage of their desperation to flee to neighboring countries (Grant), and those who remain live in terror, dreading what might be done to them and their families. If intervention does not follow immediately, these people will be abandoned to their own cruel fate, which promises to hold nothing but sorrow and suffering.

The 2012 Rakhine State Riots and the ensuing forced dislocation and human rights abuses are the latest link in a chain of ethno-religious struggle between the two main populations of Arakan, officially named Rakhine State. The roots of the current conflict can be traced back to the Second World War, when the Buddhist Arakanese sided with Japanese forces against the British colonizers, to whom the Rohingya remained loyal. Widespread and mostly government-backed persecution of the Muslim minority has continued ever since. Under the military dictatorship of General Ne Win, who came to power through a coup d'état in 1962, the Rohingya were targeted as part of an operation to root out Muhajid rebels in Arakan. Mass arrests, torture, rape and murder of alleged Muhajideen and sympathizers were followed by the expulsion of over 200,000 Rohingya civilians out of the country (HRW). When the Burmese Citizenship Law was passed in 1982, the Rohingya were excluded from the list of 135 national ethnic groups, effectively being denied citizenship. To this day, the government refuses to recognize them as Burmese, claiming them to be Bengali immigrants, despite the fact that most were born in the country. Nine years after the law was enacted, in 1991, another operation targeting the Muslims of Rakhine State forced 250,000 people to flee into neighboring Bangladesh (HRW 2). They were eventually brought back and forced to resettle in designated communities in Northern Arakan in an effort to concentrate and isolate them from the Buddhist majority. The policy failed, if it ever had such an aim, to impede ethnic strife, as numerous instances of Arakanese attacks on the Rohingya, most notably in 2001 in Sittwe, have taken place since that time (HRW 2). That the events follow a reoccurring pattern of government aided or condoned violence followed by mass-scale forced relocation points to the necessity of taking preventative action, as well as the failure (or rather, unwillingness) of the powers that be to do so. 

The most recent wave of aggression initiated by the June 2012 riots came during a period of intense social and political change in Burma. After nearly five decades under two oppressive military juntas, the country has been sending strong signals of initiating a democratic progress and establishing connections with Western nations and potential trade partners. The first multi-party general election in 50 years was held in November 2010 (although it received mixed responses and allegations of fraud), followed almost immediately by the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the reform movements of 1988 and a global symbol of peaceful democratic struggle, from house arrest. Hundreds more prisoners of conscience were granted amnesty, a national human rights commission set up and new labor laws instituted, press censorship made more lenient (IRIN). In the meanwhile, Burmese politicians have been lobbying to lift the sanctions imposed on the country by the US and EU (TIME) that have been in place since 1990s (Telegraph). Without much cynicism, many of the aforementioned acts of goodwill can be interpreted as serving a twofold purpose. The political transformation Burma is undergoing walks hand in hand with its economic aspirations, and to achieve one it must demonstrate its commitment to the other.   

As so often happens, the sociopolitical transition is accompanied by changes in how the people perceive themselves and their country. The sudden emergence of Burma onto the global scene after decades of obscurity and civil uncertainty has instilled patriotic pride in the hearts of many citizens. As a result, a new nationalist ideology is developing among the Burmese, standing upon three pillars that signify the country's new character (Huffington Post). The first pillar is an almost cult-like reverence for the warrior kings Anawratha, Bayinnaung and Alaungpaya (Linter), during whose reigns (separated by several centuries) Burma came to dominate much of Southeast Asia. Shedding the dead skin of their recent history, the Burmese have turned to the distant past in order to seek powerful figures with whom they feel proud to identify; the warrior kings are symbols from the days of a great and well-respected Burma, and stand as testimony to the people's inherent potential to once again achieve such greatness. The second pillar is the military, the Tatmadaw, which has gone, at least in popular perception, from being the tool of oppression to a source of national self-esteem. As its renovation and modernization has coincided with the general change of course in Burmese politics, many associate a powerful armed force with the ascending star of Myanmar, and take great pride in the brand new tanks, jet fighters and frigates that the government decided to allocate nearly a quarter of its budget to purchasing (Bloomberg). The policy fits in with the image of the mighty warrior kings so far as the connection between power and martial potency goes, and it's certainly not the first instance of nationalism being underlain with militaristic notions. 

The third and final pillar is Buddhism. There is a growing perception among the majority that being Buddhist is an integral part of being Burmese, that religion is a defining aspect of who you are and where you belong in society. In fact, the most fervent and bigoted nationalist movement in Myanmar, named the 969 so as to represent the virtues of Buddha and his followers (Atlantic), is led by Mandalayan monk-turned-demagogue Bhikkhu Wirathu and is suspected of being behind many of the killings. When questioned about the goal of his campaign, Wirathu replies that it is "all about protecting our race and religion" (Thu).

So where do the minorities, and specifically, the Rohingya, belong in this picture? The answer is that they do not belong at all. When the majority public becomes entrenched in a jingoistic worldview and defines social boundaries based on ethnicity and religion, in a multiconfessional state, there will inevitably be fragmentation and violence, the tradition for which has already been established decades ago by the hands of the very government that is expected to serve as a protective and consolidating entity for its citizens. Now it seems as though that government is changing skin, but its attitude toward those who need its protection the most remains exactly as it was under the brutal junta it is trying to supersede. It still does not consider such people citizens or acknowledge even their most basic rights. The new regime is shaping within the nationalist movement, growing from it, and it is not above the sectarian conflict that is tearing the country apart. This is the greatest danger clouding Burma's future and that of its minorities. It is no mere coincidence that the bloodiest attacks on Muslim towns were conducted by Buddhist monks while the security forces either looked the other way or partook in the massacre of hundreds of unarmed civilians, or that the officials insist on denying the atrocities when as recently as January of 2014 mass killings of more than 40 people are being confirmed by the United Nations (ABC News). It speaks volumes that even Aung San Suu Kyi, the most prominent figure of the resistance against military rule during the 1988 riots, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights activist and in many ways the embodiment of the country's quest for democracy, refuses to acknowledge the countless atrocities, instead using her global renown and iconic status to establish ties between the belligerent Myanmar administration and the Western world (Guardian). It does not occur to reform advocates like her that the Rohingya should benefit from the new rights and liberties being granted the remainder of the population, because even the most liberal revolutionaries submit to the nationalistic notion that equates being Burmese to being Buddhist. Burma may be democratizing and reinventing itself, but so long as the majority of its citizens self-identify within such narrow boundaries, its minorities will be forced live on the fringes of society as pariahs without rights, suffering through the same violation and derision they were made to endure under a regime that their new tormentors are trying to leave in the past. 

