Japan chooses to censor information about the Fukushima incident

After the devastating earthquake that struck Japan on March 11th, the country was faced with a further crisis: a potential nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant near the area the earthquake's tsunami struck. Now, Japan likely wants to forget about the incident - and they intend to ensure the world forgets about it as quickly as possible via censorship. As Slashdot reports, the government project team assigned to dealing with the major incident have already started to contact organizations such as telephone companies, internet providers, and cable television companies, in order to request that content relating to the Fukushima Daiichi plant is not displayed.

The government has also measures for dealing with 'illegal information'. The measures allow the government to potentially erase any information from internet sites that they deem harmful to 'public order and morality'. Unsurprisingly, Japanese citizens are beginning to doubt the accuracy of the media and their government. Media reports, as well as government reports of the incident have frequently proved contradictory, and it is now possible that both parties are simply attempting to ease the blow.

Officials living near the Fukushima plant have stated multiple times that the situation is safe, and that the media is merely fear-mongering, which is in-turn, negatively effecting the economy of the area. Japanese journalists have raised beliefs that the government is attempting to downplay the incident, and have critically underestimated the health risks of long-term exposure to the area surrounding the plant at Fukushima Daiichi. Recently, the stricken nuclear plant has reached 'Level 7', which is the highest nuclear threat level for a plant. It is also the level the Chernobyl plant in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat reached in 1986, which has since rendered the city of Pripyat a nuclear danger zone.

More information on the beliefs of Japanese citizens can be read at JapanFocus. The Japanese government's readiness to censor media pertaining to the Fukushima plant is similar to the manner in which the Chinese government chooses to deal with online information that is not approved of. China is well known for the high level of online censorship pushed by the government, with information relating to Tianamen Square simply being unavailable in the country.

It should prove interesting to see how far Japan intends to pursue a policy of information censorship. In May 2009, the Ministry of Industry in China passed an agreement whereupon censorship tools would be forced upon all new computers sold in the country. The original intention was that all computers sold in the country, starting from July 1st would run a tool called Green Dam Youth Escort. On August 14th 2009, the country turned against this agreement again. Public use computers were still required to run Green Dam after this event, but personal computers were no longer bundled with the software. It does not appear that Japan intends to take the same route as the Chinese, but the country does have some history with censorship; Japanese versions of Fallout 3 had the atomic bomb in the town of Megaton removed, as it evoked memories of the nuclear attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Japan is commonly recognised as one of the leading technology capitals in the world, so it is interesting to consider potential censorship and its effects on the country. Certain internet groups, including the 'hacktivist' group Anonymous, have shown disapproval of censorship in the past. In 2009, the group worked in association with Iranian hackers in order to form a site called 'Anonymous Iran', in order to apparently aid the people against their government. While the possibility of a potential response to Japanese censorship coming in this manner is remote, many groups responsible for actions like this do not have any internal interest in the affairs of a nation, merely choosing to involve themselves in the chaos online actions can hold.

With the size and power of Japan's internet community it would prove interesting to see quite how vocal citizens would be should the internet in the country be censored. Japan currently holds some of the world's fastest internet lines. Ironically, one of the most visited sites in Japan is Slashdot; the very site that first reported the censorship of information relating to the Fukushima plant.

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22 Comments

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Why are we using nuclear when free energy is readily availiable?

Oh yeah, it doesnt make anyone money.

UN1X said,
Why are we using nuclear when free energy is readily availiable?

Oh yeah, it doesnt make anyone money.

And there isnt any free energy that can power a city the size of tokyo. Hug a friend not a tree.

This should be a wake up call to all supposedly free countries. You are not free. Your government doesn't care about helping you, they care about controlling you. Media has always been an effective tool to help with this control mechanism, it's just been amped up as of late. It's absolutely untrustworthy, example after example every single day, and yet people not don't argue this anymore, they argue if it's OK to lie and mislead. The answer is yes, it is wrong. Sunshine is critical to true freedom. Panicked populations over specific events is part of the price of freedom, it's not all great news without consequence, but it's worth it by far in the end. Wake up already.

Japan is a clear example of how democracy goes wrong.
The average citizen hate almost all politician but they consider as a needing evil.

And it is not bi-party but there are several parties, from communist to fascists and it is a mess.

things are really serious if they choose to censor in order to prevent panic among the mass and stuff, either they will fix it and everything will be back to normal, or one day our skin will suddenly start to turn black, we gonna start cough blood and die in a week not knowing why

Problem is that they do not bring any information out, So media hase to speculate. If they spent half so much time in giving correct information then there would be no need to sensor anything.
But I think here is the problem, real information means telling the people how dangerouse this is. And that is not something goverments want to do unless it has a benefit like going to war en raising taxes and stealing last bit of privacy.

Goverments exist with a few goals; keeping us save, infrastructure, and providing the rules for businesses to operate, with keeping us save nr1. this is how goverments started.

