Fukushima flunks decontamination — Robert Hunziker, CounterPunch

” Japan’s Abe administration is pushing very hard to decontaminate land, roads, and buildings throughout Fukushima Prefecture, 105 cities, towns, and villages. Thousands of workers collect toxic material into enormous black one-ton bags, thereby accumulating gigantic geometric structures of bags throughout the landscape, looking evermore like the foreground of iconic ancient temples.

Here’s the big push: PM Abe committed to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which shall be a crowning achievement in the face of the Fukushima disaster. Hence, all stops are pulled to repopulate Fukushima Prefecture, especially with Olympic events held within Fukushima, where foodstuff will originate for Olympic attendees.

The Abe government is desperately trying to clean up and repopulate as if nothing happened, whereas Chernobyl (1986) determined at the outset it was an impossible task, a lost cause, declaring a 1,000 square mile no-habitation zone, resettling 350,000 people. It’ll take centuries for the land to return to normal.

Still and all, is it really truly possible to cleanse the Fukushima countryside?

Already, workers have accumulated enough one-ton black bags filled with irradiated soil and debris to stretch from Tokyo to LA. But, that only accounts for about one-half of the job yet to be done. Still, in the face of this commendable herculean effort, analysis of decontamination reveals serious missteps and problems.

Even though the Abe government is encouraging evacuees to move back into villages, towns, and cities of Fukushima Prefecture, Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Heinz Smital claims, in a video – Fukushima: Living with Disaster d/d March 2016: “Radiation is so high here that nobody will be able to live here in the coming years.”

Greenpeace has experts on the ground in Fukushima Prefecture March 2016, testing radiation levels. The numbers do not look good at all. Still, at the insistence of the Abe government, people are moving back into partially contaminated areas. In such a case, and assuming Greenpeace is straightforward, it’s a fair statement that if the Abe government can’t do a better job, then something or somebody needs to change. The Olympics are coming.

The Greenpeace report of March 4, 2016: Radiation Reloaded – Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident 5 Years Later, exposes deeply flawed assumptions by the IAEA and the Abe government in terms of both decontamination and ecosystem risks.

Ever since March 2011, for over 5 years now, Greenpeace has conducted 25 radiological investigations in Fukushima Prefecture, concluding that five years after the Fukushima nuclear accident, it remains clear that the environmental consequences are complex and extensive and hazardous.

A 17-minute video entitled “Fukushima: Living with Disaster,” shows Greenpeace specialists in real time, conducting radiation tests in decontaminated villages and towns of the prefecture. Viewers can see actual real time measurements of radiation on dosimeters.

For example, in the Village of Iitate, 40 kilometers northwest of the Daiichi nuclear plant, Toru Anzai, an evacuee of Iitate, is told decontamination work on his plot of land nearly complete, and he is to rehabitate in 2017. However, Toru has personal doubts about governmental claims. As it happens, Greenpeace tests show abnormally high levels of radiation where decontamination work is already complete.

“Here we have around 0.8 microsieverts (μSv) per hour,” Heinz Smital, nuclear campaigner Greenpeace, “0.23 was the government target for decontamination work.” An adjoining space registers 1.5-2.0 μSv sometimes up to 3.5 μSv. “This is not the kind of count where you can say things are back to normal.”

Throughout the prefecture, decontamination is only partially carried out. For example, decontamination is confined within a 20-meter radius of private plots and along the roads as well as on farmland, leaving vast swaths of hills, valleys, riverbanks, streams, forests, and mountains untouched. Over time, radiation contamination runoff will re-contaminate many previously decontaminated areas.

Alarmingly, Greenpeace found large caches of hidden buried toxic black bags. Over time, it is likely the bags will rot away with radioactivity seeping into groundwater.

At Fukushima City, 60 km from the plant, Greenpeace discovered unacceptable radiation levels with spot readings as high as 4.26, 1.85, 9.06 μSv. According to Greenpeace: “These radiation levels are anything but harmless.”

The government officially informed Miyoko Watanable, an evacuee of Miyakochi, of “radiation eradicated” from her home. But, she says, “I don’t plan to live here again.” Greenpeace confirmed her instincts: “Although work has only recently finished here, we find counts of 1-to-2 μSv per hour… That’s not a satisfactory for the people here in this contaminated area” (Heinz Smital).

Once an area is officially declared “decontaminated,” disaster relief payments for citizens like Miyoko Watanable stop. The government is off the hook.

Without a doubt, the government of Japan is confronted with an extraordinarily difficult challenge, and it may seem unbecoming to ridicule or find fault with the Abe administration in the face of such unprecedented circumstances. But, the issue is much bigger than the weird antics of the Abe government, which passed an absolutely insane secrecy law providing for 10 years in prison to anybody who breathes a secret, undefined.

Rather, whether nuclear power is truly safe is a worldwide issue. In that regard, the nuclear industry has an unfair PR advantage because of the latency effect of radiation. In general, the latency period for cancers is 5-6 years before statistically discernible numbers. People forget.

Consequently, it is important to reflect on key facts:

In a 2014 RT interview, Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture, said: “It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it.”

