Japan ‘betrayed citizens’ over radiation danger – ABC Australia

Japan has been accused of betraying its own people by giving the American military information about the spread of radiation from Fukushima more than a week before it told the Japanese public.
The mayor of a Japanese community abandoned because of its proximity to the Fukushima nuclear plant has told AM the government’s actions are akin to murder.

An official from Japan’s science ministry, which was in charge of mapping the spread of radiation, has acknowledged to AM that perhaps the public should have been told about the dangers at the same time the US military was informed.

In the hours after the meltdowns at Fukushima, unseen plumes of radiation began to roll over the Japanese landscape.

Just a few kilometres from the oozing remains of the nuclear plant the people of Namie village gathered to evacuate.
With no information coming from Tokyo, mayor Tamotsu Baba decided to lead the people of his community further north away from the plant.

He did not know it at the time, but that was the very direction the plumes of radiation were also blowing.

“Because we had no information, we were unwittingly evacuating to an area where the radiation level was high. So I’m very worried about the people’s health,” he told AM.

“I feel pain in my heart but also rage over the poor actions of the government.”

While the people of Namie and the Japanese public as a whole were not getting any clear idea from their government about the possible spread of radiation, the Americans were.

Just three days after the tsunami crushed the Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan’s science ministry handed over computer predictions about the radiation dispersal to the US military.

Itaru Watanabe from the science ministry says the government did this to secure US support in dealing with the nuclear crisis.

But he admits that maybe that same data should have been shared with the public too.

“According to the government panel investigating the disaster, the information about the potential spread of radiation could have been given to the public,” he said.

“The science ministry should have told the nuclear disaster task force to pass on the data to the people. But we didn’t think of that. We acknowledge that now.”

Mr Baba, who is now homeless, accuses the Japanese authorities of abandoning his village by withholding information and leaving his community at the mercy of unseen radiation.

“It’s not nice language, but I still think it was an act of murder,” he said.

“What were they thinking when it came to people’s dignity and lives? I doubt that they even thought about our existence.”

It is true Japan’s science ministry struggled to glean accurate information about the amount of radiation spewing from the Fukushima plant, with some data about its spread proving wide of the mark.

Mr Watanabe acknowledges whatever data was available should have been passed on to the public.

“We acknowledge the criticism that if the data was publicly known that people could have avoided areas of high contamination. So we will study what’s happened to see how we can use the system more effectively,” he said.

For the 20,000 people of Namie that probably does not mean much – they have lost their homes and many fear for the health of their children.

A system that was designed to protect and warn them has clearly failed.

ref: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-19/japan-delayed-radiation-details/3782110…


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