A Japanese Soldier Who Continued Fighting WWII 29 Years After the Japanese Surrendered, Because He Didn’t Know


Hiroo Onoda is a Japanese citizen that originally worked at a Chinese trading company.  When he was 20 years old, he was called to join the Japanese army.  He promptly quit his job and headed off to training in Japan.  At a certain point in his training, he was chosen to be trained at Nakano School as an Imperial Army Intelligence Officer.  In this specialized military intelligence training, he was specifically taught methods of gathering intelligence and how to conduct guerrilla warfare.  He was being groomed to go in behind enemy lines and be left with small pockets of soldiers to make life miserable for Japan’s enemies and gather intelligence in the process.

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On December 26th, 1944, Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines.  His orders from his commanding officers, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, were simple:

You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand. It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts. If that’s the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily.

Onoda then linked up with Japanese soldiers already on the island and shortly thereafter the island was overrun by enemy troops when other officers that were already on the island refused to help fulfill part of the orders that Onoda was given to destroy the harbor and airfield among other things.  This in turn made it easier for the Allied forces to conquer the island, landing on February 28th, 1945.  Shortly after the island was conquered the remaining Japanese soldiers split up into small groups of 3 or 4 and headed into the jungle.

Most of these small groups were quickly killed off.  Onoda’s group though consisting of himself, Yuichi Akatsu, Siochi Shimada, and Kinshichi Kozuka, were not.  They continued to use guerrilla warfare tactics to harry the enemy troops as best they could while strictly rationing supplies including food, ammo, etc.  Supplementing their small rice rations with bananas, coconuts, and other food from the jungle as well as doing raids on local farms when they could manage it.

In October 1945, after another cell had killed a cow from a local farm for food, they came across a leaflet from the local islanders to them saying “The war ended August 15th.  Come down from the mountains!”  The few remaining cells discussed this leaflet extensively, but eventually decided that it was Allied propaganda trying to get them to give themselves up.  They felt that there was no way that Japan could have lost so quickly since the time when they were deployed.  Indeed, this would seem strange to anyone who had no knowledge of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Also, another one of the cells had been fired upon just a few days before; they felt that this wouldn’t have happened if the war was over.

Eventually, near the end of the same year local islanders, fed up with being shot at and raided, got a Boeing B-17 to drop leaflets all over the jungle.  These leaflets had the order to surrender printed on them from General Yamashita.  The few remaining cells once again scrutinized these leaflets to try to determine their authenticity.  In the end, the wording on the leaflet pertaining to the method with which they would be sent back to Japan seemed fishy to them; largely because the wording made it seem as if Japan had lost, something they couldn’t fathom and which was a big problem in their willingness to accept the war had ended.  If Japan had won, they would come and get them.  Japan couldn’t lose, so the war must still be going.  So they once again believed it was the Allies becoming more tired of their successful guerrilla tactics and trying to get them to surrender.

When this didn’t work, more leaflets were dropped with newspapers from Japan; photographs and letters from the soldiers families; delegates were sent from Japan and went through the jungle speaking over loudspeakers begging the soldiers to give themselves up.  In every case the cells encountered, there was always something suspicious in their minds about the way it was done to cause them to believe it was an elaborate hoax by the Allied troops.

Years passed in the jungle with these four soldiers continuing to perform their sworn duty of harrying the enemy at every opportunity and gather intelligence as best they could.  At a certain point, when most everybody they saw was dressed in civilian clothing, they began thinking that this too was a ruse from the Allied forces to lull the Japanese guerrilla soldiers into a false sense of confidence.  They considered the fact that every time they fired on these “civilians” shortly thereafter search parties would arrive hunting them.  Over time they had gradually let their solitude twist their minds into thinking everyone was an enemy, even their own fellow Japanese who would occasionally come and try to find them and get them to come home.  These of course in their minds were Japanese prisoners forced to come lure them away from the safety of the jungle.

Eventually, after about 5 years in the jungle, Akatsu decided he would surrender, but didn’t tell the other three soldiers.  So, in 1949 he slipped away from the others and after 6 months alone in the jungle was able to successfully surrender to what he thought were Allied troops.  Because of this event, Onoda’s cell became even more cautious and went into deeper hiding and took fewer risks as they viewed Akatsu leaving as a security threat.  “What if he was captured”, they thought.

About 5 years later, another of the small group, Shimada was killed in a skirmish on the beach at Gontin.  Now there were only two, Onoda and Kozuka.

For about 17 more years the two lived in the jungle, gathering intelligence as best they could and attacking the “enemy troops” when they could risk it.  They were still convinced that eventually Japan would dispatch more troops and they would then train these troops in guerrilla warfare and use the intelligence they had gathered to re-take the island.  After all, their orders were to stay put and do as they had done until their commanding officer came and got them and their commanding officers had promised to do so no matter what.

Now in October 1972, after 27 years of hiding Kozuka was killed during a fight with a Filipino patrol.   The Japanese had long thought he had already died, they didn’t think he could have survived so long in the jungle.  But now when they had his body, they began thinking perhaps Onoda was also still alive, even though he had also long since been declared dead.

The Japanese then sent a search party to try to find Onoda in the jungle.  Unfortunately, he was too good at hiding with 27 years of practice.  They could not find him.  Onoda continued his mission.