Alas, two hundred fifty U.S. sailors of the USS Ronald Reagan, on a Fukushima humanitarian rescue mission, have a pending lawsuit against TEPCO, et al claiming they are already experiencing leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removals, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, thyroid illness, stomach ailments and other complaints extremely unusual in such young adults. Allegedly, the sailors were led to believe radiation exposure was not a problem.

Theodore Holcomb (38), an aviation mechanic, died from radiation complications, and according to Charles Bonner, attorney for the sailors, at least three sailors have now died from mysterious illnesses (Third US Navy Sailor Dies After Being Exposed to Fukushima Radiation, Natural News, August 24, 2015.) Among the plaintiffs is a sailor who was pregnant during the mission. Her baby was born with multiple genetic mutations.

Reflecting on 30 years ago, Adi Roche, chief executive of Chernobyl Children International, care for 25,000 children so far, says (2014): “The impact of Chernobyl is still very real and very present to the children who must live in an environment poisoned with radioactivity.”

“Children rocking back and forth for hours on end, hitting their heads against walls, grinding their teeth, scraping their faces and putting their hands down their throats… This is what I witnessed when I volunteered at Vesnova Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus (February 2014),” How my Trip to a Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus Made me Proud to be Irish, the journal.ie. March 18, 2014 (Cliodhna Russell). Belarus has over 300 institutions like this hidden deep in the backwoods.

Chernobyl is filled with tear-jerking, heart-wrenching stories of deformed, crippled, misshaped, and countless dead because of radiation sickness. It’s enough to turn one’s stomach in the face of any and all apologists for nuclear power.

According to Naoto Kan, Japanese PM 2010-11 during the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown: “For the good of humanity it is absolutely necessary to shut down all nuclear power plants. That is my firm belief” (source: Greenpeace video, March 2016).

Over 60 nuclear reactors are currently under construction in 15 countries. China has 400 nuclear power plants on the drawing boards. Russia plans mini-nuclear floating power plants to power oil drill rigs in the Arctic by 2020. Honestly! ”

by David Hunziker


Fukushima clean-up chief still hunting for 600 tonnes of melted radioactive fuel — Mark Willacy, ABC

” The operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant has revealed that 600 tonnes of reactor fuel melted during the disaster, and that the exact location of the highly radioactive blobs remains a mystery.

 In an exclusive interview with Foreign Correspondent, the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s chief of decommissioning at Fukushima, Naohiro Masuda, said the company hoped to pinpoint the position of the fuel and begin removing it from 2021.

But he admitted the technology needed to remove the fuel has to be invented.

“Once we can find out the condition of the melted fuel and identify its location, I believe we can develop the necessary tools to retrieve it,” Mr Masuda said.

“So it’s important to find it as soon as possible.”

Clean-up to take decades, cost tens of billions of dollars

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant suffered catastrophic meltdowns in the hours and days after a giant tsunami swamped the facility on 11 March, 2011.

Thousands of workers are braving elevated radiation levels to stabilise and decommission the plant.

TEPCO says the process will take 30 to 40 years and tens of billions of dollars.

“In Reactor 1, all of the fuel has melted down from inside the pressure vessel,” Mr Masuda said.

“In reactors 2 and 3, about 30 per cent to 50 per cent remains in the pressure vessel and the rest has melted down. But unfortunately, we don’t know exactly where [the fuel] is.”

The head of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at the time of the meltdowns at Fukushima doubts the fuel can be retrieved, saying such an operation has never been done before.

“Nobody really knows where the fuel is at this point and this fuel is still very radioactive and will be for a long time,” said Gregory Jaczko in an interview with Foreign Correspondent in Washington.

“It may be possible that we’re never able to remove the fuel. You may just have to wind up leaving it there and somehow entomb it as it is.”

Radiation killing search robots inside reactor

For the first time, TEPCO has revealed just how much of the mostly uranium fuel melted down after the tsunami swamped the plant.

“It’s estimated that approximately 200 tonnes of debris lies within each unit,” said TEPCO’s Naohiro Masuda.

“So in total, about 600 tonnes of melted debris fuel and a mixture of concrete and other metals are likely to be there.”

TEPCO has attempted to use custom-built robots to access high-dose radiation parts of the reactor buildings where humans cannot go.

“All the robots have been disabled, the instrumentation, the camera … have been disabled because of the high radiation fields,” former NRC boss Gregory Jaczko said.

Appointed to head the US nuclear watchdog by President Barack Obama in 2009, Dr Jaczko resigned a year after the Fukushima disaster.

A particle physicist, he now questions the safety of nuclear power.

“You have to now accept that in all nuclear power plants, wherever they are in the world … that you can have this kind of a very catastrophic accident and you can release a significant amount of radiation and have a decade long clean-up effort on your hands,” he said.

10 million bags of contaminated soil in gigantic waste dumps

Another supporter turned opponent of nuclear power is Naoto Kan, who was the Japanese prime minister at the time of the Fukushima meltdowns.

He says those who argue that nuclear power is a safe, cheap source of energy are misguided.

