Friday, July 1, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Professor Kosako: "Come the harvest season in the fall, there will be a chaos"

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).

Kosako says:

  • 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.


Anonymous said...

There will be huge coverups and scandals over the next few years in regards to food. Just about all of Kanto was blanketed by radioactive dust, and it will affect crops for a long time - but they can't just stop producing food, and they won't be open about the levels of radiation.

Ono said...

Thanks for good information.

Where Japan will go....

Fall Out Man! said...

Thanks for the information in this blog. So often we get different propaganda, often conflicting, in different languages. You have done many people a great service with the information on this site.

It is tragic what is being done to the Japanese people by covering this up. Japan already has a low birth rate. Every time there has been a significant radiation release in the USA, birth rates have dropped there. I dread to think what will happen to Japan now. Surely Japan, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, can afford to import some extra food for a few years. Surely that is cheaper than having people's health destroyed, and having babies miscarrying or dying.

But of course, admitting the truth would cost powerful people money. In fact I think if Japanese people knew the truth, they would be calling for the death penalty for those who have done this to them. (that is what should happen in my view)

areyoume said...

@Fall Out Man!
"Every time there has been a significant radiation release in the USA, birth rates have dropped there. I dread to think what will happen to Japan now."

You're right. Tokyo Shinbun(newspaper) reports on July 1 that in Fukushima, women are seriously talking about "NOT having babies" for fear of ill effects of radiation, and that those who already have one are worried that their children may have trouble when they get married due to the prejudice.

I hear this still occasionally happens to people who were born and raised in Hiroshima. A female friend of mine from Hiroshima told me that before she got married with a man from Kanagawa (south of Tokyo), some of his relatives had been reluctant to approve their marriage because she is from Hiroshima. Sad.

luke_anthony_short said...

My latest video:

luke_anthony_short said...

Sorry I should add it is about the radiation detected in urine of kids in Fukushima.

Anonymous said...

"Particularly close attention is paid to the safety of rice as Japan's staple food, not."

fixed it for 'em

"A copy of the booklet was obtained by The Wall Street Journal from an independent source."

That, in its entirety, is desired. Now. Pony it up, WSJ.

doitujin said...

this tokyo shinbun article, is it available online on their homepage(couldn't find it) or somewhere else as a scanned version?

...and, is this true, I wonder? there are independent people with geiger counters out there, so, could they really do this without problems? scary thought again. ->

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

thanks for the link. I've found the original article at the Medical Governance Society. A must read for my Japanese readers..

Anonymous said...

Last man standing.
Finaly reality is knocking on the door.
I have great respect for his sacrifise and after all that has happened and is happening, he raised a voice of consern.
Moralty and corage is virtoues that has disapeard from this world, and rearly diplayed.

Exept for this man.

"Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital, quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change."

areyoume said...

Articles of Tokyo Shingun are not available on line. I don't have a scanner, so I uploaded three photos of the actual newspaper article.

Tokyo Shinbun-1:
Tokyo Shinbun-2:
Tokyo Shinbun-3:

I added captions in English below each photo in case other readers might be interested to know what they are.

doitujin said...

thank you very, very much for the article pictures!! made me so sad again, though...

are you talking of this one? ->
when i first read the english version, i didn't find it in japanese, but it was linked to that page from enenews and the english article's link and yes, it's so much and so bad stuff again. definitely good to know.

Anonymous said...

At least this man's mother should be proud. Seems she raised a son who turned out to be a decent human being.

Anonymous said...

The elite are in a bind. From the very start (03/11/11), this entire story would have to be downplayed; otherwise, there would be massive-global panic of radiation poisoning. Unfortunately for them, there are way-too many individuals who have access to developing information. Add to this the open-internet, and Kosako becomes the first credible player to jump from the sinking cover-up. Others will realize the (very-real) possibility of being brought-up on charges of crimes against humanity and the environment. Those who distance themselves early-on will likely be absolved for having participated in this cover-up. When the extent of damage is finally grasped, there will be no place to hide from justice. Keep in mind, this has just started! We're talking worldwide calamity, which will emerge from innumerable places over the following decades, like some hideous hydra. When others begin to factor the economics of the meltdown at Fukushima, the real battle will begin...within the courtroom!

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