The lies of the government and the nuclear industry continue to put Japanese people at risk in the Fukushima area

From ToxicLeaks

The nuclear disaster of the plant in Fukushima is one of the worst disasters in the history of nuclear energy. The nuclear plant of Fukushima was first hit by an earthquake and then by the tsunami that the earthquake had caused, on March 11, 2011. This caused the meltdown of three reactors and a tremendous contamination of not only the surrounding area but also the neighboring countries and seas. This disaster is still going on. The nuclear fuel inside the reactors still hasn't been removed and the decontamination of the Fukushima area is still not finished. This is a bitter reminder that nuclear is not a safe energy source and that we mustn't be fooled by the lies of government and nuclear companies like Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). This is made even more clear by recent revelations that prove that they were not only lying when they promised nuclear energy was safe, they continued to lie and and put thousands of people at risk. And this is still going on.

Japanese officials and Tepco lied to the people and increased the danger during the initial disaster[edit | edit source]

The nuclear crisis has exposed the Japanese government's total carelessness in managing nuclear emergencies and people have been exposed to an even greater danger by government mistakes. For example, the evacuation instructions that should have helped people protect themselves from danger actually increased danger for them. A study by Hui Zhang from South China Normal University highlights these government failings : “Unclear evacuation instructions caused numerous residents to flee to the northwestern zone where radiation levels were even higher.” This level of amateurism is already criminal. But some officials did even worse. The Mayor of Iitate, a village only tens of kilometers away from Fukushima, hammered to the people of his village that staying there was perfectly safe. Hasegawa Kenji, a farmer from the village recounted the situation : “Even when the scientists told the mayor that Iitate was dangerous, he ignored them all. He brought in experts from around the country who preached about how safe it was here.

They said we had nothing to worry about. They kept telling us that. Eventually the villagers fell for it and began to relax. And the mayor rejected the idea of evacuating even more. That’s why nobody left, even though the radiation levels were so high.” This is a clear example of the irresponsible behavior of Japanese officials during the crisis. But Tepco, the public company that was running the nuclear plants, was equally guilty of putting even more people at risk after a crisis that their mistakes had already created. Three top Tepco officials have been indicted for not reporting the damage to the nuclear reactors as soon as they learned about it, which would have considerably helped getting the people of the area to safety. Instead, Tepco waited two whole months before admitting that there had been a meltdown in these reactors ! This level of irresponsibility equates with murder. Dr. Tetsunari Iida, head of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) in Japan, claims that “There should be a Tepco trial like the post-war Tokyo Trials”. Indeed, the actions of government and Tepco officials can truly be defined as a crime against humanity, given the amount of pain they inflicted on the Japanese people.

The politicians in power continue to lie about the situation in Fukushima[edit | edit source]

If you listen to Japan's prime minister, the crisis is over. “Shinzo Abe says ‘everything is under control'”, laments Tetsunari Iida. But it's really not. Granted, some decontamination has been done in the Fukushima area. The radioactive soil from the area was scraped off which has cleaned the area of some of the irradiated matter. However, the cleanup was quite superficial. Mycle Schneider, an expert in the field of nuclear energy, highlights the shortcomings of this supposed decontamination : “The mountains and forests that cannot even be vaguely decontaminated, will serve as a permanent source of new contamination, each rainfall washing out radiation and bringing it down from the mountains to the flat lands”. And, by the way, that's why nuclear energy is so dangerous. When there's an accident (and there are always accidents...), the contaminated area can't be totally cleaned and will remain unsafe for people for decades. But the government is bent on exposing the Japanese to these dangerous levels of radioactivity.

This is evidenced by the change of radiation standards from 2 millisieverts (mSv) of radiation per year to 20 mSv a year. An attorney from New Orleans, Stuart Smith, commented the decision with dark humor on his blog : “Instead of taking corrective measures to protect its people, Japan has simply increased internationally recognized exposure limits. It seems that the priority – as we’ve seen in so many other industrial disasters in so many other countries – is to protect industry and limit its liability rather than to ensure the long-term health and well being of the masses. Go figure.” These lies indeed have one purpose, getting people to move back to prove that the government has managed the crisis well. In other words, Shinzo Abe and his allies are putting short-term political gains above protecting the health of the people they were elected to serve. That much political cynicism and ruthlessness would make anybody feel sick. But not as much as the radiations they are inflicting on the Japanese people.

The lies are meant to bring people back to Fukushima even though it's unsafe[edit | edit source]

Japanese authorities are doing everything they can to convince the people that it's safe to come back to the Fukushima area. Of course this goal is purely to eliminate the costs of taking care of the 80,000 refugees that were driven from their homes by the disaster. The government has already announced that it will stop compensating the refugees in 2017, but clearly it's trying to speed up the process to save a little more money. Officials from the area are also joining in the misinformation festival. Masao Uchibori, the governor of Fukushima, clearly called the people from the area to return : “If you come to live with us in Fukushima and work there, that will facilitate its post-disaster reconstruction and help you lead a meaningful life”. An inspiring statement, but the real reason is far more mundane: local authorities are not getting enough taxes ! “Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, marked the biggest decreasing rate – 72.9 percent – in tax revenues for fiscal 2014”, the Asahi Shimbun explained.

“All residents of the town near the crippled nuclear plant remain in evacuation. Although tax payments from companies increased from decontamination work and other public works projects, income taxes paid by residents and fixed asset taxes have declined.” However, only the most elderly seem to be coming back and it's no big surprise. They know that they have little to fear from the radiations, being close to the end of their lives, and they want to live their last years home, not in another area. A Kyoto nuclear physics professor, Koide Hiroaki, is appalled by the idea that people are being brought back to the Fukushima area : “Once you enter a radiation controlled area, you aren’t supposed to drink water, let alone eat anything. The idea that somebody is living in a place like that is unimaginable.” In other words, the management of the Fukushima disaster is becoming a bureaucratic nightmare and officials are endangering the lives of thousands of Japanese people, just because they are trying to magically erase the calamitous consequences of the disaster they let happen. And it gets worse. Much worse.

The children of the Fukushima area are being used as guinea pigs for contaminated produce[edit | edit source]

Another horrifying twist in Fukushima story is how local authorities are pushing local produce in school cafeterias in order to show that it's safe and to restore confidence in the agriculture of the Fukushima area. Mako Oshidori, an independent journalist, covered the story of the Iwaki City mothers, trying to prevent their children from becoming the guinea pigs of the contaminated produce of the area : “Next, I would like to talk about mothers in Fukushima. These mothers (and fathers) live in Iwaki City, Fukushima. They are active on school lunch issues. Currently, Fukushima produce isn’t selling well due to suspected contamination.

So the prefectural policy is to encourage the use of Fukushima produce in school lunches, in an attempt to appeal to its safety… the mothers claim that currently in Japan only cesium is measured and they have no idea if there is any strontium-90. They oppose the use of Fukushima produce in school lunches for fear of finding out, ten-plus years down the road, that there was actually plutonium in the food that children ate.” Using children to rehabilitate the image of the produce of the province, that has to be some kind of record of governmental callousness. A former Tomioka resident sums it up : “It’s like a human experiment, that’s how we feel”.

The facts are brutal. The lies of Japanese officials and Tepco have put thousands of Japanese at risk during the nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima. And the lies are not over. While the cleanup of the Fukushima area is far from being over, the people of the area are being pressured into coming back to their homes. And produce from the area, that can't possibly be safe, is being forced onto the plates of children. The only conclusion is that to Japanese officials, human lives are not worth as much as the economic recovery of the Fukushima area.