“So far, the government is paying $70 billion to support TEPCO,” Mr Kan said.

“But that is not enough. It will probably cost more than $240 billion. I think 40 years [to decommission the plant] is an optimistic view.”

More than 100,000 Japanese are still unable to return home because their communities lie in elevated radiation zones.

Some people have returned to their towns and villages since the completion of decontamination work, which often involves the removal of up to 15 centimetres of topsoil from fields and from around homes.

More than 10 million large bags of contaminated soil and waste have so far been collected. The bags are now stored in thousands of sites around Fukushima, with some of the piles several storeys high.

“In order for people to come back, we need to show that the Fukushima plant is in a stable condition,” Naohiro Masuda said.

“We need to make that the situation … we’re working on something [for] which there is no textbook.” ”

by Mark Willacy


Near miss at Fukushima is a warning for U.S., panel says — Richard Stone, Science

” Japan’s chief cabinet secretary called it “the devil’s scenario.” Two weeks after the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing three nuclear reactors to melt down and release radioactive plumes, officials were bracing for even worse. They feared that spent fuel stored in the reactor halls would catch fire and send radioactive smoke across a much wider swath of eastern Japan, including Tokyo.

Thanks to a lucky break detailed in a report released today by the U.S. National Academies, Japan dodged that bullet. The near calamity “should serve as a wake-up call for the industry,” says Joseph Shepherd, a mechanical engineer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who chaired the academy committee that produced the report. Spent fuel accumulating at U.S. nuclear reactor plants is also vulnerable, the report warns. A major spent fuel fire at a U.S. nuclear plant “could dwarf the horrific consequences of the Fukushima accident,” says Edwin Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., who was not on the panel.

After spent fuel is removed from a reactor core, the fission products continue to decay radioactively, generating heat. Many nuclear plants, like Fukushima, store the fuel onsite at the bottom of deep pools for at least 5 years while it slowly cools. It is seriously vulnerable there, as the Fukushima accident demonstrated, and so the academy panel recommends that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and nuclear plant operators beef up systems for monitoring the pools and topping up water levels in case a facility is damaged. It also calls for more robust security measures after a disaster. “Disruptions create opportunities for malevolent acts,” Shepherd says.

At Fukushima, the earthquake and tsunami cut power to pumps that circulated coolant through the reactor cores and cooled water in the spent fuel pools. The pump failure led to the core meltdowns. In the pools, found in all six of Fukushima’s reactor halls, radioactive decay gradually heated the water. Of preeminent concern were the pools in reactor Units 1 through 4: Those buildings had sustained heavy damage on 11 March and in subsequent days, when explosions occurred in Units 1, 3, and 4.

The “devil’s scenario” nearly played out in Unit 4, where the reactor was shut down for maintenance. The entire reactor core—all 548 assemblies—was in the spent fuel pool, and was hotter than fuel in the other pools. When an explosion blew off Unit 4’s roof on 15 March, plant operators assumed the cause was hydrogen—and they feared it had come from fuel in the pool that had been exposed to air. They could not confirm that, because the blast had destroyed instrumentation for monitoring the pool. (Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant operator, later suggested that the hydrogen that had exploded had come not from exposed spent fuel but from the melted reactor core in the adjacent Unit 3.) But the possibility that the fuel had been exposed was plausible and alarming enough for then-NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko on 16 March to urge more extensive evacuations than the Japanese government had advised—beyond a 20-kilometer radius from the plant.

Later that day, however, concerns abated after a helicopter overflight captured video of sunlight glinting off water in the spent fuel pool. In fact, the crisis was worsening: The pool’s water was boiling away because of the hot fuel. As the level fell perilously close to the top of the fuel assemblies, something “fortuitous” happened, Shepherd says. As part of routine maintenance, workers had flooded Unit 4’s reactor well, where the core normally sits. Separating the well and the spent fuel pool is a gate through which fuel assemblies are transferred. The gate allowed water from the reactor well to leak into the spent fuel pool, partially refilling it. Without that leakage, the academy panel’s own modeling predicted that the tops of the fuel assemblies would have been exposed by early April; as the water continued to evaporate, the odds of the assemblies’ zirconium cladding catching fire would have skyrocketed. Only good fortune and makeshift measures to pump or spray water into all the spent fuel pools averted that disaster, the academy panel notes.

At U.S. nuclear plants, spent fuel is equally vulnerable. It is for the most part densely packed in pools, heightening the fire risk if cooling systems were to fail. NRC has estimated that a major fire in a U.S. spent fuel pool would displace, on average, 3.4 million people from an area larger than New Jersey. “We’re talking about trillion-dollar consequences,” says panelist Frank von Hippel, a nuclear security expert at Princeton University.

