Tokyo Contamination Likely Worse Than Reported – Government More Concerned With Making Citizens ‘Feel Safe’ Then Actual ‘Safety’

Yokohama City is about 170 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The confirmation of Cesium and Strontium contamination in Tokyo Wards and the surrounding areas.

Yokohama City has stopped using dried shiitake mushrooms in school lunches after detecting 350 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in its stocks.  The city said on Thursday that it discovered the contamination during its screening of ingredients for school lunches.

Also on Thursday, 830 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium, exceeding the government’s limit of 500 becquerels, was detected in shiitake mushrooms grown outdoors on logs in a city in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Residents in and around Yokohama and Tokyo are responding in force after the latest soil samples show readings higher than the 77 becquerels per kilogram detected in soil in Fukushima city between April and May.

Yokohama City Contamination Being Detected By Citizens

The concentration of radiation appears to be accumulating in Yokohama,the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture and the second largest city in Japan after Tokyo and most populous municipality of Japan.  Yokohama’s population of 3.6 million makes it Japan’s largest incorporated city

To anyone still unsure about the current state of events in Japan, Fukushima is calling like a siren, “Come here and look at the reality.”

Citizens step up private monitoring of hot spots

The official radiation measuring instrument for Yokohama-shi, is positioned 5 stories up in the air, on top of the Environmental Science Research Institute, and the citizens were worried that the readings it provided might not be an accurate assessment on levels of contamination that might be hidden in the city.

Last week news lines crackled when a resident of the five-story apartment house, built seven years ago, collected the sediment and had it tested at the Isotope Research Institute, an analysis laboratory in Yokohama’s Tsurumi Ward.

The sediment, taken from the rooftop gutter of an apartment building in Kohoku Ward in July, was analyzed by a private-run laboratory.

The city government was initially not too concerned about checking for strontium content because it was believed to be too heavy to travel long distances from the Fukushima plant and such analyses were expensive.

The city government has declined to comment, until after the Yokohama city government is conducting its own analysis, with one official saying, “We can’t make [the details] public as we haven’t confirmed anything yet.”

However a citizen was shocked when his out-of-pocket private tests found 195 becquerels of strontium-90 per kilogram in sediment in Yokohama, the first time the radioactive isotope has been detected outside the 100-kilometer radius of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The laboratory also found a cesium concentration of 63,434 becquerels per kilogram in the same sediment sample. The Yokohama City Institute of Health, which reanalyzed the sample, detected 105,600 becquerels of cesium per kilogram, although the results were not released because the sample came from privately owned land.

The city government was initially not too concerned about checking for strontium content because it was believed to be too heavy to travel long distances from the Fukushima plant and such analyses were expensive.

“I knew that strontium would travel over large distances,” said Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute. “It is no surprise that fallout strontium from the Fukushima No. 1 plant was detected in Yokohama. The concentration appears somewhat large, but I can understand that because the same sample produced a high cesium concentration. Condensation probably took place.”


Buying Japanese is better, unless its imported which is best, which is why it became the least

Perhaps one of the most damning pieces of evidence about the lack of respect for the well-being of citizens, and despite the repeated oaths of allegiance and commitment to constituents one only has to look at the way the government responded to the crisis in regards to any and seemingly all radiation exposure/contamination limits to get a realistic appreciation of their approach.

After the nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant in March, the central government set provisional safety standards for domestically produced foods, including meats and vegetables, at 500 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram. The figure is 130 becquerels higher than the 370-becquerel standards for imported foods.

“We would not know how to deal with this issue if we found an imported food containing radiation levels between the two standards,” a Tokyo government official in charge of this matter said.

This means that if a food item with 400 becquerels of radioactive cesium was detected, it would be allowed to stay in the market if it was produced in Japan. But it would be recalled if it had been imported, and seeing as Japan was in the middle of an ongoing nuclear event, maybe it would have been more prudent to limit the constant official advocacy of all things SOLD Japanese, and focus more on all things that BREATHE Japanese.

The Yokohama Citizen’s Nightmare Has Been Torrid For Months

The main theme of ‘Zoorasia’, a zoo in Yokohama City, is ‘Coexistence of life / Harmony with nature’, however many of the citizens in the area feel their government does not act in accordance with these values.

Mayor Hayashi, not only ignored the safety of children, she plans to move to the Yokohama official house next year.  The Official house is built in Frank Lloyd Wright style in 1927.  However before moving, she demands an extra budget to renovate bathroom and air-conditioning systems, in the sum 17 million yen, rather than focusing efforts and resources on more pressing demands.


