AP: People flee Japan nuclear disaster — Some can’t get away, I feel so sorry for them

Published: December 22nd, 2012 at 6:40 am ET


Title: People Flee Japan Nuke Disaster to Faraway Okinawa
Source: AP
Date: December 22, 2012

People Flee Japan Nuke Disaster to Faraway Okinawa

Excerpts from AP’s interview with Minaho Kubota:

  • Petrified of the radiation spewing from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that went into multiple meltdowns last year, Kubota grabbed her children, left her skeptical husband and moved to [Okinawa]
  • “I thought I would lose my mind”
  • “I felt I would have no answer for my children if, after they grew up, they ever asked me, ‘Mama, why didn’t you leave?’
  • She is getting health checkups for her children, fretting over any discovered problems, including anemia, fevers and nosebleeds
  • Her fears are heightened by the fact that she and her children had lived in their car right after the disaster, which had liquefied the land and destroyed their home
  • They had unknowingly played outdoors while the nuclear plants had been exploding
  • Her husband refused to leave his dentist practice in Ibaraki Prefecture
  • “I wake up every day and feel thankful my children are alive. I have been through so much. I have been heartbroken. I have been so afraid”

Excerpts from AP’s interview with Kazue Sato:

  • Sato lived in fear of radiation because the roof of her home in Iwaki, a major city in Fukushima, was destroyed by the earthquake
  • Sato is still struggling with depression, especially because her old friends criticized her for what they thought were her exaggerated fears about radiation
  • She struggles with a sense of guilt about having abandoned Fukushima
  • “Little children have to wear masks. People can’t hang their laundry outdoors”
  • “Some people can’t get away even if they want to. I feel so sorry for them”

More from the AP’s Kageyama: [intlink id=”just-in-outrage-as-ap-exposes-japan-scientists-taking-money-from-nuclear-industry-doctor-radiation-standards-were-twisted-to-limit-evacuations-after-311-the-excuse-we-usually-only-fly-co” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Published: December 22nd, 2012 at 6:40 am ET


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58 comments to AP: People flee Japan nuclear disaster — Some can’t get away, I feel so sorry for them


    what's coming to a planet near you…

  • Bananastan Bananastan

    "We think people have the right to live in an environment not polluted by radiation that may harm their health, and that right has been violated by this accident,"

    said attorney Izutaro Managi, one of the lawyers filing a class action lawsuit against TEPCO and the gov't.

    Yes, We ALL have a right to live in an environment not polluted by radiation.

    Maybe it's time for a Global class action lawsuit; with Plaintiffs from every Country or Continent who are being affected by radiation from nuclear power plants.

    Or several Local class action lawsuits.

    All it takes is ONE win to set a legal precedent.

    • weeman

      I second the motion, hit them in the pocket and throw them in jail till they exhaust their appeals then hang them, they are committing genocide of their own people, their is no difference between the Syrian government and the Japanese government both are committing war crimes against there people and need to be overthrown.
      The western world threatened Syria with war if they use chemical weapons on its people, tell me what the difference that the Japanese government is knowingly exposing it's people to harmful levels of radiation, providing false information therefore the people can not make a educated decision based on fact.
      The proper venue for the trail is the Hauge, you could not have a fair trail in Japan.

      • StPaulScout StPaulScout

        The western world threatened Syria with war if they use chemical weapons on its people…..the Japanese government is knowingly exposing it's people to harmful levels of radiation….

        weeman – There is no real difference. When the Syrians do it the press calls it 'terrorism', when the Japanese government does it, or the U.S., afterall both do it regularly, it is called 'private enterprise'.

      • PurpleRain PurpleRain

        Totally agree with you. On a different and yet related topic I get so sick and tired of people who say that legal abortion creates a "culture of Death" — but then nothing is said or done or talked about when it comes to the culture of nuclear weapons, war, DU, chemical weapons, etc…. People need to wake up and get their perspective. Once a large amount of babies and infants that are deformed, sick, etc.. start showing up in Japan, (or the USA), I'm certain that abortion would be the kinder situation or option for what is yet to come.