Besides developing better systems for monitoring the pools, the panel recommends that NRC take another look at the benefits of moving spent fuel to other storage as quickly as possible. Spent fuel can be shifted to concrete containers called dry casks as soon as it cools sufficiently, and the academy panel recommends that NRC “assess the risks and potential benefits of expedited transfer.” A wholesale transfer to dry casks at U.S. plants would cost roughly $4 billion. ”

by Richard Stone, Science


Former Prime Minister Koizumi backs U.S. sailors suing over Fukushima radiation — The Japan Times

” Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has thrown his support behind a group of former U.S. sailors suing the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The sailors claim health problems they now suffer were caused by exposure to radiation after a triple meltdown at the plant following an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday in Carlsbad, California, with some of the plaintiffs, Koizumi said, “Those who gave their all to assist Japan are now suffering from serious illness. I can’t overlook them.”

The lawsuit was lodged in 2012 against plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., which was last month renamed Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The plaintiffs include crew members of the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, which provided humanitarian relief along the tsunami-battered coastline in a mission dubbed Operation Tomodachi.

Koizumi spent Sunday through Tuesday meeting 10 of the plaintiffs, asking about the nature of the disaster relief they undertook and about their symptoms.

“I learned that the number of sick people is still increasing, and their symptoms are worsening,” he told the news conference.

Koizumi called on those in Japan, both for and against nuclear power, to come together to think of ways to help the ailing U.S. servicemen.

The group of about 400 former U.S. Navy sailors and Marines alleges the utility did not provide accurate information about the dangers of radioactive material being emitted from the disaster-struck plant.

This led the U.S. military to judge the area as being safe to operate in, resulting in the radiation exposure, the group claims.

One of the plaintiffs at the news conference, Daniel Hair, said Koizumi’s involvement made him feel for the first time that Japan is paying serious attention to their plight.

According to lawyers for the group, seven of its members have died so far, including some from leukemia.

Koizumi, who served as prime minister between 2001 and 2006, came out in opposition to nuclear power in the wake of the 2011 disaster. He has repeatedly urged the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to halt its efforts to restart dormant reactors across Japan. ”



**Internal exposure concealed: The True state of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident — Yagasaki Katsuma, The Asia-Pacific Journal

Yagasaki Katsuma’s article (below) is by far the most complete, well-researched and truthful account of radiation exposure to the Japanese as a result of the Fukushima meltdowns that I have read thus far. I highly recommend that you read this entire article. – MP

” Yagasaki Katsuma, emeritus professor of Ryukyu University, has been constantly sounding the alarm about the problem of internal exposure related to nuclear weapons testing and nuclear electricity generation. Since the explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP), he has drawn on his expertise to conduct field research, and to support those who evacuated to Okinawa. We asked him to reflect on the five years since the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, and to lay out the issues that lie ahead.

Heading to the blast site 12 days post-explosion

On March 17, 2011, a friend who lived in Fukushima City contacted me. “They’re reporting an onslaught of radioactivity, but we have no idea about any of that”, he said. “We need dosimeters, but there’s no way to get our hands on them.”

I ended up making my way to Fukushima along with several dosimeters for measuring radioactivity. I set up the dosimeters. Fukushima was under a petrol provision restriction, and I could not travel freely. I needed to make arrangements for an “emergency vehicle” to use. I had left Okinawa on March 24, traveled via Osaka by plane to Fukushima Airport, and entered Fukushima City by a bus that went through Kōriyama. The Japan Railways (JR) trains had stopped running. It had been 12 days since the first explosion, which had occurred at reactor No. 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). It snowed the next morning, and I saw that a torrent of radioactivity – 12 microsieverts/hour – was relentlessly falling on the living spaces of Fukushima’s citizens.

From March 25 to 31, I went to eight areas to measure radiation doses in the air, farmland and water: Fukushima City, Iwaki City, Aizu-Wakamatsu City, Kitakata City, Minami-Sōma City, Kōriyama City, Iitate Village, and Kita-Shiobara Village. I engaged in discussions with farmers and other locals about what steps they should take.

At the time, the dose readings from farmland went down by half when just the top layer of weeds and straw litter were removed; digging 3 cm deep reduced the readings by 80%. So I suggested that if people did not plant crops this year, and removed 5 cm of topsoil from their land, they could prevent future batches of crops from radioactive contamination. It was a situation in which both national and local governments were at a loss about what to do; they could not even come up with countermeasures, and were practically without policies. In the end, apart from a few enterprising farmers who followed my recommendations, most farm-owners felt compelled to plant crops, and ended up ploughing the soil to spread radiation up to 20 cm deep.

Of the 2 dosimeters I had brought with me to conduct my survey, I lent one to a farmers’ union for one year, thus doing what I could for them in terms of temporary assistance.

No Measures to Protect Residents

One of the things which stunned me was the absoluteness of the safety myth (anzen shinwa). Even though radioactive dust was falling, no one knew anything about how to protect their bodies. The local governments had not a single dosimeter among them. The evacuation manual for NPP accidents used in Fukushima City’s elementary schools was exactly the same as the evacuation manual for earthquakes.

Furthermore, all attempts to talk about demonstrations of the danger of NPPs were categorically suppressed. Herein lies the root of why no countermeasures were taken to protect residents from radioactivity. No stable iodine tablets were distributed; no SPEEDI (System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information) data was announced, and so on.