Such a radical political transformation as Burma is undergoing right now might in fact be seized upon to uproot the deeply entrenched structure of disregard and ostracization that has inevitably bred mutual contempt on both sides of the quarrel. As things stand, this priceless opportunity is being squandered, which is perhaps the most regrettable aspect of the whole situation. If the country wants to establish itself as a democracy and global power, it must first face the realities that have impeded its development and marred its international standing for the greater part of 20th century. By refusing to take action against the ongoing cataclysm that has already left hundreds of civilians dead and hundreds of thousands without a roof over their heads, Burma will be blackening its name and laying foundations for a future filled with devastation and tumult. In the end, the persecutors of today will find themselves unable to escape shackles of their own dreadful creation.  
"Timeline of Rohingyas in Burma." Exiled to Nowhere. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (Timeline)

Grant, Kevin D. "Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims Wait in Refugee Camps as Buddhist Leaders Dismiss 'Genocide'" The Huffington Post., 24 June 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (Grant)

Journal, Burma. The Government Could Have Stopped This. Rep. Human Rights Watch, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (HRW)

All You Can Do Is Pray. Rep. no. 978-1-62313-0053. Human Rights Watch, 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 11 Jan. 2014. (HRW 2)

"How Real Are Myanmar's Reforms?" IRIN News., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (IRIN)

"Burma Accused of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Rohingya Muslims." Time World., 23 Apr. 2013. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. (TIME)

"Burma Has Far To Go." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.  (Telegraph)

Journal, Burma. "Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims Wait in Refugee Camps as Buddhist Leaders Dismiss 'Genocide'" The Huffington Post., 24 June 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (Huffington Post)

Lintner, Bertil. "Burma's Warrior Kings and the Generation of 8.8.88." Global Asia. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (Linter)

"Myanmar Allocates 1/4 of New Budget to Military." Bloomberg Business Week. Bloomberg, 1 Mar. 2011. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (Bloomberg)

Bookbinder, Alex. "969: The Strange Numerological Basis for Burma's Religious Violence." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 09 Apr. 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (Atlantic)

Thu, Eaint T. "We're Building Fences, Protecting Our Race, Religion." Outlook India. N.p., 22 July 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (Thu)

Press, Robin Mcdowell Associated. "UN: Myanmar Buddhists Killed More Than 40 Muslims." ABC News. ABC News Network, 23 Jan. 2014. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (ABC News)

Stoakes, Emanuel. "Aung San Suu Kyi Is Turning a Blind Eye to Human Rights in the Name of Politics." Guardian News and Media, 26 Nov. 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. (Guardian)

ASIJ Essay Contest- Kara Huang " After the Khmer Rouge: the Continuing Struggle for Justice"2014/05/01 17:20

 After the Khmer Rouge: the Continuing Struggle for Justice
By Kara Huang

      When Joseph Mussomeli was the US ambassador to Cambodia, he would develop a melodramatic tone as he told American visitors: "Be careful because Cambodia is the most dangerous place you will ever visit. You will fall in love with it, and eventually, it will break your heart."

      Growing up and to this day, I have been lucky to be surrounded and influenced by family with Cambodian culture and language. In July of 1979, my dad and his family escaped the Khmer Rouge, a short but horrifying upbringing of Communism in Cambodia, where the leaders took advantage of their guiltless people. My family, both traumatized and strengthened by it, reminds me everyday of the battle that my people unfortunately still face.

      *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         
      Over 3 million people visit the tropical land every year; most of these tourists come for the radiant sunrises at Angkor Wat and timeless tuk-tuk rides in the capital, Phnom Penh. Many travelers, like myself, associate Cambodia with the disastrous and bloody genocide that has continued to deeply affect its people and my own family. When I visited for the first time, I smiled as Cambodians went about their lives in relative peace. I subconsciously ignored the unstableness around me: elders begging for change, endless, unpaved dirt roads, and children's faces that appeared as though they had matured double their age. What I didn't realize was that the battle for justice was far from over. 

      The so-called demise of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 did not necessarily bring peace, equality, or a stable economy; the Khmer Rouge still remained in control in some parts of Cambodia for several years after. In an effort to aid what was left of the Cambodian people, nearly 20 countries signed the Paris Peace Agreements, including leading nations such as the US, Japan, France and China; these agreements aimed to end the tragic conflict and obvious aftermath in Cambodia, and sought to monitor the human rights situation when needed. It also outlined what the United Nations could do for "rehabilitation and reconstruction at the appropriate time" ("1991 Paris Peace"). Despite this promise, the signatories have failed to recognize the severity and importance of these crimes against humanity; it is not only their right to intervene, but their legal obligation as well.

      2014 marked the 35th anniversary of the bittersweet end of the Khmer Rouge, a devastating time of genocide, torture, and the upbringing of Communism, a period that essentially defines Cambodia as a country and as a culture today. Within four years, the Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, managed to isolate the country from foreign influence, close schools, factories, banks and hospitals, outlaw all religions, and confiscate all private properties. Aside from the successful attempt of establishing agricultural communism, he contributed to the torturous deaths and murders of almost two million --one-fourth of Cambodia's population-- half from executions, and the other half from starvation and disease.

      Pol Pot established the Killing Fields, a massive gravesite where the Khmer Rouge regime executed and buried almost anyone non-Cambodian and those with association to the former government; in effort to save ammunition, executions were carried out with "highly toxic defoliants" and "sharpened bamboo sticks" ("Weapons of Vietnam"). In some cases they would have their heads bashed against the trunks of Chankiri trees and some even dug their own graves. Truly, Pol Pot's mentality is similar to that of Hitler's: barbarous and unforgiving. Nearly every educated person died, and much of the infrastructure was destroyed or fell into disrepair. Of the five million survivors, the majority were too poor and too attached to Cambodia, and only a few were lucky enough to escape to nearby countries like China and Japan, even the US, leaving the rest to tackle the future crusade. The five million survivors were left with a dry and barren land, economic fallout, political chaos, and ultimately the nation returned to "year zero."

