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Paying Homage to the Spirit of Japan seen in the Fukushima 50

Paying Homage to the Spirit of Japan seen in the “Fukushima 50”

James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The March 11 earthquake which triggered the brutal and devastating tsunami which in turn created the nuclear crisis in Fukushima remains vivid in the memory. This tragic day will never be forgotten in Japan and the same applies to the international community which witnessed the tragic events which followed.

Sadly, despite enormous reconstruction and redevelopment taking place in the worse effected areas you still have many ongoing problems. This applies to the nuclear facility in Fukushima and radiation issues which remain, to more natural daily issues of people living in temporary accommodation and trying to find employment.

Any government in the world hit by this tragic event would be challenged to the full and in fairness to Japan, a lot of support mechanisms have been put into place but of course for people hit by this tragic event then so much more is needed.

In the midst of the nuclear crisis you had the “Fukushima 50” who did everything in their power to prevent a nuclear meltdown. These brave souls should never be forgotten because during the height of the crisis they worked day and night and at any time they could have been killed. Also, the reality of radiation means that we still don’t know if many of these brave souls will die from cancer in the future caused by radiation.

Irrespective if you are anti-nuclear, pro-nuclear or you believe that nuclear energy is a practical choice, it is clear that the “Fukushima 50” deserve the support of everybody. While alarming comments were being made and very natural dangers could have killed all members of the “Fukushima 50,” they merely got on with everything and worked around the clock in order to protect local citizens and to prevent a complete nuclear meltdown.

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times which was published on March 18 it was commented that “Images of Fukushima have spread all over the world but the people who are trying to prevent a nuclear meltdown remain faceless and out of sight.  Therefore, they have been named the “Fukushima 50” in honor of their valor and loyalty to the cause.”

“All members of the “Fukushima 50” understand that death awaits them if the internal conditions become uncontrollable.  However, for the “Fukushima 50” they are thinking about the people of Japan and they understand that they are in the frontline and that if they perish, then countless others will follow from the worst case scenario.”

“Of course you will have tens of thousands of other “faceless individuals” who are giving everything in order to help people and many are working in dangerous and terrible conditions.  In this sense, but not from the personal danger that the “Fukushima 50” face; the “Fukushima 50” represent all individuals who are working against the clock in order to help the people of Japan.”

The article was written within 7 days of the March 11 tragedy and being based in Tokyo then Modern Tokyo Times tried its best to support Japan. After all, many embassies were closed and many people left Tokyo in panic. However, at all times the core of Modern Tokyo Times remained in the heart of Tokyo and visits were also made to Fukushima and other areas hit.

However, unlike the “Fukushima 50,” we had the luxury of being based far away and the admiration of these brave souls can’t be overstated. After all, how many people would risk their-own-skin in the face of so much carnage? This collectively applies to the knowledge that the high radiation may give you cancer in the future or that at any time the plant could have just blown up completely.

In the “valley of death” the “Fukushima 50” walked tall and showed the beauty of humanity. 

It matters not if you are pro-nuclear or anti-nuclear; the real issue is their bravery, dedication and giving everything in order to protect the people who reside in Japan.

They must never be forgotten because unlike the “heroes on television” who are actors and actresses, the “Fukushima 50” are real heroes and in the “valley of death” they never flinched.


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Japan raises the ongoing nuclear crisis to 7 in Fukushima

Japan raises the ongoing nuclear crisis to 7 in Fukushima

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

TEPCO and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima
TEPCO and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima

The government of Japan clarified that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis is now rated 7 and this puts it on par with Chernobyl which had the same rating.  However, the government stressed through several agencies that radiation discharge and other important factors were 10% of what Chernobyl was. 

Despite this, it is clear that the government is worried about ongoing events and while the health effects are still being played down it is obvious that the amounts of radiation being released is accumulating.   Therefore, it is further evidence that containment policies by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the government have partly failed.

I stress partly, because at one point it was touch and go to whether certain reactors would blow up or if the entire Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant would go into complete meltdown.

However, the radiation leakage over more than one month is adding up and this is why the government upgraded the rating to 7.  This fact also shows that the government is being transparent because the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) knows that the people of Japan demand openness even if the news is negative.

Minoru Oogoda from Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) stated that “We have upgraded the severity level to seven as the impact of radiation leaks has been widespread from the air, vegetables, tap water and the ocean.” 

This statement is in line with what the government stated because the increase to 7 is based on the accumulative factor and this alone makes it very different from Chernobyl. 

Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan, stated that “Step by step, the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are moving toward stability.”

It is worth stressing that around 28,000 people are feared dead (many people are still missing) because of the potent tsunami which followed the 9.0-magnitude earthquake.  However, no fatalities have resulted from the nuclear crisis in Fukushima and several agencies, and the government, are claiming that the risk to health is extremely low. 

Despite this, it is worth pointing out that while the government of Japan has taken major measures in order to safeguard people who are close to the nuclear power plant.  This applies to an exclusion zone, banning certain produce from being sold on the open market, and implementing policies to prevent water usage.  The real long-term impact is still unknown and cancer clusters may emerge or may not; because opinion is still divided but other nations like the United Kingdom do share the same opinion and have supported the government of Japan to the full.

The level rating of 7 means that Fukushima joins Chernobyl which had the same rating. Kyshtyn (Russia – Soviet Union) was rated 6 and Windscale (UK) and Three Mile Island were both rated 5. 

It is worth highlighting the fact that of all the above mentioned then Japan is unique because the nuclear crisis was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake which then unleashed a brutal and destructive tsunami.  However, all the other nuclear problems which were rated so high were because of human failure and nature was not the reason.

Also, while earthquakes have killed millions of people collectively in so many nations and the same applies to a huge loss of life because of tsunamis. The same does not apply to nuclear disasters because the loss of life collectively is relatively small when we compare this with the five most destructive earthquakes or the five most potent tsunamis.

This is not downplaying radiation and the current crisis in Fukushima but it is factual and some elements in the media may be clouded by their anti-nuclear agenda. 

However, it is true that the radiation factor and earthquake/tsunami factor is very different.  They are destructive in different ways and while reconstruction can start fully in areas outside of the exclusion zone in Fukushima; the same does not apply to areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Also, the fisheries sector is being decimated in areas close to the nuclear plant and similar problems exist to farming.  Therefore, radiation will continue to damage the local economy and more alarming, albeit without any data which can apply yet; is the future possibility of cancer clusters.

This unknown fear will hinder recovery surrounding the stricken nuclear plant and certain economic sectors will suffer greatly throughout 2011. Also, the future of the area close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant looks bleak and local people will continue to have a torrid time within the exclusion zone and close to the exclusion zone. (please visit)

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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Japan


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