Wednesday, May 9, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Spring in 2012, Same as Spring in 2011 after 3 Reactors Blew Up in Fukushima

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.

Ummm. Peach?

As if nothing has happened since March 11, 2011.


Anonymous said...

Yep ! business as usual, Ignorance is strength in Japan...don't ask questions and keep your head down is the way here.. this disaster could not have happened in a worse country..

Anonymous said...

"this disaster could not have happened in a worse country"
I'm starting to believe this myself. KOWAI!!!!

Anonymous said...

Check out the article in today's Asahi...cesium I'm Tokyo Bay has increased 1.7 times in the past seven months!

Anonymous said...

A country that doesn't look after it's young is a country with no future.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we have a long way to go in educating some people. But don't give up yet folks.

There has been progress! There are NO nuclear power plants operating in Japan today. None! Evacuees are fighting the decisions that threaten to cut off their compensation now that the government has declared safe a town that would be a superfund site in the US. They are resisting. Friday evenings there are protests in front of the prime minister's residence. Things are not exactly the same as last year, and we are winning some battles.

Keep fighting. Keep teaching. Keep reaching out to the injured and suffering.

I'd especially like to see some lawyers step forward now and help file some legal claims. It's time we took these compensation cases to the courts - even if they don't meet TEPCO and the government's limited conditions for compensation. Millions have suffered stress and uncompensated evacuation costs for behaving like reasonable decision makers during the weeks after the crisis. They all should file court claims demanding compensation for their expenses and for their suffering. Yes it will be long and difficult, and we may not win much, but millions of people have been damaged. We need to hold TEPCO and the Japanese government accountable for their actions and inactions. They should not be allowed to erase the externalities that are a direct result of this accident, and which should be considered in anyone's future cost benefit analysis of nuclear power.

Please, if there are lawyers in Japan who are ready to take this on, submit contact details here.


Anonymous said...

There is very little in the way of litigation here in Japan and very few lawyers will step forward, its a culture of keep your mouth shut and dont challenge the senpai or authority, in this case tepco is the daddy ..

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 11:32PM, Japan wants to believe it is the country that looks after the young and vulnerable. Just like it wants to believe it is one with the nature, when there is no river left without concrete embankment.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 11:50PM:

Japan is supposed to be a country run according to laws. The legal system may not be as strong as the US legal system, but there are processes in place for damaged parties to seek compensation and justice.

If the Japan lawyers honor their profession, if they believe that the courts and the laws are the only responsible way for a plaintiff to seek justice, if they oppose anarchy and vigilanteism, then they must step forward to assist the injured who are seeking justice.

If the Japan lawyers agree that nuclear power is unacceptable, if they want to leave Japan a better place for their children, if they want to preserve and defend Japan culture and country, then they must step forward and send a strong message to those who claim nuclear accidents are affordable for a society.

No, 11:50, I think some Japan lawyers will be compelled to take this on.

Let's roll!

Anonymous said...

But JapanProbe told me Tokyo was safe and there was no contamination. How could there then be contamination even in Kanagawa? I thought JamesJPN was all knowing zen master who all beautiful Japanese girls love?

Anonymous said...

slightly OT
Very sorry to see tokyobrowntabby has been taken off youtube.
There are now some vids posted on dailymotion.

tokyobrowntabby, please don't stop translating.
Open access to all aspects of this tragedy is so important.
Thank you for the work you have done.

kintaman said...

WTF. I cannot believe that youtube removed Tokyobrowntabby's channel. His channel did so much to spread the word to the world about this disaster. To take it down seems almost unethical.

I now regret not having downloaded all his videos.

I guess censorship of history is alive and well on youtube. Do no evil Google, yeah right.

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