        • nuclearcom

          Well, I'm one of those who points to widespread abortion as one of the 'culture of death' problems. Your notion that abortion is or will be a kindliness is abhorrent to me. There were some apartment buildings in Taiwan that were constructed with contaminated rebar. Approximately 10,000 folks lived in them before the elevated radiation levels were discovered. The average dose to the residents was 40 rem — much higher than the estimates I've seen for Fukushima. The health of these residents is not worse than others in the city. In fact, the data seems unequivocal in showing significant health benefits from the radiation exposure. Overall death rate was less than 5% of the expected death rate. Cancer death rate was 3% of the expected cancer death rate. Even heart defect rate was 7% of the expected heart defect rate. The study is freely available at http://1.usa.gov/fauyt5

          The authors of the study emphasize that "Information about this Taiwan experience should be communicated to the public worldwide to help allay its fear of radiation…" I agree.

          My motto for nuclear.com is "pro-life, therefore pro-nuclear". I host an internet radio talk show every weekday, M-F, starting at 12:05 pm eastern time. All of god will are welcome to discuss the types of issues you raise, including nuclear weapons, nuclear power and radiation effects.

          Steve Schulin,
          founding editor


            well Steve, I'd have to agree with your outrage that abortion is seen by some as solution to the prospective horrors that await the global victims of Fukushima; and for that matter, all nuclear related calamities. We should never think of abortion as a solution to our individual or collective mistakes. Such solution is not only an affront to the self-righteous, it is an insult to nature.

            As to the occupants of these buildings: As a representative of the nuclear-is-good crowd, can you assure us all that there's no difference in how we're being exposed to radiation? Maybe you can elaborate on the differences between external versus internal exposure? And if I'm moving about an apartment that features contaminated materials, does the level of exposure differ from that which may have been inadvertently ingested and now permanently resides within any given area of my body?

            You seem a font of knowledge, so I'll await your answers with breathless concern…

            • nuclearcom

              There are indeed differences between internal and external exposure, but 'a rem is a rem'. A lot of work by a lot of folks has gone into methods of coming up with dose values in rems or Sieverts which accurately account for the wide variety of differences between types of exposures. A discussion of the uncertainties involved in estimating doses from internal emitters can be found in a Jan 2012 report done for NRC's SOARCA project — http://www.nuclear.com/archive/2012/06/07/ML12159A259.pdf — (see especially the section starting on pdf p. 7, titled '2.1.3 Absorbed dose coefficients for inhalation intakes of radionuclides').

              I've read a lot about internal dosimetry over the years. As a young man, I worked as a radiation protection technician at power plants, and saw first hand how use of respirators slowed workers down. When NRC revised 10CFR20 in 1990, utilities had to consider, for each task where respirators were considered, the question of whether the avoided internal dose from using respirator would be less or more than the extra external dose received due to taking more time to do the job.

              We all have internal emitters. Natural potassium-40 is the major dose contributor for most. It was this natural radioactivity which gave rise to the famous expression 'Nuclear power is safer than sex.'

              • slinky

                What are the models for internal consumption based on? Aren't these models mostly mathematical in nature? What actual data do we have measuring the precise amounts of the deadlier iso-topes such as the various isotopes of plutonium, and others when these have been consumed internally? Aren't these mostly from dog experiments going back to the 1940's? Which indicated the fatal dosage is in the micrograms? Don't we have plutonium all over northern Japan currently from this accident? What are the long term consequences of this, in terms of how much of these isotopes, the average Japanese will be consuming in decades to come?


                  excellent questions slinky. But go easy on Steve. We have to give him some time to find his sea legs…

                • nuclearcom

                  I recall reading that radiation is the most thoroughly researched 'substance' in the world. We know a lot about radiation, including the study of humans who have ingested or inhaled a wide variety of isotopes. Yes, the internal dosimetry models are mathematical. I've forgotten much more than I remember about the various human data for different isotopes, but I do recall that folks who've ingested plutonium on the job have been tracked for a long time. A Hanford worker got a, uh, snootfull and he was still being tracked, alive and well, decades later. I googled [plutonium internal dosimetry] and one of the top hits was a 2007 paper in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry. Here's the abstract: "Biokinetic models are the scientific underpinning of internal dosimetry and depend, ultimately, for their scientific validation on comparisons with human bioassay data. Three significant plutonium/americium bioassay databases, known to the authors, are described: (1) Sellafield, (2) Los Alamos and (3) the United States Transuranium Registry. A case is made for a uniform standard for database format, and the XML standard is discussed." Full paper is freely available at http://rpd.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2007/04/22/rpd.ncm164