Meet Fumiko Hayashi, the mayor of Yokohama City.

In her own words…

“Because of bad rumors of Fukushima explosions, the number of visitors reduced drastically.  We are going to invite more visitors.   Yokohama is full of resources for tourism, but we fail to take advantage of them.  It’s not enough as a sightseeing city.  Artistic contents should be increased.”

Unfortunately many of the decisions and events in Yokohama after the Fukushima disaster did not reflect these values that citizens are reminded from a very early age.  Even worse this mindset and the events that followed were not isolated to this ward alone, as a crippling disease infected the smallest government circles all the way up to the highest, resulting in the departure of Japans 3rd prime minister in as many years.

The governments response sometimes extends the boundaries of ethical norms, and has been criticized for the needless risk of contamination due to insufficient response to public claims of contamination.  This was clearly illustrated in Yokohama City long before the latest reports of Strontium and Cesium contamination, and these types of reports are likely to continue, as the government has yet to sufficiently respond to many issues that continue to accumulate in volume as time passes.

In mid May, after an article in the Yomiuri Shimbin highlighted a similar situation in Ibaraki city where schools were placing bans on certain lunch foods in an attempt to lower public concern of the potential contamination that might find it’s way in school lunches.  Up until this time raw unprocessed milk from Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures was commonly used.

A producer of raw unprocessed milk in Ibaraki Prefecture expressed anger at the board’s measure, and retaliated publicly claiming that these measures were increasing the feeling of justification by consumers who were not purchasing products already due to fears of contamination.

“Why did [the board] act as if there are problems with products from the prefecture, when we have all worked together to eliminate harmful rumors,” a representative of the producer said.

An official of the Ibaraki prefectural government concurred, saying: “[The board’s move] could fuel concerns about agricultural products from the prefecture, which could cause harmful rumors.”

Sho Takakura, professor emeritus of Tsukuba University, said: “I think the board resorted to a desperate measure after receiving requests from students’ parents. But it should have considered farmers, who have been trying to eliminate harmful rumors.

“The board’s officials should have discussed this issue, which also could have helped students develop their decision-making skills.”

These remarks are a record and accurate representation of the true feelings that were held in private about the public concern.  Even the scholars recognized that to fully gain the trust of the public, a certain amount of ‘re-education’ might be required, as the assurances of the best and brightest was not having the desired effects.

Ultimately it comes down to the fact that a great number of government officials, experts, and companies were more upset about the consumers lack of ability to trust their promises, rather than doing actual tests on their products and more preventive measures to protect the public from potential exposure.

This was illustrated time after time as limits were raised and lowered, products banned and then deemed safe, and instead of taking drastic measures to assess and control the ever-increasing reports of contamination, the limited responses meant that tracking which products were and were not contaminated was a near impossible task for citizens who shouldered the brunt of the scorn and were forced to live with a very limited and controlled flow of accurate information.

According to the Ibaraki prefectural government, shipments of spinach, parsley and raw unprocessed milk were temporarily banned. But after inspections found the radiation levels in those products were lower than provisional regulatory limits, the government lifted the ban on shipments of raw unprocessed milk on April 10, and on kakina leafy vegetables and parsley on April 17.

Shipments of raw unprocessed milk from Fukushima Prefecture were partially restricted, but the Fukushima prefectural government said there was no problem with the milk that is being distributed.

Schools in Fukushima Prefecture continued to serve the milk with school lunches, with the governments full knowledge and approval.

Shortly following this report, officials in Yokohama announced it would measure radiation in food items that go to school lunches, but the only food items tested would be those grown in Yokohama [i.e. none or close to none]. This was assured to be adequate for citizens safety as the vegetables and meat from Fukushima Prefecture were considered “safe” by experts and city officials because they were tested in Fukushima Prefecture.  None of them told the public they expected any unforseen problems with the testing process, and that this limited testing in Yokohama would be adequate.

However many were skeptical of this response and voiced their concerns despite the test results on the  public internet messaging boards used by councilman to directly communicate with citizens in the city.  The retaliation to these voiced concerns appeared to be most harsh when responding to messages from parents who had their children carry their own lunches and water bottles to schools and kindergartens, and the schools denied their children to consume those homemade lunches and water.

Many jeering posts from anonymous users were littered with comments like,“Oh come on, it’s just a rumor, and without a solid data from the government officials we shouldn’t speculate. You’re all over-reacting.”   However a cloud of speculation grew after a post from a teacher was exposed (as revealed by the IP address, apparently using a school computer) who trashed people who were worried about the food safety for children, with a vulgar, yakuza-like language.

