Workers Vanguard No. 978
15 April 2011
National Unity: Bosses Profit, Workers Pay
Japan Tsunami Disaster and Capitalist Criminality
The following is based on reports from our comrades of the Spartacist Group Japan.
APRIL 12—The massive earthquake off the northeastern coast of Japan and the devastating series of tsunami waves were a human tragedy of immense proportions. What was once one of the more scenic areas of the country has been reduced to rubble, parts of which may be uninhabitable for decades due to radioactive contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The area continues to be wracked by serious aftershocks: on April 7 an aftershock measuring 7.1 rocked a wide sector of the northeast, jolting the crippled nuclear complex once again and knocking out external power at three other nuclear facilities. Today, the Japanese government announced that the Fukushima plant had released so much radiation that the severity rating of the nuclear disaster was raised to the highest level—the same rating as that given to the 1986 Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union.
While tens of thousands have been listed as dead or missing, the exact number of people who lost their lives may never be known because whole families and sections of villages were swept out to sea. For almost a month after the tsunami, the 12-mile area surrounding the nuclear power plant was littered with up to a thousand bodies, victims of the tsunami. They were left there to decompose because the government, citing the elevated levels of radiation, refused to collect and bury them. Among the survivors, hundreds of thousands are still homeless, continually being shifted from one evacuation center to another, many still with not enough to eat. Many centers and even some medical institutions refuse entry to those who have not been issued a certificate and a badge they must display at all times showing that they have not been exposed to radiation.
The capitalist government is using the tragedy as a justification to regiment the population. Forty percent of the personnel of the Japanese armed forces have been deployed to restore “order” to the devastated areas. While urgently needed emergency supplies are held up by security checks in the spirit of the imperialists’ worldwide “anti-terrorism” crusade, as well as stalled by the usual bureaucratic indifference, the bourgeois media tell stories of “looting” by desperate tsunami survivors and laud the army for its repressive measures. Meanwhile, the city of Minamisoma received hundreds of boxes of food and other supplies sent by individuals overseas after YouTube showed an appeal by the mayor describing residents facing starvation, trapped in homes and shelters while the nuclear alert prevented government shipments of food from arriving (New York Times, 7 April).
From the beginning, the government lied about the extent of the radiation leaks at the damaged nuclear power plant in an effort to placate the population. But, according to the Ministry of Defense, within five hours of the earthquake the prime minister had declared a “nuclear state of emergency,” a clear indication that the bourgeoisie was immediately aware of the danger.
The cover-ups, disinformation and lies spewed by the capitalist government continue to endanger people in the affected areas and as far away as Tokyo, 150 miles to the south. While those with the financial means were able to flee to the western part of the country, the majority of the working class, especially the poor, the sick and the elderly, were left to fend for themselves. People were scrounging for food and emergency items such as bottled water, batteries and radios, which continue to be in short supply in the stores. Those caring for their infirm relatives were also trapped; in Japan, supposedly in deference to Confucian values of respect for one’s ancestors, pensions for retired workers are very low, with responsibility for the elderly shunted off to the younger generation of workers.
In an atmosphere of “waiting for the full meltdown,” people returned to the Greater Tokyo region and were then told that milk and some fresh foods contained traces of radiation, as did tap water. (Cynically and stupidly, the government told people to just boil their drinking water.) For three weeks, rolling power outages sporadically disrupted transportation and heating and lighting in homes, hospitals and businesses; energy use over the sweltering summer will likely be restricted. For four weeks, hundreds of heroic electrical power workers have been risking their lives in an effort to gain control of the nuclear power plant, exposing themselves to high doses of radiation, as the government redefines upward what it considers a “safe” level. Living in the nearby areas, many of them had already lost their families and homes.
Profiteering and Government Collusion
The 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake and tsunami waves, which reached heights of 60 feet in some areas, were natural disasters. But the continuing unfolding crisis at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is purely man-made, a product of the predatory nature of the capitalist order which values above all else its profits and disdains safety and human life.
As scientific socialists, we are for developing and using energy sources for the benefit of mankind. When the workers of the world rule our planet, energy will be generated and used in the most rational, efficient and safe manner possible, including by developing new energy sources. We have noted that nuclear power plants pose particular risks, leading to the suggestion that they ought not to be located in proximity to major population centers or upwind of them. But there is no means of generating energy that can be safe so long as the controlling principle of the economy is the drive for profit for a class of exploiters who own the means of production.
Under the rule of the capitalists, for whom workers are just a different form of raw material to be used up, hydroelectric dams and natural gas mains will never be made safe from the possibility of large-scale accidents threatening whole communities. Preventable accidents at oil drilling platforms and coal mines claim many lives; more quietly, in the United States, 1,500 retired coal miners die horribly from black lung disease every year. In 2008 the U.S.-based biofuels racket provoked a shortfall in the food grain harvest, helping trigger a world food crisis—producing corn ethanol fuel was more profitable at that moment than growing food that people could eat.
The example of Japan demonstrates the inherent irrationality of the capitalist system and underscores the need for an international planned economy in a socialist world. Japan historically has been a country with scant natural resources along with a dense population. Having closed its last coal mine in 2002, it now imports close to 90 percent of its oil needs from the Near East. In an attempt to attain energy self-sufficiency, this country, which sits atop a patchwork of fault lines, gets close to 30 percent of its electricity from its 55 nuclear reactors (and had plans to increase that to 50 percent).
Illustrating capitalist irrationality on a smaller scale, one factor that contributes to the present power shortage is that the private power companies, which basically hold monopolies for particular regions, produce electricity at different frequencies. The electric power industry was brought to Japan during the era of the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800s. Its construction was marked by fierce competition between the bourgeois class of different areas: the Tokyo-based bourgeoisie imported generators from a German company using 50 Hertz alternating current, while the Osaka-based bourgeoisie imported from General Electric, which used 60 Hertz. With only three small frequency converter stations with limited capacity, electricity generated in the western part of the country cannot be easily transferred to the eastern area.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is one of ten utility companies in Japan. The fourth-largest private utility in the world, TEPCO supplies Japan’s most industrialized and populous region. Last year it netted a profit of 140 billion yen ($1.66 billion), mainly due to exorbitant electricity fees and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency turning a blind eye to safety violations. In addition, the company instituted cost-cutting measures: inadequate maintenance at outdated facilities, depriving workers of safety equipment and using contract labor and temporary employees.
In 2002, TEPCO admitted submitting false data on inspection records for its nuclear reactors hundreds of times over the course of years. This included at least 29 cases of falsified reports on cracks or signs of cracks in devices in the core structure of 13 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture and those of the No. 1 and No. 2 Fukushima plants.
Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is the world’s largest nuclear power plant. Following an earthquake in 2007, TEPCO falsified the amounts of radioactive substances that leaked into the air and the Sea of Japan. In the aftermath, to compensate for money lost by shutting down the plant for inspection and repair, the company cut maintenance expenses for all its plants.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is TEPCO’s oldest nuclear facility. Built in the 1970s, it houses six reactor units and sits atop a known fault line. Designed by General Electric, the No. 1 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi was scheduled to be decommissioned in February. But it was given a ten-year extended license despite warnings that its backup power generator was vulnerable to water damage. This plant in particular has a record of unsafe practices, repeatedly missing safety checks over a ten-year period, right up to two weeks before the earthquake. A report submitted by TEPCO to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on February 28 admitted that it failed to inspect 33 pieces of equipment in all reactors at the Daiichi plant, including a motor and backup power generator for the No. 1 reactor. In another deadly cost-cutting measure, the company opted to store spent fuel on site rather than invest in safer storage options. At the time of the earthquake, six years’ worth of uranium fuel rods had piled up.
As far back as 1972, the U.S. nuclear regulatory agency reported that General Electric’s reactor design was more prone to radiation leaks than other designs. Four years ago, a TEPCO research team warned the company that the plant was not adequately protected against earthquakes and tsunami, noting that its seawalls were not high enough. Studying the pattern of earthquakes in the area over centuries, the team argued that a strong quake and tsunami were long overdue, with a 10 percent possibility that the 40-year-old complex would be overwhelmed. TEPCO officials ignored this report.
We fight for workers revolution in Japan to take industry out of the hands of the profit-bloated capitalist owners. Throughout industry we fight for union control of working conditions and, where there are specific hazards, union action to shut down operations. This requires concerted efforts to organize the nuclear power industry as well as the increasingly prevalent non-union suppliers and contractors throughout industry as a whole. But the sellout bureaucrats at the head of the unions see themselves as “partners” of the Japanese capitalists. Protecting the profitability of the system, they do not act to defend their own members, much less the working people more generally. We fight for a new, class-struggle leadership of the unions that will fight for the expropriation of the energy bosses without compensation under a workers government. Striving to forge such a leadership is an integral part of the fight to build a revolutionary workers party whose aim is to do away with the entire system of capitalist wage slavery.
On March 19, the Partisan Defense Committee—the defense organization associated with the Spartacist League/U.S.—sent a message to the Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Workers Unions saluting the nuclear workers’ heroism:
“The valor and dedication of the Fukushima Daiichi workers stand in sharp contrast to the parasitism and greed of the owners and managers of TEPCO and their unofficial spokesmen in the government. They have endangered the population with their obfuscation and mismanagement. For the capitalists in every country and every industry, the overriding concern is their profits and not the safety of the workers or the interests of society as a whole.”
To date, 21 workers are reported to have been exposed to possibly deadly amounts of radiation while trying to bring the Fukushima plant under control. Many more will become sick: the government recently announced that it will take months before the radioactive leaks can be plugged. The long-term effects of radiation sickness and the various radiation-induced cancers these workers will suffer from cannot now be known, but it is certain that many will die a painful death. We demand free lifetime health care for these workers and their families.
The approximately 400 workers now risking their lives are viewed as disposable by the company. They have not even been supplied with enough dosimeters, which measure radiation levels; some only have gauze-like outer suits that have been substituted for regular protective jumpsuits; there are not enough protective boots to go around, so some workers are made to wrap plastic garbage bags over their shoes; they lack proper gas masks.
According to Kazuma Yokota of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, these workers sleep on the floor of a building near the reactors that is covered with a sheet containing lead to block out radiation. They wrap themselves in blankets and sleep huddled together. For about three weeks, until a public outcry, they had only two meals a day: biscuits and juice in the morning and boil-in-the-bag rice and a can of food in the evening. Initially there was only one bottle of water available per person per day.
In a country that prides itself on innovation and the use of robotics, no robots were available at Fukushima. Professor Satoshi Tadokoro, Japan’s leading rescue robots researcher, said that his team had been working on developing robots that could be used in this type of situation, but this research was discontinued. “Power plant companies mentioned that they did not need such robots because their nuclear power plants never have accidents and are safe” (quoted from the Web site of Texas A&M University’s Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue). A French firm shipped robots immediately after the tsunami, but the Japanese government stopped them from being delivered because the shipment had not been made through proper channels.
Taking a cue from its bigger brothers, GE and Westinghouse, which sent squads of black workers to Japan in the 1970s to perform similar jobs at nuclear plants, TEPCO has a history of hiring Burakumin (Japan’s caste of “untouchables”) and day laborers from the slum districts of Sanya in Tokyo and Kamagasaki in Osaka as temporary workers. Known as “genpatsu (nuclear) gypsies,” these workers are not unionized. Usually hired through subcontractors, they travel from plant to plant, labor under lower standards for radiation exposure than regular workers, and get inferior wages and benefits. In the 1980s, attempts to unionize this workforce were thwarted by thugs who threatened to harm union leaders’ families.
At the Fukushima Daiichi plant last year, 89 percent of the workers were temporary workers (New York Times, 10 April). Their “normal” work includes scrubbing radioactive dust from the hundreds of parts inside the reactors using brushes and rags. Now they are on the front line of efforts to cool down the contaminated plant, at horrendous personal risk.
Reactionary “National Unity” Crusade
The sudden movement of the Pacific tectonic plate under the North American plate caused the March 11 earthquake, producing a rupture 186 miles long and 93 miles wide in the sea floor. The main island of Honshu was moved eight feet east and the axis of the Earth shifted by four inches. The political and economic ramifications for the populace have also been jarring, with the bourgeoisie using the dire situation for a massive “national unity” campaign in order to escalate attacks on the working class. While working to strengthen its repressive state apparatus, the bourgeoisie presents the Japanese military, a player in the imperialist wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, in the guise of a “humanitarian” force.
There is a lot of justified anger and frustration within the population at the gross incompetence of the capitalist government following the disaster and at the continuing cynical cover-ups. As revolutionary Marxists, we seek to turn this distrust and anger into a broader understanding within the proletariat of the need to overthrow this irrational capitalist order through workers revolution. In contrast, the reformist left seeks to channel the various discontents and frustrations of the workers and oppressed into a campaign to strengthen illusions in the bourgeois state.
Concerned about growing popular anger over its cover-ups, the government rolled out that feudal remnant, Emperor Akihito, to give his first-ever televised statement. This backfired, reinforcing suspicion that the situation was out of control. With less than a 20 percent approval rating prior to the earthquake and an economy in worse shape than that of any of the major imperialist powers, Prime Minister Kan of the Democratic Party, the fifth prime minister in four years, tried to prod the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which ruled Japan for decades, into a “national unity” government. Under the given conditions, the LDP is not in a hurry to share the responsibility. But the reformist Japan Communist Party (JCP), always ready to show its loyalty to the bourgeoisie, announced on March 14 that the upcoming local elections should be postponed because, in party chairman Shii’s words, “Now is the time for the whole nation to concentrate on rescue and recovery, regardless of ideological differences.” The Social Democratic Party (SDP, formerly Socialist Party) similarly opines that the “national state crisis” requires “a collaborative framework of all political parties.”
Militarization of Aid and the Reformist Left
The declaration of a nuclear emergency gave the green light for the deployment of the military—named the “Self-Defense Forces” (SDF)—placing northeast Japan under virtual martial law. In the largest military mobilization since the end of World War II, more than 100,000 military personnel and reservists, 209 helicopters, 321 airplanes and 57 ships have been deployed.
Legislation allowing the government to mobilize its military so smoothly was crafted under a previous government, that of the coalition led by SDP prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, following the 1995 earthquake in the city of Kobe. Passed in 1999, the law mandated the militarization of seaports, airports and civilian medical personnel in times of “perilous situations.”
By law, firemen are considered part of the state. But unlike the cops and soldiers, firemen are workers who perform a useful social service. We support the efforts of Japanese firemen to organize a union to represent them. The bourgeois media has virtually ignored the efforts of the nuclear power workers and the firemen in Fukushima. In contrast, SDF personnel are portrayed as heroes. The SDF’s official mandate is to provide transportation and help with distribution of relief supplies, but the reality tells a different story.
Aid and supplies from other countries sat in warehouses for weeks when they were not simply rejected. Blankets from Indonesia were refused because they were supposedly too thin; 15,000 tons of rice from Thailand were rejected outright; one ton of medical supplies from Ukraine, including iodine pills, was not allowed into the country because it was “not certified for use” in Japan; Singapore had to hire private trucks to deliver supplies to quake-hit areas. Reminiscent of the aftermath of the Kobe quake, when the government delayed supplying even basic necessities, yakuza (organized crime) gangsters managed to deliver tons of materials to the evacuees.
Many evacuees have complained that for weeks they got nothing to eat every day but a rice ball, a cup of noodles and some water, if they were lucky. Trade unionists and others who have traveled to the north in search of relatives and to bring supplies reported that for weeks the military has blocked aid from getting to those in need, stopping civilians’ cars because the SDF had to “secure the rescue routes.” Vans with supplies have been turned away on main highways; railway and bus stations are reportedly under SDF control. In the cities and towns, the SDF is also deployed for “anti-crime” patrols alongside the police (Asahi Shimbun, 4 April).
The liberal bourgeois Mainichi and Asahi daily newspapers have called for streamlining government agencies to establish a central command system similar to that launched after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. The 1920s in Japan, marked by anti-Communist witchhunts under the “Peace Preservation Act,” were the period when right-wing militaristic cliques gained the ascendancy in the government.
In keeping with its underlying social-patriotic reformism, the bulk of the Japanese left lines up in support of the “emergency” measures and sometimes complains that the militarization of society is not sufficiently centralized or effective. It is not only the social democrats and so-called Communists who speak in this vein; the smaller groups sometimes described as “New Left” mainly do, too. These organizations historically are characterized as having claimed the terrain of the “third camp” between imperialism and the former Soviet Union, which is a thin veneer for lining up directly with their “own” ruling class.
Thus, the basic criticism of the government raised by the Kakumaru group is that it has not sufficiently mobilized the military to defend and protect the people, complaining that “the army was dispatched piecemeal” and too slowly and that the “government, the national military, local authorities as well as the police have not set up a unified information center” (Kaiho, 15 March). The JCP and Kakumaru have been demanding the publication of pictures of the areas hit by the tsunami taken by satellites put in space to spy on the Chinese and North Korean deformed workers states. Kakumaru writes: “The government should first of all utilize the information collection capabilities of the Japanese national military and fully employ the spy satellites in order to understand the full extent of the devastation in all areas” (Kaiho, 15 March). Kakumaru also demands closer collaboration between the army and the cops.
The Chukaku group, meanwhile, takes a more oppositional posture toward the government but still pushes the illusion that the Japanese imperialist military can be made to serve the people. They complain that “the maintenance of national security is given a higher priority and the saving of lives and the provision of aid goods [by the SDF] are put on the back burner” (Zenshin, 21 March). While they raise a correct call for “autonomous” efforts by the working class to support the victims of the disaster, they simultaneously claim that soldiers are part of the working class. This notion is an obstacle to the proletariat achieving elementary class consciousness. Seeking to help capitalism readjust its priorities, they argue to “cut military spending” rather than subsidies to poor families. Chukaku’s reformist orientation is to appeal for upholding the bourgeois Constitution and to work toward a less reactionary government within the capitalist framework; the main slogan of their March 12 emergency statement is to “fight against neo-liberalism.”
One of the main demands of the Kakehashi group, sometimes falsely identified as Trotskyist, is for the immediate closing of all nuclear power plants. Like the more mainstream crusaders for “green” politics, they see technology as more of a problem than capitalism. They are also in sync with the SDP, which calls for “turning away from nuclear power.” The JCP, for its part, does not call for the abolition of nuclear power, having long had an explicit nationalist position for Japanese self-sufficiency in energy. While we have the deepest distrust for the power industry and their claims of safe nuclear reactors under capitalism, we oppose the crusade against nuclear energy as such.
The U.S. is the only country to have used atomic bombs (incinerating Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, when Japan was already effectively defeated) and now rains down death and destruction on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Nonetheless the Japanese government is now working to portray the U.S. military—which has hypocritically called its military mobilization Operation Tomodachi (friend)—in a humanitarian light. For the Japanese rulers, the point is to strengthen the U.S.-Japan military alliance, which is first and foremost an anti-Communist alliance, initially directed against the Soviet degenerated workers state and today targeting China and North Korea. With just under 50,000 U.S. forces dispersed among 85 military facilities throughout the Japanese archipelago, the alliance is also aimed at suppressing struggles by the militant working class throughout Asia.
Always seeking to overcome pacifist sentiments in the population—a continuing legacy of Japan’s defeat in World War II—as well as more recent dissatisfaction with the presence of U.S. troops in Okinawa and elsewhere, the Japanese bourgeoisie welcomes the “mutual aid operation” with the U.S. during the present crisis. Defense Minister Kitazawa crowed that “the Japan-U.S. security treaty will be further strengthened” (Yomiuri Shimbun, 4 April). We say: The SDF troops deployed in northern Japan should get out! We call for smashing the counterrevolutionary alliance between U.S. and Japanese imperialism through workers revolution on both sides of the Pacific.
They Want to Make the Workers Pay
Already holding the world’s largest public debt—double the size of its 425 trillion yen economy—Japan faces initial reconstruction costs estimated at some 4 trillion yen. With most roads, railways and ports in the affected area destroyed and three weeks of rolling blackouts throughout the eastern part of the country, Japanese industry is taking a pounding which has had ripple effects internationally.
The Tohoku region produced 8 percent of the country’s GDP. It was home not just to farmlands and canneries but also to parts factories for giant companies like Toyota and Sony, as well as small and mid-sized firms supplying components to companies as far-flung as Boeing, GM and Peugeot Citroën. Those companies are now scrambling for parts after introducing the much-vaunted Japanese just-in-time inventory system. Global auto production was projected to be reduced by 600,000 vehicles by the end of last month. Mine and mineral processing plants, such as those producing 33 percent of the world’s supply of iodine and 10 percent of the world’s titanium, have been heavily damaged. South Korea and Taiwan are now salivating at the prospect of chipping away at Japan’s share of the world’s semiconductor and electronic component markets. Ports from Rotterdam to Asia expect delayed shipments and lighter loads for the next period.
Within four days of the quake, the Bank of Japan poured 23 trillion yen into the banking system to shore up the crashing stock market. The zenekon—large construction companies with close ties to government ministries—are already looking to reap huge profits from rebuilding. The bourgeoisie is determined that the costs associated with reconstruction will come out of the hides of the working class. Many workers have lost their jobs or are temporarily laid off and are battling for compensation. The government and the powerful Keidanren business federation are threatening tax hikes and cuts in subsidies for poor families; these schemes were already in the works before the disaster. Now there are plans to enact special legislation that would allow the national government to buy up land abandoned by tsunami victims with “speedy lump-sum payments before exact compensation amounts are calculated.”
The displaced masses must be provided with jobs—union jobs at union wages and benefits—and housing, clothing and all other necessities. What is needed is a massive program of public works projects to rebuild housing, public facilities, factories and infrastructure. Workers committees should be established to guard against shoddy designs and other unsafe and cost-cutting measures that endanger lives. These demands—clearly necessary now—are examples of the kind of transitional demands formulated by Leon Trotsky in the 1938 Transitional Program, founding document of the Fourth International. Their purpose is to lead the workers from their present consciousness to an understanding of the need to finish with the capitalist system once and for all.
We call for the expropriation of the utilities companies without compensation under a workers government. In contrast, some reformist groups push demands for nationalization under capitalism. A glance back at history is instructive. In Japan, the power industry was placed under direct government control in the late 1930s, precisely as part of the mobilization for the upcoming interimperialist conflict, World War II. Against bitter opposition from the bourgeois owners of this industry, the government, representing the larger interests of the capitalist class, pushed the measure through along with the law for “general mobilization for the war effort.” The industry’s present structure was established after the war.
Under other circumstances, struggling capitalist industries may be nationalized because they are deemed necessary for the functioning of the system as a whole or in order that they can be upgraded at public expense to become more modern and profitable. In Britain after World War II, when a number of bankrupt companies were nationalized, their former owners were handsomely compensated while the workers got low wages, and high taxes. While we oppose privatization schemes, which are always accompanied by attacks on unions, wages and conditions, the social-democratic program of capitalist nationalizations has nothing in common with the fight to take the means of production away from the capitalist class through socialist revolution.
Today, the response from the unions underlines the contradictions within those workers organizations. There has been an overwhelming outpouring of solidarity with the victims of the disaster at the base of the unions, often with an impulse for taking some independent action. Many unions have been collecting funds to help their members and some have organized their own transportation to deliver aid directly. At the same time, the political program of the top leadership of the three trade-union federations—Rengo, Zenrokyo and Zenroren—is to sacrifice workers’ interests for the sake of “national unity” with the bourgeoisie.
In this vein, a number of unions have announced the postponement or cancellation of the yearly shunto wage contract negotiations. While workers at Fukushima are endangering their own lives to try to bring the nuclear plant under control, their union leadership has cravenly renounced any demands for higher wages or better and safer working conditions (Asahi Shimbun, 31 March). The port workers union Zenkowan canceled a strike in March, joining the “national unity” campaign.
While reformist groups regularly denounce the right-wing leadership of Rengo, which in the main politically supports the capitalist Democratic Party, they are silent about the class collaborationism of the leaderships of Zenrokyo (tied to the Social Democratic Party) and Zenroren (tied to the JCP). The appeal by Zenroren for contributions was heeded by many workers around the country and internationally. Outrageously, the union leadership turned this money over to the local capitalist governments of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures—in other words, to those who for years have covered up safety violations at TEPCO. Indeed Zenroren’s appeal began by expressing its “respect” for the government which was supposedly working “day and night” to cope with the disaster!
It is urgently necessary to mobilize the working class independently of the bourgeoisie and its state, not least to speedily organize massive mobilization of aid and its distribution. But the union misleaders, who accept the framework of the capitalist system, oppose this perspective. There is no shared national interest between the workers and the oppressed on the one hand and the capitalist class and its government on the other. Workers of the world, unite! The death and destruction and the hardships that Japanese working people are now undergoing in the aftermath of the disaster starkly illustrate the need for the proletariat to take state power away from the bourgeoisie, on a worldwide scale. For the construction of a revolutionary workers party! For a workers republic in Japan, part of a socialist Asia!