At a gathering of politicians from prefectural and municipal governments in Japan, the veterinarian head of a non-profit organization called "Ecosystem Conservation Society of Japan" told the audience, quite off-handedly,
People in Fukushima, Tochigi, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa where the radioactive plume went by, should not marry because the deformity rate of their offspring will skyrocket.
To the outraged delegation from Fukushima City, he says,
Tough. They misquoted me on purpose, I was just talking generalities.
Generalities. So these days in Japan, citing specific locales and predicting specific events like deformity of babies is talking generalities.
So far, only the delegation from Fukushima City is outraged. The reactions from the rest of Japan are two types:
Oh someone finally spoke the truth, and he is the head of some non-profit organization (that must mean his intentions are good), so we should take it seriously; or
From Asahi Shinbun (8/29/2012; part):
Fukushima City Assemblymen including Mr. Kazuyoshi Sato held a press conference on August 29, and announced that they would demand the correction of the remark by Mr. Hobun Ikeya, head of a public interest incorporated foundation called "Ecosystem Conservation Society of Japan" during the lecture in July on the effect of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident as "inappropriate and discriminatory, and cannot be tolerated".
According to Assemblyman Sato and others, Mr. Ikeha said in the lecture, "You'd better not marry anyone from Fukushima", and "Cancer rate may rise in Fukushima, and deformed babies may be born".
According to the explanation by the Society and the recording that our reporter listened to, Mr. Ikeya also mentioned several prefectures in Kanto region that have had certain levels of radiation contamination because of the nuclear accident. He pointed out to the map of the region, and said, "People who live in the areas where the radioactive plume went by should avoid marrying at all costs." He further said "If they marry and have children, the rate of deformity in babies will skyrocket."
Mr. Ikeya responded to Asahi Shinbun and explained, "I wanted to emphasize the heightened risk of DNA damage and deformed babies due to radiation exposure. I discussed generalities, and had no intention of discrimination."
The lecture was sponsored by the Ecosystem Conservation Society of Japan and held in Tokyo on July 9. Assemblypersons from municipalities throughout Japan participated, and four assemblymen including Mr. Sato from the Fukushima City Assembly participated.
More from Fukushima Minpo (8/30/2012; part):
Regarding the remarks that have been condemned as inappropriate by Mr. Hobun Ikeya (age 70) of the Ecosystem Conservation Society of Japan in a lecture in Tokyo, Mr. Ikeya released part of the transcript of the lecture to the press on August 29.
According to the transcript, he said, "It's not just Fukushima, you know, people in Tochigi, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa, people who were there should not marry at all costs", and "If they get married and have children, the rate of deformity in babies will skyrocket."
According to the Society, the document is a transcript from the recording, and it has been sent to news organizations in Fukushima Prefecture.
To Fukushima Minpo, Mr. Ikeya admitted that he had made these remarks, and argued, "I don't think it's discriminatory against people in Fukushima." As to his insistence in the past that he hadn't said anything like that, he answered, "I meant I hadn't said anything discriminatory."
Mr. Ikeya is a practicing veterinarian. The "Policy" lecture has been given once a year or so since 2003, and it was the 12th this year. 80 to 100 politicians from municipalities and citizens who aspire to become politicians participate. Last year's lecture was canceled due to the March 11 disaster, and this year's lecture was the first since the disaster.
Accusation that Mr. Ikeya is discriminating against Fukushima is not really true, as Mr. Ikeya is saying the same for four other prefectures in Kanto.
Well at least Mr. Ikeya is a veterinarian, remotely qualified (I suppose) to comment on something medical. The only (human) medical experts who expressed outrage are so-called "government experts" (including Professor Noboru Takamura of Nagasaki University and Fukushima Prefecture Radiation Health Risk Management Advisor who spoke soothing words to Iitate-mura villagers right after the accident, and Professor Masahiro Fukushi of Tokyo Metropolitan University who measured radiation levels in meals with faulty germanium semiconductor detector for NHK program), which is taken by many net citizens on Twitter to mean Mr. Ikeya must be telling the truth.
Never mind that Mr. Ikeya's expertise is with sick animals.
The Japanese government and government institutions and its experts have only themselves to blame for the deep distrust of anything that has to do with the government for an off-hand remark by a veterinarian to be taken seriously as the truth.