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Japanese families, activists visit Washington to plead for safety of Fukushima's children

22 Comments

Two organic farmers from Japan, their children and fellow Japanese anti-nuclear campaigners made a plea for the safety of Fukushima's children at a press conference in Washington, DC, this week.

"Our hearts have been torn apart in the Fukushima community because of the nuclear disaster," said Sachiko Sato, a natural farmer from Fukushima Prefecture, who evacuated four of her six children two days after the March 11, 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor catastrophe began. "The community is split among those who evacuated and those who stayed, creating a chasm between former neighbors. This is the first health effect of this catastrophe."

Sato described how, not trusting official figures, she herself measured radiation levels at local schools, finding that 75% of schools should be considered radiation control areas and therefore dangerous for children. Meanwhile, the government raised the allowable radiation dose rate by 20 times to 20 microsieverts per year including for children. "Do they imagine that people can suddenly withstand doses of radiation 20 times greater than were previously allowed?" she asked. Many people cannot evacuate as they would leave behind aging, frail parents, Sato said. "Or they don't want to lose their job or tear their children away from everything they know. Families have been ripped apart."

She also described how the government misled communities about safety. "Some were evacuated from Fukushima to places where the radiation levels were even higher, but they were not told," she said.

Yukiko Anzai, an organic farmer from Hokkaido 603 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi accident, saw her honey business destroyed and her family's livelihood wiped out by the multiple reactor meltdowns. "We stopped using the word 'safe' for our vegetables," she said. My husband said that if we find the chicken feed is radioactive, we will have to stop farming altogether."

Sato's farm also shut down, although many around her have continued to farm. Both women began farming traditionally without using chemicals to mirror "the old ways." But, with their land laced with radioactivity, their dreams - and farming livelihoods – are destroyed.

"On March 11, our lives changed completely," Anzai said. "Yet the government continues to ignore the truth and expects us to continue farming like nothing happened."

Sato's two children, Mina, 13 and Yuuki, 17, described how their lives were changed after March 11, leaving their home, their friends and everything they knew after being evacuated far from danger. "If only those nuclear power plants hadn't existed," Mina Sato said. "Things wouldn't have turned out this way."

Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Green Action, and Kaori Izumi, director of Shut Tomari (the first reactor to restart after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns), both called for a global ban on nuclear power as the only rational lesson to be learned from Fukushima. "Otherwise this will happen again, in Japan, at Indian Point or anywhere," Izumi said. "This is not Japan's problem, it's the world's problem. The radiation from Fukushima is everywhere. We cannot afford another Fukushima."

Smith has submitted a petition to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights calling for the rights of children of Fukushima to evacuate. Only families living within the 20-km official evacuation zone are supported financially if they evacuate. Those living beyond that range who choose to evacuate must do so at their own expense, which many cannot afford, Smith explained. "What the children of Fukushima need is safe food, a safe place to live, and somewhere where they can safely play outdoors," she said.

Speaking on behalf of hosting organization Beyond Nuclear, Kevin Kamps reminded the audience that the Fermi 2 reactor in Michigan, the same GE Mark I Boiling Water Reactor design as those at Fukushima Daiichi, "is the biggest of that design in the world, and stores more than 500 tons of radioactive waste in its fuel pool – far more than all four Fukushima Daiichi reactors put together. The consequences downwind of a fuel pool fire at Fermi 2 would be multiple times worse than at Fukushima," he said.

"What I learned about nuclear power," said Sato's son Yuko, "is that protecting nuclear power plants is seemingly more important than protecting our lives."

The group will travel to New York City for public presentations and a 5 p.m. demonstration on Thursday at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza outside the United Nations building.

Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic.

© US Newswire

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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While I am not against this, I think these people need to stand up to their own government first.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Butteryfly123,

While I agree they should take their own government to task first, this is one method. Outside pressure - gaiatsu - is often more effective than internal protests. The Japanese government, above all else, doesn't want to look bad in front of the rest of the world. They'll screw over their own people as long as the outside world doesn't know or care. But as soon as the outside world (often only the US) gets wind of things like this, then wham, suddenly the Japanese government is concerned, too.