If they tell us how dangerouse this is it means that they have not done their job for nr1.
who the hell builds a Nuclear Power plant near a known place for earth quakes? Also there have been numerouse incidents on that plant in the past, plus 1 plant is experimental combining 2 different ways of nuclear fussion. This is known to be really difficult to control.

But I quess a short jappanese now reading this above and trying to find neowins phone number as you read this.... funny world.

Soulsiphon said,
There's an important difference here: In the end, the Japanese are NOT the Chinese.

Maybe they are worse? at least with the chinese we know they censor, maybe Japan is doing same but an lower level and we do not even know it.

thommcg said,
Ridiculous, though Japan whitewashed its World War 2 history as well so perhaps not without precedent either.

Ridiculous? They are not whitewashing anything (IMO, and possibly not correct one)

They are attempting to stop public panic and bad rep due to the media hyping stories. Initially the media overseas was very quick to jump on the band wagon of "official report of impending meltdown... nuclear disaster imminent etc"

it was all ********, they are attempting to control this. It doesn't mean that you can't say anything about Japans nuclear stuff, of look it up. Instead the govt is restricting potentially false information (and possible cleaning up a few errors or bad decisions on their part... but who DOESN'T try to clean up after a screw up? no one!)

I guess the problem is the media twists and adds a lot of emotion and fear to 'stories' with little facts, mixed opinions and shock value to get the most attention. I'm not saying we should be ignorant but I don't like the way they play on our fears and blow things out of proportion.

So what would people do with "real information", help them? give suggestions to nuclear scientists? cause that's what they'll do in their spear time, check their twitter account for suggestions from Joe the plummer.

Give me a break, what's up the need of living vicariously through others suffering, why do you buy that slogan that we "need to be informed" but swallow every useless report from the media, who by the way, they are in the rating and getting advertisement business not in the given the truth to the people.

Those people at the reactor are worth of admiration, putting their lives in real danger and risking to die in a horrible way so not only their families but also the rest of the Japan people can be safer.

Uhyve said,
I dunno, not get radiation poisoning and die...?

Yeah Japanese are not just outside the plant, a zone surrounding the plant has been cleared off, not even those tree-huggers kind of wackos dare to go and protest around the plant, look I'm not saying that is OK to mislead population, but when you have endured an earthquake and a tsunami with thousand of deaths, is not a good idea to let media keep such high levels of anxiety just because that's what we are used to here in the west.
This is a nuclear emergency, the UN, the EU and the US are constantly monitoring that, if there is something we should know someone will either tell or leak the info.

At the same time, anti-nuclear activists try to exaggerate the troubles of Fukushima. One may say the government could be trying to make sure information that is being leaked out is actually accurate and not sensationalised.


Not saying is necessarily the truth or that I have proof of it. Is just government interference in information isn't necessarily the "keep the truth from being told" especially when nuclear is involved.

Eddo89 said,
At the same time, anti-nuclear activists try to exaggerate the troubles of Fukushima.

How many technician are still working on the plant trying to solve the problem?. Zero, all of them are dead right now.
When the people of the vicinity will be able to going back to their house?. Not during this century.

It is a big problem right now, so it is not necessary to exaggerate.

Magallanes said,

How many technician are still working on the plant trying to solve the problem?. Zero, all of them are dead right now.
When the people of the vicinity will be able to going back to their house?. Not during this century.

It is a big problem right now, so it is not necessary to exaggerate.


Your ignorance is mindblowing.

Most workers are only exposed to higher than normal radiation. To be honest, I think even radiation is healthier than McDonnald's food. At least radiation at low level can stimulate your immune system.

I feel for them in a way, but I don't know that censorship is the solution. The problem is that there is so much misinformation out there, and part of that is because officials seemed to downplay the issue initially, and as we saw, it ended up being worse. Even this article exaggerates the issue, and that's the problem.

"It is also the level the Chernobyl plant in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat reached in 1986, which has since rendered the city of Pripyat a nuclear danger zone."

Yes, both were level 7 disasters, but the situation in Japan is FAR from being as bad as Chernobyl was. It's like running a 1 to 7 scale on how much horsepower a car could have, but making 7 be 100+. Your Honda may be level 7, but it's not a Ferrari.

Anyway, I still don't think that censorship is the proper way to handle the situation. It's not like you can actually keep information from people these days, it's just going to make the government look bad.

AJerman said,
It's like running a 1 to 7 scale on how much horsepower a car could have, but making 7 be 100+. Your Honda may be level 7, but it's not a Ferrari.
Best example of how misleading the ranking system is.

I felt the same way when it was bumped to 7 and everyone kept spouting "its on the same level as Chernobyl!". Well yes, TECHNICALLY it is. But in the real world it is bad but not even remotely close to Chernobyl.