Organized criminal networks could be thought of as a coven of keepers of well guarded secrets. Powerful, profitable well guarded secrets. The organized “system” works because only “need to know” people know about it. It’s like Scientology, minus the actual Scientology. That’s sort of how militaries and officially  or unofficially :
The Daily Beast
The Death and Legacy of Yakuza Boss ‘Mr. Gorilla’
For years Yoshinori Watanabe (aka ‘Mr. Gorilla’) ran Japan’s most powerful and successful yakuza group. Jake Adelstein on his mysterious death over the weekend—and his legacy of modern and ruthless management of the crime syndicate.
Dec 3, 2012 5:54 PM EST
Watanabe was found collapsed at his home in Kobe on Saturday, by his family; his death was confirmed the same day. A memorial service was held for him Monday. The cause of death is unknown, but he allegedly had been in poor health for years.
Watanabe became the fifth head of the Yamaguchi-gumi in 1989 after a four-year gang war between the Yamaguchi-gumi and the Ichiwa-kai, which had split off from the main group. Watanabe, in a move to encourage Ichiwa-kai members to return to the fold, is credited with introducing a pension plan to the Yamaguchi-gumi that promised to take care of retired “employees,” much like major Japanese corporations. Watanabe was a highly intelligent gangster, but because of his slightly simian facial features, he was known amongst some police officers and some yakuza affectionately as “Mr. Gorilla”.
Watanabe was a charismatic leader and a good businessman. By keeping the association dues low and through aggressive gang wars and leveraged peace treaties with rival gangs, he expanded the organization to become Japan’s largest organized crime group; by 2004, the Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters was collecting nearly $25 million per year in association dues alone, according to police files. In the book The Business Management Methods of the Yamaguchi-gumi (2005), by yakuza expert Atsushi Mizoguchi, Watanabe succinctly explains the secret of his organized crime management: “Absolute Unity. Retaliation. Silence. Appropriate rewards and punishments, and judicious use of violence.”
However, during his reign, problems also emerged. Anti-yakuza legislation went on the books (1992) and legal precedents were set that gradually forced the yakuza underground. In a civil lawsuit over the shooting death of a policeman in a gang conflict that involved the Yamaguchi-gumi, Watanabe was effectively ordered by Japan’s Supreme Count to pay damages of about 80 million yen in 2004. This was the first time the courts recognized a Yakuza boss’s “employer liability.”
Watanabe was a folk hero in Kobe, the town where he died, after organizing relief efforts and providing food, water, and essential supplies to the locals after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January of 1995.
Under Watanabe’s successor, Shinobu Tsukasa, the Yamaguchi-gumi absorbed the Tokyo-based Kokusui-kai in 2005, giving them a strong base in eastern Japan. By 2007 the Yamaguchi-gumi had effectively put the Inagawa-kai under their umbrella, making them the Walmart of Japanese organized crime with more than half of the total yakuza (79,000) being under their control.
Note the references to the Yamaguchi-guchi’s pension plan for its “employees” as well as the “employer liability” legal ruling  that forced the Yamaguch-guchi clan to pay a fine in 2005 after one of its “employees” killed a police officer. The yakuza’s employment efforts will be highly relevant in excerpts below. Their disaster relief efforts are also going to be highlighted. As evidenced by the yakuza’s post-earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown actions, the yakuza are a lot like a corrupt political party  in  many  ways  but one difference is that the yakuza’s awful attempts at populist folksiness actually involve helping people sometimes :
The Daily Beast
Yakuza to the Rescue
Even Japan’s infamous mafia groups are helping out with the relief efforts and showing a strain of civic duty. Jake Adelstein reports on why the police don’t want you to know about it.
Mar 18, 2011 5:00 AM EDT
The worst of times sometimes brings out the best in people, even in Japan’s “losers” a.k.a. the Japanese mafia, the yakuza. Hours after the first shock waves hit, two of the largest crime groups went into action, opening their offices to those stranded in Tokyo, and shipping food, water, and blankets to the devastated areas in two-ton trucks and whatever vehicles they could get moving. The day after the earthquake the Inagawa-kai (the third largest organized crime group in Japan which was founded in 1948) sent twenty-five four-ton trucks filled with paper diapers, instant ramen, batteries, flashlights, drinks, and the essentials of daily life to the Tohoku region. An executive in Sumiyoshi-kai, the second-largest crime group, even offered refuge to members of the foreign community—something unheard of in a still slightly xenophobic nation, especially amongst the right-wing yakuza. The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime group, under the leadership of Tadashi Irie, has also opened its offices across the country to the public and been sending truckloads of supplies, but very quietly and without any fanfare.
