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Japanese Government Slick Propaganda to Minimize the Fukushima Situation in the eyes of the UN

After reading that article, I believe that this kid will be a tool for the the Japanese Government, which will be using that kid testimony to minimize the desperate extent of the situation in Fukushima, to justify its non evacuation of many people, the financially forced return of the previoulsly evacuees to go back to live in contaminated villages and to promote an illusory criminal reconstruction in the eyes of the world at the UN….She has been coached to that effect…..At least that is the impression this article gives me….

 I must add that to use a victim, a youth, as agent for their propaganda, is pretty slick, sly and devious, on the Japanese government part…

 Poor kid, she is being manipulated without even be aware of it….Sad, disgusting…

“… it is not the entire area of Fukushima Prefecture, but only some regions that people cannot live in. Most of Fukushima is safe to live in.”
Unless:

1. The wind blows
2. It rains
3. You eat the food
4. You breathe
“…there is a lot of good news about Fukushima too.” Do tell!!!
Then, come back in 20 years and let us know which cancer(s) you have faced, if you have had a child with birth defects…at 16, it is so very easy to manipulate you. You want to go ‘home’…it just isn’t there anymore.

hkmmmAyumi Kikuchi, left, practices the speech she will give at a United Nations event with her English teacher, Fumi Arimura, in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 23. She attends the relocated Futaba High School, now operating in the city of Iwaki.

Fukushima high school evacuee to share experiences at United Nations

IWAKI, Fukushima Prefecture–A high school student who thought she was only temporarily fleeing her home during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and remains an evacuee to this day, will address an event at the United Nations headquarters this month.

Ayumi Kikuchi, 16, a former resident of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, located near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that suffered a triple meltdown, was asked by school officials to give the speech in New York City.

A nonprofit organization that deals with the issues of human rights, health and the environment contacted the prefectural Futaba High School, which now operates out of the nearby city of Iwaki. It invited a student from the prefecture to come and share their experiences of having lived through those trying events and the aftermath.

“At that time, I was a sixth-grader in my elementary school, and we were going to graduate in a few days,” Kikuchi says in her speech. “My home was 4 kilometers from the plant. At that time, I didn’t understand why we had to leave our home, and I thought we could come back home soon.”

However, she has been forced to live in various shelters over the years, including the Saitama Super Arena and one set up at the former Kisai High School in Kazo, Saitama Prefecture.

“I wondered what’s going to happen to us (at the time),” she said. She remembered watching the events unfold on the news.

“I went back to my home only once after the accident,” she wrote. “There were many houses left collapsed and roads still had cracks. Nothing seemed to have changed since the disaster. However, the inside of my house was totally different from what I remembered because of animal excreta and rain leaking in.”

The high school student said she hopes to one day work for the local government to help restore her town to what it once was.

Her school, which has a history of more than 90 years, will close after her class graduates. Four other relocated high schools are also scheduled to close.

“Many graduates are feeling very sorry and regretting that their old school is forced to close even though the school or the students have done nothing wrong themselves,” Kikuchi says in her speech.

In her message, Kikuchi will call on people to help one another in times of disaster. She also plans to ask people to share and pass on the memories that result from such devastating events.

“I want people to know about Fukushima’s situation accurately,” she wrote. “People in other countries may think that Fukushima is uninhabitable and may wonder why people don’t flee from Fukushima. In fact, however, it is not the entire area of Fukushima Prefecture, but only some regions that people cannot live in. Most of Fukushima is safe to live in. Also, various movements toward reconstruction have been made, and there is a lot of good news about Fukushima too.”

Fumi Arimura, an English teacher at Kikuchi’s school, helped her write her 10-minute speech. Kikuchi leaves for the United States on Aug. 2.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201508010022

August 1, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

« Welcome to Fukushima » a documentary film by Alain de Halleux

An excerpt of the documentary

I have a friend, from Belgium, Alain de Halleux, he is a movie maker. He is quite famous among the french speaking community because many years ago he made an excellent documentary on Chernobyl (in french).
3 years ago, he went to Japan and also to Fukushima, stayed a few months, and shot a documentary titled “Welcome to Fukushima”.
That documentary is excellent, because:
1. He is not an amateur cameraman but a professional cameraman
2. He interviewed many people evacuees and non-evacuees, so it brings very well the human angle.
3. This is definitely THE BEST documentary I have seen about Fukushima.
Unfortunately that documentary at present has only been distributed in Japan and in European French speaking countries: Belgium, France, Switzerland. It is in Japanese with French subtitles.
I am thinking that this excellent movie should reach the english-speaking countries, so I am now enquiring to some of my contacts, how to find a way to have this documentary distributed in an english-version (to be made) either on TV channels or on a tour.
I want to find a way to make this movie reach many, it is a unique eye opener on Fukushima, this if well distributed, reaching many people, could help awake many, and make a real difference, all the other documentaries I saw about Fukushima do not have the kind of punch that this one has…

He is also very active in renewable energy….helping a wind energy citizen cooperative in Southern Belgium….
He is also now working on a new documentary, about Taro Yamamoto and his fight against nuclear as an independent elected parlement deputy in Japan, Taro Yamamoto being a key figure in the antinuclear movement in Japan….

If any one of you has any suggestion, or contact to help this documentary to be distributed to a larger public in an english version, please send me an email. Thank you.

herve.courtois@yahoo.com

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | 2 Comments

About the Evacuees Situation in Fukushima

23 july 2015
Fukushima has a population of a little above 2 millions people.
Out of which 118,862 have evacuated : 73,077 within the prefecture, 45,735 outside the prefecture, and current adresses unknown 50,

Four years after an earthquake and tsunami touched off the nuclear meltdown, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pressing to lift evacuation orders by March 2017 and cut off compensation to victims of the disaster by 2018. The move would allow—and some say force—tens of thousands of refugees to go back to their homes.
The pro-nuclear prime minister says that the move, proposed in June, is aimed at speeding up Fukushima’s “reconstruction.”

Under the national government guidelines, residents in government-ordered evacuation zones and “specific spots recommended for evacuation,” where radiation dosage is regionally high, are entitled to 100,000 yen each a month under TEPCO’s compensation for mental distress.

