South Korea, on Friday, expanded its ban on Japanese fisheries products over concerns of contamination from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). The government in Seoul accuses Japan of not providing enough information on the crisis.
Consumption of fish products in South Korea has dropped sharply in recent weeks as concerns grow that workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi NPP struggle to contain leaks.
Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admitted that “up to 300 tons of mildly contaminated groundwater is making its way into the Pacific Ocean every day”; a situation that has been going on for years. Moreover, TEPCO recently admitted that “highly toxic water made its way into the Pacific Ocean”.
South Korea previously imposed an import ban on dozens of Japanese fisheries products produced in Fukushima and sever other prefectures following the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP following a massive earthquake and a subsequent tsunami in 2011.
The government in Seoul has now widened the ban to all fisheries products from Fukushima prefecture as well as the prefectures of Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Iwate, Tochigi, Chiba and Aomori. South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries issued a statement stressing that:
“The measure comes as our people’s concerns are growing over the fact that hundreds of tons of radiation-contaminated water leak every day from the site of Japan’s nuclear accident in Fukushima. … The government has concluded that the information provided by Japan so far has failed to make it clear how the incident will develop in the future. … Under the new measure, all fisheries products from this region will be banned regardless of whether they are contaminated or not.”
The Ministry also urged the government in Tokyo to immediately provide full and accurate information on leaks of contaminated water. A growing number of radiation and environmental health experts stress that the claim that dilution of the radioactive water in the “vast Pacific Ocean” would make it safe to ingest fish caught off shore is right-out wrong and misleading because:
The bio accumulation of radioactive nuclei in fish;
The ingestion of one single isotope may, depending on what isotope it is and where it is lodged in the human body, cause various forms of cancer.
Eating fish from a batch that passed a “Geiger counter” test is in other words still like “participating in a fishy cancer lottery”.
However, in Tokyo on Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga challenged South Korea over the ban and claimed:
“We are carrying out strict safe management on foods, including fishery products, based on international standards. We would like the South Korean government to respond, based on scientific evidence.”
What Suga conveniently omitted was that Japan, following the nuclear disaster in 2011, changed its regulations – apparently because Japanese experts suddenly realized that the human body (and the Japanese economy) can “safely tolerate much higher doses” than thought before the disaster. Moreover, the contamination in Japan is according to many independent observers so bad that one would have to probe each single food item separately to be “relatively safe”.
Earlier this week Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged global concerns over the “haphazard” management of the crisis by TEPCO and said his administration will step in with public money to get the job done. Abe didn’t specify how this “public money” should be spent, how much will be made available, how Japan wants to end the “haphazard approach” to the crisis, and maybe most importantly, who the recipient of this money would be.
In November 2015 former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, Mitshei Murata called on the President of the International Olympic Committee to move the 2020 Olympics from Tokyo or to cancel the games over together.
In May 2016 private activists in Japan accused Tokyo of “cooking data”. Radiation readings conducted by private activists, 40 km from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility are about eight to ten times higher than those published by authorities, said Yoichi Tao who majored in physics.
Research by Toshihide Tsuda, professor of environmental epidemiology at Okayama University, showing that the rate of children suffering from thyroid cancer in Fukushima Prefecture was as much as 20 to 50 times higher than the national average as of 2014 is being dismissed as based on “over diagnosing”.
Moreover, Japan has introduced strict legislation that can be used to put anyone who publishes not officially approved data about Fukushima or anyone who “leaks” information rather than radiation behind bars for up to ten years. This includes investigative journalists.
In 2014 independent journalists like Mako Oshidori received a thinly-veiled threat from TEPCO when she reported about the death of Fukushima cleanup workers, and who stressed she was “intimidated by police“. Mako courageously reported that she discovered a TEPCO memo, in which the Fukushima Daiichi operator TEPCO instructs officials to “cut Mako-chan’s (questions) short, appropriately”. Mako Oshidori was enrolled in the School of Life Sciences at Tottori University Faculty of Medicine for three years.
Mako revealed that TEPCO and the government cover-up the death of Fukushima workers and that government agents began following her around after she began investigating the cover-up. Mako said:
“I heard about it from researchers who were my friends as well as some government officials. I will show you a photo I secretly took of the agent, so you know what kind of surveillance I mean. When I would talk to someone, a surveillance agent from the central government’s public police force would come very close, trying to eavesdrop on the conversation….
“I would like to talk about my interview of a nurse who used to work at (the) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) after the accident. .. He was a nurse at Fukushima Daiichi NPP in 2012. He quit his job with TEPCO in 2013, and that’s when I interviewed him. …
“As of now of now, there are multiple NPP workers who have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported. …
“Not only that, they are not included in the worker death count. For example, there are some workers who quit the job after a lot of radiation exposure, such as 50, 60 to 70 mili Sieverts, and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers”.
TEPCO memo, advising to “cut short” Mako Oshidori’s questions, e.t.c
However, the new legislation that “empowered” the government to impose ten year prison sentences for “unauthorized” journalism and dissemination of unauthorized information about the Fukushima Daiichi NPP and related issues for reasons of “national security” has since then largely silenced Mako, and many other journalists, experts in health, environmental health, environmental studies, radiation studies …
Is Seoul “over reacting” and is Tokyo’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga right when he claims: “We are carrying out strict safe management on foods, including fishery products, based on international standards. We would like the South Korean government to respond, based on scientific evidence”? What evidence, sampled by whom, analyzed on the basis of ??? . …