Before the accident, I had published a book called Concealed Radiation Exposure in 2009 with Shin Nihon Shuppansha, which expounded my view that internal exposure was a hidden kind of exposure more dangerous than external exposure.

The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) have suppressed information about those sacrificed in the atomic bombings. The International Commission for Radiation Protection (ICRP) has concealed the issue of internal exposure in the context of their commitment to the cause of the United States’ nuclear strategy.1 The Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident, through multiple explosions, has scattered between one hundred and several thousand more radioactive materials than the Hiroshima bomb into the environment, resulting in health damage caused by internal exposure. This would ineluctably lead the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the ICRP to cover up internal exposure and exposure casualties. In other words, I believed that they would do everything they could to cast off health damage to Fukushima residents, and support the Japanese government’s policies to abandon its own citizens. This is what drove me to rush down to Fukushima.

The Accident on Televised Programmes

For two years in 2011 and 2012, I delivered more than 120 lectures each year, and held interviews with the mass media. The mass media did courageously report on the reality and danger of internal exposure, but a distressing incident occurred in the process. This happened during my appearance, on July 2, 2011, as a guest on NHK Television’s Weekly News Insights.

The NHK flipchart that disappeared was based on this graph. 2

I had asked them to make a flipboard for me which showed data on how the rate of child cancer deaths in Japan had jumped five years after the atomic bombings of 1945 to three times their original rate (see graph). It was data which clearly demonstrated that these children were the world’s first casualties of internal exposure. The night before the show, I was handed a script and sat in a meeting discussing the show until past 10 PM. However, the next morning, when I headed to NHK, the director told me that due to time constraints, we could not follow the script we had discussed the previous night. On entering the studio, the flipboard which I had expected to be at my feet was nowhere to be seen. When I asked a nearby staff member to please bring it for me, quickly, the reply was that they could not do that. With 30 seconds to go before showtime, I had no choice but to appear on the show bereft of my data.

The following day, when I requested a written explanation of these events, NHK did not oblige me. Faced against my will with such a situation, I feel strongly that I am responsible for not being able to properly deal with it.

The Society for Connecting Lives

My deceased wife, Okimoto Yaemi, established a society called “Connecting Lives – The Society to Connect Okinawa with Disaster Sites” together with Itō Michiko, an evacuee from Fukushima, and others. They demanded that the Tokyo Electric Power Company explain compensation claims to the victims of the disaster, and even made them come to Okinawa to explain this in person to the evacuees here. It was the first time TEPCO had traveled outside of Fukushima Prefecture to hold an information session. In Okinawa, a group of plaintiffs for a lawsuit to “return our livelihoods, return our region” also came together. 3

In the midst of all her work, Okimoto always came to send me off and to pick me up from Naha Airport. Now that she is gone, I have taken up her role as the representative for the “Connecting Lives” society.

After the accident, the melted-down reactor core was too radioactive to be properly disposed of. It is clear as day from this fact alone that nuclear power generation should not be permitted. In these 5 years, there has been a regime brimming with pollution: it is manifest in things like the lack of intelligence and care on the part of the Japanese government, the utilitarianism that places profits and power above human rights, and the political concealment of the worst environmental radiation disaster in history.


It is now 5 years since the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and we are in an abnormal state of affairs in which TEPCO and the national government are forcing people to silently accept their victimization.

Under the Atomic Energy Basic Law, the maximum annual exposure limit for the public is set at 1 millisievert. But people are being forced to accept a revised threshold that is 20 times larger, that of 20 millisieverts per year.

In Fukushima Prefecture, the cessation of compensation payments and the lifting of the evacuation order in highly contaminated regions has forced people to return, at the same time that housing support for the evacuees is also being ended. Of course, there are no measures at all in place to deal with radioactivity outside Fukushima Prefecture.

The Chernobyl NPP accident of 1986 led Ukraine (also Belarus and Russia) to establish laws that protected human rights, which stands in great contrast with the human rights situation surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident.4

Claiming Radiation Effects as Psychological

The media reports on the occasion of 3.11’s 5th anniversary contain references to the “fūhyō higai” (damage caused by rumors of radiation) that they claim is hampering the reconstruction process. Why do they not call this as it is, “radioactivity damage”? “Fūhyō higai”is a term that they use in order to replace radiation effects as psychological problems.

Under appointment of the IAEA, Shigematsu Itsuzō (now deceased), the former chairman of RERF (formerly ABCC), carried out a health survey of Chernobyl residents. He remarked in a report he made in 1990 that “there are virtually no diseases that are caused by radiation, but attention must be paid to the psychological stress that is caused by wondering whether or not one has been exposed to radiation”. The theory that “psychological stress causes illness” is a method used to conceal the radiation victimization of the nuclear age.

In Chernobyl, uncontaminated food was distributed to residents of contaminated areas. Respite trips for children are also ensured by the state. And yet, in Fukushima, there is a huge push to “support by consumption” (tabete ouen) and the administration has implemented a policy of “locally-grown and locally-consumed” in providing children’s school lunches. Japan is not attempting to avoid internal exposure as Chernobyl-affected states did; it is doing the exact opposite.

