Following the events of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, radiologists in Japan have been closely observing the area for potential changes. A new report by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences now suggests that the fir trees in Fukushima may be exhibiting strange growth patterns, with the radiation from the disaster being named as a possible factor.
Would you eat a bowl of soup made mainly with vegetables grown in Fukushima Prefecture? What if the cook swore to you that everything that went into the soup had been tested and was safe for human consumption? Would you be able to push all thoughts of Fukushima Daiichi, contaminated groundwater and Blinky the three-eyed fish out of your mind long enough to risk a spoonful?
A pair of artists from Japan recently gave visitors to the Frieze Art Fair in London just such a decision to make, presenting them with a homemade broth made with Fukushima-grown produce and asking them to give it a try, if they dared.
Dr. Timothy Mousseau, professor of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina and researcher for the Chernobyl and Fukushima Research Initiative, presented new findings to the International Ornithological Congress in Tokyo last week that suggest radiation contamination around Fukushima Daiichi, even at low levels, is negatively impacting biodiversity and wildlife populations.
When the announcement was made that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympic Games, there was much reason for celebration in Japan. Leading up to the decision, the Japanese leader for the Olympic bid emphatically stressed that the Fukushima disaster would have no impact on life in Tokyo–a claim that was reiterated after the bid was won.
Around that time, a cartoon appeared in a French newspaper depicting mutating sumo wrestlers in front of radiation suit wearing spectators. The Japanese government took issue with it and angrily reaffirmed the safety of the rest of Japan. Still, among many of the citizens, there is sneaking yet widespread suspicion over how safe the Tohoku and Kanto regions actually are, especially with regards to their food products.
It’s often sad to see the workers at the Fukushima Daiichi Plant or any other radioactive site around the world. It’s a dangerous job that requires brave workers, and brave workers deserve a cool looking uniform. Firefighters get those axes and huge trench coats, police often have cool looking bulletproof vests, but workers in areas of high radiation have to wear those white or yellow suits that look like trash bags.
Thankfully, this sad state of affairs may soon change with the development of a fabric which blocks x-ray and gamma-ray radiation.
A thesis which assesses the risks of internal radiation exposure within Fukushima Prefecture following the explosions at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, suggests that the effects of internal radiation fall far below that recorded after Chernobyl.
Ryugo Hayano, who works as a professor at Tokyo University’s Science Research Department, has collected the findings of doctors who conducted research into internal radiation exposure among those living inside of the Fukushima Prefecture. He consolidated these findings into an English journal entitled ‘Proceedings of Japan Academy Series B89’, which is available on the net.
The latest journal is a collection of reports that looks at the degree of radiation exposure through daily food consumption and it is reported to be the first of its kind.
A dinner of boiled vegetables and 3.3 square meters of floor space for sleeping, those are the harsh conditions awaiting laborers who undertake government-mandated decontamination work necessitated by the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric’s Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture. In some cases workers are basically laboring for free when taxpayer-funded danger pay is excluded from their pay packets.
On March 14, Hiroshima City announced tentative plans to remove molded plastic mannequins depicting the horrors of the atomic bombing from its Peace Memorial Museum by 2016. The proposed removal is in line with a review suggesting displays within the facility be switched to include more that depict actual articles belonging to the deceased and other real items from the period. Opinions from visitors to the museum are split on whether or not the mannequins should be removed.
The three mannequins in question are of an adult woman, a college-aged woman, and a small boy shown wondering through the blast aftermath in a severely burned state. Originally made from wax, the mannequins have been on display at the museum since 1973, and in their current form since 1991.
After the great earthquake and tsunami that came with the calamities of March 11 2011, many residents to the Kanto region of Japan experienced turmoil on an unprecedented scale. If natural disaster wasn’t enough, there was also the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant, spreading radioactive contamination even as far as Tokyo. Now after two years, Fukushima’s 20-kilometer radioactive exclusion zone still remains in place.
While most families fled the contaminated areas in the early stages following the explosion, one brave man remained undeterred by it all, staying put in his hometown. Naoto Matsura (53) is believed to be the sole inhabitant within the 20-kilometer red zone.
Matsumura’s determination to remain rooted in the same place and see through the nuclear catastrophe has caught the attention of many, with his accounts even being adapted into a documentary. The documentary tells of the events after the great earthquake and Mutsumura’s reasons for remaining at his home despite all those around him fleeing, never to return. Perhaps even more interestingly, it gives some rather candid accounts of this man’s feelings towards Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the company that operated the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
As part of its ongoing efforts to bring peace of mind to city residents following the accident at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, Tokyo’s Komae City will meticulously measure airborne radiation levels along all roadways within city limits and provide citizens with easy-to-understand information regarding the readings. Additionally, having only inspected radiation levels of school lunch ingredients once before, the city announced on Feb. 21 that it would reintroduce such checks on the foodstuffs comprising the noontime meals.
