Japan Diary 2016, Fukushima+5 Part 2. Hope and False Hope: Atomic Fallout Changes our Environment and Always Results in Injustice

Fukushima, April 2011

Fukushima, April 2011

Some who read yesterday’s post from Temporary Housing near Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture are probably still unhappy with me! The idea that small reductions in radiation exposure are any kind of “solution” flies in the face of what we know: there is no safe dose of radiation. We say: “No cure, only prevention!”

The women that I met on my first day here have no choice. Elders (60+), many have moved 4 or 5 times since they were forced to leave their homes in March 2011; some report when they reached the first Evacuation Center that their contamination levels were so high they pegged the monitors. Now most of their husbands are gone, their children have jobs in the big cities now, they are alone. For one reason or another, they need the support they get by staying where they are. Where they live now is unrestricted but still radioactive to varying degrees, well above where I live. When the evacuation order is lifted, most will have no choice but to return to houses that while “reduced” in radioactivity are not clean.

Sitting with them I could only hope to teach them things that would make them question allowing their grandchildren to play in the dirt when they, someday, come visit their homes…and even here, outside the zone. We stressed that the dirt and dust are not safe. Small steps.

The big picture is this: these elders, with few resources of their own, are among those most impacted by Tepco’s meltdowns. 3/11 unleashed forces that hit those who need the greatest support the hardest. Once again we must recommit ourselves: no more radiation refugees!

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide (TMI)!
No More Chernobyls!

What do we “chant” for Fukushima? There has been such a focus in our community on climate and nukes in these same years…I am sure there is a slogan about Fukushima, why does one escape me? Maybe I can’t remember it because it really offers not much help or hope to these particular women.

I am saying “Atomic destruction began, and must end, here. In Japan.”

Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action speaks.

Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action speaks.

Japan is blessed with advocacy and justice organizations and international groups have arms here—including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. NIRS has close ties with the grassroots-oriented Green Action, but they/we are up against an enormous cultural, social, political, legal wall of denial. Appropriately, the resources of these groups are focused on the only place there is hope: keeping the other nukes in Japan off-line. All the other reactors in Japan went off-line by 2013, which lasted until the end of 2015; a rocky re-start is happening now at Takahama. Stopping re-start is the very best focus they can have. Prevention is the Cure!

But the victims of Fukushima Daiichi are being ground to a fine pulp as the Japanese national Nuclear Regulatory Agency, the US NRC, the international “nuclear village” and the local government all proclaim:) “Fukushima Prefecture is being cleaned! If there was a problem, there is no problem now!” These lies are compounded now by the official stance that when cleaning is over, if you don’t come back that is now voluntary. All financial support ends…and worse yet, there is a clear message: “you are crazy and suffering an irrational fear of radiation.” Victims tell me that the Prefecture has hired special counselors to help people overcome their “irrational” fears. The injustice created by the events of 3/11 is blossoming into what appears to me to be a full-scale attack on the people, especially women and children from Fukushima.

Large numbers of people are being paid to take the radiation dose during “decontamination.” The result is 2-ton bags of concentrated contaminated soil and refuse…there are hundreds of thousands of these bags (conservative number). There are freezers full of contaminated wild boars that are killed and frozen since their bodies are so highly radioactive they cannot be buried. Now they plan to burn those carcasses, as if that were any kind of solution. The incinerators are supposed to catch all the radioactivity, but this too is propaganda since experience in the U.S. with filters has shown that reduction may occur, but containment is impossible.

A recent headline calls the 3/11 nuclear meltdowns a nuclear “mishap.”  This is a form of larceny: The health of the people is being stolen by the miserable equation their government is making, since, like other environmental devastations, if they do not want to return to live in their house, there will be no one to buy it. People are stuck. Now we hear that at a local meeting about school lunches, mothers in Fukushima City were told that if they do not like the schools serving Fukushima-produced vegetables and rice, they should move away. Love it or leave it. Effective expulsion. Grand larceny.

Dr. John Gofman said nuclear power is “mass, random, premeditated murder.” Thank you John. With these words, we begin to understand the enormous liability involved…Gorbachev told us the USSR dissolved to dump the Chernobyl liability into the effectively “Limited Liability” world of a newly freed Ukraine.

Atomic corruption pulls like lead overshoes on Hope…but I must say, in the end this is actually a false hope for the nuclear industry. People are sick; I am going to share those stories in my next post. The cancer latency clock is ticking here in Japan. The victims of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were located in much larger countries…where the Atomic Diaspora that followed resulted in anonymity of the victims. Here in Japan they are trying to get away with it, but the deep locality of the Japanese culture is going to, tragically, make the coming suffering of disease visible. UNSCEAR is underestimating the dose, and the consequences of Daiichi. In Japan, when the cancers come it will be visible. (More on this next week).

No wonder I have met people selling pure “snake oil” products: The pitch is “Use this household cleaner and it will neutralize the radioactivity.” (Physical reality is being sacrificed for magical thinking here). It has been a difficult matter to tell someone who is really living with little or no hope that this product is pure fiction…

Sometimes I just allow the language barrier to suffice, and leave my need for hope…and theirs in silence. What, in the end is there to say? So I listen.

Mary Olson

March 2, 2016

Permalink: https://safeenergy.org/2016/03/02/japan-diary-2016-fukushima5-part-2/

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5 thoughts on “Japan Diary 2016, Fukushima+5 Part 2. Hope and False Hope: Atomic Fallout Changes our Environment and Always Results in Injustice

  1. timjnirs

    Might be worth correcting the statement that all reactors in Japan have been offline since 2011. It was from 2013-2015 that all reactors were closed.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Dick Saunders

    Has anyone yet set about to calculate the total damage (property losses, human toll and reconstruction costs) on the 5-year anniversary of Fukushima Daichi?

    1. Michael Mariotte Post author

      I have seen estimates in the $500 billion range, though do not have a citation for that at the moment. As far as I know, there has been no such “official” estimate from the government. Does anyone else know whether there have been any reliable studies trying to project the full costs of Fukushima?

      Michael Mariotte


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