There is much covered in this thirty minute report from Democracy Now, too much in fact for me to start picking over the bones of the thing. What I would like to bring to the fore however, the subject of many previous little rants of mine, the evacuation of Japanese citizens, particularly children, from contaminated areas surrounding the stricken Fukushima Daiiachi nuclear complex.
In the paragraph below, Aileen Mioko Smith, one of the talking heads on the show, gives us a direct quote attributed to Dr. Shunichi Yamashita. Yamashita, who is shortly to head a health study for the Fukushima Prefecture, had some pretty bizarre things to about the current health risks facing mothers and children in the area surrounding the Daiiachi plant.
Although I don't support capital punishment in the least, in the case of Dr. Shunichi Yamashita however, I wouldn't have any problem with summary execution. Just find the nearest wall to prop him against and bring on the squad.
AILEEN MIOKO SMITH: Yes, we’re very concerned that a health study is starting at the end of this month. This is concerning the effects of the Fukushima residents, on the prefectural citizens. It’s headed by a Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, who’s at the Atomic Bomb Research Institute. He’s the radiological health safety risk management adviser for the prefecture. He’s widely shown on national TV. He speaks widely in the prefecture, always saying there’s absolutely no concern with the levels of radiation in Fukushima. He says that mothers, even mothers exposed to 100 millisieverts, pregnant mothers, will not have any effect, health effect. Remember the number 100. Compared to that, the Soviet Union required a mandatory evacuation during Chernobyl at five millisieverts. This doctor is quoted as saying, "The effects of radiation do not come to people that are happy and laughing. They come to people that are weak-spirited, that brood and fret." This is a direct quote. And he’s heading the study. And so, the citizens in Fukushima are very concerned.
Japan Admits 3 Nuclear Meltdowns, More Radiation Leaked into Sea; U.S. Nuclear Waste Poses Deadly Risks
10 June 2011
Almost three months after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster in Japan, new radiation "hot spots" may require the evacuation of more areas further from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency recently admitted for the first time that full nuclear meltdowns occurred at three of the plant’s reactors, and more than doubled its estimate for the amount of radiation that leaked from the plant in the first week of the disaster in March. “What they failed to mention is that they discharged an equally large amount into the ocean,” says our guest Robert Alvarez, former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy. “As [the radiation] goes up the food chain, it accumulates. By the time it reaches people who consume this food, the levels are higher than they originally were when they entered the environment.” Alvarez also discusses his new report on the vulnerabilities and hazards of stored spent fuel at U.S. reactors in the United States. Then we go to Tokyo to speak with Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of the group Green Action. She says citizens leading their own monitoring efforts are calling for additional evacuations, especially for young children and pregnant women.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Almost three months after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster in Japan, government officials say they may evacuate more towns affected by radiation. New monitoring data shows "hot spots" of elevated contamination farther away from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The new hot spots were announced after authorities conceded on Monday the crisis at the stricken nuclear power facility was far more severe than they had previously admitted. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency more than doubled its estimate for the amount of radiation that leaked from the plant in the first week of the disaster in March. The agency has also admitted for the first time that full nuclear meltdowns occurred at three of the plant’s reactors.
A recent law school graduate, Takanori Eto, is the first to file a lawsuit against the Japanese government over its handling of the crisis.
TAKANORI ETO: [translated] There are dangers inherent in the government’s nuclear policy. From the very beginning, there were also mistakes made. We also found out that, even after the accident, the Japanese government was unable to properly protect its people. So I decided, rather than remain silent, I needed to bring to light these lapses in judgment in a lawsuit.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Takanori Eto, the first person to sue the Japanese government over its handling of the nuclear disaster.
The New York Times reports harsh economic conditions are driving laborers to Fukushima for work at the plant despite the dangers. Earlier this week, a robot sent into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility detected the highest levels of radiation since the onset of the crisis. A nuclear review by the U.S. power industry, convened this week, is weighing safety upgrades at domestic plants in the wake of Japan’s reactor crisis.
To discuss the state of nuclear power plants in Japan and the United States, we’re joined in Washington, D.C., by Robert Alvarez, former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. We’re also joined in Tokyo by Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of the group Green Action.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Bob Alvarez, start off by talking about what we know at this point and the fact that just this week we’re hearing there were three nuclear meltdowns. What does this mean? more transcript watch