Monday, October 10, 2011

How to Enjoy Radioactive Autumn in Japan in Kindergartens and Elementary Schools

In Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, they all do these fun-filled activities to enjoy and celebrate autumn, just like they did last year and year before, radioactive fallout or not. A minor nuclear accident must not disturb the preset schedule, ever.

At this point, though an increasing number of parents are simply horrified, the majority are quite happily following whatever the school teachers say and accuse the concerned parents as "monster parent" (a Japlish word that they use in katakana) - a troublemaker. The majority are more worried about their children's prospect of getting into prestigious schools.

1. Radioactive school lunch with tastes of autumn, including chestnuts and mushrooms.

The most hilarious and sad is the school nutritionist in Koto-ku, Tokyo where the high radiation spots have been detected which were likely the result of radioactive fallout from the garbage incineration plant.

According to the blog "Protect children in Koto-ku" (link is in Japanese), a grocer that supplies school lunch food items came to Edagawa Elementary School with the test result of the chestnut that the grocer wanted to sell to school. The test result was: 44 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium detected.

And from the "togetter" collection of related tweets on the subject:

Apparently the grocer brought with him the printout of the test result as an "advertisement", of how "safe" his chestnuts were. Looking at the result, the school nutritionist was relieved that it was such a low number and therefore it was safe. So the school bought the radioactive chestnuts from the grocer and served them in lunch to feed 700 children.

They knew the chestnuts were radioactive, and they served them anyway. The producer, the wholesaler, the retail grocer, and the school all seemed to think that anything below the provisional safety limit was literally, genuinely safe. The school nutritionist was a recent college grad with no influence over lunch decision.

The chestnuts were grown and harvested in Ibaraki Prefecture, just south of Fukushima.

As to mushrooms which tend to concentrate radioactive materials very effectively, many schools are having some sort of "mushroom festival" lunch - using multiple varieties in a spaghetti sauce for example.

2. Radioactive school cleanup

This still goes to the now-infamous Yokohama City. Schools are still having the students do the autumn cleanup of dead leaves and branches in the school yards and rooftops. In Naka-ku, the air radiation on the school rooftop was 0.56 microsievert/hour, but the city official who came to measure left without doing anything, because it was 0.03 microsievert less than the level where the city would have to take some action (0.59 microsievert/hour).

(There are a whole lot more stories like this at the message board of Yokohama Assemblyman Ota, here.)

3. Collecting radioactive leaves and acorns dropped in the leaves

This is very, very popular among kindergartens and nursery schools in Kanto. Children like small stuff like acorns buried in the colorful, fallen leaves. The teachers let small children have fun collecting the leaves and acorns, with bare hands, no masks. One mother was horrified when her kid came back with an extra bag of acorn that the teacher gave him as souvenir. She said she tried her best to smile, and would throw away the bag when the boy was not watching.

Collecting dead leaves for composting in the school yards is also quite popular. One kindergarten in Kashiwa City was asking parents to bring dead leaves to the kindergarten so that the kindergarten could start a new pile of leaf compost in the school yard.

4. Visiting the high radiation spots in Chiba and dig up sweet potatoes

That's another popular activity. Chiba is famous for sweet potatoes in Kanto. Kindergartners and school children from Tokyo and Chiba go there to harvest sweet potatoes, collect fallen leaves to build a fire and bake the potatoes in the fire. In spring, they most likely did the planting of rice on bare feet in the radioactive rice paddies. In autumn, they get to dig the radioactive soil to get sweet potatoes.

In one kindergarten in Kashiwa City (hot spot), they make children dig sweet potatos with bare hands this year, because many children lost the digging tools that the kindergarten gave them last year. So this year after nuclear fallout, the teachers force the kindergartners to use their own tiny hands. No gloves allowed.

5. Radioactive "undokai" (school athletic meet)

Small children and pupils get to run and play in the dirt school yard for the autumnal athletic meet. Many will get to do certain activities like gymnastics on bare feet (the teachers won't allow them to wear shoes). A parent who begged his daughter's school to at least hose down the dust was totally ignored.

