It is as if nothing out of the ordinary happened last year. Japanese people managed to be alert for about a year, but by March this year it was rather obvious that people got tired of having to pay constant attention. So, come spring of the new fiscal year that started on April Fool's Day, most of them went back to the routine.
The most of the routine events were carried out even in last year. So why not this year? What difference does it make any more?
The difference is that this year more people are aware of radiation contamination but they go on the routine anyway. Schools in particular didn't pay a bit of attention last year, so they don't pay any attention this year either. The following is the favorite activities in spring and early summer in Japan for small children happening right now and about to happen very soon:
Digging up bamboo shoots:
A fun activity that many kindergartens and nursery schools have their small pupils participate. Digging the dirt and getting to bamboo shoots, and then harvesting the bamboo shoots. Then have those bamboo shoots cooked and served in the school lunches for the wonderful taste of spring. Radioactive cesium tends to accumulate in the bamboo shoots, and many areas in Tohoku and Kanto have been found with bamboo shoots with cesium far exceeding the new and improved safety limit (100 becquerels/kg). That hasn't deterred these schools and teachers from holding the fun event of the spring.
Hand-picking green teas, and eating the fresh leaves in tempura:
Many schools in tea-growing areas in Chubu (where Shizuoka Prefecture is) and Kanto are doing their annual event of picking the local teas. This year, the way the radioactivity in green tea is measured have been changed, and they no longer test dried leaves. As long as the brewed tea tests below 10 becquerels/kg, they are "safe". 10 becquerels/kg in liquid would translate to about 1,000 becquerels/kg in dry leaves, but no one's supposed to pay attention to that.
Planting rice plant seedlings in the rice paddies:
This fun activity is just starting in Kanto and Tohoku. Farmers in Kanto and Tohoku tilled the land and mixed up radioactive cesium in the soil, and grew rice last year as radioactive materials continued to fall in Kanto and Tohoku. Small children did the planting as part of the school work last year, with bare feet and hands. If they could do it last year, of course they can do it this year. The only areas that I'm aware of whose rice paddies were "decontaminated" is Iitate-mura in Fukushima, where the government is still trying various methods of decontamination (so far, none worked).
Having spring athletic meets:
Running around, kicking up dusts, on bare feet. Some schools in higher-radiation Kanto and Tohoku did replace the soil in the school yards to lower the air radiation levels, but many haven't. In the high-radiation Koriyama City in Fukushima, it was only in April this year that they finally admitted to the existence of hot spots in schools.
Cleaning the swimming pools:
Another fun activity before the summer break. Children get to clean out the school's swimming pool, that have accumulated dirty water and muddy sludge over the last year after the close of the pool. They cleaned it last year, even when the sludge was later found with tens of thousands of becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. Why not this year? In one elementary school in Ibaraki Prefecture last year, the sludge that pupils scooped out was later found with over 17,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.
Going to summer school in high-radiation northern Kanto:
This fun activity is only for pupils in elementary schools and junior high schools in certain Special Wards in Tokyo. For a week or two during the summer break, they get to spend time hiking, swimming, in the high-radiation mountain areas in Tochigi and Gunma Prefecture. Why would these schools do that? Well they did it last year, so why not this year?
When fall comes, these children will get to harvest rice, dig up sweet potatoes, collect acorns and colorful fallen leaves, and participate in fall athletic meets. In winter, they get to go to the high-radiation area ski schools.
Absolutely no change whatsoever.
By the way, the mayor of Yokohama City who fed the city's school children with Fukushima beef loaded with radioactive cesium was trying to feed the children with mandarin oranges harvested in Kanagawa Prefecture (where Yokohama is) this year. The oranges have been found with radioactive cesium, but she and her bureaucrats were going to feed them to children anyway because the cesium level was below 100 becquerels/kg. At the fierce outcry from a small but vocal group of parents, the city backed down and one school decided to serve beach jello instead.
As if nothing has happened since March 11, 2011.