      By nature, Cambodia is within an extremely poverty-stricken region. In every aspect, it is the poorest in Asia. The average salary per day is about $1. Even North Koreans are more prosperous. By tenth grade, 87 percent of students will have dropped out of school in order to maintain income for food and necessities, allowing the adult literacy rate to drop to 74%.

      The United Nations invested years of effort and $3 billion in which they gave the Cambodians a proper Constitution and set up proper elections. The first election gained a lot of support, with almost 90% of the population participating. This was interpreted as a victory and it gave the UN a signal to suddenly give up the matter, and it continues to brag about the election's success. After the UN left Cambodia, the situation began to spiral downward.

      Totalitarian Cambodian leaders are falling back into "old patterns of self-interested turpitude" (Brinkley xix). The current Prime Minister, Hun Sen, who has been in office for nearly 30 years, is wrongfully taking advantage of the his own people, controlling their lives everyday, and seizing their natural rights as human beings. Arguably the most important right Hun Sen has wrongfully seized is the right to vote, embodying the definition of democracy and equality, the main way Cambodians can truly have a say in their country's future. Every election year, their dictator "shamelessly manipulates the result of an already rigged election" (Ou, Personal Interview). Cambodian citizens have no choice but to remain at mercy to their improper and unjust government.

      Because of Cambodia's economic gap, the government turns a blind eye to the abundance of abuse, land grabbing, and violence against its own people. The majority of human rights violations involve political opposition to the CPP, peaceful protestors, and workers; these occurrences have become more frequent since the elections in July 2013 and are continuing to happen without the proper democratic justice as the UN established in 1997. On January 3, 2014, garment workers protested for their wages to be brought up to the legal minimum of $160 per month from $80; the government has offered them just $100 per month. They had been blocking a road in Phnom Penh and peacefully protesting when the police opened fire, killing at least three and injuring several more. The protesters improvised and used slingshots and threw rocks, but could not compare to the rifles of the Cambodian police. Just after this incident, the Cambodian government banned all public gatherings and protests, justifying the violence against human rights defenders until "security and public order has been restored" ("Cambodia Cracks Down"). More recently on January 27, Cambodia's police fired smoke grenades and used electric batons to disperse an anti-government demonstration; the only way the current government has responded to its people attempting to ask for change is with force and violence.

      Most of these protesters actively advocate the Cambodian National Rescue Party, working to lead rallies and strikes to petition for better and humane treatment. Human rights defenders are becoming less and less safe for demonstrating in seemingly vicious environments as the government attempts to shut down their entire operation. The security situation in Cambodia has been deteriorating since 2013 as the government crackdown on human rights intensified after July's elections. There cannot be any attempt at restoring proper human rights to Cambodian citizens until the current dictator is replaced with an elected democratic leader.

      Not only have none of the signatory countries done anything direct to address the ongoing human rights violations, but they also have not upheld the obligation to intervene. It is inexcusable for the signatories to the Paris Peace Agreements to turn back on commitments made to monitor the possible case of increasing undemocratic actions by the current Cambodian government and serious human rights violations. Fortunately, Human Rights Watch has taken steps to bring this to the UN's attention by urging them to "press the country's leadership to abide by previous commitments and fulfill new rights pledges" ("Cambodia police use force," 2014). De Rivero, Geneva director at HRW describes Hun Sen's government as one that "violates human rights on a daily basis by violently preventing the opposition, trade unions, activists, and others from gathering to demand political change" ("Cambodia: UN Should Condemn"). It is a gross and blatant failure on the part of the signatory countries to allow the dehumanization and forcible violence onto innocent people.

      I stand by the views of my great uncle, a leader of the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, and an active member of the Khmer People Network for Cambodia; the only thing we, as non-powerful civilians can do is create awareness. In 2013, he organized and spoke at a rally in Washington DC with 500 Cambodian-Americans present, advocating for involvement in Cambodia. We must to "ease" the US administration in its decision making on policy regarding Cambodia and make sure that they know that the people care about it. The US doesn't have economic interest or resources in Cambodia like it does in Iraq and Syria. It is extremely disappointing to see that the free world powers time and time again endorsed the results of many fake elections for their own "selfish convenience and expediency" (Ou, Personal Interview). He aims high, bringing together afflicted Cambodian-Americans, to devise a movement for bettering their home country.

      Cambodia is still stuck as a third world country because its corrupt and ruthless government prevents the Cambodians from truly developing and growing. Cambodiaís serious past caused pain, loss, and sadness to uninvolved people who do not deserve to relive it. Without proper rights and committed involvement of participating countries, it is impossible for them move forward and for those outside the country to live with dignity and pride. The lack of considerate intervention is a disappointment of the international signatories who legally committed to keeping Cambodia alive and confirm that its people have and can maintain the essential rights that should have been granted years before.      

"Asia Times Online. Cambodia a Capital Success." Asia Times Online. Cambodia a Capital Success. Asia Times, 22 June 2011. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.

"Cambodia Police Use Force to Break up Rally."†- Asia-Pacific. N.p., 27 Jan. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.

"Cambodia: UN Should Condemn Rights Onslaught | Human Rights Watch."† Human Rights Watch, 27 Jan. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.

"CNRP Calls for Paris Peace Agreement Signatories to Intervene | The Cambodia Daily." The Cambodia Daily, 25 Jan. 2014. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

Fuller, Thomas. "Cambodia Cracks Down."† The New York Times, 4 Jan. 2014. Web. 26 Jan. 2014.

Freeman, Joe, and . "At Least 3 Dead after Cambodian Security Forces Open Fire on Protesters."†CNN. Cable News Network, 03 Jan. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.

Hort Ou, Kim. Personal interview. 15 Jan. 2014.

Meyn, Colin. "Human Rights Groups Call on UN for Intervention | The Cambodia Daily."†Human Rights Groups Call on UN for Intervention | The Cambodia Daily. The Cambodia Daily, 29 Jan. 2014. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

"NGO Law Monitor: Cambodia."† The International Center For Non-profit Law, 30 Jan. 2014. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

"Police Open Fire on Cambodian Factory Workers."†- Taipei Times. N.p., 4 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2014.

"Weapons of the Vietnam War."† A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.