It is not unusual for public concerns to be vilified in the media by pro-nuclear ‘activists’  and experts around the world.  This despicable trait which used to be viewed as an ‘extremist’ activity is dangerously seeming to appear more of a norm than an extreme post-Fukushima.  

In Great Britain, a chain of emails was released which revealed a scandalous amount of collusion where many of the top officials in the government were found to be communicating with nuclear industry executives attempting to share information and tactics to stop the outcry against nuclear power after the accident in Japan.  

These reports were quickly shelved and no followup investigation was performed, as it appears that some of the most advanced officials, experts, and companies view public objection and ‘unnatural fear’ of nuclear power more of a threat to the nuclear industry than any threat from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, which has already far exceeded any expected risk, whose only hope rests on technology not yet invented.

In the United States, after an investigative report by MSNBC was published that threatened the public opinion of nuclear reactor safety in the United States, the NRC quickly assigned a large taskforce involved with many different departments to take the credibility out of the damaging report.  This goal was wildly unsuccessful and the report will likely be remembered as one of the first of shockingly few appropriate journalistic responses post-Fukushima.

Back in Yokohama, the city was overwhelmed by an unprecedented amount of officially filed proposals from an overwhelming number of citizens and organizations, which were quickly rebutted and filed, however can still be found by accessing the city’s public database, here.

A picture of just 20 of the requests for information to the Yokohama City Government on school lunch items. (Click to enlarge)

On June 5, an insider leak to the councilman from a concerned food stuff dealer. The dealer provided the unique identification numbers for the cows whose meat was used in Yokohama’s school lunches.  He informed the councilman that all of the cows were from Fukushima, and were purchased based only on the fact that it was cheaper, in fact the consumer shopping records had shown that such meat didn’t sell in supermarket shelves leading to a drop in price over 50% lower than other meats.

After the disastrous effect on the market, despite rationalizing away the risk and continually reassuring appropriate measures were being taken,  a cost conscious city and schools and kindergartens and nursery schools bought it to feed small children, without telling them or their parents the meat was from Fukushima.

In mid June, the councilman got another piece of information: prior to the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident, there was NO USE of Fukushima beef in school lunches in Yokohama.  This only confirmed the fact that the monetary decision was the only one being considered, and not the residents health or public-perception of the trustworthiness of leaders and top government officials.

The questionable responses were not limited to the contamination of the food, but also the potential exposure of the greatest treasure in any nation, the youth that ensure it’s posterity.  It was announced the city also planned to send city’s children to a summer school in Ibaraki Prefecture, to help where the air radiation was more than 10 times the “official” Yokohama number (measured on the top of a 5-story building).

In July, children from nursery schools and kindergartens up to junior high schools in Yokohama City were found to have been fed the beef from Fukushima since late April.  Initially after the news, the citizens were instructed to dismiss these reports as they were nothing more than a  “baseless rumor” and some sort of “urban legend”

Then the news of radioactive beef from Minami-Soma City was reported, after which the government was forced to spend a large portion of the summer trying to keep up with the unexpected surge in beef contamination reports that continued for months.

No One Is Making Life Easier For Nuclear Hostages in Watari District

Workers use high-pressure water cleaners to decontaminate a roof in the city of Fukushima. Some say the method is insufficient. (Mainichi)

Citizens in Watari are living in the middle of extremely troubled times in northern Japan, but the government response makes life downright hell.  Citizens live in a radioactive wasteland and often find high radiation levels under the gutters, and scrape off any accumulated dirt and dust.  All vegetation must be closely monitored and properly removed if radioactive, but the radioactive debris is filling up everywhere, so many residents are left on their own to dispose of it, a hefty burden for anyone.

Any waste that accumulates in gutters is removed, and powerwashing houses and sidewalks is now a community project.

One resident described the situation for a reporter, “We wish we could count on the government to do something, but we’ve realized that we can’t wait for their instructions. We have to listen to what other people have to say, do our own research, and make our own decisions,”

Just to show how difficult it is for citizens to receive any response, on October 7th, the Watari district of Fukushima was not designated by the government as a “specific evacuation recommendation spot.”

The following day, at an information session held for local residents at Watari Elementary School, participants demanded to know why their district was excluded from the list when it was a dangerous place for children to be, to which a government official responded: “It’s not a final decision.”

Watari citizens have had to fight to get levels up to 24 times the radiation level in school playgrounds being recognized by the central government in May. Just last week, reports emerged of there being 300,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of soil in the district.