The Inagawa-kai has been the most active because it has strong roots in the areas hit. It has several “blocks” or regional groups. Between midnight on March 12th and the early morning of March 13th, the Inagawa-kai Tokyo block carried 50 tons of supplies to Hitachinaka City Hall (Hitachinaka City, Ibaraki Prefecture) and dropped them off, careful not to mention their yakuza affiliation so that the donations weren’t rejected. This was the beginning of their humanitarian efforts. Supplies included cup ramen, bean sprouts, paper diapers, tea and drinking water. The drive from Tokyo took them twelve hours. They went through back roads to get there. The Kanagawa Block of the Inagawa-kai, has sent 70 trucks to the Ibaraki and Fukushima areas to drop off supplies in areas with high radiations levels. They didn’t keep track of how many tons of supplies they moved. The Inagawa-kai as a whole has moved over 100 tons of supplies to the Tohoku region. They have been going into radiated areas without any protection or potassium iodide.
The Yamaguchi-gumi member I spoke with said simply, “Please don’t say any more than we are doing our best to help. Right now, no one wants to be associated with us and we’d hate to have our donations rejected out of hand.”
To those not familiar with the yakuza, it may come as a shock to hear of their philanthropy, but this is not the first time that they have displayed a humanitarian impulse. In 1995, after the Kobe earthquake, the Yamaguchi-gumi was one of the most responsive forces on the ground, quickly getting supplies to the affected areas and distributing them to the local people. Admittedly, much of those supplies were paid with by money from years of shaking down the people in the area, and they were certainly not unaware of the public relations factor—but no one can deny that they were helpful when people needed aid—as they are this time as well.
It may seem puzzling that the yakuza, which are organized crime groups, deriving their principal revenue streams from illegal activities, such as collecting protection money, blackmail, extortion, and fraud would have any civic nature at all. However, in Japan since the post-war period they have always played a role in keeping the peace. According to Robert Whiting’s Tokyo Underworld and Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes, the US government even bought the services of one infamous yakuza fixer, Yoshio Kodama, to keep Japan from going communist and maintain order. Kodama would later put up the funding to create the Liberal Democrat Party of Japan that ruled the country for over fifty years. When President Obama visited Japan last year, the police contacted the heads of all Tokyo yakuza groups and asked them to behave themselves and make sure there were no problems.
Interesting fun-fact: The “yakuza fixer”/power-broker referenced above, Yoshio Kodama, was the one-time prison cell mate of former prime minister Nobosuke Kishi for war crimes (Kishi is the grandfather of current prime minister Shinzo Abe ). Kodama was also a backer of  gangster /oligarch /sushi  king /new messiah  reverend Sun Myung Moon. It’s a small world at the top. The glue that seems to hold the world at the together appears to be highly profitable and powerful secrecy and lots of money. Curiously, though, an large number of those powerful secrets aren’t really very secret :
The Daily Beast
Japan’s Justice Minister to Resign Over Yakuza Ties
It’s almost too perfect: Japan’s new minister of justice is about to resign over his ties to a leading yakuza (mafia) organization. Jake Adelstein reports on the latest political scandal—and just what the yakuza do for the politicians.
Oct 18, 2012 11:30 PM EDT
It seems like Japanese politicians just can’t get enough of the yakuza.
It was reported last week that the newly appointed Minister of Justice Keishu Tanaka (Democratic Party of Japan) had strong ties to the Japanese mafia. This Thursday, Japan’s respected weekly news magazine, Shukan Bunshun, ran an article on how Japan’s Minister of Finance Koriki Jojima, was supported by a yakuza front company during his election campaign. Minister Tanaka is expected to resign Friday (Japan time). If he does, he’ll be the second Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) appointed cabinet minister since 2009 to resign after exposure of yakuza ties. Not a good thing for the DPJ, which came to power as “the clean party.”
Last Thursday the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho was the first to write that Minister Tanaka had long running ties to the Inagawa-kai. The Inagawa-kai, Japan’s third-largest crime group, was founded as Inagawa-Kogyo circa 1948 and their current headquarters are across the street from the Ritz Carlton Tokyo; they have 10,000 members. According to the police, since 2007 the group has been under the umbrella of the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest yakuza group in the country, with 39,000 members. Kazuo Uchibori, the leader of the Inagawa-kai, was arrested this month on money-laundering charges. The Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office (TPO) has not yet decided whether to prosecute him. The TPO is also part of the Ministry of Justice, headed by Mr. Tanaka.
The Shincho article alleges Tanaka has long relied on the support of the Inagawa-kai in his political and business dealings and had participated in many Inagawa-kai events—including serving as a matchmaker (nakoudo) at the wedding of an underboss. The piece also states that the Inagawa-kai suppressed scandalous rumors about Tanaka’s life, involving a tawdry love affair. The underboss responsible for handling the negative PR matters allegedly told would-be extortionists, “Tanaka was the matchmaker at my wedding. Save my face—forgive and forget about it.”
The Daily Beast spoke with Inagawa-kai members and police officers from Kanagawa Prefecture who confirmed that Tanaka did indeed have strong ties to the Inagawa-kai, until at least two years ago.
Tanaka has admitted to attending Inagawa-kai events in the past, including the wedding, but has denied the rest of the allegations.
