Q: Is this decision to host the 2020 Olympics in Japan a good thing for the Fukushima Daiichi cleanup and for Japan? So far the Japanese government has been downplaying the risks of Fukushima radiation and not taking cleanup very seriously. Do you think that the Japanese politicians will start taking the cleanup seriously now that Japan has an international event to host on the horizon?
A: I think hosting the Olympics in 2020 is an attempt by the Japanese to change the topic. I don’t think people around the world are going to care until 2020 approaches. There is a seven-year window for the Japanese government to work to make Tokyo a showcase for the entire world to view. I think the Japanese government wanted to host the Olympics to improve the morale of the people of Japan after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Unfortunately, it’s taking people’s attention off of the true cost of the accident, in terms of both money and public health. The radiation fallout in Tokyo and throughout Japan has been politicized by the Abe administration. Good Japanese scientists are simply afraid to measure what is in the environment as a result. Look at Fairewinds Demystifying Nuclear Power blog post by Art Keller. Keller details mismanagement of the cleanup, uncalibrated equipment that garners exceptionally low radiation readings, and a severe lack of training in radiation cleanup and monitoring for the Japanese personnel involved in the cleanup and radiation monitoring efforts. What’s important is that we get good science to measure throughout Japan not just Tokyo, and good scientific inquiry should move forward without political influence.
Fairewinds Viewer Question: Is the air at Tokyo more dangerous than the air in London? Especially when one knows radioactive things can get re-airborne, such as radioactive pollen, black radioactive dust, etc.
A: Believe it or not, this is a question we are asked often; not necessarily the comparison between London and Tokyo, but the question of where it is safe to live. We answered that question on the FAQ page of our website, and we are reposting our answer to that here:
We cannot legally give specific advice on where it is safe to live or travel. Every region has its own unique health and safety problems, nuclear and otherwise, and it is not within our area of expertise to evaluate specific geographic risks. For more information on this topic, you can watch our 2011 interview with Dr. Steve Wing for a discussion on geographical risks and the problem of relocating. On our Fairewinds book list, we recommend “The Enemy Within: The High Cost of Living Near Nuclear Reactors” by Jay Gould, and “Living Downstream: A Scientist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment” by Sandra Steingraber.