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Voices of Fukushima power plant disaster victims strengthens call to ban nuclear energy

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Two IAEA experts examine recovery work on top of Unit 4 of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on 17 April 2013 as part of a mission to review Japan’s plans to decommission the facility.
June 6, 2019
[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] Japanese parish priests shared stories of suffering from victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster at an International Forum for a Nuclear-Free World held in Sendai, Japan, last week. A joint statement from the forum, due out next month, is expected to strengthen the call for a worldwide ban on nuclear energy and encourage churches to join in the campaign.
The forum, organised by the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK) – the Anglican Communion in Japan – follows the NSKKs General Synod resolution in 2012 calling for an end to nuclear power plants and activities to help the world go nuclear free.
The disaster in 2011 followed a massive earthquake and tsunami which caused a number of explosions in the town’s coastal nuclear power station and led to widespread radioactive contamination and serious health and environmental effects. The Chair of the forum’s organising committee, Kiyosumi Hasegawa, said: “We have yet to see an end to the damage done to the people and natural environment by the meltdown of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. I do think this man-made disaster will haunt countless people for years to come. We still see numerous people who wish to go back to their hometowns but are unable to. We also have people who have given up on ever going home.”
One pastor, Dr Naoya Kawakami, whose church was affected by the tsunami and is the General Secretary of the Sendai Christian Alliance Disaster Relief Network, Touhoku HELP, explained how he had supported sufferers in the aftermath and heard from priests supporting the survivors. He said: “I have been more than 700 times to meet with more than 180 mothers and about 20 fathers, all of whom have seen abnormalities in their children since 2011. . . Thyroid cancer has been found in more than 273 children and many mothers are in deep anxiety.
“The more the situation worsens, the more pastors become aware of their important role. The role is to witness . . . pastors who have stayed in Fukushima with the ‘voiceless survivors’ are showing us the church as the body of Jesus’s resurrection, with wounds and weakness . . . sufferers are usually in voiceless agony and most people never hear them.”
The forum was attended by bishops, clergy and lay representatives from each diocese, together with representatives from the US-based Episcopal Church, USPG, the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, the Diocese of Taiwan, the Anglican Church of Korea, and also ecumenical guests. International experts took part, along with local clergy who shared individual stories from those directly affected by the disaster.
Keynote lecturer Prof Dr Miranda Schreurs, from the Technische Universität München in Germany, launched the forum at Tohoku Diocese’s Cathedral, Sendai Christ Church. The professor currently serves as a member of the Ethic Commission for Safe Energy Supply and significantly influenced Germany’s nuclear free energy policy. Other speakers included the Bishop of Taiwan, David Jun Hsin Lai, and Amos Kim Kisuk from the Anglican Church of Korea.
During the week delegates from outside Japan visited sites and towns near the nuclear power plant. They also visited St John’s Church Isoyama and “Inori no Ie” (House of Prayer) in Shinchi, Fukushima, to offer prayers for all the victims of the disaster.
The NSKK Partners-in-Mission Secretary, Paul Tolhurst, said the visit to Fukushima had brought home the reality of the situation for local people. “Driving past the power station and seeing the ghost town around us as the Geiger counter reading kept going up is something I won’t forget”, he said. “It was like the town time forgot – they still seem to be living the incident, while the rest of Japan has moved on.”
Arguing for an end to nuclear power, NSKK priest John Makito Aizawa said: “Both religiously and ethically, we cannot allow nuclear power plants to continue running. They produce deadly waste, which we have no way of processing into something safe.
“More than 100,000 years are necessary for the radiation of such deadly waste to diminish to the level that it was in the original uranium. This alone is a strong enough reason to prohibit nuclear power plants. Insistence on restarting nuclear power plants seems to come from the insistence on getting more and more money and profit.”
He added: “I am no scientist or engineer of nuclear power generation. I am no expert. Still, as Christians, and to live as humans, I am certain this is an issue we cannot afford to ignore.”
The forum’s statement is expected to call for a goal of conversion to renewable sources of energy and set out ways to build a network to take forward denuclearization and how the church can play its part.
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June 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Instead of compensating victims, TEPCO compete now into gas business

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Via Bruce Brinkman
 
“In a warm place, people gather.” TEPCO advertises its gas business to move against rival Tokyo Gas, which can also now compete to provide electricity following market liberalization. Instead of compensating victims, evacuees, and all those with radiologically contaminated property, *this* is how they use their taxpayer subsidies — in addition to enriching investors (who would have gone broke without state intervention).
Read also:
Japan’s power monopolies take first steps toward competition
Wed, 31 Oct 2012
 
Tokyo Gas takes aim at TEPCO with household electricity prices
December 25, 2015
 
Japan’s Power Monopolies Face Major Reform Jolt
March 31,2016
 
Which Tokyo Electric Company is Cheapest? (And How to Change Providers)
November 2, 2016
 
TEPCO Energy Partner to offer up to 8% cheaper gas rate from July
May 10, 2017

January 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima after six years and half: the forgotten victims

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In June 2011 I went to visit my daughter in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture, 3 months after the March 2011 disaster, worried about her situation there after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident. Iwaki city is located 43.35 km (26.94 miles) south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. I stayed there one month.

Prior to my going to Iwaki, I stopped at the French embassy in Tokyo, to ask them some information about the situation in Fukushima and what measures I could take to protect myself from radiation.

The French embassy informed me that the situation was now under control, but that going there I should as a precaution take a 130 milligram potassium iodine tablet 4 hours before entering Fukushima prefecture.

The French embassy staff giving me one potassium iodine tablet from French army supplies. When I asked to them how long that tablet would protect me, telling them that I would stay there one month, they were out of words for a moment, then decided after all to give me 2 tablets. Somehow their words and their two tablets failed to reassure me.

The house of my relatives, closed to the seaside, had been hit by the Tsunami and had suffered heavy damages, causing them to relocate for the time being in another part of Iwaki city, more inland, at a relative house. Luckily no one had been injured by the tsunami as they were all away from home in town when the tsunami hit their house.

