Purple Magazine
— S/S 2012 issue 17

Nuclear Japan



I live in New York City. Since March 11, 2011, I’ve visited Japan four times. My latest visit was in November. I spent two weeks in Tokyo, a day in Kyoto, and another in Takasaki. Just as it was on my previous three visits, Tokyo’s Narita Airport was very quiet on Nov. 4. Hardly any international tourists were entering the country. It was like a no-man’s-land.

Earlier that week, I was in Berlin to participate in an event called “Learning from Fukushima,” organized by the Berliner Gazette. Discussions at the event focused on new media activities relating to the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. I was perhaps the only person to ask about the censorship of the reporting of the disaster in the public media and on the Internet.

The Japanese government started developing nuclear technology at the end of the 1950s. It was supported by the US government and assisted by the Argonne National Laboratory, the largest energy laboratory in the US, located south of Chicago.

When I was in Japan in November, I watched television hoping to get information about the disaster, but there was almost nothing about it. No news connecting the disaster to problems of radiation leakage was broadcasted — not even by Japan’s national public broadcasting organization, Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK). Many of the morning television programs’ reports were conceived to quell public anxiety, telling people not to worry about exposure to radiation in the air, in food, and in drinking water. All of Tokyo’s supermarkets and department stores were selling vegetables, fruits, milk products, and seafood from Fukushima and the surrounding prefectures — all without any knowledge of what amount of radiation they might contain. I heard from a friend who works in the television media that no television station was allowed to use the word “nuclear.” My Twitter account could not connect to certain sites offering information important to the Japanese people. I couldn’t re-tweet messages. People were unable to hear criticism of the Japanese government or the nuclear industry on YouTube. Japan seemed to have abandoned freedom of expression, even on the Internet.

As of 2010, NHK, the public broadcasting service, owned 352 million euros worth of stock of Japanese electric companies and 137 million euros worth of TEPCO stock. Two investment banks, Master Trust Bank of Japan and Japan Trustee Services Bank, are the primary investors in Japan’s electric and mass media companies (including newspapers, television and radio companies), and advertising agencies, such as Dentsu. Their shareholders include Japanese mega banks, and they have connections with Wall Street banks and the Nippon Life Insurance Company.

Since March 2011, the Japanese government has hidden many facts about the effects of radiation. It took two months for it to even admit that there was a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. It didn’t release information about the Fukushima Daiichi operational record until November 2011. Last May, a Fukushima plant technician informed me that the Daiichi No.3 reactor was cracked and had been releasing plutonium since March. This was never mentioned in any media, including the Internet. These cover-ups are helping to create disastrous situations, especially for children in Japan.

The Fukushima Daiichi reactor is different from that of Chernobyl. It consists of six General Electric Mark 1 type reactors. Since the meltdown, it has been releasing radiation at the rate of one billion becquerels per hour. No one knows how to control this leakage, making this the most serious man-made nuclear disaster ever. Debris from the Tohoku earthquake has reportedly reached the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. One could assume that radiation has also contaminated seawater.

In China, 27 nuclear electric plants are under construction, using technology from France’s EDF, the US’s Westinghouse, and others. General Electric-Hitachi has been lobbying the Chinese government for contracts to build the country’s planned 190 nuclear electric plants. Only 13 are presently operating. The expansion of nuclear energy is happening not only in China, but also in India, Southeast Asia, and South America. The nuclear industry and the G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, America, and Russia) are keeping quiet about the reality of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and the diffusion of radiation across the Northern Hemisphere.

According to informed sources, between 700 and 4,000 workers from the Fukushima plant have died from exposure. Children in Fukushima are dying from myocardial infarction as a result of the cesium concentrated in their muscles. But doctors in Fukushima are not allowed to tell patients if illnesses are related to radiation exposure. The Fukushima Medical Society has forced doctors to sign a secrecy agreement; if they refuse, their license to practice is revoked.

The extent of radiation exposure from Fukushima Daiichi has not yet been disclosed, either in Japan or in Western countries, although radiation exposure in the air and sea — and in food — is indisputably spreading.

But what really shocked me during my November visit was that I was the only one on the streets of Tokyo who wore a mask to avoid inhaling cesium  — and that almost no one wanted to talk about the disaster or about radiation.

[Table of contents]

S/S 2012 issue 17

Table of contents

purple EDITO

purple NEWS

purple BEST of the SEASON





purple BEAUTY

purple TRAVEL

purple NAKED

purple NIGHT

purple SUMMER


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