Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yasumi Iwakami Tweets About His Recent Health Problems After His Visit to #Fukushima I Nuke Plant in February

(and boy he received some nasty tweets in response...)

Yasumi Iwakami is arguably one of the best known independent journalists in Japan covering the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, particularly among net users. I happened on Iwakami's live netcast of TEPCO press conferences on his USTREAM channel very early on in the crisis, and have followed him and his reporting since.

He was one of the independent journalists allowed inside the plant compound in February this year on the second plant tour for the press (first one was in November last year). And ever since, he seems to have been plagued with one health discomfort after another. He tweeted about them on April 10, and someone compiled a "togetter" - a string of tweets.

First, the translation of Iwakami's 15 tweets as they appear on the togetter, with Iwakami's express permission to translate:

ご心配を皆さんにおかけしているので、中間報告をしておきます。これまでの経過をかいつまんで言いますと、2月20日、福一入構取材の翌々日から、腹痛と 下痢、その後、発熱にも見舞われ、虫垂炎との診断を受けました。5日間の絶食療法のあと、回復。虫垂炎は、一過性の病気かと思いましたが…

As I've been having you worried, I thought I'd give you a progress report. First, to tell you about what has happened so far: on February 20, two days after reporting from Fukushima I Nuke Plant, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Then I started to have fever, and was finally diagnosed as having appendicitis. After 5-day fasting treatment, I recovered. And I thought appendicitis was a transitory (one-time) illness. But then...


My diarrhea continued even though I continued to take medicine to control intestinal function, and I had occasional fever. This weekend, I was knocked down by the 4th fever in a month and a half. I consulted my doctor about my poor physical health in March, and we decided to test for tumor markers and do the colonoscopy. Yesterday evening, my doctor explained to me the result of the tests.

大腸ファイバーで発見されたポリープの生検の結果は、悪性ではなく良性。「腺腫」の第三段階。このポリープと下痢は別物で、医師の診断は過敏性腸症候群。 原因は「ストレス」との診たて。今日ものどが痛み、熱が出ているが、これは風邪。なぜこんなに頻繁にひくのか、と問うと…

The biopsy of the polyp found in the colonoscopy turned out be benign, not malignant. It was "adenoma", so it was the third stage [there are 5 stages]. This polyp and diarrhea were not related, according to my doctor, and his diagnosis was "irritable bowel syndrome". The cause was "stress". I had a sore throat and fever that day, but that was a common cold, according to the doctor. When I asked him why I was having a cold this often...

原因は「免疫力の低下」。そのそもそもの原因は、またまた「ストレス」との診断。何でもかんでもストレス、という説明は納得がいかない。ストレスフルな生 活はこれまでもずっと続けてきた。一時的に体調を崩すことがあっても、こんなに連続して崩れっぱなしという経験はない、と言うと…

His answer was "weakened immune system". What caused it? "Stress", he said. I wasn't convinced with his explanation that everything was caused by stress. I have had a stressful life all this time. So I told him that I had never had a string of ill health like this before, though I did fall ill occasionally.


My doctor said, "There is a threshold to stress tolerance. Once people cross that threshold they succumb to stress." It was the effect of radiation I had been exposed to by entering and reporting from Fukushima I Nuke Plant that concerned me. But my doctor had been totally negative on that.


He had said to me repeatedly, "Effect of radiation has nothing to do with your ill health. It's only the thyroid that is affected by radiation exposure, and that has been medically proven." Then, when he explained the test results to me yesterday, he said, "According to the result of the test for tumor markers, there is an abnormality in the thyroid. You need a more thorough examination."

甲状腺 意表を突かれて言葉が出ない。そこ 甲状腺以外の腫瘍マーカー検査項目はすべて正常値。甲状腺の検査項目、サイログロブリンだけが基準値を若干オーバー。「放射線の影響が出るのは甲状腺だけ」と断言していた主治医との間で、気まずい空気が。

Thyroid? I was speechless at this unexpected announcement. Other tumor markers were all normal. For markers for thyroid, thyroglobulin was slightly above the reference value. We felt awkward; he was the one who had declared to me that it was only the thyroid that would be affected by radiation exposure.

