Sunday, March 20, 2011

People's Plan Study Group: Let the truth be known about the Fukushima Nuclear Plants: An urgent demand to the mass media and the Government of Japan

Via Tokyo-based People's Plan Study Group, a Tokyo-based critical think tank:
Let the truth be known about the Fukushima Nuclear Plants: An urgent demand to the mass media and the Government of Japan

People's Plan Study Group
17 March, 2011

Developments at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant could cause a catastrophic situation, aggravating damage brought by the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami which hit Japan on March 11. This is a serious emergency which is equivalent to what happened in Chernobyl, but should also be regarded as the first-ever incident of its kind since multiple nuclear reactors malfunctioned simultaneously. The released radioactivity could spread out beyond a 20 or 30 kilometres radius and cause an irreparable damage to human health, the environment and society.

The Government of Japan has met this crisis only with stop-gap measures and tried to abdicate its responsibility, thereby letting the situation to take an even more serious turn. But at this moment we are not taking the government to task on the whole range of its neglect because the situation is too urgent.

At this critical moment, we demand that the Japanese Government and the mass media tell us the whole truth about what is happening at the Fukushima reactors.

The Government of Japan has only released a fraction of the necessary information and has refused to let people know what the worst case scenario is, leaving us completely unprotected. The Government of Japan has not taken any measures to minimize possible damage caused in this scenario. Instead of giving us the truth, the Government, the mass media which follow it blindly, and self-proclaimed “experts” are trting to play down the severity of this situation by, for example, suggesting comparisons with exposure to medical X-rays or radioactivity during an international flight, making the entire situation appear close to what normally happens in daily life. Data about the measured level of radiation is disclosed at random, but it does not contain information about what kind of nuclear materials are being released. Reporters attending the Government's press conferences don't dare to ask questions about this. There is also a lack of systematic warnings about internal exposure to radiation.

Meanwhile, most foreign organisations, experts and media have already classed the Fukushima accident close to level seven in the International and Radiological Nuclear Event Scale, and foreign governments have accordingly asked their nationals to evacuate Japan.

Where does this huge gap in their acknowledgment of the situation come from?

A favourable interpretation is that the Japanese Government have tried not to cause social panic. But the best way to avoid panic is to give people access to a correct understanding of ongoing events, let them know how to minimize the damage and allow them a variety of methods to do so. Panic occurs when a patient who has been told by their physician that they only have a stomach ache suddenly discovers that they actually have a severe tumour.

The accident at the Fukushima facility requires urgent and coordinated action. We demand that the Government of Japan acknowledge the severity of this situation, make people aware of it, and clarify how this emergency is to be dealt with without delay.

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