Unable to stay at the already overcrowded relative house, I had to look for an hotel where to stay. No easy, all the hotels in Iwaki city were occupied by Tepco technicians brought from outside Fukushima prefecture after the nuclear accident. I had hard time to find a vacant room. I finally found a small hotel with a vacant room. Everyday I would see the Tepco uniformed technicians returning to the hotel after their shift from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant exhausted, ashen faced and silent.

During that month talking with my relatives and others on location I learned that the people on location actually knew very little about what had happened inside the nuclear plant before and what was happening at that time. Tepco was giving very little information and the media wanting only to reassure was also not giving details about the nuclear accident.

Therefore the people directly affected and at risk knew practically nothing, as if an official wall of silence was withholding the needed informations from them, keeping them ignorant of the facts.

I also found that people were quite unaware of the consequences of radiation and the measures they should take to protect themselves. In that situation, I found that I was also myself quite ignorant about these things, as radiation and radioprotection were not part of the French school education program.

During my stay I avoided eating green leafy vegetables and seafood, following the advice given to me by the French embassy, therefore eating usually Fukushima beef, to learn later upon my return in France, that the beef had been also contaminated as those cows had been fed Fukushima contaminated hay.

Upon my return in France, I found that the French media were equally silent about the nuclear accident in Fukushima, pretending that the accident had already ended in March 2011 and that everything was back to normal and under control. Somehow I felt that in France too, information about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident was withhold, not surprising in a country so nuclearized, and where nuclear is not owned by a private company but by the State.

Faced with the lack of information, I decided to search on the internet about nuclear technology and its past nuclear accidents, about the consequences of exposure to radiation and possible remediations.

Though I had opened a Facebook account in 2008 I had never used it. End of June 2011 I started using Facebook to communicate about the ongoing Fukushima disaster, with three goals in mind:

1. To use this social network as a mean to break the wall of silence with which I had been confronted.

2. To provide to the people of Japan the information which was not been given to them by their government.

3. To raise awareness in the international community about the plight of the Fukushima people.

So as to reach as many people as possible and to be understood, it had to be done in English and not in French, my mother tongue.

I started in 2011 a Facebook group and a Facebook community page named Fukushima 311 Watchdogs, focused on the Fukushima disaster. The first year was very intense, as at the same time I was educating myself about nuclear, about the current situation in Fukushima day by day, and how to best use Facebook in reaching people. In that first year many of us got burned out and depressed, dealing everyday with the more bad news and the repeated lies coming from Tepco and the Japanese government.

In June 2012, I closed the Fukushima 311 Watchdogs Facebook group, to take a short break, then started a new Facebook group, The Rainbow Warriors, which would still deal about Fukushima and nuclear, but also about the other issues.


Rainbow Warriors is a proactive citizens group fighting against nuclear power and nuclear weapons and their production (the front and back end of the nuclear chain) and the widespread radiation that they produce and emit into the environment including the mining of uranium, and the dangerous unsafe storage of the nuclear waste they produce, actively networking, dedicated to creating a nuclear free world by working for the immediate shutdown of all nuclear power reactors and for an international ban of all nuclear weapons.
Committed to promoting the development and implementation of abundant, cost effective, safe energy from sun, wind, water, and geothermal sources, as well as instituting well-known methods of conservation and efficiency, which have been shown to be capable of meeting all our energy needs.
Additionally, members of this group are joining in the fight against anything that pollutes or that endangers our Earth and our lives by promoting clean alternative energy sources and healthful and natural practices in day to day living.
In this group, we address the burdens modern “civilization” is placing on us, as well as the earth and all its inhabitants. We are here on FB to share informations, but our main goal is to inspire our members to build their own local collective actions to fight the modern evils that we are adressing here, like some of us are doing, and to participate in such national and international actions.

First I encountered the lies of Tepco and the complicity of the Japanese media not bringing the facts out, soon replaced by a massive campaign of disinformation orchestrated by Dentsu (the largest advertising and public relations company in Japan) paid by the Japanese government to deny the existing health risks, always minimizing and twisting the facts, to reassure the population..

Most of the Japanese public, brainwashed to believe the repeated lies of the media lacks empathy and solidarity towards the Fukushima people; and Japanese antinuclear activists have been more focused on keeping the nuclear plants from being restarted than to organize concrete help for the Fukushima victims.

Antinuclear activists abroad are more concerned about closing nuclear plants at home than about the victims of the far-away Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant; interested in the Fukushima Daiichi disaster to the extent that it would serve their own local cause, the human tragedy taking place on location not their primary concern.

I believe that to focus on the technical aspects of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster while ignoring the human tragedy is not to fully grasp the enormity of the situation. The nuclear plant technical aspects should never be our primary concern. We should not give all our attention to the guilty party to the detriment of its victims. We all do know that once started, this triple meltdown disaster will be ongoing for generations.

Especially as the Tepco drama is played out for us step by step under the guidance of Dentsu, a professional PR and advertising company, in a manner to render it more acceptable to the public. Tepco always gives us a sanitized version which leaves out the most essential details, details which come out only after time.

TEPCO and the decommissioning authorities reported on the ongoing delays at Fukushima Daiichi, that units 1-3 have each run into challenges that have further delayed work towards stabilization.

Various delays will push much of the major work until after the Olympic games in Tokyo. There is speculation this is by design for political reasons.

in March 2015, the chief of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Akira Ono admitted that the technology needed to decommission three melted-down reactors does not exist, and he had no idea how it will be developed.

In a stark reminder of the challenge facing the Japanese authorities, Akira Ono conceded that the stated goal of decommissioning the plant by 2051 may be impossible without a giant technological leap.