According to a partial estimate – there is no total public estimate of the cost of Fukushima disaster so far – but a partial estimate says it’s about $100 billion. Sixty percent of that has been spent for compensation measures. So compensating people for their loss of land and jobs is very expensive to the government and since the government has bailed out the company that ran the Fukushima reactors it’s basically now the government that is liable.

Tokyo’s preparing to declare some parts of the evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, a safe place to live. Tokyo wants people back in the area as a matter of reducing the overall cost of the disaster, However environmentalists warn many areas still show radiation levels 20 times the globally accepted limit.

I don’t think it is possible to clean up in the real sense of the word, meaning that you take away the added radioactivity that has been contaminating the soil, the roofs, everything. It’s impossible. So what you can do is you can reduce the radioactive contamination in some of the areas. You can take off soil; you can decontaminate what has been done by water sprayed. But keep in mind that 80 percent of Japan is mountains and in this area as well there is a lot of mountains, there is a lot of dense forest, there is absolutely no way even to slightly decontaminate that region. So you will not have a stable situation of contamination but it will move all the time and a new radiation will wash down from the mountains and forests into the other lands.

A number of opinion polls, surveys have shown that the percentage that is decided to go back might be around a fifth of all people evacuated, many people are still undecided and about half decided not to go back. People have to imagine – besides the radiation situation – what are they going back to. We should not forget that many of the homes in Japan are made of wood and they are basically in extremely bad shape and would have to be completely redone. There is not much to go back to and on top of it there is the radiation issue. There is also the issue of going back to their homes but what about their neighbors, what about collectivity, what about the services? So there are all kinds of other social issues besides the pure health issue.

Prime Minister Abe would like the people of Japan to believe that they are decontaminating vast areas of Fukushima to levels safe enough for people to live in. The reality is that this is a policy doomed to failure. The forests of Fukushima prefecture (80% of the land) are a vast stock of radioactivity that will remain both a direct hazard and source of potential recontamination for hundreds of years. It’s impossible to decontaminate.

The elimination of compensation would effectively force people back into an environment that is dangerous for their health.
Stripping nuclear victims of their already inadequate compensation, which may force them to have to return to unsafe, highly radioactive areas for financial reasons, amounts to economic coercion. Let’s be clear: this is a political decision by the Abe Government, not one based on science, data, or public health.

Residents across Japan have staged protests and filed lawsuits to block nuclear restarts, and polls show that, in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster, a clear majority of the Japanese public opposes nuclear power. In addition, surveys reveal low public confidence in the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Co.—the company behind the Fukushima Daiichi plant that continues to release radiation into the ecosystem.

Despite public opposition, Abe is aggressively pursuing a return to nuclear power. Earlier this month, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party revealed that it aims to have 20 percent of the country’s electricity supplied by nuclear power by 2030.
Over four years after the triple reactor core meltdowns and exploded containment buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the majority of the Japanese public has remained opposed to any nuclear restart. The country has been completely nuclear-free for nearly two years, thanks in large part to significant public opposition, in spite of the massive pressure from nuclear utilities and the Abe government on local city governments.
However, these utilities are massively powerful and the Abe government is wholly in bed with them.

In an effort to reduce public opposition, Abe has been pushing forward the pro-nuclear agenda to ‘normalize’ a nuclear disaster. If the public can be convinced that less than five years after the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, citizens can go home and return to life the way it was before the disaster – with no additional health risks – then that is a powerful argument against the majority of Japanese citizens who oppose  nuclear reactor restarts.

The effort to minimize the impact of the disaster on the nuclear industry has been aided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an agency charged with the promotion of nuclear energy in its charter. The IAEA has sought to downplay the radiological risks to the population since the early days in 2011.  In fact, it produced two documents that can be said to have laid the foundation and justification for Abe’s current policy of de facto forced resettlement.

The reality is this myth making requires that the people of Fukushima prefecture be the sacrificial lambs for the nuclear industry. This is not only wholly unjust, but is a violation of their human rights.
After all, this is not the confusion that ensues after a nuclear disaster. This is a thought-out plan of forcing people back into their heavily contaminated former homes, no matter what the cost – both in wasteful, ineffective decontamination of these areas and in human health risks.

Compounding the gross injustice of the Abe Government’s forced resettlement policy, by focusing on creating a myth of a return to normalcy – and therefore investing vast amounts in expensive and futile decontamination – it is therefore utterly neglecting the contaminated areas that were never evacuated. Rather than addressing this urgent need to reduce the radiation risks to these populations, whom are currently living in contaminated areas, the government is more interested in deceiving the public in Japan and globally by creating illusions.

What is clear is that the damage done to the people of Fukushima prefecture, and especially Iitate, is irreversible and irreparable. Their entire communities and way of life were destroyed by the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, with no prospect for a safe return in the foreseeable future.

To keep the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in limbo, many crammed into tiny temporary housing cubicles, for nearly five years is inhumane. To force these citizens back into such heavily contaminated areas via the economic leverage the Government holds over them is a gross iniquity. And for the International Atomic Energy Agency to assist the Japanese Government in the propaganda war being waged on Fukushima victims not only undermines whatever credibility it may have, but amounts to it being an accomplice in a crime against the people of Japan.

Sources:
Fukushima nuclear disaster: ‘Radiation will wash down from mountains, forests into other lands’
http://www.rt.com/op-edge/310595-fukushima-nuclear-radiation-area/#.VbFcSy3oBmA.facebook
20 μSv/h still detected in Fukushima city
http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/07/video-20-%CE%BCsvh-still-detected-in-fukushima-city/
Revenir ou pas, le dilemme des évacués de Fukushima
http://www.liberation.fr/monde/2015/07/21/revenir-ou-pas-le-dilemme-des-evacues-de-fukushima_1351224
Japan Accused of Coercing Fukushima Refugees to Return to Unsafe Homes
Greenpeace: “The forests of Iitate are a vast stock of radioactivity that will remain both a direct hazard and source of potential recontamination for hundreds of years. It’s impossible to decontaminate.”
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/07/21/japan-accused-coercing-fukushima-refugees-return-unsafe-homes
Japanese Government – aided by the IAEA – puts nuclear victims at risk with forced resettlement scheme
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/Fukushima-nuclear-victims-forced-resettlement-Iitate/blog/53584/
Press Release: Greenpeace investigation exposes failure of Fukushima decontamination program
http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/ja/news/press/2015/pr20150721/20150721-Press-Release-Greenpeace-investigation-exposes-failure-of-Fukushima-decontamination-program-/

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Construction of seawall begins in Naraha

Construction of a new seawall has begun in a town near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, as authorities prepare to lift an evacuation order covering the area in September.