"1991 Paris Peace Agreements."†- Government, Constitution, National Anthem and Facts of Cambodia Cambodian Information Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.

ASIJ Essay Contest-Keno Katsuda "Fukushima: Neglecting Health and Safety"2014/05/01 17:34

Fukushima: Neglecting Health and Safety
By Keno Katsuda

      On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-nine tremor struck the Tohoku region off of Japan's Pacific coast -- the largest earthquake ever recorded in the nation, and the fourth largest in the world (Kingston). This triggered a massive tsunami, with heights ranging from 3.5 to 9.3 meters, obliterating everything in its wake (Samuels). These two disasters then caused a blackout, resulting in the meltdown of three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (Birmingham and McNeill). The resulting explosions released radioactive substances around Fukushima, causing what is now considered "the most severe radiation crisis since Chernobyl" (Human Rights Watch). It is estimated that Tohoku's reconstruction will take at least a decade, costing the Japanese government roughly 20 to 50 trillion yen (Kingston, Samuels).  Additionally, the unmeasurable human costs --the loss of thousands of lives, and the physical and mental traumas faced by the survivors in Tohoku-- are both unparalleled.

Initially, the Japanese government was very active in its response to the crisis (Kingston 2013).  However, as time wore on, the politics of the disaster began to overwhelm aid efforts instead, hindering their efforts (Kingston 2013). This blatant negligence of the health, safety, and general well-being of the people of the Tohoku region today by the Japanese government is a severe violation of human rights.

      The radiation that began to spread immediately after the explosion in Fukushima Daiichi led to various health threats. According to the World Health Organization radiation risk assessment taken in February 2013, "significant increases in solid tumors and leukemia were evident" amongst children in Tohoku. Those residing in areas near the power plant face similar health risks to the survivors of the atomic bombs: a higher chance of "[contracting] leukemia, breast, or thyroid cancer" (WHO).  Furthermore, according to the study cited by CNN, there are psychological effects of the disaster -- "possibly to the point of psychosomatic illness and psychiatric disorders." This is only exacerbated by the constant, invisible fear of the radiation (WHO).

      Compounding these psychological effects, some citizens of Fukushima feel that they have been prejudiced against (or suffer a fear of prejudice) due to their background as survivors of a  nuclear crisis -- similar to those experienced by the hibakusha of the second world war (Cousins, Kakuchi). While the WHO document states that radiation exposure is not expected to increase "the incidence of miscarriages, stillbirths, and other physical and mental conditions," a mother from Fukushima questioned whether her children would ever find a spouse because they lived in an extremely contaminated area -- a sentiment shared by many parents from Tohoku (Cousins, Interview).
      Though the tsunami and the earthquake were both natural disasters, human irresponsibility caused the accident at Fukushima Daiichi to occur. This lack of oversight and accountability stemmed from both the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO, the owner of the power plant) (Lipscy). The basic function of a government should be to protect its people, but the Japanese government's responsibility to assist the citizens of Tohoku is only compounded by the fact that the radiation may have not been an issue if the plant had been properly regulated (Lipscy).

      The data that the Japanese government has provided relating to the radiation levels has been kept secret, or their data masked to reveal much lower (and safer) numbers than the true values from state independent monitoring organizations, thereby creating a "climate of uncertainty" (Citizen's Radioactivity Measuring Station, Kingston). As a result, the citizens of Fukushima and Tohoku themselves have been forced to use their own self-diagnoses and crowd-sourced data on radiation levels (Kingston). Additionally, "[the citizens] are told that Fukushima rice is safe and free from radiation [by the government,] and the next that it is not" (Kingston). As a result, the mothers of Fukushima state that they are confronted with making the impossible decisions on a daily basis to select foods that have not been contaminated (Interview).  However, even amongst the group of three mothers who were involved in the 2013 interview, there was much disagreement as to what they believed to be the best actions taken for their own children. This demonstrated that there is simply no way for these civilians to ensure their own safety because of government neglect. It is inherently inhumane for the government to force the citizens of Tohoku to leave the citizens unprotected in this manner, as there will always be citizens who will suffer from the consequences of making uninformed decisions of where the radiation levels are safe, or what foods that their family will consume will be uncontaminated.
      Though the accepted amount of radiation as stated by the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law in Japan is at a maximum of 1 millisievert (mSv)/ year as ìthe permissible limit of exposure for the general public, only areas in which 20 mSv/year have been evacuated by the government, leaving residents of other areas to decide whether to evacuate ìvoluntarilyî without government compensation. As a result, many who wish to evacuate cannot afford to.î (Cousins) However, because the governmentís data is constantly changing and therefore unreliable, this number could still be lower than their stated value.
      Moreover, the placement of the evacuation zones does not account for many of the people exposed to the radiation. Because of radiation's rapid spread, highly contaminated areas, or "hot zones," appeared in areas of ten times outside of the evacuation zones. Because the mandatory, government funded evacuation zones are restricted to concentric circles surrounding the power plant, many of the residents of these hot zones were not considered for government compensation to fund their evacuation. As a result, the families who are exposed to the most radiation are often the ones who are unable to evacuate to safer areas. "According to a 2001 survey by Friends of Earth Japan, financial and employment uncertainty were the main barriers to evacuation, and this continues to be true. In many cases, the mother and children haven evacuated for the sake of the childrenís health, while the father remains in Fukushima to continue his job and earn money" (Cousins). This has led to the separation of families if they are lucky enough to get government support in other cities like Tokyo. However, many in the Tohoku region were simply unable to leave.

      As time has passed since 3.11, Fukushima has faded from both the news and the public consciousness -- causing many citizens of Tohoku to feel as though the government has simply neglected their problems. Further compounding the woes of Fukushima, Tokyo won the bid to host the Olympics in the year 2020. Japan's Olympic committee president "reassured the international media" by emphasizing the distance from Tohoku to Tokyo, proving the neglect of the prefecture after immediate relief from 3.11 (Dvorak).  As one mother stated, "We might think that the Olympics are meant to help and rebuild. However, the reconstruction has stopped, and all of the construction work is occurring. Contrary to popular belief, the reconstruction is increasingóin fact, it is just the opposite" (Interview). Focus has concentrated on the success of the Olympics and creating a positive image for Japan. Ironically, the campaign for Japan to unify in strength: the shouts of "Gambare Nippon" from right after 3.11, have instead turned into a government campaign to systematically exclude those from Fukushima from the adequate care that it gives to everyone else in the country.
      Additionally, the government has been lacking the regulation of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors themselves, thereby demonstrating their lack of oversight and care for the livelihoods of the citizens of Tohoku.  This lack of oversight has potentially drastic consequences for the rest of the nation as well in the event that the reactor is not taken care of (Lipscy). As a result, this government neglect could affect the health and well-being, and thereby the basic human rights of the whole Japanese population.

      Health and safety are basic human rights of all people. However, the Japanese government has made it evident that this right does not extend to all Japanese citizens, thereby marginalizing the people of Tohoku. The purpose of governments is to serve the people to the best of their ability -- not lie to them at every turn. Regardless of sentiments from the government and the lack of media coverage, the issues plaguing the citizens of Fukushima and the Tohoku region are very real and must be dealt with immediately.

Works Cited
Birmingham, Lucy, and David McNeill. Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Print.

Brumfield, Ben, and Alex Zolbert. "Report: Fukushima's Radiation Damaged More Souls than Bodies." CNN. Cable News Network, 03 May 2013. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

Cousins, Elicia, Claire Karban, Fay Li, and Marianna Zapanta. "Nuclear Power and Environmental Injustice: A Mixed-Methods Study of Risk, Vulnerability, and the Victim Experience." (n.d.): n. pag. Print.

Dvorak, Phred. "Fukushima Watch: Tokyo Olympics Victory More Grief for Fukushima?"  Japan Real Time RSS. The Wall Street Journal, 10 Sept. 2013. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

"Interview with Fukushima Mothers." Personal interview. 20 Nov. 2013.

Kakuchi, Suvendrini. "Social Fallout of Atomic Bombings Hounds Survivors." Common Dreams. Common Dreams, 4 Aug. 2010. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

Kingston, Jeff. Contemporary Japan: History, Politics, and Social Change since the 1980s. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, 2013. Print.

Lipscy, Phillip Y., Kenji E. Kushida, and Trevor Incerti. "The Fukushima Disaster and Japanís Nuclear Plant Vulnerability in Comparative Perspective." Environmental Science & Technology (2013): 130529150607006. Print.

Samuels, Richard J. 3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2013. Print.

"TOP." Citizen's Radioactivity Measuring Station. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

ASIJ Essay Contest- Melanie Xu "Ijime"2014/05/01 17:44

By Melanie Xu
      A 13-year old junior high school student from Shiga prefecture drew attention from all over the nation when his October 2011 suicide was revealed to stem from an underlying, yet highly prevalent, issue of human rights in Japan: bullying. The student, reportedly, had endured repeated abuse at the hands of his peers, being beaten, forced to eat dead bees and sparrow carcasses, and perhaps most tragic of all, bullied into practicing his own suicide every day. Only after a questionnaire was sent out to students was it revealed that his death had been caused by bullying.

      Bullying in Japan runs rampant, to the extent that the Japanese word for it – ijime – has taken on a meaning a level higher than elsewhere. Ijime involves psychological cruelty along with violence, and generally, is collective – meaning that the unfortunate victim suffers at the hands of many, rather than the few. But indeed, cases of bullying aren't few. One student came to school to find a memorial created on his desk, with mocking messages of condolences and candles lit; others are forced to steal money for the bullies' use. Yet, with all the attention focused on human rights infringement in other areas, the relative lack of concern regarding Ijime is stunning. Given that such children are foundation of the future, surely, the need to educate them on the dangers of bullying – which, in a side note, is also widespread in offices – ought to be prominent on the public's mind. With Japan's already-high suicide rate, the last thing we need is bullying taking even more lives. The course of action is simple: bullying can be eradicated, or at the least, greatly reduced, by eliminating the causes of their prevalence, or in other words, making efforts to change the attitudes of the people towards bullying, raising awareness of its horrors, and better preparing teachers and school administrations to deal with such cases.

      The attitude of tolerance towards school- (and for that matter, work)- scene bullying is one that has remained ingrained within Japanese society and culture. It's a highly traditional society, after all – the same teachers, principals, and parents that look the other way when it comes to bullying today were likely victims, bystanders, or even perpetrators themselves. Such practices are "a part of growing up", and the children "will look back in twenty years and laugh about it". But when the effects of such coming-of-age processes result in a premature death (a tragic bit of irony), it may be time to reevaluate. Of course, it is difficult to change the intrinsic thought processes and acceptances of an entire body of people, and impossible to do overnight. The key to such change lies in awareness. The nature of Japanese press in regards to bullying operates in a cyclical manner: when a student dies – whether from the act of ijime in itself, or suicide – the public becomes enraged, the articles start pouring out, the condolence messages spread across the internet; after a mere few months, the matter has been effaced from the public's mind, and the bullying continues. It's a vicious cycle, and one difficult to break out of. Thus, it is up to activists and government to maintain awareness. A periodic spike as a result of a particularly tragic suicide (as in the case of the aforementioned October, 2011 suicide of a student in Shiga Prefecture) is certainly not enough to keep the public's eye on the issue. Pamphlets, seminars, or articles – similar to the way in which governments around the world are attempting to decrease the prevalence of tobacco use – or even subtler means – integration of anti-bullying messages into TV shows or popular works of fiction, perhaps – would do wonders in decreasing the prevalence of ijime in Japan.

      Like so many other movements, the efforts to eradicate bullying from Japan would benefit greatly from grass-root level assistance, and in this case, grass-root refers to the members of individual school administrations. Teachers are important in the scene for three reasons, the first being that their job – to educate children and provide a stable environment for their maturing process – implies a duty to put a stop to bullying in the classroom, the second being that their influence on children is far greater than the government could hope to have, and the final being that they prove more accessible than officials or lobbyists. They have the ability, should they choose to exercise it, to put an end to the bullying. The only problem is, teachers are frequently overworked and ill-trained to deal with the issues of bullying. It was proven in a survey conducted by Mainichi Shimbun: 70 percent of teachers hoped to do more against bullying, but couldn't free up the time. Shrinking staff sizes that required teachers to take on a heavier workload, an increase in paperwork and surveys, preparing for each class, and general job-related stress combined together to create a legion of teachers unprepared to deal with ijime. Like many other adults in Japanese society, they, likely, were also the victims or perpetrators of bullying, and feel disassociated or jaded by their past. Regardless of their reasons, the fight against bullying would need to start at the most basic levels. Periodic informational sessions, or more stringent school rules against ijime (and the enforcement of such rules), would be vital in creating awareness and decreasing the prevalence of bullying. Parents, too, can play a part. By educating their children in proper classroom behavior, and instilling in them the need for kindness over cruelty, the parents can stop a burgeoning bully quickly and effectively.