Continuous contamination reports represent a mounting problem for citizens in Tokyo.

As the government researchers are keeping the media’s attention focused on the ever expanding contamination zone in northern Japan, many key decisions have been made by officials in the most populated areas of the nation that have many international experts voicing their concern.

In Tokyo, many forces are at work attempting to get people talking about economic growth and the export of nuclear technology, as if what’s going on in Fukushima is somehow irrelevant to anyone who can’t see Fukushima out their back window.   But meanwhile, in a ward west of Tokyo multiple hotspots have been identified, some of them are more then 12 times the internationally accepted levels for exposure to the general public.

The government is struggling to keep citizens questions at bay as some of the readings are higher than many areas inside of the 20 km exclusion zone that will not be inhabitable for decades.

Just like in the beginning when the public was repeatedly informed that the products from these contaminated areas were still ‘Japanese” products, and that their governments assurances was all they needed to believe this, the same cycle is repeating with the beginning of the rice season.

Vladimir Babenko, deputy director of the Belrad Institute of Radiation Safety in the former Soviet republic, told a press conference in Tokyo that he cannot understand the thresholds designated by the Japanese government for food and beverage products, saying they are much higher than Belarusian standards.

The visiting Belarusian scientist, who has offered advice to residents affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, said he believes Japan’s food radiation limits have been set too high and urged the nation to lower them to realistic levels.

Babenko also criticized the Japanese government for its failure to set special standards for children to better protect them from internal radiation exposure.

For example, he pointed out that the limit for radioactive cesium in 1 kilogram of drinking water is set at 200 becquerels in Japan, 20 times as high as the maximum allowable level in Belarus.

Contrast this image of international concern to the blatant sophism and negligence so proudly on display in Japan’s world-class city where the Tokyo metropolitan government has not checked imported foods for radiation since April, citing differences in the safety standards for domestic products after the accident at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant.

But since the suspension, the metropolitan government’s four units of radiation check equipment have not been used even for domestic food examinations–and even when the nation was confronted with the pressing issue of locating cesium-contaminated beef this summer.

While contamination levels in foods and hotspots in neighborhoods are being reported daily far outside of the exclusion zone, and well beyond the 100 km area where the government reassured most of the contamination would remain.  The results of the surprise radiation tests on food products that the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare started in August has completely stunned the food distribution  industry in Japan, and the lack of forsight has resulted  in the feeling that the government leaving many citizens to find uncontaminated places to live and radiation free  food on their own.

Nothing has changed, just MORE of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol

Dr. Takamura, one of the Japanese Governments highly publicized specialists, went to Iitate-mura on March 25 and spoke to the concerned villagers (from Iitate-mura flyer on March 30, in Japanese):

Thyroid cancer from radioactive iodine only affects children and young mothers. People over 40 do not need to worry. Wear a mask outside, and wash your hands when you come home, and you’ll be OK. There will be no ill effect on health living in the village as long as you observe basic hygiene.

The education ministry recently spent over 36 million yen and unveiled 80,000 copies of  brand new supplementary school texts on radiation compiled in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant this week, but missing from the texts was a realistic evaluation of the ongoing nuclear event at Fukushima.

Critics say they fail to refer closely to the disaster at the Fukushima complex and the health risks caused.

The three texts are for elementary schools and junior and senior high schools respectively and describe the basic nature of radiation and day-to-day radiation exposure.  For example, the materials for elementary school children touch on health risks only by noting,

“It has not been clearly proved that exposure to radiation of less than 100 millisieverts at one time causes cancer and other diseases by itself, but it is important to minimize the exposure as much as possible.”

The reality is that most parents in northern Japan feel betrayed, and guilty for the consequences being placed upon their families due to the lack of information.  When the government sent experts up to help ‘share information’ families were glad to listen to the smoothly spoken words, and the sense of calm that these men had, and because the government placed a personal stamp of approval all the advice was initially well received.  Soon, these experts that were being circulated throughout meetings constantly would be the source of great pain for the parents and in a twist of fate, they had many unintended and miscalculated affects on the governments ability to maintain trust as well.

Citizens were lead into danger after danger listening to government expert cronies in Japan

On September 1st, Prof. Shun-ichi Yamashita, is the vice president of Fukushima Medical University was awarded ASAHI CANCER AWARD.  Yamashita, irreverently nicked “Grim Reaper” among the twitter users, and “Damashita Yamashita” (Yamashita “who tricked”)  has been the center of controversy for some highly contentious remarks he made regarding radiation safety.