The seawall in Naraha Town was seriously damaged by the March 2011 tsunami. Construction of a new one had been delayed as radiation from the nuclear accident restricted entry to the town for about a year and a half.

Local government officials took part in a groundbreaking ceremony in the town on Monday ahead of the construction. Three trucks unloaded soil at the site after the ceremony.

The new seawall will be about 1.8 kilometers long. It will be built more inland than the previous one.
Its height will be 8.7 meters above sea level. That’s 2.5 meters higher than the previous one.

The construction will cost about 67 million dollars, and will be completed by March 2018.

The town of Naraha has a population of about 7,400. The evacuation order, covering almost the entire town, is scheduled to be lifted on September 5th.

Town Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto says some residents still suffer from memories of the tsunami, but he expects the construction to give them relief about returning home.
Source : NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150727_27.html

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

“What means living in Fukushima”

Poem : “What means living in Fukushima”

Sometimes it annoys me when I hear:
“Do not eat Fukushima Fukushima”.

Sometimes it disgusts me when I hear:
“How do you want people in Tokyo to eat Fukushima products when Fukushima people do not eat them themselves there? “

I trembled with rage when I heard:
“You are like a murderer if you keep children in Fukushima.”

Who would keep his children here with the intention of murdering them?
We have no way to leave this place without the evacuation right together with compensation.

The brown rice of Mr. Nakamura which measures 3 becquerels
Radiation was not detected after removal of its husk.
I ate it.

Radioactivity in a public garden after its decontamination is 0,05μSv / h.

I have let my kid play there.
But not at the river banks because the radioactivity is still high there.

After playing outside, wash hands and gargle.
Do not lick. You’ll be irradiated.

But instead
In summer, I’ll take you to the island of Sado * for you to play outside as much as you like. 

We repeat endlessly.

“To measure radiation, to understand, to think and to decide.” 

This is living in Fukushima.

The radiation measured results have dropped.
But when compared with the radiation measured levels before the accident or with those in western Japan, they are still high. There is a limit to their reduction.

This is why we live taking health holidays, 

taking care and paying attention.

Now, they say,
That “there is no problem up to 20 mSv / year.”
That “we stop housing assistance in 2017″
That “we help those returning **”.

Those who caused the accident do not fulfill their responsibility,
and they decide to stop helping, abandoning us.

With risk or without risk, it is not to the state or to TEPCO to dictate.
It’s up to me to judge and to decide myself.

Notes

* Sado is an island that is located in the West side of Japan, in the Sea of Japan
** There will be only help for evacuees who accept to return to their former places of residence before the evacuation, as part of the return policy.

__

Posted on July 18, 2015 on Facebook by Hisao Seki,

living in the city of Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture

Via Nos Voisins Lointains 3.11_Les paroles des sinistrés nucléaires

Translated Japanese to French By Kurumi Sugita

& French to English by Hervé Courtois

 

●詩の投稿「福島で暮らす、ということは」

17日、18日と東京に行ってきました。17日はまず、「告訴団」が検察審議会に対して原発事故の責任を明確にするよう起訴するための「激励行動」に 行ったものです。200人ほどの人が全国から集まりました。その後は参議院で院内集会。引き続き「子ども被災者支援法」を改定するという復興庁の説 明会に向けて赤坂でアピールと浜田副大臣を交えての説明会、そして国会前の行動に行ってきました。支援法を改定するとは、要するに支援法の中身をきちんと 実施しないまま、4年が過ぎて線量が下がったからこれに見合った支援の形を取っていくための法整備ですが、2017年には自主避難者の借り上げの家賃補助 を廃止、除染も終了、2018年にはADRを含むすべての賠償を停止するというものです。東京で一回、福島でやってあとはパブコメを集めて意見を聞いて終 了というものです。これは、戦争法を強行採決した安倍政権の方針と同じ路線のもので、「福島を見殺しにして戦争にひた走るアベ政治」と言えるものです。国 会前ではアベ政治に抗議する多くの人たちが集まっていました。18日は澤地久江さんが呼びかけた一斉行動で1時に「アベ政治を許さない」を全国で展開しま した。私もこれからは車に「アベ政治を許さない」を貼って宣伝しようとっています。

「 福島で暮らすってことは  」
2015年7月18日

ときどき イラッとする
福島産 食べちゃいけないって 言葉に
ときどき ムカッとする
福島のひとが 福島産 食べないで
どうして 東京のひとが 食べますかって 言葉に
ふるえるほど 腹が立った
「福島に 子どもを置くことは ヒトゴロシと一緒だ」 の言葉

だれが わが子 殺したくて ここに 置く
避難の権利 補償なかったら 出るに 出られねえべ

ナカムラさんの玄米 3ベクレル
精米すれば 不検出 だから おれは食べた
除染した 公園の線量0,05 だから遊ばせた
土手はダメ まだ高いから 終わったら 手 洗って うがいして
なめたらダメ ヒバクすっから そのかわり
夏は佐渡で 思いっきり 外遊び させっからない

「はかる わかる 考え 決める」の くりかえし
福島で暮らすって そういうことなんだよ

線量も 下がったけんど 西日本とかの
もともとと 比べたら やっぱし 高いのさ 限界あるのさ
だから 保養 行ったり 手当てしたり 気い使って 暮らしてんのさ
それをな 「20ミリシーベルトで問題ありません」とか
「2017年で住宅支援打ち切り」 「帰還者には支援」とか
事故起こしたもんが 責任も 取らねえで
きめる 打ち切る 放り出す
安全か どうかは 国や東電が決めるんでは ねえ
おれが 自分で 判断することなんだぞい

July 27, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Reconstruction plans drawn up for no-go municipalities near Fukushima plant

On Saturday a panel at the Reconstruction Agency produced a final draft of proposals to help 12 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture recover from the March 2011 nuclear accident.
The proposals include improving medical services to help the evacuees being forced to return home, developing new industries to create jobs, and beefing up administrative services by getting municipalities to cooperate with each other more closely. The draft declares a goal of completing reconstruction plans by 2020. The municipalities are all located close to the Fukushima nuclear plant, the site of the disaster.
The central government says they will work to secure funding. The central government has also pledged to lift evacuation orders for the 12 municipalities, by March 2017, although areas with “persistently high radiation levels” are excluded from the target. 

Source: Japan Times 

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/26/national/reconstruction-plans-drawn-up-for-no-go-municipalities-near-fukushima-plant/#.VbVNoPmFSM9

July 26, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima cattle producer’s beef with TEPCO, government leads to lawsuit

hkklKazuo Ueno points to a large pile of manure on his ranch in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 14.

KORIYAMA, Fukushima Prefecture–A local cattle producer has sued Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government to recover 500 million yen ($4 million) in losses it says it suffered as a result of the 2011 nuclear disaster.
In the suit filed with the Koriyama branch of the Fukushima District Court on July 16, the plaintiff, Ueno Bokujo, cited a drop in beef cattle prices. It also contends that it has been forced to spend more on the disposal of manure produced by its herds due to declining sales following the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The company, which raises nearly 2,900 heads of cattle on its ranches in Koriyama and Tamura, is one of the largest such producers in Fukushima Prefecture.
Ueno Bokujo says TEPCO has failed to pay it the 200 million yen that it says it lost due to a drop in beef cattle prices in fiscal 2014.
According to an arrangement made after the accident, TEPCO was to compensate farmers for losses incurred if they made a claim.
The cattle producer estimates it will cost 2 billion yen to dispose of the 17,000 tons of manure that have accumulated on its farms.
The suit is the first to seek compensation for lost sales of compost, according to the Fukushima Prefectural Central Union Agricultural Cooperatives.
“We will respond sincerely after listening carefully to what the plaintiff has to say in court,” a TEPCO official said.
A government official declined to comment, saying a written complaint has not yet been delivered.
Source : Asahi Shimbun
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201507240084

July 24, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear disaster: ‘Radiation will wash down from mountains, forests into other lands’

Fuk july 23, 2015

It’s impossible to even slightly decontaminate the area damaged by the Fukushima nuclear disaster because of the mountains and dense forests in that region, says Mycle Schneider, independent analyst on energy and nuclear policy.

Tokyo’s preparing to declare some parts of the evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, a safe place to live. However environmentalists warn many areas still show radiation levels 20 times the globally accepted limit.

RT: Do you think people will take the advice of the Japanese government and move back to the area? Do you personally think its safe?

Mycle Schneider: A number of opinion polls, surveys have shown that the percentage that is decided to go back might be around a fifth of all people evacuated, many people are still undecided and about half decided not to go back. People have to imagine – besides the radiation situation – what are they going back to. We should not forget that many of the homes in Japan are made of wood and they are basically in extremely bad shape and would have to be completely redone. There is not much to go back to and on top of it there is the radiation issue. There is also the issue of going back to their homes but what about their neighbors, what about collectivity, what about the services? So there are all kinds of other social issues besides the pure health issue.

RT: What could be the potential consequences of returning to the area? How long does it take to actually clean the area from nuclear contamination?

MS: I don’t think it is possible to clean up in the real sense of the word, meaning that you take away the added radioactivity that has been contaminating the soil, the roofs, everything. It’s impossible. So what you can do is you can reduce the radioactive contamination in some of the areas. You can take off soil; you can decontaminate what has been done by water sprayed. But keep in mind that 80 percent of Japan is mountains and in this area as well there is a lot of mountains, there is a lot of dense forest, there is absolutely no way even to slightly decontaminate that region. So you will not have a stable situation of contamination but it will move all the time and a new radiation will wash down from the mountains and forests into the other lands.

RT: Why do you think Tokyo wants people back in the area?

MS: It’s not very complicated. According to a partial estimate – there is no total public estimate of the cost of Fukushima disaster so far – but a partial estimate says it’s about $100 billion. Sixty percent of that has been spent for compensation measures. So compensating people for their loss of land and jobs is very expensive to the government and since the government has bailed out the company that ran the Fukushima reactors it’s basically now the government that is liable. So it’s a matter of reducing the overall cost of the disaster.

RT: Are there other cases where people have returned to the region of a nuclear disaster?

MS: Not really. Everybody knows about the Chernobyl disaster and the 30-kilometer exclusion zone remains. There are people that have returned to that zone, but without authorization. So it wasn’t a government measure of massively allowing people to go back. There are other areas that have been touched by nuclear disasters, but there is nothing really comparable of a densely populated area like in Japan.

Source: RT

http://www.rt.com/op-edge/310595-fukushima-nuclear-radiation-area/#.VbFcSy3oBmA.facebook

July 24, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Map of the State of Reconstruction of Fukushima Prefecture

23 july 2015

Source: Japan Atomic Industrial Forum

http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fukushima/

July 24, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima scrub-down aims to make villages safe, although woods may remain no-go zones

All in vain. The next wind, the next rain, coming from those woods will carry accumulated radionuclides from there to re-contaminate those “decontaminated villages.

In the past years, some villages have been decontaminated already up to  times, each time always contamination in due time to return to the pre-decontamination levels. 

 

IITATE, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Sweating inside their plastic protection suits, thousands of men toil in Japan’s muggy early summer in a vast effort to scrub radiation from the villages around Fukushima.

The mission is to decontaminate hundreds of square kilometers that were polluted when reactors went into meltdown after huge tsunami struck the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011.

No stone is left unturned: Diggers scrape away the top layer of earth in fields, school courtyards and around the buildings of villages, while houses, buildings, roads and parking lots are scrubbed clean.

At least 20,000 people are involved in the cleanup, according to the Environment Ministry. The workers wear the special gloves, masks and boots required for workers in the nuclear industry.

There are currently around 2.5 million black bags filled with contaminated soil, plants and leaves piled up at the sites or in one of the nearly 800 temporary outdoor storage facilities set up across the disaster zone.

The effort comes as the central government prepares to declare sections of the evacuation zone habitable again.

That will mean evacuees can return to the homes they abandoned more than four years ago. It will also mean, say campaigners, that some people will have no choice but to go back because it will trigger the end of some compensation payments.

Government-run decontamination efforts are underway in 11 cities where Tokyo says that at present, anyone living there would be exposed to radiation levels of more than 20 millisieverts (mSv) a year.

