Fukushima

More than two years on, many in Japan still uncertain about food from around Fukushima

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.

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Fukushima Corporation unveils new mascot with an unfortunate (but hilarious) name

Meet the newest mascot at Fukushima Industries! This cute, winged egg is the perfect face for a company that manufactures the kind of industrial refrigerators, blast chillers, freezers and refrigerated showcases that you might find in a restaurant or a supermarket.

The name they chose for this little egghead, though, probably needed a bit more work…

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Nearly 290,000 people still living in shelters two and a half years after the Tohoku disaster

The devastation from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami will not soon be forgotten. It has left an indelible footprint on the collective consciousness of Japan and, indeed, the rest of the world. While photos of Japan’s speedy response in many of the stricken areas are certainly inspiring, it’s important to remember that the prefectures worst hit by the natural disaster are still in the process of recovery, with a great many citizens continuing to live in refugee shelters.

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Scaremongers strike again: “mutant” vegetables wrongly attributed to Fukushima

“Attack of the mutant vegetables!! Are these our new tomato overlords?? Let’s all boycott the struggling Fukushima farmers for, oh, say 100 years or so.”

Actually, despite the attention they’re receiving and hits they’re no doubt generating online, the following photos don’t seem to originate from Fukushima at all…

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Why’s Prime Minister Abe so healthy? It’s all the food from Fukushima!

Ah, election season in Japan! While for other countries this might mean a deluge of angry black-and-white TV commercials, in Japan it mostly means street-side speeches.

Last week, Prime Minister Abe swung by Fukushima City in Fukushima Prefecture to support local candidate Masako Mori, who’s the current minister of the Consumer Affairs Agency. And what did he talk about?

How great Fukushima-produced food is, of course!

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Incidences of thyroid cancer on the rise among Fukushima children

According to Kolnet, an online media source focused on the Tohoku region of Japan, the number of under-18s in Fukushima Prefecture diagnosed with thyroid cancer has increased to 12, while the number of possible cases has reached 15.

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Japanese Documentary Tells the Real Story of the Daiichi Nuclear Plant Evacuees

Two years after Japan’s great earthquake and the Daiichi nuclear diaster comes a documentary that tells of the citizens who still can’t return home to Iitate Village in Fukushima due to the high levels of radiation.

Over at our sister site, Pouch, film critic Kaori Saito was given the opportunity to check out the film production of “Iitate Village, the Problem of Radiation and Returning Home” (in Japanese “Iitate-mura hoshano to kison”) before it was released to the Japanese public on May 4. Kaori comments that the work deserves particular credit for its delicate treatment of the continuing problem of radiation and the depiction of the struggles of the inhabitants affected.

For the readers who are unfamiliar with Iitate, it is a village that is located 30 kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant within the prefecture of Fukushima. While it is reasonable to believe that the level of radioactive contamination would be comparatively low for an area this far from the power plant, due to the strong winds, snow and rain that occurred directly following the disaster, the actual levels of contamination far exceeded original estimates. For Japan and Iitate Village, unprecedented levels of radiation poured down, making the land uninhabitable and thus leaving the former residents no alternative but to abandon their village and seek refuge elsewhere.
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Fukushima Prefecture Produces First Thesis on the Effects of Internal Radiation Exposure: Children of Fukushima Unaffected?

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.

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Pump Springs Leak during Efforts to Correct Problem with Leaky Storage Tanks at Daiichi Nuclear Plant


Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced that while transferring contaminated water containing radioactive material from leaking underground storage tank No. 3 to tank No. 6 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on April 11 this year, water was discovered leaking from a joint connecting the piping being used for the transfer.

About 22 liters of water containing 6.4 billion becquerels of radioactive material leaked from the joint before the problem was chanced upon. TEPCO said the water leaked on top of the berm covering the storage tank and that there was no possibility of it seeping into the soil surrounding it.
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No Improvement for Fukushima Decontamination Workers – Subcontractors Still Only Paying One-fifth Minimum Wage


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.
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Google Maps Offers Rare Look Inside Abandoned Fukushima Town

Google Japan has announced that it is now possible for Google Maps users to access street view images of Namie, a coastal town in Fukushima that was severely affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami before being completely evacuated when the nearby Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant went critical.

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Alone in the Red Zone: Fukushima Town’s Sole Resident Speaks Out in Harrowing Documentary

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.

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Concern As Contractor Refuses To Provide School Lunches When Faced With Radiation Checks


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.

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Got Three Months to Spare? Why Not Make Big Bucks Doing Manual Labor in Fukushima Disaster Site?

If you’re living in Japan and find yourself recently unemployed or facing an extended vacation you’re in luck!

That’s right. Currently there is a job offer for work inside the nuclear power plant of sunny Okuma, Fukushima, home to the Fukushima Daiichi reactor.

Now, before you tell me to go screw myself, they’re offering 30,000 to 50,000 yen (US$319-531) per day for three months. Let’s take a look at the offer in full.

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Google to Photograph Street Views of Evacuated Town in Fukushima

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.

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Japanese Blogger’s Troubling Insight into the Psyche of Post-Disaster Fukushima Residents

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.

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Paying Just $11 a Day, Subcontractors Ripping Off Fukushima Nuclear Accident Decontamination Workers


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.
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Tokyo Electric Couldn’t Get Battery during Fukushima Meltdown, Made Trip to Hardware Store the Next Day

Recent tapes released have sent ripples across Japan’s news programs showing first-hand Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) handling of the Fukushima Disaster.  Many were outraged over TEPCO management’s muddled communications with plant director, an increasingly frustrated Masao Yoshida.

Among the hours and hours of footage there’s one particularly odd incident in which one of the largest electric companies in Japan couldn’t seem to get their hands on a battery.  In fact, it took about a 24 hours and trip to the hardware store to buy it while on the brink of meltdown.

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Ukraine: Fast Becoming a Place of Interest for Japan – But Why?

Ukraine, known in Japan for its attractive people, is rapidly becoming a place of interest.  International marriages between Ukrainians and Japanese are on the rise, making Ukraine all the more fascinating.    Japan brings forth images of sushi, hot springs, Mt. Fuji, Tempura, and its service industry.  But what about Ukraine?  Here are some appealing images of Ukraine, sure to make you want to visit!   Read More

Softbank Releases World’s First Radiation-Detecting Phone

This week, Softbank Mobile presented the newest iteration of its popular Pantone phones, and these are some pretty smart smartphones. So smart, in fact, that they can double as a Geiger counter. Read More

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