Save the Children 2 – Were the dead 62 in Chernobyl?


Save the Children 2 – Were the dead 62 in Chernobyl?

Yoshihiko Ikegami

The late April 26th was the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl nuclear disaster. After 3/11, however, in Japan as well as the world over, the name has come to be recalled as an event provoking a feeling totally distinct from the past. Every single day, we compare the atrocious event of Fukushima with that of Chernobyl, associating the past victims with our own today.

The most urgent issue in Fukushima at present is the exposure to radiation, especially of local children. I have touched upon it for j-fissures before. The core of the matter in any case lies in the fact that the Japanese government has set the annual limit of radiation at twenty times higher than the WHO standard, applying it to the maximum permissible dosage for children. Furthermore, the government has even claimed that a hundred times more radiation than the WHO standard would not be hazardous.

In consequence, kindergartens, elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools in Fukushima have begun their classes according to the regular schedule. Other than basics such as washing hands, no protective measures are taken. But then, several days ago, uses of public parks came to be limited to one hour per day.

In response to the problematic situation, a big concern about children’s safety welled up across Japan, and a movement to revoke the state’s standard has begun. (For details, visit Throughout the text in the blog appear various numbers (such as 20mmSv) whose meanings are sometimes hard to understand, but please just keep in mind that WHO’s limit is 1mmSv. In Japan now most of the people are unwittingly capable of recognizing the meanings of these numbers.

What is the ground for the state to apply twenty or a hundred times higher standard to children? It seems that the way of interpreting the Chernobyl accident is at stake here. The view of the Japanese government is presented in the website of the Prime Minister of Japan and his Cabinet. We may consider what is written here as the official view of the Japanese government. The main focus is the analyses of the victims. I summarize a few main points bellow. (The website does not have an English section, a part of the English translation is available here:

  • In Chernobyl there were 134 cases of acute radiation hazard, among which 28 people died within three weeks. Since then 19 people have died, which however was not due to the exposure to radiation.
  • In Chernobyl, the dose of radiation for 240,000 people was 100mmSV, which however did not affect their health.
  • In Chernobyl, 270,000 population in the high radioactive zone were exposed to 50mmSV, and 5000,000 people in the low radioactive zone were exposed to 10~20mmSV; in either zones, there were no hazards observed. Exception was detected among the infants who took polluted milk without restriction and developed thyroid carcinoma (cancer), among whom 6000 had surgery and 16 died.

The surprising conclusion the Japanese government reached was that the sum total of Chernobyl victims were 62; that these cases had nothing to do with the amount of radiation, and that no influence of radiation was detected. The Japanese government, based as it is upon such view of Chernobyl, is now responding to the Fukushima disaster.

After 3/11, since the first radiation leak was detected, the government has been repeating the statement: “there are no immediate effects.” This was announced when radiation was detected in food products and when the water polluted with 750,000 times higher radiation than normal was discharged into the ocean.

In a sense this is not a lie, inasmuch as we take the word “immediately” literally. There will not be an influence to our health within several days or weeks. If there is an effect, it will be in several months, possibly several years or more likely several decades. And this is the core issue of this accident, the truly dreadful aspect of radiation accidents.

That is to say, it is on this time lag that the state stakes continuation of its existence. Precisely because the influence of radiation that will appear one day will not appear immediately, the state has already been able to predetermine its policy relying on the lag. What will happen in the future has nothing to do with the current accident and thus is beyond the responsibility of the government — such is the pretext of the state. All are safe now, therefore what will happen in the future has nothing to do with everything related to the accident.

Now facing the unprecedented turn of event, the state sets its raison d’étre on the duration of time that exists between the present and future crises. In a more everyday expression, the state is buying time at the moment. The state instinctively adopts the strategy to disconnect the present and the future subtly and evidently. This could be deemed a new politics of time.

We should never swallow this politics. As I have introduced earlier, the movement to revoke this policy has begun. Thereafter some schools in Fukushima that take the responsibility of looking after children seriously have begun a life-or-death resistance. For instance, an elementary school has begun to measure radiation of its schoolyard and publicize the data on its website. The board of education of Fukushima Prefecture prohibited this publication, with a pretext that laymen should not intervene while there are no hazards. But the school does not falter; it now distributes printouts among parents instead of via website. It is a breathtaking battle.

Why is this a form of resistance? Please remember the demands for revoking the safety standard. The primary objective is the revocation of 20mmSV. Why is this simple revocation so important? This is because the imposition of safety standard from above results in a deprivation of our subjective judgment. Give us back the subjective judgment – this is the objective of the resistance, taking place at the high radiation zone now.

The movement to measure doses of radiation has begun to spread wider and wider to other schools. Furthermore, not only in Fukushima but also in Tokyo, individual and group actions to measure doses of radiation are spreading with tremendous impetus. It is now only the minority who swallow the numbers presented by the government. In the radioactive zone a new democratic movement is swarming over the surface of the earth with Geiger counter in one hand. Amidst anxiety, the desperate action that impatiently demands precise information and correct measures is information.

PDF (English)


チェルノブイリの死者は62名?――子どもを救え 2






では、国家が世界基準の20倍あるいは100倍もの数値を特に子どもたちに適用する根拠はいったい何なのだろうか。それはチェルノブイリの教訓に深く根ざしていると思われる。日本国家はチェルノブイリについてどのような見解を有しているのか。それは国家の「首相官邸」(Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet)のホームページにはっきりと示されている。首相のHPに掲載されているが故に、これは日本国家の正式なチェルノブイリ観なのである。それはチェルノブイリの被害者の分析に終始している。ここではそこから主なところのみ引用しておく(このHPには英訳は存在しない。しかしその英訳は次のところで参照可能である。

  • チェルノブイリでは、134名の急性放射線障害が確認され、3週間以内に28名が亡くなっている。その後現在までに19名が亡くなっているが、放射線被ばくとの関係は認められない。
  • チェルノブイリでは、24万人の被ばく線量は平均100ミリシーベルトで、健康に影響はなかった。
  • チェルノブイリでは、高線量汚染地の27万人は50ミリシーベルト以上、低線量汚染地の500万人は10~20ミリシーベルトの被ばく線量と計算されているが、健康には影響は認められない。例外は小児の甲状腺がんで、汚染された牛乳を無制限に飲用した子供の中で6000人が手術を受け、現在までに15名が亡くなっている。









PDF (日本語)


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