Monthly Archives: November 2017

Pluto and Monju

In the old Greek mythology, Pluto was name of the god that ruled the underworld, where souls go after death. Someone who has recently been thinking about this is Nakajima Tetsuen, the head priest of the Buddhist temple Myoutsuu in Obama City, Fukui Prefecture. He currently serves as the chairperson of a local group of citizens that oppose nuclear power in the prefecture.

In December, 2016 the decision was finally taken to decommission and scrap the infamous nuclear reactor called Monju in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture. To celebrate this, the citizens met on November 5, 2017 where Mr. Nakajima explained: “We should not walk the path to hell of Pluto, but instead follow the path of the Buddha, which is the path of the living.”

In Obama City, there are no nuclear power plants, but nearby, as many as 15 reactors are located around Wakasa Bay. The reason is the strong opposition by people in Obama City, led by Mr. Nakajima. In other locations that accepted nuclear plants, a splendid gymnasium or huge hot spring facilities were built using special government grants, while Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples and old roads greet visitors to Obama City.

The priest of a Shingon temple with traditions dating back from the 9th century uses Buddhist teaching to communicate his message: “Maybe we can believe that Monju (also known as Manjushri) is a compassionate bodhisattva who will wake us all from the nightmare of multiplying hellish rulers…”

By Sugiura Yoko, CUJ

November 20, 2017

Is the Consumer Agency in fact the Industry Agency?

Criticism is rising regarding the government’s way of handling the meetings to examine the mandatory labelling of genetically modified organisms and GMO food, held by the Consumer Agency since April, 2017. The opinion of the Agency seems to be stuck with the idea that no changes need to be made to the current labelling regime, in spite of continued arguments that the system must be improved.

In particular, food oils do not need to be labelled because GMO cannot be detected in such products. Also, if the ingredients that require GMO labelling are under 5% of the total weight, they do not need to be labelled. This has in effect meant that most processed foods are not giving the consumers the information they want. Consumers Union of Japan has repeatedly demanded that all GMO foods that we do not regard as safe should be properly labelled so that consumers have full information and are guaranteed the right to choose.

It is noteworthy that all GMO foods and ingredients must be labelled in the European Union, including food oils. CUJ has also repeatedly pointed out that the limit for unintended contamination in the European Union is as low as 0.9%, compared to 5% in Japan, and 3% in Taiwan as well as South Korea.

At the Consumer Agency’s meetings, the commissioner has taken to echo the industry standpoint, saying: “We can’t change the labelling rule to a lower percentage level”. Indeed we are wondering why the ideas from over 15 years ago still are so entrenched and why the current meetings appear to be useless. The reason is the Consumer Agency itself. There is just no enthusiasm to improve the system. We are beginning to hear the opinion that an agency that ignores consumers while completely accepting the requests by producers should be renamed, and instead be known as the “Industry Agency”

By Koketsu Michiyo, CUJ

November 27, 2017