Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tales from Japan: Protecting the Children

Child and mother on train in Matsudo Chiba. A radiation hot spot in Japan after the Fukushima meltdown

As the issue of the Fukushima meltdown and radiation continues to slowly come to light many Japanese parents are left wondering.  "What can we do?" "Who can we trust?" "How bad is this going to get?"

There are no easy or simple answers to these questions. The central government of Japan has been giving information and updates on the crisis in Fukushima, but local residents and their local governments have begun to take action and intitiative towards protecting their people, mainly children.  In Chiba, there are several locations that are reading very high levels of radiation, dangerously high. How do we know this? We only know this because concerned individuals decided to find out for the sake of themselves and their families. The government has made no attempt to provide for the safety of those most at risk, the children. They have told everybody it is going to be okay and schools and kindergartens literally have few options when it comes to financing for treating their school grounds for radiation. 

Radiation reading taken at park in Kashiwa, Chiba the city with radiation hot spots higher than Fukushima. This seems to be showing a reading over 6.46 micro-Sieverts per hour and that is twice the legal set limit by the government!

As a result of such clear evidence of extremely high radiation levels local citizens have begun to petition their mayors and other public officials to make efforts to maintain the original limit of 1 mili-Sievert of exposure.

The city of Noda in the Chiba Prefecture has made a political stand and has said "NO" to the government standard limit of 20 mili-Sievert of radiation exposure.

They will close down areas that read over the new city standard of 1mili-Sievert.  This is a victory for concerned parents.  And many hope their cities follow this example.  However, there is no guarantee that ill effects from exposure will be dramatically reduced in the long run. 

The most harmful radiation exposure is internal exposure, essentially a particle of radiation is ingested either through dust, food, or water and remains in the body bombarding the surrounding cells and tissue with radiation.  

These particles are no doubt showing up in the form of food and drink all around the nation of Japan, some places more than others.  The government seems to be happy with everybody going back to work and life as usual. Japanese citizens will have to protest louder and louder if they are going to see any movement from the central government to aid or help them in regard to radiation and the safety of their children.

Japan has done very little to restrict the flow of waste, food, produce, and animals from radiatioactive areas.  It is quite possible that people in Hokkaido are eating Fukushima beef or people in Kansai or Kyuushuu at this very moment. Without strict regulation nobody knows where anything is going these days, and without even knowing it you could be eating Fukushima chicken that was processed in factory in Kyuushuu and sent back to your local area.  This again makes protecting the children from radiation an almost impossible challenge.  Perhaps the only thing one can do is buy a Geiger Counter and scan every piece of food or drink before you have a meal, or before you buy it.  I have even heard of people taking Geiger Counters into grocery stores and using them as a guide to shop for food!

Below is the picture of a popular weekly magazine that discusses how to keep your pets safe from earthquakes and from the radiation.  I understand that many Japanese have pets but what makes me sad is that there is no article that gives advice for protecting children.  Is there something wrong here?

This weekly magazine has the title "Protect your PET from radiation and earthquakes". What about the CHILDREN??

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