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Alcoholism, suicides rising among farmers hit by nuclear crisis

35 Comments

The food safety crisis, which is worsening as a result of the March 11 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, is having a devastating effect on farmers in the region.

"A growing number of people are killing themselves in Fukushima," said Toshihide Kameda, 63, who is a rice and vegetable farmer from the Prefecture. He was one of about 300 farmers from the Tohoku region who attended a rally outside the Tokyo headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on Wednesday.

"We are suffering from mental agony. We don't know when we can return home, and we can't work even though we want to," he said. Kameda said orders this year were less than 20% of normal levels and gloom was spreading, with alcoholism on the rise among dispirited farmers.

Farmer Mitsuyo Tarukawa, 61, whose husband committed suicide in the wake of the nuclear accident, said: "Please clean up the contaminated soil. The soil is everything for farmers like us. Without it, we can't do anything."

© 2011 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Yes COS very good post, fire it off to the daily yomiuri & Japan Times, reality really needs to be acknowledged & actions need to take place, the past is GONE from a lot of these affected locales, people need to look to a NEW future, re-doing the past wud be a collasal waste in a lot of cases.

I wish I was more hopefull for the future in Tohoku & Japan in general, but I am not

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Cos post is the real deal, this is exactly what would have happened if JGovt was worth it's weight in salt.

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Well said Cos

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Cos for Prime Minister. Great piece!

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"the people need to work together to rebuild this area of Japan"

No, that would be stubborness not courage. Japan does not need "this area". It's like in 1945, Japan didn't need Mandchuria, so they left it and that didn't kill Japan, on the contrary. In addition, Japan has not a clue on the way to rebuild in the delay of a man's life.

Close that zone, make people move away. Close the tsunami hit zones, make people move away. Close Tepco, too, I don't want my tax money being used to rebuild nostalgic villages on moving sand dunes. Nor to save the face of the Tepco execs, the local politicians that were getting pork belly, etc. Nor to rebuild contaminated rice paddies for farmers in their 60's, 70's, 80's.

Priority is totally reverse. Forget the memory, think of future. Number 1, children and their health. Number 2, young families that need to be relocated, get new houses, find new jobs, start again companies. Number 3, get a new electricity company to plan future with less (or no) nuclear power. Then move the elderly in groups of same town, so they don't lose all their social life.

I know many people in Kobe killed themselves because they had to move.... BUT, it's mostly because they were 5~10 years in temp housing hearing falses promises all the way and at the end, they were forced to accept housing that had been designed without asking them what they wanted. After a shock, people need to be given a fair deal in the shortest delay.They have to be evacuated to real housing (rental houses, flats, at worse hotels) not gyms, given money to buy food, clothes, cook. They need to be told they can't go back from day 1. It's 5 months too late.

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Tepco its time to get your finger out, its enough to drive anyone to drink.

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I've been trying to get a better picture of how serious the soil contamination is outside Fukushima-ken. MEXT recently published fallout readings by prefecture for March and April (http://www.mext.go.jp/component/a_menu/other/detail/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2011/07/29/1306949_072914.pdf). I've just realized rereading it tonight that while it has Iodine and Caesium and a bunch of more obscure contaminants, THERE IS NO MENTION OF STRONTIUM. So either they didn't measure it, or they're not revealing what they found. Strontium of course is the dangerous one that gets into and stays in your bones.

I did however manage to find an OECD 2002 Chernobyl assessment that deals with soil contamination (at http://www.oecd-nea.org/rp/chernobyl/c06.html). It's the best thing I've come across on the topic. It confirms for example that using high levels of potassium fertilizer on crops can reduce uptake of caesium, something Japanese rice farmers have apparently realised, according to NHK news last night.

The releases during the Chernobyl accident contaminated about 125 000 km2 of land in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia with radiocaesium levels greater than 37 kBq/m2, and about 30 000 km2 with radiostrontium greater than 10 kBq/m2.

For comparison, MEXT reported total caesium contamination for Ibaraki in March is 35 kBq/m2, and Tokyo is 17kBq/m2, so the figures are quite comparable.

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smith

bang on, even here in Chiba where I live which is rural there are many places that have been left to rot, fields left unused. Its common ALL over Japan but people have got to get over the ""we have lived here forever"" thing & just put on some nikes & DO IT!

And as you say it wud be a shot in the arm of places where the J-pop has been dropping, but even if they offered the plots/homes, I wonder how many wud take them up.............

Japan has got to re-invent itself after 3/11 for the better, otherwise the whole country will continue to rot!