Suspiciously, less than a week after the announcement of the checks, Kenji Matsuyama, president of Mitaka Food Services Center, told the city his firm would not renew its contract to provide the city’s junior high schools with lunches.
It wasn’t just the earthquake or tsunami of March 11, 2011 that shattered the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture, it was the subsequent radiation. Slowly creeping across the once fertile land, it ripped families from their homes and banished them to evacuation centers elsewhere. Today, nearly two years after the worse nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, the entire 86 square miles of Namie have been declared uninhabitable due to high levels of radioactive cesium. Even if families wanted to return, they can’t.
Amid this tragic loss, Google Street View is giving the people of Namie a chance to visit the town they were forced to flee.
In just 10 days’ time, two years will have passed since the magnitude-9.03 earthquake off the coast of Northeastern Japan shook the country to its core. The resulting tsunami killed thousands of people living in coastal areas and knocked out power to cooling systems at the now infamous Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which ultimately led to the incident that has been cited by many as the worse nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. People living nearby were ordered to evacuate, and thousands more from surrounding areas fled for fear of being exposed to radiation. Many have never returned.
Despite some areas of Fukushima remaining unsafe to enter, with a population of nearly 2 million, life goes on in the troubled prefecture. Kids go to school; parents go to work; people are doing their best to get back to normal.
According to one former Fukushima resident, however, there is something very much amiss in the prefecture. An uncomfortable air of forced self-assurance pervades many towns, and the general message of “all is well” is repeated ad nauseam, with those who go against the grain met with disdain and reproach.
The Tokyo Shimbun has discovered that workers involved with national government controlled cleanup projects resulting from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are being ripped off by subcontractors.
Despite being able to rent lodging facilities from the government and others for free or for very little money, contractors forcibly deduct inflated accommodation and meal charges from workers’ pay. When the 10,000 yen (US$111) a day “danger pay” provided to contractors by the government (read: taxpayers) is taken into consideration, it means the contractors themselves end up forking out a measly 1,000 yen (US$11) a day per worker.
Following Japan’s 1-0 victory over France in the friendly football (soccer to our North American readers) match last week, a French variety show host made a joke that has touched a nerve here in Japan.
Alluding to Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima’s impressive skills on the field, the show presented an edited image of the player, showing him with four arms.
The show’s presenter then suggested that Kawashima’s additional limbs might be the result of “the Fukushima effect” and that they had grown after exposure to radiation leaked from the nuclear plant damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. While the joke went down well during the show, many Japanese are understandably very upset…
A Businessman from Yiwu, China recently unveiled his disaster survival invention labeled as “China’s Noah’s Ark.” However, the other side is labeled “Atlantis” which makes me wonder about his knowledge of ancient myths.
Although it lacks the sleek design of the original ark, this orange ball is claimed to be shock-proof, water-proof, fire-proof, and radiation-proof.
Nevermind searching for restaurants or shooting birds at pigs. You want to know how much radiation you’re surrounded by? You want to unequivocally prove to your friends how many push-ups you’ve done? You want to know where that random aircraft flying overhead is going? We present to you a variety of iPhone apps that vastly expand your capabilities and make the unthought of possible.
Apparently the iPhone camera can “see” various types of rays, such as ultraviolet and infrared, by its semiconductor sensor. With this app, it can detect high amounts of radiation in 30 seconds, while taking 1+ hours for lower amounts. In those cases, they say you might want to plug in the recharger because you’ll need to leave the device still for a long time. So, this app might get different kinds of results depending on their sense of urgency and/or patience… Read More
Since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following the terrible East Japan Earthquake in March last year, radiation has unfortunately been a topic of concern for everyone in Japan. It is therefore not surprising that a team of scientists at Tokyo University, where some of the top minds of Japan can be found, conducted a study on how radiation in seafood can be reduced. However, the results which have been reported in the media recently are not what you may expect from Japan’s premier academic institution.
According to reports, the team at Tokyo University, headed by Professor Shugo Watabe, concluded from their experiments that up to 95% of the radioactive cesium contained in fish can be removed by reducing the fish into very small pieces, close to paste form, and washing it repeatedly with water. Read More
On January 16th, a clinic was opened in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward to check the levels of internal radiation exposure. The clinic, loosely translated as Radioactivity Premium Dock, offers a complete body scan for radiation levels, among other services, which the general public can access for a fee. The company hopes to reduce anxiety resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and to help the public manage their health.