The post-Fukushima period is generating oceans of data, but much of it is useless. These women generate their own, but also want more solid data than the government has been willing to provide.
Don’t get me wrong: These women are pissed! (My word not theirs.) And they have every right to express that, even in Japan, at least according to its constitution.
I cannot leave Japan without peeling back the layer of sticky rice and sweet bean paste that keeps the victims of Tepco’s iodine, cesium and strontium on their feet.
One woman from Fukushima, who I met in Kyoto, said to me: “I am not as good as a guinea pig! They take tests from a guinea pig, but they don’t even test me.” She has thyroid cancer. There is a bias, since Chernobyl, toward focusing on thyroid cancer in children as a radiation impact. This is in part since they have less of a prior history of exposures, but in fact, radioactive iodine can cause cancer in people of any age.
This woman is asking to be studied. For me there are long and interesting questions about the moral and ethical basis of studying any victim…but this woman wants data. The post-Fukushima period is generating oceans of data, but much of it is useless, either for a study, or for the victims. This woman tells me that readings from a “full-body count” measuring Becquerels in her body, taken at an evacuation center in 2011 was destroyed after two years. She cannot get it. It is gone. She is more than pissed.
Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen dubbed this sort of urban particulate “Dark Matter” and often found that it contains radioactive particles. It’s not clear if these were directly deposited by a plume from the Fukushima meltdown or were perhaps released by post-tsunami incineration of debris.
I feel (or maybe project) other women would explode if they could, but they hold it together for their children.
This is the “triple bind” created by Tepco’s allies in the Japanese federal and (most) state governments:
First: One’s entire life is disrupted by radioactive contamination; any official support comes through cooperation;
Second: One’s children (and some Mamas) are having symptoms of radiation impact but the doctors are told* not to identify radiation in any diagnosis;
Third: The official message from over 400 government-paid Post-Tepco Meltdown staff psychologists is: the only harm to the children will come from the mother’s anxiety about radiation, which is unfounded, and results in stress to her and her family. Stress is bad.
This last point we can all agree on, but the word “stress”, has been appropriated by the “There is No Problem, the Radiation is Safe” story line. Now “stress” means a mother who is no longer cooperative with a government that would require her to move home to Fukushima Prefecture and support the use of local foods in the school lunch program, or face personal condemnation. There is no one to buy her home if she chooses not to.
This makes it …read more