After the Fukushima disaster,  the Japanese scientist was shuttled around and touted by the government as an leading expert on the effects of nuclear radiation.  Yamashita is a research scientist who has studied the victims of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl, but he has no public health experience and is not a medical doctor.

Officially, he was promoted to a high ranking position as the adviser to Fukushima prefecture on radiation exposure.  He was assigned a new project, researching the effects of the Fukushima catastrophe — which turned out in actuality to be more of a public speaking circuit than a research project.  Yet despite the obvious transparency of the motivation behind the events, he was still ‘schocked’ that  his efforts continued to meet much resistance from local residents.

His position as the vice president, and leading radiation expert is merely a title, and self-admittedly not an indication of being a specialist in radioprotection.  During an interview, Yamashita revealed the state of preparedness in Japan.

 I was surprised when I arrived in Fukushima that nobody was prepared for such a disaster…I used to advise China and states of the former Soviet Union on radiation protection…Now we have a tremendous accident in my own country and are not prepared… The medical faculty of the University of Fukushima didn’t have a single specialist in radioprotection medicine.

He is one of the 32 people charged with “bodily injury through negligence in the conduct of occupation” by Mr. Hirose. 

Why would people be upset with his efforts?  Professor Yamashita was one of the most prominent experts who continually shifted blame and responsibility for the disaster on the lack of knowledge of the citizens, driving them to speculate and fear.

He preached with ferver that it was because of the accident, Tepco and the Japanese government have lost the trust of the people in Fukushima completely, and that his response was not to give them answers or real , but ‘some emotional support’.

He wanted the general population would be divided into two groups: One that was exposed to relatively low radiation and one that was exposed to relatively high radiation, even though no one has released any data or advice on how people could obtain these tests.  Many experts and international communities immediately condoned this action as a potential sectioning of people which would leave one having more support and one with obviously less, despite the full severity of the situation being known.  There was also speculation that it was an attempt to remove visual reminders of the disaster from those who were least effected.

“The people are suffering, not only because of the earthquake and the tsunami, but also from severe radiation anxiety, real radiophobia. Therefore we have to lower the anxiety (and) give them some emotional support. And, later, we can open the discussion about epidemiological studies.”

When asked in retrospect, if he would address the people of Fukushima in a different manner, Yamashita was almost indignant in his response, but admitted that he stopped speaking clearly and started using a ‘gray scale’ approach.

Yamashita: In a situation where people had no understanding of radioactivity at all, I wanted to be very clear. I have now changed my communications approach from black-and-white to gray scale.

The professor says many suffer from severe radiation anxiety, and his entire focus appears to be not on research the effects of exposure, but combating the effects of all the lies and distrust by lulling the society into a false sense of security based on unfounded and wildly irrational statements which have yet to be backed by international members of the medical community.

Professor Yamashita was the source all sorts of confusion, anger and distrust since shortly after the appointment  to run the Radiation Protection program in Fukushima prefecture.

The doctor made a number of disastrous public statements including his claim that 100 mSv was safe, he even stated that pregnant mothers, even mothers exposed to 100 millisieverts,  (20x the mandatory evacuation level during Chernobyl) will not have any health effects, which he later unsuccessfully tried to retract.

This doctor is quoted as saying, “The effects of radiation do not come to people that are happy and laughing. They come to people that are weak-spirited, that brood and fret.”

When confronted and asked if he thought his reassurances had affected the anger and fear citizens were feeling, Yamashita instead ‘passed the buck’ and blamed the initial 20 mSv annual maximum limits established by the government, and he thought the government made a ‘political’ decision by choosing such a low number.

In fact, in his opinion, precautionary measures had a worsening effect on the citizens, but he made no mention on what effect he thought the unnatural implementation and frequent changing of standards in a plethora of categories might have had.

“The Japanese government chose the most careful radiological approach. That made people more confused and insecure.” – Professor Yamashita

He was later relieved of office in an attempt to end the dismal response that was reflecting on the entire government.

Although he was relieved of his public post, do not think that his great talent at dismissing the effects of radiation is not being taken full advantage of.

The 4,908 children from the Yamakiya district, as well as Namiemachi and Iitatemura will undergo the thyroid examinations  at Fukushima Medical University Hospital in Fukushima city, and Professor Yamashita will be the leader.

Nothing has changed, its all the SSDD, after firing him from his post, and giving him a couple weeks to cool his heels, he will be back on the frontlines.

