The following is the report on the condition of Nihonmatsu city which is located 60km from Fukushima Daiichi Nulcear Power Station, written by Shunsuke Arao. Arao is a citizen of Nihonmatsu and one of the plaintiffs who prosecute those responsible for the disaster.
Two Years Since
Two years have passed since the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. I would like to pay my respects and express my sincere gratitude for those who are giving us support and are involved in the anti-nuclear movement. Fukushima is going to face the same fate as that of Chernobyl, since we did not learn the lessons from their experience. I strongly hope that the same mistake will never be repeated.
Radioactivity is still leaking into the air and the ocean from the crippled reactors. The spent fuel pool of Reactor No.4 is always at the risk of collapse. Many liquidators are working hard day and night, while being constantly exposed to radiation. Hardly anyone would believe the plausibility of the declaration of containment of the accident, as announced by former premier Mr. Noda in December 2011. Though some plaintiffs among the citizens have filed claims for the accident, neither the government nor TEPCO have been accused of their responsibility. More than 160,000 evacuees are enduring the inconvenience of an unsettled life style in despair. The government is trying to bring back the population into some areas where the annual doses of radiation have decreased below 20mSv. However, it is by no means possible for many children and mothers to agree to return to such areas, in consideration of their health.
The Condition of Nihonmatsu City
In the central region of Fukushima, around half of the entire population of Fukushima Prefecture (2 millions) resides. Some big cities like Fukushima City (280,000 people), Koriyama City (340,000 people), and Nihonmatsu City are located in this region. Visitors to our city may be astonished to know the fact that the city was severely contaminated by the nuclear accident and that the radiation level is equivalent to that of the voluntary evacuation zone around Chernobyl. The citizens seem to be leading a normal life, such as that seen in most of the other cities in Japan. However, you will realize that the city is certainly contaminated by radioactivity when you observe it carefully with your Geiger counter and you will also understand why decontamination is useless. With cynicism, we could in this sense say that the inhabitants there are treated like guinea pigs for a high-risk irradiation experiment.
Speaking more specifically, the average background radiation dose in my neighbourhood in Nihonmatsu is at around 0.3 µSv per hour. However, along the roadsides, the dose reading goes up to between 0.7 and 1.0 µSv per hour.
We can still find some grass fields in parks, where the radiation doses reach 1 µSv per hour. It is also not difficult to find spots where the radiation doses are over 2-3µSv in the city. For more than a year and a half, monitoring posts installed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, had showed radiation counts that were lower than the actual doses by 10%. They are clearly not providing us with the accurate figures. Many of us assume that the government and the prefecture, ganged up with the media, are trying to keep people believing that it is safe to live in Fukushima. If there is someone who can read people's minds, he/she will probably notice that although they might have lost their faith in the government and the prefecture as well, they are only giving up their hope to tackle the problem since there is nothing else for them to do but accept the fact that radioactivity is invisible and insensible with no immediate effect.
Health Treatment of the Fukushima Medical Authority
History during the past half-century has discovered the risk and the impact of long-term low dosage radiation on our health, with the sacrifices of a number of victims. In spite of this, neither the International Atomic Energy Agency nor the Japanese government admits the effect of radiation and discloses the relevant information on risk. The disclosure of the secret preparatory meeting held among the members of the Fukushima prefectural health assessment study committee serves as a good example of why the citizens lost the faith in the treatment of the Fukushima’s medical authority. There is no proper treatment for the abnormal thyroid problems among children. As a result people are feeling a sense of increasing mistrust and anxiety among the citizens.
A large amount of the budget has been spent on decontamination. However, only 20-30% of the houses have completed their decontamination so far. Its effectiveness can hardly be expected. The compensation has not been made comprehensively by TEPCO (Tokyo Electricity Power Company) with a sincere effort.
I hereby summarize our demands:
- Inform people of the reality of health impact of long-term lower dose radiation and encourage children and young children to evacuate or take a recuperation projects. Monitor the background radiation on a regular basis including the detailed information about “hot spots”.
- Record the health condition of the people who were exposed to radiation.
- Promote the practical implementation of "Child Victim Support Law"
At last, I would like to highlight the fact that all we wish for, are very basic things that need to be realised.
Since the very beginning of the disaster, worldwide nuclear lobbies have, for tactical reasons, been underestimating the impact of the disaster. This certainly keeps people’s attention away from the consequences of the disaster. However, we have to keep it in our mind what is happening and seek for the truth.
It was said after the Chernobyl disaster that it would be the “final warning to mankind”. Those who could not learn the lessons from it now need to think seriously about what they can do.
Shunsuke Arao A resident of Nihonmatsu City Fukushima