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Good gawd... I must say, I've never felt suicide is the answer and never will. What this area needs is alot of blood, sweat and tears (I know they've already experienced that, but i'm talking in a productive way!) the government and the people need to work together to rebuild this area of Japan, how can they do that if everybodys becoming alcoholics and suicidal, with the government sitting on their bums in the office 'discussing' what to do. They need ACTION, NOT discussion!

I can only imagine what they're going through, and I'm sure the government is going nuts on what to do (I assume) but both suicide and alcoholism are giving up. What happened to the Japan 'fighto!' spirit.

I'd gladly, go to Japan and help, all I need is a passport and a plane ticket (luckily don't need a visa hehe) then I'd be so there! But i'm broke and can't afford it... So, I send support in spirit and hear about how horrible it is from my friends in Japan and I am working towards going there to help out!

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Thanks for the link tokyokawasaki, a good image of the Japanese government and what is has been doing the last 4 months. pfffffff

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chewitup: "They have ignored rural Japan for so long, they scarcely even know anything exists outside of Tokyo."

I agree 100% What we're more likely to see is Japan continue to sit on its hand while these people suffer and die, then will claim they've decontaminated the soil and the people can go back. In reality, the soil will be contaminated for decades, and maybe even longer depending on what's in it. They can remove the top soil, but beyond that what else can they do, especially if the water and air are still contaminated as well.

When I drove through Shikoku and Kyushu there were seriously MANY villages that looked like ghost towns, but with houses still standing and unkept fields all around. The government should offer to buy up a lot of the property and move the people there. It would also potentially revitalize said communities to an extent. Once they've moved, they need to completely write off the areas around Daiichi reactor and elsewhere in Fukushima. Doing it NOW would result in less compensation money being needed later, too, unless of course they're just waiting for these poor people to die.

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This article cites no numbers or statistics or studies at all. It literally appears to rely on two interviewees alone.

Is this how Agence France-Presse usually does business?

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Likewise I wonder how many have made the connection between the farmers in this article whose lives have been destroyed and the farmers who have been slipping their contaminated products on to the market. They are one and the same - people desperately trying to survive.

Of course the government and TEPCO need to compensate people for their losses as much as is possible (and it's not really possible- how do you compensate for someone's lost home and livelihood, if not family members?) But the farmers selling their products despite the risks to others are not murderers, they are just people put in an impossible situation. Sadly, there are no easy answers.

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Why has Japan abandoned its own people? The country seems to be heading towards some kind of self annihilation over simple neglect and lack of empathy. Not just putting the cart before the horse, but also going uphill in the rain. What are people really fighting here? Letting the tsunami win allows you to be a victim forever. Living a life built out of its rubble and returning a new life to others would have been the victory.

That has been abandoned, if it ever existed

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@Greg Demmons

Sorry Tarukawa-san, but you should have thought of this many years ago. It is too late. Your farmland will not be arable for some time. It sounds harsh, but Japanese citizens let politicians and companies get away with so much because they are too brain-washed to say anything. Companies that make you feel guilty for not staying at work, despite having no work to accomplish, and politicians that gain most of their income from bribes and deals like the original TEPCO setup, will continue to rule, because you allow it. It is a terrible thing which has happened, but hopefully you will wake up and teach your kids that it is not ok to sit around with your thumb up your butt waiting to be ordered around.

I think it's quite poor taste to bad mouth the victims of twin natural and man-made disasters. I wish people would show more sympathy and respect to those going through an impossible destruction of everything in their lives.

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**Who do the big wigs at TEPCO and the government agencys who have cozy relationship with think they are? Above the Japanese people - or God ? Although there might be things that people don't like about Prime Minister Kan, he is trying to make some sort of headway among mounting opposition from the other political parties. Ger out of the way LDP.with your outdated selfish ideals.

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“Please clean up the contaminated soil. The soil is everything for farmers like us. Without it, we can’t do anything.”

Sorry lady, but it could be anything up to a thousand years before that soil will be safe again.

Once again we see the J-gov sitting on their hands while their people suffer mental anguish at the expense of their inaction. These elderly farmers will probably never be able to return to their own farms and instead of being stuck in an evacuation center the J-Gov should be looking at ways to get these victims of japanese bureaucracy working again to stop them spiraling into depression and suicide.

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Very nice post Smith! Unfortunately no politician in Japan has the intelligence to think like that. They have ignored rural Japan for so long, they scarcely even know anything exists outside of Tokyo.

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I say this know... Remember in the future you have been told. On your head. 5 Months and the truth is still not known what we are told I'd have to say is out of date and half the story. There is no equivalent in history a Government killing it's population with such distain. Get what you deserve I guess.

