Friday, May 6, 2011

Japanese parents in outcry over radiation levels in Fukushima schools

In another shocking and saddening case of poor leadership in Japan, the government increased the acceptable level of radiation in Fukushima schools by 20 times (from 1 to 20 milliseverts per year) so that schools in the area could remain open, despite protests and petitions by both local parents and international organizations, triggering resignations by government officials and advisors who did not agree with the policy.

Itaru Watanabe of the education ministry allegedly said, "I think 20 millisieverts is safe but I don't think it's good" -- a patently ridiculous statement that was met with derision.

According to the Guardian UK, Physicians for Social Responsibility, a Nobel prize winning organization, claimed that at that rate, children had a one in 200 risk of getting cancer. In protest to the government's opportunistic policy change, Fukushima parents dumped radioactive dirt at the desk of education officials that was measured at 38 milliseverts.

The problem is that currently political awareness and civil society are not developed sufficiently in Japan to resist such obviously political moves by the ruling party. Although Kan's approval rating stands around an astonishing 1%, there are few alternatives, as the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled Japan uninterruptedly for some six decades, is not seen as being any better. This points to a general crisis in political leadership in the country as a whole.

Read the full article on the Fukushima school situation here:
Fukushima parents dish the dirt