      Regardless of the suicide stories one finds in the newspapers, one small light at the end of the tunnel remains clear: the government has been making attempts at alleviating the plight of bullying. Halfhearted though it may be, and more than likely insufficient, it's a start.  2012 saw 511 students arrested or taken into custody for bullying, a figure rendered somewhat insignificant considering that the total number of recorded cases reached nearly 4,000 that year, but still more than twice the figure from the previous year. In addition to this, the Japanese government, in the September of 2013, has put into action an anti-bullying law, which "outlines the responsibilities of school and administrative authorities in protecting students". The combination of increased vigilance and government interference does show, however, that there is hope – perhaps not sufficient in eliminating the issue, but a step forward, nonetheless. Ijime is not at the top of most people's agendas, but it certainly deserves a notch higher than it currently occupies. Given its wide-reaching effects and its psychologically damaging potential, deeming it any less important than political or economic issues would be completely misguided. A "human right" is defined as a right fundamental to every human being, and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 5, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". By eliminating the causes and taking steps to educate the school-aged populace, it is not difficult to imagine that someday, we may live in a world where bullying is but a distant image and suicide reports are essentially nonexistent.

Dogakinai, Akiko. "Cause/Effect Research." Cause/Effect Research. Lewis and Clark College, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. <>.

Hofilena, John. "Japan's Anti-bullying Law Goes into Effect, Guidelines to Follow." The Japan Daily Press. N.p., 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. <>.

Salvaggio, Eryk. "On Being Bullied in Japan." This Japanese Life. N.p., 12 June 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. <>.

Torres, Ida. "Reported Bullying Cases in Japanese Schools Nearly Triples in Fiscal 2012." The Japan Daily Press. N.p., 11 Dec. 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. <>.

ASIJ Essay Contest- Kenta Yaegashi "Adoption in Japan: An Overlooked Human Rights Issue"2014/05/01 17:45

Adoption in Japan: An Overlooked Human Rights Issue
By Kenta Yaegashi

      When one thinks of human rights issues within Asia or Japan, thoughts of slavery, drug and human trafficking, horrendous living conditions, and government brutality usually arise. These areas of human rights issues are in no way insignificant concerns in Asia today, yet they often overshadow the more subtle issues that do not receive as much international scrutiny. The topic of this essay concerns adoption in Japan at the present and the puzzling nature of the koseki registry system as well as some of the dire consequences that this flawed system has produced in terms of human rights. While the United Nations declares that all children have "the right to love and understanding, preferably from parents and family..." (UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, Right #6), it stops short of declaring parental and/or familial love a human right. However, in a nation with nearly 40,000 children and youths institutionalized when many of them could experience this love were they adopted, I will argue that this is a tragedy and should be recognized as a human rights violation. I will show that the Japanese registry system inhibits adoption and discourages members of society from pursuing adoption due to fallacies and fears based on bloodlines. This prevents a large number of institutionalized children in orphanages from being adopted.

      In order to elucidate some of the hysteria that surrounds Japanese adoption, this essay will in conjunction look at the general legal proceedings of adoptions in the United States. While the procedure for adopting a child or an adult differs slightly between individual states, it is generally the same process. Both children and adults can be adopted, with adult adoptions mainly involving inheritance, while some statutes only allow for the adoption of a minor. Children may be adopted in situations where their parents have died, are deemed unfit, or have abandoned them. Individuals are given a social security number that the government uses to track their lives. Birth and death certificates are also issued by the federal government yet do not reveal the status of one's birth (adopted or not adopted). In contrast, in Japan there is the 戸籍 (koseki) system, or family registry system. This system treats the family as the functional unit over the individual. The koseki system often times acts as a birth, death, and marriage certificate. However, it is also used to show pejorative status of different social classes. The US Department of State highlights this as a problem in its 2010 Human Rights Report on Japan, mentioning "discrimination against children born out of wedlock, minority groups, and foreigners" (US Department of State, par. 2). In a socially conservative country such as Japan, the koseki system makes adoptions too readily transparent. This allows for the possible future discrimination of the adoptee when it comes to matters of employment and marriage due to the prevalent stigmatizing misconception that adoptees come from "bad blood." The importance of blood and bloodlines in Japan continues to influence how people view individuals' character traits and even hinders adoptions of children in institutions.

In 2013, there were more than 36,000 children in orphanages around Japan (Sophelia, par. 1). Eighty percent of these children will live out their childhoods in these institutions until they either turn 20, the age when one becomes an adult, or they drop out of school, in which case they also lose funding to remain in one of Japan's 589 children's homes (Lewis, par. 7). "It is rare for a child who enters the home to leave because they are being fostered or adopted" (Hayes and Habu 97). No matter how good the particular home may be, these children never know the love of parents and consequently never develop close relationships (Hayes and Habu 98). They grow up with a "controlled, tightly scheduled upbringing with limited opportunities for autonomy or for privacy" (Roger Goodman and the Japan Federation of Bar Association cited in Hayes and Habu 98), another human right according to the UN. These children do not learn about family life, or how to negotiate in family-type situations, and consequently are not good problem solvers, lean toward passivity, and end up finding "poorly paid" and "insecure" jobs or worse  (Hayes and Habu, 98). Whereas 95 percent of Japanese children in general attend high school, only 54 percent of institutionalized children do (Hayes and Habu 98). Additionally, these children are not able to attend juku or cram school that one in five Japanese children attend as first graders as well as nearly all high school students seeking college entrance (Economist, par. 2). Cram school is pivotal to a child's success in Japan's highly education-oriented society, where these institutionalized children will not be given the tools that they need to allow them to thrive as adults. Many Japanese public schools also rely on the teachings of juku in order to accelerate the learning process. Teachers will often skip over subjects that a majority of the class has already learned at juku, making it even more arduous for these already disadvantaged children to progress academically. Thus it can be seen that by not being adopted or entering a foster home, these children are not receiving love or the proper care and attention they need to become fully functioning and contributing members of society.

