Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Japan, Radiation: Opinion.

For those of you that have not realized, I live in Japan.  And for those of you that somehow have not heard, Japan had a huge earthquake on March 11th 2011.(Related video: Buildings shaking like trees.) The Earthquake was devastating, but far from the worst of it.  A giant tidal wave came upon the north east coast and lay the land and anyone unlucky enough to be on it, to waste. (Related video: Tsunami's insanely destructive power)  Still, the trouble wasn't over. A nuclear power plant had three reactors go into meltdown and spew radioactive material all over Honshu, the largest island that contains the majority of Japan's citizens. But still, it isn't over. (Related video:Three full nuclear meltdowns)

The latest problem is trust.  The news in Japan continues to contradict itself daily. (Related links: Under reported severity Leak estimate doubled Radiation errors erode confidence)  The government continues to downplay the disaster. (related link: Sociologias Blog)  Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power - the owners of the power plant) has lied, cheated on public opinion, and now wants the government to give it money to keep running: So now you can add theft of the taxpaying to the list. (related links: Tepco lied to us. Quote Michio Kaku. Plutonium Leak/report leak. Nuclear companies stacked public opinions. Tepco asks for 700billion yen aid from gov't) Everything has had radiation levels grow: from land, to water, to rice, to tea to Cars.  Yes, even cars are radioactive.  Some cars have such high radioactive levels, they cannot be exported.  (Related link: (Dealeres selling radioactive used cars.)
Here are the stories I am just flabbergasted about.

How bad is it in Japan? Even though they aren't talking about it in the news much, the problems have not disappeared.  They've gotten worse.

How bad is it in Japan? Get an idea of how big the problem is.

Radioactive cars. When dealers can't export their cars because of high radiation, they sell the cars to unwitting Japanese. The dealer's remark - "What am I supposed to do?  Take a loss?" When given the option to sell radioactive products and make money, or not, and potentially save lives, the obvious option is what? 

Is it or isn't it radioactive? Radioactive Rice. This satirical mash up of news reports illustrates how confusing it can be to live in Japan.  First they find radiation, then they don't.  How can they say all the rice harvests are clean when they previously said some were stopped from being sold because of high radiation? The farmer's view is that he feels he is being punished unfairly.  Why?  Because he can't sell his rice that he worked hard to grow, and the government isn't going to give him any sort of compensation.  The message to farmers is clear, avoid being tested at all costs and do whatever you can to fool the system, or your livelyhood will be taken away from you with no remuneration.

Outrage as Japan lifts radiation limit for kids. So what happens when the radiation levels exceed the safety limits?  Evacuate the people?  Decontaminate?  Not at all! Just raise the limits.

Radiation Contamination Not localized. In this video, we learn the contamination is far worse than thought, and the standards to protect the citizens in Japan are far worse than that of Russia during the Chernobyl meltdown.  Lovely.

More information on the state of Japan's radiation fallout. A great video that explains many more problems we in Japan are dealing with. 

What I see - Japan, Radiation news.  The People of Japan, mostly clueless.

Living and working in Japan, I have had many opportunities to speak with the people I come in contact with about the nuclear disaster. The first thing that immediately presents itself is defensive postures.  If I have a conversation with someone and the topic comes up in my guiding efforts, the person or persons I am speaking to will often become vague, cross their arms, point their feet to the nearest exit and give short uninspired opinions and answers.  They don't want to talk about it.

I have also had to consider how much people know about nuclear radiation.  My wife is Japanese, and so my Japanese family is my subject in this matter. Frankly, they don't know anything about radiation or nuclear science, or science of any kind.  They are farmers, fishermen, craftsmen and businessmen. Their knowledge on the matter comes from what they see on the news or read in the newspaper.  The news they are getting is worrisome but so difficult to understand and so often changing that they can't follow it.  They tell me they have to just trust the government will do what they can to keep them safe.  And what else can they do?  They can't leave their lives, they have nowhere to go.  They have no voice in the matter because they don't understand what is going on.  They have no desire to get involved because it could cause trouble.  Life is already tedious and difficult for them, they can't afford the extra hassle.

I have tried to educate as many people as possible, but I am tripped up by my low Japanese ability.  Unless you have a college level Japanese language proficiency, it is incredibly difficult to explain any science. Even if you do explain it, unless the other person has a similar Japanese language proficiency, they will most likely not be able to understand.  If you try to explain with metaphor or analogy, it becomes a tedious annoying battle that no one wants to go through.  Case in point, my father in-law never went to high school. Explaining anything to him elicits a smile and "what are you talking about?" as if to say that you are wasting your time.

There is radiation all around us and it isn't possible for the government to keep us safe from every area, every contaminated food, and every consumer product. The only way to stay safe is to leave, or measure everything yourself and either pay for decontamination or decontaminate yourself.  And that is what my wife and I will be doing.  We are buying a Ludlum model 3 Radiation survey meter with a 44-9 pancake detector scintilator.  I have done a lot of research, and this device will provide us with the most accurate readings for safety measurement in all aspects of Radiation exposure. from area and hotspot radiation, to food and water, and soil measurements.  In the next few weeks I will be writing about how to minimize your radiation exposure while living in Japan and after we receive the survey meter, I will publish the effectiveness of the advice I give.

Expect this information soon!!!

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