Friday, August 12, 2011

Now It's #Radioactive Firewood: But It's "Culturally Insensitive" Not to Burn It, Say Japanese Radiation Experts

They were going to burn it in Kyoto in the annual "Gozan no Okuribi" - ceremonial bonfire to send off the spirits of the dead at the end of Bon Festival. It was going to be burned for the people who died in the disaster-affected area, particularly in Rikuzen Takata City in Iwate Prefecture, where the firewood was made from the fallen pine trees.

When the news first broke of the plan to use the firewood from Rikuzen Takata City in Iwate, 185 km north of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, concerned Kyoto residents protested, fearing the spread of radioactive materials by burning the wood. The residents were roundly scolded for being selfish, uncaring, insensitive to the people who suffered so much in the earthquake/tsunami of March 11.

Then, on August 10, radioactive cesium was detected, as high as 1,480 becquerels/kg, from the debris in Rikuzen Takata City.

Someone decided to test the new batch of firewood that came from Rikuzen Takata City on August 11, and they turned out to be radioactive. Not much, in the current radioactive state of things in Japan, as it was "only" 1,130 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.

Kyoto City has decided not to use the firewood after all. But the city is being scolded for overreacting and "culturally insensitive". Kyoto? Culturally insensitive?

From Yomiuri Shinbun (12:06AM 8/13/2011):


"Just when we thought we were all going to do it..." On August 12, Kyoto City decided not to burn the firewood made from the pine trees from Rikuzen Takata City in Iwate prefecture because of radioactive cesium detected from the firewood. The firewood was to be burned in the "Kyoto Gozan no Okuribi" bonfire [on August 16]. Organizers of the event in Kyoto City were disappointed and perplexed.


Kyoto City Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa apologized, "I am heart-broken for having disappointed people in Rikuzen Takata City and in the disaster-affected areas. I sincerely apologize to people who have put in tremendous effort in making it happen." The mayor repeated, "there is no national safety standard for firewood. I urge the national government to create the safety standard as soon as possible."


The firewood was provided by an NPO "Fukui Disaster Volunteer Net" in Sakai City in Fukui Prefecture. The head of the NPO, Misao Higashikado doesn't know what to do. He planned the proceeds from the sale of the firewood to go to the disaster relief effort, and in May his organization collected the pine trees felled in the March 11 tsunami from "Takata Matsubara", a national scenic spot, and started to sell the firewood made from the pine trees. The shipment just started in mid July. He says every piece of the firewood has been tested one by one by a simple testing, and that no radioactive materials have been detected. "I am bewildered by the turn of events. We just wanted to help the recovery in the disaster-affected area", he says.

The head of this NPO, Misao Higashikado, is also an Assemblyman in the Fukui Prefectural Assembly.

The mayor of Kyoto City sounds like he would order the burning as soon as there's a national safety limit for firewood, even if that limit is 8,000 becquerels/kg or 100,000 becquerels/kg. (Well, there is no filter that could trap radioactive materials in the open-air burning like this.)

The so-called radiation experts are still excoriating Kyoto City and its residents for insensitivity, according to Mainichi Shinbun Japanese (8/12/2011):

One of them, Otsura Niwa, professor emeritus at Kyoto University (radiation biology) and the main committee member of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) says:


"Even if one ate 1 kilogram of the bark [they tested the bark] and it were all absorbed in the body, the radiation level would be negligible. It's a meaningless pursuit of cleanliness that tramples down the feelings of the people in the disaster-affected area."

Another one, Ikuro Anzai, professor emeritus at Ritsumeikan University, even if his specialty is radiation protection, accuses people in Kyoto (of all people in Japan...) of destroying the cultural tradition of Japan:


"'Gozan no Okuribi' is a traditional religious ceremony. I suspect the radiation was taken as uncleanliness or defilement. This is not the matter of science but of culture. It should be solved culturally, and the memorial ceremony for the deceased should be performed."

Professor Anzai, radiation contamination is indeed uncleanliness, and it cannot be cleaned by spreading it all over Kyoto. The memorial ceremony for the deceased can be performed without burning the radioactive firewood over the city of Kyoto. I do not believe the deceased in the disaster-affected areas would want to spread the radiation unnecessarily.

Not to be outdone by the specialists, the mayor of Rikuzen Takata City chimes in:


To Kyoto City, the mayor said, "It has spread the baseless rumor [that the firewood from Rikuzen Takata is radioactive - never mind it is], and that has inconvenienced people in the disaster-affected areas and residents in Kyoto City. I would have liked the city to proceed more cautiously."

Here we go. Radioactive firewood is just another "baseless rumor".


Anonymous said...

Fascinating,even the dead were voting.

Anonymous said...

If you can read these reports and not come away from it without thinking, "the Japanese gov't is comprised totally of morons" then it would be a miracle.

I live in Japan, and I literally believe NOTHING about the "Safety" of anything here.

Fellow residents of Japan, you better stockpile safe food, if you can find it. Bad times, and super high food prices are coming VERY soon.

Stock said...

Defend, pretend, transcend reality,
till the bitter end

Anonymous said...

Its so unfortunate the radioactive materials have no sign or immediate effect to warn of danger. Plus the radioactivity is additive, from the food, the ground the water. The cruel part -- once contaminated, its not an easy or fast process to decontaminate for the longer life celsium and other radioactive products. For living creatures it can be a long and painful period of illness following a relatively low or medium exposure. Taste of metal in the mouth, nausea and so on can occur. The hidden damages to bones, organs and DNA/reproduction may take years to become evident. Its the hidden and unseen which makes radioactivity so easy to hide by governments determined to force this technology on their citizens.

Randy Remote said...

Burning trees purely for traditional reasons is "Environmentally insensitive", not in tune with the present reality, and just dumb. Ditto cutting Xmas trees and lots of other outmoded habits people blindly accept.
They could start a new tradition of planting trees, I'm sure the dead would feel just as honored.

Anonymous said...

I concur. Sacrificing trees to the Christmas gods is pretty outdated. Not to mention in this new world, you might be bringing some of those nasty particles in your house! Leave them outside where trees belong.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

To clarify: firewood from Rikuzen Takata City was made from pine trees uprooted and died in the tsunami.

Anonymous said...

Thank you again for all your work on this blog. I do not read Japanese, and it is virtually impossible to find any of the information you cover in English-language sources.

I live in California. My friends have been organizing fund raisers to send money to Japan for disaster relief, and I have participated myself. But more and more, as I learn about the actions of the Japanese authorities, I wonder if doing so is really helping ordinary people. Perhaps all we are doing is propping up these corrupt institutions and strengthening the false idea that the current approach of minimal change is reasonable, that things quickly can be brought back to "normal." As it stands, the political and social institutions of Japan are only making the situation worse.

When I think about this, I am amazed that you have kept to your task of circulating useful information after all these months of continual bad news, of absurd and irresponsible lies by government, industry and science, and of seeming indifference from the Japanese public. A lesser man might have long since given in to anger and despair. Thank you again.


Anonymous said...

Slowly killing the living to honor the dead...that's just Effed up.

xanteacher said...

I hope the critics keep a record of these safety 'compromises' for the sake of cultural/national solidarity to show to the parents of future birth-defected children. Hats off to those who raise enough of a stink in Kyoto to call the radiation baptism off. By the way, the calls for radioactive debris to be burned by the broader Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo (Kobe) governments has met with similar resistance by the public, with city administrators passing the buck around, citing a lack of civic authority to commence the debris burning. I live in Osaka and we are watching for this sort of contamination pathway closely. Of course, there are many other pathways (food, compost, etc.). It is just a matter of keeping it to as slow and low a spread at this point. . .

Kyoto resident said...

It gets worse. Apparently both kyoto city and kameoka city have agreed to accept debris from the tsunami hit areas EVERY year while necessary. All of it must be contaminated to some extent.

Given that the area around the Fukushima plant is going to be off limits for decades, why don't they put it there.

One thing I dont understand is why a mayor would support such a plan that will only meet opposition from city residents and hamper chances of reelection.

Anonymous said...


Oh whata GREAT way to keep the papal depopulation program running: Just keep groups of people fightin each other [ FOR ANY REASON ]. Manipulating feel-good religion good-feelings is the most potent pogrom pontification.


MEANWHILE KEEP NUCLEAR FALLOUT RAINING CONTINUOUSLY, 24/7/365. Pumped to upper atmosphere via the 400feet x 12feet stacks (always causing extreme airflow). Just dontya speak/touch the stacks, theyre crucial in the op.

"Lovely" says the NWauthor: "All extra mushrooms [you] will be culled": "Thank You repeat all the malthusian 'Ted Turners'...


No, you wont believe, even if the Tweets from a nurse on your bedside proves how it went... Folks, keep up MSM pro pagan da da

Btw. You guessed right. If I had a spare fighter plane, I'd decimate the Fukushima GLOBE IRRADIATING stacks. But you, dont speak/do anything, just patiently wait like a patient, EAT WHAT THE 0RDER 0RDERS...


Anonymous said...

"Just dontya speak/touch the stacks, theyre crucial in the op.

Enough w/the freaking stacks, dude. Any nighttime webcam of Fuku will show you the "stacks" are of little consequence in "pumping" of steam.

You make some good points, then couch it in behavior exactly the same as ignoring the Nurse's tweets for the MSM.

Enough w/the stacks.

Anonymous said...


"nighttime webcam of Fuku will show"

LOL. You truly may have a shinin future as CO2 'scientist', on par with the IPCC-Railway-Engineer (climate scientology) Pachauri... alas, also Fraudster.

Hmm. nighttime webcam Fukushow; Hi-Quality TEPCO-wood videos.


Anonymous said...

Saw the Kyoto mayor bowing and apologizing on national TV this morning. Bizarre really.

Apparently more of the wood will be burned in Narita-San temple in Narita/Chiba next month.

Vonrico said...

when storm hit the area it will mixed and scatter the radioactive steam in large part of the country.

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