                  The highest plutonium contamination I've seen reported from Japanese soil surveys has been 11 Becquerels per square meter. That's less than the 41 Bq/sq m found after atmospheric bomb test era – http://bit.ly/V43Umt

                  • Anthony Anthony

                    I would like to see you rebut or answer every one of thebigpicture`s posts so we can decide the truth for ourselves. Not as a war but answer against answer. I think thebigpicture is right but it would be interesting to see how you agree or not.


                appreciate your attempt at addressing my questions. Strange, but your response to my question undermines your original inference that low-level radiation may be benign. And where I can appreciate your effort, I must question the integrity of your references.

                Given the pallid history of the NRC, such 'studies' as you've referenced, carry as much promise as a bag of heroin; reassuring but temporary escape from reality. To be fair, the report's "…model assumes that any dose can increase the probability of a radiogenic cancer death…" only feigns at scientific objectivity. This is 'straw-man science'.

                It would be far more valuable if you called upon your fellow technologist to work towards tenable remediation solutions, which answer the horrors that face us all now. There exists worldwide, thousands of nuclear waste repositories that get pushed (like a crippled step-child) into the background, when pundits from your industry come forward.

                Your personal history is (by your account) steeped in the concept of safety; a concept that's simply ignored throughout your industry. Speculative toxicology aside, where's the aggressive stance against the obvious environmental damage from your industry?

                And while others might wish you elsewhere, I personally welcome your honest assessment of these issues and suggestions for their solution. We can only move forward with such effort…

                • nuclearcom

                  The report's mention of no threshold was describing an assumption. It does not in any way undermine my conclusion that linear no-threshold model is contradicted by lots of data, including the Taiwan apartment building residents.

                  The doses from triple meltdown at Fukushima have been lower than I'd expect to cause any statistically identifiable adverse health effects. Thyroid cancer could prove me wrong, The 'horrors that face us all' are of the same magnitude as the 'horror' from extra radiation dose to be expected by moving from sea level city to Denver.

                  I don't know everybody in the nuclear industry, but I've worked at most of the commercial nuclear plants in the US, and I've found nuclear folks from boardroom to plant floor as having an excellent safety orientation. The biggest environmental damage from nuclear facilities in US has been from nuclear weapons complex. That the government, operating in a supersecret environment on matters of urgent national security, favored production over environmental protection is not so surprising to me. I recall somebody once voicing opinion that if the government was put in charge of Sahara desert, we'd soon be facing a shortage of sand. Does that undermine my citing of a particular government-contracted study? No.

                  • richard richard

                    " The 'horrors that face us all' are of the same magnitude as the 'horror' from extra radiation dose to be expected by moving from sea level city to Denver."

                    that's UTTER bullshyt you propogandaring low life.

                    unknown levels of radiation have been spilt (and continue to be) into the pacific ocean and the atmosphere. andything beyond ZERO is intolerable.

                    scum like you just lie and scam in order to push your death machines.

                    the pacific (and Earth, and the future) is ruined thanks to a-holes like you!.

                    • nuclearcom

                      One of the nice things about radiation is how easy it is to measure. If you think folks in Japan have received more than the 'Denver dose', please feel welcome to show the basis for your claim.

                      Was any institution in Japan prepared for the huge tsunami? No. Whole towns were wiped out even though they had made extensive preparations for what they thought was possible. Some twenty thousand deaths from tsunami. Zero deaths from Fukushima-related radiation. Where's the lie in that, bub?

              • Anthony Anthony

                What an especially asinine thing Β«(for your industry) to say:

                **It was this natural radioactivity which gave rise to the famous expression 'Nuclear power is safer than sex.'**

                Doesn't it occur to you that if you have to go to such lengths to justify your endeavor that there must be a reason to do so?

                • nuclearcom

                  I guess you really wouldn't like Edward Teller's joke about sleeping with two… I don't know anybody who justifies nuclear power with that joke, it's a comparison of radiation risk. There are other slogans that are used to justify nuclear power, like "Clean. Safe. Economical." and "Solar's alright, but nukes do it all night".

                  I think it's clear that the US nuclear plant fleet supplanted much coal-fired generation, and that has saved many lives over the years.