Finally in 1974 a college student, Nario Suzuki, decided to travel the world.  Among his list of things to do on his journey was to find “Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman”.   He traveled to the island and trekked through the jungle searching for signs of Onoda.  Shockingly, where literally thousands of others through the last 29 years had failed, Suzuki succeeded.  He found Onoda’s dwelling place and Onoda himself.

He then proceeded to try to convince Onoda to come home with him.  Onoda refused.  His commanding officers had said they would return for him no matter what.  He would not surrender nor believe the war was over until they returned and ordered him to do so.  At this point, he would not have been allowed to simply go home; he would be required to surrender and throw himself on the mercy of the enemy.  Over the years he had been too successful at using the guerrilla tactics he had mastered.  Killing 30 Filipinos and injuring over 100 others as well as destroying various crops and the like for almost 30 years.

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Suzuki then traveled back to Japan with the news he’d found Onoda; Major Taniguchi, now retired and working at a book store, was then brought back to the island and to Onoda to tell him that Japan had lost the war and he was to give up his weapons and surrender to the Filipinos.

As you might expect, after living in the jungle doing what he thought was his duty helping Japan, now only turning out to be wasting 29 years of his life, and worse killing and injuring innocent civilians, this came as a crushing blow to Onoda.

We really lost the war! How could they have been so sloppy?

Suddenly everything went black. A storm raged inside me. I felt like a fool for having been so tense and cautious on the way here. Worse than that, what had I been doing for all these years?

Gradually the storm subsided, and for the first time I really understood: my thirty years as a guerrilla fighter for the Japanese army were abruptly finished. This was the end.

I pulled back the bolt on my rifle and unloaded the bullets. . . .

I eased off the pack that I always carried with me and laid the gun on top of it. Would I really have no more use for this rifle that I had polished and cared for like a baby all these years? Or Kozuka’s rifle, which I had hidden in a crevice in the rocks? Had the war really ended thirty years ago? If it had, what had Shimada and Kozuka died for? If what was happening was true, wouldn’t it have been better if I had died with them?

On March 10th, 1975 at the age of 52, Onoda in full uniform that was somehow still immaculately kept, marched out of the jungle and surrendered his samurai sword to the Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.  Marcos, very unpopularly in the Philippines, but immensely popular in Japan, pardoned Onoda for his crimes, given that Onoda had thought he was still at war the entire time.

Now in the end, we might look at Onoda as a fool and worse, a murder of innocent people.  In the end, he was both of those things, there is no denying it.  But at the same time, not everyone who lives by strict convictions and puts their all into achieving what they believe to be the right thing, ends up having what they strive towards turn out well or end up being a good thing.  This is one of those cases where someone did something remarkable, showing extreme dedication to his country and his duty, as well as fortitude unmatched by many in history.

Had circumstances been different and the war really had waged on so long; soldiers and people from both sides of the fight would have respected him for his courage and dedication.  In that respect he was more of a hero.  However, the world wasn’t the way he thought and in the end, in retrospect, he was more a fool than anything else.  But at the same time, we can’t ignore that this was a man who did something great with respect to doing something that few others could have done; had circumstances been as he thought, what he did was something to be admired.  He faced (what he thought) was death around every corner and lived in an extreme situation for 30 years, fighting for his country.  That should be respected.  It’s a rare person who could do something like that and never quite or surrender; never take the easy way out as most of us do all the time when faced with adversity that is orders of magnitude less than what Onoda faced for almost 30 years in the jungle.

Bonus Onoda Facts

  • When Onoda returned to Japan, he was seen as a hero.  He was also given his pay for the last 30 years.  Life was much different in Japan now than he remembered, and not at all to his liking.  Many of the traditional Japanese virtues he cherished such as patriotism were nearly non-existent in the culture; indeed in his view Japan now cow-towed to the rest of the world and had lost its pride and sense of itself.  So he moved to Brazil and used his pay to buy himself a ranch there and eventually married.
  • Onoda released an autobiography: No Surrender, My Thirty-Year War in which he details his life as a guerrilla fighter.
  • After reading about a Japanese teenager who had murdered his own parents in 1980, Onoda became even more distressed at the state of his country and young people in Japan.  He then returned to Japan in 1984, establishing a nature school for young people where he could teach them various survival techniques and teach them to be more independent and better Japanese citizens.
  • In May 1996, he returned to the Philippines to the island he had lived for 30 years donating $10,000 to local schools; as you might imagine, he is not too popular with the locals there, despite the donation.
  • Men should never give up. I never do. I would hate to lose.
  • Men should never compete with women. If they do, the guys will always lose. That is because women have a lot more endurance. My mother said that, and she was so right.
  • One must always be civic-minded. Every minute of every day, for 30 years, I served my country. I have never even wondered if that was good or bad for me as an individual.
  • Parents should raise more independent children. When I was living in Brazil in the 1980s, I read that a 19-year-old Japanese man killed his parents after failing the university entrance exam. I was stunned. Why had he killed his parents instead of moving out? I guess he didn’t have enough confidence. I thought this was a sign that Japanese were getting too weak. I decided to move back to Japan to establish a nature school to give children more power.
  • Parents should remember that they are supposed to die before their children. Nobody will help them later on, so the greatest gift parents can give their children is independence.
  • Never complain. When I did, my mother said that if I didn’t like my life, I could just give up and die. She reminded me that when I was inside her, I told her that I wanted to be born, so she delivered me, breastfed me and changed my diapers. She said that I had to be brave.

