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Apr 26, 2011

Thoughts from a Fukushima resident

by PhilLee — last modified Apr 26, 2011 10:36 AM
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Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

Nuclear power is unwanted and unnecessary.  Life within our means!
We do not need to make life more convenient.  Life without damaging someone!
There's not enough to use energy unlimitedly.  Life that children are not frightened!

The triple blow of the large earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident are now depriving the people of Fukushima, my home town, of foundation for living.  There are villages that decided to evacuate pregnant women, toddlers and babies. Vulnerable people who cannot line up for gasoline at a gas station are being forced to endure difficult living conditions with growing anxiety.

The nuclear accident is a man-made disaster. It is thought that Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), pro-nuclear politicians and academics are to blame for the accident, but that is not all.

The fact is that fifty years ago Fukushima Prefecture invited the electric power company to build nuclear power plants in order to promote regional development. The local anti-nuclear energy movement requested countermeasures against tsunamis but this did not happen. This is totally different from what happens in the United States. 

It may be a consequence of our choice and giving our silent approval. We should not only blame TEPCO and the government without understanding the point. It may be said that we made this disaster ourselves as we believed everything the politicians said.

What's the solution?

Providing energy education to learn nuclear power objectively and knowledge and wisdom to protect life is necessary. Reviewing a monopoly system of electric power companies to divide them into a generation company, a transmission company and a distribution company, and establishing a territorially distributed system of electric power supply. 

Let people choose their energy. Using different heat sources for residences. An oil stove is useful in case of disaster. Full electrification is easily affected by power failures. Reviewing electricity payment methods for electric power at peak times.

I feel so sad that the sea and fields in my home town have been contaminated in return for a convenient and gorgeous life in the Tokyo metropolitan area. "I don’t mind darkened stores." "Stores do not have to open 365 days a year. Revive regular holidays."  "Until now, it was too convenient and too bright." I hear those words spoken earnestly.

The nuclear accident triggers us to look into our daily lives and change the structure.  I will take actions praying for the repose of disaster victims in my home town.

Say no to increase in 'safe' levels of radiation for children

by PhilLee — last modified Apr 26, 2011 11:05 AM
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Join Friends of the Earth Japan and other civil society organisations in calling on the Japanese government to reverse a decision to increase the level of 'safe' radiation exposure to children.

On April 19, the Japanese government announced that it would be increasing the level of radiation deemed safe for children to 20 mSv/y. This is comparable to the maximum dose allowed for nuclear power plant workers in Germany.

We urgently demand the withdrawal of the Japanese Government's inhumane decision to force 20millisieverts per year (mSv/y) radiation exposure onto children
On April 19th, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) notified the Board of Education and related institutions in Fukushima Prefecture the level of 20 millisieverts per
year (mSv/y) as a Radiation Safety Standard for schools in Fukushima Prefecture. This is the standard to be used for school grounds and buildings. The Government has indicated that 20mSv/y is equivalent to
3.8 microSv per hour measured outdoors.
3.8 microSv/h is roughly 6 times [the 0.6 microSv/h] of "Radiation Controlled Areas" (0.6 microSv/h or more). The Labour Standards Act prohibits those under the age of 18 from working under these conditions.
Forcing children to be exposed to such radiation doses is an exceedingly inhumane decision. Therefore, we condemn this in the strongest terms.
20 mSv/y is comparable to the [legally] recognized dose for inducing leukemia in nuclear power plant workers. It is also comparable to the maximum dose allowed for nuclear power plant workers in Germany.
In addition, this 20mSv standard [for Japanese children] does not take into account the fact children have higher sensitivity to radiation than adults, nor does it take into account any internal radiation exposure.
Currently, according to the radiation monitoring conducted at elementary and middle schools within Fukushima Prefecture, more than 75% of these schools have contamination levels comparable to "Radiation Controlled Areas" (0.6 microSv/h or more). Further, roughly 20% of the schools fall within "Individual Exposure Controlled Areas" (2.3 microSv/h or more) and are in an extremely dangerous situation.
The level set by the Japanese Government at this time amounts to coercion of this dangerous situation upon children, and, can interfere with voluntary measures by schools to minimize exposure.
MEXT states that 20mSv/y is based on the recommendation Pub.109 by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) as well as on the reference levels in the band of 1 to 20 mSv/y as "Post Emergency Situation" Standards from the ICRP statement released on March 21st. The latter means MEXT has adopted the maximum level.
As of April 21st, there has been no substantive information disclosure by the Japanese Government on the decision-making process for establishing these standards. Moreover, no explanation has been given
concerning why the Government has neither taken the sensitivity of children into consideration nor internal radiation exposure into account. The contents of the consultation held between MEXT and the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) are not disclosed, and the situation remains extremely opaque. 
We demand the following of the Japanese Government:
-Retraction of the "20mSv/y" standard for children.
-Disclosure of the names of experts, who deemed "20mSv/y" for children to be safe.


At the governmental negotiation held on April 21st, it became evident that the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) concluded the 20mSv/y standard for children as "Permissible" without undertaking any formal consultation. Moreover, on April 22nd, the Commission reported to the office of Mizuho FUKUSHIMA, member of the Japanese Diet, House of Councillors that no minutes (records) exist of the 5 Nuclear Safety Commission members’ deliberation leading to the 20mSv/year standard.  


Expert comments cited from the articles on the establishment of the 20mSv/y standard ("Fukushima-Katastrophe - Japan legt hohe Strahlengrenzwerte fur Kinder fest" or “Japan's MEXT sets High Exposure
Limits for Children”), Der Spiegel, April 21st, 2011.
(See comparison to German workers.),1518,758410,00.html
Edmund Lengfelder (Otto Hug Radiation Institute), "The cancer risk will visibly rise in the future. By setting these standards, the government will steer clear of any liability legally, however not morally."
This petition is being organized by: Green Action, Greenpeace Japan, Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants (Fukuro-no-Kai), Osaka Citizens Against the Mihama, Oi, and Takahama Nuclear Power Plants (Mihama-no-Kai), Friends of the Earth Japan

further information  

Green Action
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
Tel: +81-75-701-7223
Friends of the Earth Japan
3-30-8-1F Ikebukuro Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0014, Japan
TEL: +81-3-6907-7217
English translation of Japanese original: FoE Japan / Green Action