Letter to the Prime Minister of Japan on nuclear safetyPosted: 2012/01/08
Dear Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda,
Re: Nuclear Safety for Japan and the World
We at the NGO – IFLAC, The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace, express deep sympathy at the enormous earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11th 2011, and moreover, the nuclear accident in Fukushima. All the members of IFLAC heartily pray for a quick recovery and the true convergence of the severe accident. Furthermore, we highly respect the nuclear plant workers struggling for convergence regardless of radiation exposure.
We, at IFLAC, which is a volunteer organization that works for peace through culture, literature, and communication, also aim to save lives of women and children who are socially vulnerable, and contribute to the peace and safety in the Middle East and in the whole world. IFLAC was established in 1999 by writer and researcher Ada Aharoni (Lit.D.). It is an organization which highly respects democracy and peace, and one of the international NGOs independent from any country’s government or religion. IFLAC members consists of 22 countries: Canada, America, Russia, France, Israel, Turkey, Cameroon , Japan, China, India, Korea, Norway, Romania, Hungary, Spain, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia.
9 months have passed since the level 7 nuclear accident occurred in Fukushima, and yet it hasn’t been settled. Furthermore, 4 types of nuclear plants, including the latest plutonium-thermal, caused the accident. We at IFLAC consider them serious matters and demand the Japanese Government the following requests:
1) Promptly release all precise information, including the diffusion of radioactive substances, to Japanese citizens as well as to the world
By knowing the right information, each citizen will be able to make decisions by themselves and take measures to avoid unnecessary exposure. Japanese citizens are moderate and patient people. They will not cause panic or confusion as soon as they hear the truth. This is proved by the fact that the world was surprised by their orderly behavior after the disastrous earthquake. The possibility or the amount of compensation can be discussed later. In any case, it is the first preference to honestly release all information concerning radiation so that every people living in Japan, including foreigners will be able to keep the amount of internal and external exposure as low as possible.
It is disappointing that the recent Japanese government plays down its original rules about radiation protection, and continues to say “Eating those food will not cause health problems” or “Not taking shelter will not cause health problems” because they are “below” the watermark. It seems as if the government is giving priority thinking how to lessen or reduce the amount of the future compensation, when the government’s foremost need is to take care of the dangerous exposure for all the people living in Japan.
2) Do not re-operate all nuclear power plants that are under suspension
Some of the Japanese nuclear plants are quake-resistant to M7.6, which is higher than the standard of M6.5 which IAEA demands. However, they could not stand M9.0 of the recent earthquake. In Fukushima, the power cables first collapsed due to the earthquake, and after losing external electricity the tsunami struck. We know from the news that the power plants in Fukushima are still in critical state. We read newspaper articles and saw pictures of a hose 4 km long which sends a vast amount of water to cool down the nuclear reactors and avoid critical resumption. We also found out that the electric cables are laid to the ground uncovered, and we need to rely on temporary equipment under the present circumstances. At the places where the tide walls once existed there are only temporary walls sandbagged by packed stones. Can this temporary equipment endure the next earthquakes and tsunamis?
In addition, the cause of the accidents has not yet been clarified. We were surprised to hear that the officially announced temperatures of the nuclear reactors are estimated from other data, because in the present situation it is still unable to measure the temperatures directly. Therefore, it is ridiculous to re-operate other nuclear plants in a situation where the process of settling down hasn’t been established for over 9 months once an accident occurs.
3) Please do not build new nuclear power plants anymore, and sequentially decommission all the existing nuclear power plants, like the German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and the Swiss Government, that made wise decisions in response to the disastrous situation in Fukushima.
4) Do not export nuclear power plants to overseas
We request the Japanese Government to withdraw nuclear power plant exportation to Turkey, Jordan, Vietnam, and India, that are also countries subject to earthquakes. Especially at the construction site of Jordan, they can only reserve 15 days of water that will be necessary in case of an emergency. We can assert that they clearly lack any emergency measures.
According to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) published on November 15th 2011, the edaphic radioactive substances diffused from March 20th to April 19th by the nuclear accident in Fukushima were more widely spread than the announcement of the Ministry of Education Culture, sports, Science and Technology in Japan, admitted. Within the range of 250 km, many places are marked as 250 Bq/kg, and in the amount of cesium 137. In some sections 750 km apart from the Fukushima power plant, it was marked 100 to 250 Bq/kg. Differently from Japan, the countries in the Middle East are connected by land. If similar accidents occur in the Middle East, the problems will be more complex and much more dangerous to the whole region and to the whole world.