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Yes sadly for many, the previous home/work life IS NOT going to be returning for many & those that might will have to wait years.

This is really awefull, but as I have said many times on jt, people are going to have to face reality & make some changes, the nukes & the tsunami for many has simply made it impossible to return to the way it was, the sooner people start to realize this the better chance they will have of making it out of these disasters.

And as others have said the ripple affects still have a LONG way to go, any of us & I include myself may have to make real changes, I am already seeing this with my work & more of you will be feeling it too if you havent already, Japan will be changing whether it wants to or not, one way or others. For some it will be good, for some not.

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This is terrible and the longer it takes for the government to order TEPCO to pay, the better for TEPCO. I say it is probably best for these families to start suing them individually instead of union like forces. It makes more sense and takes only one attorney to start the process. From that point it will be a snowball effect.

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Psssh! - The government doesn't care. Just look at their reaction to the questions asked by residents of Fukushima.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVuGwc9dlhQ&feature=youtu.be&hd=1

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hereforenow said it best, but let me just add that, unfortunately, the soil will probably never be fully decontaminated. These people should all be relocated to one of the towns that's suffering from depopulation in Shikoku or something and given land that's been abandoned and/or not being used. Demolish some of the many useless so-called Citizens' Halls built to line the pockets of politicians and construction companies and make them into small farm plots.

I feel deeply sorry for these farmers, and while it's easy enough to say I hope they can weather it out, I truly hope they can and are finally taken care of by the government. We can't just up and say that they can use their farm lands and we should order the food so that they can work, but something's got to be done.

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Sorry Tarukawa-san, but you should have thought of this many years ago. It is too late. Your farmland will not be arable for some time. It sounds harsh, but Japanese citizens let politicians and companies get away with so much because they are too brain-washed to say anything. Companies that make you feel guilty for not staying at work, despite having no work to accomplish, and politicians that gain most of their income from bribes and deals like the original TEPCO setup, will continue to rule, because you allow it. It is a terrible thing which has happened, but hopefully you will wake up and teach your kids that it is not ok to sit around with your thumb up your butt waiting to be ordered around.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ukraine actually. What can you do? Well for a start, train 10000 councillors. At least two million people are affected by these triple disasters. The psychological effect will be deeply rooted inside these people and will be there for many years. Time to prepare now!

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No this is not Russia, here people are viewed as immaterial. Bothersome at best. Certainly the last 5 months have demonstrated a complete disregard for the people directly and indirectly effected. What can you do? Shoganii

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asagao, this is not Russia.

Its time the government needs to get off their comfy chair and make their hands dirty cleaning this mess up.

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Studies about the effects of Chenobyl indicate over 100000 deaths caused by drug overdose and HIV etc among those displaced by that disaster. This one is still ongoing...

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@jforce - what you say sounds sensible because of the long-term contamination. But the reality is more than " family pride standing in the way of common sense. " These farmers are not young guys in their 'twenties. How does a farmer in his 50s or 60s, his whole life in farming and all his money invested in his land and livestock simply " move on "? Tepco is not handing out mortgages for new land and property.

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Agree 100% with herefornow.

And we will see it happening in other fields as the impact will spread over time. We still haven't seen the peak of the true impact yet, watch out for rising trends in unemployment, rise in social welfare cases, etc, etc.

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Nothing can be said other than condolences to these victims and their families. They have had their lives ruined by a combination of nature, TEPCO's incompetence/ignorence of safety issues, and government malfeasance. May they somehow have the strength to see it through.

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The people who caused this are being bailed out but their victims are out of luck.

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I'm afraid the crisis is worse than a simple soil clean up. We do not know how contaminated the land is, nor if it can be "cleaned" in our generation. Still many questions. The truly sad fact is their family pride is standing in the way of common sense. Move on while you can. Save your families and get away from there. I remember an article a while back about "abandoned" land all over Japan to be used for solar energy panels. Why not take control of the situation and re-situate these families. Again ... it only worsens. Hold on, much more to come.

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Truly tragic situation, we have many friends in the S. Miyagi / N. Fukushima areas and they have been devastated. It is going to be especially difficult for any ceritfied organic farmers as it takes 7 years to certify land as organic in Japan, they have sacrificed so much to get certified and now it has been taken from them . This all began to show-up within weeks, a 64 yr-old organic farmer killed himself back in March - In japanese http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0328/TKY201103280468.html

1 ( +3 / -2 )

what`s it going to take japan? please please take care of taxpayers, citizens and residents.

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