For me the victims on location, those forced to live with the consequences of that ongoing disaster should always be our primary concern. Their voices should be heard by all, as only their testimonies will reveal to us the full extent of the human tragedy caused by a nuclear disaster, a disaster sparing no one and touching every aspect of their lives. Only they can teach us what could happen to us tomorrow should a similar event occur in our own backyard, especially as most people continue to believe the fallacy that it could never happen to them: the lies, the shallow excuses, the media manipulations of public opinion, the nuclear plant owner and the government only intent on minimizing their financial liabilities, and an international nuclear lobby always active to deny and minimize the severity of the disaster, how the local people will be largely left alone to shoulder the burden while the others manipulated by the media will ignore the reality of their plight.

I only feel disgust and anger towards those who sensationalize the Fukushima tragedy into fear porn on Youtube, blogs and Facebook just to grab attention for personal glory and/or financial gains.

Why is our attention so diverted from the most essential: the victims on location. Why is that information so minimized as to be almost non-existent?

My main purpose in sharing information about Fukushima, was to draw the attention of the public at large about the plight of the Fukushima nuclear disaster victims, to help as I can make their voices heard, to raise international sympathy and possible support for them.

6 years and half later, I feel that I have failed. General lack of empathy prevails. As long as we will not learn from the nuclear victims themselves and let their voices be heard, the game of let’s pretend and deny will continue, and we will fail to end nuclear, and more nuclear disasters will continue to occur.

I have therefore decided to step back, to begin a new chapter in my life.

Before to turn the page, I would like to give thanks to all those I have been fortunate enough to meet, to work with, to get to know, those who have consistently shown dedication and humility, those of you who have had always the Fukushima people’s welfare at heart.

Best wishes,

D’un Renard (Hervé Courtois)

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | 3 Comments

Fukushima dad finds remains of daughter, but no closure for 3/11

My deep respect for this father courage and perseverance to search for his child beyond his pain and the tragedy. It must be awful to search for the remains of your beloved daughter like he did for 6 years. I have been repeatedly hearing about his relentless search over and over again during these past 6 years. I am happy for him that he finally found her.

My own daughter was very lucky, at the time the tsunami hit the place where they lived on the north-east coast of Iwaki city, right by the sea, they were all in town, far from their house and the seashore. They lost their house but no life.

 

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Yuna Kimura was 7 years old when the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck.

 

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture–A man’s painstaking search over nearly six years has finally uncovered remains of his 7-year-old daughter who disappeared in the 2011 tsunami.

But the discovery has not brought closure for the father, Norio Kimura, who plans to keep sifting through the debris on the coast of this town in the shadow of the ruined Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

I am glad, but only small parts of her have been recovered,” said Kimura, 51. “I will continue my search until I find everything.”

A breakthrough in his private search for daughter Yuna came on Dec. 9, when a volunteer found a scarf she was wearing on the day the tsunami struck. It was near the coast only a few hundred meters from where Kimura’s home once stood in Okuma.

A further search of the area uncovered parts of neck and jaw bones among the tsunami debris.

A DNA test conducted by Fukushima prefectural police showed the remains were of Yuna. Kimura was informed of the test result on Dec. 22.

However, he said he still has no intention of submitting a document to officially certify her death until the rest of her body is found.

Yuna was the last resident of Okuma officially listed as missing.

Kimura’s house was located about 4 kilometers south of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and 100 meters from the coast. The tsunami spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, destroyed the home and swept away Yuna, Kimura’s wife, Miyuki, then 37, and his father, Wataro, then 77.

The bodies of Miyuki and Wataro were recovered that year. But Yuna remained missing.

The meltdowns at the nuclear plant forced Kimura to evacuate from Okuma and halt his search for Yuna.

Although the Self-Defense Forces, firefighters, police and volunteers conducted searches along the coast of the Tohoku region, radioactive fallout prevented extensive checks around Okuma in the early days of the recovery effort.

Most parts of the town are still located in the government-designated “difficult-to-return zone” because of high radiation levels. Access is limited to former residents, but only for short periods.

Kimura resumed his personal search for Yuna at the end of 2011, when the government allowed those limited-period returns to Okuma.

After settling in Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture, with his mother and surviving daughter, Kimura frequently made round trips of about 1,000 kilometers in his search for Yuna. He often wore protective clothing against radiation in his endeavor.

Yuna’s remains were found in an area where Kimura discovered a shoe in June 2012 that his daughter was wearing on the day of the disaster.

Kimura said he intends to increase his trips to Okuma and focus his search on the area where Yuna’s bones were discovered.

I do hold anger toward TEPCO, which caused the nuclear crisis, and the government, which was not committed enough to the body-recovery effort,” Kimura said. “I am mortified that it took nearly six years to find her.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612260050.html

 

December 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Disaster’s Victims

I decided to translate this particular article because this article for a change talks about the Fukushima disaster victims and in details how their everyday lives have been affected.
In most of the Fukushima related articles from websites and mainstream media, the writers usually focus on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and its technical failures, about its continuous leaking into the Pacific ocean etc. but somehow they almost always forget to talk about the plight of the victims, the victims who are at the forefront of this tragedy.

August 12, 2016

Article written by Evelyne Genoulaz, from a lecture given by Kurumi Sugita,

translated by Dun Renard.

Source : Fukushima Blog de Pierre Fetet http://www.fukushima-blog.com/2016/08/fukushima-les-vies-sinistrees.html

March 11, 2016, Kurumi Sugita, social anthropologist researcher and founding president of the association “Our Far Neighbors 3.11”, gave a lecture entitled “Fukushima disaster’s lives” in the Nature and Environment House (MNEI) in Grenoble, Isere, an inaugural lecture for the commemoration of the “Chernobyl, Fukushima disasters”.

The speaker outlined the concrete and current situation of the victims of the Fukushima disaster, particularly on health issues. Attached to Japan, committed, Kurumi monitored the situation of 60 affected people, for several years, visiting each once a year to collect field data for her associative actions. It is the project “DILEM”, “Displaced and Undecided Left to Themselves”, from the nuclear accident in Japan – the life course and geographical trajectory of the victims outside of the official evacuation zone.

