Sunday, May 13, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Volunteers Including Small Children Plant Rice Just Outside 20-Km Radius in Fukushima Prefecture

From the photograph by Mainichi Shinbun, both the small girl and the mother (I think) are planting rice with bare hands and bare feet. The location is Kawauchi-mura, Fukushima Prefecture, just outside the 20-kilometer "no-entry" zone and inside the former "evacuation-ready zone" which was abolished in September last year.

Why is this happening? Mainichi Shinbun (5/13/2012; emphasis is mine) reports:


In the wake of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident last year, the national government restricted the planting of rice in Kawauchi-mura in Fukushima Prefecture. On May 13, the experimental planting of rice started in Kawauchi-mura. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the village planned the event, and about 50 volunteers including families from the Tokyo Metropolitan region enjoyed rice planting the old-fashioned way - by hand, in the mud.


This year, the village has decided to refrain from planting rice on a commercial scale, but plans to resume planting next year based on the experimental cultivation. In the experimental plot using 30 rice paddies, rice will be planted in 10 ares with differing amounts of minerals that absorb radioactive materials and different tilling depths. The harvested rice won't be sold in the market, but will be used to study whether radioactive cesium is detected.


Akiko Komiya (age 22), college senior from Fujisawa City in Kanagawa said, "As baseless rumors spread, I wanted to see things for myself. I want to believe in safety, and want to support people doing their best in a positive manner." Yoshitaka Akimoto (age 69), the farmer who planted the rice last year, said, "Even if this is only an experiment, it is the first step toward the agricultural renewal. Even if it cannot be sold right away, I want to continue to slowly persuade the consumers."

With a college senior like Ms. Komiya, the future for Japan is as bright as in the past 20 years or so.

Fukushima's local paper Fukushima Minpo (5/13/2012) reports on the same news, and says this experiment is part of the project to develop new sales routes for the rice grown in Kawauchi-mura. The project is called "Revival of Rice Project (復活の米プロジェクト)", and is hosted by Mr. Akimoto. The paper quote him as saying:


I'm excited to think that rice growing is just about to start. One step at a time, as I interact with more consumers.

As Mainichi article says, Mr. Akimoto planted and harvested rice last year, too, despite the ban. The harvest rice is supposed to have been tested and discarded. I haven't found the result of the test, if it was ever done. Looking at the photo at Fukushima Minpo, he looks like he means well.

The Ministry of Education and Science's cesium deposition map of Kawauchi-mura, and the map roughly indicating where Mr. Akimoto's rice farm is located (from Kobe Shinbun last year):

Contamination in most of Kawauchi-mura seems less than areas in Fukushima City or Date City, 50 kilometers or more from the nuclear plant. Still, the MEXT map shows Mr. Akimoto's farm to have soil with 100K to 300K Bq/m2 of radioactive cesium. It doesn't seem like the "safe" enough level for a mother to let her small daughter go bare feet and hands to play in the mud.

Kawauchi-mura's Tourism Bureau informs us as of April 25, 2012 that the public building (museum) right near Mr. Akimoto's farm remains closed, and no decontamination work has been done.


LC Douglass said...

Oh my god. My mouth is still hanging open. I actually can't close it.

Anonymous said...

Marie Curie, the woman who discovered Radium, and did some of the earliest research into radioactivity, died of aplastic anemia, a result of radiation poisoning.

A brilliant scientist, I think she would have heeded those "baseless rumors." Just because you cannot see radiation with your eyes does not mean it is safe. This stealthy demon kills indiscriminately. People of Japan must be educated to understand that sending children into high radiation areas, and allowing them to play in radiation-contaminated soil will KILL THEM earlier than their time.

Anonymous said...

Did they measure the radiation level? In the Kawauchi-mura link, there's a reading at 250 nSv/h, which isn't so high. Also, did they take any countermeasures on the soil, such as tilling and loading potassium? That would help hold down the dose provided soil is not too contaminated.

Anonymous said...

Insult to science, abuse of people naiveness, genocide, immorality, sadeness.

Anonymous said...

Fucking Hell ! the Japanese are fucking Insane ! what is that kid doing there ?

Anonymous said...

Planting rice, as her mommy said she should.

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(do skip back to the beginning if you have a moment; even she admits this is one of her best edits and it may provide some measure of comic relief).

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