The Last Farmer in Fukushima’s Post-Nuclear Wasteland: VICE INTL (Japan)

VICE: 

Two years since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant went into full meltdown, and the resulting 20km evacuation zone was enforced, one farmer still remains behind braving high levels of radiation and loneliness to tend to abandoned animals.

His name is Naoto Matsumura, and he is the last man standing in the ghost town of Tomioka. Another farmer, Kenji Hasegawa‘s town of Iidate was also evacuated due to high levels of radiation, he sought refuge in temporary housing. Faced with a post­nuclear world both these men share brutally honest views on the state of their lives, TEPCO, government inaction and some of the hardest situations they have had to face in the midst of overwhelming radioactivity.

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Oishinbo manga’s depiction of Fukushima’s radiation effects criticized

 

 

Oishinbo manga’s depiction of Fukushima’s radiation effects criticized

RocketNews 24:

 

A chapter of Tetsu Kariya‘s Oishinbo manga series is garnering public outcry after being published in Shogakukan‘s Big Comic Spirits magazine on Monday. The manga chapter follows a group of newspaper journalists who are exposed to nuclear radiation within a plant in Fukushima.

After the character’s exposure, they complain of nosebleeds and exhaustion, ailments that are reaffirmed by a character named Katsutaka Idogawa, based on a real-life former mayor of the town of Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture. The reporters also complain of censorship, an issue possibly inspired by Tokyo Electric Power Company’s real-life actions.   After the chapter was published, a Twitter user claiming to be a resident of Koriyama, Fukushima with the handle @jyunichidesita objected, writing “never suffered such symptoms over the past three years.” The message was retweeted more than 13,000 times.

 

 

The managing editor of Big Comic Spirits stated to The Japan Times that the chapter drew on “meticulous reportage” by Kariya and staff who visited Fukushima and that all statements made by the mayor character reflect real statements made by Futaba’s mayor. The illnesses experienced by the reporters in the manga chapter were directly experienced by Kariya himself after visiting the plant. The editor stated that the character’s illnesses in the chapter are not directly correlated to their exposure to radiation, as indicated by a doctor within the story. The editor added that doctor and radiation expert Eisuke Matsui, who also appears in the chapter, told the magazine’s staff “the connection between sickness and radiation is not exactly zero.” Big Comic Spirits editorial staff issued the following statement on Monday:

 

We would like to stress that past ‘Oishinbo’ episodes clearly stated that it would be a huge loss for consumers if they balked at eating (Fukushima) foods proved safe just due to their lack of understanding.

 

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Oishinbo manga’s depiction of Fukushima’s radiation effects criticized

Oishinbo Manga's Depiction of Fukushima's Radiation Effects Criticized

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Japan’s homeless ‘recruited’ for cleaning up Fukushima nuclear plant

Two homeless men eating a meal outside shuttered shops at night in the western Japanese metropolis of Osaka. (AFP Photo / Richard A. Brooks)

Two homeless men eating a meal outside shuttered shops at night in the western Japanese metropolis of Osaka. 

Homeless men are being recruited for one of the most unwanted jobs in the industrialized world – clearing of radioactive fallout at the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl – the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, a special report has claimed.

One of the recruiters, Seiji Sasa, told Reuters how and where he is looking for potential laborers in the northern Japanese city of Sendai. The headhunter supplies homeless people to contractors in the nuclear disaster zone for a reward of $100 per head.

“This is how labor recruiters like me come in every day,” Sasa explained, walking past the destitute sleeping on cardboard in the winter cold, on the lookout for those who have nothing left to lose.

Meanwhile, it is said the complete decontamination of the facility will take three decades and could cost up to 10 trillion yen ($125 billion) – equal to around 2 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product or 11 percent of the country’s annual budget.

According to the Fukushima plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), dismantling the Fukushima Daiichi plant will require at least 12,000 workers just through 2015. The company and its subcontractors are already short of workers, however.

A reactor vessel at the unit six reactor building of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (AFP Photo / Recoquille Bression)

A reactor vessel at the unit six reactor building of Tokyo Electric Power Co. 

While there are currently some 8,000 registered workers, there are 25 percent more openings for jobs at the Fukushima plant than applicants, according to government data. These gaps are often filled by the homeless and the unemployed, those who are down-and-out.
It was reported last month that among the homeless men employed cleaning up the stricken nuclear plant for less than minimum wage, there were also those brought in by Japan’s notorious Yakuza gangsters.

RT’s Aleksey Yaroshevsky caught up with an investigative journalist who went undercover at Fukushima, filming with a camera hidden in his watch. He said that when a certain construction project requires an immediate workforce in large numbers, Japanese bosses usually make a phone call to the Yakuza.

“This was the case with Fukushima: the government called Tepco to take urgent action, Tepco relayed it to their subcontractors and they, eventually, as they had a shortage of available workers, called the Yakuza for help,” Tomohiko Suzuki told RT in November.

Japanese police say that up to 50 Yakuza gangs with 1,050 members currently operate in Fukushima prefecture.

Earlier this year, the first arrests were made. One Yakuza was detained over claims he sent workers to the crippled Fukushima plant without a license. Yoshinori Arai took a cut of the workers’ wages, pocketing $60,000 in over two years.

It also emerged that many of the cleanup workers, who exposed themselves to large doses of radiation without even knowing it, were given no insurance for health risks, no radiation meters even.

The devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which claimed nearly 19,000 lives and made tens of thousands of people homeless, set off multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima plant, spewing radiation over a large area. The radius of evacuation after the meltdown is larger than the area of Hong Kong. Some areas will remain contaminated for years to come, nuclear experts forecast.

All of Japan’s nuclear reactors are currently switched off. However, a recent opinion poll conducted by NHK of Japan, has found that nearly half of those taking part in it are against the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s plan to allow the restart of shut down nuclear reactors after safety checks. Only 19 percent of respondents approved of the plan, while 45 percent said they were against it.

Another question asked if respondents were satisfied with the handling of the leaks of radioactive wastewater from the Daiichi nuclear complex. Nearly 70 percent said they disapproved.

Major setbacks have stalled TEPCO‘s handling of the nuclear disaster amid widespread criticism and calls to put Fukushima-related work under government control.
Earlier this month Japan said it will earmark more taxpayer money to help Tepco clean up the crippled nuclear plant.

The government’s extra budget new draft, for the fiscal year to next March, allocates nearly $480 million for measures to deal with growing amounts of radioactive water at the plant, as well as the decommissioning of its three melted reactors. Additional cleanup projects are expected to be funded through a national public works budget.

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Japan’s homeless ‘recruited’ for cleaning up Fukushima nuclear plant