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Since then, Yukie and her family have moved 10 times, from one set of cramped rooms to another.


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Yukie, 33, and her two small children now live like shut-ins on the outskirts of Iwaki, the biggest city near Fukushima Daiichi, about 25 miles 40 km away. Other doctors, however, blamed different causes. Yukie suffers from frequent nosebleeds, which she says she never had before the disaster.

Susan Carpenter (Author of Japan's Nuclear Crisis)

The government has pointed out that taking an X-ray or even a long-haul flight can expose our bodies to surprisingly high doses of radiation, yet somehow we go about our lives without worrying about the risk. And sometimes the consequences are far worse. A dairy farmer from Soma who lost his livelihood because people feared his milk was radioactive, Kanno used his barn walls for his suicide note. Atomic power is entrenched in the Japanese government. Toshikazu Okuya, director of the energy supply and demand office at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, frames the need to restart the reactors as both environmental and economic in a land starved of domestic energy resources.

The radiation cloud had passed over the region, but locals were told the area was safe. Hashimoto bought a top-of-the-line dosimeter and began testing the route her daughter took to school.

Fukushima Disaster: Inside The World's Most Dangerous Room

To her shock, she discovered tiny hot spots of radiation throughout the community: one by a bakery, another by a dog kennel, still another in the school parking lot. These levels were even higher than in some towns that had limited outdoor playtime because of fears over radiation exposure. Hashimoto has also campaigned against the storage of decontamination waste on school grounds. But no one wants a formal dumping ground near them.

Even designating temporary storage sites for the bags is difficult, which is why schools have been used. The bags have a life span of a few years, and already some have grass and debris poking through. Some of the laborers in charge of that decontamination are poorly paid and trained; recruiters have even been known to target the homeless. In March a contract worker died in an accident after it took an hour to get him to a hospital. In April the government formally lifted an evacuation order for Miyakoji, just over a mountain road from Fukushima Daiichi, after decontamination work was carried out.

Konnai and about a third of other neighborhood residents have returned and cleared the mold, vermin and ruined furniture from their homes. On the outskirts of Iwaki, a grim collection of metal huts is the latest temporary housing offered to Futaba families. Tatsuko Shiga, 77, has pots of flowers in front of her tiny living space. A shelf holds the family altar. Correction: The original version of this story misstated the type of protective mask worn by the writer. Your browser is out of date. Average Review. Write a Review.

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Nuclear authorities in Japan eventually classified the radiation release from the Fukushima nuclear complex as a level 7 nuclear crisis on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale INES , placing the event in the same category as the 26 April Chernobyl accident in the Ukraine. In the United States, for example, the relatively small-scale accident at Three Mile Island in the late s flipped broader support for nuclear power into opposition; as a result of the resulting social and economic environment, nuclear power growth in the US has been minimal for the past three decades.

Casual observers might have imagined that the most vocal opponents post-Fukushima would be found in those communities across Japan which already have similarly vulnerable facilities or are slated to receive them in the future. This, however, was not the case.

Once a community accepts a reactor, the money provided creates a new level of spending and expectation about continued purchases, and the only way to maintain that budget is to accept additional plants. In fact, many local communities slated to receive reactors in the future have expressed fears not of radioactive contamination or long term genetic damage but rather of cancellation of the planned sites.

What else can an isolated town like this do except host a nuclear plant?

Inside Story - Japan's looming nuclear crisis

While those residents most at risk from nuclear power have said little, broader public opinion polls have revealed a gradual and clear movement towards anti-nuclear sentiment without accompanying large scale anti-nuclear demonstrations. While many Japanese respondents may express strong concern about the environmental and health consequences of nuclear power and indicate a desire to shift Japan away from atomic energy, few have been willing to expend the time and energy required to participate in public demonstrations or rallies.

In contrast, recent anti-nuclear demonstrations in Tokyo and elsewhere have topped out at fewer than 20, at best, which are miniscule in comparison to the , or so who marched in Germany to press Chancellor Merkel on the issue. Also interesting to note is that the percentage of individuals who did not answer the question has dropped dramatically, from 40 percent to closer to 7.

This indicates that individuals who in the past felt that they lacked the knowledge about the topic or had no reason to think about its salience have since changed their perspective. Between April and June support for nuclear power has dropped severely.


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Exacerbating the problem was a recent scandal when it was discovered that the Kyushu Electric Power Company KEPCO sought to sway public opinion by asking its employees to use their personal email accounts to send supportive messages to a public forum on the issue of restarting the Genkai nuclear reactor. Kyushu clearly hoped to generate additional support for a controversial issue, but the attempt backfired, and the company has faced intense criticism both from local residents and the national government for the scandal.

While private, regional power utilities, such as the aforementioned TEPCO and KEPCO, are responsible for the generation, distribution, and maintenance of energy in Japan, various political figures hold informal or formal veto points in the nuclear power plant process. As a matter of courtesy, TEPCO and other utilities usually seek permission from governors and other local political leaders before restarting their plants after shutdowns.


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The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry METI which has within it the bureau responsible for the promotion of nuclear power Agency for Natural Resources and Energy then consulted specifically with the governors from prefectures with nuclear power plants. That is, their position remains an obstacle to restarting any plants which have passed post-crisis inspections. Most recently, the governor of Fukushima publicly declared that he has no intention to give his permission to restart the reactors in his prefecture which have created such challenges to the citizenry.

Furthermore, top level government officials have introduced various obstacles to the restart of nuclear power plants which have either been shut down due to a request from the government — such as the Hamaoka nuclear power complex operated by Chubu Electric Power Company which has a high likelihood of experiencing a powerful earthquake — or due to damage, seismic activity, or schedule maintenance procedures.