Thousands sign Hiroshima petition to save A-bomb buildings – Hiroshima
Thousands of people have signed an online petition against the planned demolition of two early 20th-century buildings that remained intact after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima devastated the Japanese city.
A local government official confirmed to AFP on Tuesday they had received the petition signed by 12,000 citizens calling for the preservation of the buildings that stand 2.7 kilometers from the 1945 blast. The three-story red-brick buildings are part of a cluster of four built in 1913 and used to manufacture Japanese military uniforms.
A routine earthquake inspection two years ago revealed they would not withstand a strong tremor. The local authorities own three of the cluster of four buildings and the national government owns the remaining property. Preserving and strengthening all three buildings owned by the local government would cost 8.4 billion yen ($77 million), they estimate.
They propose to demolish two of the buildings and strengthen the remaining one they own, at a lower estimated cost of between 1.4 and 3.1 billion yen. But this has proven unpopular locally, with the online petition now attracting nearly 15,000 signatures.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, or Genbaku Dome, is the most famous structure left standing after the world’s first atomic bomb exploded on August 6, 1945. But there are dozens of other buildings that survived the bombing intact within a five-kilometer radius from ground zero. Japan remains the only country to have been attacked with atomic weapons — with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, days ahead of the country’s surrender on August 15, 1945 to end World War II.
令 chosen as kanji character best representing 2019 – Kyoto
The kanji character 令 (rei), meaning beautiful or graceful, has been chosen as the character best representing the sentiment and events in Japan in 2019. The character was one of two characters for 令和 (Reiwa), the new era that began when Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne on May 1.
In an event held on Thursday afternoon and broadcast live by some TV stations, Seihan Mori, the head priest at the world-famous Kiyomizu Buddhist temple in Kyoto, drew the character 令 with a large calligraphy brush, whose bristles are the size of a bowling pin, on a huge piece of washi (Japanese paper).
The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, a Kyoto-based organization that promotes kanji, has conducted the survey nationwide every year since 1995. The foundation said 216,325 submissions were received this year online and by postcard, with 令 garnering 30,427 votes.
The second most popular kanji, with 14,850 votes, was 新 (shin), meaning new, followed by 10,281 for 和 (wa), meaning peace or harmony. Next were 変 (hen or strange) with 7,749 votes and the 2018 kanji of the year 災 (sai or disaster) with 7,302 votes.
Time and cost of relocation of U.S. base in Okinawa to double – Okinawa
The relocation of a U.S. Marine Corps base to a less-crowded area of the southern Japanese island of Okinawa will take more than twice as much money and time as previously estimated because of the need to stabilize the reclaimed land it will be built on, Japan’s government said Wednesday.
The Defense Ministry said the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from densely populated Ginowan to Henoko on Okinawa’s eastern coast will cost 930 billion yen ($8.5 billion) and take 12 years, pushing its completion into the 2030s. That adds more than a decade to the plan, which has already been delayed by more than 20 years because of local opposition and other reasons.
Under an earlier plan agreed to by Tokyo and Washington in 2013, construction was to cost about 350 billion yen ($3.2 billion) and take five years, with completion expected in about 2022. Most of the additional cost and time is required to stabilize and strengthen reclaimed land off the coast of Henoko that will be used for runways, the ministry said. It presented its new estimate to a panel of Japanese experts discussing the relocation plans.
Experts have found parts of the sea bottom at the planned reclamation site to be “as soft as mayonnaise” and needing to be reinforced.
Many Okinawans, including Gov. Denny Tamaki, oppose the relocation, saying the base should be entirely removed from the island. The heavy U.S. military presence on Okinawa has been a source of a long-running conflict between the island and Washington and Tokyo. Japan’s central government forcibly began reclamation work in December 2018 despite repeated protests by Okinawa. Tamaki is expected to also reject a central government application for a local government permit to carry out additional land reinforcement, which is likely to reignite tension and further delay the relocation.
About half of the 50,000 American troops in Japan are stationed in Okinawa. The 30 U.S. installations on the island account for more than 70% of the area used by the U.S. military in Japan, leading Okinawa to protest that it is shouldering more than its share of the burden.