Tokyo under illusion that
things are normal while Fukushima remains a war zone
Fukushima Power Plant
EMF Protection Devices
Magnetic Field Detector
We are well
into autumn. And despite the growing sense in the Tokyo
metropolitan area that things are now all right -- with
train services back to pre-disaster schedules and the regret
we once felt over our wasteful consumption of electricity
dissipating -- Fukushima remains a war zone.
reported on Oct. 7 that the Watari district of Fukushima was
not designated by the government as a "specific evacuation
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."
battle was taking place, I went to visit Watari residents
Chieko Tanji, 64, and her husband, Hiroshi, 63, to hear
about their personal battles with radiation and
Once a week,
the couple, who run a cafe in the district, put on
long-sleeved work clothes and 3M-Sumitomo dust masks to scan
their property for high levels of radiation, using a
U.S.-made Geiger counter and a Chinese-made radiation
often find high radiation levels under the gutters, and
scrape off any accumulated dirt and dust. They climb onto
the roof, which they sweep with a broom, and remove the
trash and leaves that have collected in the gutters. They
also diligently trim the greenery in their yard that prior
to the nuclear disaster, they'd allowed to grow freely.
"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," Hiroshi said. "I
think it'll take 100 years before everything is clean again.
At the moment, it's more like we're pursuing the possibility
of decontamination than actually undertaking
decontamination, but we're putting our faith in the
possibility, even if it's just 1 percent."
in Fukushima in the past, which was when I came into contact
with the Tanjis. But that was already 17 years ago, and it
was only through the newly released book, "Chronicle
Fukushima," that I learned about what happened to them after
the triple disasters of March 11.
The book is
a record of lectures on the nuclear disaster and seven
interviews, including one with the Tanji family. Guitarist
and composer Yoshihide Otomo, 52, who has composed music for
films and television dramas both in Japan and abroad, served
as lecturer and interviewer. Having spent his youth in
Watari, Otomo's emotional attachment to the area comes
through crystal clear in the book.
As it turned
out, the Tanji family had been torn apart. The book provides
a vivid account of the Tanjis sending their son's wife and
child off to Nagoya on March 14, just before the explosions
at the nuclear power plant that spread radioactive materials
far and wide.
others who appear in the book is Shinzo Kimura, 44, a
radiation hygiene expert who resigned from his post at a
research institute under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of
Health, Labor and Welfare when it prohibited an initial
investigation into the disaster, and immediately went to
work in the disaster area. Also appearing in the book is
award-winning poet and Fukushima resident Ryoichi Wago, 43,
whose Tweet: "It's raining radiation. It's a quiet night,"
received a massive response.
interviews are all directed at Tokyo. The core message is
summed up by Otomo, who says: "Come here and look at the
took the spotlight when 24 times the radiation level
permitted in school playgrounds by the central government
was found in a daycare playground there in May. Just last
week, reports emerged of there being 300,000 becquerels of
radioactive cesium per kilogram of soil in the district.
This figure, too, far exceeds the maximum permissible amount
set by the government.
persimmons growing in front of the Tanjis' cafe, Fu to boku
(wind and trees), have turned orange. There's been an
unusual abundance of the fruit this year, but they've been
found to have 176 becquerels of radioactive cesium per
kilogram. The light purple flowers that adorn a tabletop
inside the cafe were picked by the couple in the Yamagata
Prefecture city of Yonezawa.
urgency now are the evacuation of children, decontamination,
and the installation of becquerel monitors to measure
radiation levels in food. But meanwhile, in Tokyo, we're
talking about economic growth and the export of nuclear
technology, as if what's going on in Fukushima is somehow
irrelevant to us. That, I believe, is simply wrong. (By
Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer)
(Mainichi Japan) October 10, 2011