In Fukushima, Students Face Up To Realities Of
Fukushima Power Plant
EMF Protection Devices
Magnetic Field Detector
With Japan's worst disaster since World War II still
hanging like a dark cloud over the nation, Kiyoshi Sasaki
figured there was no better time to teach his students about
the dangers of contamination from radiation.
That explains the sight of students at Meiken Junior High
School in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, measuring
radiation levels with dosimeters in the schoolyard as part
of extracurricular activities on Sept. 5.
Students at other schools in the prefecture are also
trying to grapple with the realities of radiation following
the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant,
along the coast.
Sasaki, 55, who serves as an adviser at his school's club
of natural science, recalled that three months after the
nuclear crisis flared, he asked first-year students in a
science class if they wanted to learn about radiation.
A barrage of hands went up and he found himself peppered
"What is radiation?" asked one student. "When can we
bring the radiation under control?" asked another.
Parts of Koriyama city lie within a 50-kilometer radius
of the stricken plant.
Sasaki decided that the students should start monitoring
levels of radiation in the school grounds and analyze the
"It shows high levels, here," one student shouted out
during the Sept. 5 exercise. "Why is that?" asked a
Contaminated surface soil on the school premises was
removed and buried in the school grounds.
Sasaki came up with the idea of students measuring
radiation levels in the area and determining why it has
higher amounts than elsewhere. He wanted the students to
compare and analyze radiation figures across the prefecture.
In Koriyama, work got under way in April at municipal
elementary and junior high schools, as well as day-care
centers for children, to remove contaminated surface soil.
Eighty-six municipal elementary and junior high schools
in the city check radiation levels at 11 sites, including
four corners of the schoolyard, at each school daily.
At Meiken Junior High School, 60 percent of the students
chose to write reports on radiation as a summer vacation
When Sasaki read a report by Risa Yamakawa, 13, he was
The girl wrote: "I want to be a scientist when I grow up.
I will reduce radiation levels to help people live happily."
At the school's science classroom is a copy of a card
written by Hideki Yukawa, the Nobel laureate in physics in
1949, when Japan was struggling to rebuild from defeat in
World War II.
"By living another day, people should make progress one
more step," the card reads.
Hiroshima, the first city to be leveled by atomic bombing
66 years ago, gave birth to "peace education," a notion
which has been propagated in classrooms across the country.
Sasaki is determined that Fukushima, home to one of the
world's worst nuclear accident, should spearhead "radiation
Among others schools in the prefecture trying to face the
fallout of the disaster squarely is Hirano Junior High
School in Fukushima, the prefectural capital.
Teacher Michiko Fujita, 58, recalled that few students at
her school seemed overly concerned although they were at one
time forced to limit their gymnastic activities outdoors due
to potential exposure to radiation exceeding safety
"I was afraid that students may have tried to avoid
giving away their true feelings," Fujita said. "They sensed
the atmosphere and may have avoided depressing topics."
In mid-July, she asked her third-year students to tell
their classmates how they felt about the nuclear calamity.
The students began pouring out their feelings."
"I am wary of going out," one student confessed.
"I was annoyed at the way people discriminated against
cars with Fukushima license numbers," said another.
Fujita instructed her students to reflect on their lives
since the nuclear crisis by writing an essay on the topic as
their assignment for the summer break.
The Japanese Society of Environmental Education, headed
by Osamu Abe, a professor of intercultural communication at
Rikkyo University in Tokyo, took an unprecedented step this
year by proposing a model for an ethics class on the theme
of the nuclear accident.
The proposal was made at the request of Iitate, a village
northwest of the stricken nuclear power plant known for high
levels of radiation.
One of the teachers who joined forces in crafting the
model coursework was Eiko Takagi, 58. She teaches science at
Kogane Junior High School in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture.
Takagi said that she was troubled by a newspaper article
about an elementary school pupil who was forced to move
again after children in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, refused
to mingle with the child, saying they were frightened they
would be contaminated with radiation.
In July, she asked her class of second-year students if
they had heard about the story. She urged them to consider
the feelings of the Fukushima student.
As Japan grapples to overcome the triple disasters of the
March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, the massive tsunami
and the nuclear disaster, education, more than anything
else, will play a crucial role in helping young Japanese
face the harsh realities of what has transpired.
Hiromasa Konno, 17, who studies agriculture at Fukushima
Meisei Senior High School in Fukushima, measures radiation
in a sunflower field. His classmates donated money to buy
sunflower seeds to grow.
His uncle is a full-time farmer in Iitate. Since he was
very young, Konno has helped him with planting potatoes. But
his uncle, like everybody else in the village, was forced to
evacuate after the nuclear accident.
One day, Konno came across a newspaper article that said
sunflowers absorb radioactive materials, thereby helping in
"I want to be involved in decontamination operations even
if it takes 10 to 20 years," he said.
Manabu Sato, a professor of school education at the
University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Education, said
education can play a leading role in steering Japan to
rebuild from the disasters, much as it did after Japan's
defeat in World War II.
"The ongoing crisis made us realize
that we live in an archipelago crowded with 54 nuclear
reactors and that a nuclear accident can happen anywhere,"
he said. "We should educate students in a way that equips
them with a basic knowledge of the health risk from
radiation and how to protect themselves, while offering
similar training programs to teachers as well."