The registry system is the main point of concern preventing a child's adoption in Japan and is the focus of this essay. When a child is born, and entered into the koseki of the mother, it is very difficult and complicated afterwards to remove the child from the koseki. Having a child in the mother's koseki allows the mother to maintain full legal rights over the child, even if she goes missing, abandons, abuses, or puts the child in an orphanage without seeing the child for years at a time. While on the one hand it can be shameful to an unwed mother to have a child listed on her koseki, there are also competing incentives to not have a child taken off of one's koseki. The parent in whose koseki the child is registered can receive government child-support funds offered in recent years in order to spur childbirth in a population-stagnant nation that is not replacing itself. This sort of 'ownership' or refusal to sever legal ties to the supposedly "unwanted" child on the part of the birth mother is what prevents these children from experiencing love in an adoptive family. When this kind of irresponsible behavior, backed up by the koseki system goes on for years or even decades at a time, it should be considered a human rights violation. 

Furthermore, the koseki system, which is based heavily on bloodlines, not only causes ambivalence due to fears about "bad blood" on the part of would-be adoptive parents as well as other members in society, but also encourages orphanages and institutionalized children to wait for a change of heart of the biological parents, rather than seeking adoption or placement in a foster home. The minimum waiting period in a home before an adoption is three years, which may not seem like a long time in the life of an adult, but for a developing child, three years is a tremendously long period of time with severe consequences in terms of emotional, social and physical development. In most cases when the parent or parents do visit, they will only see the child for a short time and may not come again for months, or even years. When a parent does come see the institutionalized child, it triggers a sense of false hope in the child that he or she will be reunited with the birth family. Orphanages encourage this sort of waiting and visiting of biological parents. The resulting stress and emotional anguish, the torture that this system puts on the child, is in its very nature a human rights violation. No human being, especially a child, should be thrust onto such a psychological roller coaster, given hope and then ruthlessly having it taken away with the harsh reality his or her situation. This system, with its emphasis on family bloodlines, can sometimes reverse a near adoption even after a child has been living with potential adoptive parents as foster parents for years. The koseki system, which ties together the institutionalized children and their biological parents, is what encourages this and therefore must be amended.

In conclusion, why does the adoption process as affected by the koseki system in Japan warrant being considered a human rights issue? In May 2012, a Japanese government official was asked why the adoption rate of 12 percent was so low and how the system could be changed to increase this rate (Japan Daily Press). In other words, how could the approximately 36,000 children and youths in institutions become adopted into loving homes and nurtured like their peers to grow up to be independent, contributing adults in society instead of the 400 who do become adopted annually (Hayes 2008, 83)? Japan is a nation that is not immune to infertility and is also facing a labor shortage due to a low birthrate and should embrace adoption. The official responded that the adoption system was put into place after World War II and that because of the numerous jobs that depend on it, change would overly complicate this "functioning" system. This current system allows for children living in orphanages to know of and be in contact with their biological parents, a concept that is absolutely preposterous for the emotional and psychological harm it causes the children in the long run. The koseki system with its stress on bloodlines should be altered to protect the children's human rights and facilitate their personal development. The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) asserts that every child, "for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality... should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding" (Council of Europe, sec. III. a., par. 2).

Works Cited

"2010 Human Rights Report: Japan." U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, 08 Apr. 2011. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

"Adoption and Children: A Human Rights Perspective." Council of Europe: Commissioner for Human Rights. Council of Europe, 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

Hayes, Peter. "Special Adoption in Japan: Its Problems and Prospects." Adoption Quarterly 11.2 (2008): 81-100. Print.

†Hayes, Peter, and Toshie Habu. Adoption in Japan: Comparing Policies for Children in Need. London: Routledge, 2006. Print. 

"Japanís Forgotten Children - The Japan Daily Press." The Japan Daily Press. The Japan Daily Press, 11 June 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

Lewis, Charles. "Cultural and Legal Hurdles Block Path to Child Adoptions in Japan | The Japan Times." The Japan Times. The Japan Times, 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.
Sophelia. "Sophelia's Adventures in Japan: Adoption in Japan Part 1: Why Are There so Many Kids in Orphanages?î†N.p., 5 Jan. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.

"Testing Times: Japan's Cramming Schools." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 31 Dec. 2011. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

"UDHR: Plain Language Version."†UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.

ASIJ Essay Contest- Sasha Woffinden "Japan’s Special Secrets Protection Law: A Threat to Humanity"2014/05/01 18:03

Japan’s Special Secrets Protection Law: A Threat to Humanity
By Sasha Woffinden

  The Japanese Special Secrets Protection law is a threat to the protection of human rights, allowing government administrators to classify a wide range of information- even news on the Fukushima nuclear power plants- as special secrets, effectively keeping the information from reaching the public. This law is a breach of the public's right to know and the freedom of expression among Diet members who have been forbidden from sharing any of the information classified as a state secret. In the interest of protecting human rights for the Japanese public, the Special Secrets Protection law must be repealed. 

      According to a Kyodo poll conducted in November 2013, "62.9 percent of the voters felt that the bill would limit the public's right to know, whereas 26.3 percent said it would protect free access to information" (McDonnell 2013).

      The initial reaction of the Japanese people to the introduction of the state secrets bill (currently law) was indignation and outrage. Protestors swarmed the streets in a desperate attempt to urge Abe and the Liberal party to re-consider their impetuous decision to try and instate the bill as a law. Famous Nobel Peace Prize winners Toshihide Maskawa and Hideki Shirakawa suggested that the law "threatens the pacifist principles and fundamental human rights established by the constitution and should be rejected immediately... Even in difficult times, protecting the freedom of the press, of thought and expression and of academic research is indispensable" (Normile 2013). According to Keiichi Kiriyama, an editorial writer for the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, this law is "a threat to democracy". (McCurry 2013) When the bill was passed, people from all over the world expressed their antipathy and distaste for the new law, claiming that it went against various acts in the Japanese constitution and was a violation of the freedom of expression and the public's right to know (two basic yet extremely invaluable human rights). The law covers the suppression of a wide variety of information regarding interactions/relations with foreign countries, national defense and counter terrorism, allowing the defense minister, foreign minister, and other government officials to classify sensitive information as state secrets. However, the United States fully supported the Japanese parliament's decision to pass the bill. In fact, the US government had primarily been the ones to encourage the Japanese government to change their policy regarding state secrets, believing that they had been too lenient on giving information out (McDonnell 2013). 

