Protest at coal plant
First of all, thank you once again for your generous contribution to our project. As a citizen-supported nonprofit newsroom, at Tansa donations mean so much more than just a way to keep on the lights — they are a way for readers to help create urgent, insightful news stories, as well being as sign to us reporters that we are on the right track. Tansa simply wouldn’t exist without our donors.
Thanks to all of you, we passed GlobalGiving’s requirements for staying on the platform — at least $5,000 from at least 40 individuals — giving Tansa a new revenue stream to tap into. We bumped up the project goal to $6,000 so that it stays open, as we continue to pursue cross-border investigations going forward.
Tansa participated in three major cross-border investigations in 2021, with articles released after the GlobalGiving project began. All our articles were published bilingually in Japanese and English. Here’s a quick summary of each story, with links to the relevant articles.
Tansa investigated a new, large-scale coal-fired power plant currently under construction in Yokosuka, a city near Tokyo. When it comes online, the power plant will emit 7.26 million tons of CO2 per year — but the utility that owns it, as well as the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, claim that it will actually reduce CO2 emissions by replacing an older, less efficient plant. But the old plant wasn’t even running.
We used the Yokosuka coal plant as a case study to examine Japan’s continued attachment to the dirtiest fossil fuel, as well as why its plan to implement so-called “clean” coal fails to adequately address the climate crisis. But there’s also reason to hope: Tansa spoke with lawyers, both in Japan and overseas, involved in climate litigation aiming to compel governments to strengthen their climate policies.
The coal stories were part of a collaboration with journalists from Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, and Vietnam to investigate coal in our respective countries and share our findings. Following publication, a number of us participated in an online event with Tortoise Media (UK) to discuss coal in the leadup to COP26 in Glasgow.
Tansa released three articles on this topic.
1. The coal plant that “reduces” CO2 emissions from zero to 7.26 million tons
2. Ministry of Economy feigned ignorance of basic climate science in lawsuit over coal plant
3. Why Japan doesn’t have until 2050 to go carbon neutral
Death on Distant Water
In collaboration with environmental media Mongabay and the Environmental Reporting Collective (ERC), Tansa investigated human rights abuses in Japan’s imported tuna supply chain. Specifically, we reported on 10 deaths that had occurred in 2019–2020 on Chinese distant water tuna fleet Dalian Ocean Fishing, which for roughly 20 years had sold tuna to Japan’s largest tuna importer, Toyo Reizo, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation.
Work on the investigation, which was part of ERC’s Oceans Inc. project, was split up according to each country involved in the Dalian Ocean Fishing supply chain, from labor recruitment to consumption. For example, a reporter in Indonesia interviewed former crew, one in China looked into the fishing company (and helped me decipher a Chinese-language audit report), and Tansa worked to prove that tuna from DOF’s deadliest vessel had indeed entered Japan.
The result was a more detailed, nuanced, and powerful story than any one of us could have hoped to tell on our own.
Tansa released three articles on this topic.
1. 10 crew dead on Chinese tuna fleet supplying Japan
2. Mitsubishi Corporation group failed to detect abuses occurring in its tuna supply chain
3. Transshipment at sea isolates crew, hides abuse in Japan’s tuna supply chain
CumEx Files 2.0
Tansa participated in the CumEx Files 2.0 investigation coordinated by Germany media CORRECTIV (check out their article, as well as their previous investigation too). Our main source was the eponymous CumEx Files — 200,000 pages of documents that include investigation reports from various authorities, interrogation protocols from key witnesses and accused, internal bank documents, and emails — but we also had help from an Italian reporting partner, who says he “literally dug” through boxes of legal documents to find a report relevant to our investigation.
Although cum-ex is the most well-known variant, the investigation actually looked more broadly at the financial phenomenon of dividend arbitrage, also known as tax-driven share trades. Basically, it involves bankers, brokers, and wealthy investors implementing share trades that trick the system into giving them a tax benefit they are not entitled to.
(In a line I shamelessly stole — with attribution of course) CORRECTIV calls tax-driven trades “a story of inequality, [in which] people with power, money, and privilege are dipping into the tax funds that we all pay into.”
We released one article on this topic, with potentially more to come.
1. Nomura Group investigated by authorities in Germany, Italy for involvement in tax heist
That’s all for now. From everyone at Tansa, we greatly appreciate your continued support, and we’re looking forward to sharing more stories with you in the coming year!
Tuna unloaded at Shimizu port
Reporting partners for CumEx Files 2.0 collab