China To Engage In ‘Six Inevitable Wars’ Involving U.S., Japan, India And More, According To Pro-Government Chinese Newspaper


China‘s announcement last weekend of an Air Defense Identification Zone, which includes disputed areas of the East China Sea, has ratcheted up tensions between China and her neighbors, leading some to believe war is imminent.

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The new air defense area includes the airspace above the hotly disputed cluster of tiny islands known as the Diaoyu to China and the Senkaku to the Japanese. International reaction to the ADIZ, particularly from Japan and its ally the U.S., has been uniformly defiant. In addition to official statements from Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Reuters reported Tuesday that two U.S. military aircraft have flown around the disputed islands in direct defiance of China’s ADIZ.

“We have conducted operations in the area of the Senkakus,” spokesman Col. Steve Warren said, using the Japanese name for the islands. In addition to declaring the zone’s wide boundaries, Chinese military forces announced that all air travel in the designated ADIZ must be reported to avoid “emergency defensive measures in response.” The U.S. did the flyover without addressing the demands made by China. “We have continued to follow our normal procedures, which include not filing flight plans, not radioing ahead and not registering our frequencies,” Warren continued.

The new ADIZ has brought added tension to one of China’s several current territorial disputes. As pointed out in Shanghai-based news-blog, The Shanghaiist.com, earlier this summer, a particularly strident pro-government local newspaper, Weweipo, published a war-mongering article describing the “Six Wars China Is Sure to Fight In the Next 50 Years.” The article essentially predicts that most of China’s current border disputes will eventually lead to war.

Over the next 50 years, the article expects China to be engaged in war over the following issues:

1. Taiwanese unification (2020-2025)

While China and Taiwan currently have fairly peaceful relations, the mainland continues to strive for “unification.”

2. South China Sea islands (2025-2030)

According to a translation of the original article, as published by StratRisk.com, following the inevitable “return” of Taiwan, “South East Asian countries” will “already be shivering.” This momentum will be the driving force behind negotiations to “reconquer” South China Sea islands like the Spratlys, which neighboring governments like Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam all lay claim to.

3. “Southern Tibet” (2035-2040)

Though China and India share a long border along China’s southwest region, a Himalayan area claimed as “southern Tibet” is the main point of contention between the two huge nations. The article suggests that “the best strategy for China is to incite the disintegration of India” by dividing the nation into several smaller countries so “India will have no power to cope with China.”

4. East China Sea islands (2040-2045)

Unsurprisingly, the newspaper reaffirms that the East China Sea island groups of Diaoyu and Ryukyu, known in Japan as Senkaku and Okinawa, belong to China. While the article says the conflict won’t take place until 2040, other scholars have estimated that a war between China and Japan, and likely the U.S., could happen sooner.

5. “Outer” Mongolia (2045-2050)

“If Outer Mongolia can return to China peacefully, it is the best result, of course; but if China meets foreign intervention or resistance, China should be prepared to take military action,” the article reads.

6. “Recover the territory seized by Russia” (2055-2060)

The article recognizes the current good relations between China and Russia but insists that “China never forgets the lands lost to Russia” in past centuries, adding that “when the chance comes, China will take back the lands.”

The article is predictably confident that all wars would be won by the Chinese side, and Russia is no different: “After the victories of previous five wars, it is time to make Russians pay the price.”

Powerful #Earthquake could hit #Iran in the next 48 hours


World Earthquakes predicts high seismic activity in Iran and Japan may in the next 48 hours

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There is a possibility of a powerful earthquake hitting Iran in the next 48 hours, according to the World Earthquakes data.

“High seismic activity may occur for the next 48 hours” in Iran, the World Earthquake said on Friday.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has also predicted that a powerful earthquake that could hit the region between Thursday, April 25, and Tuesday, April 30. But UAE’s National Center of Meteorology & Seismology said that it’s a rumour and earthquakes cannot be predicted.IRAN-QUAKE

On Thursday, A 5.2-magnitude earthquake hit northwestern Iran on Thursday, only days after a deadly temblor struck near the border with Pakistan, media reported citing the seismological centre at Tehran.

Last Tuesday, a huge earthquake measuring 7.8 struck southeastern Iran killing a woman and injuring more than a dozen other people. At least 40 people were killed across the border in Pakistan where hundreds of mud homes were levelled. The tremors from the earthquake were felt across the Gulf region.

Iran sits astride several major fault lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes, some of which have been devastating.

Tuesday’s earthquake was the strongest to hit Iran since 1957.

A double earthquake, one measuring 6.2 and the other 6.0, struck northwestern Iran last August, killing more than 300 people and injuring 3,000.

The World Earthquakes also warned of another powerful quake possibly hitting Japan in the next 48 hours.

On Friday, a major 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off northern Japan on Friday, seismologists said, but no tsunami warning was issued.

Netaji’s daughter hopes to bring her father’s ashes to India


Legendary freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose‘s daughter Anita Pfaff Sunday hoped to bring her father’s “ashes” kept in Japan back to India, saying it would be the “perfect homecoming for him”.

