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Intensive campaign from Japanese diplomats to push other countries to lift their ban on Japanese contaminated produce

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Japan requests Hong Kong to lift ban on food from Fukushima, vicinity
March 25, 2018
HONG KONG (Kyodo) — Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono met with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Sunday and requested the territory lift a ban on imports of agricultural products from Japanese prefectures near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
 
Hong Kong has banned imports of fruit and vegetables from Fukushima Prefecture and four surrounding prefectures, citing the nuclear disaster at the plant triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
 
The Japanese government hopes to enhance economic ties with the territory by paving the way for Hong Kong to lift the import ban. Tokyo also hopes Hong Kong’s action would lead China to relax similar restrictions, as Beijing has banned food imports from 10 Japanese prefectures.
 
Kono and Lam also affirmed cooperation in preventing North Korea from evading sanctions through ship-to-ship cargo transfers in international waters.
 
A Hong Kong-flagged vessel is believed to have secretly transferred oil to a North Korean vessel in October in a ship-to-ship transfer prohibited by the U.N. Security Council.
 
It is the first time in 21 years that a Japanese foreign minister has visited Hong Kong apart from international conferences. During their meeting, Kono and Lam also agreed to accelerate cooperation on tourism.
 
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March 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Amount of food with radioactive cesium exceeding gov’t standards ‘dropping’, so they claim

So they say…..But why should we believe such study coming from the Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team to be true? Especially when we know that their main policy has been a constant denial of the existing risks for the past 7 years…..
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March 22, 2018
The number of cases in which radioactive cesium exceeding Japanese government standards was found in food items dropped to less than 20 percent over a five-year period from fiscal 2012, a health ministry study has found.
 
The government standards for radioactive cesium came into effect in April 2012, which assumed that half of distributed food products contained the radioactive element generated by the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. It is set at 100 becquerels per kilogram for common food items, 50 becquerels per kilogram for baby food and cow milk and 10 becquerels for drinking water.
 
Based on central government guidelines, 17 prefectural governments, counting Tokyo, check food products in which radioactive cesium is likely to be detected, including items that have been distributed, for the radioactive element. Other local governments have also been independently inspecting such food products to confirm their safety. A Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team analyzed data compiled by local governments, excluding that of beef, which has an extremely low detection rate for cesium, as well as products that go through bag-by-bag inspections such as rice from Fukushima Prefecture.
 
As a result, the number of cases that exceeded the threshold set under the Food Sanitation Act totaled 2,359 of 91,547 food products inspected in fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2013, it was 1,025 out of 90,824 products, 565 out of 79,067 in fiscal 2014, 291 out of 66,663 in fiscal 2015 and 460 out of 63,121 in fiscal 2016.
 
Broken down by categories, 641 cases of food items among agricultural produce were found to have exceeded the government standards for radioactive cesium and 1,072 cases were detected among fishery products in fiscal 2012, but the figure had dropped to 71 and 11, respectively, in fiscal 2016. For fishery products, this is believed to be attributed to the reduction of cesium concentration in the seawater as the element had diffused in the ocean. It is also believed that the concentration in agricultural items had dropped as a result of decontamination work and other efforts.
 
At the same time, the number of cases exceeding national standards totaled 493 for game meat in fiscal 2012, and 378 in fiscal 2016. Researchers suspect that because wild animals continue to feed on wild mushrooms and plants with high concentrations of radioactive cesium growing in forests that have not been decontaminated, the figure does not drop among game meat products.
Almost all the foods that exceeded the government standards for radioactive cesium had not been available to consumers as the contamination was detected during inspections before being shipped to markets. However, Akiko Hachisuka of the National Institute of Health Sciences Biochemistry Division who headed the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team says game meat and wild mushrooms need to be prioritized in inspections for the time being and also in the future.
 
Among wild mushrooms and other products that had been distributed to markets, 19 cases exceeding government standards were reported in fiscal 2012, seven in fiscal 2013, 11 in fiscal 2014, 12 in fiscal 2015 and 10 in fiscal 2016.
 

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima flounder exported for first time since nuclear disaster

March 1, 2018
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A worker hefts a flounder into a box for export to Thailand in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 28, 2018.
 
SOMA, Fukushima — Known as the pride of the Joban region along the Pacific coast, flounder caught off Fukushima Prefecture were exported on Feb. 28 for the first time since the nuclear disaster seven years ago.
The shipment will make its way to Bangkok, where it will supply Japanese restaurants in the Thai capital with close to 1 ton of flounder by the end of March. On Feb. 28, the roughly 100 kilograms of ocean-caught fish were stacked into ice-filled cases at the market in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture. Each flounder weighed between 1.5 to 2 kilograms, and Soma Futaba fisheries cooperative head Kanji Tachiya, 66, said, “While the number of fish caught along the coast is still few, the fact that Fukushima fish will be tasted abroad motivates us.”
The flounder along Fukushima’s coastline have thick white flesh and excellent flavor, even fetching high prices at Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji wholesale market. Restrictions on their export were lifted in 2016, and while business will continue on a trial basis, the flounder still cost 10 to 20 percent less than those caught in other regions.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government negotiated with a trading company in Thailand that did not impose import restrictions on marine products from the region following the nuclear disaster. Levels of radioactive cesium in all of the roughly 25,000 types of marine products caught off the Fukushima coast surveyed by the prefecture have fallen below the domestic standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram since April 2015, and the aim is to increase the amount, type and destinations for exported fish in the future.

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

New evidence of nuclear fuel releases found at Fukushima

February 28, 2018
Uranium and other radioactive materials, such as caesium and technetium, have been found in tiny particles released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors.
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“Our research strongly suggests there is a need for further detailed investigation on Fukushima fuel debris, inside, and potentially outside the nuclear exclusion zone,” said Dr Gareth Law.
 
Uranium and other radioactive materials, such as caesium and technetium, have been found in tiny particles released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors.
This could mean the environmental impact from the fallout may last much longer than previously expected according to a new study by a team of international researchers, including scientists from The University of Manchester.
The team says that, for the first time, the fallout of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor fuel debris into the surrounding environment has been “explicitly revealed” by the study.
The scientists have been looking at extremely small pieces of debris, known as micro-particles, which were released into the environment during the initial disaster in 2011. The researchers discovered uranium from nuclear fuel embedded in or associated with caesium-rich micro particles that were emitted from the plant’s reactors during the meltdowns. The particles found measure just five micrometres or less; approximately 20 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The size of the particles means humans could inhale them.
The reactor debris fragments were found inside the nuclear exclusion zone, in paddy soils and at an abandoned aquaculture centre, located several kilometres from the nuclear plant.
It was previously thought that only volatile, gaseous radionuclides such as caesium and iodine were released from the damaged reactors. Now it is becoming clear that small, solid particles were also emitted, and that some of these particles contain very long-lived radionuclides; for example, uranium has a half-life of billions of years.
Dr Gareth Law, Senior Lecturer in Analytical Radiochemistry at the University of Manchester and an author on the paper, says: “Our research strongly suggests there is a need for further detailed investigation on Fukushima fuel debris, inside, and potentially outside the nuclear exclusion zone. Whilst it is extremely difficult to get samples from such an inhospitable environment, further work will enhance our understanding of the long-term behaviour of the fuel debris nano-particles and their impact.”
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is currently responsible for the clean-up and decommissioning process at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in the surrounding exclusion zone. Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya, Associate Professor at Kyushu University (Japan) led the study.
He added: “Having better knowledge of the released microparticles is also vitally important as it provides much needed data on the status of the melted nuclear fuels in the damaged reactors. This will provide extremely useful information for TEPCO’s decommissioning strategy.”
At present, chemical data on the fuel debris located within the damaged nuclear reactors is impossible to get due to the high levels of radiation. The microparticles found by the international team of researchers will provide vital clues on the decommissioning challenges that lie ahead.
 
