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A message to all people in the world concerned about the fate of the people of Fukushima

Never in my life has a year seemed so severe as the one that followed, in 2021, the tenth anniversary of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident: I had the constant sensation of being bitten by the icy cold of an ever-lasting winter. I must start by saying that last year I lost five very close friends one after the other. All of them lived in Fukushima and were in their fifties at the time of the accident. I can’t prove that their deaths are related to the nuclear accident, but I can’t help but thinking that they were. And many people around me share the same doubts.

Since last year, the Japanese government, the Fukushima Prefecture and the media have decided to more radically pursue their course. It’s no longer a question of dealing with the dramatic reality caused by the ongoing nuclear accident, but of preaching for the “reconstruction” of the Prefecture and acting only for its implementation. Despite the spread of Covid-19, the Tokyo Olympic Games was imposed in an incredibly authoritarian way. The Torch relay started from Fukushima, more precisely J-Village Stadium, a sports complex which was an important base for the workers in the aftermath of the nuclear accidents. In addition, in April 2021, the government endorsed a plan to discharge into the sea huge quantities of radioactive water accumulated at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant site, despite the many voices in Japan itself, but also in other countries, which strongly protested this decision.

Yet, the most serious issue for me is the problems faced by the younger generation. The government, in order to replace the numerous evacuees who refuse to return to their commune of origin, allocated in 2021 a budget of 1.8 billion yen (13.9 million euros) to persuade newcomers to settle in the 12 municipalities formerly designated as mandatory evacuation zones after the accident. In concrete terms, a premium of 2 million yen (€ 15,500) will be granted to each household having recently moved into these 12 municipalities. In addition, at four kilometers from the crippled nuclear site, on the lawn of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum, a local tourism company organizes various activities to attract high school and university students as well as young working adults: meals, stargazing nights, yoga classes etc. Finally, at an increasing pace, “discussion meetings” for young people are organized by the Ministry of the Environment and other organizations, on topics such as the release of radioactive water into the sea or the reuse of contaminated soil. All these appear to me as a staging to manipulate the minds of the young people. As for the “Supplementary reader on radiation”, distributed from 2011, after the accident, to all primary and junior high schools in Japan by the Ministry of Education, its latest version considerably reduces the paragraphs devoted to the dangers of radioactivity and the question of responsibilities of the nuclear accident. On the other hand, there are some pages in the appendix that praise the harmlessness of the radio-contaminated water accumulated at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

On January 27 this year, six young people who were between 6 and 16 years old at the time of the accident, and who have been suffering from thyroid cancer, filed a lawsuit against TEPCO, the operator of Fukushima Dai-ichi. They demand that the causal link between the nuclear accident and the triggering of their thyroid cancer be investigated. Indeed, the Prefectural Oversight Committee for Fukushima Health Management Survey in charge of evaluating the prefectural health survey still refuses to recognize any cause-and-effect relationship between these two factors. The young plaintiffs hope that this causality, if recognized at the end of the trial, will lead to the establishment of a system of aid for all other post-accident thyroid cancer patients, who are experiencing the same suffering as they are. This would cast a small glimmer of hope on their future. The consequences of the accident are made less and less visible. At the same time, the “reconstruction” of Fukushima (repopulating the evacuation areas, creating high-tech industrial zones, managing experimental agricultural sites to grow edible crops, etc.) is pushed forward at all costs. In this context, it must have taken extraordinary courage for these young people to file such a lawsuit. I call on all adults to support them in every way possible.

As a Fukushima resident and victim of the nuclear accident, I was deeply shocked by the European Commission’s proposal earlier this year to include nuclear energy in the green taxonomy. Nuclear reactors, no matter how small they become or how peaceful their use is claimed to be, use the same technology developed to create the atomic bomb. And throughout all the stages, nuclear energy production leads to the exposure of workers and local residents to radioactivity. Privilege the conquest of great power without hesitating to sacrifice small people – this is, in my opinion, the state of mind that still governs the nuclear industry today. Moreover, humanity has not totally mastered safety and security in this domain, and is also unable to find a solution to the perennial problem of disposal of the toxic waste. Finally, it is clear that nuclear facilities do great harm to the environment. For all these reasons, we refuse to consider this energy as “green” or “clean”.

On a positive note, a growing number of countries are ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). So the time has also come to say farewell to nuclear energy production. 

Despite the troubled times we are going through, and all the difficulties we will still face in the future, let us continue to walk together step by step, supported by the solidarity of our fellow human beings who continue the struggle in the four corners of the world.

March 2022 in Fukushima

Ruiko Muto

Chair of the Complainants for the Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Member of Fukushima Women Against Nuclear Power

(Translated from Japanese by Nos Voisins Lointains 3.11)


March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

311, 11 Years On – For a Peaceful, Nuclear-Free Society, with the People of the World 


Eleven years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the disaster at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Nuclear power plants that had been deemed “completely safe” by the government and power companies, exploded one after another. Radioactive materials that were supposedly confined behind “five-layered walls” leaked out into the sea and onto land, causing long-term radioactive contamination.

What must not be forgotten is that society as a whole took the mass production and consumption of electricity for granted, and had subconsciously accepted the propaganda of the government and power companies that justified the use of nuclear power plants. The fact that the electricity generated at the power plant in Fukushima was used, not in Fukushima but in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, and that many workers were forced to suffer radiation exposure in order to operate the plant, were injustices that had not been recognized by many. This structural injustice continues to this day.

The nuclear disaster was not supposed to happen. Thus, there was no legal system for victim relief and no robust regulation of radioactive materials in the environment. In 2011, when the government set a standard for evacuation that was 20 times higher than the exposure limit applicable to the general public, many people struggled with the question of whether to evacuate, or to remain. Many were forced to evacuate without compensation or support.

The nuclear disaster is not over. At least 30,000 people are still living as evacuees. However, public assistance, including the provision of housing, has already been cut off, leaving behind some evacuees who cannot afford to pay rent.

Even though evacuation orders have been lifted one after another and support for evacuees has been discontinued, many people have not returned to their homes. Younger generations have not returned, and one- or two-person households of elderly people are living scattered in different areas.

Meanwhile, radioactive materials are being spread by human activities once again. The government has decided on a policy of reusing contaminated soil and radioactive waste generated by decontamination, rather than taking the path of safe storage. Furthermore, the dumping of large quantities of treated contaminated water into the ocean is also causing the spread of radioactive materials. Not only does this water contain tritium, but also strontium-90, iodine-129, and other radioactive materials. TEPCO has stated that it will conduct secondary treatment, but information on the amount and type of radioactive materials that will ultimately remain in the water has not been disclosed.

Under the guise of “preventing damaging rumors,” the government continues to spend vast amounts of national taxpayer money on propaganda to convince the public that radioactive materials are not dangerous. However, the spread of radioactive materials is substantial “damage.” The term “damaging rumor” obscures the responsibility of the actual perpetrators, the government and TEPCO, and makes those who point out the risks of exposure and contamination appear as though they also bear responsibility.

After the disaster, all nuclear power plants owned by TEPCO and Tohoku Electric Power Company were shut down, and a “nuclear power plant free” Eastern Japan has existed for the past 11 years. After the shutdown of Kansai Electric Power’s Oi reactors 3 and 4 in September 2013, nuclear power plants across the country were out of operation for close to two years, resulting in a nationwide nuclear power plant free period. Even after operations were restarted, nuclear power plants were shut down one after another due to delays in the construction of anti-terrorism facilities, court injunctions against operations, and other issues such as cracked pipes. The cost of construction and safety measures for nuclear power plants skyrocketed, and nuclear power plants were no longer a “stable” or “inexpensive” power source.

Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine has resulted in many casualties. One after another, Russian troops are attacking and taking control of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Needless to say, war is the greatest form of environmental destruction and violation of human rights and totally unacceptable. In addition, attacks on nuclear power plants lead to the spread of radioactive materials, endangering the lives and health of many people for a long time. The risk of nuclear power plants becoming targets of attacks was indicated in the past, and unfortunately this nightmare has now become a reality.

We stand with the victims, and in solidarity with people around the world who wish for peace, and we have renewed our determination to move forward to realize a peaceful, nuclear-free world.

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Radioactive waste from contaminated water treatment, cleanup postponed. What we saw at the storage site of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

A facility for storing concentrated liquid waste after evaporation of highly contaminated water. Light blue tanks are lined up behind thick concrete walls. Inside the wall is a maximum of 800 microsieverts per hour at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

March 11, 2022
The contaminated water containing high concentrations of radioactive materials that continues to be generated at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Okuma and Futaba towns, Fukushima Prefecture) is creating contaminated waste in the process of treatment and storage. On April 2, this paper’s team entered the plant premises and visited the storage site. TEPCO and the government plan to discharge the contaminated water into the ocean in the spring of 2023, but the cleanup of the massive amount of radioactive waste has been postponed. (Kenta Onozawa)

◆Enriched liquid waste “To be honest, there is no concrete plan.
We honestly don’t have a concrete plan for how to dispose of the waste,” said a TEPCO spokesperson with a pained expression on his face in a corner of the vast tank area on the west side of Units 1 through 4. In front of us, a covered shed surrounded by concrete walls. A horizontal light blue tank could be seen through a gap in the wall. The dosimeter he had brought with him read around 0.5 microsieverts per hour in the tank area, but the reading jumped to 4 microsieverts per hour near the hut.
 The contents of the tank, which emitted intense radiation through the 20-centimeter-thick concrete, were “concentrated liquid waste” generated immediately after the accident. It is the precipitate from the process of desalinating highly contaminated water, which contained salt from the tsunami, and reusing it to cool the nuclear reactors.
 The muddy condition makes it difficult to treat, and the high radiation dose makes it inaccessible; when Fukushima Prefecture checked the site in January 2008, the maximum radiation dose inside the wall was 800 microsieverts per hour. This is the annual exposure limit for an average person after spending one hour and 20 minutes at the site.
 There are 200 cubic meters of muddy liquid waste and 9,000 tons of supernatant water. The contaminated water treatment process has stabilized and will not increase any further. TEPCO plans to begin experimental treatment in FY2011, but has not even begun to verify the method.

◆Contaminated plastic in “untouchable” reservoirs
To the north of the shed, there is a clearing that rises up like a ring, where the underground reservoir that caused the contaminated water leak in 2001 is buried.
 At the time, the storage of contaminated water was on a tightrope. TEPCO, under pressure, dug a hole where a tank could not be built directly under the power lines, covered it with a water shield sheet, and filled it with a total of 24,000 tons of contaminated water, which mainly contained radioactive strontium. However, the water leaked underground and could no longer be used.
 Although the contaminated water has been drained out, the plastic materials that were placed in the pond as reinforcement remain heavily contaminated. Standing on the pond, the dosimeter quickly read 3 microsieverts per hour. The spokesperson said in a low voice, “I think we could have removed the contaminated water if we had filled it with purified water, but now that we have filled it with contaminated water, it’s hard to do anything about it.

◆Waste continues to accumulate
 The treated water that is planned to be discharged into the ocean is water that has been purified by a multinuclide removal system (ALPS). The treatment process also generates muddy waste, which is stored in a polyethylene container (1.5 meters in diameter, 1.8 meters high, and about 1 centimeter thick) called an HIC.
 In the storage area on the south side of the site, the top of the HIC was visible inside the concrete wall. Some of the HICs containing high-dose sludge have already exceeded their useful life, and the number of such HICs will reach 87 at the end of FY2010. There are fears that they may break due to deterioration, and they are under pressure to be transferred to new containers. However, it has taken time to set up measures to protect the workers from radiation exposure, and the replacement of the heavily contaminated containers only began on February 22.
 Once the discharge of treated water into the ocean begins, the number of storage tanks, which number approximately 1,000, will gradually decrease. However, there is no plan to eliminate the generation of contaminated water, and the purification process will continue. In the meantime, waste from the treatment process will continue to accumulate, so it is unacceptable to postpone the consideration of a long-term management method.

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear power plants are “not designed for war” and if attacked by missiles, “radioactive materials will be scattered

KEPCO’s Takahama Nuclear Power Plant

March 9, 2022
At a meeting of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Economy, Trade, and Industry on March 9, Chairman Toyoshi Sarada of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said, “There is concern that radioactive materials will be spread” in the event of a missile attack on a nuclear power plant in Japan. We do not believe that this can be avoided with the current facilities. This was in response to Makoto Yamazaki of the Democratic Party of Japan’s Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, who asked a question in response to an attack on a nuclear power plant by Russian forces that invaded Ukraine.

 The government has explained that it is taking counterterrorism measures for nuclear power plants in Japan, but has not clearly stated the danger of a military attack. Mr. Sarada explained to the METI Committee that “we do not envision an armed attack due to a conflict between two countries (in terms of safety) in our examinations,” he said. If a nuclear power plant is occupied, “the entire control of the plant will be seized. After that, any situation is inevitable.

 Defense Vice Minister Makoto Oniki responded that improvements in missile technology have made it more difficult to intercept missiles and that “we will not rule out any options, including an enemy base attack capability, and will consider them in a realistic manner. Yamazaki insisted, “When we consider the risk of attacks from earthquakes, terrorism, and wars such as this one, we still have to close nuclear power plants. (Nobuko Ohno)

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

8 towns and villages near Fukushima nuclear power plant 1,514 earthquake-related deaths 70% relocated 3 times or more

TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Unit 2 in the center, Unit 3 on the left, and Unit 1 on the right, from the head office helicopter on February 9.

March 6, 2022
In eight towns and villages in Futaba County, Fukushima Prefecture, where evacuation orders were issued after the March 2011 accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and nearly all residents evacuated in and out of the prefecture, 1,514 people were certified as earthquake-related deaths, and at least 1,025 were found to have moved to new evacuation sites three or more times, according to a new report. Of the 1,514, 136 died after 2004, indicating that the prolonged evacuation has pushed the victims to the edge.

 The Mainichi Shimbun requested local governments in Fukushima Prefecture to disclose documents submitted by the bereaved families over the certification of earthquake-related deaths. The documents include a written history leading up to the deaths, and we analyzed their contents. The number of people certified as earthquake-related deaths in the prefecture as a whole was 2,331, about 1.5 times the number of direct deaths (1,605).

A survey of 1,514 people certified as earthquake-related deaths in eight towns and villages in Futaba County (six towns: Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka, Naraha, and Hirono; two villages: Katsurao and Kawauchi) showed that at least 1,025 people had moved their evacuation sites three or more times before their death. Of these, 248 had moved three times, 267 four times, 211 five times, and 299 six or more times.

 A total of 2,034 people, 1,514 in eight towns and villages in Futaba County and 520 in Minamisoma City, which was ordered to evacuate within a 20-kilometer radius of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, were identified as having died as earthquake-related deaths, and 70% of them were in their 80s or older. Those with a history of illness accounted for 80% of the deaths, with pneumonia and heart disease being the most common causes of death. A number of people suffered from depression or worsening dementia as a result of the long-term evacuation.

According to the Reconstruction Agency, more than 90% of those who were certified as earthquake-related deaths in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake died within one year of the disaster. In contrast, in the eight towns and villages in Futaba County and Minamisoma City, almost half of all deaths from related causes occurred after one year had passed.

 Applications for earthquake-related deaths from bereaved families are still being filed. However, the passage of time has made it difficult to determine the causal relationship between the deaths, and the certification rate is declining. In Tomioka Town, where 454 people, the largest number in Futaba County, were certified, the rate dropped from 94% in FY12 (83 certified out of 88 applications) to 38% from FY19 to FY21 (17 certified out of 45 total). Rokka Teramachi, Shuji Ozaki
Earthquake-related deaths

 Deaths are not directly caused by collapsed buildings or tsunamis resulting from earthquakes, but by worsening physical condition due to evacuation after the disaster. Based on the disaster condolence payment system, a review board consisting of doctors and lawyers receives applications from bereaved families, examines them, and certifies them by the local government. If certified, the bereaved family will receive up to 5 million yen. According to the Reconstruction Agency, as of the end of September 2021, 3,784 people in 10 prefectures had been certified for the Great East Japan Earthquake.

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

(11 Years after the Great East Japan Earthquake) Forest untouched by decontamination, creatures exposed to radiation continue to be affected at the cellular level

Tohoku University lecturer Masatoshi Suzuki arranges samples of Japanese macaques in Sendai City on February 8.

March 8, 2022
 Eleven years have passed since the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

While decontamination has progressed mainly in residential areas and other areas where people live, vast areas of forests remain largely untouched.

A wild Japanese monkey in a mountain forest in Fukushima Prefecture, Iitate Village, Fukushima Prefecture, in December 2021.

What effect do radioactive materials remaining in the forests have on living creatures and how do they move through the food chain? Researchers are continuing their investigations. (Keitaro Fukuchi)

Image of radioactive cesium transfer through the food chain

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Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident: TEPCO’s Liability Confirmed in Three New Class Actions

March 8, 2022
In three class action lawsuits filed by residents of Fukushima Prefecture and others who claimed to have suffered emotional distress as a result of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the judgments ordering TEPCO to pay compensation that exceeds the national standard have all become final. This means that TEPCO’s liability and the amount of compensation have been confirmed in six of the seven class action lawsuits that have been appealed to the Supreme Court.

The three class action lawsuits were filed by more than 300 residents of Odaka Ward in Minamisoma City, more than 200 residents of Futaba County, and about 50 residents of Fukushima City, who were not ordered to evacuate, demanding compensation from TEPCO for emotional distress caused by the accident.

The judgments of the second trial court all approved compensation that exceeded the government’s standard for compensation for nuclear accidents, and TEPCO and others appealed the judgments.

The Supreme Court’s Third Petty Bench, presided over by Justice Michiharu Hayashi, rejected the appeal on August 8, and the decision ordering compensation that exceeded the national standard became final. The total amount of compensation awarded was over 1.1 billion yen to approximately 580 people in the three lawsuits.

With this decision, TEPCO’s liability and the amount of compensation exceeding the national standard have been confirmed in six of the seven appeals filed by people who evacuated from their homes due to the nuclear accident.

Fukushima City and other areas not subject to evacuation orders: 300,000 yen uniform compensation

Kichitaro Nomura, attorney for the residents, said, “We consider this to be a very landmark decision, and we were honestly relieved when we received word of the final decision.
TEPCO “will respond in good faith in accordance with the outcome of the trial.”

TEPCO issued a comment, saying, “Once again, we sincerely apologize to the people of Fukushima Prefecture and the wider community for the inconvenience and concern caused by the accident. We will respond to the plaintiffs in accordance with the outcome of the Supreme Court case. We will continue to respond with sincerity to fulfill our responsibility to Fukushima.

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

River fishing limits remain 11 years after nuclear disaster

Researchers catch fish in the Otagawa river in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 14, 2021, to survey the concentration of radioactive materials. (Keitaro Fukuchi)

March 7, 2022

FUKUSHIMA–A sign along the Manogawa river that runs through Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, is faded, but the message is clear–and perhaps unnecessary.

“Regulations have yet to be lifted,” it says. “Please do not conduct fishing activities.”

The sign is located on a riverbank about 30 kilometers north of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The area used to be crowded with people trying to catch “ayu” (sweetfish). But anglers from near and far stopped visiting the area long ago, and now, hardly anyone is around to see the sign.

After the 2011 nuclear disaster, a local association of fisheries cooperative set up the “no fishing” signs at about 50 locations along the river.

Calls to suspend shipments of river fish and to refrain from fishing have continued since the nuclear disaster started 11 years ago, even for rivers outside the Tohoku region.

In the Manogawa river, ayu, “ugui” (Japanese dace) and “yamame” (masu trout) were found with concentrations of radioactive substances that exceeded the national safety standard.

“There are people who say, ‘I don’t think I can go fishing again in my lifetime,” said Yukiharu Mori, 60, who owns a fishing goods store in Minami-Soma.

His shop’s sales have plummeted, and many other fishing goods shops in the city’s area have gone out of business, he said.


The nuclear disaster led to restrictions on shipments of seafood products in five prefectures, stretching from Aomori to Ibaraki.

These restrictions have been lifted in stages because radioactive substances more easily diffuse in the sea, and fish species have been confirmed safe to eat.

Currently, the shipment restrictions apply only to “kurosoi” (black rockfish) caught off Fukushima Prefecture.

But all restrictions remain for catches from 25 rivers and lakes in five prefectures–Fukushima, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Gunma and Chiba.

In some areas along the Agatsumagawa river in western Gunma Prefecture, shipments of “iwana” (char) and yamame are still restricted.

According to Gunma prefectural officials, radiation doses were relatively high in certain areas around the Agatsumagawa river immediately after the nuclear disaster due to the wind direction and geographical features. That has led in part to the prolonged restrictions.

In a 2020 prefectural survey, the radioactivity concentration level in iwana was 140 becquerels per kilogram. In a 2019 survey, the level for yamame was 120 becquerels per kilogram.

The national standard for both fish is 100 becquerels per kilogram.

“Even when the figure goes down and we think it is safe, we find fish with high figures every few years,” a Gunma prefectural official said. “That makes it difficult for us to take a step toward lifting the restrictions.”

Toshihiro Wada, an associate professor of fish biology at Fukushima University, said river fish “have continued to consume radioactive materials from food” provided through forests that have yet to be decontaminated.

The central government has conducted decontamination work mainly in residential areas of Fukushima Prefecture and surrounding prefectures.

But such work has not been done in most parts of large forested areas. Insects and other critters ingest still-contaminated tree leaves or algae at river bottoms. The river fish then consume the creatures, which has kept radioactive concentrations high in the fish.

A team of researchers from Fukushima University, the Fukushima prefectural government and the National Institute for Environmental Studies has surveyed areas along the Otagawa river that stretches from Namie to Minami-Soma in Fukushima Prefecture since 2018.

The study includes checking radioactivity levels in the river fish and insects.

The upper part of the Otagawa river is located in a “difficult-to-return” zone because of still-high radiation levels.

In an on-site survey in December, the researchers found the radiation dose rate in the air of an upstream forested area within the difficult-to-return zone was 2 to 3 microsieverts per hour. That level was 20 to 30 times higher than the dose rate in the city of Fukushima.

The researchers also found up to 9,000 becquerels of radioactive materials per kilogram in yamame caught in the upper portion of the river in 2018, and up to 12,000 becquerels per kilogram in iwana.

The radioactivity concentrations in tree leaves and river algae were several thousand to tens of thousands of becquerels. Crickets, bees and other land and aquatic creatures found in the yamame’s stomachs are believed to have eaten the contaminated leaves and algae.

Insects in the area contained radioactivity levels of several hundred to several thousand becquerels, the researchers said.

Yumiko Ishii, a team member and a chief researcher at the NIES, said that larger yamame had radioactivity concentration levels that were higher than those in the food that the fish ate.

“Unless you do something about the radioactive materials in forests, the radioactivity concentration levels in fish will not go down,” she said. “But decontaminating forests is not realistic, either.”

(This article was written by Keitaro Fukuchi and Nobuyuki Takiguchi.)

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Booklets touting Fukushima plant water discharge angers schools

A leaflet distributed by the Reconstruction Agency for junior and senior high school students on the three topics regarding tainted water treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) is shown at the Miyagi prefectural government office on Feb. 21. (Ryuichiro Fukuoka)

March 7, 2022

Complaints from educators have prompted some municipalities in coastal areas of the Tohoku region to stop schools from handing out government fliers to students or retrieve distributed ones that tout the safety of releasing treated water from a crippled nuclear plant into the ocean. 

The government sent a total of 2.3 million booklets directly to elementary, junior and senior high schools across the nation in December in an effort to prevent reputational damage caused by the planned water discharge. 

The school staffers say the leaflets are unilaterally imposing the central government’s views on children. 

“There are both arguments for and against the processed water discharge program, but the materials impose the thought that it is safe on naive children in a one-sided manner,” said a principal of an elementary school in Miyagi Prefecture who described the fliers as “totally unacceptable” in the disaster-ravaged region. 

The processed water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is scheduled to be released into the sea in spring next year, but the plan is facing strong local opposition.

One of the two booklets in question targets elementary school students with the aim of promoting recovery from the nuclear crisis by instructing them on the disaster triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

It was developed by the economy ministry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.

The other was worked out by the Reconstruction Agency to educate junior and senior high school students on the three topics over contaminated water treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS).

They arrived directly in schools along with supplementary textbooks of the education ministry on radiation.

The handbook for elementary school pupils describes the processed water as “so safe that people’s eating or drinking it would pose no health problems.”

Referring to a radioactive substance called tritium in the treated water, the leaflet for high schools states there “would be no health effects” and that kind of water “has already been discharged in oceans all over the world.”

A representative of the Reconstruction Agency said its material was distributed as “supplementary data to provide scientific explanations to prevent the spread of groundless rumors that cause reputational damage.”

Mitsunori Fukuda, a senior economy ministry official, said the leaflets are aimed at providing accurate information about the water discharge based on scientific evidence to minimize possible reputational damage. 

“The ministry has no intention of requiring using the leaflets (at schools) and it is up to local governments to decide how to use them,” said Fukuda, director of the Nuclear Accident Response Office. 

The central government in April last year announced a plan to release water contaminated in the Fukushima nuclear crisis into the sea in spring 2023 after removing most radioactive substances in it and diluting it with seawater.

Suffering negative effects of groundless rumors of contaminated products in the aftermath of the 2011 tremor, local fisheries associations are resolutely opposing the program. Miyagi Prefecture in November demanded the state “research disposal options other than oceanic discharge.”

On Feb. 21, four opposition parliamentary groups in the prefectural assembly submitted a request to the prefecture’s educational board to stop the fliers from reaching students.

“Though the issue is still being discussed, the materials convey information directly to children while presupposing the sea release,” said Miyuki Yusa, chair of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s caucus in the assembly.

Yusa insisted that concerns about the safety of treated contaminated water have yet to be dispelled.

Akiyo Ito, head of the secretariat of the prefectural education board, said the board is not planning to retrieve all the distributed leaflets, but acknowledged that the documents have been “sent directly to schools and have resulted in a mess, posing a problem.”

Many municipalities are embarrassed about the booklets.

In Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, the city education board instructed 23 elementary and junior high schools, except for two schools, to refrain from distributing the leaflets and keep them at the schools. The two schools had already handed out the fliers to students. 

An education board official said the leaflets include contents sensitive to the city where the fisheries industry is essential to the local economy. 

“We need more time to deliberate on how to deal with the issue,” the official said. 

Kamaishi and Ofunato cities in the same prefecture issued similar instructions. 

In Okuma, which co-hosts the Fukushima No. 1 plant in Fukushima Prefecture, officials distributed the fliers at junior high schools but decided not to do so in elementary schools. 

In Iwaki in the same prefecture, the city education board sent a written notice to all elementary and junior high schools on Feb. 4, calling on them to refrain from using them in classes and store them at schools. 

A junior high school teacher said the timing was inappropriate. 

“It is important for children to know the actual situation but it is too early to distribute the leaflets when there are strong criticisms about the planned water discharge,” the teacher said. 

Ishinomaki city in Miyagi Prefecture called on school operators to “cease handing the leaflets to students” because it has not examined the contents thoroughly.

As many people in the fisheries circle in Shichigahama are worried about the water release plan, the town has decided to retrieve booklets already distributed to first-graders at elementary and junior high schools.

“The materials were distributed at a significantly insensitive time in a terribly thoughtless manner,” said a member of the town’s education board. “It can’t be helped that people suspect they were sent out behind the backs of municipalities.”

Nobuo Takizawa, head of the secretariat for Natori city’s education board, pointed out the central government should have notified municipalities in advance.

“The documents were distributed to schools without the education boards being notified,” said Takizawa.

Yoshinori Hakui, a senior education ministry official, showed signs of remorse about the direct distribution of the leaflets to schools during a session of the Lower House Committee on Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on March 2. 

“We regret that we delivered the leaflets in a manner that was not careful enough. We could have made better coordination with the economy ministry and others,” said Hakui, director-general of the Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau.

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Children face “discrimination because of Fukushima,” the discovery of thyroid cancer, and bullying

After the nuclear accident, Zensei Kamoshita evacuated from Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, to Tokyo. 11 years later, he is now a university student. Photo by Shuzo Saito

22, 2022 issue

Eleven years will soon have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. Many residents have yet to regain their normal lives. In particular, what have the children who have been at the mercy of the nuclear accident been thinking and how have they survived the past 11 years? What did the unprecedented accident bring about? Through the experiences and words of these three grown-up adults, we will consider these questions now.
Nine-Year-Old Wishes to Go to Heaven

I was glad to hear that (my son) talked about the future. Because a few years ago, that boy couldn’t even think about that.”

 That’s what his mother, Miwa, said as she watched Zensei Kamoshita (Matsuki), 19, walk in front of her. After the nuclear accident, he evacuated to Tokyo, where he was bullied and had a tough childhood.

 His nature-rich life, where he would eat Tsukushi (tsukudani) boiled in soy sauce from vacant lots and help lost Karugamo children, changed drastically on March 11, 2011. The accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant shattered them.

 At the time, Zensei was 8 years old and living in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture. He was about to go out with his mother to learn when the earthquake struck. He was held by his mother in front of their house and waited for the long tremors to subside.

 My mother and I immediately went to pick up my younger brother from daycare, and then went out to look for my grandfather, who had gone to Iwaki Station.

 Expecting that the area in front of the station was in chaos due to the earthquake, my mother left Zenjo and his younger brother in a parking lot a short distance away, telling them that she would be back and that they must never leave the car, and then ran to the station.

 However, no matter how long he waited, his mother did not return. The aftershocks continued. Eventually, my brother asked to use the restroom, and Mr. Zensho broke his promise to my mother and took my brother to the restroom at a nearby gas station.

 After about an hour and a half, when his mother returned, Mr. Zengsheng and his younger brother were wailing.

My brother may have been crying because he was inconsolable, but I was crying because I felt like I had broken my promise,” she said.

 Zensei said. As an 8-year-old at the time, the idea that people would die in an earthquake or tsunami “didn’t really sink in,” he said.

Zensei (right) and his younger brother were 8 years old when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident occurred, and the family’s life changed drastically after 3.11.

The next morning around 5:00 a.m., my parents told me that they were going to evacuate the building and that I could pick out three toys. His younger brother wanted to take four, so Mr. Zensho gave his brother the right to one and got into the car.

 During the trip, I don’t remember when I went to bed and woke up, but I do remember that my mother was concerned about the release of radioactive iodine from the nuclear power plant, and she made me eat a large amount of seaweed. This was to avoid exposure to the thyroid gland. There was no evacuation order from the government; it was a so-called “voluntary evacuation. At that time, many people in Fukushima Prefecture were concerned about the situation at the nuclear power plants, which were exploding one after another, and were evacuating outside the prefecture.

 After 19 and a half hours of evacuation, Mr. Zensho was surprised to find himself at a relative’s house in Yokohama. It was dark outside, but the clock read one o’clock.

One o’clock should have been light!”

 But it was eerie that it was night. He could not stay long at his relative’s house, so he took shelter with another relative for a few days. While moving from one evacuation site to another, Zensho’s school life also began. There, he began to be bullied.

 He was bullied, he says, “I was bullied by my parents, and I was bullied by my parents.

The truth is, if I don’t have to remember, I don’t want to remember.

 It was naturally painful to be graffiti on personal belongings, to be subjected to one-sided violence, and to be treated like a “fungus,” but the most difficult part was not being treated like a human being.

As I was bullied, I was made to believe that it was my fault,” he said.

 I was a very good student,” Zensei recalls.

 The 9-year-old’s wish was “I want to go to heaven.

 He described the structure of the bullying in this way.

In the beginning, there was no bullying. In the beginning, there was no bullying because I was the “poor evacuee. But gradually, as I started to live like the other children, for example, I was receiving relief supplies, and when I was able to live the same way, I felt that I should have been lower in the social ladder.

 At the time, he endured the hardship, but gradually he began to wonder why discrimination and bullying occurred.

 In order to escape the intense bullying, he took the entrance examination for junior high school. After entering junior high school, Mr. Zensei lived his life hiding the fact that he was an evacuee. Since then, he has made many friends and enjoyed his life. That is why it was hard for him to hide it.

 Mr. Zensho said.

Posters and other materials say that bullying should be eliminated with words like “be considerate and get along with others. But that is not true.

 Bullying for any reason is a no-no,” is all we need to say. I think it is necessary to think that any human being, even the worst of us, can be protected. So I think it’s a question of human rights.”

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment