This is an appeal from a mother with two children in Iwaki-shi, Fukushima prefecture. She watched the interview film of Ruri Sasaki who lives in Nihonmatsu-shi, and sent the letter (below) to a member of World Network for Saving Children from Radiation, an Iwaki native who lives in Montreal.
I would like many people to read my e-mail because it describes a present situation. It requires a lot of energy to transmit information to the outside from us who have to live inside the situation. Although Mrs. Sasaki clearly is in a very difficult position, she gives her information in a dignified manner.
On our summer vacation, a group related to a temple that is run by a friend of the Sasakis in Akita prefecture will give us support, to let us rest our bodies there. It is much appreciated that they are calling out for support from other temples of the same denomination.
A mother who has children in the same kindergarten where my children go has lately gone for evacuation; she is very frustrated to see people living there in peace with no thought about the current situation in Fukushima. Why do people in Fukushima need to suffer so much? My family was forced to split up.
Sasaki’s description of how she had to put up with her child playing outdoors is painful “Gradually I became numb, told myself not to think about it. I must let my children play but for short times only. I really wish I could allow them to play for entire days.”
There are some people who are not concerned about the radiation and who think Iwaki-shi is safe. In reality, most of those people have simply given up, the only way for them to keep living here is to ignore their feeling about the hazards.
People who are concerned about radiation have their thyroid checks performed at sanatoriums. They cannot count on having the examinations carried out by the prefecture. Those who don't care much about radiation feel secure, because they believe the prefecture will examine their health properly, and because the radiological dosage at Iwaki-shi is low. The attitude to thyroid problems is the one matter that divides people’s opinions most.
I have been hesitant because it is doubtful that we can remain healthy even after evacuation. The safe places have become fewer because of PM 2.5 and the incineration of contaminated debris. Therefore, in my opinion, our best course is to avoid internal exposure as much as we can, make sure we do not get hypothermia and avoid increasing free radicals – that seems to be the only way to avoid exposure.
I would like make sure that this does not fade away from our memories, by spreading the word of Mr. and Mrs. Sasaki's brave behaviour and remarks. For my part however, I am so timorous that I only write comments anonymously, and I send e-mails to Prime Minister's Office of Japan. In a question box I left a blank paper, prior to an explanatory meeting held at my children's kindergarten, although what I really wanted to ask was: “I would like the medical examiners to give specific explanations on the spot, during the time that the examinations are carried out” and “I would like us to get printouts of our sonograms”. I couldn't do it because I was wary of standing out kindergarten.
I want to add to this e-mail an excerpt from the Results of thyroid examinations at Kawamae and Hisanohama districts. This was published in the June issue of “Koho Iwaki”, a public information magazine for Iwaki. In the article, there was a description about the thyroid glands.
Health Q&A radiation medicine 3
Q. What are the possibilities of health hazard by exposure?
A. The most concerning hazard is child thyroid cancer. This is due to the fact that the amount of exposure to radioactive iodine is uncertain, as I mentioned before.
Ultrasound examinations of children's thyroid glands have been thoroughly examined.
As for examinations concerning other effects, it is considered that these are carried out less effectively than the checks for thyroid cancer.
(Provided by the incorporated association of Iwaki Medical Association)
The earlier information to the public about thyroid issues has usually been given on the lines of “no health concerns”, but lately I have noticed a change of tone, and there seems to be a feeling that there are possible chances of increasing onsets of thyroid cancers. I have heard that the thyroid examinations in Iwaki, where there was massive fallout of radioactive iodine, have been getting a lot of attention. Still, most mothers seem to be unaware of this fallout and its impact.
I once had a chance to put a question to a member of the municipal assembly at community and asked, “I have heard from people in Nakadoori area that the prefecture’s manner of making thyroid examinations is not considered trustworthy. I should like the examiners to give the mothers proper explanations, at the time when the ultrasound is being performed, and to give them copies of the ultrasound results on the examining spot.” Immediately, other mothers changed the subject to more positive topics, saying, “It is not good to be worried about it too much.” This happenedinJanuary this year.
There are many people who actually believethat no one will get thyroid cancer. They choose to believe in thenews that says that the recent onset of thyroid cancer is not related to the nuclear incident. To be honest, the most troublesome at the moment is not the government andTEPCO, but the mothers who don't want to believe the impact of the accident. There are especially many of those in Iwaki, mothers who believe this way because the air dose radiation rate is low.
People at Nakadoriare more seriously concerned, due to the fact that their screening examination is already finished. Many people there feel tired of even thinking about it. I guess that many will not start taking action until their children are in serious condition. However, they will have reached the point of total exhaustion by the time that they realize their kids' problem.
I think that the reason why the thyroid examinations in Iwaki have been postponed was not merely the doing of the national,prefectural and municipal government. A part of Iwaki city is even located within the 30 km zone. Nevertheless,thyroid examination here will not be done until after Nakadori. I guess that one of the reasons for this is that a great number of mothers, myself included, have not taken any action. A vast majority of mothers have been thinking like, “Nakadori must be prioritized due to their high radiation levels” , or “The level of health hazards in Iwaki is surely very low, due to the low radiation level”.
Mothers also think “I feel guilty about partaking in recuperation programs because the radiation level in Iwaki isn't that high, and people at Nakadori should have a priority”. Mutual concessions are certainly important, but should we do it in this emergency situation? How can we impose an order of priority when our own children are at stake? Are mothers fine with the fact that their childrenare left for later?
People in Iwaki tend to hold themselves back because of the low radiation level, feeling like “There are much worse places”. But they are desensitized. Although the radiation dose is said to be low, most of the parks show more than 0.2 mSv/h because decontamination has not been done. On the lawns, the radiation levels are about 0.3 mSv/h .
The people who are best suited to start taking action are the mothers. However,manymothersblindlybelieve that their children will be fine. Some of them have been striving to take action in citizens's groups. Nevertheless, most of them don't even know of these activities.
I admire mothers who have the guts to raise their voices in such conditions. It takes so much energy to do so. I know that this situation won't get better until we all stand up and do our best against it. But for my part, I haven't been able to join any such activities because I have been busy to deal with my child. In addition to taking care of my child I recently became a member of my child's kindergarten parents’ board.
(The text below is an excerpt from an e-mail from the same mother, after the announcement on 5th of June that 12 children in Fukushima prefecture had got thyroid cancer)
An explanatory meeting about thyroid gland by Fukushima Medical University was held at my child's kindergarten today. Mothers that are concerned about radiation, including me, didn't attend the meeting. We feared we might be brainwashed to accept that radiation is not dangerous, and we also realized we might get furious just by listening to them. I’ve made a decision never to attend seminars on radiation that are organized by municipalities and other authorities, to avoid the brainwashing.
(Translation by WNSCR team)