Sen. Shoji Nishida who has investigated and written about the ties of some DPJ members to the mob in WILL magazine (November 2011) says, “Tanaka is the 4th DPJ-coalition-appointed minister with yakuza ties. I wonder if they even screen the people they put in cabinet positions. The minister of Justice is supposed to be the watchdog of the law, not a matchmaker for the yakuza. Putting a yakuza associate in charge of Japan’s criminal-justice system ... that’s outrageous. Now I can understand why the Yamaguchi-gumi endorsed their party.”
It should be pointed out that the DPJ coalition has not officially endorsed any organized crime group in Japan. It may very well be a unilateral relationship. The DPJ has consistently opposed passing a Criminal Conspiracy Law, legislation that would be fatal to Japan’s semi-legitimate organized-crime groups. It would make sense for the mob to support their own interests.
It was not that unusual for Japanese politicians to have yakuza ties in the past. In the good old days, yakuza themselves even served as ministers of the Japanese government. The grandfather of ex-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi (Liberal Democratic Party), Matajiro Koizumi, was a member of a yakuza group later absorbed into the Inagawa-kai. During his term serving as the minister of general affairs (1929–1931), due to his ornate body art, Matajiro Koizumi was fondly known as “Irezumi Daijin” or “the tattooed minister.”
It is increasingly likely that at least Keishu Tanaka will be forced to resign from office due to his past role as a “yakuza matchmaker.” His resignation is unlikely to be the end of—what so far—has been a really great relationship for the Japanese political parties and the underworld—a match made in heaven. For Japan’s political parties the yakuza are a necessary evil. When you need to get out the vote, squelch possible political scandals—or create them, nobody does the job quite as well as Japan’s mafia.
The embrace of the yakuza or any mafia outfit as a “necessary evil” by politicians is  not  a surprising  global  phenomena . If you go deep enough into the world of deep state power politics you’ll end up above the law. Normal laws no longer  apply  in those environments.
Smoldering piles of highly radioactive waste. No roof. Big problem.
One prominent exception to exemption from normal laws for deep state actors would be the laws of physics. They’re just really hard to get around. For example, if an earthquake/tsunami happens to trigger a powerful enough explosion to blow its roof off  AND the building happens to contain over a thousand spent nuclear fuel rods , the laws of physics strong suggest that you’re going to have a really hard time cleaning that up. And those difficulties are going to last for a very long time :
High radiation bars decommissioning of Fukushima plant
February 21, 2013
By HISASHI HATTORI/ Senior Staff Writer
Preparations for the mammoth task of decommissioning crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are being stymied by continued high levels of radiation from the triple meltdowns there two years ago.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the plant, has had to install more tanks to store radioactive water, which continues to swell by several hundreds of tons daily.
Asahi Shimbun reporters entered the No. 4 reactor building on Feb. 20, accompanied by inspectors from the secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, to assess the situation.
The reactor was offline for regular inspections when the magnitude‑9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011, generating towering tsunami that swamped the plant.
In the days that followed, a hydrogen explosion tore through the No. 4 reactor building. It raised alarm worldwide that the storage pool for spent nuclear fuel in the building might lose its water through evaporation, resulting in the discharge of voluminous amounts of radioactive substances.
That was narrowly averted.
Most of the debris, such as steel frames mangled in the explosion, have been removed from the roofless top floor of the reactor building, but radiation levels remain high.
“Here, the reading is 200 microsieverts per hour,” an inspector said. “But it is 1,000 microsieverts on the north side close to the No. 3 reactor building. Keep your distance.”
A shroud has been placed over the spent fuel storage pool on the top floor. The water temperature was about 20 degrees. The water, seen through an opening, was muddy and brown. The fuel inside the pool was not visible.
Workers were installing a shroud for the No. 4 reactor building on the south side of the building. It will be equipped with a crane to remove spent fuel from the storage pool.
The foundation work was already completed, and steel frames were being assembled.
TEPCO intends to mount a determined effort to remove spent fuel from the storage pool in November. Two fuel assemblies were removed on a trial basis in July.
Ever-increasing radioactive water has become a key challenge for TEPCO.
Groundwater is flowing into reactor buildings, where it mixes with water used to cool melted fuel inside the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.
The amount of radioactive water stored in tanks and other facilities rose to 230,000 tons this month, up from 10,000 tons in July 2011.
In addition, an estimated 100,000 tons of water have accumulated in the basements of buildings.
Currently, there are nearly 500 storage tanks on the plant premises, many as tall as three-story buildings. TEPCO plans to add more by 2015 when it expects to have to store 700,000 tons of radioactive water.
Preparations for decommissioning have only recently begun. Decommissioning will not be completed for the next 30 to 40 years under a plan drawn up by the government and TEPCO.
Currently, workers cannot easily approach the three reactor buildings where the meltdowns occurred due to high radiation levels. They have been removing debris, such as concrete blocks, on the plant premises.
Work to remove melted fuel from the three reactors is expected to begin by around 2022. Fuel is believed to be scattered within the pressure vessels, containment vessels or piping systems, but exact locations remain unclear.
In addition, TEPCO has yet to identify where radioactive water has been leaking from the damaged containment vessels. The containment vessels must be filled with water before melted fuel is removed.