I offer a written return of this conference, courtesy of Kurumi who also was kind enough to add data to date on her return from Japan in June 2016.
Evelyne Genoulaz

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I. The contaminated territories

After the disaster the authorities declared a state of emergency and to this day Japan is still “under that declaration of a nuclear emergency state (genshiryoku kinkyu Jitai sengen).” But over time, the zoning of the contaminated territories has been increasingly reduced by the authorities, as shows the chronological overview on these maps (METI).

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II. The return policy

Starting this month of March 2016, in fact, many areas were “open”. The return to TOMIOKA is programmed by authorities after April 2017; OKUMA partially in 2018. Only FUTABA is labeled “no projection”. Do note that zoning maps were delineated at the beginning of the disaster zoning by concentric circles, while the radioactivity is deposited in “leopard spots” and today, programmed to be returned to areas are gradually getting geographically closer to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant even though these areas are dangerous!

The government is preparing to lift the evacuation order at 20 mSv / year, and areas from 20 to 50 mSv / year will enter the opening schedule after spring 2017 establishing strategic points for reconstruction ( fukkô Kyoten).

To speak only of Iitate, which was the most beautiful village in Japan, its mayor is in favor of return, but today the situation there is poignant: it was decontaminated up to 20 meters of the houses, but as it is surrounded by mountains and forests, the radioactivity will remain dangerous …

Measures delegated to individuals

The control measurement of environmental radioactivity will now be based on the individual rather than on space. Thus, everyone is invited to measure himself or herself, to measure what is consumed, so that if the individual is contaminated it will only be blamed upon his or her own negligence!

The absurd and arbitrary at work in the calculation of dose rates

Official figures on the geographical contamination, dose rates displayed, are using a biased calculation.

Usually to measure in the field a dose rate, we get a figure in mSv / h then multiply it by 24 (hours) x 365 (days) to obtain the annual rate. But this is not the calculation undertaken by the authorities.

The authorities makes first a difference between the level of contamination on one hand inside the housing, and on the other hand on the outside. They decided to consider that an individual spends only 8 hours outside. It is also estimated (official rules) that “the radiation inside a building is reduced to 40% of the radiation reading outside.”

Yet, in Minamisoma for example, studies have shown that the contamination inside was at best 10% lower than the outside, sometimes even worse inside!

That is to say that the authorities uses a biased calculation that ultimately determines if we take an example, a dose rate of 20 mSv / year whereas the actually measured dose rate is 33 mSv / year!

Residents who did not evacuate are distressed because they now know fear, for example those of Naraha who no longer recognize their city because it has changed since the disaster: vandalism, insecurity soon as night falls, since it is now black in the streets, some girls were abused …

Furthermore, Naraha is a coastal town with a seaside road and all night – especially at night – they hear the noise of the incessant and disturbing road traffic of the trucks loaded with radioactive waste, without knowing precisely what is carried …

What motivates the return policy? According to Kurumi Sugita, in view of the Olympic Games coming to Japan in 2020, the government pursues a staistics dependent objective: it comes to lowering the numbers! If the evacuees or the self-evacuees leave the “assisted housing”, they are no longer counted as “evacuees”….

III. Works and Waste

The whole territory of Fukushima Prefecture today is littered with waste bags. Everywhere, at the turn of any road you’ll encounters mountains of waste bags, sometimes piled up so high! It is a sorry sight for the residents. And space lacks where to store them, so much that the authorities have even created dumps that they call “temporary intermediary storage areas! “

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A “temporary intermediary storage area” in Iitate

A row of uncontaminated sandbags is added around the perimeter of the “square” of the most contaminated bags, so as to reduce the number of the dose rate!

As of March 2016, there were no less than 10 million bags and 128,000 temporary dumpsites in Fukushima Prefecture. Waste bags are omnipresent, despite the residents’ distress; near schools, and even in people’s gardens.

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Contaminated waste bags at someone’s house

Short of sufficient storage space, the authorities are forcing residents to an intolerable alternative: if the resident does not want to store the waste on his property, it is his right. But in this case it will not be decontaminated! The resident requesting “decontamination intervention” must keep the waste on his property! This is why we see here and there, everywhere in fact, bags near buildings or in private homes.

Waste incineration

According to the “Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law” (Genshiro tô kiseihô), the recycling threshold of “nuclear waste” is 100 Bq / kg. However, on June 30, 2016, the Ministry of Environment has officially decided to “reuse” waste below 8000 Bq / kg (1).

In practical terms, this waste will be used in public works, covered by cement and land in order to lower the ambient radioactivity.

In order to “reduce the volume” of waste, “temporary incinerators” were built to incinerate nuclear waste and to “vaporize” cesium.

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Map of Fukushima prefecture showing the nuclear waste processing establishments locations (shizai-ka center) – Legend: the icons differentiate the various incinerators; red = in operation – blue = under construction – gray / yellow = planned – gray = operation completed

Everywhere on village outskirts there are incinerators of which people know nothing! They often operate at night for two to three months and then everything stops. People wonder what is being burned… Not to mention a rumor about a secret experimentation center where much more contaminated waste would be burned…

Even more frightening, waste processing plants …

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At the “Environmental Design Centre”, a poster about the revolving furnace” which decontaminates waste, debris, soil, etc, transforming them into cement”.

For example, the Warabidaira waste processing plant located in the village of Iitate or the Environment Creation Center (Kankyô Sôzô Center) opened in July 2016 in the town of Miharu, treat contaminated waste (ashes above 100 000 Bq/kg) and contaminated soil coming from land decontamination work.

Now these last two categories are not covered by the Waste Management Law (1) so they have no constraints associated with their treatment… To reduce their volume and to make them … “recyclable”!

In addition, these establishments are registered as “research institutes” and, as such, they are exempt from the building permit application commonly mandated in the framework of the waste management law!

We see inconsistencies and even contradictions between laws. We have already seen the contradiction between the limit of 100 Bq / kg set by the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law and the 8000 Bq / kg recently adopted by the Ministry of Environment.

