Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pregnant Mothers Going Back to Minami Soma City to Give Birth

I just don't know what to say.

NHK's program "Close-up Gendai" aired the episode on August 31 (which you can view at the program's site here) about a 72-year-old obstetrician and over 50 pregnant mothers coming back to Minami Soma City to give birth.

The reason for coming back to their homes in Minami Soma City, even if the radiation level remains elevated, is that they were totally stressed out in the evacuation centers. When asked why she came back to the city, one young mother coming to see the obstetrician says, "Well, it was very cold sleeping on the hard floor of the gymnasium, and we thought our home would be better."

While the national government created the evacuation-ready zone in Minami Soma City and advised small children and pregnant women to stay out of the zone, there was no actual support as to where they, particularly pregnant women, can stay comfortably outside the zone.

NHK's program also makes it clear that Minami Soma City itself has no such plan. On the contrary, we know that the city is telling the residents to come back.

The obstetrician, Dr. Takahashi, was able to fit the mothers with glass badges that record the external radiation exposure, thanks to the donation of an NPO. After one month, he got the result. It was between 1 and 6.96 millisieverts on the annual basis - that is, if they stay where they are for one year.

"Is this safe? No one can say for sure, but it is probably safe. There's not enough data to show the effect of radiation below 100 millisieverts per year", the NHK narrator says.

Dr. Takahashi goes and measures the radiation levels at another home. "0.58 microsievert/hour outside, about half that inside". The narrator says, "At this level, the annual radiation exposure would be about 2.5 millisieverts, far below 20 millisieverts". The husband chimes in, as if to convince himself and his wife that it is OK to stay there, "So it is higher than 1 millisievert/year standard that they often talk about, but far less than 20 millisieverts".

After the Minami Soma segment, the guest commentator speaks. Associate Professor Mitsuyoshi Urashima of Jikei University School of Medicine says the following:


To begin with, there is no radiation safety standard for fetuses. So we cannot say it is definitely safe, but I consider [these numbers in the video] to be safe.


There are three reasons why I say this. First, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) says the low radiation above 100 millisieverts [per year] will increase the risk for cancer, but below that level, particularly below 10 millisieverts/year, it is designated as ultra low radiation where there is no increase of cancer. Second, the levels of natural radiation vary. There is a place in the world where people are exposed to 10 millisieverts radiation per year.


Third, there was no risk of thyroid cancer for the fetuses in Chernobyl. There was no increased risk for thyroid cancer after the babies were born. So, if [the radiation exposure] is less than 10 millisieverts, I don't think they need to worry too much.

Experts like him still cite the 10 millisieverts/year location as if that's totally acceptable and safe for people in Fukushima, whose natural radiation exposure has been 1.4 millisievert/year, not to mention this 10 millisieverts/year includes internal exposure.

Experts like him (and the infamous Dr. Yamashita) always cite thyroid cancer, as if that's all people need to worry about.

I can't really blame these mothers for escaping the extremely uncomfortable evacuation centers where they have to sleep on the hard floor with no privacy. It's just too bad that they didn't have anyone who would take them in, outside Minami Soma, and that no one cared about them in the government, national or municipal.

The governments don't do anything, because pregnant women are not supposed to be there in the evacuation-ready zone...


Anonymous said...

Not sure how they can make these assertions. For all I know the risk to cells (incl. cancer) is also related to cell division and this, age. So you cannot generalize on safety of a dose without taking into account the age of the person. I think a fetus is very much at risk given the rapid division of cells and growth.

But perhaps we just got the wrong image of radiation at elementary school:

There is a strong tendency in Japan to perceive even the smallest amount of radiation or radioactivity as dangerous or detrimental. An investigation was done to identify the age at which this perception is formed. It was found that the perception was initially formed during elementary school, especially when the description of an atomic bomb was given during the history course, which is part of the sociology curriculum. The description in the sociology textbook emphasizes the damage produced by radiation. In contrast, the text- book has few descriptions of the positive uses of radiation.


@ortospace said...

Anon 9:49 "There is a strong tendency in Japan to perceive even the smallest amount of radiation or radioactivity as dangerous or detrimental."

Despite the article you cited, I'd say the tendency, be it right or wrong, is not specific of Japan, but it is well rooted also outside Japan: see Europe, US...

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon, thank you for the article. Talk about propaganda. I don't believe a word of it, as someone who's gone through the Japanese education system. There is no such radiation phobia in Japan, where people willingly receive artificial radiation (medical) almost twice the average of OECD, almost 6 times the world average.