Story Source:
Materials provided by Manchester University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
 
Journal Reference:
1. Asumi Ochiai, Junpei Imoto, Mizuki Suetake, Tatsuki Komiya, Genki Furuki, Ryohei Ikehara, Shinya Yamasaki, Gareth T. W. Law, Toshihiko Ohnuki, Bernd Grambow, Rodney C. Ewing, Satoshi Utsunomiya. Uranium Dioxides and Debris Fragments Released to the Environment with Cesium-Rich Microparticles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Environmental Science & Technology, 2018; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b06309
 

 

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Correlation between infectious disease and soil radiation in Japan: an exploratory study using national sentinel surveillance data

From 16 January 2017
Summary
We investigated the relationship between epidemics and soil radiation through an exploratory study using sentinel surveillance data (individuals aged <20 years) during the last three epidemic seasons of influenza and norovirus in Japan. We used a spatial analysis method of a geographical information system (GIS). We mapped the epidemic spreading patterns from sentinel incidence rates. We calculated the average soil radiation [dm (μGy/h)] for each sentinel site using data on uranium, thorium, and potassium oxide in the soil and examined the incidence rate in units of 0·01 μGy/h. The correlations between the incidence rate and the average soil radiation were assessed. Epidemic clusters of influenza and norovirus infections were observed in areas with relatively high radiation exposure. A positive correlation was detected between the average incidence rate and radiation dose, at r = 0·61–0·84 (P < 0·01) for influenza infections and r = 0·61–0·72 (P < 0·01) for norovirus infections. An increase in the incidence rate was found between areas with radiation exposure of 0 < dm < 0·01 and 0·15 ⩽ dm < 0·16, at 1·80 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1·47–2·12] times higher for influenza infection and 2·07 (95% CI 1·53–2·61) times higher for norovirus infection. Our results suggest a potential association between decreased immunity and irradiation because of soil radiation. Further studies on immunity in these epidemic-prone areas are desirable.
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February 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Seoul defies WTO ruling, vows to keep ban on Japan’s Fukushima seafood

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South Korea vows to maintain its restrictions on Japanese seafood imports and appeal the WTO’s ruling against additional radiation tests and bans on fishery products introduced in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In 2015, Tokyo filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) challenging South Korea’s import bans that were introduced on certain fish caught in Japanese waters over fears of radiation following the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima power plant in March 2011. In its official complaint, Japan also challenged additional testing and certification requirements placed by Seoul on Japanese fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima.
On Thursday, the WTO ruled in Japan’s favor, claiming that while South Korean practices were initially justified, they now violate the WTO’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) agreement. “By maintaining the product-specific and blanket import bans on the 28 fishery products from the 8 prefectures and the 2011 and 2013 additional testing requirements on Japanese products, Korea acted inconsistently with Article 2.3, first sentence of the SPS Agreement and, as a consequence with Article 2.3, second sentence,” the ruling said.
South Korea on Friday refused to bow to the WTO ruling due to public health and safety concerns, announcing that it will challenge the ruling while maintaining the current level of restrictions.
“The Korean government will appeal to safeguard public health and safety,” the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a release. “Regardless of the decision, the current import ban will be put in place until the WTO’s dispute settlement procedure ends.”
Japan’s minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ken Saito, called Seoul’s disobedience regrettable. “Japan will respond accordingly so that our position will be accepted by the Appellate Body as well. We will also call on South Korea to sincerely and promptly correct their measures,” he said at a news conference.
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Twenty-four nations across the globe still have some import limitations on Japanese seafood products. Originally, 46 nations adopted protective measures but over time have eased their restriction practices to allow Japanese imports. Despite the ban on Fukushima products, South Korea has imported 708,566 tons of seafood from Japan since March 2011, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. South Korean authorities returned only around 0.03 percent of those imports, asking for additional radiation level tests.

 

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan immorality in pushing the export of its contaminated foods to other countries

From The Yomiuri Shimbun, a propaganda mouthpiece close to the Japanese government.

 

Give new impetus to countries to lift import bans on Japanese seafood

An unfair import ban imposed in reaction to the nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture is unacceptable. Japan must make use of this clear judgment for countries to accelerate lifting such bans.

A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel ruled that South Korea’s ban on fishery products imported from Japan amounts to “arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination” and violates WTO rules.

Citing the nuclear accident as a reason, South Korea has imposed a blanket import ban on fishery products from eight prefectures, including Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, since September 2013. For some of the import items, the ban has a serious impact on the fishery industries in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident.

Japan filed complaints with the WTO in 2015, claiming Seoul’s ban was “not based on scientific grounds and hampered free trade.” It calls for the ban to be lifted on 28 kinds of fishery products, such as bonito and saury.

The WTO has sided with Japan because it did not get a satisfactory explanation from South Korea about why Seoul focused solely on fishery products imported from Japan.

Might Seoul have aimed to exclude Japanese fishery products that compete with those of South Korea? If so, such an attitude would run counter to the WTO’s principle of free trade and losing the case would be inevitable.

The South Korean government announced that it will appeal to a higher WTO panel, equivalent to a higher court. A situation should be avoided in which handing down the final decision is unnecessarily postponed.

Moves by S. Korea, China vital

It is reasonable that Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Ken Saito said, “[We] call for South Korea to sincerely and swiftly correct the violation of the [WTO] agreement.”

Japan exports products after subjecting them to an even stricter examination than is required by international standards on the influence of radioactive substances on foods.

The number of countries and regions that imposed import bans on Japanese foods after the nuclear accident was initially 54, but it declined by half to 27 as time went by.

In addition to South Korea, many of Japan’s main trading partners, including China, the United States and the European Union, still impose import restrictions on Japanese foods. Among other steps, they continue to ban importing some items or call for the presentation of certificates of inspection of Japanese foods.

In particular, China has taken the same level of strict restrictive measures as South Korea, and banned importing all foods from Tokyo and nine other prefectures.

The moves of China and South Korea seem to strongly influence other Asian countries and others that are still taking some kind of regulatory measures against Japanese foods.

In parallel with its efforts regarding South Korea, the Japanese government needs to make more efforts toward negotiations with China for lifting its import ban.

Although the government has set the goal of exporting ¥1 trillion worth of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products and other foods in 2019, such exports remain sluggish.

It has been pointed out that meat and fruit imported from Japan, which have become luxury brands, are sought after and praised by wealthy people abroad, yet there are few products for the most populous middle-income bracket of other countries.

There is no doubt that lifting the import bans of each country would also contribute to the improvement of the image of Japanese products overall.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004265927

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea to fight WTO ruling on Fukushima seafood ban

My respect to South Korean government which stands to protect the health of their citizens. Unlike many others.
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In this Sept. 6, 2013, file photo, a worker using a Geiger counter checks for possible radioactive contamination at Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market in Seoul, South Korea.
South Korea said Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, it will appeal the World Trade Organization’s decision against Seoul’s import bans on Japanese fishery products imposed in the wake of Fukushima nuclear meltdowns.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Friday it will appeal the World Trade Organization’s decision against bans on imports of Japanese fishery products after the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns.
The government said in a statement that the appeal was meant to protect public health and safety. It said it will maintain its existing regulations on imports of Japanese seafood.
The Geneva-based WTO accepted Japan’s complaint, saying South Korea’s policies violated the trade body’s rules, were discriminatory and served as a trade barrier.
In 2013, South Korea banned imports of all fishery products from eight Japanese provinces near Fukushima after Tokyo Electric Power reported leaks of radiation-contaminated water. That tightened restrictions imposed after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011. It also required inspection certificates for food products from Japan if small amounts of radioactive cesium or iodine were detected.
Japan filed a complaint against the move in 2015.
Japan’s minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ken Saito, said the appeal was regrettable. He urged South Korea to abide by the decision and scrap its current practices.
“Japan will respond accordingly so that our position will be accepted by the Appellate Body as well. We will also call on South Korea to sincerely and promptly correct their (import ban) measures,” he said at a news conference.
South Korea is one of a handful of countries that have banned foods from Fukushima and surrounding prefectures.
China also bans seafood and other agricultural products from Fukushima and nine other prefectures, including Tokyo. It requires certificate on foods from the rest of Japan. The two governments recently set up a committee to discuss possibly easing the ban.
Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and several other countries such as Singapore, Russia and the Philippines, also ban seafood and other agricultural products from Fukushima and surrounding prefectures. However they allow imports from elsewhere in Japan if they have a required certificate of safety. Taiwan has agreed to start easing restrictions later this year.
The U.S. does not impose a blanket ban on Fukushima, but instead restricts specific agricultural products from specific regions.
Since the accident, 26 countries have lifted bans on imports related to the Fukushima disaster.