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“If it is possible, I would like to,” replied Pfaff to queries if she would like to bring Netaji’s “ashes” back to the country of his birth.

“It would be the perfect homecoming for him,” she said on the sidelines of a book launch on Netaji here. The book “Netaji in Europe” written by Jan Kuhlmann was launched at the Oxford bookstore.

Pfaff also stated that she “firmly believes” that Netaji died in a plane crash in Taiwan and that the ashes kept in the Renkoji Temple in Japan are her father’s.

A branch of Netaji’s family as also many others outside believe that he died in a plane crash in Taiwan on Aug 18, 1945, and his ashes are preserved in the Renkoji temple in Tokyo. But there is also a strong second opinion across the nation which nixes the aircrash theory and does not consider the Renkoji ashes as those of Bose.

Also present at the event was D.N. Bose, Netaji’s nephew, who doesn’t believe in the “plane crash theory” and rubbished the claims that the ashes were of Netaji.

“People have the right to form their personal opinions and I have nothing to say about Anita’s claims. But what I know and is true, is that the ashes are not of Netaji. He never died in the crash,” said Bose quoting the Mukherjee Commission report to buttress his claims.

The Mukherjee Commission, the one-man board of retired Supreme Court judge Manoj Mukherjee was instituted in 1999 to inquire into the controversy surrounding the reported death of Netaji in 1945. It concluded that he did not die in the plane crash, as alleged, but probably flew towards the (erstwhile) USSR and the ashes in the Japanese temple are not of Netaji.

World #Nuclear Electricity Generation Down 5 Percent Since 2006


World nuclear electricity-generating capacity has been essentially flat since 2007 and is likely to fall as plants retire faster than new ones are built. In fact, the actual electricity generated at nuclear power plants fell 5 percent between 2006 and 2011.

In 2011, following Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, 13 nuclear reactors in Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom were permanently taken offline. Seven new reactors, three of them in China, were connected to the grid. The net result was a two percent reduction in world nuclear capacity to 369,000 megawatts by the end of 2011. In 2012, the world has added a net 3,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity, with new additions in South Korea and Canada partly offset by more U.K. shutdowns.


© Earth Policy Institute

The United States, with 104 nuclear reactors generating some 19 percent of the country’s electricity, leads the world in nuclear generating capacity. France is a distant second in installed capacity, but its 58 reactors meet more than three quarters of the country’s electricity demand. (President François Hollande has pledged to reduce this dependence to 50 percent by 2025.)


© Earth Policy Institute

China, Russia, South Korea, and India account for 48 of the 64 nuclear reactors the International Atomic Energy Agency lists as under construction worldwide. Although these 64 reactors add up to some 62,000 megawatts of potential new capacity, fewer than one in four has a projected date for connecting to the electrical grid. Some reactors have been listed as “under construction” for over two decades.


© Earth Policy Institute

Plagued by cost overruns, construction delays, and a dearth of private investment interest, the world’s nuclear reactor fleet is aging quickly as new reactor connections struggle to keep up with retirements. The average age of nuclear reactors operating today is 27 years; the 142 reactors that have already retired were just 23 years old on average when they closed. Many nuclear reactors have been granted operating extensions, usually for 20 years, beyond their typical design lifetime of 40 years. But since Fukushima, where the four retired reactors averaged 37 years in operation, this option has become less attractive.


© Earth Policy Institute

In contrast to the decline in nuclear power, electricity generation from the wind and the sun has grown 27 percent and 62 percent, respectively, per year since 2006. Four German states now get close to half of their electricity from wind. By 2015, China plans to increase its current estimated 60,000 megawatts of grid-connected wind power capacity to 100,000 megawatts. More solar photovoltaic capacity was added in the European Union in 2011 than any other source of electricity generation. The list of exciting developments in renewable energy goes on. As this story unfolds, it is becoming increasingly clear that we can design an energy economy that is at once low-carbon and low-risk.

By J. Matthew Roney

 

Strong quake hits off coast of northeastern Japan, tsunami warning issued


A strong earthquake centred off the coast of northeastern Japan shook buildings as far as Tokyo and led to a tsunami warning for coastal areas of the northeast, public broadcaster NHK said on Friday.

The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, the U.S. Geological Survey said, adding that there was no risk of a widespread tsunami. That was revised from an earlier estimate of 7.4.

A warning for a one-metre tsunami was issued for the coast of Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan, which was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

That quake triggered fuel-rod meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing radiation leakage, contamination of food and water and mass evacuations in the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

The government declared in December that the disaster was under control, but much of the area is still free of population.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T), the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, reported no irregularities at its nuclear plants after the latest quake.

Reuters

Richest Countries in the World in 2012


If wealth describes power, then the United Sates leads the pack and India is not far behind either.

The 10 richest countries in the world based on their GDP are:

1. United States of America:

The United States of America is the richest country in the world and ranks first on the list. The U.S. is a market-oriented economy where private individuals and business companies make most of the decisions. The U.S. economy is the world’s largest national economy, with an estimated GDP of $15.1 trillion in 2011.