What is at the bottom of this response? Whether it is protecting residents from radiation exposure, or decommissioning of the melted reactor core, or indeed dealing with the contamination of underground water, there are numerous things that need to be addressed even by diverting the budgets of the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics. However, the Japanese government is trying to overcome all these issues with cheaper costs at the expense of people’s suffering. Underlying this is their utilitarianism – an ideology which prioritizes economics over human rights and human lives – as well as their philosophy of abandoning the people.

Following what the government is saying, one is left speechless. “If it’s under 100 becquerels, then sell it [produce]”; “If you don’t sell it you won’t be able to support yourself”; “If you talk about radioactivity you won’t be able to sell [your produce]”; “Don’t talk about radioactivity”. Media reports are controlled by the government, and people can only remain silent.

Providing safe food is the mission of agriculture. Surely there is no more cruel infraction of human rights than to force producers, against their will, to make food that might adversely affect human health by radioactive contamination. There is no solution to this injustice other than to get rid of this system that has been imposed by fiat. Although farmers’ labors have lowered the amount of radioactive contamination in their produce, tragedies will continue as long as they keep the allowable radioactivity in food up to 100 becquerels/kilogram.

Such standard stems from the thinking that economic profits comes before health. Radioactivity even in small amounts can cause harm. International Commission on Radiological Protection has it that carcinogenesis starts with DNA mutation of a single cell. Human susceptibility to radioactivity depends on individuals, and more vulnerable ones, particularly fetuses are affected first. The natural miscarriage rate of the four prefectures including Fukushima since 311 has risen by 13%.5

Consumption of one becquerel of C-137 (with biological half-life of approximately 80 days) every day will result in an internal accumulation of 140 becquerels within about 2 years. If we have to inevitably set any standard for allowable radioactivity in food, we should use the guidelines set forth in the recommendation by German Society for Radiation Protection, which is “no food with a concentration of more than 4 becquerel of the leading radionuclide Cesium-137 per kilogram shall be given to infants, children and adolescents. Grown-ups are recommended to eat no food over 8 becquerel per kilogram of the leading nuclide Cesium-137.”6

Deceitful Dosimetry

The Japanese government’s philosophy of abandoning its people starts with its refusal to trust them, in other words it views them as unintelligent citizens. Fearing that a panic would result, it did not announce SPEEDI data, nor did it distribute solid iodine tablets. It prioritized “emotional stability” over protecting residents from radiation danger. Moreover, it implemented thorough control of information.

It is not simply that residents are seen as ignorant. The government has even actively betrayed their trust. A classic example of such actions by the state is the presentation of data on the radioactive contamination levels in the environment. The government set up monitoring posts (MP) in Fukushima Prefecture and neighboring prefectures and made the readings from them into official data. Along with Yoshida Kunihiro and others from the “Safety and Reassurance Project”, in the autumn of 2011, I checked the dose measurements of the MP. We found clear evidence that the publicly available data of the MP only showed 54% of the actual level of contamination in our readings.

Comparison of Radiation Dose Readings from the Monitoring Posts and Actual Doses

X-axis: amount of radiation (microsieverts/hour

Y-axis: actual doses for residents and measurements at monitoring posts

Black dot-dash line: Actual absorbed dose received by residents

Dotted red line: Measurements at monitoring posts without decontamination

Red line: Measurements at monitoring posts with decontamination

[When laid alongside a graph of the actual recorded radiation doses taken by the authors at the monitoring posts (black line; the absorbed dose to residents), the same displayed readings taken from the same monitoring posts were 58% of that value in the case of non-decontaminated areas and 51% for decontaminated areas.]

[2011 autumn, taken with a certified scintillator counter, model HITACHI-ALOKA YCS172B]

On top of that, there was also a deliberate downplaying in government processing of the numerical data. The level of soil contamination is directly related to the amount of radiation in the air, and an objective measurement of this thus should be obtained from the air dose. However, on the assumption that there is a uniform exposure dose to the whole body, this reading was converted to 60% of its full amount based on the projected dose, an amount called the “effective dose”, a number that divides the exposure dose among the body’s various organs. Furthermore, they made a hypothetical estimate of the time people spent inside and outside their homes, and created a “substantive dose” reading that was another 60% lower. In the background to these machinations lies the will of the international nuclear energy industry.

The health survey being conducted by the Fukushima Prefecture Health Survey Evaluation Committee continues to progress, and the sad news is that it has already located 163 cases of cancer. From a scientific point of view, it is clear that these cases are undeniably caused by radioactivity. I also found, from the ratio of male to female patients, that about 75% of cancers in each sex were induced by radiation. Despite this, the Evaluation Committee continues to assert that there is no proof that these cancers are linked to the NPP accident.

Just as the committee insists that the numerous stark cases of thyroid cancer are not linked to radioactivity, so they will attempt to bury all other adverse health impacts in the sand.


Environmental pollution by radiation in Japan is ongoing, and, following the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident, it is the worst it has ever been. This is true whether we look at the amount of radioactivity being released via the long-term meltdown of the reactor core, which is spewing uncontrollably, while the government and mass media collaborate in the cover-up. From the standpoints of society, economics and preventative medicine, a terrible state of affairs will result if we do not provide public protection to the people affected by the accidents and clarify the nature and extent of environmental damage.

“Cheaper” Countermeasures

The Japanese government has deemed the amount of radioactivity released from the Fukushima accident as one sixth of that which was released from Chernobyl. However, the subsequent revelations suggest that Fukushima’s radioactivity is actually anywhere from 2 to 4 times as high as Chernobyl’s.7 Compared to the explosion of just one reactor at Chernobyl, which had a 1,000,000 kilowatt capacity, the explosion at Fukushima Daiichi involved 4 reactors with a combined output of 2,810,000 kilowatts.

The post-accident maintenance of nuclear reactors between Fukushima and Chernobyl also differs. Seven months after Chernobyl, a steel and cement sarcophagus was built to cover the reactor, thus stopping the further release of radioactive materials. Japan, even after 5 years, continues to let radioactive substances spew out into the air and water, thus worsening the world’s environment.

Without using the necessary basic procedures, they are simply trying to implement “cheaper” countermeasures. The fact that the stricken reactor cannot be managed alone can demonstrate that nuclear power lacks practicality and there is no choice but to abolish it.

As mentioned before, Japan is not honestly disclosing the degree of contamination and is using various measures to underestimate it. They have not published dose readings for radioactive nuclides such as uranium, plutonium, and strontium-90. The monitoring posts, which are supposed to provide public data of radioactivity, give readings that are only around half of the actual doses.

Pediatric thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima have risen to 163. It has been proven scientifically that these are due to radiation. (Tsuda Toshihide et al. have demonstrated this via statistics8; Takamatsu Isamu has examined the relationship between exposure dose and cancer onset rate9; Matsuzaki Michiyuki10 and Yagasaki Katsuma11have studied the relationship of radiation with the sex-differentiated ratio of cancer).

In response to this research, the Fukushima Prefectural Health Evaluation Committee has continued to insist that there is no clear link between cancer and the NPP accident. They are trying to bury all the injuries to health by this denial of a link between radioactivity and the many recorded cases of thyroid cancer. By expunging the record of health damages caused by radiation, they hope to heighten the false impression that NPPs are “safe”. In Japan, excessive utilitarianism goes unmentioned; companies’ profits and the state’s convenience take priority over human life.

The Systemization of Dispersal

The countries surrounding Chernobyl created a “Chernobyl Law” to protect their residents 5 years after the accident. Under this law, the government designated areas that received more than 0.5 millisieverts of radiation each year as “dangerous”, and areas that received between 1 and 5 millisieverts of radiation each year as “areas with relocation rights”, while areas receiving more than 5 millisieverts each year could not be used as residential or agricultural sites. Health checkups and respite trips for children have been covered in a massive budgetary investment by the state in order to protect its residents.

What about Japan? The legal exposure limit for the public is 1 millisievert per year. As previously mentioned, the government has raised the upper threshold to 20 millisieverts per year in their drive to push Fukushima residents to return. The Chernobyl law forbids residence and agriculture in areas where more than 5 millisieverts (per year) of irradiation is expected; in Japan, approximately 1,000,000 people live in such areas.

Under the Basic Law on Atomic Energy, which governs nuclear reactors and related phenomena, the standard for radioactive waste management (the level considered for safe recycling use) is 100 becquerels per kilogram. Notwithstanding this rule, the special law for measures to handle contamination by radioactive substances permits up to 8000 becquerels per kilogram. Contamination dispersal is thus becoming systematized.

A law to support child victims was established, but no maps of radioactive contamination were made, and the areas specified to receive assistance under this law’s “Basic Policy” are limited to Fukushima Prefecture. With this law they have thus made all areas outside Fukushima Prefecture ineligible to receive radioactivity countermeasures.

When looking at the measurements taken by the Nuclear Regulation Authority of the contamination levels in all prefectures, we see that contamination exists everywhere in the country, Okinawa being no exception.

In particular, eastern Japan shows high levels of contamination. 10 prefectures show contamination of more than 1,000 becquerels of Iodine-131 per square meter of land –Tochigi, Ibaraki, Tokyo, Yamagata, Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, Kanagawa, Nagano, and Shizuoka (Readings for Fukushima and Miyagi were not available for a period of time because the measurement equipment were destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami, but other sources confirm high I-131 dispersion in Fukushima). 11 prefectures show more than 1,000 becquerels of Cesium-137, and Cesium-134 – Fukushima, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Tokyo, Yamagata, Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, Kanagawa, Iwate, and Nagano.

These readings are taken from a fixed point, which means that if a radioactive plume does not pass over these points, it will not be measured, and is liable to produce an under-estimation gap by 1 to 2 digits.

Although the Ministry of Education has implemented airborne monitoring, cities with a density of buildings higher than 3 stories present obstacles to this technology, making it unable to record their levels of contamination. Severe contamination is concealed in the Tokyo metropolitan area and other places in the region.

