Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fukushima Nuclear Secrecy in black ink: Redactions speak volumes about those doing the censoring - 20th Sept 2011

There is no more expressive a text than one that has been blacked out. I am, of course, speaking of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant accident manuals and other documents submitted to a Diet science committee earlier this month with the vast majority of the content hidden by black blocks and lines. The black ink secrecy speaks volumes about the nature of the organization that submitted them -- plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

The redaction of the Fukushima plant manuals brings to mind another instance of the application of so much black ink to written texts: Japanese school textbooks at the end of World War II.

On Aug. 28, 1945, just two days before General Douglas MacArthur landed, the then Education Ministry directed schools use caution in how they used their textbooks, and take "suitable measures," including omissions, that reflected the "changed situation." Then, on Sept. 20, the ministry issued another order commanding schools to eliminate "unsuitable" material outright. These moves came more than a month before the General Headquarters (GHQ) -- the head of the Allied occupation -- issued its own policy on education in Japan. The ministry's prompt action was good preparation for what was to come, but teachers were getting anxious, and the students simply bewildered by the suddenly altered reality. Read More