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan wins WTO dispute over Fukushima-related food

Proving that  World Trade Organization focuses on trade and not on people health.
TOKYO, Feb 22 (Reuters) – The World Trade Organization on Thursday largely upheld a Japanese complaint against South Korea’s import bans and additional testing requirements imposed on Japanese seafood because of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In a ruling that can be appealed by either side, a WTO dispute panel said that South Korea’s measures were initially justified but that keeping them in place violated the WTO’s sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) agreement.
“Japan welcomes the panel’s decision and hopes that South Korea will sincerely and swiftly take corrective action,” Japan’s Fisheries Agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Japan, which has been in talks with other countries such as China and Taiwan that also have trade restrictions in place, plans to step up talks with them in light of the WTO ruling, a government official said.
Many countries have removed or relaxed restrictions on produce from Japan in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, which led to meltdowns at a nuclear plant and forced Japan to suspend some agricultural and fisheries exports.
Some countries have maintained bans on imports, but South Korea is the only one that Japan has taken to the WTO.
South Korea widened its initial ban on Japanese fishery imports in 2013 to cover all seafood from eight Japanese prefectures including Fukushima.
Japan launched its trade complaint at the WTO in 2015, arguing that radioactive levels were safe and that a number of other nations, including the United States and Australia, had lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions.
South Korea imported 10.9 billion yen ($102 million) worth of Japanese seafood in the year to August 2013 before it broadened its restrictions. Those imports then fell to 8.4 billion yen the following year, according to the Japanese government.
Either side can appeal the ruling within 60 days, otherwise South Korea will be expected to bring its treatment of Japanese seafood into line with the WTO rules.
Relations between Japan and South Korea, often testy, have soured in recent years.

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | 1 Comment

Tokyo Not Fit For Human Habitation

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This mother followed a doctor’s advice to evacuate from Tokyo due to the ill health of her daughter following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The doctor told her that 9 out of ten of his child patients in metropolitan Tokyo had reduced white blood cell counts due to exposure to radioactivity and that if they moved away some of them might recover. Many other families have evacuated from Tokyo but this has not been covered by the press. She speaks in English with an English transcription below the Japanese transcription.
“I am standing here to tell you that the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe is not over. I evacuated to Kansai three years after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. Where do you think I evacuated from? I evacuated from Tokyo. Do you know that Tokyo has serious radioactive contamination? Tens of millions of people in East Japan live with radioactive contamination now.
My daughter was 5 years old at the time of the accident She was a cheerful and active girl. But after one year since the accident, her health conditions became bad and she was troubled by strange symptoms.
She told me, “Mommy, I feel so bad, I have no power, My hands hurt, my legs hurt, my body hurts!” In fact, my daughter became so sick that she could not live a normal life at all.
At that time I met a doctor who was working with the issue of radiation exposure in the metropolitan area. He said, if sick children are moved to the west away from contaminated eastern Japan, some of them might recover health.
According to his examinations after the accident, the number of white blood cells of children living in the metropolitan area was decreasing. And he added that neutrophils among white blood cells were particularly badly decreasing. And as we found out later, our two children also had the same condition. Today, the doctor is saying that for every ten children in Tokyo, nine of them have below standard numbers of neutrophils.
When I consulted the doctor about my daughter, he clearly stated that she was affected by the radiation exposure.
And he gave me advice to move my daughter
In any case, I tried to move my sick daughter out of Tokyo. Whenever we stayed in a place where there was no radioactive contamination, she became very well. But when we returned to Tokyo, she became sick again. We did not have the option to stay in Tokyo, we just fled from Tokyo and came here.
Living in East Japan means living with many radioactive materials, and it is not a place where people can live in good health.
So, as evacuees from eastern Japan, we are calling for evacuation to West Japan. Our existence here is not broadcasted on the radio nor published in newspapers. So, I am telling you about it now.
After the accident, we were told that radiation was not a problem and health damages would not occur. But it was not true. Many of us have evacuated from East to West due to various health problems. Many people are getting sick today in East Japan. People are dying without noticing that it is due to radiation. Many Japanese can not face this nuclear catastrophe.
Now my daughter is 12 years old. She’s healthy and enjoys everyday life. She has good friends and says she wants to continue living here forever.
My daughter wrote this , It says she wants to stay here with her friends forever.
She is very afraid that nuclear power plants now get restarted and may have another accident. If that happens, she will have to move away from here again. If another nuclear accident happens, she knows that she can not live in this country anymore.
And accidents are not the only ones that threaten her. This is a basic issue but after the accident, our government has not confined radioactive materials to one place.
On the contrary, our government has a policy of diluting toxic radioactive waste by mixing it with water, cement or other materials, and making it look harmless.
And the Japanese government now allows incineration of highly contaminated nuclear waste of up to 8000 Bq/kg, 80 times as high as before the Fukushima accident. It’s all to reduce the enormous amount of nuclear waste. But as conscientious scientists say, we should never burn radioactive materials. It should never have been allowed.
We don’t seem to be able to stop this crazy, irresponsible way of our government.
I hope that my daughter can live in her beloved country where she was born and raised. Please try to know what is going on in Japan now.
We are telling the world that the nuclear disaster is far from being over.”
In addition Dr Shigeru Mita closed his medical practice in Tokyo in 2014 and left the city, declaring it “not fit for human habitation” when he found that all his child patients of 10 years old and under had reduced neutrophils and other illnesses due to “chronic internal exposure to low dose ionising radiation”:

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January 29, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | , | Leave a comment

South Koreans still distrustful of Japanese fish products after nuclear meltdown

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SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) — A majority of South Koreans favor banning the import of Japanese fishery products, a survey showed Friday, underscoring lingering safety concerns about possible radioactive contamination.
Radioactive water leaked following the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011.
The Consumers Union of Korea polled 1,023 adults across the country last year, and the results showed 55.3 percent want stronger import restrictions. Another 37.2 percent said the restrictions should be “very heavy.”
 
   The results of the survey were released by opposition lawmaker Choi Do-ja, who obtained them from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
South Korea prohibited imports of agricultural and fish products from Fukushima and its adjacent areas after radioactive leaks following the 2011 tsunami disaster in Japan.
In 2013, Seoul took a stronger measure to ban imports from fisheries in eight other Japanese prefectures near Fukushima.
Japan took the case to the World Trade Organization, accusing South Korea of discriminating against its exports. The ruling is scheduled in the first half of this year.
According to the survey, 45.5 percent want a complete import ban on all Japanese foods, while 39.6 percent said they want at least a full ban on select products from certain prefectures.
Results showed that 55.3 percent of South Koreans are not buying fish products from Japan. Other shunned items included agricultural products (56.3 percent), dairy products (52.8 percent), cosmetics and processed foods (37.5 percent) and other manufactured goods (35.3 percent).
Among people who said they either do not buy Japanese fishery products or have cut back on such purchases, 79.2 percent said the reason was because they do not feel safe. In addition, 59.2 percent said they will not buy fish from Japan even when there is no trace of radioactive contamination.
The biggest concerns from radioactive exposure included cancer (42.4 percent), newborns with deformities (30.4 percent) and hereditary disease (13.4 percent).
“It has been seven years since the Fukushima accident, but people are still worried about fishery products from Japan,” Rep. Choi said. “There has to be more effort to allay these concerns through imports limits and thorough inspection of radioactive traces in foods.”

January 26, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Experts doubt lifting of Japan food ban

Concerns linger about imports from nuclear radiation area
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Quarantine officers inspect king crabs imported from Japan in Taicang, East China’s Jiangsu Province in December 2016.
The curbs on imports of Japanese food produced in areas hit by the country’s nuclear crisis will not be easily relaxed or lifted, and Chinese consumers won’t accept such imports given food safety concerns, experts said.
 
The comments came after reports in the Japanese media said that China will probably relax import restrictions on Japanese food that were put in place after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, signaling an improvement in relations between the two countries.
 