The globally accepted norm for radiation absorption is 1 mSv per year, although the International Atomic Energy Agency and others say anything up to 20 mSv per year poses no immediate danger to human health.

The town of Naraha, which lies just 20 km from the plant, is expected to be declared safe in September.

The government intends to lift many evacuation orders by March 2017, if decontamination progresses as it hopes.

Still, the area immediately surrounding the plant remains uninhabitable, and storage sites meant to last 30 years are being built in the villages closest to the complex.

For now, only residential areas are being cleaned in the short-term, and the worst-hit parts of the countryside are being omitted, as recommended by the IAEA.

But that strategy has troubled environmentalists, who fear that could lead to re-contamination as woodlands will act as radiation reservoirs, with pollutants washed out by rain.

In a report on decontamination in Iitate, a heavily forested area northwest of the plant, the environmental group Greenpeace says these selective efforts will effectively confine returnees to a relatively small area of their old hometowns.

“The Japanese government plans, if implemented, will create an open-air prison of confinement to ‘cleaned’ houses and roads … and the vast untouched radioactive forests continue to pose a significant risk of recontamination of these ‘decontaminated’ areas to even higher levels,” declares the report, published Tuesday.

Some 39 other municipalities that were not evacuated after the meltdowns, and which have radiation levels deemed safe for humans, are also being decontaminated by local authorities.

Source: Japan Times

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/22/national/science-health/fukushima-scrub-aims-make-villages-safe-although-woods-may-remain-no-go-zones/#.VbA9l_mFSM9

July 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | 3 Comments

Japanese Government – aided by the IAEA – puts nuclear victims at risk with forced resettlement scheme

The worst nuclear disaster in a generation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant – which began in March 2011 – is still very much an ongoing crisis that will not be solved for the foreseeable future. Most of the massive radioactive releases were carried out to the Pacific Ocean by the prevailing winds at that time of year. But, on the nights of March 15th and 16th, the winds turned carrying an enormous amount of radiation inland. Land, especially to the northwest of the crippled reactor site, was heavily contaminated.

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Greenpeace investigations into areas where the Japanese government is intensively decontaminating with the intention of lifting evacuation orders by March 2017 have made a shocking discovery: in Iitate – one of the priority targets of the Abe Government’s plan – radiation dose levels are comparable to those in the 30km exclusion zone around Chernobyl. Even more surprising, this was true even around homes that had already been supposedly “decontaminated.”

What on earth would motivate the Japanese Government to do such a thing to the tens of thousands of nuclear victims and decontamination workers?

To answer that question, it is first important to understand a bit of background on Iitate: the region – referred to as Iitate Village – is actually a 200 km2 area of heavily forested hills, mountains, and lakes, interspersed with farm fields, and homes. It lies 28 – 47 km to the northwest of the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in the direct path of the heaviest on-land radioactive fallout.

Although the Abe Government has stated on its website that it is “decontaminating” Iitate – even going so far as to say on the Ministry of Environment website that 100% of the forest has already decontaminated – you have to dig through several different pages to discover that they are only referring to about a ¼ of the land area of Iitate.

In other words, of the 200 km2 of Iitate Village only 56 km2 are targeted for decontamination. Of that tiny fraction, the percentage comprised of the 10-20m into the forests along the roads and around people’s houses has been supposedly completed.

Except even that small amount of the forest isn’t finished. Decontamination efforts in these small bits of forests were still ongoing in July 2015.

And what strikes you when you see it is not just the swarms of people raking away at the woodland floor and trimming blades of grasses by hand in these first 10-20m of forest along the roads, but the enormity of the vast mountains upon mountains of dense, lush forest stretching out behind them as far as the eye can see.

You feel sorry for them. You also admire their intensive effort, meticulous work, and commitment. They are working in sweltering heat, in full radiation suits, boots, gloves and masks; not even their eyes are visible. And they are doing intense physical labor for almost no impact. Many of these workers are the residents of other impacted areas, like Minamisoma, who lost their jobs in farming, forestry, fishing or services due to the nuclear disaster. So they are working in the only growing industry in the region: radioactive decontamination.

It’s surreal. And it’s heartbreaking.

On 27 March, 2011, Greenpeace radiation investigations in Iitate had revealed extremely high levels of contamination, which led our organisation to urgently recommend to the Japanese government the immediate evacuation of the more than 6000 residents. Until that point, the residents of Iitate had been told that evacuation was not required. Evacuation did not begin until 22 April. And still, eight weeks after the start of the accident, in early June, over 1200 people remained in Iitate. As a result, the people of Iitate were the most exposed to radiation of all citizens of Fukushima prefecture.

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Iitate has since become an iconic area within the story of Fukushima: a constant reminder to the Japanese public and the international community that a major nuclear disaster is not confined to a small “emergency planning” zone around the reactor site. The impacts are far reaching, destroy entire regions and communities, rip people from the fabric of their lives, and cannot be repaired.

Over four years after the triple reactor core meltdowns and exploded containment buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the majority of the Japanese public has remained opposed to any nuclear restart. The country has been completely nuclear-free for nearly two years, thanks in large part to significant public opposition, in spite of the massive pressure from nuclear utilities and the Abe government on local city governments.

However, these utilities are massively powerful and the Abe government is wholly in bed with them.

In an effort to reduce public opposition, Abe has been pushing the pro-nuclear agenda to normalize the Fukushima nuclear disaster. If the public can be convinced that mere years after the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, citizens can go home and return to life the way it was before the disaster – with no additional health risks – then that is a powerful argument against those opposed to nuclear restarts.

The effort to minimize the impact of the disaster on the nuclear industry has been aided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an agency charged with the promotion of nuclear energy in its charter. The IAEA has sought to downplay the radiological risks to the population since the early days in 2011. In fact, it produced two documents that can be said to have laid the primary foundation for Abe’s current policy of forced resettlement.

The reality is this myth making requires that the people of Fukushima prefecture – especially the people of Iitate – be the sacrificial lambs for the nuclear industry. This is not only wholly unjust, but is a violation of their human rights.