検査機関から返されてきた検査報告書にも、「甲状腺炎や甲状腺腫の可能性もありますので、甲状腺の画像検査をお受けください」と書かれている。つまり、こ れは被曝の影響ということだろうか? その問いには主治医は直接答えず、「数値も、若干のオーバーですから、深刻に考えずに」と。

The test report from the lab stated, "Since there is a possibility that it is thyroiditis or goiter, please have [ultrasonic echo] diagnostics done on the thyroid". Did this mean it was the result of radiation exposure? My doctor didn't answer my question directly, but said, "The number is only slightly above the reference range, so don't take it too seriously."

私としても、福一入構取材で浴びた放射線との因果関係を強調したいわけではない。むしろ影響などない、と考えたい。影響があっては困るし、だいたい、自分 だけが具合悪くなるなんてこと、あるものか、と心のどこかで思ってきた。福島へまたこれから何度も取材に行きたいと思ってきた。しかし…

It's not that I want to emphasize the causal relationship between [my ill health] and the radiation exposure from reporting from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. I'd rather think there is no effect. I don't want that effect. Somehow I'd always thought it would not be possible that I would get sick. I wanted to visit Fukushima again and again and report. But...

現時点では、私の体調不良の原因はストレスおよび免疫力の低下、放射線被曝との因果関係は「わからない」「不明」ということ。それが、医師の診断。「百人 百話」の取材を通じて、福島の方々から、鼻血、下痢、発熱、倦怠感、皮膚炎、動悸など、数々の体調不良を訴える声を聞いてきた。

For now, the reasons for my ill health are stress and weakened immune system. Whether that has anything to do with radiation exposure is "unknown", or "not clear", and that is the diagnosis of my doctor. Through my report of "100 stories from 100 people", I have heard about many instances of ill health from people in Fukushima: nosebleed, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, dermatitis, heart palpitation, etc.


I think I finally understand the helpless feeling these Fukushima people must have when they tell me about their ill health. What is the cause? What can we do to improve the condition?

断っておくが、私のかかりつけの主治医はよい方である。親切だし、説明も明晰である。放射線被曝の影響を小さく見積もるのも、それが現代医学の体系を学ん だ成果であって、個人的な偏見ではない(はず)。「50歳を過ぎたら、体力がガクッと落ちるもんですよ」というのも、真実に違いない。

To be fair, my doctor is a good doctor. He is kind, and he explains things clearly. He underestimates the effect of radiation exposure, but that is the result of having been trained in the modern medicine and not his personal prejudice (I think). It must be true when he says, "If you go past 50 years of age, your physical strength suddenly collapses".


Well then, what should I do? Whatever the cause (aging, fatigue, stress, radiation exposure all combined, maybe), it's not that I could remove the radiation that I've already been exposed to. (According to the dosimeter from TEPCO, my exposure was 74 microsieverts.)

結局、できることは、自身の免疫力を上げることしかない。ストレスを減らすこと、休養と睡眠を充分にとること、食養生をすること(これが難しい)。検査も 怠らないようにしよう。地道に養生することだ。主治医には「カラオケで歌でも歌ってください」と言われた。まあ、それもありだろう。

In the end, all I can do is to strengthen my immune system. Reduce stress, enough rest and sleep, and eat healthy food (this is difficult). I'll make sure I get tested regularly. Patiently nursing myself back to good health is what I should do. My doctor said to me, "Go to karaoke and sing." Well, that too.


It so happens that I will interview Mr. Matashichi Oishi at 2PM tomorrow. He is a former crew member of Daigo Fukuryu-Maru, who was irradiated [near Bikini Atoll]. And the day after tomorrow, I will interview Shuntaro Hida, on the completion of "Nuclear Scar" (核の傷, movie). As you know, he is a medical doctor who was exposed to radiation in Hiroshima.

To this togetter, there are many, many comments ridiculing and taunting Iwakami. Just one or two example would suffice to get the gist of them:

Oh I see. He hasn't gotten enough victims of radiation, so he's claiming he's one of them.

He brought it on himself. Looking at these comments here, it's so apparent how much Mr. Iwakami is hated, what sinful things he has done...

I don't know where this vitriol is coming from. As with other prominent journalists and researchers, experts on Fukushima, I don't agree with Iwakami 100% on many issues, but without doubt he is one of the most dedicated journalists tirelessly covering the plight of people in Fukushima, incompetent handling of the accident and the aftermath by TEPCO and the government.

I think Hayakawa got it right when he said this is a war, that there are two very distinctive groups of people in Japan whose take of the nuclear accident and outlook on life after the radiation contamination are so vastly different that there is no ground for compromise.


Anonymous said...

Sad and disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Indeed the two views cannot be reconciled. However the good news is that there are two views now and they create friction. This has to continue for long term change.

Anti-nuke people were laughed at in Germany in the 1960/70s... in the 80s things changed, but it took until over 2000 for full nuke exit. However, way before that building and operating NPP had already become non-viable and the industry started suffering and sliding into irrelevance. Even though it was theoretically possible, the cost of operating it become too high. The same may happen in Japan, if people persevere. Ganbatte ne.

Anonymous said...

Good on you, ex-skf, for pointing our the dedication and hard work of Yasumi. From the time I started following him, which was during the 2/20 press tour, I looked for more and more of his work. I've been duly impressed, and I wish him the best of healing and health.

Chibaguy said...

There are two polar opposite groups in Japan including professors and doctors. IMHO, I would say that the people being hauled away in ambulances everyday are the ones that deny any risk and do not watch what they consume. The other side may be to frantic as well as hard to understand at times but they are cautious. I am siding with the caution as this is a clinical trial. This being said, I will remove my family from this trial soon. Man made ionizing radiation does not discriminate. As for Japan, there will never be a "I told you so" moment. The government will ensure that.

As for those just spewing hate towards this journalist, these are the people in complete denial.

doitujin said...

Lately, you always mention those ambulances, are there really so many more than before?
I left Japan by now, but when I was still there, sometimes I was watching the traffic during walks, often at night and actually, I can't remember so much how it was earlier, but last summer I clearly saw kind of many ambulances... sometimes I watched from a bridge over a crossing or somewhere else for about half an hour and saw at least 3 of them... But I didn't think it was strange as there live so many people on so little space in Japan. Is it really more than before? I could never be sure about that one thing...

Anonymous said...

In every country on Earth, there are sane and insane people.
To identify and understand the insane ones (neurotic, perverts, necrophiles,...), you need to read books written by psychoanalysts. For example : The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, by Erich From.

Anonymous said...

Hi, is my previous comment (~3 hrs ago) in the spam bin?

Anonymous said...

"To identify and understand the insane ones (neurotic, perverts, necrophiles,...)"

ppl like you should really shut the **** up!

i know many of the so called neurotics and some ppl with schizophrenia and they are not insane! all of them are very intelligent ppl who care about the things in this world. they get stressed out because of what they see and develope anxieties. that is all.

many different ppl are labeled insane. it is a word to discredit the ones who are outside the norm.

"To identify and understand the insane ones (neurotic, perverts, necrophiles, BLACKS, PARKING OFFENDERS, ...)"

Anonymous said...

Psychoanalysis considers people with anxieties to be normal.
If you were literate you would not have expressed this misplaced anger.

Anonymous said...

Iwakami-san and all others who don't know if it's stress or radiation that's causing their illness: In all seriousness, I recommend a two week vacation far from Japan where you will not worry about radiation. Hawaii. Australia. The Carribean. While there, rest and relax. Don't try to do too much. Maybe after two weeks, if it is stress, you will feel better. (Note that one week is not enough).

If it is not stress, well, you will know it's time to make a more permanent evacuation.

In either case, after the vacation, I would recommend making a claim on TEPCO for the cost. Maybe in small claims court (Japan's summary court) for fast processing. If it's radiation, it's their fault. If it's stress, they also caused that.

In the final analysis, this disaster has caused both radiation-related health problems and stress-related health problems, in large quantity, and the social cost of both effects should be tallied so it can be included in society's analysis of the cost benefits of nuclear power. Forcing these externalities on the public is corrupt and unjust. We should fight it everywhere we are allowed to do so under the law.

And please, Iwakami-san, take a rest far from Japan for while. You are needed, but you are needed in good health.

Anonymous said...

@Eric Fromm, this is not the place nor time to self-advertise, it's indecent. We all understand the motivations at work and none have to do with psychoanalysis - I thought only backward countries such as France still believed in this religion. Anyway, your spam is really off-topic with this journalist’s pain so piss off.

Anonymous said...

Erich Seligmann Fromm (March 23, 1900 – March 18, 1980) was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist. He was associated with what became known as the Frankfurt School of critical theory.

Read the following on wiki ..., as a starter.

Chibaguy said...

@doitujin, yes you cannot go thru a day in Tokyo nor Kanto without hearing them. It is constant. I used to think it was because the infrastructure was compromised but over a year later nothing has changed. Something very wrong is happening here.

Darth3/11 said...

Ultraman has been replaced by....the nuclear fuel rods? While I prefer Ultraman, and enjoy still seeing him off to the right sidebar, I prefer the rods, which are spooky, to the simple debris pile...

And Iwakumi's doctor, while no doubt a nice man, should really grow a pair. Since when does becoming 50 mark the end of health and the beginning of numbnuts analysis like, "your health may suddenly decline". I think his doctor is in a state of denial that actually endangers the life and well-being of Iwakumi-san.

Take that two-week vacation and then come back and sue the pants off of Tepco. And please continue your very underreported coverage of the souls left in Fuku and Toho.

Darth3/11 said...

P.S. Have other reporters suffered health problems from their tours of the npp? If no, why not? If yes, why haven't we heard more of this??? Is our man Iwakami the only one to suffer what are clearly radiation exposure symptoms?????????

Anonymous said...

At Anon 5:17,

May I ask what backward pedaling country are you from ?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Why don't any of the many real reporters that went at there get sick? why only comic reporter get sick at?

Anonymous said...

We can find information about what happens if
being to near to "unstable stuff" on the internet:

Anonymous said...

@Anon 8:38am,
Who knows? Why don't you ask them all personally? Or are you going to wait until everyone gets sick before you take this seriously?

I don't know what the exact situation is like with the other reporters, but I'd imagine that even if they got sick, they'd probably be risking their jobs to tweet about sudden illness. They might also be in denial or dismissing the symptoms. But like I said, I don't know. I'm just suggesting possibilities.

Nancy said...

I have to wonder if some of the nastiness tossed at people online is astroturfing intent on discouraging or discrediting people. Many of those I follow on twitter that post in Japanese about Fukushima seem to get attacked in the same manner.

While people are less likely to speak their mind in person, one would think there would be more in person confrontations. Other than inter-family issues about evacuating I have not heard people talking about this being a heated issue in person.

Anonymous said...

psychopaths rule the world, I don't need your book.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

(Google lets in a "comment" peddling "Flight to Kinshasa" and put a lot of legit comments in SPAM. Great company.)

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

As to questions of "what about other reporters?", I don't thing there are that many reporters who frequent Fukushima Prefecture like Iwakami has done. Maybe only a few others that are notable on the net.

Atomfritz said...

Dosimeter does not show beta irradiation.
Beta-contaminated "purified" water is being smuggled uncontrolled out of Fuku-I in mind-boggling quantities and being spilled onto desks, without any plausible explanation, not to speak of the regular wadi-like floods of beta water.
I have to think of a Mr. Litvinenko somehow.

doitujin said...

Maybe you are right... I just remembered how I visited Kyoto for around a week last summer and never heard nor saw any ambulance at all. But in Kanagawa and Tokyo normally more than once a day. And I usually noticed them because I steadily felt so irritated by their lack of speed... I should also ask somebody else about that, but somehow I feel they won't remember either.

Anonymous said...

when doctors give out false information, it's time for them to retire/be put in jail. misinformation kills: ** ECRR = European Committee on Radiation Risk
Dr. Chris Busby, Scientific Secretary wrote Introduction. book, 2006, was co-edited with Dr. Alexey Yablokov
“ECRR Chernobyl: 20 Years On”
2010 update http://www.euradcom.org/2011/ecrr2010.pdf

** “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment”
Alexey Yablokov, Vasily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko
NY Academy of Sciences, Volume 1181, 2009. 5,000 Slavic language studies reviews, over 1,400 cited.
Yablokov authorized pdf; ebook on Amazon, free download AND print orders@GrekoPrinting.com Call 734-453-0341 $12.50 in USA

Anonymous said...

highly regarded gentleman, scholar has studied Yablokov's work as well

Anonymous said...

there is a mountain of evidence: http://chernobyl-today.org/images/stories/Bandajevski_2001_Radiocaesium_and_heart.pdf
includes chart of contamination in organs, highest in heart and ADRENALS

Busby quotes Bandashevski - who was imprisoned for protecting children and speaking out the truth. Here is his study (he lost much of his work, as some other guy took over his position in Belarus, and he fled Belarus): Cesium directly harms the hearts of our children: MODIFICATIONS IN CARDIAC-VASCULAR SYSTEM OF CHILDREN, LIVING IN CONTAMINATED WITH RADIOISOTOPES: http://chernobyl-today.org/images/stories/Bandajevski_2001_Radiocaesium_and_heart.pdf

I pray for Japan, my family members in Japan, and all the world for the nuclear contamination continues to rise worldwide - and similar time period, all manner of chronic diseases are rising worldwide... United Nations last met on this subject in New York in Sept 2011.

Anonymous said...

Ambulances every night in Kyoto, kill my sleep. It depends if you live near an avenue with fast access to hospitals. With a quarter of the population over 65, they're out all the time, even more after heavy rains. No change before and after Fukushima though. Elder people and empty houses are just normal here, as are screaming ambulances at night.

Anonymous said...

Nice, we got ghosts now...

Anonymous said...

Why?France of course.

Anonymous said...

I personally know a reporter from mainstream news who gets sent there regularly on low cost means. His company doesn't mind putting him at risk and he was always a bit of a daredevil anyway. He might die of overwork any night but not sicken from Fukushima yet. Bandhazhevsky put it clearly:it is a Russian roulette. Some get sick with little exposure, some remain healthy in relatively higher radiation - we’re talking low levels here - some get it in the first year of exposition, for others it takes 10 years. Anyway the day my friend gets sick, nobody will know about it but us. I suppose that if he gets thyroid cancer, his boss will make him work and ask him to apologize for inconveniencing the company as happened before.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Iwakami's tweets today don't sound upbeat either. He is telling himself that he will get better in the warmth of the sun. I feel sorry for him.

Anonymous said...

Mark Willacy, Journalist, Asian correspondent, has a link to http://dartcenter.org (Trauma journalism) on his facebook page.

Mr Willacy was reporting on the Fukushima disaster in Japan when no one else from Australia was.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:57
Actually, France was very backward concerning the 2nd war in Irak. Too bad it did'nt take part in the US-led coalition search of WMD that did not exist and led to the massacre of one million Iraki people (Ron Paul says it) and spread tons of depleted uranium amos as a souvenir for the children of Irak.

Kumachan said...

Iwakami:"my exposure was 74 microsieverts"
Which means the equivalent of less than 4 days in a five stars hotel in Swiss, or a week in Italy.
Do as doctor said: healthy food, karaoke and maybe a pink salon too.

trifouillax said...

Do not fear, medical crew will be trained for curing cancer... by lowering other risk factors!


Anonymous said...

This is incorrect. In fact, this is a large single dose and it is not surprising, although regrettable and sad, that Iwakami san may now have thyroid cancer. You forgot to add that he should also smile and it will cure him.

Anonymous said...


Please accept our humble thank you for the bravery you showed in the beginning of the disaster and your perseverance throughout the ordeal. You have proved that beyond a shadow of doubt radiation will adversely affect human life.

Now please move somewhere safer to live your days.

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