I'm especially pleased they mention that rather than deal with the problem, the Japanese government just upped the allowable dosage. I wonder if anyone outside of Japan knew they did this.

10 ( +9 / -0 )

I'm especially pleased they mention that rather than deal with the problem, the Japanese government just upped the allowable dosage. I wonder if anyone outside of Japan knew they did this.

It was mentioned in some Italian media. But the truth is that the world doesn't want to admitt the seriousness of the situation because nuclear business is huge and strong, specially because it is linked to the weapons. Around the world, it seems that dolphins' and whales' hunt of Japan makes more noise than an absurd allowable dosage of radiatiion for Fukushima's kids. Open your eyes, people. It's not just a japanese government's problem. It's a global problem. Capitalism is killing people everywhere and we are hopeless. Politicians don't listen at our words. Believe me, I can see how careless is everyone in Europe (politicians and media) about what is happening in Japan.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Borscht -- I agree with outside pressure often working well but can't help but think that if people here stood up and demonstrated as a whole group, the government would listen and this would draw outside attention too.

And to Japan Today - The fact that they were there (Washington DC) visiting the UN and not the US surely is worth mentioning earlier on in the article.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As proven already in other disasters and shown in this disaster too, stress is the only killer and health issue to worry about and tackle in any significant numbers. Looks like they are going in the right direction then

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think these people have allready been down the avenue of appealing to the Japanese goverment first and it has got them nowhere.These people complain that the Japanese goverment is failing them and cannot be trusted to tell the truth. They have measured radiation themselves in schools and found some of them to be contaminated at unsafe levels for their children. What else is left for them but to go to the US with their cause, perhaps it will shame the goverment into coming clean about the reality of the continuos unfolding of the disaster. I wish these people every success in their endeavours to find justice and truth

7 ( +7 / -0 )

They really are in an unbearable place. Can you imagine being in their shoes. The media moved on months ago and lots of my friends back home think everything is back to normal here. My father had a look at this site a few weeks ago. He called me and asked if we could bring the grandkids over to stay with them in England for a while. Same as everyone living here, he doesn't feel confident in data being released, ongoing situation with the plant etc. Ateast some of us here do have that option if things change for the worse. These poor people are stuck unless they get a lot of help relocating, finding jobs to support their families and new schools where the children feel welcome and safe. As a parent it breaks my heart thinking about them.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Seems organic farmers make a ton if they can afford to skip Tokyo and head the States to protest. Start at home! Plenty of people who are making their voices heard - demo last week had thousands of people! Why run to the US? It isn't their problem.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

I usually measure around 1.4 Micro sieverts from a height between 5cm and 1 metre. That said, soil dug up from a level of around 20-30 cm in a lot of spots measures right on 10microsieverts. While I'm personally not really worried, I'm still extremely cautious about what I eat and drink, and avoid produce from the surrounding Tohoku area.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How about becoming political activists at home and booting the bum politicians out of office who you allowed in the government while you were growing cabbage with BS. They are the ones who allowed Fukushima to happen in the first place......or is the agenda really about getting media face time for the organization and rubbing elbows with other “save the world and buy my book heroes”?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It's so frustrating that the Government isn't more concerned about nuclear power and the effects. Noda said he's going to get the idle nuclear reactors in other plants up and running early next year.... Hasn't the Government noticed that its going to be killing off their people, or at least making them more ill in time to come...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's easy to say "How about becoming political activists at home" or what have you, and the truth of the matter is that there are plenty, and particularly on this issue, but the government simply DOES NOT listen. Many of you have seen the video where the government panel walks out on the people of Fukushima during questioning and refuses to test the children's urine (after saying the people of Fukushima have less right to safety than others), so you can understand what I'm talking about.