Yes I fondly remember the history classes in elementary school, junior high, and high school. Time mysteriously ran out right before the start of the World War II toward the end of semester. Fear of nuclear bomb? That's not from school education but from the annual ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and from the survivors of the bombs in these two cities.

Anonymous said...

Shame on the japanese goverment for allowing pregnant women to sleep on gym floors and shame on the doctor who urges them to give birth in a radioactive environment. I fear for those babies, it makes my heart cringe.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you went through the Japanese education system EXSKF, it must have taken years to recover.

Anonymous said...

Yes, go to the doctor and you have an x-ray done before even sitting down…

Would love to see a similar survey conducted in Germany. You'd probably have anti-nuke riots in Kindergarten kids :)

Anonymous said...

After the kids, they probably needed to monitor fetuses. Fukushima is becoming the worldwide mecca of live research experiment on low doses radiations. It is incredible as people can be manipulated by honorable people in their community like these old ojisan doctors. They are afraid to loose patients and to depopulate the area (like for the old mayor). They are reciting the new mantra 100 mSv/life time exposure deemed safe by the government at the beginning of the summer. Amazing how certain things get worked through at lightning speed in japan!

Maju said...

It's astounding to me how a wealthy country like Japan can so easily drop its social responsibilities to its own people in case of an emergency. That would not happen in Cuba, when a million is evacuated almost overnight if need be (hurricane for example).

I think it is caused by the very nature of the Capitalism regime, because the USA did the same with the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, leaving the coastal communities and even summer vacationers to suffer the consequences, worrying only about minimizing the media exposure and not harming BP.

In fact much of what now happens in Japan with Fukushima is what happened in 2010 in the USA with the Deepwater Horizon spill and the chemicals that BP used to hide its responsibility.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 11:01pm, LOL. Yes it was bad, but I limited the damage by reading all the textbooks at the beginning of the semester and didn't pay attention to whatever the teacher was saying for the rest of the semester in elementary and junior high, and I think I slept through most of the classes in high school. I still clearly remember my first conscious thought in the kindergarten: "Oh this is so boring."

pat said...

Typhoon Talas, what did it do to water levels in the storage buildings?

Hélios said...

Pr Pellerin dismissed for Tchernoyl's cloud :

Un non-lieu pour le Professeur Pierre Pellerin sur le nuage radioactif de Tchernobyl :

Nuclear winning...

Anonymous said...

So, if I want to let some pregnant women from Minami Soma (or elsewhere in Fukushima) to use the empty bedrooms in my house, whom should I contact?

I thought about contacting the city office, but they want people to stay in Minami Soma, right?

How can I get in touch with interested people?

Anonymous said...

I would wager that those pregnant women believe there is no risk of radiation and will turn down your offer of an empty room, false pride rules in Japan

Anonymous said...

The average wage there is 3.5 million yen per year. I bet there are more than a few people who would be interested in getting out of town but don't have the savings to do so.

Besides, I don't need (or want) every pregnant woman there interested, I just want to find one or two, as that's all the space I have. So if 98% are "proud" as you say (I disagree strongly BTW), it still works out well for the remaining 2%.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ex-SKF, I check your blog daily and am happy to find this big variety of information here. In this article though I wondered if it's a good idea to provide only the "misinformation parts" in Japanese. Couldn't someone who comes across here and doesn't understand English misunderstand your point?

Just a thought. Thanks for your efforts from soon-to-be-nuke-free Germany!

Viola said...

Nine month after Chernobyl, the rate of children born with Down's syndrome in Berlin, Germany went up from the average 2-3 cases to 12 cases:

South Bavaria (higher contamination than in the north) had a doubled rate of malformations of newborn babies compared to north bavaria:

(Sorry, all links in german)

In Belarus, numbers were higher... And there was a study that children who were not affected themselves became ill because their parents were affected.
Potential deseases are:
potential deseases:
- diverse types of cancer, including Leukaemia
- genetic deseases in the following generations
- Down's syndrome
- diabetes
- death birth's
- cardiovascular diseases
- hypertension
- eye defects like eye cataract
http://www.ippnw.de/presse/presse-2011/artikel/e05adcd86f/wie-gefaehrlich-ist-radioaktive-stra.html (sorry, german again :-( )


Anonymous said...

See Fukushima Diary - Evacuation tab for a way to link offers of places and people needing accommodation.

Anonymous said...

>>> See Fukushima Diary - Evacuation tab for a way to link offers of places and people needing accommodation.
http://fukushima-diary.com/evacuate/ <<<

Excellent, thanks so much!

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