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David Orange
03-11-2012, 01:35 PM
In light of the ongoing nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, I'm wondering about the safety of taking my seven-year-old son to visit his grandparents in Nagano this summer.

I remember the story of Jim Yoshida, a nisei with two issei Japanese parents, whose mother took him to visit his grandparents in Japan just before the war broke out and he was conscripted to fight for the Japanese in China. He spoke no Japanese. It was rough.

In the current scenario, I'm concerned about the nuclear risk on three levels:

1) passing through Tokyo as it is
2) being in Nagano as it is
3) being in Nagano and passing through Tokyo in the event of a sudden exacerbation of the condition of the Fukushima plants

Addressing these more fully:

1) is it safe for my seven-year-old son to pass through Tokyo en route to Nagano at the current time? I understand some children in Tokyo were reported early on with nosebleeds and other health concerns. So is this going to be safe if conditions remain more or less the same through the summer?

2) how safe is Nagano relative to the incident? My thinking is that, up in the mountains to the west of sea-level Fukushima, Nagano is somewhat wind-protected, but I'm not confident of that and I wonder about the real safety of that city, especially for long-term residence, even if nothing gets worse.

3) in the event that a strong earthquake should cause more serious damage to the Fukushima plant alone, what are the prospects for serious contamination in Tokyo? How difficult would it be for my wife and son to get back to the US if much of Tokyo were to be evacuated? How likely would an exacerbation in Fukushima cause contamination in Nagano?

I'm guessing there's a pretty good chance they can get over there and back in one week without the sudden exacerbation, but I do wonder whether my seven-year-old boy should even be passing through Tokyo as conditions are. And I'm already wondering each day if the earthquake will strike today.

Or if there will be another accident at another plant.

Just think of the disruption within Japan if there is another natural disaster/nuclear evacuation, affecting Tokyo. If the airport is closed and masses of people are put on the road, it could very suddenly become impossible to get out of Japan.

What are people's thoughts on this--especially non-Japanese residents with children?

Gassho.

David

David Orange
03-11-2012, 02:19 PM
1) is it safe for my seven-year-old son to pass through Tokyo en route to Nagano at the current time? I understand some children in Tokyo were reported early on with nosebleeds and other health concerns. So is this going to be safe if conditions remain more or less the same through the summer?

This is not encouraging to me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pdFNQ3THhk&feature=related

Tenyu
03-11-2012, 05:59 PM
David,

If you're interested in my opinion, pm me.

Lorien Lowe
03-12-2012, 10:30 PM
sort of along the lines of this topic (but adding very little to it, I am afraid), do any of our friends in Japan have input on how people are doing there in general, how people are doing in affected areas in particular, and how we can continue to help our friends in Japan (or if the people of Japan need/want help)? The Red Cross seemed appropriate at the time, but not as much now.

oisin bourke
03-13-2012, 07:30 AM
David,

Per your question, I can't offer any direct advice (being up on the north island) but the Japan Times carries daily radiation limits around the country for regions across Japan. You could also check the websites of the local authorities and colleges. Some Hokkaido university websites have some very good info on radiation levels and dosages etc, but these are region specific. Maybe some universities around Nagano provide similar info.

You can also check out http://www.guillaumeerard.com/

This is run by an Aikidoka living in Tokyo. He is also a trained scientist, and he gives some information on radiation in Tokyo.

My personal feeling is that in terms of short term exposure, I think a few weeks shouldn't be enough to deter you from bringing your family here. It's very hard to get reliable information, but I've always believed that, outside of Fukushima and the surrounding areas, the problems are more long-term i.e decades of eating contaminated food, exposure to radioctive waste etc.

As a father with a five year old daughter, I would bring her to Nagano for a week or two, but that's my personal view. We all have to make own choices for what's best for our kids.


As to the current situation in the Tohoku region:

It's still very bad, unfortunately. A lot of people were hoping that the reconstruction of the area would kickstart the economy, but that hasn't happened.

The government has not put enough money into the rebuilding efforts, so rebuilding of infrastructure is going at a snail's pace. Also, there is still a massive amount of debris needing clearing across the region.

There are ghost towns across the area, especially around Fukushima.

A lot of farm produce and fish came from the Tohoku area, and both production and sales have been devastated. To their credit, companies such as Softbank and Uniqlo have pledged substantial sums to the area.

IMO, the level of damage was completely underestimated. People are doing their utmost best, but it's simply too much for Japan to cope with on their own, especially with the dire economy.

So, basically, I think people in the area still badly need support.

Here are some articles that might give you a better idea of the situation:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/311_memorial.html

On a personal note, I remain in awe of the ordinary people of Japan, especially in Tohoku, for how they responded (and continue to respond) to this. They really are a wonderful people.

David Orange
03-13-2012, 08:43 AM
You can also check out http://www.guillaumeerard.com/

...IMO, the level of damage was completely underestimated. People are doing their utmost best, but it's simply too much for Japan to cope with on their own, especially with the dire economy.

So, basically, I think people in the area still badly need support.

Here are some articles that might give you a better idea of the situation:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/311_memorial.html

On a personal note, I remain in awe of the ordinary people of Japan, especially in Tohoku, for how they responded (and continue to respond) to this. They really are a wonderful people.

Oisin, thanks very much for the comments.

Among the articles in your second link, I found this:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120310f1.html

Is this really true? Every single reactor in Japan has been shut down and they expect to go into the next several months, at least, with no nuclear power at all?

I haven't heard a word of this before. That is major news that really should be a big topic of consideration.

And while I worry about the situation in Japan, the US could become the site of a worse disaster today or tomorrow if the New Madrid fault line produces a major earthquake.

All Americans should consider what we will face if that happens with nuclear plants in operation at the time.

Thanks to everyone.

David

Rennis Buchner
03-13-2012, 09:04 AM
On a personal note, I remain in awe of the ordinary people of Japan, especially in Tohoku, for how they responded (and continue to respond) to this. They really are a wonderful people.

As a Tohoku resident I can understand this to some degree, but the reality on the ground is that things weren't, and in many cases still aren't as nice, peaceful and orderly as the media has presented it. That is a whole other thread though.

Janet Rosen
03-13-2012, 09:56 AM
Oisin, thanks very much for the comments.

Among the articles in your second link, I found this:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120310f1.html

Is this really true? Every single reactor in Japan has been shut down and they expect to go into the next several months, at least, with no nuclear power at all?

I haven't heard a word of this before. That is major news that really should be a big topic of consideration.
David

It was on the New York Times front page above the fold several days ago

bob_stra
03-13-2012, 10:16 AM
So is it or is it not safe to spend time (say a month) in Tokyo? My judo club had plans to visit last year but people were understandably skittish about things.

Marc Abrams
03-13-2012, 11:17 AM
My wife and I were in Japan after the earthquake and nuclear disaster for close to a week last year and will be spending a week there in May (Osaka-Tokyo-Hakkone,etc...) and again in September. We have absolutely no worries. If we did, we would take Potassium Iodide tablets (which could be done safely with children if parents had a concern). To date, we do not glow in the dark, we have not suffered from any ill-effects from exposure to nuclear radiation and we do not have mutant appendages growing from our bodies.

marc abrams

Tenyu
03-21-2012, 05:08 PM
Many people in Tokyo are living on radioactive waste. In most countries it would be illegal, as it should be, to have children or adults in these areas for any length of time. I suppose most people have no choice but to delude themselves. Deep sadness and compassion for the irrevocable gravity of Japan's post 3/11 reality and the media-induced ignorance.

16:45 minute mark (http://fairewinds.com/content/arnie-and-maggie-talk-vermont-yankee-fukushima-and-nuclear-industry)

fjh
03-22-2012, 06:40 AM
Go relax and have fun. Japan could use some tourist support. While I can't speak specifically to Nagano, we visit Japan every year for couple of weeks. We head to Okinawa and then up to Hokkaido. We are not the slightest bit worried. The only thing different last year was 2/3 of the lights in the Tokyo Airports were off and the A.C. thermostats were up to save power. I used to live in Japan, and my wife is Japanese, so I realize that my view is different, meaning I maybe more comfortable in Japan than your average tourist, but still, I wouldn't be so worried if I were you. Besides, wouldn't your relatives in Nagano let you know if it was too dangerous?

I know recovery hasn't gone as planned, but you can't expect them to rebuild entire towns overnight. I just read the estimated reconstruction cost is $300 billion. That's a lot of work. Look at New Orleans, we're almost 7 years removed from that disaster.

As for charities, maybe Oisin, Rennis or other current residents can help direct people to groups more directly involved then the Red Cross. The problem is getting the money to them. My wife's restaurant had a fund-raiser that gave money to a local organization based in Sendai. A friend's sister works with them. They had to do an international wire transfer, so unless you know someone locally, it's probably easier to give to the Red Cross and choose to give specifically to Japan when you make your donation.

Some more good articles on the recovery here (http://www.csmonitor.com/content/search?SearchText=fukushima).

ewolput
03-22-2012, 03:36 PM
Hi David, my son, his wife and 2children are living in Tokyo, my wife went last November to Tokyo. We are living near a nuclear plant in Belgium. My plan is to go in September.
We believe in good faith and hope nothing will happen again.
But visiting family is worth the risk (if there is a risk). Anyway it is only for a short time.
Eddy

Tenyu
03-27-2012, 05:29 PM
Tokyo residents living on nuclear waste. (http://vimeo.com/38995781)