IV. Residents, displaced and returned

Citizen radiation measuring. Mothers, and also dads, explore the everyday environment to identify hot spots so as to modify if necessary the route recommended for children, for example “the way to school” (as in Japan all children walk single file).

For that purpose associations use “hot spot finders”. Well aware of the health risk to which children are exposed, they attach sensors connected to GPS on their strollers to walk routes and the way to school or to explore parks.

That system is well thought out: it is a vertical rod 1 meter long that leaves the ground and consists of a measuring device at 10 cm from the ground, another one at 50 cm, and a third at 1 meter to take into account the different sizes of children. If a hot spot is located, others are warned of its location and the children are required to change their route, and authorities are asked to decontaminate. For parents, this work is endless …

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Hot spot finders

People organize citizen actions thru Internet. These independent citizen online databases are many,

and one of them is even translated into English since November 2014. It is the “Minna no Data”: ambient radioactivity measures, soil measurements, food analyzes (2).

http://en.minnanods.net/

Some associations’ logos:

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V. Protest actions

The trial against the three former TEPCO executives which began in spring 2016 is the first criminal trial to take place; it could last ten years …

However, in Fukushima Prefecture, there are many other trials at different levels also taking place. For example, in March 2016, a lawsuit was initiated by 200 parents brought against the Fukushima Prefecture, to “get children out of contaminated areas.” People protest to have the “thresholds” lowered. In their opinion the issue of “thresholds” go beyond the strict framework of Japan. They fear that the thresholds of Japan will end up being generalized overseas, which is highlighted in some of the maps captions eg “against the generalization and the externalization of the 20 mSv / year threshold”. Some victims require, as after Hiroshima, “an irradiation book” (personal records) to be used for their access to treatment.

Radiation free health holiday

To send children on a health holiday is now more and more difficult, because people tend to believe that the disaster is already over therefore requests for help have become complicated.

In the city of Fukushima, for example, referring to the nuclear disaster is now taboo …

VI. Social and family catastrophe

It causes “conflicts” among neighbors (one example, one person’s place is decontaminated while its adjoining neighbor’s place is not), between beneficiaries and others, between the displaced and the residents of the hosting location (there are misunderstandings on the issue of compensations; the self-evacuated are not receiving any compensation, but the hosting city locals think they are).

So today many prefer to return their evacuated Fukushima resident card and acquire the resident card of their hosting town (in Japon you are résident of the village from which you keep the residence card) so as to “turn the page” because they can no longer bear to be called “evacuees”. They want to integrate into the community where they moved. Only older people remain unswervingly committed to their original residence; it is mostly the elderly who intend to return.

In many families of the Fukushima Prefecture men stayed by necessity to keep their jobs to provide for their families, while mothers with children evacuated to put them out of danger; but as time has passed, more than five years already, many families have disintegrated… The father visiting the family rarely, often for lack of resources, the marriage falling apart, resulting in many divorces and suicides.

Women are showing remarkable energy, they are on all fronts, openly, and even heavily involved in actions and trials, so that even the articles of the so-called “feminine” press today are often dealing with topics related to the nuclear disaster. Young women in particular are very active in the protests and rallies. This is a significant change in Japanese society.

 (1) Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law, Haikibutsu no shori oyobi seisô ni kansuru hôritsu, law N°137 from 1970, last amendment in 2001 https://www.env.go.jp/en/laws/recycle/01.pdf

Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law (Genshiro tô kiseihô).

“Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors” (kakugenryô busshitsu,kakunenryô busshitsu oyobi genshiro no kisei ni kansuru hôritsu)

law N°166 from 1957(2) –

English translation of Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law.

http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=1941&vm=03&re=01

(2) – Minna no Data Site (MDS)http://en.minnanods.net/

_____________________

After his lecture, I asked a simple question to Kurumi Sugita:

Why has she founded the association « Nos Voisins Lointains 3.11 » (“Our Distant Neighbors 3.11”)? …

In France, where lives Kurumi, several Japanese associations exchange about the disaster.

But Kurumi Sugita founded on January 8, 2013 in Lyon, the association « Nos voisins lointains 3-11 » also to inform the French and francophones who do not read Japanese.

The website of the association publishes valuable and moving testimonies, translated into French.

Thanks to donations, the association helps concretely, as much as possible, some affected families in Japan. 

 

To know more

The website of Kurumi Sugita’s association:

http://nosvoisins311.wix.com/voisins311-france

You may find the victims testimonies on her Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Nos-Voisins-Lointains-311_Les-paroles-des-sinistr%C3%A9s-nucl%C3%A9aires-1610794892522102/

And general informations on the Fukushima nuclear disaster:

https://www.facebook.com/Nos-Voisins-Lointains-311-555557711144167/

August 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima victims still suffer five years on

TOKYO, May 25 (Xinhua) — Iidate Village, about 40 kilometers from Japan‘s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, is now almost a ghost town.

Few human traces can be spotted, weeds are spreading, dirty water flows everywhere, and no living sounds can be heard except for a few raven’s croaks.

Japanese photographer Hida Shinsyuu has visited the nuclear contaminated zone more than 30 times. Looking through his camera, he often cannot hold back his tears.

Even more so, when he sees “nuclear refugees” suffering from diseases such as thyroid cancer yet having no one to turn to, he feels a lot of anger.

“In Fukushima, families who have thyroid cancer sufferers are experiencing loneliness and pain, as they are unwilling to reveal the “scars” to their relatives or friends, nor do they want to tell their children about the nuclear radiation,” said Shinsyuu.

In June 2015, Shinsyuu met a girl in Fukushima who had thyroid cancer. When the Fukushima nuclear accident broke out, the girl was at her junior high graduation ceremony.

The following year, she was diagnosed as thyroid cancer, and had surgery to remove the right part of her thyroid. In her third year of senior high part of her lymph nodes were removed.

However, the thyroid cancer returned after she entered college, and she had to quit school to remove her whole thyroid.

The girl told Shinsyuu that she had a dream of becoming a designer one day. Quitting school has made that dream distant.

