Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (104) September 8, 2023

Last Friday, September 1, was “a disaster drill day”. It was approved by the Japanese Cabinet in 1960. The reasons why this date was designated are the day when the Great Kanto Earthquake occurred, and it is time for typhoon season and the day corresponds to the 210th day on the calendar. And the Isewan typhoon on September 26, 1959 was triggered by the greatest damage, 4,697 dead and 401 missing, suffered after the war, and “a disaster drill day” was established in order to cultivate preparation for an earthquake, storm and flood damage and so on.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake that killed about 105,000.
A black-and-white photo was televised in color on TV and voices of disaster victims also crossed and it was very realistic. At that time, there was no way to convey information accurately and groundless rumors flew around, and people went back and forth and the fire caused huge casualties.
By the way, right after the occurrence of the Great East Japan Earthquake, I visited the disaster area several times, as the vice chairman of special committee on earthquake reconstruction measures established in Kansai Economic Federation. I visited wide range Tsunami sites, the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant and so on, and came in contact with vivid disaster situations. And I also visited Okawa elementary school in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture where many students lost their lives, and it made me deeply think about what separated life and death.
And in addition to Tokyo inland earthquake, the risk of eruption of Mount Fuji which shows a beautiful figure that can be said to be a symbol of Japan is being discussed by experts now.
It has been pointed out that the eruption in 1707 may have occurred in conjunction with the Hoei earthquake, a magnitude 8.6 and one of the largest in Japan, 49 days later. There are concerns that Mount Fuji which has remained quiet since then may erupt in conjunction with Nankai Megathrust Earthquake with a 70~80 % possibility of occurrence within 30 years. In addition to earthquakes that occur everywhere like every day, there are 111 active volcanos in Japan. Japan is one of the world’s most “disaster prone country”, and we must not forget that we live in days of constant disaster.
And one important thing about disaster prevention is not to let the tragic disaster experiences fade away, to make sure that does not happen “danger past, god forgotten”. On top of that, I think that we have to keep a minimum of preparations on a daily basis, having an attitude to “protect ourselves”. On September 1, my mobile phone went off suddenly as a part of training, and I felt once again the importance of consciousness of disaster prevention.
In addition, once a disaster occurs, “how we act according to the manual” is questioned. But disasters don’t come through manuals. Of course, manuals are important as basic action guidelines, but we can’t forecast “when, where, what time, how big” and so on. The traffic is cut off, and the contact network may not function as expected, and the chain of command also confuses. In some cases, we have to do things that go against the manual. Therefore, in the end, the people at the disaster site have to make snap judgements that determine everything.
When I was in my previous job, I kept nagging the site staff to simulate various cases according to each real situation and to polish their judgement skills on a daily basis.

■■A lot happened this week. I write down things that caught my attention.
■The start of treated water from the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant release into the ocean:
Treated water from the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant release into the ocean was started. There was a minister who said “contaminated water” by mistake and caused a controversy. It is said that “disease comes in through the mouth, and disaster comes out from the mouth”, and this is a quite “mouth disaster”. It is said that “a natural disaster occurs when people lose their memory of the previous one” but there was “a human-made disaster occurs when people don’t forget” in the senryu column of the newspaper the other day. I thought it was a perfectly fitting phrase. We can safely say that there is “self-conceit” behind human-made disasters.
Regarding treated water release, as I mentioned as the previous issue, I think that there is an aim to divert the people’s attention from the serious domestic problems such as high unemployment ratio of young people, widening gap between rich and poor, the recession caused by the collapse of the real estate bubble and so on, and China considered using it as a diplomatic card against Japan. And Xi administration seems to have judged that many countries will sympathize in the international community, if Japan is criticized, but that speculation was missed. Therefore, I am curious how China will lower its “raised fist” while saving its face from now on.
■Defense spending:
The Ministry of Defense applied record high of 7.7385 trillion yen increased by 13 % compared to a fiscal year 2023 initial budget as a fiscal year 2024 budget estimate request. However, according to a defense white paper published recently, self-defense forces in Japan have 22 submarines, 50 destroyers, and 324 modern fighters. Each of them is fewer than Chinese troops. Incidentally, it is said that China has 70 submarines, 90 surface ships and  about 1,500 fighters. Taiwan has 4 submarines, 30 surface ships and 321 fighters. Looking at the number of persons, Chinese military is 2.04 million and there is a huge difference of more than ten times of Taiwan.
Incidentally, the number of self-defense officials in Japan is 0.23 million, below required capacity about 0.244 million. It is reported that there was a tendency to be hesitant to enlist last year due to the current situation in Ukraine, in addition to the impact of declining birthrate and harassment problem, and only 60 % of the planned self-defense officials who work on the front line were hired. China is strengthening patriotic education and becoming more hegemonic and imperial, as can be seen from a new map that China has published recently. Wars of aggression occur when the military balance is disrupted. “Providing is preventing”. Strengthening diplomatic strategy and defense capacities is essential. Of course, Japan alone is not strong enough. Looking at the case of Ukraine, as long as Ukraine people show spirits to “fight to win against the invasion until the end”, the United States and NATO countries will continue to support.
■Wage increases can’t keep up with high prices:
According to the publication by the Federation of Economic Organizations the other day, wage increase rate of major companies in the 2023 spring labor offensive was 3.99 %, high level in 31 years. And according to aggregate by the Japan Trade Union Confederation, wage increase rate of small and medium-sized enterprises with less than 300 members also reached an agreement to a high standard 3.23 %. However, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, real wages in June fell the 15th consecutive month compared to the same month last year. In the United States, wages are rising faster than consumer prices, and this has contributed to the increase in consumer spending, and the economy is still booming in spite of high interest rate and a fear of inflation. In this background, there is a labor union presence.
Foreigners asked me “why do wages not rise in Japan despite the labor shortage?”. There are many reasons and one of them seems to be that labor unions are becoming yellow unions. I think that labor and management should discuss corporate strategies and wage systems with more tension. In this respect, it seems to me that closing down of “Sogo & Seibu” due to strike had some impact in sounding the alarm to the management.

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