A university in Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu, far away from radiation contamination in Kanto and Tohoku, wants to send 4 local children to Fukushima Prefecture as "ambassadors" so that the children form a rapport with children in Fukushima. The university, Kumamoto Gakuen University, is one of many that have signed up with the program called "Children Ambassadors to Fukushima" to recruit children. (Mainichi Shinbun western regional version, 6/22/2013)
There have been many events like this since 2011, where adults recruit children to help dispel "baseless rumors" of radiation contamination in Fukushima and northern Kanto by sending children there to "cheer the locals" or by having them eat locally-produced food (like this one in Tochigi Prefecture in 2011, where the mayor of the city and cattle farmers went to an elementary school and made sure children eat their local beef).
Children, in this case, are to visit Aizu region, mountain-third of Fukushima Prefecture with far less contamination from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, but with areas with somewhat elevated radiation in Aizuwakamatsu City (30,000 to 60,000 Bq/m2, according to Ministry of Education).
People who are against events like this say:
Why do they want to send children who are more sensitive to radiation to the radiation-contaminated Fukushima?
Most people who are for events like this say:
Aizu region of Fukushima is hardly contaminated. Opponents are fanning baseless rumors.
It should be up to the parents to decide, not people who oppose such events.
I dislike events like this. Why use children? If the well-meaning college students from Kyushu want to deepen ties with Fukushima, go right ahead and do so by going there themselves, at their own risk and responsibility. Leave minors alone who cannot and should not assess risk properly and should not assume responsibility.
But equally hypocritical, as far as I'm concerned, is something like this (from this tweet):
Wonderful-sounding slogan like "Let's protect children", with adult hands shielding children from the red dots that represent radiation. Yes? How are you going to protect children? By buying this stamp?
People who retweeted said, "What a wonderful picture! Where can I buy them?"
What has happened to those piles of dirt on sides of the roads, on the rooftops, in the drains, in Tohoku and Kanto? Have they been removed? How about food items used in school lunches that contain radioactive cesium in varying amounts, albeit in most cases these days in less than 100 Bq/kg? Have they been removed from lunch menus? Baby formulas continue to be found with small amount of radioactive cesium. Does anyone still care?
No and no and no. So what's with "protecting children?"
One of my Twitter followers observed, "The hands look like they are holding down the children right there", instead of moving them to red-dot-free areas or creating red-dot-free (as possible) areas for them.
The biggest irony is that this country, Japan, suffers a population decline, and only now (instead of 20 years ago) the power that be have started to think, "Gee, we'd better have more children (so that we have enough people who pay taxes for our pensions)". You would assume people at least treat children with care and gratitude.
But no. Children are used as convenient props by all sides - pro-nuke, anti-nuke, pro-recovery, or anti-radiation.
Saying "cheer people in Fukushima with the power of children" or "protect children" is the same as saying "beyond nuclear" in Japan. It's the beautiful image on the horizon that counts, not the pile of shit at their feet.