It is as if they were intent on killing their young. It is as if the current radiation level was not high enough to cause immediate damage so they wanted to hasten the onset of the damage by piling radiation upon radiation on the young, at every occasion.

So, if you escape Kanto, you don't need to worry anymore? Yes you do. A resigned mother who fled Yokohama with her children to Okinawa tweets that they use cabbages grown and harvested in Gunma Prefecture in school lunch. People living in Kansai report that the local supermarkets are full of vegetables and fruits from Kanto and Tohoku, a phenomenon that they do not recall ever happening in their area.

Soon, radioactive debris will follow, thanks to the tireless campaign by the Ministry of the Environment which is set to grow so fat (in terms of budget appropriation for the Ministry) from the "decontamination" bubble it is creating.

Some of my twitter followers in Japan are jokingly asking if there's any country that would accept Japanese people as "radiation refugee". To me, they should qualify as "political refugee" because if they stay in Japan, their lives are threatened daily by their own government.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The world will take radiation refugees. What could those parents possibly be thinking? These are their children. Apparently they want no more future generations.

Anonymous said...

It seems to be that the authorities are engaging in a mass hallucination that things are OK and that life can just go on as before. Anyone who dares to question this supposition gets exposed to a sadistic treatment.

People who do not have children and do not plan on having any have more freedom in deciding what to do.

But parents must decide what really matters: temporary relief through being conformist and going along with the hallucination, or risking collective wrath by protecting their children.

Not wanting to sound mean, but my character is such that if I caused my child severe harm by paying attention to other people's opinions, I would feel horribly guilty throughout my life, and deservedly so.

Children are not the property of the school. They deserve protection, and they deserve a choice. The schools are not giving them either.

Except for Russia, no country has expressed interest in accepting "nuclear refugees" en masse. In most places these days, it's very difficult to get a residence visa. People who want to leave Japan shouldn't wait for an invitation, they should start planning now. Those who stay cannot avoid learning about practical nuclear physics and chemistry.

Anonymous said...

Gunma? Has she not seen the maps?

Either you move really far away or you wait until more things are becoming more clear before moving. Things are still in flux at this stage.

Anyway, people go to great lengths to believe that everything is normal. That's why it is called denial. The Germans know what it is like when the state goes out of control. That's one reason why you have the anti-nuke movement so strong there. The Japanese do not seem to have learned that lesson.

William Milberry said...

I make a reference to the same type of thing as in point #1 above in my video about radioactive green tea in Japan ( I point out a green tea seller that proudly shows documents proving over 100 bq/kg. of cesium in their tea as some kind of proof of safety ...

It's criminal and just plain sick!!!

William Milberry

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Anon at 11:54PM, she knows, that's why she tweeted. The one who doesn't know is the school in Okinawa that serves Gunma cabbage to kids.

As an aside, are ordinary Germans upset about their government bailing out failing banks and countries all over Europe, at their expense? Or is "European" unity so important?

Anonymous said...

Child abuse! An education is worthless to you if you are dead!!! The same goes for money, success, talent... Ask Apple CEO Steve Jobs, whose cancer suddenly worsened and became fatal in his 50s while living on the West Coast during Fukushima...not so coincidental...

I'm sort of glad the media has been avoiding the Japan story. It is so hard to see adorable Japanese children!! I think they are just precious.

William Milberry said...

Here is a green tea company doing the same as #1 above - using a document proving contamination as a demonstration of safety:

Anonymous said...

Ordinary Germans don't even get that it's their banks that are being bailed out. They think that the EU is bailing out lazy Southerners (Greeks).

Never mind that most working Greeks pay taxes the same way everyone else does -- through an immediate deduction from their paycheck, so the chances for cheating are slim, and that Brussels actually shut down ways for imposing more responsibility on truly wealthy Greeks.

