17th April, 2012
Terumi Kataoka, who lives just 100 kilometres from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, is one of thousands of Japanese who frankly don't believe what governments and scientists are telling them about the health effects of low-dose radiation.
So Kataoka, 50, has set up the Aizu Radiation Information Center at her local United Church of Christ church in Aizuwakamatsu. Because she is especially concerned about the effect of radiation on children, she also heads the Aizu Society to Protect the Lives of Children from Radiation.
"There is no time to lose. We are called to pray and act with our voices of anger to save the lives of the little ones," Kataoka told ENInews.
The plant, damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, has been leaking radiation. A no-entry zone extends 20 kilometres from the facility. Some areas near the zone this month were re-designated by the government as "zones being prepared for residents' return." Other areas are called "zones with restricted residency."
According to the Fukushima Prefectural government's latest statistics, 62,831 people have been evacuated from the state.
The information centre offers children's medical counselling, radiation monitoring of food, radiation counters on loan, a website with a map of readings of radiation levels measured by citizens at certain spots in Aizuwakamatsu, study and lecture meetings, children's recreation programs, and the sale of safe vegetables.
The centre is also publishing electronic and printed news and other information, organising demonstrations and rallies, negotiating with government administrations, responding to media inquiries, and providing support to groups opposed to nuclear power. The centre has an annual paid membership of about 60 individuals and some groups.
Tomoyuki Yamazaki, a Japanese doctor and a United Church member in Wakayama Prefecture in western Japan who provides medical counselling at the information center every month, said in an email to ENInews that an increasing number of children he has seen "have nosebleeds that don't stop, diarrhea, dark circles under their eyes, and incurable stomatitis (an inflammation of the mucous linings in the mouth). A growing number of children (at the centre) have pains in their chests."
The exact number of children with such symptoms and their causes are unknown, Kataoka told ENInews. "We ask so many things of the government, but they don't listen," Kataoka said in a YouTube video.
- HISASHI YUKIMOTO, ENInews