On December 20, 2012, a multi-professional symposium was held in Tokyo. The specialty of the speakers ranged from freelance journalist, politician to comedian. The symposium was organised by Free Press Association of Japan, a non-profit organisation.
The disregard for radioactive exposure in a historical context
The neglect of radioactive exposure by medical doctors and occupational health physicians all over the world has been considered one of the reasons why the public fails to look at and address such a fundamental issue. These doctors and scientists adopt the radioactive safety standards created by International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). However, it was revealed from the cases of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl that this international institution underestimated the impact of low level and internal radioactive exposure to human body. This ICRP’s policy, considering the creation of the institution hugely associated with the notion of the “peaceful use of atom”, always needed to compromise with the interests of the military and nuclear business sectors. Meanwhile, the health concerns raised by the victims of radioactive exposure were neglected because they were considered to deter the commercial utility of the nuclear power.
After the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, it became widely recognised that the “myth” of nuclear power safety has ceased and a number of countries have reviewed their policies on nuclear power. The main concern of the leaders of these countries was not only the breakdown of the nuclear reactors, but also the following impact of radioactive exposure on ordinary citizens when the disaster occurs. However, general Japanese citizens, in contrast, currently only pay little attention to the issues of radioactive exposure while they argue about the safety of nuclear power everyday on TV. There is a clear lack of understanding in the public that the issue of radioactive exposure needs to be addressed immediately. This public’s awareness reflects on the government policies in which the issue of radioactive exposure is isolated from the discussion of the restarts of nuclear power operation.
Instead, the reason to oppose nuclear power should be solely based on the destructive effects of radioactive exposure towards human health. For instance, the radioactive exposure of nuclear power plant workers needs to be one of the most seriously considered problems. It must be addressed before discussing the security of the reactors, the existence of fault lines or the alternative energy sources. In this context, one will understand that the operation of nuclear power inevitably entails the radioactive exposure and therefore the issue of radioactive exposure cannot be disregarded when determining the use of nuclear power generation.
The issue of radioactive exposure in relation to the Japanese anti-nuclear movement
In Japan, radioactive exposure is in fact not directly dealt with, nor is it treated as a key issue in many aspects of people’s lives. For instance, since the Japanese anti-nuclear movement grew largely in the summer 2012, it has been widely discussed that “there is little link between the anti-nuclear movement and the issues of radioactivity in Fukushima”. Although many papers and TV shows reported about the great number of people protesting in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, the reality of Fukushima, where the residents are inevitably living in the high radiation areas, was never reported in this context of nuclear issue. This video focusing on the issue of taboo in the Japanese media casts a light on the crux of the matter in the aftermath of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and suggests the reason for this inconsistency between the Japanese anti-nuclear movement and the Fukushima mothers’ struggle for the radioactive protection.