In December, TEPCO sent a remote-controlled robot near the pressure suppression chamber in the No. 2 reactor building to find out where water was leaking. But the mission failed when the robot lost its balance and got stuck.
New technologies must be developed for decommissioning, but manufacturers and general contractors have shown little enthusiasm.
The companies fear they will not be able to recover their investments because the technologies would have little practical application other than for the Fukushima plant.
Yep, the nuclear plant that had its roof blown off two years ago by an earthquake/tsunami-induced hydrogen explosion is going to take 30–40 years to decontaminate. And it’s still very very radioactive. And the building is still leaking very very radioactive water . Thanks “Laws of Physics”!
Additionally, the article ends by informing us that fixing the situation will require the development of new technologies. But businesses aren’t interested in developing the technologies because the anti-nuclear catastrophe technologies won’t have obvious applications beyond the still unfolding nuclear disaster...even though the successful cleanup of that nuclear waste is required for the long-term health of Japan and the biosphere at large. As some might say, “corporations are people”. And like people, corporations can be mind-numbingly shortsighted and lack even a basic sense of self-preservation. Thanks “The Market”!
Help Wanted: Smoldering piles of highly radioactive waste. No roof. Big problem.
Fortunately, while new technologies may be at hand, there are strong indications that finding new people to work on the cleanup efforts won’t be as much of an issue. And there’s probably going to be a lot of new workers required for the cleanup given time-frame involved (30–40 years) and other  staffing complications .
Unfortunately, that pool of available manpower appears to be due, in part, to organized crime bosses trying to secure nuclear cleanup contracts. Let’s hope there aren’t any “employer liability” cases related to the Fukushima cleanup effort for the next few decades :
Japanese underworld tries to cash in on tsunami clean-up
The yakuza is turning its attention from helping disaster victims to winning contracts for the massive rebuilding effort
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
The Guardian, Wednesday 15 June 2011 09.44 EDT
In the aftermath of the devastating March tsunami, Japan’s underworld made a rare display of philanthropy, handing out emergency supplies to survivors, sometimes days before aid agencies arrived.
Three months later, however, the yakuza appears to have dispensed with largesse and is instead hoping to cash in on the daunting clean-up effort in dozens of ruined towns and villages.
The government and police fear they are losing the battle to prevent crime syndicates from winning lucrative contracts to remove millions of tonnes of debris left in the tsunami’s wake, including contaminated rubble near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that many firms are reluctant to handle.
The disaster created almost 24m tonnes of debris in the three hardest-hit prefectures, Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate, according to the environment ministry. So far, just over 5m tonnes – or 22% – has been removed.
Those lining up to profit from the clearance operation, which is expected to take three years, include homegrown gangs and Chinese crime syndicates, according to the June edition of Sentaku, a respected political and economic affairs magazine.
The magazine recounts the story of a leading Chinese gangster who, accompanied by a national politician, visited the mayor of Minamisoma – a town near Fukushima Daiichi, where a partial evacuation order is in place – hoping to win contracts to remove radioactive waste that, according to police, could have ended up at disposal sites in China.
“The yakuza are trying to position themselves to gain contracts for their construction companies for the massive rebuilding that will come.”
Officials have said that the removal of debris should come under central government control, and the names of “antisocial” individuals have been forwarded to local authorities.
But given the sheer quantity of debris, and the manpower required to remove and dispose of it, few believe Japan’s most powerful yakuza gangs will be kept out altogether.
“The nexus of massive construction projects, bureaucrats, politicians, businessmen and yakuza are as revealing about Japan as they are about Italy and Russia,” Jeff Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University in Tokyo, wrote in his recent book, Contemporary Japan.
So just months after the Fukushima disaster (when the above article was written), organized crime groups were angling to get a share of the massive cleanup proceeds. And they were already so infused into construction/government contract sectors of the economy that their involvement was virtually guaranteed. And that cleanup effort is scheduled to take decades and will involve the handling of large amounts of highly radioactive material. And the mafia appears to be interested in the highly radioactive material disposal contracts. AND hardly anyone appears to be surprised or perturbed by this development because the yakuza has supplying manpower to Japan’s nuclear power industry for a long time. Major catastrophes often have a sudden “quick” phase of disaster (the earthquake/tsunami) followed by long, slow rolling phase of secondary disasters that emerge in the wake of the catastrophe. Organized criminal outfits infiltrating powerful institutions is an example of the larger pattern of endemic systemic corruption and endemic systemic corruption is a global phenomena. Endemic systemic corruption is also a slow motion disaster. And full-spectrum too :
How the Yakuza went nuclear
What really went wrong at the Fukushima plant? One undercover reporter risked his life to find out
By Jake Adelstein
11:30AM GMT 21 Feb 2012
On March 11 2011, at 2:46pm, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Japan. The earthquake, followed by a colossal tsunami, devastated the nation, together killing over 10,000 people. The earthquake also triggered the start of a triple nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco). Of the three reactors that melted down, one was nearly 40 years old and should have been decommissioned two decades ago. The cooling pipes, “the veins and arteries of the old nuclear reactors”, which circulated fluid to keep the core temperature down, ruptured.
