Recently stories have been making the rounds about how Japan is coping with the aftermath of the tsunami and the partial meltdown that occurred two years ago. It is as sad as it is predictable that the fears of radiation would become the most lingering and harmful effect. Even as the radiation itself has faded to background levels for most of the effected areas, public anxiety remains high. This is exactly what happened with Chernobyl and other incidents.
Stress Emerges As Major Health Issue In Fukushima
MINAMI-SOMA, Japan (AP) — Japan’s radiation nightmare has turned the lively home that truck driver Takahiro Ishitani once shared with his wife and three sons into a cluttered bachelor pad.
A coffee mug full of cigarette butts, a towel and other odds and ends sit on a low table in the apartment’s small living room. He offers a visitor a takeout box lunch, his main source of sustenance these days. Laundry hangs inside so it won’t absorb the radiation that remains in the ground, two years after an earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the south.
To escape this lonely weekday existence, the 42-year-old Ishitani drives three hours up winding roads every weekend to see his family, which has moved away because of fears that radiation could harm the children.
“If it really is safe, I want them to come back,” says Ishitani, a stocky man with a small beard on the tip of his chin. “But it’s hard to know. Different people say different things, and that adds to my stress. I don’t know whom to trust.”
Just as with Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, mental distress could be one of the biggest health issues to emerge from this disaster, experts say. While attention has focused on the potential cancer risks, they remain unclear. What is clear is that the uncertainty and the upheaval it’s caused in people’s lives is already exacting a very real and pervasive psychological toll.
“It’s one of the biggest problems,” said Seiji Yasumura, a professor of public health at Fukushima Medical University.
Ishitani collapsed on the street with an ulcer nine months into the disaster. He was hospitalized for three days and still takes stomach medicine. The slightest tremor wakes him at night, and then he can’t back to sleep as he worries about the future.
Will his youngest son, 8-year-old Ryusei, ever be able to play in the woods and catch crawfish in the river as Ishitani did as a child? How long can his family continue this divided life? Will his now half-deserted hometown of Minami-Soma even survive — or shrivel and die?
They can and should move back now. The tiny increase in radiation is trivial compared to the amount of damage this has done to the social fabric of the areas effected. Sadly, very few seem to be advocating this while many continue to cash in on the tragedy as a way of promoting their own agenda, often through fear-mongering. More efforts to inform the public are definitely necessary. Sadly, they seem to be lacking
This entry was posted on Friday, March 8th, 2013 at 3:45 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Culture, Enviornment, Nuclear. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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