Extracts of Speech in Fukushima by Meg, a Japanese blogger
Meg is a famous blogger. Her blog mainly looks at discrepancies in official information on the government's website. It illustrates how some information from the authorities is deceptive and presents a danger to health. It condemns such publications as morally unacceptable.
The following is a summary of Meg's public speech in Fukushima.
Minamisoma City‘s website doesn’t exactly say, “We are conducting live experiments with humans”, but you have to ask really what is going on? Minamisoma City Council has been collecting a large amount of data on radiation dosage, and the impact of low-dose radiation on the human body and on the environment. Whilst the Council gave the assurance that they would use the data as the main resource to facilitate rehabilitation and reconstructinon of the affected community, this data – surprisingly - has not been made available to the public concerned. The same approach has been adopted across the whole Fukushima Prefecture. The Nuclear Emergency Declaration, very wisely, still waits be lifted; but the government is using the term, “cold shutdown”, seemingly to convey to the people of Fukushima and indeed to the whole population of Japan the idea that the nuclear crisis is over. Sadly, it is not, and we must continue to do all we can.
360 thousand Fukushima children are to be screened for thyroid abnormalities, but only 80 thousand have been tested to date. Of those tested, 425 category B cases (with nodules over 5.1mm in diameter and/or cysts over 20.1mm in diameter) were to have further tests. Just 38 children among the 60 who have so far undergone these further investigations have received their results. Of these, 1 child was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This may seem insignificant: it is not. Indeed, this one case should ring alarm bells and be a national headline. The cancer rate in the under 18 group in the Japanese population back in 2005 was a mere 6 in 1 million (Center for Cancer Control and Information Services, National Cancer Center, Japan): the thyroid cancer rate in Fukushima children tested so far from the new Fukushima tests comes out at an alarming 1 in 8 thousand. Furthermore, this does not take into account, the 280 thousand kids who are still waiting for their first screening – or those significant 425-less-60 cases still awaiting their further tests. And after these findings were announced, the first category C case (cases requiring a second test urgently) was identified. This child was in addition to the 425 category B cases.
The criteria for nuclear workers’ compensation are relevant to any determination of what is and is not safe. One of the criteria by which nuclear workers are considered for work-related Leukaemia compensation is if they have received a radiation exposure of, or above, 5mSv/year multiplied (the concern here is about cumulative dose), by the number of years they have been working at nuclear facilities with that level of exposure. If you have worked for 2 years and been exposed to a total of 10mSv of radiation or more, you qualify for work compensation provided other conditions are fulfilled. Another rule is that if you acquire leukaemia more than a year after a first radiation exposure at work, you can claim compensation at least in some cases.
Before the nuclear disaster, the radiation safety limit for the general public was 1mSV/year, as recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. The government raised it to 20mSv/year after the onset of the nuclear catastrophe. This is twenty times higher than the previous International standard. And it is four times higher than the national limit for Japanese nuclear workers.
In May 2012, during a meeting of the House of Representatives Special Committee on Reconstruction, a representative requested a firm confirmation of this: the minimum dose for nuclear worker's injury through irradiation? The committee confirmed this was indeed 5.2mSv/year. At 20mSv/year, the current radiation safety limit in Fukushima for the general public is, worryingly far higher than this. What I want to say to you, is that people have not been informed about these concerns.
Fukushima people are being discriminated against. In Fukushima Prefecture, the current radiation safety range is now set at 1-20mSv/year, and the emergency radiation safety range is 20-100mSv/year. However, for the rest of Japan, the planned radiation safety limit of 1mSv/year still applies. This means that it is legally acceptable for Fukushima people to be exposed to radiation doses of up to 20 times higher than the rest of the Japanese population. The International Commission on Radiological Protection and the Japanese Government are saying to Fukushima residents, “It is in your best interest to stay where you are, in these clearly contaminated areas.” Do they then care, about your life or health? They assume that most of the residents are not willing to evacuate, either voluntarily or on State orders, and that people would prefer to stay in their homes rather than be re-housed in non-contaminated areas. The catastrophe is still real. But the authorities are saying, "Everyone wants to stay here, right? Then, we won't force you to move. We can keep the contaminated areas as usable land and territory for the Japanese state, and, at the same time, make you happy because you can stay where you are. That is in your best interests." I submit that this is not so.
After listening to Meg’s speech, one of the mothers in Fukushima said “Megu's talk helped me understand the thinking behind how these authorities operate. The authorities are imposing rules that are not in our best interests. I strongly feel I need to learn a lot more, to think independently and objectively, and to take action to overturn these destructive policies.
This article is an extract from Jan 2013 issue of “Tangara”, monthly newsletter of Fukushima Network
Note: After this article was written, two more cases of thyroid cancer in Fukushima children were confirmed and a further seven children are strongly suspected of having the condition. This brings the total number of pedaeatric thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima to ten.