Approximately 40 minutes after the shocks, the tsunami reached the power plant and knocked out the electrical systems. Japan’s Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa) had warned Tepco about safety violations and problems at the plant days before the earthquake; they’d been warned about the possibility of a tsunami hitting the plant for years.
The denials began almost immediately. “There has been no meltdown,” government spokesman Yukio Edano intoned in the days after March 11. “It was an unforeseeable disaster,” Tepco’s then president Masataka Shimizu chimed in. As we now know, the meltdown was already taking place. And the disaster was far from unforeseeable.
Tepco has long been a scandal-ridden company, caught time and time again covering up data on safety lapses at their power plants, or doctoring film footage which showed fissures in pipes. How was the company able to get away with such long-standing behaviour? According to an explosive book recently published in Japan, they owe it to what the author, Tomohiko Suzuki, calls “Japan’s nuclear mafia… A conglomeration of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, the shady nuclear industry, their lobbyists…” And at the centre of it all stands Japan’s actual mafia: the yakuza.
It might surprise the Western reader that gangsters are involved in Japan’s nuclear industry and even more that they would risk their lives in a nuclear crisis. But the yakuza roots in Japanese society are very deep. In fact, they were some of the first responders after the earthquake, providing food and supplies to the devastated area and patrolling the streets to make sure no looting occurred.
“Almost all nuclear power plants that are built in Japan are built taking the risk that the workers may well be exposed to large amounts of radiation,” says Suzuki. “That they will get sick, they will die early, or they will die on the job. And the people bringing the workers to the plants and also doing the construction are often yakuza.” Suzuki says he’s met over 1,000 yakuza in his career as an investigative journalist and former editor of yakuza fanzines. For his book, The Yakuza and the Nuclear Industry, Suzuki went undercover at Fukushima to find first-hand evidence of the long-rumoured ties between the nuclear industry and the yakuza. First he documents how remarkably easy it was to become a nuclear worker at Fukushima after the meltdown. After signing up with a legitimate company providing labour, he entered the plant armed only with a wristwatch with a hidden camera. Working there over several months, he quickly found yakuza-supplied labour, and many former yakuza working on site themselves.
Suzuki discovered evidence of Tepco subcontractors paying yakuza front companies to obtain lucrative construction contracts; of money destined for construction work flying into yakuza accounts; and of politicians and media being paid to look the other way. More shocking, perhaps, were the conditions he says he found inside the plant.
His fellow workers, found Suzuki, were a motley crew of homeless, chronically unemployed Japanese men, former yakuza, debtors who owed money to the yakuza, and the mentally handicapped. Suzuki claims the regular employees at the plant were often given better radiation suits than the yakuza recruits. (Tepco has admitted that there was a shortage of equipment in the disaster’s early days.) The regular employees were allowed to pass through sophisticated radiation monitors while the temporary labourers were simply given hand rods to monitor their radiation exposure.
A former yakuza boss tells me that his group has “always” been involved in recruiting labourers for the nuclear industry. “It’s dirty, dangerous work,” he says, “and the only people who will do it are homeless, yakuza, or people so badly in debt that they see no other way to pay it off.” Suzuki found people who’d been threatened into working at Fukushima, but others who’d volunteered. Why? “Of course, if it was a matter of dying today or tomorrow they wouldn’t work there,” he explains. “It’s because it could take 10 years or more for someone to possibly die of radiation excess. It’s like Russian roulette. If you owe enough money to the yakuza, working at a nuclear plant is a safer bet. Wouldn’t you rather take a chance at dying 10 years later than being stabbed to death now?” (Suzuki’s own feeling was that the effects of low-level radiation are still unknown and that, as a drinker and smoker, he’s probably no more likely to get cancer than he was before.)
The situation at Fukushima is still dire. Number-two reactor continues to heat up, and appears to be out of control. Rolling blackouts are a regular occurrence. Nuclear reactors are being shut down, one by one, all over Japan. Meanwhile, there is talk that Tepco will be nationalised and its top executives are under investigation for criminal negligence, in relation to the 3/11 disaster. As for the yakuza, the police are beginning to investigate their front companies more closely. “Yakuza may be a plague on society,” says Suzuki, “but they don’t ruin the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and irradiate the planet out of sheer greed and incompetence.” Suzuki says he’s had little trouble from the yakuza about his book’s allegations. He suspects this is because he showed they were prepared to risk their lives at Fukushima – he almost made them look good.
Finding Good Help is Hard Everywhere
The practice of forcing debtors to work around nuclear waste isn’t just an incredibly cruel form of debtors prison, it’s also kind of crazy for all parties involved. When you’re paying an organization to safely dispose of toxic waste you have the obvious concern that waste will be disposed of unsafely. This is a lesson the Italian mafia has  — a longtime partner  of both the Vatican and Italian power networks — taught us in recent years . And when it’s nuclear waste, you have the additional concern that the mafia might want to dump it in the sea or bury it, or maybe enrich it (imagine a mob-bomb. yikes). These are some lesson the Italian mafia has been teaching us for decades :
From cocaine to plutonium: mafia clan accused of trafficking nuclear waste
Tom Kington in Rome
The Guardian, Monday 8 October 2007
Authorities in Italy are investigating a mafia clan accused of trafficking nuclear waste and trying to make plutonium.