A report by Kyodo News Agency on January 1 said that China has proposed talks with Japan on whether to ease or lift an import ban on food from 10 prefectures imposed after the meltdown at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant, citing related diplomatic sources.
 
China has offered to set up a working group to discuss the matter in response to a request by a group of Japanese lawmakers led by Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who visited Beijing and held talks with the Chinese side about relaxing import restrictions on December 29, 2017, said the Kyodo report.
 
It also noted that Zhi Shuping, head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), China’s quality watchdog, made the proposal when he met with Nikai that day.
 
The AQSIQ banned imports of food produced in 10 prefectures in Japan including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima in 2011, amid fears of radiation contamination following the disaster.
 
The quality watchdog did not reply to a request for comment from the Global Times as of press time. Neither has any official statement from the Japanese side been released.
 
The Kyodo report said the talks were “a sign that the governments of the two countries are looking for ways to mend ties as they mark [in 2018] the 40th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of peace and friendship between Japan and China.”
 
But this view was seen as overly optimistic by some Chinese experts.
 
Chen Zilei, deputy director of the National Association for the Japanese Economy, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the beginning of such talks does not mean an easing or lifting of the ban is imminent.
 
“The beginning of negotiations might signal an improvement in bilateral relations, but we have our own supervision standards and requirements for imported goods, which will not be changed,” Chen said.
 
Besides, Japan needs to publicize the accident-related information in a more open and transparent way in order to address the concerns, Chen said, adding that this would be a prerequisite for carrying out the negotiations.
 
“It is also Japan’s obligation to the international community,” he noted.
 
Many countries and regions, including China, the US, South Korea, Singapore and the EU, have curbed imports of food products from areas near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant over fears of potential contamination, although some have recently eased their restrictions.
 
The EU has decided to ease import restrictions on Japan’s farm and marine products, including rice, the Japan Times reported in November.
 
Consumers’ concern
 
Ruan Guangfeng, director of the science and technology department at the China Food Information Center, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the radiation in the areas near Fukushima has returned to the level before the disaster happened, according to the related data.
 
“Even if the import ban is lifted, consumers do not need to worry too much, as the import checks will only be stricter,” Ruan noted.
 
However, not all consumers will draw confidence from the scientific conclusion, according to Zhu Danpeng, a food industry analyst.
 
“In terms of the industrial side, there is no big problem based on the efforts of the Japanese government as well as the long time it has taken to restore the situation. However, it is the consumer end, which takes up 80 percent of the importance in the food industry, that plays the key role,” Zhu told the Global Times on Wednesday.
 
“Most consumers have a psychological barrier against accepting food from the nuclear radiation areas,” Zhu said, noting that Japanese seafood has not been very popular in the Chinese market over the past two years, partly due to increasing competition from products from countries such as Denmark, Norway and Canada.
 
“Friends around me have declined to eat any Japanese seafood since the accident took place since you cannot tell whether it is from the radiation-stricken area or not,” he said.
 

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Population Oscillations OR Collapsing Ecosystem

From Majia’s Blog :
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The ongoing collapse of King Salmon in Alaska is once again in the news:
Nathaniel Herz (2017, Dec 29). Southeast Alaska’s king salmon are disappearing, and fishermen are grappling with the consequences. Anchorage Daily News. Available https://www.adn.com/business-economy/2017/12/28/southeast-alaskas-king-salmon-are-disappearing-and-fishermen-are-grappling-with-the-consequences/
…There’s some sense that climate change could be causing a “regime shift” and a long-term change in ecosystems, said Peter Hagen, deputy director of a federal fisheries laboratory in Auke Bay, near Juneau.
 
“There’s a whole question: Is this a new normal? And I don’t think we’ve determined that yet,” Hagen said.
 
But Hagen and Adkison, the fisheries professor, both pointed out that salmon have proven to be resilient. Fossil records show that big population changes are typical, Adkison said.
 
“In the salmon business, we’re used to these dramatic fluctuations in productivity,” he said. “If I had to bet, I would favor the short-term fluctuation and I would expect them to eventually rebound. But the current numbers are really low.”
I’ve been following the (reported) acceleration of excess mortality events among animal populations. Here is my 2012 post on the King Salmon that “went missing” that year:
In 2013 I created a compilation of news headlines and links addressing what I called “anomal anomalies,” as documented here in this 2013 post:
 
Polar bears, walruses, salmon, sardines, starfish, etc. These and so many other marine and land animal populations experienced precipitous declines due to “inexplicable” wasting syndromes and odd infections that began being reported in great number in 2012.
 
[when I checked on bee and bat declines I discovered that the Wikipedia article attributes the rapid decline in bats from white fungal disease to 2012 here. In contrast, bee “colony collapse disorder” was named in 2006]
 
Every animal population imperiled has no doubt suffered in complex ways from human engineering and thoughtlessness, including experiences of habitat loss and rapid deterioration of remaining habitats due to the synergistic effects of countless environmental assaults.
 
Still, I find it more than coincidental that the acceleration of mass mortality events became markedly evident in 2012.
 
Fukushima’s ongoing and UNPRECEDENTED RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION of the ocean and the general dispersal of industrial pollutants by the Japan’s terrible 2011 tsunami ARE STRANGELY ABSENT from most all news coverage of marine welfare.
 
Yet, ALL THE SCIENTIFIC DATA available, including data generated by the US Geological Survey and the CTBTO, documented widespread fallout contamination in North America.
 
Scientific models on ocean dispersion predicted a plume of radioactive contamination would reach North America and add to the coastal fallout from precipitation by 2013. This prediction was tested and found to be true in San Diego, CA.
 
Fukushima’s ongoing dissemination of radioactive contamination has lessened since 2012 but it has not ceased.
 
I’m sure that Fukushima isn’t the only source of radioactive contamination from artificially engineered radio-isotopes such as Cesium-137 and Strontium-89 but it is the largest known.
 
Might it represent a tipping point in ocean life? That question will probably never be answerable empirically because not enough research is investigating impacts.
 
What is clear however is that the accelerated decimation of animal life on earth will not occur without grave human losses as well. It is my belief that when we destroy the eco-system upon which we depend, we are destroying ourselves.
 
Unfortunately, our capacity to grapple with the spectre of our destruction is impeded by our capacity to rationalize.
 
The idea of “population oscillations” is the rationalization deployed most often to account for the dislocations in ecological life observed by scientists and everyday people in touch with their environments.
 
Populations don’t simply oscillate by chance. Numbers drop and decline in relation to the contingencies of system-environment interactions. Precipitous declines typically result from amplifying feedback loops, often resulting from either over-population or some dramatic change in the environment, such as a sudden and unprecedented onslaught of marine contamination.
 
RELATED POSTS
 
 
 
Bioaccumulation: Cesium is One Among the 1000 Radionuclides Unleashed by Fukushima Bioaccumulation: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2014/11/bioaccumulation-cesium-is-one-among.html
 
Contaminated Water at Fukushima Daiichi Majia’s Blog: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi.html
 
Will Fukushima Daiichi Kill Vast Swathes of Ocean life Majia’s Blog: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/will-fukushima-daiichi-kill-vast.html
 
Endless Atmospheric and Ocean Emissions Majia’s Blog: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2014/08/endless-atmospheric-and-ocean-emissions.html
 
 
 
Humanity’s End Foretold in Destruction of Oceans: Majia’s Blog: Humanity’s End Foretold in Destruction of Oceans
 
Compromised Oceans mean Compromised People: Majia’s Blog: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/humanitys-end-foretold-in-destruction.html
 
Radiation plumes headed to N. America Majia’s Blog: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/fukushima-radiation-plumes-in-ocean.html

January 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Fukushima Fiction Film: Gender and the Discourse of Nuclear Containment