The Fukushima prefectural government had received more then 20,000 inquiries from citizens about radiation as of August. About 40 percent of the inquiries were related to the impact of radiation on health, the government said.    According to a senior official of the prefectural government, the government had initially planned to start thyroid examinations in 2014, because of the damage caused to the prefecture’s medical institutions by the March 11 disaster.

However, the government brought the start date forward due to growing fears of parents over the health of their children, the official said.

After taking the rest of September and the first weeks of the next month to plant a course of action, on the 12th of October the prefecture decided the phones needed to stop ringing off the hooks, as it was all a little overwhelming.

Before the project even launched, experts were already casting doubt on any findings, proving once again the focus is not on identifying and preventing an unnecessary risk as much as it is on ensuring that only enough is done to allay the fears, without ever admitting that such risks EVEN EXIST.

It’s not just that there has been no admission that risks even exist, the experts have repeatedly downright denied any idea otherwise.  For decades the nuclear industry has benefited from the lack of research and funds used to develop methodologies for assessing risk for low dose radiation exposures.

The fear is that if the public has additional ammunition, not only would the amount of legal battles instantly blow through the roof, but that it would force governments and regulators to establish stricter operational release limits, and would also demand a more in depth analysis of spent fuel storage.

In the meantime, the lack of research and data is exceptionally valuable to sidestep awkward situations where reporters have better questions than officials have answers, as outlined here.

SPIEGEL: What kind of health risk from the radiation will the people around the plant in Fukushima have to face?

Yamashita: I do not think there will be any direct effect of the radiation for the population. The doses are too small.

SPIEGEL: So you don’t think there will be any cases of cancer or cancer deaths?

Yamashita: Based on the data, we have to assume that. Of course, the situation is different for the workers in the plant.

While the examination is conducted free of charge, it is currently held at only the Fukushima Medical University Hospital, a place far from many evacuated residents. Those who wish to undergo a check-up must cover all transportation expenses by themselves, in addition to risking additional exposure to radiation by returning to Fukushima.  

One medical expert cast doubt on the effectiveness of the prefectural government’s examination, saying:

“There are areas where the radiation level is low. I don’t see the need to carry out simultaneous thyroid examinations on 360,000 children.”

The Fukushima prefectural government’s section charged with managing and studying the health of citizens in the wake of the nuclear accident said,

“The main purpose of the thyroid examinations is to allay the anxieties of parents as much as possible.”


In his own words professor Yamashita explained his expectations to reporters,

It is highly unlikely that we will detect any thyroid abnormalities at this stage,” says professor Shunichi Yamashita, a radiation expert and the vice president of Fukushima Medical University Hospital in Fukushima Prefecture, where the thyroid health check-ups are currently conducted. “However, we hope that this program will relieve many residents.”

Does the new study taking place at Fukushima Medical University truly qualify as a well-designed strategy?  For years experts have advised that if you are unable to identity and secure a source of radioactivity, and could not decontaminate it, the only way to keep exposure levels down is by removing yourself from the area where the radiation levels are increased, yet in Japan if you want to get care you have to travel back into the most unstable zone in the region.

In fact, Yamashita was one of the leading advocates of people NOT evacuating.  He claimed that the psychological consequences would be greater than the effects from the reactors, and tried to use Chernobyl as the example for his metrics, but didn’t ever define what data it was supported by, if anyone else supported these claims, or how they had even been reached.  But he went ahead and spoke boldly to reporters of the risks of evacuating.  

“Life expectancy of the evacuees dropped from 65 to 58 years — not because of cancer, but because of depression, alcoholism and suicide. Relocation is not easy, the stress is very big. We must not only track those problems, but also treat them. Otherwise people will feel they are just guinea pigs in our research.”

The one fact most shared among many Japanese citizens is that they feel like guinea pigs, but not due to evacuation, but the poor and consistently inadequate official response.

In a SPIEGEL interview, ‘Damashita Yamashita’ discussed his work in communicating the potential dangers of exposure to residents living near the Fukushima nuclear plant.

SPIEGEL: …Right at the beginning, you said: “The effects of radiation do not come to people who are happy and laughing, they come to people who are weak-spirited.” What did you mean by that?

Yamashita: That was on March 20 during the first meeting. I was really shocked. The people were so serious, nobody laughed at all.

SPIEGEL: …And to help people relax, you also said that doses of 100 millisievert per year would be fine?  This is normally the limit for nuclear power plant workers in emergency conditions.

Yamashita: I did not say that 100 millisievert is fine and no reason to worry…


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