It's simply ridiculous, and a crime that kids are allowed to still be in the area, while the government quietly wishes the problem would just go away instead of acting on it and making the people safer. The fact of the matter is that when Japan is pressured from outside and in particular when they are painted in a bad light in the international media they start to listen a little more. They need to be embarrassed, ashamed, and ignored in political circles until they do something to fix the actual issues. Instead, they bicker about political issues that do not matter after saying, "taihen" and "shouganai ne".

7 ( +7 / -0 )

BRAVO!!!

I understand some of you suggesting that they stand up to their own government first but lets get down to the bone. These people clearly understand that the government is giving them the run around. They play too many games for the Deep Pockets behind the scenes. That 156 page booklet on how to complete the claim form for compensation was the biggest slap in the face yet. 156 pages of technical mumbo jumbo and legal jargon was the ultimate trap to escape compensating these people and to later escape liability damages caused by TEPCOs and J-Govt's monumental blunder that is Fukushima.

These people did the right thing. They need their voices to be heard. Right now, Deep Pockets want to put the lid not only on the reactor but on the voices of the victims. High paid lawyers are working every angle, using every contact in the media, the justice system, to lower what would be billions of dollars to mere pennies.

This is what has to be done when your government is corrupt, bought and paid for. It's not uncommon around the world. Libya, China, a number of other countries where the people say "No More" It's surprising to see Japanese do this but it's a sign of the times.

Here's my take on radiation. Why do you have to make any kind of acceptable level? Okay we're going to allow TEPCO to poison you with this much radiation. We're going to allow a certain level of poison into your lives.

I know you're already tired of me calling them Deep Pockets, but it's true. They are the ones who are the most nervous about this situation. They are ones saying that you can physically be exposed to radiation and NOT be compensated for it. This is plain and simple a money game.

I applaud these people who went outside Japan to get the message out there. Deep Pockets are in control of the media and they don't want to take responsibility for the damage they've caused. When they are no longer confident that they can get away with this, then we'll see the suicides.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Banging on the door of washington? c'mon go kick in the door of the diet first,.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The government can give the run around because no one here calls them on it. Besides the demo this week, when was the last time a large group (in the 1000s) of Japanese actually demonstrated against the government??? I can't think of a time and I have been here on and off since 1998. The Japanese politicians CAN ignore them because they aren't smart enough to organize a piss up in a brewery and have demos and demand answers. Flying to the US to cry about isn't going to do anything. The US has enough of their own problems without Japanese farmers crying to them about the Japanese government and TEPCO.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not impressed. They're just being used as sympathy cards by the anti-nuclear group "Beyond Nuclear". THEY'RE the ones who flew these people to Washington so that they could get a news conference in D.C. before shuttling them up to New York for ANOTHER news conference which - if you read the article carefully - will NOT be given inside the U.N. building. The ambassadors will in all likelihood never hear what these poor shills have to say. Beyond Nuclear trots these people out and says, "If you do not listen to us, this will happen HERE!" They couldn't care less about what happens to Sato-san and the others once they've served their purpose as a publicity prop.

What will holding a press conference in D.C. do for the children of Fukushima? Nothing, but it gives Beyond Nuclear some press coverage they normally wouldn't have to get their message out about U.S. reactors. These farmers are being used like a cheap "tart" on a red light street.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Outside pressure - gaiatsu - is often more effective than internal protests. The Japanese government, above all else, doesn't want to look bad in front of the rest of the world. They'll screw over their own people as long as the outside world doesn't know or care. But as soon as the outside world (often only the US) gets wind of things like this, then wham, suddenly the Japanese government is concerned, too.................................................

Japan traditional ignores outside pressure, case in point is the whale research.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Oberst, the outside DOES know. They were the ones that made the Japanese government look bad in the first place.

Exactly, they ignore outside pressure so there is no point. Start at home instead of crying to others.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I am not against what they are doing, but they first need to go their own government.

Some poeple do not understand a value of channel of command rule in life and waste their enegy to a wrong audience.. That's the first thing you learn when you are in military. Enough said, and good luck to them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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