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They have already been exposed to more radiation than any other population in the region. To deliberately force them back to areas where dose rates reach up to 20 millisieverts per year puts them at significant, unacceptable, and unnecessary risk.
After all, this is not the confusion that ensues after a nuclear disaster. This is a thought-out plan of forcing people back into their heavily contaminated former homes, no matter what the cost – both in wasteful, ineffective decontamination of these areas and in human health risks.
Compounding the gross injustice of the Abe Government’s forced resettlement policy, by focusing on creating a myth of a return to normalcy – and therefore investing vast amounts in expensive and futile decontamination – it is therefore utterly neglecting the contaminated areas that were never evacuated. Rather than addressing this urgent need to reduce the radiation risks to these populations, whom are currently living in contaminated areas, the government is more interested in deceiving the public in Japan and globally by creating illusions in places like Iitate.
What is clear is that the damage done to the people of Fukushima prefecture, and especially Iitate, is irreversible and irreparable. Their entire communities and way of life were destroyed by the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, with no prospect for a safe return in the foreseeable future.
At minimum, we as Greenpeace, demand: 1) no lifting of the evacuation order in Iitate; 2) Exemptions and Government support for those determined to return after having full and accurate information regarding the risks; and, 3) full compensation for their loss of livelihood, property, community, mental distress, and health risks incurred, so that they may fully support themselves to move forward to pursue whatever life they so choose.
To keep the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in limbo, many crammed into tiny temporary housing cubicles, for nearly five years is inhumane. To force these citizens back into such heavily contaminated areas via the economic leverage the Government holds over them is a gross iniquity. And for the International Atomic Energy Agency to assist the Japanese Government in the propaganda war being waged on Fukushima victims not only undermines whatever credibility it may have, but amounts to it being an accomplice in a crime against the people of Japan.
Kendra Ulrich is Senior Global Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Japan.
Source: Greenpeace
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/Fukushima-nuclear-victims-forced-resettlement-Iitate/blog/53584/

July 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

2015/07/21 Press Release: Greenpeace investigation exposes failure of Fukushima decontamination program

Abe’s forced return policy condemns residents to radiation risk

Radioactive contamination in the forests and land of Iitate district in Fukushima prefecture is so widespread and at such a high level that it will be impossible for people to safely return to their homes, a Greenpeace Japan investigation revealed today. The findings follow the Abe Government’s announcement on 12th June 2015 to lift evacuation orders by March 2017 and terminate compensation by 2018, which effectively forces victims back into heavily contaminated areas.(1)

“Prime Minister Abe would like the people of Japan to believe that they are decontaminating vast areas of Fukushima to levels safe enough for people to live in. The reality is that this is a policy doomed to failure. The forests of Iitate are a vast stock of radioactivity that will remain both a direct hazard and source of potential recontamination for hundreds of years. It’s impossible to decontaminate,” said Jan Vande Putte, radiation specialist with Greenpeace Belgium.

“The Japanese government has condemned the people of Iitate to live in an environment that poses an unacceptable risk to their health. Stripping nuclear victims of their already inadequate compensation, which may force them to have to return to unsafe, highly radioactive areas for financial reasons, amounts to economic coercion. Let’s be clear: this is a political decision by the Abe Government, not one based on science, data, or public health,” he said.

Greenpeace conducted a radiation survey and sampling program in Iitate, including in its forests. One principle finding from the investigation is that the vast majority of Iitate will never be decontaminated, with most radioactivity deposited in the vast forested hills and mountains in the district. The enormous scale of the forests was revealed by UAV footage from the investigation. And even in the limited areas that have been decontaminated around people’s homes and land, and along roads, levels of radiation are still at unacceptable levels. The results show that current decontamination programs are failing to significantly reduce radiation levels, which remain high and unsafe for people to live.

Even after decontamination, radiation dose rates were measured higher than 2uSv/h on decontaminated fields, the equivalent of an annual dose higher than 10mSv/year or ten times the maximum allowed dose to the general public. In the untouched and heavily contaminated forests, radiation dose rates are typically in the range of 1-3uSv/h—high levels that will remain for many years to come. The only forest decontamination underway in Iitate is along public roads, where thousands of workers are removing contaminated soil and plants along a 10-20 meter strip. The Japanese government plans to lift restrictions in all of Area 2(2), including Iitate, where people could receive radiation doses of up to 20mSV each year and in subsequent years.

International radiation protection standards recommend public exposure should be 1mSv/year or less in non-post accident situations. The radiation limit that excluded people from living in the 30km zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant exclusion zone was set at 5mSV/year, five years after the nuclear accident. Over 100.000 people were evacuated from within the zone and will never return.

Supporting the Japanese government in its policy of forced return to a radioactive environment is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has promoted the early return of Fukushima citizens to evacuated areas. Not only is the IAEA’s radiation risk assessments based on flawed science, where they are deliberately understating the risks from radioactivity, they also have misrepresented the scale and effectiveness of the limited decontamination program including in Iitate.(3)

“Even after nearly thirty years, the 30km area around Chernobyl remains an exclusion zone. It’s a shocking indictment of both the IAEA and the Abe government, which reveals how desperate they are to create the illusion that returning to ‘normal’ is possible after a severe nuclear accident. Their position is indefensible and plans for a de facto forced return must be stopped,” said Mamoru Sekiguchi, energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.

The district of Iitate, which covers more than 200 square kilometers, located between 28-47km northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was one of the most contaminated areas following the March 2011 catastrophe. Since 2014, tens of thousands of workers have been attempting to reduce radiation levels in some parts of Fukushima prefecture, including in Iitate, with little impact.

In early June 3.400 citizens of Iitate (more than half the population) called on the mayor of their community to reject the government’s plans. At the same time, they are currently within the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process, where they hope to secure reasonable compensation for the losses they have suffered.

“The gap between the amount of high and low compensation payments is widening drastically, and the Iitate village people will have to keep living a sad life in bitterness, separated from each other and away from their home. The Iitate people’s fate is another of numerous cases in the past where Japan abandoned its people, as with the Ashio mining pollution and Minamata disease. We can not allow this to happen again,” said Yasushi Tadano, the lawyer defending the people of Iitate.

Notes to Editor:

1 – The Prime Minister in Action: Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, Friday, June 12, 2015 http://japan.kantei.go.jp/97_abe/actions/201506/12article1.html

2 – Areas in which the residents are not permitted to live (according to the Japanese government designation)

3 – “The IAEA Fukushima Daiichi Accident Summary Report: A preliminary analysis”, Jan Vande Putte, Kendra Ulrich, Shaun Burnie, Greenpeace Japan, May 28 2015, see http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/IAEA%20analysis%20by%20GP%2020150528.pdf. The IAEA assessment of health consequences and risks from the Fukushima Daiichi accident are based on the conclusions of the 2013 UNSCEAR report, which has been condemned by a former World Health Organisation radiation expert – Keith Baverstock –  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201412010036, accessed January 30th 2015.

Greenpeace documentation briefing link:

Video available at http://photo.greenpeace.org/Archive/27MZIFJ6SZGAZ.html

Photos available at http://photo.greenpeace.org/shoot/27MZIFJ6SXEBN

Data sheet at http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/20150721_Iitate_datasheet_ENG.pdf  and http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/20150721_Iitate_soil_datasheet_BL.pdf

Source: Greenpeace Japan

http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/ja/news/press/2015/pr20150721/20150721-Press-Release-Greenpeace-investigation-exposes-failure-of-Fukushima-decontamination-program-/

July 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo under fire for plans to speed return of Fukushima evacuees

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As Japan aims to lift evacuation orders for many people forced from their homes by the Fukushima disaster, environmentalists say many areas still show highly-elevated levels of contamination and are unfit for habitation.

In a bid seen by critics as aiming to speed up reconstruction, the Japanese government is preparing to declare sections of the evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant a safe place to live. The ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to revoke many evacuation orders by March 2017, if decontamination progresses as hoped, meaning that up to 55,000 evacuees could return to the homes they abandoned more than four years ago.

Moreover, Tokyo recently announced that the 7,000 residents of Nahara, a town in one of the seven Fukushima municipalities completely evacuated following the nuclear crisis, will be able to return home permanently from September 5. How many residents of the settlement, which lies just 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the plant, will return, however, remains unclear as many still have mixed feelings, according to a recent poll.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan, causing massive devastation and ultimately sending three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into meltdown. It was the worst atomic accident in a generation. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee amid fears of rising radiation, with more than 72,500 people – who used to live within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant – still living in temporary housing units.

Massive clean-up operation

In the meantime, government-run decontamination efforts are underway in 11 cities, with at least 20,000 people involved in the clean-up, according to the environment ministry. In the mammoth task, workers try to remove tons of contaminated surface soil, plants and leaves, placing them in bags or in one of the nearly 800 temporary outdoor storage facilities that have been set up across the disaster zone.

The operation also includes parts of the district of Iitate, which covers more than 200 square kilometers, and was one of the most contaminated areas following the March 2011 disaster. Since 2014, tens of thousands of workers have been attempting to reduce radiation levels in some parts of Fukushima prefecture, including in Iitate.

Mounting concerns

But while organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) say such efforts have contributed to reducing radiation levels, many problems remain, especially when one considers the disposal of contaminated water in the plant and the fact that anyone living in the surrounding areas would be exposed to radiation levels of more than 20 millisieverts (mSv) a year.

The globally-accepted limit for radiation absorption is 1mSv per year, although the IAEA says anything up to 20mSv per year poses no immediate danger to human health. However, various studies have shown health impacts from exposure to lower levels. Moreover, critics argue that only residential areas are being cleaned in the short-term, and the worst-hit parts of the countryside are being omitted or are impossible to be decontaminated, like dense forests and mountains.

This development has raised concerns among environmentalist groups such as Greenpeace, who fear that radioactive contamination in Iitate district is so widespread and at such a high level that it will be “impossible for people to safely return to their homes.”

‘A vast stock of radioactivity’

“Prime Minister Abe would like the people of Japan to believe that they are decontaminating vast areas of Fukushima to levels safe enough for people to live in. The reality is that this is a policy doomed to failure. The forests of Iitate are a vast stock of radioactivity that will remain both a direct hazard and source of potential recontamination for hundreds of years. It is impossible to decontaminate,” said Jan Vande Putte, a radiation specialist with Greenpeace Belgium.

Based on its own investigation, Greenpeace claims that even after decontamination, radiation dose rates were measured higher than 2 micro Sv/h on decontaminated fields, the equivalent of an annual dose higher than 10mSv/year or ten times the maximum allowed dose to the general public.

“In the untouched and heavily contaminated forests, radiation dose rates are typically in the range of 1-3uSv/h – high levels that will remain for many years to come, said Greenpeace, adding that the only forest decontamination underway in Iitate is along public roads, where thousands of workers are removing contaminated soil and plants along a 10-20 meter strip.

Mamoru Sekiguchi, the group’s energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan, put the situation into a broader perspective, arguing that even after nearly thirty years, the 30-kilometer area around he crippled Chernobyl plant in Ukraine remains an exclusion zone.

“It’s a shocking indictment of both the IAEA and the Abe government, which reveals how desperate they are to create the illusion that returning to ‘normal’ is possible after a severe nuclear accident. Their position is indefensible and plans for a de facto forced return must be stopped,” Sekiguchi said.

‘Helplessly inefficient’

Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based independent international energy and nuclear policy consultant, told DW that if the remaining dose levels were indeed between 1 and 3mSv per hour on average this would exceed the 1mSv limit applied in most of the countries. “As there is no threshold, meaning there is no safe level of exposure, the health risk to people would be significantly increased.”

The nuclear expert also slammed much of Japan’s decontamination activities, referring to them as “helplessly inefficient.” To explain his view, he said that while high pressure water would be applied to cleaning surfaces like parking lots, for instance, the used water wouldn’t be recovered, thus pushing contamination from one spot to the next.

In addition, Schneider pointed out that contamination levels were not static. “The mountains and forests that cannot even be vaguely decontaminated, will serve as a permanent source of new contamination, each rainfall washing out radiation and bringing it down from the mountains to the flat lands.”

No compensation?

Campaigners also claim the government’s plans mean that some people will have no choice but to go back to their abandoned homes given that they will trigger the ending of some compensation payments. “Stripping nuclear victims of their already inadequate compensation, which may force them to have to return to unsafe, highly radioactive areas for financial reasons, amounts to economic coercion,” said Vande Putte.

A similar view is shared by Schneider: “The decontamination program and the government plan to ‘allow’ for the return of inhabitants do have a very simple goal: reduce the amount of compensation being paid out to victims,” said the expert.

Tokyo Electric has paid some $40 billion (36.78 billion euros) in compensation to residents and expects to pay billions more to decontaminate the area and decommission the wrecked power station, a project that could take an estimated three decades, according to Reuters news agency.

Under the existing compensation scheme, the utility pays each evacuee about $1,000 (921 euros) a month for emotional distress. The assistance is to be cut off a year after the government lifts an evacuation order, said Reuters, citing a Japanese government draft.

Source: DW Akademie

http://www.dw.com/en/tokyo-under-fire-for-plans-to-speed-return-of-fukushima-evacuees/a-18597707

July 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Latest Report on Radiation Levels in Fukushima 7/21/15

Vande Putte, Sekiguchi & Tadano: “Latest report on Radiation levels in Fukushima” Jan Vande Putte: Greenpeace Belgium Energy Campaigner, Radiation Protection Advisor
Mamoru Sekiguchi: Greenpeace Japan Energy Campaigner
Yasushi Tadano: Lawyer for Fukushima evacuees
~~~
Japan “decontaminates” areas slowly to allow 54,800 people to return home to previously evacuated area. Itate – most exposed area 230 square KM with 6,000 people. Miyakoji uSv/hr at one meter above ground. At around 8:00 – what about the Ground Water?
Lifting evacuation orders for 54,000 people. Scanning roads vs offroads. Impossible to decontaminate forrest, sodium iodide test, 11,500+ points tested ~ 96% higher than government standards.
30% of points above 1mS/hr contamination.
Choice of returning home or not,
Dam water used for agriculture. Ganbe dam sediment sampling of silt from July 2015.
Forest will Never be decontaminated. The rainwater flows down the side of the hills and collects below – near houses, etc. So you have Contamination – then they “decontaminate” just to be recontaminated.
Underestimating risk of living indoor vs. outdoor exposure.
The forests are considered “decontaminated”when they simply “decontaminate” 20 meters to the side of the forest. Nothing can be done in the forests themselves.
Wsate piling up.
3 million bags of contaminated soil (etc) have already piled up. They expect 20-30 million cubic meters of waste to accumulate “temporarily” – and the bags are ripping open. No permanent storage place selected yet. “temporary storage” defined as THIRTY YEARS.
Low level exposure discussions. Extremes not practical. ICRP vs. ECRR risk model (internal vs. external contamination). Lifetime exposure adds up.
Absolutely unacceptable levels of exposure.
Cesium-137 with a 30 year HALF LIFE is primarily in top 5 cm of soil.
Insects helping with decomposition decreasing.
Wild fires in chernobyl reliberating radioactive elements –
recreating imminent risks.
Plant mutations, cicada bugs sounds declined – depopulation.
Burning radioactive waste at a new plant – using a “filter”. Incinerators.
Plant mutations questions.
Compensation for displaced people to cease if they move back to their contaminated (decontaminated) homes. 100,000 yen/month “compensation” – not enough to restart in a new location – leading more people to require welfare.
Citizens told to smile, be happy and don’t complain while they attempt to restart Sendai Nuclear Power plant (TEPCO) in an earthquake zone and very close to an active Volcano that just blew.
All the contamination – but what about the compounded social disaster that follows?
Government abandons people. “Normalization” strategy – ignore it and everything will be fine. Smile and shut up.
Disrupting people’s lives – Sendai NPP restart.

https://youtu.be/-3uFC4S3h2c Vande Putte, Sekiguchi & Tadano: “Latest report on Radiation levels in Fukushima”

July 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Accused of Coercing Fukushima Refugees to Return to Unsafe Homes

Greenpeace charges that pro-nuclear Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cares more about politics than public health

As the Japanese government moves to accelerate the return of Fukushima refugees to their homes, environmental advocacy organization Greenpeace warned Tuesday that radioactive contamination remains “so widespread and at such a high level that” that it will be impossible for people to safely go back.

Four years after an earthquake and tsunami touched off the nuclear meltdown, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pressing to lift evacuation orders by March 2017 and cut off compensation to victims of the disaster by 2018. The move would allow—and some say force—tens of thousands of refugees to go back to their homes.

The pro-nuclear prime minister says that the move, proposed in June, is aimed at speeding up Fukushima’s “reconstruction.”

Greenpeace, however, warns that such a development would be reckless and dangerous. The organization evaluated radiation contamination in Iitate, a forested 75-square-mile district in the Fukushima prefecture, and found that even after “decontamination,” the radiation level remains at 2uSv/h—or ten times the maximum deemed safe for the public.

“Prime Minister Abe would like the people of Japan to believe that they are decontaminating vast areas of Fukushima to levels safe enough for people to live in,” said Jan Vande Putte, radiation specialist with Greenpeace Belgium, in a press statement. “The reality is that this is a policy doomed to failure. The forests of Iitate are a vast stock of radioactivity that will remain both a direct hazard and source of potential recontamination for hundreds of years. It’s impossible to decontaminate.”

According to Greenpeace, the elimination of compensation would effectively force people back into an environment that is dangerous for their health.

“Stripping nuclear victims of their already inadequate compensation, which may force them to have to return to unsafe, highly radioactive areas for financial reasons, amounts to economic coercion,” said Putte. “Let’s be clear: this is a political decision by the Abe Government, not one based on science, data, or public health.”

Meanwhile, nuclear refugees from Iitate are fighting for adequate compensation through an Alternative Dispute Resolution process. Their lawyer, Yasushi Tadano, said: “The Iitate people’s fate is another of numerous cases in the past where Japan abandoned its people, as with the Ashio mining pollution and Minamata disease. We can not allow this to happen again.”

Residents across Japan have staged protests and filed lawsuits to block nuclear restarts, and polls show that, in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster, a clear majority of the Japanese public opposes nuclear power. In addition, surveys reveal low public confidence in the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Co.—the company behind the Fukushima Daiichi plant that continues to release radiation into the ecosystem.

Despite public opposition, Abe is aggressively pursuing a return to nuclear power. Earlier this month, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party revealed that it aims to have 20 percent of the country’s electricity supplied by nuclear power by 2030.

Source: Common Deams

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/07/21/japan-accused-coercing-fukushima-refugees-return-unsafe-homes

July 21, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

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