May 7, 2012

Citizens' gathering focuses on Minamata, Fukushima similarities

A Minamata disease sufferer suggested at a citizens’ gathering Sunday that the government has learned little from the mercury-poisoning disease and repeated bungles in tackling the Fukushima nuclear crisis. “People found crows and doves unable to fly in the coastal areas of Minamata, while ...

Apr 24, 2012

Hiraoka rues resumption of executions

Former Justice Minister Hideo Hiraoka said it is regrettable that Japan resumed executing death-row inmates in March without holding sufficient debate following a 20-month hiatus. “I regret that executions took place last month without being examined or discussed . . . regarding the way ...

Lawyer crusades for more disclosure

Apr 20, 2012

Lawyer crusades for more disclosure

Kazuo Hizumi was almost unique among reporters who flocked to Tepco news conferences to cover the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Doubting whether Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government were disclosing enough information about how the catastrophe was unfolding, The ...

Mar 25, 2012

Lay judge death sentences must be unanimous: JFBA

Following a series of wrongful imprisonment cases, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations recently proposed that death sentences be handed down unanimously in lay judge trials, presided over by three professional judges and six citizens. “People have been unfairly accused even in capital cases, ...

Mercury pact falls short on Minamata

Mar 1, 2012

Mercury pact falls short on Minamata

There is growing debate over how best to reflect the lessons learned from Minamata disease in the so-called Mercury Treaty now being discussed with the aim of reducing the use of mercury around the world to prevent environmental damage and harm to humans. The ...

Sep 19, 2011

Calls for Mainali retrial gain momentum

Calls are growing for a retrial of a Nepalese man serving a life sentence for a 1997 murder in Tokyo in the wake of a fresh DNA test. Govinda Prasad Mainali, 44, was convicted of killing a 39-year-old woman after paying her for sex ...

Photo collection depicts Ainu lives

Sep 6, 2011

Photo collection depicts Ainu lives

A recently published photo collection put together over a span of almost two decades explores the traditions of the Ainu through a portrait of a woman and her extended family in Nibutani, Hokkaido. The collection of around 120 photos in “An Ainu Portrait: Asir ...

'70s activist foresaw nuclear disaster

Jul 23, 2011

'70s activist foresaw nuclear disaster

When the late Shizuko Sakata started distributing the newsletters she wrote in Nagano Prefecture more than 30 years ago to campaign against nuclear power, her daughter, Masako, was not fully supportive. “I thought her doubts over nuclear power plant safety might have been fair, ...