The ‘Ndrangheta mafia, which gained notoriety in August for its blood feud killings of six men in Germany, is alleged to have made illegal shipments of radioactive waste to Somalia, as well as seeking the “clandestine production” of other nuclear material.
Two of the Calabrian clan’s members are being investigated, along with eight former employees of the state energy research agency Enea.
The eight are suspected of paying the mobsters to take waste off their hands in the 1980s and 1990s. At the time they were based at the agency’s centre at Rotondella, a town in Basilicata province in the toe of Italy, which today treats “special” and “hazardous” waste. At other centres, Enea studies nuclear fusion and fission technologies.
The ‘Ndrangheta has been accused by investigators of building on its origins as a kidnapping gang to become Europe’s top cocaine importer, thanks to ties to Colombian cartels. But the nuclear accusation, if true, would take it into another league.
An Enea official who declined to be named denied the accusation, saying: “Enea has always worked within the rules and under strict national and international supervision.”
A magistrate, Francesco Basentini, in the city of Potenza began the investigation following others by magistrates and the leaking to the press of the police confession of an ‘Ndrangheta turncoat, detailing his role in the alleged waste-dumping.
An Enea manager is said to have paid the clan to get rid of 600 drums of toxic and radioactive waste from Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, and the US, the turncoat claimed, with Somalia as the destination lined up by the traffickers.
But with only room for 500 drums on a ship waiting at the northern port of Livorno, 100 drums were secretly buried somewhere in the southern Italian region of Basilicata. Clan members avoided burying the waste in neighbouring Calabria, said the turncoat, because of their “love for their home region”, and because they already had too many kidnap victims hidden in grottoes there.
Investigators have yet to locate the radioactive drums allegedly buried in Basilicata — although, in a parallel investigation, police are searching for drums of non-radioactive toxic waste they believe were dumped by the ‘Ndrangheta near the Unesco town of Matera in Basilicata, famous for its ancient houses dug into the rock, the Ansa news agency reported yesterday.
Shipments to Somalia, where the waste was buried after buying off local politicians, continued into the 1990s, while the mob also became adept at blowing up shiploads of waste, including radioactive hospital waste, and sending them to the sea bed off the Calabrian coast, the turncoat told investigators. Although he made no mention of attempted plutonium production, Il Giornale newspaper wrote that the mobsters may have planned to sell it to foreign governments.
Ah, wonderful: the destination of choice for the disposal of nuclear waste by the Italian mafia has been somewhere off the coast of Somalia. Problem  solved ! And the most notorious of the Italian mafias, the ‘Ndrangheta, appears to be interested in plutonium production (plutonium production ambitions shouldn’t be as much of an issue for the Fukushima disaster, although not for reassuring reasons ).
So do we have to worry about any yakuza with nuclear-trafficking ambitions? Well, given that the yakuza are sort of like an arm of the Japanese government, full-scale nuclear enrichment and trafficking is probably not a massive concern. It sounds like the yakuza have been playing a role in Japan’s nuclear industry for decades including roles involving the handling of nuclear material. There’s got to be some sort of TEPCO-yakuza informal protocol that’s been developed over the years so indiscriminate nuclear trafficking. Nuclear dumping, on the other hand, is a real possibility given the scale of radioactive material that’s going to have to be decontaminated and moved somewhere. Out of sight out of mind lots of profit. There’s going to be dumping. TEPCO has already engaged in no-longer-secret dumpling  so it’s not really a question of whether or not secret dumping of radioactive material will take place but whether or not the yakuza will be doing TEPCO-approved secret dumping or their own “independent” secret dumping.
It’s widely presumed that the mafia is going to continue to be involved with these nuclear cleanup activities and the police appear to lack the resources  to identify mob-supplied workers. It seems like just a matter of time before we get reports of illegal dumping of nuclear material by yakuza affiliates and probable some non-yakuza affiliates too. Hopefully that’s not the case. There was an enormous amount of officially tolterated dumping of radioactive waste into the countryside in the initial aftermath based on reports . Nuclear cleanup fraud is where the big money’s going to be for a lot of connected parties in Japan for a long time. Probably.
So let’s hope the yakuza never goes down the path of egregious dumping, because each of those ships filled with toxic/nuclear waste that the Italian mafia sank off the coast of Italy were extremely serious wounds to the biosphere. Life is pretty tough, but enriched nuclear waste can be tougher. Or at least it can give life a serious headache. And maybe mutations. Mutations just add up. So does nuclear waste. The half can get nasty with the stuff found in that roofless building. The Japanese government is still looking at sites to store the waste  so we really have very little idea of what the long-term plans are going to be for the disposal of that stuff but presumably the disposal space will be at a premium. There’s a lot or material to store . Lots is going to get tossed. Please dump gently Mr. yakuzas. Like, at least hire ecology grad students to find the least damaging spots to dump stuff if it comes to that. And take lower profits to do it in the least environmentally damaging way. And if you could use your yakuza powers to ensure all the other dumpers also dump gently that would be super of an epic proportion. Don’t dump, of course. But if you just have to dump, dump gently. The ecosystem is already in a quasi-state of collapse and climate change is just getting underway. Throwing large amounts of radiation into the mix is cruel.