5) Please, immediately restore the present Japanese provisional standard values for the radioactive levels of food to the international standards
The provisional standard of International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) is set as a permissible amount for about a week after an accident. Therefore, stop using this standard value for over more than 9 months.
Internal exposure, which is mainly absorbed from ingestion, is said to be more dangerous than external exposure. In case of cesium 137, the Japanese provisional standard value of water is 200 Bq/kg, while the limit value of waste water from nuclear plants based on the international law is 90 Bq/kg. This means drinking water said to be safe in Japan is more than two times polluted, due to waste water from nuclear plants. Also, in Belarus, the present safety limit value of food for children is 39 Bq/kg, while in Japan; groceries under 500 Bq/kg are considered safe and taken to the market without showing the value. This is more than ten times of the value in Belarus. Taking account of the great amount of external exposure continuously sustained from the air after the accident, please restore the total value of internal and external exposure to the international standard value of 1 mSv per year.
Data shows that children and women are more than twice as likely as men to develop cancer due to radiation exposure. Moreover, as the report from PNAS in 2009 shows, the number of patients considered being ill due to radiation after the accident in Chernobyl reached nearly 1 million including numbers that weren’t reported in English, in spite of the fact that food standard is far more strict than that of Japan. How would Japan be if this situation keeps going for years?
6) Do not delist evacuation zone at this stage, when the accident is not converged, nor the possibility of critical resumption can be denied, nor the decontamination excluding public facilities is completed. On the contrary, expand the evacuation zone according to the international standard.
Internationally, areas that mark 0.6 µSv/h are determined as radiation controlled areas, and labor of workers under 18 years old is banned. According to this criterion, in Chernobyl areas over 0.6 µSv/h (5 mSv/y) were determined as forced emigration zones. On the other hand, the Japanese watermark is 3.8 µSv/h (20 mSv/y), which is four to six times as that of Chernobyl. It is unbelievable for the Japanese Government to delist the evacuation zone with such a lax standard, in a time when the accident is still in disorder.
There are currently 431 nuclear power plants in the world including the numbers of those under suspension. Among all, 5 of the nuclear power plants brought about the worst level of 7 accidents. This is a probability of more than 1 percent. To mention only about Japan, 4 out of 54 caused the accidents, so these irretrievable accidents occurred with an 8 percent likelihood.
Meanwhile, Japan is the third largest country in geothermal energy following US and Indonesia, which is representative for its reusability, safety and stableness. While he visited Japan in 1991 after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, also advocated in her speech that abundant in sunlight, compared to the United Kingdom, Japan should make more efforts to develop efficient solar power systems. Within Japan this speech was rarely taken up, but later on there were times when eminent scholars from overseas were assigned to the current Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to study the possibility of high technologies of solar power generation in Japan.
Naturally derived methane hydrate, which won’t produce CO2, could be used as a secondary energy for the moment while developing renewable energy. It is also known overseas that untapped natural resources that match at least 100 years of the total amount of Japanese energy consumption are reserved in the areas from the open sea of Enshu Nada to Amami Oshima. If it is difficult for the Japanese Government to pursue this seriously, it is possible to invite nongovernmental or foreign capital for development.
Both the German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, who decided to abolish the use of all nuclear power plants, and the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who mentioned the necessity of natural energy, are both scientists, as well as female prime ministers who give birth and bring up lives, and know their value. In Switzerland too the former Swiss representative of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), reported and advised the country’s government to thoroughly investigate reality of the Chernobyl disaster, and to abolish the use of all nuclear power plants.
Prime Minister Noda often mentions “children-first” and “safety operation”. Please give instructions that will save children’s lives “first” from radioactive pollution due to nuclear accidents. A country’s prime minister has an obligation to save its people’s lives, first of all. Immediately providing enough money necessary for compensation as a national budget might be difficult. However, you can sequentially stop all nuclear power plants and immediately announce international safety standards for food and evacuation zones. Please stop forcing unnecessary exposure to innocent children and residents. Whether the radiation comes from atomic bombs or nuclear plants, the victims are both hibakushas. It is clear that nuclear plants cannot coexist with humans by the fact that hibakushas keep emerging in the manufacturing process or even during the routine inspections.
Prime Minister Mr. Noda, please accept IFLAC’s advice that nuclear power plants are no longer necessary for the safe operation of “energy”.
Consequently, change your decision to continue the use of nuclear power plants, and follow the example of Chancellor Angela Merkel to abolish the use of all nuclear power plants.
You can show leadership as a pioneer of safety to the world.
Dr. Ada Aharoni
President of World IFLAC
Poet and Writer Taki Yuriko
IFLAC Delegate in Japan