2. China:

China is the second richest country in the world. China’s annual GDP growth is 2.26 percent earning $7,743.144 trillion. The country’s economy is the second largest in the world after that of the United States. During the past thirty years China’s economy has changed from a centrally planned system that was largely closed to international trade to a more market-oriented one that has a rapidly growing private sector.  A chief component supporting China’s rapid economic growth has been exports growth.

3. Japan:

Japan is the second Asian country which is on the list. It is the third wealthiest country in the world. Japan is renowned for its aggressiveness in the global economy market having an upper hand in multi-national operation. The country has a USD $6,124.899 trillion. The Japanese economy is the third largest in the world. Japan is the world’s second largest automobile manufacturing country and has the largest electronics goods industry. The country is the world’s largest creditor nation as well. Its economy is highly efficient and competitive in areas linked to international trade, though productivity is far lower in protected areas such as agriculture, distribution, and services.

4. Germany:

 Germany takes the fourth place on the list. It is also the richest country in Europe and has produced a sum of USD $3,706.970 trillion. Ever since the age of industrialization, the country has been a driver, innovator, and beneficiary of an ever more globalised economy. Germany is the largest national economy in Europe. The country is the world’s second largest exporter and its exports account for more than one-third of national output.

5. France:

France is the fifth richest country in the world. The country has long been part of the world’s wealthiest and most developed national economies. France is believed to be the second biggest economic strength in Europe due to France’s focus on various industrial support and new age industrialized nations. Achieving USD $2,889.708 trillion booked at the end of year 2011 and 2012 makes France feature on the top five richest nations.

6. Brazil:

Brazil ranks sixth on the list. It is the richest South American county. The country had a closed nominal GDP of 0.80 percent earning USD $2,617.987 trillion before the end of 2011. The Brazilian economy is the world’s sixth largest by nominal GDP and is expected to become fifth by the end of 2012. Brazil’s earning come directly from their service segment, mining, manufacturing products and farming harvest. The country has moderately free markets and an inward-oriented economy. It is also known to be the fastest-growing major economies in the world with an average annual GDP growth rate of over 5 percent.

7. United Kingdom:

United Kingdom takes the seventh place on the list. UK had an average nominal GDP escalation of 0.58 percent earning USD $2,603.880 trillion at the end of 2011. UK’s GDP per capita is the twenty second highest in the world in nominal terms and the twenty second highest measured by PPP. It is the world’s most globalised countries. Its aerospace industry is one of the largest national aerospace industries and the pharmaceutical industry of the country plays an important role in its economy as well. The British economy is boosted by North Sea oil and gas reserves which was valued at an estimated £250 billion in 2007.

8. Italy:

Italy takes the eighth spot on the top 10 list of richest countries in 2012. Italy is a member of the G8 group of leading industrialized countries. The country has broadened its horizons for its industrial and road and rail network developments. Due to this advancement, the country has a nominal GDP of USD $2,287.704 trillion. The country has a diversified industrial economy with high gross domestic product per capita and developed infrastructure. The Italian economy is driven in large part by the manufacture of high-quality consumer goods that are produced by small and medium-sized enterprises.

9. Russia:

Russia takes the ninth position on the list. In 2011 Russia’s GDP grew by 4.2 percent, which is the world’s third highest growth rate among leading economies. The country has the ninth largest economy in the world by nominal value and the sixth largest by purchasing power parity. Russia is also abundant in natural gas, coal, oil and precious metals. Russia’s capital, Moscow, is noted to have the highest billionaire population of any city in the world.

10. India:


Surprisingly India makes it to the top 10 list of richest countries in the world. India takes the tenth place. India has the eleventh largest Economy in the world by nominal GDP and the third largest by purchasing power parity. The country’s present up-to-date development according to GDP is USD $2.012.760.000 million and this was predicted by the economists in the beginning of 2011. As a matter of fact, by means of the assessment, there was an 8.2 percent progress before the year 2011 came to an end.

In Denial of Fukushima


The overconfidence shown by Indian officials on nuclear safety is unfounded and alarming

PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh’s  seemingly unfounded allegations about the funding of the people’s movement against the Koodankulam nuclear plant has shifted attention away from the real issue: the huge divide between the government and the policy elite that seems to have decided on expanding nuclear power, and the opposition to this way of generating electricity among local communities that live near these facilities. This opposition is in part due to the real and proven risk of catastrophic accidents that nuclear power plants pose to these communities.

To the public, the overwhelming lesson of Fukushima was that nuclear reactors are hazardous and support for expanding or maintaining nuclear power decreased nearly everywhere. A poll in 12 countries that currently operate nuclear power plants, commissioned by BBC News and carried out by GlobeScan between July and September 2011, found that approximately 70 percent oppose the construction of new nuclear reactors. Protests broke out or intensified in countries around the world. Fukushima also demonstrated unambiguously that communities living near nuclear facilities would be the worst affected in the event of an accident, a lesson that hasn’t been lost on the local populations in Koodankulam and Jaitapur.

At the other end of the spectrum was the reaction of the people associated with nuclear establishments, who vociferously argued that it was essential to persist with nuclear power — not surprising, since it conforms to their self-interest. The arguments they used to make a case for expanding nuclear power are best illustrated through statements made by officials associated with the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

On 15 March 2011, NPCIL Chairman SK Jain trivialised what was going on in Japan saying, “There is no nuclear accident or incident in Fukushima… It is a well-planned emergency preparedness programme… (that) the nuclear operators of the Tokyo Electric Power Company are carrying out to contain the residual heat after the plants had an automatic shutdown following a major earthquake.” Such denial would be laughable but when the person thus opining is in charge of India’s power reactor fleet, it ceases to be amusing.