By Rachel DiNitto
Abstract
This article examines the systems for designating and containing both the contamination from the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant (NPP) accident and the fear of radiation. This discourse of containment appears in the cinematic images of two fiction films: Land of Hope (Kibō no kuni, 2012) and The Tranquil Everyday (Odayaka na nichijō, 2012). I look at the films’ portrayals of the female characters who struggle to confirm and assess radiological danger in so-called “safe” zones. When they voice their fears and challenge the illusion of safety, they themselves are contained and made invisible by the diagnoses of radiophobia, hysteria, and paralyzing fatalism.
Keywords: Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, 3/11 fiction film, gender, radiological danger, radiophobia, containment
In the aftermath of the nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in spring 2011, the Japanese government and plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) sought to contain the disaster and to allay the fears of citizens. These measures of containment took tangible, visible form as words, actions, images, and physical objects: the various designations for the evacuation areas, no entry signs, fences, barriers, protective gear, masks, and government assurances of “no immediate health risks” (tadachi ni eikyō wa nai).1 Yet the danger itself—radiation spewing from the plant—remained invisible. Hence these signifiers had to overcompensate for our inability to perceive the nuclear threat by attempting to mark the boundaries of the invisible. In doing so, they sought to grant a sense of security that turned out to be as false as the myth of safety surrounding Japan’s nuclear program itself.
This article examines these systems of nuclear signification, specifically this discourse of containment, as it appears in two works of post-disaster Japanese cinema: Sono Sion’s Land of Hope (Kibō no kuni, 2012) and Uchida Nobuteru’s The Tranquil Everyday (Odayaka na nichijō, 2012).2 The systems of nuclear signification are at work in both of these fiction films as characters attempt to assess the level of danger even though they are outside the official designated no-go zones. Land of Hope is set in an area designated as an evacuation zone where danger is identified, and by extension, safety ostensibly reassured. However, when the characters leave the disaster area, the boundaries become much harder to identify, with some markers disappearing altogether. Two of the characters in Land of Hope leave the disaster area, and The Tranquil Everyday takes place entirely outside of the affected zones. In these so-called “safe landscapes,” the majority of characters in the films unquestioningly accept the government assurances of safety. However, those few who do ask questions—primarily female characters—are left to make their own judgments about the dangers of radiation, which neither visibly mark the landscape nor are visibly marked by the signage and warnings of the disaster zone.
Uchida Nobuteru, the director of The Tranquil Everyday stated his desire to focus on women after seeing their fear and the reactions to them on the internet.3 His producer, Sugino Kiki, who also plays Saeko in the film, concurred saying: “after the disaster, the voices of women, who are deeply aware of the disaster’s impact on daily life, were hardly heard in society at all.4 Uchida’s film focuses almost exclusively on women, and Sono also emphasizes the plight of the daughter-in-law in Land of Hope. When the women in these films challenge this system of safety by voicing fear and doubt, they are marked, and the threat they represent is defused when they are inscribed within the language of nuclear containment. The women’s actions set them apart from their communities, and they are further distanced by another set of signifiers—radiophobia, hysteria, and paralyzing fatalism—medical and psychological discourses used to contain dissent and deny responsibility in the post-nuclear accident climates of Hanford, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.
Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt argues in “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope” that while the gender stereotypes in Sono’s film make “his anti-nuclear criticism more socially acceptable,” he reinforces the social limits on anti-nuclear protest that has been marked as female, and undercuts the credibility of his characters and his message about the need to rethink the nation’s support for nuclear power.5 Iwata-Weickgenannt is interested in how the gender bias in Land of Hope subverts the film’s ability to function as an anti-nuclear critique.6 In this article, I further Iwata-Weickgenannt’s arguments about the gendered response to the Fukushima disaster by considering how danger is marked both inside and outside the disaster zone, and how the public marking of radiation in non-disaster zones is itself a dangerous act that must be contained lest it compromise the shared public desire for a belief in safety. While the signifiers within the disaster zone work to make the nuclear threat visible, signifiers outside the zone render invisible anyone who questions this myth of safety.
Although there are male characters in these films, some of whom are also ostracized, the focus is on women and children. By limiting the subject in this way, these films dramatize the shift in Japanese society that turned the nuclear situation into a domestic drama.7 The government and TEPCO refused to take responsibility for this national problem, turning it into a dilemma for private individuals to solve through personal decisions about whether to evacuate, where to live, what to eat, etc. Hideaki Fujiki critiques this very logic of choice that was forced on residents in post-disaster Japan where the government has implemented “a decontamination program that nudges the residents to choose to remain in the 1-20mSv areas rather than leave.8 This privatization of risk shifts responsibility for the disaster away from the government to individual residents.9 In these two films, the private choices regarding the presence of radiological danger become problematic when they mark a shared public space that is assumed to be safe.
Before turning to a summary of the films, I comment on their place within the body of post-disaster cinema in Japan. The vast majority of films about 3/11 are documentary, including a large number of amateur works as well as those made by established filmmakers, such as Funahashi Atsushi, Kamanaka Hitomi, Fujiwara Toshi, Mori Tatsuya, and Ian Thomas Ash.10 Fictional 3/11 films have been criticized by filmmakers such as Funahashi for misrepresenting the truth of the situation, and have courted controversy for their use of panoramic footage from the disaster area that has been deemed disrespectful.11 A full exploration of both the reason for the small number of fictional 3/11 films and the above criticism is beyond the scope of this paper, but the answer may also be a question of economics and viewer expectations. As early as 2012 it was said that “novels dealing with the disaster do not sell, movies do not draw audiences, and TV shows have low ratings.” 12 Sono’s film was primarily funded with money from the UK, Taiwan, and Germany, and Uchida talked about the difficulty of finding funding in Japan.13 Do the economics of mainstream cinema preclude fiction films about the disaster, or are Japanese viewers uninterested in film as social critique, as Sono himself suggested?14 Additionally, documentary filmmakers have exercised a level of ethical restraint that has kept them from depicting problems in the disaster area due to the demand for respect for their subjects that the medium imposes.15 This ethical restraint in documentary cinema may hinder representations in fiction films as well.
I am interested in the fictional 3/11 film specifically because the limited representation of the disaster in non-documentary cinema has not been reproduced in other fiction-based media, such as literature and manga, which have flourished in the wake of the disaster. My focus with these films is on those characters who live outside the disaster zone, and perhaps it is the representation of less easily identifiable victims in so-called “non-disaster” areas, or the discord within post-disaster communities that presents a challenge for cinema. I argue, however, that these films successfully depict a post-nuclear disaster environment in which the characters struggle to assess danger in the face of challenges such as the invisibility of radiation, the unknowability of that danger, and the desire of their communities to believe in government assurances of safety. Below is a brief summary of the films.
Land of Hope starts with an earthquake that triggers an explosion at the local NPP. Mr. Ono, a cattle farmer, has part of his property cordoned off by the authorities who are setting up a 20km evacuation zone around the affected plant. Ono’s neighbors are evacuated to shelters, but some of his property lies just outside the perimeter. Ono orders his son Yoichi to leave the area and take his wife Izumi with him, since she is of childbearing age and should not stay in the irradiated environment. The film follows both Yoichi and Izumi as they struggle to relocate, and their former neighbors the Matsuzaki family, who are adjusting to life in the shelters. When Izumi finds out she is pregnant, she sees danger all around. Yoichi is harassed at work for the actions his wife takes to protect herself. Meanwhile, Mr. Ono is pressured by the authorities to leave his home, since he and his wife are the only residents left in the area. The film ends with Mr. Ono killing his cattle, himself, and his wife. Yoichi and Izumi escape to a seemingly safe area only to find out that it is irradiated as well. This final scene makes the title of the film deeply ironic.
The Tranquil Everyday also begins with an earthquake and nuclear accident as it follows the lives of two women. Yukako and her husband Tatsuya live next door to Saeko, the mother of a young girl, Kiyomi. The two women struggle to understand the deluge of information about the nuclear disaster and to keep their families safe. Saeko’s efforts to ensure her daughter’s safety at school are blocked by a group of mothers who ridicule her and deny her fears about radiation. Hounded by hate mail and crank phone calls, abandoned by her husband, and unable to keep her daughter safe, she is driven to an attempted double suicide when her daughter gets a nosebleed. Yukako smells the natural gas that Saeko left running in her apartment, courageously saves them, and then supports Saeko’s efforts to regain custody of her daughter. Yukako reconciles with her husband, who realizes her fears are real, and the story ends with him proposing they try again to have a baby. The final scene is of them packing up their apartment to move to an undisclosed location.
 