Her parents are angry. No one has claimed responsibility for their child’s suffering. They were told her sickness had nothing to do with Fukushima.

The girl is just one of 166 teenagers who has been diagnosed with or suspected of having thyroid cancer, among whom 116 have undergone surgeries.

Five years following the nuclear crisis, the parents of children diagnosed with thyroid cancer in Fukushima have formed a group demanding the government provide convincing evidence that their children’s suffering is not related to the nuclear accident.

Sato Satiko, a mother living in Fukushima, complained about a governmental press conference to Spanish newspaper El Mundo in February.”Fukushima mothers were not allowed to ask even one question, all questioners were asked by pro-government press. The Japanese government and media are neglecting and humiliating us on purpose.”

Toshihide Tsuda, a professor of environmental epidemiology at Japan’s Okayama University, found that the incidence of thyroid cancer among children in Fukushima Prefecture was 20 to 50 times higher than the national average in 2014, three years after the disaster hit.

His findings, however, have fallen on deaf ears. The Fukushima prefectural government insists that the incidents of cancer and nuclear radiation are not related.

“The Japanese government hasn’t given any countermeasures against the children’s health problems in Fukushima,” said Tsuda. He says the government should learn from Chelnobyl and deal with the aftermath of the nuclear disaster seriously.

Nursing facilities to help reduce residual nuclear radiation are also lacking, according to Korobe Shinichi, a pediatrician and consultant for the Chernobyl Children’s Foundation.

“After getting treatment at the nursing facility for only four weeks, 30 percent of residual radioactive cesium in human bodies will be reduced,” said Shinichi.

However, such sanitariums set up after the accident are far less than those established after Chernobyl.

Based on the Japanese government’s approach, the long-term harm will probably be more serious than Chernobyl, Shinichi said.

He also pointed out that some families affected by the accident have become broken. Single mothers are suffering great mental stress and in urgent need of help.

Kanna Mitsuta, director of Japanese environmental protection organization “the Friend of the Earth Japan,” feels distressed about the Japanese government’s new policy of expediting the return of displaced Fukushima nuclear refugees.

The move actually means abandoning nuclear refugees in the name of reconstruction. Furthermore, the cause of the nuclear disaster has not been clarified and radioactive risks remain high in the refugees’ hometown, said Mitsuta.

A joint opinion poll conducted by national daily The Asahi Shimbun and the Fukushima local press in 2015 showed that over 70 percent of Fukushima residents were unsatisfied with the government’s countermeasures in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster. But for a government bent on putting the issue to rest, public opinion matters little.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-05/25/c_135387620.htm

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Court orders TEPCO to pay 31 million yen over deaths of Fukushima patients

The Tokyo District Court on April 27 ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to pay a total of around 31 million yen to the families of two former patients at a local hospital who died following the 2011 crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

The families of the two elderly men had demanded the operator of the crippled nuclear plant pay a total of about 66 million yen, claiming that they died after being forced to evacuate from Futaba Hospital located approximately 4.6 kilometers from the power plant in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Okuma.

Of some 50 patients at Futaba Hospital who died following the nuclear disaster, the families of a then 98-year-old dementia patient and a then 73-year-old schizophrenia patient filed the lawsuit. While there have been two cases of settlement between the families of former Futaba Hospital patients and TEPCO at Chiba and Fukushima district courts, this is the first court ruling to have been delivered over deaths of patients at the hospital.

TEPCO had acknowledged the causal relationship between evacuation and the deaths of the two patients. The trial, therefore, had focused on the amount of damages.

According to the ruling, the conditions of the two patients had been severe and they required assistance with eating and other daily tasks. An evacuation order was issued on March 12, 2011, the following day of the disaster, and the patients left the hospital on March 14 and 16, respectively. However, unable to receive appropriate medical care, the pair died of dehydration and hypothermia.

The court determined the amount of damages at 20 million yen for each patient and judged that their existing conditions had affected the development of additional illnesses. It then reduced the amount demanded by the families by 40 percent for the dementia patient and by 20 percent for the schizophrenia patient.

An attorney representing the plaintiffs said it was unfortunate that circumstances particular to a nuclear plant disaster was not taken into consideration in the ruling.

Meanwhile, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. released a comment stating that the utility will go through the ruling and sincerely handle the situation.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160428/p2a/00m/0na/010000c

April 30, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s invisible victims

By

It’s been a while since we last discussed the Fukushima Daiichi triple meltdown.  That is not for lack of issues; it is primarily for lack of any meaningful progress in the ongoingdisaster.

We have just passed the fifth observance of the first catastrophic day, March 11, 2011 and pretty much all of nuclear safety expert Arnie Gundersen’s grim predictions of what we would learn in the aftermath have come to pass.

What Arnie could not have predicted iin 2011 is how unwilling both TEPCO and Japan’s government officials have been to learn from this disaster, and how persistent the effort would be to suppress important radiological and epidemiological information.

Without accountability, deaths of citizens who lived near the doomed reactors following the triple meltdown have simply been attributed to the stress of evacuation, and supposedly no one has been harmed by radiation.  In an unbelievable extrapolation of a convenient myth, there has been a major government effort, supported by the atomic power industry, to increase allowable levels of radiation exposure and dismiss the need for future costly evacuations as harmful and unnecessary.

It was only a little over a week ago, that anyone in an official position at TEPCO was finally held accountable under the law.   I find it unbelievable that only three individuals can be held responsible for the cascade of unaddressed design flaws, corruption, lax regulation, human error and human arrogance that all contributed to making a bad situation much, much worse.

Now we are learning of an even more egregious breach of the public trust and social justice at Fukushima.

Individuals who have exhibited symptoms of radiation poisoning and other illnesses are apparently being shunned by some of their neighbors and dismissed by the medical establishment without appropriate care and without acknowledgment in their medical records.

This mistreatment specific to radiation victims is apparently not without precedent in Japanese history.

On his current speaking tour of Japan, Arnie Gundersen has had the privilege of speaking with a small group of survivors of the 1945 bombing at Hiroshima who share a unique perspective on what may lie ahead for the people of Fukushima

Hiroshima survivor, Tomiko Matsumoto, 85, recalls being a schoolgirl following that inhuman bombing.  Of the 80 students at her school, only thirty survived the blast.  Tomiko could be said to have been one of the “lucky” ones, but mere survival is a pretty poor kind of ‘luck.’

Still traumatized by the mental and physical horrors of the blast experience, she recalls that there was no proper care provided for the injured who were regarded with suspicion and hostility by their neighbors and callous indifference or unfeeling curiosity by their occupiers, upon whom they depended for any care that they could get.

The discrimination must have been the hardest for a young girl with no surviving family to bear:

“I was shocked because I was discriminated against by Hiroshima people. We lived together in the same place and Hiroshima people know what happened but they discriminated against each other. ..I was shocked.”

“There were so many different kinds of discrimination. People said that girls who survived the bomb shouldn’t get married. Also they refused to hire the survivors, not only because of the scars, but because they were so weak. Survivors did not have 100 percent energy.”

“There was a survivor’s certificate and medical treatment was free. But the other people were jealous. Jealous people, mentally discriminated. So, I didn’t want to show the health book sometimes, so I paid. Some of the people, even though they had the health book, were afraid of discrimination, so they didn’t even apply for the health book. They thought discrimination was worse than paying for health care.”

The mistreatment and insensitivity experienced by survivors continued into Tomiko’s adulthood. She was the victim of employment discrimination and personal shame.

Though she was lucky enough to bear children, both of her daughters are sterile and one suffers from anemia. Doctors have dismissed the possibility that the family’s health issues might be linked to her exposure to radiation from the atomic bomb blast.

It may be precisely because of their uniquely traumatic history of nuclear attack that modern Japanese society is ill-prepared to challenge the current meme being promoted by TEPCO and the Abe government, that no one was harmed by the triple meltdown at Fukushima and there is no cause for concern about using atomic power as an energy source.

Having emerged from beneath the cloud of WWII, they want to view themselves  under the lens of success and progress, not to revisit the shameful legacy of nuclear radiation sickness that they had hoped to leave behind.

Sadly, neither TEPCO nor the Abe government and functionaries right down to the regional level can be trusted to reveal the truth about radiation from Fukushima Daiichi and how it’s shadow has now been irreversibly cast over the Prefecture, marring the future of Japan.

So survivors of Fukushima, like those of Hiroshima before them are left to face unfolding health issues and despair in the friendless vacuum of their own thoughts and care.

(I am pleased to be a non-technical member of the Fairewinds Energy Education crew, but my posts on GMD are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fairewinds.)

Fukushima’s invisible victims

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

FIVE YEARS AFTER: Fukushima thyroid cancer patients’ families join forces

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The grandmother, left, and mother of a female high school student

who underwent thyroid surgery talk about their concerns

in Fukushima Prefecture on March 5

Families of young thyroid cancer patients from Fukushima Prefecture diagnosed after the 3/11 disaster have formed a support group that also aims to pressure doctors and authorities for better policies.

The 311 Thyroid Cancer Family Group hopes to share the concerns people have felt over the health of their loved ones in the five years since the onset of the nuclear crisis.

“We want the Fukushima prefectural government and doctors to demonstrate a better understanding of patients,” one member said.

The group was established by seven parents and relatives of five young people from the prefecture’s central Nakadori and eastern Hamadori areas who underwent thyroid surgery following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer from the Daini Tokyo Bar Association, will lead the group as its representative. Others will help manage the association, including Motomi Ushiyama, a doctor who has served as a physician in Fukushima Prefecture and also conducted an investigation on residents of areas contaminated in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

“Our aim is to create a place where patients, who remain separated and are unable to even talk of their anxieties or doubts, can meet and talk to one another,” Kawai said. “By having the patients and their families unite and cry out as one, it makes it easier for us to make policy suggestions to the government.”

The group is considering filing lawsuits in the future against the central and prefectural governments, along with Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Fukushima plant’s operator, but at the moment, its main purpose is to provide direct help to the patients and their families.

The Fukushima prefectural government continues to examine the thyroid glands of residents who were 18 or under at the time of the 2011 nuclear disaster and those born following the event, which accounted for around 380,000 people. A total of 166 cases of thyroid cancer or suspected signs of the condition were found before the end of 2015.

However, the prefecture’s expert panel assessing the statistics deemed it was “unlikely the cases were caused by radiation.”

Unsurprisingly, members of the group viewed this official statement with unease and skepticism.

One high school student from Nakadori had her thyroid gland removed by a doctor at Fukushima Medical University Hospital last spring. But with the cancer cells having spread more than expected, she now has a large scar across her neck that she feels she must cover with a scarf even in summer.

Her mother, in her 40s, said: “My daughter became more prone to fatigue after the surgery. Falling asleep while playing her video games, which she loves to do, was something that never happened before.”

A nodule was found on the student’s thyroid about two years ago. At the hospital, her surgeon told her: “We will examine the tissue believed to be formed of cancer cells by sticking a needle in your neck. It’s very painful, so it’s up to you to decide. Make up your mind within a month.”

The student and mother talked it over and decided to opt for the test. But when they returned to the hospital to get the results, the mother was shocked, as the doctor just blurted out the results in front of the young patient, saying: “It was a malignant tumor.”

The doctor did, however, explain it was nothing to worry about and said: “It’s not a big deal. Thyroid cancers can be left as they are for six months or a year, and they still won’t be anything life-threatening.”

But when the student underwent surgery six months later, her mother was reprimanded by the same doctor who said: “The tumor was bigger than we had expected. Who in the world told you that you can leave it for six months?”

The doctor also warned her of the possibilities of recurrence.

After her daughter’s surgery, the mother joined an event organized by the hospital for thyroid cancer patients to meet one another. But it was nothing like what she had envisioned.

“We only heard one-sided stories, and it was not a forum that would answer any of the doubts I had,” she said. “It was completely useless.”

The father of a man who was a high school student in 2011 was disturbed by the attitude of the same doctor who also operated on his son’s thyroid.

The father said: “After the surgery, I repeatedly asked the doctor if the cancer had anything to do with the nuclear power plant, but he just flat-out rejected it saying, ‘There’s no correlation.’

Furthermore, the doctor told him: “Don’t say anything to the media even if they learn about your son’s surgery. You know there’s no necessity for you to answer them.”

“My son fears recurrence and metastasis every day,” the father said.

However, the doctor told The Asahi Shimbun through the institution’s public relations department that he had been misunderstood.

“We have been paying the utmost attention to establishing an environment where patients can talk about their worries and doubts, having mental health care specialists getting involved with them at an early stage of their treatments. Such efforts continue well into the post-surgery period,” he said in writing.

“The diagnosis of cancer is something we take extreme care when we are letting the patients know about it. But now having been confronted by interpretations that were not at all my intentions, I strongly realize the difficulty of conveying the message to patients. When we give the notice to patients who are minors, we consult their guardians and check with them before giving them the word.”

Meanwhile, the 311 Thyroid Cancer Family Group will be holding events to promote networking between patients’ families and where they can seek advice, encouraging more people to join the group.

The members said: “We first want to encourage the patients to meet each other, share information and demand improvement of their medical environments.”

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201603240025

 

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 1 Comment

Japan: Amid Population Collapse, Fukushima Families Falling Apart

Fukushima-family-ap-640x480

Given the option of leaving their hometowns or risking radiation poisoning five years ago, families living near the Fukushima radiation disaster are falling apart, facing divorce, suicide, and cancer. The breakdown of Fukushima families comes as Japan faces a dwindling population it continues to struggle to replenish.

Mothers desperate to save their children from cancer or other side effects of radiation poisoning have been forced to choose between their husbands and their children, an in-depth report in Japan’s Asahi Shimbun notes. Many men stayed in the radiation-affected areas, unable to find jobs elsewhere. The mothers who moved as far from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as they could afford say they made the decision to save their children from radiation, but have lost their husbands and families.

One woman tells the Asahi Shimbun that her husband mailed her divorce papers in 2014 after she fled the area in 2011. “I cannot send money to my family whom I cannot see,” he said in a letter. She has not told her two children their parents are divorced. She made the choice to risk her marriage, she said, because she “could not trust the data released by the central government.” She laments, “My family has collapsed.”

Residents of Fukushima were forced to evacuate the area after a March 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The plant’s operators expect it to take up to 40 years for the site to be fully safe and usable again.

The new Asahi profile of Fukushima mothers reflects similar fears the Japan Times found in speaking to others who had fled and refuse to trust the government’s assurances that their hometowns are safe. In September 2015, the newspaper spoke to mothers who said on the condition of anonymity that their families – especially their husbands’ families – were pressuring them to risk exposing their children to radiation to keep families together. “Consciously or subconsciously, women are aware of the role we are expected to play in a family. After the earthquake and nuclear disaster, however, everything changed. … I can’t live up to those expectations any more, and society judges me,” a woman identified with the pseudonym Yukiko said. “Some were accused of abandoning or running away from their families, particularly those they married into. Relatives labeled the wives disloyal and overly sensitive,” The Japan Times noted of others who fled. Those judged harshest are the ones fleeing areas for which the government issued only a voluntary evacuation order.

Those who stayed face the opposite fear. “Sometimes when I’m alone in the house, I start to cry, imagining the future of my children,” a woman identified as Hiroko said. “I fear my children may become sick, and the ones who I love most will hold a grudge against me for failing to protect them. That is my biggest fear.”

Those who fled to neighboring towns fear radiation so much they refuse to allow their children to eat food they know has been produced in any part of Fukushima prefecture. The Asahi report highlights one mother who sends her 11-year-old to school with a specially made bento box, refusing to allow the school to feed her Fukushima-produced rice and vegetables. The girl has been bullied as a result, her mother mocked for being “neurotic.” A school official noted that other mothers make their children “wear surgical masks when they participate in footraces during outdoor school athletic meets.”

Asahi estimates that 70,000 people remain prohibited from returning home due to the Fukushima disaster, and another 18,000 have voluntarily chosen not to return.

Those who stay must live with the fear of radiation and the absence of those who do not return. Officials have marked a surge in suicides directly tied to the Fukushima disaster. Asahi reported in December 2015 that police confirmed 19 suicides in 2015 related to the disaster, up from 15 in 2014. A total of 154 people are believed to have resorted to suicide as a result of the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.

Masaharu Maeda, a professor of disaster psychiatry at Fukushima Medical University, says torn families can account for many of these suicides and a significant rise in depression and other psychological problems in these communities. “The elderly may return to their homes, but the generation who are still raising children do not return, meaning families are torn apart,” he noted.

In one of the most prominent suicide cases related to Fukushima, a 102-year-old man hung himself after being told he would have to evacuate his home in 2011. The family sued the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), which runs the plant, for 60 million yen ($485,000).

Mothers who fear radiation poisoning have been vindicated by a number of tragedies following the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor. Doctors in the region have found that children living in the area are 20 to 50 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer. The government confirmed the first cancer case related to the plant’s collapse in October 2015, a former nuclear plant worker who was diagnosed with leukemia.

The combination of family collapse and surging cancer cases is threatening an already dwindling Japanese population. Japanese officials have estimated that the population will diminish from 100 million to 80 million by 2065, leaving the nation without a reliable workforce. While some legislators have suggested making immigration to Japan easier, most appear reluctant to take that avenue. Raising the native birth rate would require significant cultural changes, many speculate, because of a Japanese work culture that pushes women to forego family life if they intend to keep their careers. Twenty percent of young mothers report experiencing harassment in the workplace, and many who wish to be mothers are encouraged to avoid pregnancy or abort.

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/02/24/five-years-after-fukushima-families-remain-torn-apart-by-evacuation/

February 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment