I lived in the LA area, but I have lived in Japan for many many years now. In fact, I live in Sendai.
I have no fear of the “radiation” that people are convinced is going to kill me. If I say that, people will assume it is some form of denial, all plausible science to the contrary. The evidence gathered by thousands of scientists in this region shows that there are some bad areas, with varying levels of hazard, but those areas are few and not large. There is one zone of about 5 x 10 miles pointed in my direction like a dagger, but other areas are unlikely to ever kill anyone.
But the pall of fear and what it is doing to these people is deplorable. I blame Tokyo and the foreign press and people who have an antinuclear agenda. They want to keep people interested by frightening them. It is that simple. Even the Hiroshima people want to tie people’s consciousness about nuclear weapons to the use of nuclear energy. It is the same thing, right? The buzzwords of fear find their way into every conversation.
I grew up in an area of the US where I am sure that the background radiation level is higher than it is here now. I choose not to be afraid because I have looked very very hard, and I see no evidence that could make me fearful.
The government and TEPCO acted prudently and professionally to protect human life, which was their main goal. They did an outstanding job. If anything, they erred on the side of caution. Let me explain.
They really needed, and lacked, an accurate representation or means to educate people about the general risk posed by radiation. The media, particularly “concerned scientists,” “Greenpeace,” all the way up to the New York Times, pushed their agenda of doom and gloom and imminent death. Anyone trying to reassure the evacuees, such as actual scientists, government officials, or knowledgeable people working with utility companies, was attacked immediately by panicked people and talking heads with no stake aside from an agenda. Officials were frustrated and cowed by the demagoguery. I saw the whole thing unfold.
The evacuees, many from areas that I would regard as safe, have not been allowed to go back to their homes. The homes have now deteriorated, and even if 80% of the people in a community return, they will have to confront abandoned dwellings, insufficient services, and weeds. Lots of weeds. They have been ruined financially. Their trust in society has been destroyed.
I blame the media. I blame “concerned people” from Tokyo and Washington, who had no idea how to interpret the correct information that was available to everyone. They spouted worst case scenarios as fact and sought to make themselves heroes at the expense of these poor people. Prime Minister Kan and G. Jacxzko [Jaczko] of the NRC, I am looking right at you.
There is no question that we have already solved the problems of saving people and limiting radiation even in the worst of circumstances. We need to work now on saving their peace of mind, and concentrate on saving communities. It has to be acknowledged that these evacuees would be better off today if they had not had a world of screaming onlookers to distract them from the truth and keep them from their homes. Do we need censorship? Maybe. My local newspaper gave me accurate information, but all of the world’s media outlets on the internet didn’t. What does that say?
Multiverse implies that Japanese people are ignorant and incompetent because they were attacked with nuclear weapons. Somehow I can’t follow that logic. What I do know is that Japan has few energy choices and chose atomic energy to replace dependence on oil (it consumes about the same amount of oil today as it did in 1970) and coal (Fukushima citizens used to die by the hundreds in coal mine accidents). I also know that other nuclear facilities were closer to the quake epicenter and were ALSO hit by tsunami and ALSO experienced blackouts, but remained in working order.
There is an old Japanese saying: “Sometimes even a monkey falls from the tree.” It means that even the best of the best have days where everything goes wrong. I might be the only person on the planet who believes this, but what the Japanese did at Fukushima was truly awesome.
[Editor’s note: In August 2012, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that Kan would be one of the members of the UN high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda.
A report by Nuclear Regulatory Commission Inspector General Hubert T. Bell accused Jaczko of “strategically” withholding information from his colleagues in an effort to keep plans for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository from advancing.]