Just over a month ago, we saw the first arrest of a yakuza boss providing cleanup staff. Police called it the first such arrest of a yakuza boss for sending people to work at Fukushima. It was also the second such “first arrest of a yakuza boss for Fukushima”. The first one took place last May , although the reports are unclear if this is the same person that was arrested on both occasions. Either way, there were no hints of improper activities by the employees in the reports...the problem was that they were hired by a yakuza boss subcontractor that was taking a cut of their salaries. So it appears that there is indeed some yakuza muscle moving that nuclear waste. Not much, based on reports, but some :
Japan police arrest mobster over Fukushima clean-up
(AFP) – Feb 1, 2013
TOKYO — Japanese police have arrested a high-ranking yakuza over claims he sent workers to the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant for the clean-up without a licence.
Officers in northern Yamagata prefecture were quizzing Yoshinori Arai, a 40-year-old senior member of a local yakuza group affiliated to the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate, a police spokesman said.
Arai allegedly dispatched three men to Fukushima to work on clean-up crews in November, he said.
Under Japanese law, a government licence is required by anyone who acts as an employment agent.
Arai is also suspected of sending people to work on the construction of temporary housing in the tsunami-hit northeast, the spokesman said.
Arai reportedly told police that he intended to profit from the scheme by taking a cut of the workers’ wages. Those employed at Fukushima earn more than others in similar work because of the potentially hazardous nature of the job.
It was the first arrest of a mobster linked to Fukushima clean-up, the police spokesman said.
The full scale of the damage done from the Fukushima disaster is yet to be determined. Some of it will come down to luck, like whether or not another major earthquake and/or tsunami hits the plant before those nuclears rods can be safely removed. But much of the damage that will emerge for the disaster two years ago is yet to be determined and its going to be determined primarily by human error and human choices. The “Fukushima 50” — workers that heroically worked at the plant in spite of the enormous personal risks — included Yakuza-affiliates . Their actions prevented a bad situation from become much worse. There are going to be an enormous number of sacrifices required in the future in order to minimize the addition damage that has yet to be inflicted by the giant pile of highly radioactive material sitting in a building with its roof blown off. Due the nature of the situation and the existing political power structures, those critical future decision are going to be largely in secret be largely unknown individuals. And due to the yakuza’s unique “risky/dirt business” niche in both Japan’s power structure and nuclear industry it seems likely that some of those secret decisions will be made by the yakuza. Secrets like “who dumped what horrible toxin where?” might be the exclusive domain of yakuza bosses in many instances.
The idea of yakuza mob bosses possibly having control of enormously powerful nuclear secrets should be a rather disturbing thought. At the same time, organized criminal syndicates have always played a role in national security affairs and power secrets, so this isn’t a new situation and the world hasn’t blown up yet. Then again, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, so while quasi-mob-rule isn’t a new situation, it’s still a bad situation that’s getting worse. And if you removed the mobs from the equation, it wouldn’t necessarily get much better. Mob rule  can be  a  a state of mind .
The Saving the Economy By Saving Each Other Stimulus Plan
One of the reasons the Japanese government’s recent decision to engage in serious stimulus spending  was likely to be a useful policy is that an enormous amount of work needs to be done to address the still dire situation at Fukushima. That’s going to cost money. A LOT of money. The entire world really should be participating in a global economic stimulus plan: the “Save Japan” plan. It had a horrific earthquake, tsunami, and ongoing nuclear meltdown all at once. Yeah, it’s a very wealthy country with immense resources but again: earthquake, tsunami, ongoing nuclear meltdown. And EVERYONE needs the existing dangers  put under control. So why not have a global “Save Japan because, you know, earthquake, tsunami, and ongoing nuclear meltdown” plan?
Japan may be acting like it has everything all under control but it’s totally fronting. It’s not going to ask for help because, you know, it’s Japan. But they still need help and the more help they get, in terms of real manpower, the less yakuza and other shady contractors will be required and hired. They’re just going allow themselves to quietly get irradiated and it’s going to take longer to deal with those extremely radioactive rods. “Save Japan” is in everyone’s best interest. Countries around the world can build all sort of new businesses and areas of research and develop whatever technologies the businesses reportedly weren’t interested in doing. This would be the perfect stimulus target: global radioactive calamity that could take place should another major event hit that plant and release even more radiation. How many tens of billions of dollars would it cost to figure out whatever needs to be figured out for Fukushima rods? It’s going to take a while, but learning how to move and store highly radioactive crap better seems like a very useful thing for humanity to know how to do given our predilection for creating it. $100 billion over a decade for a crash movement/processing/storage program divided up between the world maybe?
Ok, now add a save Yemen because it’s about to run out of water  global stimulus program. There’s clearly going to be a number of new technologies and infrastructure needed to prepare Yemen for that fateful “oh crap” day that’s hitting sometime sooner or later .
Similarly, make a “Save the Nile region because a Nile Water War Would be Hell ” global stimulus plan. Nations all over could study the region’s growing water needs and study what’s going to be required to transition that regions towards a sustainable economy. Not one on a trajectory towards eco-catastrophe and war.
And just keep going finding regions of the world with the place is careening towards calamity and needs help. And just do it as stimulus. No counterbalancing austerity nonsense (I’m looking at you Europe). Just stimulus. Save the world and stimulate the economy while you’re doing it! Each country could throw in whatever money they want but would all have to be directed as solving one of the most troubled regions of the world. A place facing looming disaster. The amount should probably be a pretty big chunk for countries that can afford it. The US, for instance, could probable afford to contribute at least, oh, say, around $85 billion or so to the “Save the World and Stimulate While You Do It” plan. At least $85 billion, if not more. US industries could be developed dedicated to finding things like awesome new desalinization technologies, better radiation shielding (great for space travel), robotic factories that build ultra-eco-friendly homes and then factories that build the factories that build the homes. And then we give the home-building factories to the places that need ultra-eco-friendly homes. And we just keep doing that and no one cares about balance of trade or whatever. The entire modern economy needs to be technologically revamped to deal with the constraints of the 21st century. And once there are no more serious problems — problems like poverty or thousand of highly radioactive spent fuel rods that are sitting in a building with its roof blown off — we can end the stimulus program. We will have saved ourselves by saving each other in a stimulating way.
Here’s an update on the situation in Fukushima: Tepco is about to begin the highly dangerous process of safely removing the 1,300+ spent fuel-rods from Fukushima Daiichi 4.
Q. What could go wrong?
A: OMFG .
November 6, 2013 23:21
Facts on complex operation to remove Fukushima fuel rods
Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) will this month start removing fuel from a storage pool at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, the most challenging operation since runaway reactors were brought under control two years ago.
Here are some key facts about the operation.
Q: What’s the state of nuclear fuel at the site?
A: Reactors No. 1, 2 and 3 went into meltdown after their cooling systems were knocked out by the March 2011 tsunami. The temperature of the cores and spent fuel pools at all reactors is now stable and water is being used to keep them cool.
Reactor No. 4, whose outer building was damaged by fires and an explosion, has an empty core but a total of 1,533 fuel assemblies — 1,331 spent fuel bundles and 202 unused ones — are in its storage pool.
Q: Why does TEPCO have to take fuel from the pool?
A: According to the firm, it is safer to store all fuel in a shared pool that is reinforced against possible future earthquakes and tsunamis.
This will be the first post-tsunami attempt to move any fuel from one part of the plant to another.
Q: How will the operation work?
A: Under normal circumstances, nuclear plants shuffle fuel rods around fairly frequently, often using computer-controlled robotic arms that “know” exactly where each fuel assembly is.
But the damage to the building housing this pool, along with the presence in the pool of debris from explosions, is a wildcard that will complicate this operation considerably.
Workers in heavy protective equipment will use a remote control to direct a specially installed “grabber” into the pool where it will latch onto fuel assemblies and drop them into a huge cask.
Each 4.5‑metre (15-foot) fuel bundle needs to be kept completely submerged at all times to prevent it from heating up.
Once loaded with assemblies and water, the 91-tonne cask will be lifted out by a different crane and put onto a trailer. It will then be taken to another part of the complex and the process will be reversed.
Removing all 1,500-odd assemblies is expected to take until the end of 2014. Getting this done successfully will mean engineers can then start trying to extricate fuel from the reactors that went into meltdown.
But where the fuel pool operation is tricky and contains a few unknowns, removing fuel from the melted and misshapen cores of reactors 1, 2 and 3 will pose a whole new level of difficulty.
Q. What could go wrong?
A: Each rod contains uranium and a small amount of plutonium. If they are exposed to the air, for example if they are dropped by the grabber, they would start to heat up, a process that, left unchecked, could lead to a self-sustaining nuclear reaction — known as “criticality”.
TEPCO says a single assembly should not reach criticality and the grabber will not carry more than one at a time.
Assemblies exposed to the air would give off so much radiation that it would be difficult for a worker to get near enough to fix it.
Sceptics say with so many unknowables in an operation that has never been attempted under these conditions, there is potential for a catastrophe.
Government modelling in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, which was only subsequently made public, suggested that an uncontrolled nuclear conflagration at Fukushima could start a chain reaction in other nearby nuclear plants.
That worst-case scenario said a huge evacuation area could encompass a large part of greater Tokyo, a megalopolis with 35 million inhabitants.
Only one rod can be moved at a time and if one spent fuel rod drops on the ground during it might give off so much radiation that workers will be unable to get near enough to fix it. Plus, if a rod is allowed to heat up too much it could spontaneously go “critical”. And this whole process will have to be repeated 1,300+ times, hopefully by the end of 2014.