(For today’s Commentary – Japan’s Press fails to make nuclear energy the top election issue – click here)

  • The politicians not in the LDP expressed shock at the Kyodo and Yomiuri poll results. PM Noda vowed to make new inroads to turn the tide before Dec. 16th and admitted the DPJ now faces a “difficult situation”. Noda said, “Political reform…will not be possible if the DPJ loses seats. I feel a sense of crisis.” One of Noda’s aides said, “To be honest, I am at a loss for words.” Some DPJ officials believe that dissolving the Diet at the end of November may have been poorly timed. Some Diet incumbents in the DPJ even blamed the poll results on Noda by saying his lack of popularity has devastated the party. One from the Chubu region said, “It is all Noda’s fault.”On another front, the Japan Restoration Party has harshly attacked the front-running LDP. Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto said he was beside himself with anger after seeing the poll results, “Three years of DPJ rule were terrible. However, if we returned the government to the LDP because of that, it would only mean a return to the politics of disappointment of three years ago.” Shiga governor Kada, head of the Tomorrow Party, was also frustrated with the poll results, “I was shocked after reading the newspapers. We have not been able to expand our support.” On the other hand Shinzo Abe, leader of the front-running LDP, sent a message of caution to his party’s candidates, “We will not be able to gain victory if we reach election-day without having solidified support because we had our heads in the clouds over reports that we were in front.Although there are reports that the LDP will gain a large number of seats… We are at a stage of just barely reaching a majority.” He added that LDP party leaders should be careful about what they say between now and December 16th because one “gaffe” could cost the LDP a clear majority. (Asahi Shimbun)
  • A major earthquake struck the Tohoku region of Northeastern Japan today, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was some 240 kilometers off-shore, about 10 kilometers deep in the earth, and was probably a long-delayed after-shock of the March 11, 2011 earthquake. More than 10,000 people were evacuated from the Tohoku coastline in anticipation of a possible tsunami. The worst seems to have been a one-meter tsunamic wave experienced about an hour after the temblor near the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. The jolt of the quake injured a handful of residents, but the evacuation kept the tsunami from hurting anyone. Ishinomaki was one of the most devastated of the Tohoku coastal municipalities on 3/11/11. The remains of countless ruined homes and businesses, plus the rusting carcasses of cars and trucks swept up by the 3/11/11 tsunami continue to lie undisposed along the Ishinomaki coastline. Today’s tsunami added little to the remaining debris volume. Many people were seen picking through the 21-month-old carnage for auto parts. Meanwhile, non-essential personnel at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daiini nuclear power stations moved to high ground in accord with their training, just as they did during the numerous strong aftershocks following 3/11/11. The earthquake had no impact on any of the ten nuclear plants located at the two stations, and radiation levels at F. Daiichi did not change. Utilities report that none of the nuclear stations on the Northeastern coast of Japan experienced damage, including the three units at Onagawa. (NHK World, Reuters; Mainichi Shimbun)