Tuesday, June 25, 2013

#Radioactive Japan: Using Children to Promote Agendas Continues Unabated

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.


Anonymous said...

Talking about children expolitation... I recently attended a "security lesson", together with the kids, at the local elementary school. Some former policewoman put up a sort of puppet show to explain the kids they need to be wary of strangers. The show was good and it looked like the kids understood. So far so good.

The lesson/show was also attended by the school principal, a policeman and the local Yomiuri Shinbun "chief", whatever that means. During the lesson both the principal and the policewoman advertised Yomiuri Shinbun to the kids several times, with special emphasis to the kids edition of the same.
So now we have sponsored education...


Anonymous said...

ex-skf is right. They are using children as a pawn to further the agenda of the grown-up's.

Whatever the nice sounding name they give to this practice, "kids ambassadors," "protect children," etc., the fundamental scheme here is no different from the manipulative slogans that the imperial Japanese army used during the WW II when they send the young boys to die in the kamikaze missions in the name of patriotic spirit and the emperor.

In the history of Japan, it has been always the children and young people whose lives were sacrificed first, either during WW II or samurai eras, while the guilty adults usually survived to live their natural life, including those who recruited the kamikaze kids pilots and the Emperor Showa who would have been considered a top war criminal in any other countries.

Aizu region is famous for the historic massive group suicide by the "White Tiger Force" (Byakkotai), a group of young teenage boys who were sent to fight off the approaching Shogun government forces during the Boshin War (1968-69). Their feudal samurai lord of Aizu, Matsudaira Katamori, willingly surrendered to the government when the situation got bad and survived, lived a natural life in a relative comfort, while his followers including his wife, female relative and servants died gruesome deaths protecting his castle.

People of Japan and Aizu still celebrate the suicide of the White Tiger Force, still think it was a beautiful thing to worship and be proud of. They never acknowledged the responsibility of the adults who let the unnecessary massive suicide happen; they are still completely clueless how sick this mentality is.

So now, it seems the tradition is continuing under the different names but with the same twisted adult selfishness.

Anonymous said...

Which baby formulas still carry cesium?

VyseLegendaire said...

Anon at "JUNE 26, 2013 AT 7:44 AM"

You have the wrong century, Boshin war happened in 1868 not post-WW II, lol.

And yes it seems to be a classic meme in Japan mythology of 'group of noble youths sacrificing their lives for the 'society' even though their deaths were in actuality irrelevant to the situation."

VyseLegendaire said...

SKF author :

"But no. Children are used as convenient props by all sides - pro-nuke, anti-nuke, pro-recovery, or anti-radiation."

I think you are wrong to say anti-nuke and anti-radiation use children as 'props' when in fact children are actually in danger from nuclear, and there is no tenable reason to maintain nuclear energy.

Maybe Japan just has to deal with falling back into a pre-industrial way of life to handle this problem, God does not guarantee you an infinite cornucopia of energy and plenty.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Vyse, I think they do. For example, in 2011 and 2012, of numerous meetings between the government officials and residents, there were several televised meetings in which the residents were clearly under the guidance of some activist groups. The residents, instead of negotiating for the children's safety themselves, brought children, and made children read letters to the officials and ask hypothetical questions that made good headlines but that couldn't be answered on the spot by the bureaucrats who looked too young to have any authority to do anything. Some children were visibly traumatized by the exercise.

What was the point? As far as I could tell, to make a news headline or two so that the government would be somehow pressured by the angry public reading the news into doing something.

As to Japan going medieval to solve energy problem, I've read several investment letters saying exactly that - i.e. they are saying Japan is lost, gone, without energy supply.

Anonymous said...

any industrialized country would be back to pre-industrial times without energy. Where would we be using, say, 15% less energy is another story.

Energy does the work on our behalf, be it to warm up our houses without us having to collect wood in the forest or to push around a 2 ton SUV to move 80kg of meat from one place to the other.

Energy has a cost that is in part determined politically. This cost determines economical choices: people is not going to spend much money on insulation if air conditioning is cheaper and after the building is completed you are locked into your choice for the next 50/100 years.


Anonymous said...

Furthermore, the cost of energy does not include externalities.

A real example: some friends built a new house in Tokyo three years ago. They decided that 2 million yen for the extra heat insulation was too expensive so they did without it. They fled back to Europe on March 12th 2011 and eventually sold the house.

Even if they had they purchased more insulation Fukushima would have happened anyways. Their choice not to insulate was the effect of not pricing externalities into energy costs. Going back to pre-industrial age is another story altogether.

Anonymous said...

I always find it amusing that people trust parents to know what is best for their children.

Nobody seems to account for the possibility that the parent is an idiot. People aren't even educated on how to be a good parent, so I'd imagine that most people have no idea how to raise a child.

Most parents also only want their children to be what they want them to be, with zero consideration for what the child wants. Many parents never even see their children as people. Such saddening stupidity.

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