Depicting the nuclear environment
As visual media, these films signal the presence of an irradiated environment by means of visible markers: fences and cordoned zones, no entry signs, protective gear, masks, and numerical readings on beeping Geiger counters. In Land of Hope the nuclear environment is represented as a space that is physically blocked off and separated. The residents encounter innumerable “no entry” signs (tachiiri kinshi) and police blockades (image 1).
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In one scene, the Ono family watches as the authorities construct a fence across their land, and a later scene shows the town bisected by these fences (image 2), a shot that references the real-world consequences for towns like Namie that were divided by the designation of no-go zones.16
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At times the characters try to break through these barriers, sometimes successfully, like the Matsuzaki’s son who is trying to help his girlfriend return to the area of her parental home, or the Onos, who cross the barrier to care for their neighbor’s dog. In another scene, Mrs. Ono, who suffers from a form of dementia, wanders through the town while her husband frantically searches for her. Although these characters enter the zone with no protection against the radiation, there is also no explicitly voiced fear of it. The film seems to be asking: if the Ono’s have no need for protective gear in their home or on their land, why would they need it only feet away on the other side of the no-go zone? It is not only the Onos, but the town officials trying in vain to convince the Onos to evacuate, who are seen traveling around the area in regular clothing, not even wearing masks.
Although it is questionable how much protection masks can provide from radiological danger, the non-wearing of them in these scenes works as a performance of safety that is puzzling. Mr. Ono is deeply skeptical of the government’s assurances that life is safe on his side of the barrier, yet he does not take any measures to protect himself and his wife from the radiation. Although he does send his son and daughter-in-law away, Mr. Ono chooses to remain and die on his ancestral land. Cinematically these scenes of characters roaming the no-go zone without protection send mixed messages: is it dangerous or not? The only scenes in which characters in or near the no-go zone wear protective gear are those of the authorities who construct the fence across the Ono’s land and evacuate their neighbors (image 1). Besides this, the film does not indicate that the characters in or near the zone are in any danger of being irradiated, in effect treating these visible barriers, and by extension the evacuation zones they mark, as meaningless. Although the messaging in some of these scenes is unclear, ultimately the film shows how the construction of barriers and zones serves only as false reassurance, and does not provide any real protection from radiation that in reality cannot be contained.
The questioning of these barriers and their designated zones references real world criticism of the Japanese government’s evacuation orders. The Japanese government instituted a system of concentric circles as a means of demarcating areas for evacuating residents based on their distance from the plant, rather than use the knowledge from Chernobyl and US nuclear testing that showed the “uneven and patchy” nature of radiation fallout.17 The government decision to delay until March 23 (12 days after the disaster) the release of the SPEEDI (System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information) data that would have taken into account wind and weather patterns is one example of the failure of the concentric circle model of evacuation to accurately reflect the dangers on the ground. Some residents fleeing the radiation unknowingly moved into zones of higher contamination, a situation that could have been avoided or ameliorated by the release of this data and by extending the unsafe zones accordingly.18 Additionally, the government decided to raise the annual exposure dosage that is considered safe, subjecting citizens to 20 times the normal risk for those within the designated zones. Those outside these official areas were not given support to evacuate, despite the fact that many were in areas of higher radiation according to SPEEDI data.19
In contrast to the situation in the evacuation zones, both fiction films emphasize the fear of radiation on the part of characters who reside in areas that are supposedly safe. These safe areas are unmarked because they are outside the official zones, and hence the danger is harder to identify. The spread of radiation beyond the visible markers/boundaries of the no-go zones is a source of anxiety for the characters in Land of Hope and The Tranquil Everyday. I focus on the women in these films who distrust reassurances that the radiation will not spread, and who question the government’s ability to protect them. In the face of an invisible threat, they rely on information found on the internet and on their own readings of radiation levels around them to confirm their fears. When these women take action to protect themselves, as described below, they create their own markers of safety and danger in an unmarked landscape, and are harassed and ostracized for doing so. When the women’s decisions about their private lives mark the shared, public space as unsafe, the community perceives them as a threat.
In Land of Hope, Izumi’s fears peak after talking to a young mother at the hospital who tells Izumi the doctors found cesium in her breastmilk even though she is not from the disaster area and has been very careful (image 3).
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In one scene, Izumi imagines the world outside as filled with red gas—as the invisible dangers of radiation are made visible and given names like cesium (image 4).
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She runs home, gets out her Geiger counter, and tapes her windows shut. Unclear of where the boundaries are, Izumi attempts to create her own “safe zone,” blocking out the dangers of the world around her by isolating herself; she seals off her apartment and wears protective gear, regardless of whether she is indoors or outside. The film includes scenes of her walking down the city streets and shopping in the supermarket dressed in full protective gear, as the residents stare in amazement and resentment (image 5).
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Not only is Izumi’s response seen as extreme; her husband Yoichi is harassed by his coworkers who see Izumi’s actions as an insult to the town. When Izumi first tapes up their apartment she tells Yoichi that moving there was meaningless because they are still exposed to the dangers of radiation. When he counters that the government says it is OK, she yells that they are fighting an “invisible war.” Her comment functions as a self-conscious reference in the film to the very lack of visibility of nuclear threats.
The nuclear crisis plays out in Sono Sion’s campy, over-the-top style. But the naturalistic, albeit melodramatic, Tranquil Everyday portrays an even more extreme response to the radioactive environment. This film is set exclusively in areas that should be safe since they are outside of the official evacuation zones, but the dangers of contamination are seemingly ever present. In The Tranquil Everyday, Yukako and Saeko experience the disaster simultaneously, and the film cuts back and forth between the two to show their parallel experience. Both women watch their TVs in horror, research radiation on the computer, and try to convince their families to take safety measures by wearing a mask. The women live next door to each other, and Uchida sets their lives on a collision course.
Yukako, who is childless and works at home does not feel the social pressure on Saeko, who has to make choices about sending her daughter to school and allowing her to play outside, as she deals with the effects of state and institutional policies on perceptions of radiation and daily life. Saeko’s public choices to protect her daughter—making her wear a mask and bring her own lunch to school—are met with resistance and rejection by the community of other mothers at the school (image 6).
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Saeko’s (and to some extent Yukako’s) predicament is reminiscent of the Chernobyl survivors Adriana Petryna describes who are trapped by large scale scientific studies in two “undesirable and potentially hazardous moral-conceptual states. . . The first is denial or amnesia (‘nothing happened here’). The second is a state of constant exposure to unpredictable unknowns.”20 Surrounded by mothers who seek to maintain their belief in the visible markers that indicate their safe remove from the radiation, Saeko is confronted by the narrative of “nothing happened here.”21 This narrative combines with the lack of official markers of danger to allow the mothers and school officials to maintain a status quo ignorant of the radiological dangers.22 Yet, armed with some knowledge from the internet and a Geiger counter, Saeko and Yukako know that they are in “a state of constant exposure to unpredictable unknowns.” In one scene, Yukako panics and runs into the school yard passing out masks and talking about the effects of radiation on children after the Chernobyl accident. She is taken away by the police—her protest criminalized and silenced. Saeko, powerless to change the world around her and hounded by community pressure to conform, takes extreme action when her daughter gets a nosebleed. The nosebleed is the only visible, physical effect of radiation seen in either film. It has been a controversial visible marker of radiation exposure in post-Fukushima Japan, as seen in the uproar over Kariya Tetsu’s inclusion of a nosebleed scene in the popular manga series Oishinbo.23 The scene comes after his protagonist visits the ailing NPP, and both locals and government officials criticized Kariya for spreading “harmful rumors” about radiation levels in the disaster area.24
In an act far more extreme than Izumi’s donning of protective gear, Saeko turns on the natural gas inside her apartment and tries to kill herself and her daughter. This attempted double suicide by an invisible gas—a poison produced by a utility company—works as a symbolic death by radiation. Saeko and her daughter both live, thanks to her neighbor Yukako’s intervention. But Saeko, a single parent, loses custody of her daughter, and it is hard to imagine that she will return to a normal life with Kiyomi. Life as she knew it is over. She pays a very high price for having publicly voiced her fears. 
 
Gender and radiophobia
Both films turn into domestic dramas of women becoming unhinged by their fears of radiation, fears that other characters in the film do not share (at least openly), because the systems of nuclear signification indicate that no danger is present. Living outside the evacuation zones, the decision to protect oneself becomes entirely personal and beyond the scope of either government or TEPCO responsibility. Yet, because the resistance offered by Izumi, Saeko, and Yukako threatens the normative discourse of safety, they must be contained by another set of barriers, namely a series of diagnoses. In Land of Hope, Izumi’s ob-gyn tells Yoichi that she suffers from hōshanō kyōfushō (radiophobia) and that it could negatively impact her pregnancy. In The Tranquil Everyday, Saeko gets hate mail which labels her as a radiophobic, neurotic nuisance (hōshanō noirōzē meiwaku), not as someone with valuable information to share or whose voice in the public debate should be countenanced (image 7). When Yukako is taken away by the police, one of the mothers calls her “strange” (okashii), a comment on her non-normative, “disturbed” behavior. 
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Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt makes the connection between Izumi’s diagnosis of “radiophobia” and the post-Fukushima bashing of “anti-nuclear activists as ‘hysterical.’”25 But these associations have a history that is not limited to the Fukushima accident. The term “radiophobia” was coined by Ukrainian health minister Anatolii Romanenko “to describe unwarranted fear and panic among populations” due to “chronic informational stress,” and the diagnosis was assigned to radiation victims after Chernobyl as a means to avoid taking “public responsibility” for the illnesses caused by the NPP disaster.26 Even before this syndrome was officially named, those living downwind of American nuclear testing, especially women, were told by Public Health Service officials “that their ‘neurosis’ about the fallout was the only thing that would give them cancer, particularly if they were female.” Manifestations of radiation sickness were attributed to such neuroses and labeled “housewife syndrome.”27
Saeko’s attempted double suicide can also be attributed to a “paralyzing fatalism.” Petryna references this term in relation to the WHO 2005 Chernobyl report that argued that “persistent myths and misconceptions about the threat of radiation have resulted in ‘paralyzing fatalism’” “among those living in affected areas.”28 Petryna objects to these “moral claims” about the survivors, and argues instead that they have been “overlooked by science.”29 However, in The Tranquil Everyday there is no such counter argument to defend Saeko’s actions. She is portrayed as a victim of this “paralyzing fatalism” that drives her to attempt a double suicide with her young daughter (image 8).
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Sharon Stephens reminds us that this gender bias runs throughout the nuclear industry: the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has never had a woman on their commission, and the public has been long portrayed in terms of the stereotypical feminine characteristics of irrational, uneducated, emotional, and at times hysterical behavior.30
Beyond this medicalization, Saeko is further contained or discounted by the social pressure that forces conformity, a dynamic that has been documented in the disaster area. Research by Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka reveals the ways that the “micro-politics” of the family can put pressure on Fukushima mothers, especially those in farming communities, to remain with their children in the contaminated areas as part of their duties to their husbands, mothers-in-law, and extended families.31 The fears of radiation expressed by these mothers are labeled “damaging rumors” (fūhyō higai), discrediting both the words of dissent and the speaker.32 The label of “rumor” is one means of blocking the “leakage of doubt and fear” in the contaminated area.33 Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka also discuss the ways that women who express their fears of radiation are pathologized as having an “unstable and unreasonable nervous personality type.”34 These women’s concerns were dismissed as “irrational fears” and they were labeled as “crazy” (atama ga okashikunatta).35 When Saeko has her confrontation with the mothers at the school, they accuse her of spreading “damaging rumors.” Just as the words and images of safety “contain” the radiation, these diagnoses and labels “contain” these women and defuse their threat.
The pressure on Saeko comes from the mothers at her daughter’s school, but even these mothers are shown as harboring their own fears about radiation. One of the mothers who works at the supermarket talks to Yukako about another mother (Saeko) who was bullied at the daycare, expressing her own uncertainty about what to do. Yukako tells her to wear a mask but to tell others it is for a cold, advice she takes later in the film. Noriko, the most outspoken of the mothers, is married to an employee of the electric company and seems distressed after a hushed cell phone conversation with her husband. Noriko silences others but may be unable to express her own anxiety and perhaps even dissent. The research of Slater et al. reveals this community silencing, and The Tranquil Everyday paints a muted, yet nuanced picture of women both applying pressure to conform and feeling that same pressure themselves.36
Although both films depict the societal pressures on women, neither portrays women finding supportive communities in which they can express their concerns about radiation. In The Tranquil Everyday, Saeko would seem to have found support in Yukako, but the film ends with Yukako and her husband packing up to move away. Sugino Kiki commented that the film is not about who is right or wrong, but about allowing the expression of a range of opinions, something she feels is lacking in Japan.37 In The Tranquil Everyday the women may have equal opportunity to voice their opinions, but they do not all suffer societal censure for having done so. Noriko’s group is not silenced or ostracized in the same way or to the same degree as Saeko, Yukako, or Izumi are. Some opinions are socially acceptable, while others are not. Documentary filmmaker Kamanaka Hitomi puts a different spin on the difficulties these women face in speaking out. She argues that Japanese women “are not trained to speak out” and “have not yet grown into their voices.”38 The silencing of women in these films is not a function of the gender of the filmmakers. As mentioned earlier, Sugino had a large role in the making of The Tranquil Everyday, and there are instances of women speaking out in films like Ian Thomas Ash’s A2-B-C. If anything, the films portray the various societal pressures that shut down women or limit the topics on which are allowed to speak.39 This runs parallel to the ways in which anti-nuclear protests in Japan are gendered female, but are also depoliticized due to the emphasis on so-called domestic concerns such as children’s safety.40
 
Conclusion
Uchida Nobuteru, director of The Tranquil Everyday, talked about how he saw his film as expressing the desire to return to an everyday normalcy that had been stolen by the Fukushima accident.41 However, both films show the impossibility of such a return. If areas like those in The Tranquil Everyday are unsafe, how can areas around the plant and in the disaster zone possibly be safe? The films depict an irradiated environment that is all around and is not contained by the visible barriers of evacuation zones and no-entry signs, questioning the government’s rhetoric of containment and the myth of safety surrounding nuclear power. Both argue for a wider circle of victimization and in doing so, cast doubt on the government’s decision to move residents back into the former no-go zones.
Additionally, these fiction films depict a social environment where “the indeterminacy and unknowability of radiation effects is the rule.” In this environment the female protagonists are confronted with the fabricated amnesia of “nothing happened here,” all the while fearing they are in a state of “constant exposure” to danger. None of the women have any viable options to protect themselves or their children (born or unborn). To use Petryna’s words, they are forced into a “moral calculus of risk.”42 As domestic dramas, these films depict the erasure of government culpability and the shifting of responsibility to individual citizens. Although The Tranquil Everyday nuances its scenes of public silencing, in failing to show any women who are anti-nuclear activists, members of support networks, or citizens whose contribution to public discourse is valued, both films depict, and do little to counter, existing stereotypes of women’s roles in post-Fukushima accident Japan. Women like Saeko remain isolated and silenced.
 
Acknowledgments: The author would like to thank University of Delaware and the Association of Japanese Literary Studies conference at Pennsylvania State University for the opportunity to present this research at an earlier stage. I also thank the reviewers for their insightful and helpful suggestions.
 