Another strain of argument trivialised the consequences. In November 2011, the DAE Secretary claimed that the “total casualty due to… (Fukushima) was zero”. But it is well known that one of the primary impacts of exposure to radiation, the incidence of cancer, occurs many years after the exposure. Therefore, while no one is likely to have died of cancer so far, the Fukushima accident will likely lead to thousands of cancers globally over the next few decades. Further, hundreds of sq km will remain unusable for agriculture for decades because of contamination by Cesium-137, which has a radioactive half-life of 30 years.

The DAE Secretary has asserted that the probability of a nuclear accident in India is zero

A final argument was that even if an accident were to occur, the DAE and its attendant organisations could manage the situation efficiently. In September 2011, for example, the DAE Secretary claimed: “We are prepared to handle an event like Fukushima.” This assertion is belied by the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, who testified to the Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2010 that it was “nowhere (near) meeting an eventuality that may arise out of nuclear and radiological emergencies”.

But by far the thrust of the statements by DAE and NPCIL officials has been to assert that the accident is essentially irrelevant, because no nuclear accident will ever occur in India. On more than one occasion, the DAE Secretary has made assertions that the probability of a nuclear accident in India is zero. In November 2011, for example, he stated that the probability was “one in infinity”. The public image sought to be created is one of great confidence in safety. Is such confidence justified?

The first point to note is that the very statement that the likelihood of an accident is zero is scientifically untenable; every nuclear reactor has a finite, albeit small, probability of undergoing a catastrophic failure. What’s more, because of the complexity of the system and the many ways in which accidents could occur, this probability is never calculable with full certainty.

All the major nuclear accidents so far have afflicted different reactor designs, have had entirely different causes, have progressed along different pathways, and have had different consequences. Even newer reactor designs are not immune. In the case of the VVER reactors constructed in Koodankulam, a particular concern is with the control rod mechanism. On 1 March 2006, for example, one of the four main circulation pumps at Bulgaria’s Kozluduy unit 5 tripped because of an electrical failure. When the system reduced the power to 67 percent of nominal capacity, three control rod assemblies remained in an upper-end position. Follow-up tests of the remaining control rod assemblies identified that in total, 22 out of 61 could not be moved with driving mechanisms. Control rod insertion failures can seriously compromise safety in an accident.

A second question: is the confidence on the part of officials about the zero probability of accidents good for safety? This is not a question about technology but about organisations. The problem is that because of the potential for accidents, nuclear technology poses extreme organisational demands. Some of these have been identified by a group of researchers led by scholars at the University of California, Berkeley, US. Based on field studies in air traffic control operations, aircraft carriers, and the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, they found several good management practices that are necessary — even if they don’t suffice — for a relatively high degree of safety. These include political and organisational leaders placing a high priority on safety in design and operation; robust cooperation and joint learning between management and workers on safety issues; and the adoption of best design and operational practices. The DAE and its attendant institutions fail to meet many of these criteria.

The best evidence for the DAE’s failure in achieving an adequate degree of safety is the history of small and large accidents at its facilities. Many of these were easily preventable. A good example is the accident at the Narora reactor in March 1993. It started when two blades broke off from the turbine due to vibrations. This eventually led to a major fire that spread across the turbine building and burnt electric cables, which led to a general blackout in the plant. The reactor’s secondary cooling systems were consequently rendered inoperable. It took 17 hours for power to be restored to the reactor and its safety systems.

It was the DAE’s closest brush with a catastrophic accident. More worrisome is the evidence that it could have been foreseen and prevented. First, the failure of the turbine blades was avoidable. In 1989, GE communicated information about a design flaw and recommended design modifications, and the manufacturer responded by preparing detailed drawings for NPCIL. However, NPCIL did not take any action until after the accident.

Second, even if the turbine blade failed despite modification, the accident might have been averted if the safety systems had been operating, which they presumably would have if only their power supply had been encased in separate and fire-resistant ducts. By the time the Narora reactor was commissioned, this was established wisdom in the nuclear design community and had been ever since the fire at Browns Ferry in the US in 1975. This was even recognised in the 1989 safety assessment for Narora performed by DAE analysts, including Anil Kakodkar, who was to become head of the DAE in 2000. Evidently, organisational leaders ignored important safety practices needed to reduce the risk of fire.

NARORA WAS not a one-off case. Similar patterns of avoidable failures marked other accidents too. In the face of this history, it is ludicrous for DAE and NPCIL officials to argue that the probability of an accident is zero. Safety scholar James Reason once noted: “If an organisation is convinced that it has achieved a safe culture, it almost certainly has not.” The DAE and its attendant institutions appear to be convinced not just that they have a safe culture, but that the hazardous technologies they operate are incapable of undergoing accidents. This is not conducive to safety.

The risk of catastrophic accidents means that the pursuit of nuclear power is justified only if it is done democratically with the informed consent of the potentially affected populations. What the Koodankulam protest tells us is that these populations are not consenting to be subject to this risk. They deserve to be listened to, not dismissed as stooges of foreign funding. That is an insult to the intellects and minds of millions of people and to democracy itself.

Author : MV Ramana, Physicist, Program On Science and Global Security, Princeton University

Biggest Science Stories of 2011


hurricane hunters, earth, environment, atlantic hurricane season, hurricane planes, hurricane aircraft, meteorology, storm prediction, hurricane pilots

Credit: U.S. Air Force, Staff Sgt. Valerie Smock.

From the last space shuttle mission and spotting Earth-size planets orbiting another star to the possible detection of the elusive Higgs boson particle and some extreme (and very costly) weather, 2011 was filled with science, albeit sometimes disastrous. Here are 11 of the most compelling and significant science stories to break this year.

The U.S. may have exited the recession this year, but the amount of time Americans go without work has reached a record level. And psychologists say this doesn’t bode well for our emotional health. Census data also shows increases in the nation’s poverty rate in recent years. Americans feel their financial situation was getting worse, not better, and even their pets are suffering. The Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 hit all children hard, but seems to have caused the largest increase in childhood poverty among Latino kids.

Killer Contaminated Cantaloupes
null

Credit: stock.xchng

An outbreak of listeriosis, an infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, spread by contaminated cantaloupes infected 146 people and killed 30 this fall, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in December. Health officials recommend washing melons particularly cantaloupes before slicing them to remove any bacteria clinging to the rind.

The Last Space Shuttle

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Thirty years after launching its first space shuttle, Columbia, NASA ended its space shuttle program in July with a final mission by the shuttle Atlantis. NASA has no immediate plans to replace the shuttles, but is instead focusing on manned voyages beyond low orbit, such as to the moon and Mars. In the immediate future, a combination of commercial ventures, whose craft are still being developed, and other nation’s craft, such as the Russian Soyuz and Progress, are expected to take over the task of ferrying American astronauts and experiments back and forth to the International Space Station (ISS).

Mutant Flu Virus Created in Lab

Bird flu, also known as H5N1, rarely infects people, but when it does the results are often deadly: Of the 600 cases reported since 2003, about 60 percent have been fatal. To better understand how the virus might change into a form that could easily spread between people, two groups of scientists altered the virus in their labs, creating the sort of pathogen that could start a pandemic.

Biosecurity officials have called for crucial details of their work to be kept under wraps — to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands — and some have questioned whether the work should have been done at all.

Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami & Nuclear Crisis
tsunami, tohoku earthquake, japan, japanese earthquake, tsunami debris, radioactive debris, radioactivity, pacific garbage patch, hawaii

Credit: U.S. Navy/ Specialist 3rd Class Alexander Tidd.

On March 11, an earthquake, measuring a magnitude of 8.9, struck off the coast of Japan. The earthquake was the most powerful to ever hit the country, and it was followed by the walls of water – caused by the subsequent tsunamis – which wreaked havoc. These disasters set off the worst nuclear emergency since Chernobyl when massive amounts of radiation were released from nuclear power plants. Reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant melted down, and the surrounding area evacuated.

Alarming Firsts in the Arctic
Baby and mother polar bear on Arctic sea ice

Credit: Sophie TRAN, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE), distributed by EGU under a Creative Commons license.

The ozone hole over the Antarctic is nothing new, although scientists expect it to disappear later this century. But this year, an Arctic counterpart emerged for the first time, thanks to unusually cold temperatures in the stratosphere plus lingering ozone-destroying pollutants. Arctic sea ice also melted — either to its lowest summer extent on record, or its second lowest, depending on who did the measuring.

Exceeding the Speed of Light?

Reports that physicists had accelerated subatomic particles, called neutrinos, faster than the speed of light appeared to upset modern physics and even the nature of causality. Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity gives a special status to the speed of light as a cosmic speed limit. Anything exceeding the speed of light would travel backwards time, interfering with the basic rule that cause precedes effect, called causality. However, this all may have been a false alarm. More recent evidence indicates the neurtrinos never traveled that quickly, though the jury is still out.

Planets Like Ours
earth-sized planets. The Kepler space telescope has spied evidence of two Earth-sized worlds in a star system 950 light-years away.

Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com Contributor/ NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Astronomers came a step closer to locating a habitable, Earth-like planet, when they found two, roughly Earth-sized planets orbiting a star 950 light-years away. These are the smallest, most Earth-size alien worlds known. Their close proximity to their sun means they are too hot to be habitable, however.

Our Ancestors’ Secrets
teeth from a new branch of ancient humans

Credit: David Reich et al., Nature.

It seems our ancestors not only mated with Neanderthals, they also got it on with another, even more mysterious archaic hominin species. Called the Denisovans, these people lived about 40,000 years ago and are known to us only from a few bone fragments and teeth. Research has uncovered Denisovan genes in modern East Asian and Pacific Island populations.

Particle

This track is an example of simulated data modelled for the ATLAS detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. The Higgs boson is produced in the collision of two protons at 14 TeV and quickly decays into four muons, a type of heavy electron that

Credit: CERN/ATLAS

Physicists say they are closing in on an elusive subatomic particle, called the Higgs boson, that could confirm their theory on where mass comes from. The Higgs boson is thought to be tied to a field (the Higgs field), which is responsible for giving all other particles their mass.