                  • m a x l i

                    >>>Solar's alright, but nukes do it all night.<<<

                    Are you talking about the clouds rising at night the TEPCO webcam is showing?

          • richard richard

            Nuclear is an abomination. Abortion is a woman's choice. You are so wrong on both counts. The planet will better off without you.

            • nuclearcom

              Well, I agree with our Declaration of Independence about self-evident Truths, including that we're all endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life. Killing the person in the womb, or not, is a choice, just like murdering anyone, or not, is a choice. Are there any other groups of persons who you think its ok to deprive of their unalienable rights?

              Our very claim to the right to govern ourselves is grounded in the idea that our rights come from God, not from some earthly king or from a majority vote of our neighbors or other group.

              As for nuclear, well, I think the evidence is clear that it is the safest way to generate a lot of electricity at a central location. And that's without giving a whit of credence to the CO2-climate scare.


                honestly nuclearcom? I find your support for centralization completely at odds with your espoused beliefs in self-determinism. I totally agree with such politics yet find it extremely difficult to reconcile such philosophy with bigger-is-better. Dude…pick a path!!!

                • nuclearcom

                  My biggest concern about nuclear is that it contributes to concentration of political and economic power. Yet some bigness seems clearly warranted. Multitudes of folks rely on centralized power generation. If we went back to days before centralized power plants, I suspect there would be lots of disadvantages, including environmental.

                  During the oil embargo of 1973-1974, a U. Colorado professor started publishing a newsletter, 'Access to Energy'. Dr. Petr Beckmann was his name. I first read it at the DOE library in Washington DC, while doing debate team research in college. I remember one issue when he was discussing what it would be like if homes across he nation converted to rooftop solar. He predicted a lot of accidental deaths from people falling off their roofs trying to clear snow off the panels. Small is not always beautiful.

                  • richard richard

                    what a lame excuse.

                    justify polluting the planet with toxic poisons that last for centuries and will need to be managed by people who are not even born yet and had no benefit from your selfish abuse of energy.

                    nukes are a declaration of war on all future being of planet Earth.

                    You can't negotiate with people who don't even exist yet – and still you steal their birthright to an nuke-toxin free world.

                    your selfish ingulgence is futurecide and ecocide – nukes destroy the world, today and forever of tomorrows.

                    nukers should learn to hold their breath for 24 hours or so.

                  • AFTERSHOCK AFTERSHOCK

                    really enjoying your responses Steve.

                    I'm on the ground with that story about people falling off their roofs, while attempting to clear their solar panels! I'm surprised you'd reference an academic study [no vested interests there, either] which projected losses in life and limb from solar installations! Considering how many have fallen from ladders while shingling roofs and painting siding, I think you've grounds for our return to sod-houses.

                    Such arguments have not convinced me – in any way – that nuclear power (nor its hideous byproducts) is benign.

                    As alluded to in earlier responses, I'm one who supports decentralization over 'big-ness'. I also watch technology trends (have for many-many years) and their influence over the maturation of systems. Such ongoing observations yielded zero doubts in the capabilities and long-term promise of renewable energy systems. And I'm not even touching on the real-world costs of centralized versus decentralized power generation systems; nuclear obviously being one of the most heavily subsidized approaches to 'lighting a bulb'. (Anecdotal responses aside, I'm sure you'll have much to 'offer' on these issues, as well.)

                    I must credit your tempered responses. Some might not welcome your objectives, but I personally welcome your presence out here. Open discourse serves those who are truly interested in truth…

              • richard richard

                listen up steve, I don't tolerate being told about your gawds. This is an energy forum, not an assisted thinking, mythological forum.

                You and your intolerant lot can go jump … calling a woman a killer because she may have to make a tough choice is despicable.

                fk you and your creator, wallys like you are dinosaurs.

                just a reminder, this is not a forum for religious evangilism .. plug it.

          • richard richard

            Oh, and your motto is backwards. It should read 'pro-nuclear, pro-death to all life on earth'.


        curious weeman, who your sources are that claim the Syrian government's planning on using chemical weapons on it's people? Could these be the same sources that keep us informed on what's happening at Fukushima?


      constructive suggestion Bananastan. However, I fear any appeal to the entrenched courts will only find deaf ears. As of yet, these same courts have not moved on numerous other governments/parties/individuals who have committed egregious and blatant war crimes, as well as innumerable environmental crimes.

