A Day in Tokyo

(Original text in Japanese below)

A Day in Tokyo

Yoshihiko Ikegami

Tokyo is rapidly unfolding various aspects of the grotesque psychological warfare. Here I shall note just a few things I noticed in the last couple of days.
The recent focus in the news from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant is that the wastewater contaminated with radiation 7 million 500 thousand times (not a mistake) higher than normal regulatory limit is ceaselessly discharged into the nearby sea. This definitely proves that the cooling water is flooding out of the reactor, therefore that the core of the reactor is damaged. From within the reactor radioactive substances are endlessly gushing out into the ocean and blended with water. The government however made an announcement that the water could get thinned down once it merges into the seawater, thus there would be no possible effects on our health. But, counter to the statement, a later investigation has revealed that the contaminated water has been flowing into the ocean without as much dilution as expected.

Wherefrom is the contaminated water leaking? After several trials and errors, finally the source was located the following day. As one could easily recognize, however, sealing the leak will make the reactor filled up with highly contaminated water, and it will end up with obstructing the operation to cool down the reactor, as is necessary for preventing meltdown. There is a tank to store water waste, but since the tank is already filled with water of low-contaminated water (‘low’ but with at least 150 times higher contamination), it needs to be thrown out again into the ocean — This was the claim of TEPCO. A company representative who made this announcement fell into tears, earnestly stating: he was very sorry. He must have suffered pangs of conscience, as he seemed to be a sincere person, but tears would not help us.
It is only natural that the neighboring countries are cautious of the water gushing out from Fukushima, as several tens of thousand tons of water in total would eventually be thrown out into the ocean that is connected to the entire globe. Korea and Russia criticized Japan over its dumping contaminated water without any previous announcement. Meanwhile the foreign minister of Japan said bluntly that although the government was aware of the duty to make advance notice of discharging contaminated water to the neighboring countries via IAEA, there are no safety issues in this case, thus no necessary to make advance notice. We have not heard any news about reactions.

With respect to the question: whether or not marine products such as fish would be affected, the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan (NSCJ) simply answered with an all too familiar phrase that the radiation level is too small to have effects. According to NSCJ, the annual limit of radiation intake is 1 millisievert per person, and one would be taking less than 0.6 millisievert from consuming these products. Let us think carefully, though. It is not just marine products that we are consuming; we eat vegetables and drink water, too. How much radiation would we take in total? — In Tokyo there are no longer any reporters who dare to ask a question based upon the elementary addition shared among everyone including children. And we too just ignore this whole thing.

Media continue to warn the dangerous effects of rumors; this campaign seems to be increasingly accelerated. As with the expansion of radioactive contamination over food products both from land and ocean as well as water, this tendency will expectedly be reinforced. As I have repeatedly stated, the safety standards set in current Japan are 10 to 100 times higher than WHO regulation. Any food product and water whose radiation level is lower than that is deemed safe. And of course, consumers are extremely careful in buying it. The irritated government is mobilizing politicians and TV stars to promote eating those vegetables that have passed the measure. Celebrities appear on TV, eating vegetables and even commenting how delicious they are with a big smile on their faces, while they bite on the food. As if to say that those who would not buy these vegetables are out of their minds, these scenes are so grotesque that they could not belong to this world. This is our reality, however.

Heads of the local governments around the Fukushima plant have submitted a demand to raise the limit of safety standard for vegetables, in order to straightforwardly overcome the damage by the harmful rumors. Even though, according to interviews, every individual farmer states that the nuclear plant is to blame for this damage on farm products, now the responsibility of this burden is put upon consumers. After some consideration, the government decided not to give further raise of the safety limits.

One must wonder who makes official decisions on the safety standards for radiation in food. That is an organization called the Food Safety Commission, whose members nevertheless include no experts in radiation. Most of them are specialized in pesticide and food additives. At least earlier reports stated so; meanwhile it is not certain if radiation experts have joined the Commission since. Basically it is that the Food Safety Commission is supposed to follow advices of NSCJ, but despite our anxiety, none of us can find out what is discussed in their decision making process. According to a rare footage of just a first few seconds of the meeting at the Food Safety Commission, there were bottles of water on the conference table. The Commissioners are discussing about water contamination while drinking bottled water. I do not mean sarcasm, but I am simply relieved to see this scene. So should feel the cameraperson who shot the footage. The Commission itself has revealed the message; tap water should be avoided as much as possible. I am grateful of this particular report.

Glancing over a last few headlines on the internet, as a ritual to end my day, I found that the government was yet again reconsidering the limit of radiation standard, realized as they did the prolonging crisis at the Fukushima plant. Once I was pleased, thinking that they were going to lower the limit of radiation standard because of their realization. But the article stated otherwise! The new limit would be as high as 20 times above the current limits. We have been told to be cautious for the radiation above the heretofore standard, and now the standard could be raised up to 20 times higher. In other words, it is definite that we are about to be exposed to 20 times more radiation than we have been, for a long period of time in the indefinite future.

It is getting quite late. I wonder if I can sleep well tonight.

April 5, 2011













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