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Say-Peace Project
Introduction by Norimatsu Satoko
Robert Alvarez, a former senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Energy said in a Democracy Now! interview on June 10, “The nuclear industry, particularly in the United States, and elsewhere—Russia and Japan—has had a very long history of withholding information and misleading the public about the hazards of their activities.” Being no exception to Alvarez’s generalization, the Japanese government, since the mutiple meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in mid-March, has withheld or controlled information about health risks of radiation, expected dispersion of radioactive materials,1 and their actual contamination measurements in areas surrounding Fukushima Daiichi.2 Instead of providing candid information to the public, the government started campaigns in the opposite direction—to lull the public into worrying less about radiation and its health risks.

For example, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s pamphlet for pregnant women and mothers,3 of which three million copies were distributed to preschools, nurseries and clinics across the country, emphasizes that food, water, and breast milk are all safe within the government’s provisional standards. It is a “Don’t Worry” pamphlet with little concrete information to support their safety claims or about how to minimize radiation risks for infants, children and pregnant women. The Japanese Ministry of Education (MEXT)4 also produced a guide for teachers and parents in Fukushima, which stressed that “weak” radiation doses such as 250 mSv(millisieverts) over a number of years will have no health effects,5 and increased cancer risk was not recognized with cumulative doses of under 100 mSv, while the existing exposure limit for ordinary people is 1 mSv/year, and that for nuclear workers is 20mSv in Japan.6 Yet nuclear workers have been recognized as having radiation-caused sickness at an exposure level averaging as low as 5.7 mSv/year.7 Again, the entire guide emphasized “Don’t worry too much,” including a large section to describing the negative psychological effects of worrying about radiation.

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