Home > Japan, Special Report > Part IV: Town in Fukushima “safe” – politicians said so

Part IV: Town in Fukushima “safe” – politicians said so

April 11, 2012

Who are making the decisions for the residents in Kawauchi? The mayor meeting with the Prime Minister Noda.

Part IV.

Kawauchi’s 1%

Only about 250 to 550 or so of the 3,000 residents believe the town is safe enough to return to, which is about 18% at he high-end. “Decontamination” has not lured back the roughly 2,500 others. That means that over 80% do not trust the situation. The Yomiuri’s position seems to be that reopening the town is a great idea. It does not even occur to the writers to ask if employing staff for 16 students in one school is an appropriate way to spend tax money. Is it? It appears that the mayor and a handful of the roughly 18% of the returned residents are making decisions about these matters without regard to the rest. This means the town is now being run and paid for with only a small percent so people benefiting from it. Did all vote on these things? Most legislative bodies would require a quorum. Even if they had one, it is clear a town is being run for 550 people. Does that make sense?

Occupy Wall Street would call the returnees the 1%. And it does look like a 1% decision. The mayor of Kawauchi, Yuko Endo, told Al Jazeera that returning “was his own decision.” If this is true, there is no pretense other votes count. So much for democracy in which every person has his/her say in running a government.

What about federal money? If any is being used, what say do the rest of the country have in rebuilding areas that the NRC said should not be inhabited by Americans but is apparently “safe” for the über-Japanese who are apparently immune to the effects of radiation? There was the little mater of the 80 km no-go areas for Americans. The US updated its stance on American residents living near the Fukushima plant in October (see here). Here is why:

The risks may be higher for U.S. citizens who reside for more than one year within 80 kilometers of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant…pregnant women, children, and the elderly should avoid residing within 30 km of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.

Kawauchi is just 20 km away. In other words, the US government disagrees with the Japanese on the safety of living in the disaster zone. That also puts it in the odd position of agreeing with Greenpeace, not something that happens often. Both say that pregnant women and children should not be in that area, though Greenpeace is more far-reaching (see US comment here & Greenpeace here). The difference is based on nationality. Science recognises no biological difference between “westerners” and “easterners.” Yet somehow the Japanese will not suffer the effects of radiation? Hardly. The only other explanation is that the US and Greenpeace are wrong or that the Japanese government is. If the latter is the case, then the Japanese are minimising the risks of radiation, which may have an effect on the pregnant mothers (fetuses) and children in the areas particularly “within the 30 km zone,” to say nothing of the elderly. Do they matter? The majority of people killed by the tsunami were over 65. Kawauchi not only has young children, it is about 20 km from the plant, with a third inside the 20 km exclusion zone. What this means is that Japanese as well as other humans should not allow their children, pregnant mothers or elderly in the town to reside. None of that matters to the people intent on having the rebirth of a town that should probably be condemned like Chernobyl.

Not all Japanese in these areas think going home is the most important thing. The people of Futaba, a nearby town, unanimously decided not to return to their village. They said the government was covering up the true extent of radiological contamination, reported Al Jazeera. After the cover ups of the triple meltdown and “miscalculations” on the amount of radiation released (later doubled), they have reason to be skeptical. After all, if the government is wrong this time, it is they who will be affected. It is not the politicians in Tokyo who have to deal with a power plant on the verge of a possible collapse still spewing radiation, with few exceptions.

Returning to the Yomiuri article, it appears the writers have trouble adding. For instance, an increase from 14 to 16 elementary school students means “the number significantly declined.” He or she said that 17 middle school students decreased to 14, and that the nursery school students are all new additions. These do not appear to be significant decreases at all, based on the numbers given. But the Japanese media often make statements without qualifying them.

For parts I, II and III click here, here and here. Continued in part V (here).

Civis Journal

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