Areas of Concern
   “This bill takes everything bad about national security laws in the U.S. and then removes all the safeguards and checks." -Yukata Saito, one of the members of the Japan In-House Lawyers Association task force.

      A major concern of this law is that it gives government administrators and officials the authority to designate a wide variety of information as "special secrets", as the law does not assign a limit on what can be kept from the public. A specific requirement on what information can be categorized a state secret has not been established; no set constraints have been put in place to ensure that government officials are not abusing their authority and using their power to keep information private in such a way that would benefit only themselves and/or the image of the Japanese government while ignoring the ramifications on social structure and human rights.

      The foreign minister, being one of the few that have the authority to withhold selective information, can designate information on negotiations and interactions with other countries as state secrets. This is problematic because the terms for the information under his jurisdiction are so ambiguous that he could virtually classify any material concerning any aspect of foreign affairs as "special secrets". As argued in a September 2013 Japan Times article, the concept is "so wide and vague that the government would be able to conduct security negotiations with foreign countries in complete secrecy". 

      The defense minister is another one of the people that have the authority to classify a broad range of information as "special secrets". Information regarding anything relating to defense, military action/plans, and weapons are all under his jurisdiction. Again, granting such an immense amount of power to one person to make such prominent decisions is unwise and irresponsible, as it could easily and most likely lead to an abuse of power.

      Not only does the state secrets law defile some fundamental human rights; it also goes against the Japanese constitution. According to the Japanese Constitution, Article 21, "Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed. No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated". The state secrets law is a direct imposition on the rights of the Japanese public and the rights of the journalists. In the event that any journalists or whistleblowers uncover state information (be it intentionally or by accident), they may be imprisoned anywhere from five to ten years. (Article19 2013) This is also the case with Diet members, who, should they leak any information to journalists or the public, will be jailed for five years (Japan Times 2013). This law limits not only the journalists' rights to freedom of expression and the conveying of vital information, but also the public's right to know what goes on around them.

Nuclear Power Plants
      The Fukushima power plants are a serious concern for not only Japan, but also nations worldwide. Any information regarding the instability of the nuclear power plants could also be kept clandestine from the public, which could have pernicious and detrimental health and safety consequences for those not informed. Some journalists are suspecting that ultimately, the purpose of the law is to hide information regarding the status of the Fukushima power plants in an effort to avoid widespread panic or an uprising of the Japanese citizens. Valuable lives could be lost as a result of Prime Minister Abe and the Japanese Liberal Party's failure to protect fundamental human rights.

      Six years from now, the Olympics will be taking place in Tokyo. As a result of the Fukushima disaster of 2011, foreigners are still uncertain about the safety of the nuclear power plants and are doubtful of coming to Japan in fear of endangering their health and safety. Subsequently, Japan desperately needs this opportunity for an economic boost and to regain their former status as a "tourist-friendly" country by reassuring foreigners that the nuclear power plants no longer pose any health threats. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are drawing nearer, it makes sense to speculate that Abe's party will primarily be using the state secrets law to keep information on the Fukushima power plants away from the public, in an effort to reassure foreigners that it is safe to come to Japan. Abe's reasoning is understandable- by looking into the economic state of Japan and the implications of the Olympics (being a rise in GDP due to the tourism), there is some rational- albeit unjustified- reasoning behind the actions of the Japanese government. The Tokyo Olympics, along with Abenomics, could be what carries Japan out of their debt. Any information concerning the Fukushima nuclear power plants would prove to be a hindrance to successfully hosting the Olympics and attracting foreigners. Regardless of the justification behind his reasoning, the Special Secrets law still imperils the health and safety of many precious human lives and should be abolished as soon as possible.

      After taking in the full extent of the disaster, the Japanese government released a statement suggesting that it could take up to forty years to fully clean up the power plants and possibly even longer to make the area inhabitable again (Nader 2014). A historian on nuclear technology- Robert Jacobs- suggests the grim likelihood of the Tokyo Olympics being adversely affected by the radiation still leaking out of the Fukushima power plants. According to Jacobs, the fate of the Tokyo Olympics and the people attending are also at stake: "...two and a half years later it [the radiation leakage from the power plants] has yet to be contained. There is no reason to believe that it will be contained even by 2020". Jacobs continues on to warn that should there be another disaster affecting the Fukushima power plants, the radiation will threaten dangerous health concerns for people in northern Japan-even in Tokyo (Jacobs 2013).

       It is appalling to contemplate that an advanced country like Japan could hide serious health concerns from the world, jeopardizing not only the safety of their own citizens but also the safety of visitors from around the world; all in the interest of saving face.

Proposed Solutions
      One of the main problems of this law is the seemingly unlimited authority that some administrators of the government have to classify a broad range of information as state secrets. There is no verification process with another group of people to ensure that the information being classified really are state secrets and will endanger the country if shared with the public. A reasonable solution would be to introduce a board appointed by the people to confirm that what the officials are doing do not breach any human rights. This way, the law would be slightly less threatening to the public's right to know and promote freedom and voice amongst the citizens of Japan.

      Another solution which could be implemented is limiting the amount of information each minister has jurisdiction over. Since the terms used to describe the information are so ambiguous, (examples being: foreign negotiations, "defense", etc.) narrowing the "definitions" would control the amount of power these individuals have. Nevertheless, no matter how the law is changed, the optimum solution would simply be to repeal the law. 

      A man who attempted to speak out in opposition of the law was silenced by Japanese police violently thrusting a rag into his mouth (Fukuleaks 2013). This law is tantamount to shoving rags in all of our mouths and ears; it is, in more ways than one, a blatant disregard for the rights of the people. It obscures the public from invaluable information (especially concerning the state of the Fukushima power plants) and is ultimately just a well-disguised contravention of the world's "right to know", masked by oblique standards and vague parameters. It is imperative for the Japanese Parliament to understand that in order to protect the human rights of citizens worldwide, they must repeal the law immediately.

Works Cited

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