Climate Change

dry lake bed

Credit: NOAA.

Drought, wildfire, tornadoes, flooding, a blizzard and a hurricane — weather-related disasters wreaked havoc on the United States in 2011, setting a new record for costly weather-related disasters. In December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the country had experienced 12 $1 billion-plus of them. And we can expect more, said NOAA head Jane Lubchenco, citing predictions of more severe weather brought by climate change. Americans seem to be getting the message; an annual survey found we are starting to see climate change as an immediate problem, thanks to this year’s devastating weather.

White Christmas: Images of Stunning Snowy Landscapes


                                   Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland Credit: mikie11 | shutterstock
Here’s hoping for a white Christmas! FromAustralia to Antarctica, we’ve rounded up breathtaking images of snow-filled landscapes from around the world.

The above winter scene of a rosy sunset’s rays over the snow was captured in Finland.

Winter Wonderland

Winter WonderlandCredit: mikie11 | shutterstock
Here’s hoping for a white Christmas! FromAustralia to Antarctica, we’ve rounded up breathtaking images of snow-filled landscapes from around the world.

The above winter scene of a rosy sunset’s rays over the snow was captured in Finland.

Dr. Seuss Trees

Dr. Seuss TreesCredit: Kotenko Oleksandr | shutterstock
This otherworldly shot also shows snow-covered trees in front of the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine.

Winter Twilight

Winter TwilightCredit: Marcel Baumgartner | shutterstock
This tranquil photograph was snapped in the historic town of Schaffhausen, which was a city-state during the Middle Ages. Located in the northernmost corner of Switzerland, the town rests on the beautiful Rhine riverside.

Frozen Flatirons

Frozen FlatironsCredit: Coloradophotos | shutterstock
The jagged peaks of the Flatirons, a rock formation located in Chautauqua Park, rise above the snow-covered trees of Boulder, Colo. One of Boulder’s most iconic geological features, the Flatirons is a popular destination for mountain climbers.

Snowy Archway

Snowy Archway Credit: Hiroshi Ichikawa | shutterstock
This photo of the snow-tipped stratovolcano Mount Fuji was taken through arching braches on the island of Honshu in Japan. At 12,388 feet (3,776 meters), Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan.

Russian Forest

Russian ForestCredit: Leonid Ikan | shutterstock
The above shot of a sunset over a forest was taken in Russia. During the winter, the days in Russia are quite short, with the sun setting just before 5 p.m. in Moscow during December. The parts of Russia that are to the North of the Polar Circle experience a polar night, which occurs when there is no sunlight during the winter season because the sun’s rays do not reach over from the horizon in those areas.

Roadside Icicles

Roadside IciclesCredit: Repina Valeriya | shutterstock
Here, a snowy-white roadside in rural Russia. Tree branches can look like they’ve been spray-painted white from every angle — not just from above, as is the case after a snowfall — when water particles in fog settle and freeze on surfaces, forming a frosty outer layer that is known as rime.

Australian Snow

Australian SnowCredit: Ashley Whitworth | shutterstock
The above wind-swept landscape overlooks Mount Bogong in Falls Creek, Australia. Located in Alpine National Park, Mount Bogong is a popular skiing and snowboarding location during the mid winter-spring months — the only time that the mountain is covered in snow.

Fog and Frost

Fog and FrostCredit: Sergey Shandin | shutterstock
A fog creeps over a snow-covered road in the village of Mrzla Vodica in Croatia.

Winter Landscape

Winter LandscapeCredit: Dhoxax | shutterstock
The above winter landscape of frosty trees and shrubbery is in Denmark, a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The days are short in Denmark during the winter, with sunsets occurring at about 3:45 p.m.

The Great Outdoors

The Great OutdoorsCredit: Volodymyr Goinyk | shutterstock
Seagulls rest on the dazzling snow-capped mountains of Antarctica. Winter is tourism season in the icy region, which is located around the Earth’s South Pole. Adventure-seekers pay upwards of $30,000 to experience Antarctica’s breathtaking sights, extreme climate and stunning wilderness.

Icy Bridge

Icy BridgeCredit: Mika Heittola | shutterstock
A sunset illuminates a cozy home near a frost-covered bridge in Finland. If you love winter, Finland is the place to be, as Finns experience three to seven months of wintertime, depending on which part of the country they live in.

Sand and Snow

Sand and SnowCredit: morrbyte | shutterstock
The snow-covered shores of Ballybunion Beach, situated at the mouth of the River Shannon in County Kerry, Ireland, feature 14th-century ruins of Ballybunion Castle.

Amazing Alps

Amazing AlpsCredit: Luca Placido | shutterstock
The sun beams down on the smooth snow of Valnontey Valley, located within Italy’s Alps. The Alps mountain range stretches from Austria and Slovenia, through Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Liechtenstein to France.

Frosty Riverside

Frosty RiversideCredit: Govert Nieuwland | shutterstock
The picturesque riverside paths along Kleine Dommel, which starts in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, make for popular tourist attractions.

Winter Windmill

Winter WindmillCredit: Eric Gevaert | shutterstock
A windmill stands in stark contrast against the snowy landscape of the Dutch village of Oosthuizenthe in North Holland, the Netherlands.

Remy Melina

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