Notes
1
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, Edano Yukio used this phrase on March 16 after explosions at reactors 1, 2, and 3 and a fire at number 4. He repeated this phrase on seven occasions. See Noriko Manabe, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music After Fukushima (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 49. Also see Manabe for a list of officials who said the conditions were safe post-meltdown. Manabe, 125. Edano’s “tadachi” (immediate) was nominated for buzzword of the year. Manabe, 139.
2
See the trailers here and here
3
Odayaka na nichijō:Uchida Nobuteru, accessed October 6, 2017.
4
“Intabyū: Odayaka na nichijō,” Eiga.com, December 20, 2012.
5
Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” in Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster, ed. Barbara Geilhorn and Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt (London ; New York : New York: Routledge, 2017), 114.
6
Iwata-Weickgenannt, 120.
7
In Land of Hope, the patriarch Mr. Ono is a major exception to this gendered response, but he remains in an area that is clearly marked in relation to the contaminated zone. This article focuses primarily on the problems women encounter well outside of the no-go zones. See Iwata-Weickgenannt for more on the male characters in Land of Hope.
8
Fujiki notes that the standard for a ‘safe area’ in post-3/11 Japan is one affected by less than 20mSv of radiation, but the ICRP advises such a high level as acceptable only in “exceptional cases.” 1mSv is the normal standard. Hideaki Fujiki, “Problematizing Life: Documentary Films on the 3.11 Nuclear Catastrophe,” in Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster, ed. Barbara Geilhorn and Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt (London ; New York: Routledge, 2017), 92.
9
Fujiki, 92. For more on the 3/11 disaster and privatization of risk, see Majia Holmer Nadesan, Fukushima and the Privatization of Risk (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
10
See for example Funahashi’s Futaba kara tōku hanarete = Nuclear Nation (2012), Kamanaka’s Surviving Internal Exposure (Naibu hibaku o ikinuku, 2012) and Little Voices from Fukushima (Chisaki koe no kannon – sentaku suru hitobito, 2015), Fujiwara’s No Man’s Zone (Mujin chitai, 2012), Mori’s 311 (2013) and Ash’s A2-B-C (2013).
11
I am thankful to Ryan Cook for this information. Sono was criticized for using such footage. For more on Sono, see Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 112.
12
Genkaiken and Iida Ichishi, “Joron hajime ni,” in Higashinihon daishinsaigo bungakuron, ed. Genkaiken (Tokyo: Nan’undō, 2017), 11.
13
Odayaka na nichijō:Uchida Nobuteru. For more on the distribution of these documentary films, see Fujiki, “Problematizing Life: Documentary Films on the 3.11 Nuclear Catastrophe.”
14
For more on Sono’s comments see Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 110–12. She also suggests that the influence of the nuclear village has restricted the fictionalization of 3/11 in Japanese cinema.
15
Fujiki, “Problematizing Life: Documentary Films on the 3.11 Nuclear Catastrophe,” 106.
16
Namie was divided into three evacuation zones. “Fukushima’s Namie Sees No-Go Zone Designation Lifted,” The Japan Times Online, April 1, 2013.
17
Sarah Phillips, “Fukushima Is Not Chernobyl? Don’t Be so Sure,” Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, Anthropology (blog), March 11, 2013. Philips questions why the Japanese government did not apply the knowledge from Chernobyl and US nuclear testing about the “uneven and patchy” nature of radiation fallout in order to map the evacuation zones “according to the actual radiological data.” The concentric circle model is standard for nuclear evacuation zones.
18
The Japanese government released this data to the US military on March 14, nine days earlier. Phillips.
19
The Japanese government raised the acceptable level for annual individual radiation exposure from 1mSv pre-3/11 to 20mSv after the disaster. Phillips; Gabrielle Hecht, “Nuclear Janitors: Contract Workers at the Fukushima Reactors and Beyond,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 11, no. 1.2 (January 14, 2013); Vincenzo Capodici and Shaun Burnie, “Reassessing the 3.11 Disaster and the Future of Nuclear Power in Japan: An Interview with Former Prime Minister Kan Naoto,” trans. Richard Minear, The Asia-Pacific Journal 14, no. 18.1 (September 15, 2016); Adriana Petryna, Life Exposed : Biological Citizens after Chernobyl (Princeton University Press, 2002), xxiii.
20
Petryna, Life Exposed, xxvii.
21
Petryna, xix.
22
Yukako’s husband Tatsuya is also silenced by his boss who uses similar arguments to dismiss Tatsuya’s request for a job transfer to Kansai, saying the government has assured us the radiation will do no harm.
23
Lorie Brau, “Oishinbo’s Fukushima Elegy: Grasping for the Truth About Radioactivity in Food Manga,” in Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster, ed. Barbara Geilhorn and Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt (London ; New York: Routledge, 2017), 177–98; Eiichiro Ochiai, “The Manga ‘Oishinbo’ Controversy: Radiation and Nose Bleeding in the Wake of 3.11,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 11, no. 25.4 (June 23, 2014).
24
Filmmaker Funahashi Atsushi spoke in Kariya’s defense. See Funahashi Atsushi, “’Oishinbo’ no hanaji mondai: teki o miayamatte wa ikenai,” Hafinton posuto, May 12, 2014.
25
Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 122–23.
26
Petryna, Life Exposed, 160, 177. See Petryna’s quote from forensic psychiatrist Oleksandr Tolkach about the implementation of this new term and its use in solving “all emerging social problems” (177).
27
Carole Gallagher, American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War (Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 1993), xxx. I am grateful to Norma Field for this reference.
28
Petryna, Life Exposed, xv; For more on the application of this diagnosis to the Fukushima accident, see George Johnson, “When Radiation Isn’t the Real Risk,” New York Times, September 21, 2015, sec. Science. Johnson quotes a medical physicist who argues: “It was the fear of radiation that ended up killing people.”
29
Petryna, Life Exposed, xv.
30
Sharon Stephens, “Bounding Uncertainty: The Post-Chernobyl Culture of Radiation Protection Experts,” in Catastrophe & Culture : The Anthropology of Disaster, ed. Susannah M. Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith (Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press, 2002), 110. The nuclear industry has a bias against women, but according to the Gender and Radiation Impact Project, “the harm to girls and women is, overall, roughly twice that of boys and men.” “Gender and Radiation Impact Project,” accessed December 12, 2017. I am grateful to Norma Field for this reference.
31
David H. Slater, Rika Morioka, and Haruka Danzuka, “MICRO-POLITICS OF RADIATION: Young Mothers Looking for a Voice in Post–3.11 Fukushima,” Critical Asian Studies 46, no. 3 (July 3, 2014): 494–95.
32
This is the same term that was used in the Oishinbo controversy.
33
Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, “MICRO-POLITICS OF RADIATION,” 497–98.
34
Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, 503.
35
Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, 505.
36
As mentioned above, Yukako’s husband Tatsuya is also silenced.
37
“Intabyū: Odayaka na nichijō.”
38
Anastasia Smith, “KJ 81 Online Special: Filmmaker and Activist Kamanaka Hitomi,” Kyoto Journal (blog), accessed December 4, 2017. I am grateful to Norma Field for this reference.
39
Women activists were allowed to distribute pamphlets about the dangers of radiation as long as they did not include the words “nuclear energy.” For more see Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, “MICRO-POLITICS OF RADIATION,” 502–3.
40
For more on the social limitations on female anti-nuclear protest in Japan see Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 114–16.
41
Odayaka na nichijō:Uchida Nobuteru.
42
Petryna, Life Exposed, xxiv.

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January 2, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

90Sr specific activity of teeth of abandoned cattle after the Fukushima accident – teeth as an indicator of environmental pollution

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Highlights

90Sr in cattle teeth was determined after the Fukushima accident.

90Sr was efficiently incorporated into the teeth at development stages.

90Sr specific activity of aqueous extract was higher than that of soil.

Water soluble 90Sr was incorporated into the cattle and accumulated.

Sr transfer is eliminated compared to Ca in the migration route.


Abstract

90Sr specific activity in the teeth of young cattle that were abandoned in Kawauchi village and Okuma town located in the former evacuation areas of the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) accident were measured. Additionally, specific activity in contaminated surface soils sampled from the same area was measured. (1) All cattle teeth examined were contaminated with 90Sr. The specific activity, however, varied depending on the developmental stage of the teeth during the FNPP accident; teeth that had started development before the accident exhibited comparatively lower values, while teeth developed mainly after the accident showed higher values. (2) Values of 90Sr-specific activity in teeth formed after the FNPP accident were higher than those of the bulk soil but similar to those in the exchangeable fraction (water and CH3COONH4 soluble fractions) of the soil. The findings suggest that 90Sr was incorporated into the teeth during the process of development, and that 90Sr in the soluble and/or leachable fractions of the soil might migrate into teeth and contribute to the amount of 90Sr in the teeth. Thus, the concentration of 90Sr in teeth formed after the FNPP accident might reflect the extent of 90Sr pollution in the environment.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0265931X17307610

December 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment