An article appeared in the local (Ishikawa Prefecture) version of Mainichi Shinbun on July 25. The article was about the anti-nuke demonstration in Kanazawa City in Ishikawa on July 24, and it contained this passage:
Among the participants was Mr. Takumi Aizawa, a school worker at Kusano Elementary School in Iitate-mura in Fukushima Prefecture, which has been designated as “planned evacuation zone” by the national government. Mr. Aizawa told the demonstrators, “After the earthquake there was no information. Then a university professor sent by the government came to the village and said, “You can eat vegetables harvested in the village if you wash them”. Children, who had been evacuated, then started to come back [on that reassuring word] and they got irradiated.”
What? And who was this professor? I suspected Dr. “100 millisieverts” Yamashita, but it turned out to be his younger sidekick, Dr. Noboru Takamura of Nagasaki University. The powerful duo was all over Fukushima Prefecture in March and early April, preaching “safety” of radiation and radioactive fallout to the worried residents of Fukushima as the official radiation advisors for the prefecture.
Dr. Takamura went to Iitate-mura on March 25, and told the concerned villagers these soothing words (from Iitate-mura flyer on March 30, in Japanese):
Thyroid cancer from radioactive iodine only affects children and young mothers. People over 40 do not need to worry. Wear a mask outside, and wash your hands when you come home, and you’ll be OK. There will be no ill effect on health living in the village as long as you observe basic hygiene.
Then, he went back to Iitate-mura on April 6, and apparently told the villagers this (from a tweet by @rainbow3342):
Nagasaki University Graduate School Professor Noboru Takamura said during the April 6 meeting in Iitate-mura to explain the risk of radiation, “Rain and typhoon will quickly wash away the radioactive materials. If the radiation is below 10 microsieverts/hour, it’s safe even for children.”
So what else this good doctor and his boss Dr. Yamashita were saying back in March? The collection of tweets were found on this Japanese blog, and they paint a propaganda effort by the Japanese government that would make Goebbels andEdward Bernays proud.
Right after the disaster, the professor who was probably asked by the Fukushima prefectural government said in the lecture in Fukushima City, “it’s safe up to 100 millisieverts”. People in Fukushima were relieved. No one doubted the professor. The recording of the lecture was played everywhere endlessly – radio, inside the buildings, on the street. There must be many in the countryside who still believe him. They don’t have enough information.
I returned to Fukushima on March 21, the day of that lecture. I spoke with friends on the phone, and they had gone to that lecture, looking for any information. He spoke in a reassuring manner, and the lecture was dotted with loud applause. The recording was played every single day at the building where our recovery support group is located.
Outside Fukushima City, after Professor Yamashita’s safety lecture, the content of the lecture was re-printed in the local PR pamphlet. There were also handouts distributed in the neighborhood, in schools..
The message was played by USTREAM 24 hours a day during March. Just like Professor Yamashita’s lecture, it’s safe and secure. Also, you can eat vegetables if you wash them. There are many people who still believe the message and eat vegetables after washing them. I worry about internal radiation for them.
Professor Shunichi Yamashita of Nagasaki University appeared on an NHK program last night and said “Now the lessons from Chernobyl are about to be applied”, as if Iitate-mura is his experiment. We’re not his guinea pigs!
Iitate villagers are tired. Increasing number of them now only listen to the words of the scholars who insists it’s safe and secure. The villagers are weak. They want to find comfort in the words of the national government and the prefectural government that pushes safety. The price to pay for the safety without fact [truth] will be high.
24/7 streaming message of the duo that it’s safe, it’s safe, it’s safe, trust us, just wash your hands and vegetables. Repeat the same message over and over again, and never mind that the message is not based on reality. Tell them what they want to hear. The subjects will get tired anyway and won’t remember the details, but they will remember the message.
Well, it has worked.