It doesn't even occur to the "regular German" that German elites are profiting from the current set-up of the EU. It "ain't" idealism that's motivating them for sure.

Some people of course know what's going on, but others just enjoy their Stammtisch indignation...The beauty of rightist populism!

Anonymous said...

..mere 50s, I should add! I am seeing more cancer patients passing away now this year!!

Those kids are extremely darling! :(

Anonymous said...

Canary backbeat...

For those who are seriously looking for place to stay out Kitty land, they should start looking for visa application proccess, with no jobs contracts or schools enrollments living abroad japan is almost impossible.

If they rea taking seriously this radiation crisis, they should start evenmore seriously looking for how to stay longer than 3 months in any country out oj Japan.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@William Milberry, thank you for the links!

@anon at 12:21PM, that's sad. EU is bailing out Southerners alright, but it is bankrolled with the money from the Germans. Oh well. That aspect of economic/financial ignorance is very much shared by the Japanese, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Collective madness. This is what happens when you have become indoctrinated into a nation of jobsworths.
Should the safety of a nations children be sacrificed, or even tested, to save beef farmers or cabbage growers, chestnut colloectors or mushroom farmers?
Lets face it though, Japan is finished if they told the absolute truth. And Nuclear power worldwide would be on the ropes. They know this and that is why this whole post Fukushima escapade is being largely ignored.
This happened to Nazi Germany and their treatment of the Jews.

I never thought it could happen here, to Japan's own children. But thinking about it, Japan has been primed for decades for this kind of reaction.

Anonymous said...

It's not bailing out the Greek people for sure. They are being bled to death and most of them don't want the bail out anyway. As for me, I hope the EU in its current form goes to hell, it deserves it.

Yanis Varoufakis is the man to read.

John said...

Go where? Capital investment is borderless but labor is strictly controlled by visa requirements. And I fear the real difference between Japan and other nations is that Fukushima is simply more visible. It is my understanding that nuclear power plants around the world routinely dump radioactive waste on moonless nights as a way to cut costs. And the plutonium fires in Colorado have irradiated much of North America. Even if Germany does eventually phase out nuclear power, it is downwind of France. And if we want to be honest about environmental carcinogens, the ubiquitous automobile and use of petrochemicals are everywhere. Sadly, this is not a Japanese problem. It is a global problem. Unless we are willing to take down all of civilization and return to a sustainable healthy lifestyle without flooding our environment with toxins, you need to be seeking other planets that will accept refugees from Earth.

Anonymous said...

Sunday afternoon was beautiful weather. My family and I picked the last of the season's nashi at a farm out at Chiba run by wonderful people, and the nashi were delicious.

Anonymous said...

Japan on heavy drugs. The word "sadomasochism" should have a picture of a Japanese person next to the dictionary definition. I feel for all those thinking individuals and infuriated parents in Japan. Feeling alienated in your own country is something more than the word "nightmare" could ever describe.

Anonymous said...

"and the nashi were delicious" -- your family? any idea of how much contaminiation? Do you work for TEPCO as a blogger? Have your children ever had thyroid cancer? They will.....its awful..hard to get treated, have to take meds for rest of life, bloodtests every 6 weeks..oh..and dont expect to have grandchildren! With cancer of the thyroid, its difficult to have a successful pregnancy..

Anonymous said...

Canada is accepting "radiation refugees" from Japan.
Many Japanese families have moved to Canada and have gotten a refugee status right away with a possibility of getting Canadian citizenship in 3 years from the enter date.
God bless you all my Japanese brothers and sisters. Hope to see many of you safe and happy in Canada :)

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Sunday afternoon was beautiful weather. My family and I picked the last of the season's nashi at a farm out at Chiba run by wonderful people, and the nashi were delicious."

Gone nashi picking
Autumn radiation
You're a TEPCO shill (or a complete f'ing dumbass)

Anonymous said...

I lived in Japan for 18 long years, all I can say is while I fear for the people and empathize with them, I am not surprised by the hints of sadistic treatment of those who question the official line. Unfortunately, lack of empathy for the underdog, seems to be ingrained, and bullying the weak or those in a vulnerable position seems to be a national pastime.

Anonymous said...

Gone nashi picking
Autumn radiation

That's a haiku !

doitujin said...

i disagree with the comment that "ordinary Germans" don't get it... many are talking of the possibility of the EU falling apart and the return to the Deutsche Mark... but the politicans are ust doing what is the best for themselves, as usual.

but i don't like it to get off-topic when it's such a sad thing like the treatment of the weakest in Japanese society... this kind of attitude, that in other times might have been more of an advantage than a disadvantage is what makes all the current developments possible... in the beginning, not enough people cared enough to act in a non-Japanese-style intervention way and by now even many of the people who say they pay attention to what they eat and buy go to restaurants every day without even thinking about finding out what kind of food they are served there... just because everything and everybody makes you feel so normal like before march in Japan... and it doesn't look like there would be a big change soon, or even later.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 6:28AM, is it true about Canada accepting "radiation refugees"? Any link?

Bruce Hayden said...

If I win the lottery I'm going to grab a couple of Japanese and Palestinian families and head for
the southern part of Argentina or Chile. I've had this thought for quite some time.

Michael Pelletier said...

They weren't "finished" after two atomic bombs, and they're not "finished" now.

The WHO estimated a 0.6% possible increase in cancer deaths among five million residents exposed to cesium around Chernobyl. That's ZERO point six percent.

What will be the incidence of cancer from all the toxic chemicals spewed into the air from the refinery fire, I wonder?

Hysterical doom-mongering serves no benefit.

Michael Pelletier said...

"It is my understanding that nuclear power plants around the world routinely dump radioactive waste on moonless nights as a way to cut costs."

It's this kind of insane gibberish that demonstrates the intellectual vaccuum of the knee-jerk anti-nuclear crowd. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Hayden - I hope you win the lottery.

Anonymous said...

"The WHO estimated a 0.6% possible increase in cancer deaths among five million residents exposed to cesium around Chernobyl."

Who is the WHO, and who made them the authority on truth and facts? In fact, they spew out lies all the time. The world would heed the WHO at their own peril...

It was Rollo May who said:
"The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice--it is conformity."

The people of Japan have resigned to conforming... But it need not be that way. Take heart, and take matters into your own hands. Gain knowledge and find out the truth, and use that knowledge to take whatever actions are necessary. Knowledge in action is power.

Anonymous said...

The absolute disregard for the public here is excruciating.It reminds me of when MAFF (Ministry of Farms and fisheries) sent the email to supermarkets and shops asking them to keep labelling of food down to a bare minimum so that people wouldn't be able to discriminate against Tohuku/kanto veges and fruit.

Naruhodo said...

A worldwide network to accept families from disaster struck Japan exists

Naruhodo said...

Previous link is the Registration Form, info about current host families is to be found here, in Japanese mostly,

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - October 11, 2011 7:18 PM

Are you sure this is what this MAFF email/letter says? My J wife just read it and says she got the opposite message from it, i.e. that markets, etc. are being encouraged to label accurately.

Of course whether they are or not is an open question.

Anonymous said...

"Do you work for TEPCO as a blogger? "

No, I am an American living in Tokyo. My wife and I are PhD- or MD-degree holding scientists. We both do medical research for a living. I'm well aware of the risks.

Anonymous said...

No, I am an American living in Tokyo. My wife and I are PhD- or MD-degree holding scientists. We both do medical research for a living. I'm well aware of the risks.

Then you should know better than encourage others to go nashi picking/eating in Chiba, IMHO.

I have a PhD in smelling BS pedalled by the government.

But enjoy your peaches and pears. I believe laced with fresh, local cream they are delicious.

Yes, the people are wonderful and this is the real tragedy for the whole country.

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