Professor Toshiso Kosako of Tokyo University, who resigned in protest against the Kan Administration's policy to allow 20 millisieverts/year external radiation exposure for children which he called unacceptable and unconscionable, gave an interview for the first time since his resignation to Wall Street Journal (or so it looks).
There will be chaos and scandal when the rice is harvested in the fall, as it will contain radioactive materials;
Japan is looking like a developing country in East Asia without democracy;
The government uses the high ceiling for radiation in schools so that it doesn't need to spend money to ameliorate the situation;
The government hasn't done enough to investigate ocean contamination.
So far, I am unable to find the equivalent Japanese article in the Japanese version of WSJ. Interesting by itself, but not surprising as the paper has put out dramatically different versions of the same news in Japanese and in English.
From WSJ (Yuka Hayashi, 7/1/2011):
TOKYO—A former nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan blasted the government's continuing handling of the crisis, and predicted further revelations of radiation threats to the public in the coming months.
In his first media interview since resigning his post in protest in April, Toshiso Kosako, one of the country's leading experts on radiation safety, said Mr. Kan's government has been slow to test for possible dangers in the sea and to fish and has understated certain radiation dangers to minimize what it will have to spend to clean up contamination.
And while there have been scattered reports already of food contamination—of tea leaves and spinach, for example—Mr. Kosako said there will be broader, more disturbing discoveries later this year, especially as rice, Japan's staple, is harvested.
"Come the harvest season in the fall, there will be a chaos," Mr. Kosako said. "Among the rice harvested, there will certainly be some radiation contamination—though I don't know at what levels—setting off a scandal. If people stop buying rice from Tohoku, …we'll have a tricky problem."
Mr. Kosako also said that the way the government has handled the Fukushima Daiichi situation since the March 11 tsunami crippled the reactors has exposed basic flaws in Japanese policymaking. "The government's decision-making mechanism is opaque," he said. "It's never clear what reasons are driving what decisions. This doesn't look like a democratic society. Japan is increasingly looking like a developing nation in East Asia."
Specifically, Mr. Kosako said the government set a relatively high ceiling for acceptable radiation in schoolyards, so that only 17 schools exceeded that limit. If the government had set the lower ceiling he had advocated, thousands of schools would have required a full cleanup. With Mr. Kan's ruling party struggling to gain parliamentary approval for a special budget, the costlier option didn't get traction.
"When taking these steps, the only concern for the current government is prolonging its own life," Mr. Kosako said.
Mr. Kan's office referred questions about Mr. Kosako's remarks to a cabinet office official, who declined to be identified. The official said the government is making "utmost efforts" to improve radiation monitoring in the sea and working closely with fishermen and others.
"Particularly close attention is paid to the safety of rice as Japan's staple food," the official said, adding that the government would suspend the shipment of crops if radiation exceeding a set standard is detected.
As for schools, the official said the government was working to lower the ceiling for acceptable radiation, and "is also considering additional steps. "
Mr. Kosako, a 61-year-old Tokyo University professor who has served on a number government and industrial panels, stepped down from Mr. Kan's nuclear-advisory panel on April 30, fueling concerns about the government's handling of the accident. Saying that many of his recommendations were ignored, the scientist described the government's ceiling on schoolyard radiation levels as "unacceptable." The image of him wiping tears at a press conference as he said he wouldn't subject his own children to such an environment was widely broadcast.
Having spent the past two months focusing on teaching radiation-safety courses at his university, Mr. Kosako said he is now ready to begin speaking his mind again, starting with foreign audiences. Over the coming weeks, he will be giving speeches in the U.S. and in Taiwan.
He said he is especially concerned with contamination of the ocean by the large amounts radioactive material from the damaged reactors dumped into surrounding waters. The government has released only sketchy information about what's drained into the sea as a result of efforts to cool the smoldering Fukushima Daiichi reactors. Mr. Kosako has urged more seawater monitoring, more projections of the spread of polluted water and steps to deal with the contamination of different types of seafood, from seaweed to shellfish to fish.
"I've been telling them to hurry up and do it, but they haven't," he said.
As he resigned, Mr. Kosako submitted to government officials a thick booklet that contained all the recommendations he had offered during his six-week tenure. A copy of the booklet was obtained by The Wall Street Journal from an independent source.
From the time of his appointment on March 16, Mr. Kosako and some of his colleagues were offering recommendations touching on a broad range of topics. It was weeks before the public learned of some of them, such as a March 17 call for using the government's SPEEDI radiation-monitoring system to project residents' exposure levels using the "worst-case scenario based on a practical setting."
On March 18, they urged the government's Nuclear Safety Commission to re-examine the adequacy of the government's initial evacuation zones, based on such simulations by SPEEDI.
The SPEEDI data weren't released to the public until March 23, and the evacuation zones weren't adjusted until April 11. Critics say the delay in the adjustment may have subjected thousands of Fukushima residents to high levels of radiation exposure.
Professor Kosako had been considered a pro-nuke "government scientist" until his resignation. Maybe he is still pro-nuke, but it was during his press conference at the end of April when he announced resignation that many people were made aware of this thing called WSPEEDI, which can predict radioactive fallout dispersions globally, not just Japan. Only after that revelation by the professor, the government decided to quietly sneak in the WSPEEDI simulation results sometime in mid May on the Ministry of Education website. They showed a very extensive contamination in Tohoku and Kanto.
For WSPEEDI simulation maps from the early days of the accident when, if disclosed, they would have mattered, see my posts here and here.