Friday, March 25, 2011

Social Ramifications of Nuclear Exposure in Japan

While your favorite blogger is travelling to New York, from where she will faithfully report on everything that happens during her trip, please read this important discussion of the social ramifications of suffering from a nuclear exposure. This piece was written and sent to me by the exceptionally well-informed reader Canukistani. I hadn't read anything on this topic before, and I find this information fascinating.

The Japanese have peculiar attitudes towards those exposed to radiation. This is similar to their attitudes towards blood types or ketsueki-gata (血液型). People will often ask your blood type in Japan which is strange to Westerners. They believe that ABO type is predictive of one’s personality and temperament. Japanese matchmakers will judge compatibility of couples based on their blood type although there’s no known correlation. For those exposed to radiation it’s much worse.
Those who survived the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings are called hibakusha (被爆者), a Japanese word that literally translates to "explosion-affected people." There is considerable discrimination in Japan against the hibakusha. It is frequently extended socially as well as economically toward their children. Not only hibakusha, but their children, are refused employment. Many Japanese believe that radiation sickness is hereditary and contagious. The few that were at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki are called nijū hibakusha or double explosion affected people. I would suspect that the nuclear plant workers would fall into this category.

Populations of some towns near power plant.

Soma            38,000           Tamura        42,000
Iwaki             35,000           Fukushima 339,000
Nihonmatsu   61,000            Koriyama   338,000
For up to the minute and archived independent radiation data from Tokyo go here.


Northern Gaijin 北外人 said...

Tepco is dropping 100 pound bags of zeolite and sand into the ocean to absorb the radioactive material. Zeolite and sand is the formula for kitty litter! I suppose now that the cats can't eat the fish they don't need cat boxes.

Northern Gaijin 北外人 said...

I saw the following on Japan probe blog today.

This week Tsukuba officials including Mayor Kenichi Ichihara apologized for the measure, scrapped last week, saying it was intended solely as a safety precaution for the evacuees themselves. But a government minister described such steps as “heartless,” the issue of possible discrimination against victims of radiation carrying stark echoes of what happened for survivors of World War II’s atomic bombings, known as “hibakusha.”

Between March 17 and April 11, Tsukuba, population 200,000, city insurance and fire offices asked those relocating from towns close to the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to submit proof that they had been screened for potential radioactive substances clinging to their hair, clothes and body before given clearance to permanently move to Tsukuba. The measure was scrapped after Ibaraki Prefecture said it received complaints from a displaced survivor looking to move to the area.

“We feel very sorry,” said Koichi Iida, a city official. “We did not mean it as an act of discrimination.” Tsukuba Mayor Ichihara said the intention was misunderstood and apologized for the confusion at a news conference Tuesday. He said it was never an enforced rule and was applied out of consideration for the well being of the Fukushima evacuees to ensure they were safely free of radioactive substances. But he conceded it was also a means to assuage concerns among residents who worried unchecked residents could infect others with radiation — although such transfer is not possible.

Somethings never change.