Legal Protection of Citizens

The above facts demonstrate an intentional ignoring of the serious level of radiation pollution. Japanese citizens should recognize radioactivity pollution as a de facto state of affairs.

In order to protect Japanese citizens from radioactivity pollution, the government and administration should take responsibility for protecting victims via a swift application of the regulations exactly as they are laid out under the Basic Law on Atomic Energy. Here we raise some suggestions for administrative policies to enact not only towards evacuees, but all residents. 1. The state should recognize and guarantee citizens’ right to evacuate and relocate. It should also bear responsibility in enacting measures to protect vulnerable victims, especially children.

  1. Health damages that emerge from NPP accidents should be studied on a nation-wide scale, and a study of the conditions of evacuees should be quickly implemented.
  2. Those most vulnerable to radiation should be protected by measures based on a sincere commitment to preventive medicine.
  3. With regard to the numerous early-onset cases of child thyroid cancer that have far exceed such early cases caused by Chernobyl, medical care and compensation should be provided; children and all residents should be protected. Thyroid screening should also be carried out for the entire country.
  4. Measures to prevent the entrance and exit of radioactive substances in all regions should be enacted.
  5. TEPCO’s social responsibility as a victimizer corporation in radioactivity pollution should be clarified.

This is a translation of a modified version of Yagasaki’s three-part article series “Kakusareru naibu hibaku – Fukushima genpatsu jiko no shinso” that appeared in Ryukyu Shimpo on March 16, 17, and 18, 2016. ”

by Yagasaki Katsuma

source with internal reference citations

Did Japan learn its lessons from Fukushima quake and tsunami? One US expert suggests they did not — South China Morning Post

” Lack of full-time, permanent, professional disaster management staff remain weaknesses. “

” A former US government expert on emergency management has questioned whether Japan is applying the lessons from the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami in its northeast to its response to the recent temblors in Kumamoto Prefecture.

Leo Bosner, 69, who worked for the US Federal Emergency Management Agency for 29 years, is concerned that an integrated response may not have been in place in Japan for the quakes that jolted the south-western prefecture a month ago.

“I discovered many problems” when studying “Japan’s disastrous response” to the 2011 calamity and “I have not really heard of any major improvements,” he told Kyodo News in a recent interview. “So I am a little concerned that these problems may be continuing.”

“It is too early to make a definitive evaluation of the response to the Kumamoto disaster, but recent news headlines have indicated possible problem areas,” he said, identifying such areas as questions about the use of the US military’s Osprey aircraft to language barriers for foreigners.

Bosner said the existence of no unified system for major disaster response in Japan could cause even the best-intended efforts to bog down.

“For example, various towns, prefectures and organisations may send food and other supplies to a disaster area, but if there is a shortage of people at the disaster site to sort out and distribute the supplies, the supplies don’t get distributed to those in need in a timely manner,” he said.

He also cited Japan’s lack of full-time, permanent, professional disaster management staff and of a strong connection between the governmental and non-governmental response to disasters as other big problems.

“One thing to me that is a major barrier is that in the Japan government offices, people change the job every two years…so there is no time to build up an expertise,” he said.

“I really think that if the Japanese government wants to do a strong job in disasters, they need to somehow establish a permanent staff who will stay involved over the years,” he said.

“In Japan, because everything is so spread out in the government and not working together, in my view, it is very inefficient,” he said. “I think if Japan could centralise this function more, it would be cheaper.”

Bosner also proposed transferring officials in or between the central and regional governments while always working as disaster management specialists.

“My thought was, ‘What if some worked in the Japan national government in Tokyo for two years as a disaster planner?’ But then let’s say when he rotated he would go to some other industry but would still be a disaster planner in that industry and then maybe if he rotated to a prefecture to a city, he would be a disaster planner in that prefecture or that city.”

“If they did this, in about five or 10 years, Japan would have a real network of experienced disaster planners who understood the system and could work together. But right now they don’t have this.”

He said the United States integrated all the functions to respond to disasters into Fema and turned a weak agency into one that properly works.

The administration of President Bill Clinton turned Fema around, but that of George W. Bush downsized it, which backfired later when Hurricane Katrina hit the southern part of the United States in 2005.

“Under the Bush administration, very honestly, he just appointed political friends to be in charge of Fema who did not know anything about disasters.”

“So when Katrina came, they could not give the orders, they could not make the decisions, they did not know what to do. It was terrible. For those of us who worked at Fema, it was so disappointing because we were helpless.”

Bosner said that if there is “a political will” rather than increased budgets, Japan will be able to have a better system to respond to disasters just as the United States did.

“In Japan, there are plenty of people, in my view, who would be excellent for running a Japan Fema or managing it…if the ministers of the Cabinet of the prime minister agree and say, ‘We must do this’,” he said. “But until they make that decision, nothing can happen.”

Bosner served as an emergency management expert at Fema from 1979 to 2008. He stayed in Japan from 2000 to 2001 studying that country’s emergency management system. His current job includes being an adjunct lecturer in the Emergency Medical Systems Graduate School of Tokyo’s Kokushikan University. “