      The multinational corporate-military-police-surveillance machine has a stranglehold over every representative body on this planet. This should give some clue to why they're feverishly disarming the commoners in every nation they control. But there is a glint of hope in this harsh reality: we, the people, are now legally entitled to setup our own representative bodies and courts of law. They don't let (or want) the public knowing that this is their right.

      Putting all the corruption aside for a moment. If by chance, all (or any one) government was inaccessible (due to natural or man-made catastrophe), it is our right and obligation to form representative governments and courts of law. We wouldn't have to wait for a power struggle to take place. We can simply decide for ourselves that it is necessary to the welfare of all.

      As things stand now, we need only to compile a list of incontrovertible arguments as to why these governments and courts are being dissolved. Finding arguments is the easy part. The challenge will be in finding consensus over what will replace them…

  • dka

    "…her old friends criticized her for what they thought were her exaggerated fears…"

    they are not friends. Fight back by using rational arguments to explain that the area is not safe. If you need rational arguments ask us. There are plenty. Don't worry if they criticized, they are not good people, you don't need to feel bad. On the contrary, you should feel sorry for them, that they are such bad person who don't value life of children that much, these are not good social values.

    • SnorkY2K

      My original advice to the mayor of Minamisoma was viewed as unnecessarily extreme when I said to not dry clothing outside, not to let children play outside, HEPA filter air entering the house, and maintain positive pressure in the house to keep dust out. The local advice was that it was only necessary to wear long sleeved shirts and be happy.

  • "…they also warn that even low-dose radiation carries some risk of cancer and OTHER diseases, and exposure should be avoided as much as possible, especially the intake of contaminated food and water."

    "Such risks are several times higher for children and even higher for fetuses, and may not appear for years."

    Note: Wording can be so important!

    Example –
    ''…SOME risk of cancer and other diseases''

    IMO, it should say,
    ''…INCREASED risk of cancer and other diseases''

    The outcome is the same.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Radiation is everywhere in the Norther Hemisphere, thanks to nuclear. And doctors can't do anything except cut out your thyroid. No thanks.

  • Sol Man

    Foe what purpose are they building that new giant sarcophagus?
    To cover the earth.

    • SnorkY2K

      While most alpha radiation does not penetrate deeper than a piece of paper, a very small portion does. When there is an incredibly huge amount of radiation being emitted, there is going to be some penetration. Alpha radiation interferes with ionic-ally bonded materials such as calcium carbonate and eventually causes spalling until the concrete is dust. When the alpha particle eventually steals a couple of electrons and because a helium atom, it wreaks havoc on the chemistry of the impacted molecule.

      Every once in a while for the next few hundred millenia, the sarcophagus is going to need to be replaced as the old one deteriorates. Time to adjust to the wonderful externalized costs of nuclear power.

  • ftlt

    It is the same here… The wealthy flee… The poor eat it…

    Look at the health issues in Richmond California a refinery town – a town of the poor….

    Time to Occupy where the rich go… Or at least dump your toxics there!!!

  • markww markww

    BLESS YOU LADIES that Left Japan to save your children and hopes and dreams be fulfilled again. MARKWW

    • m a x l i

      @ markww, they are still in Japan, but in the south-western most remote corner:

      >>>Okinawa is about as far away as one can get from Fukushima without leaving Japan, and that is why Minaho Kubota is here.

      Petrified of the radiation spewing from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that went into multiple meltdowns last year, Kubota grabbed her children, left her skeptical husband and moved to the small southwestern island. More than 1,000 people from the disaster zone have done the same thing.<<<

      Japan or not, my blessings too, anyway.

    • SnorkY2K

      I completely agree with Mark, the children who left the quickest probably have the best chance of living. It most be difficult for the mothers but at least they are still within their culture.

  • Sol Man

    Bless you all, whoever you are.
    I wish you safe passage on your way.

  • jackassrig

    The USA has a strange sense of morality when politicians and Americans will slaughter 1.5 million Iragis for no other reason than to steal oil and not so much as blink an eye. Then when 26 people at Sandey Hook die innocently, the same people squeal like a pig under fence. Damn what a strange place.

    • eatliesndie eatliesndie

      is this a little off topic?…..anyway I'm with you 100%

    • kalidances

      It is political posturing meant to deflect from the fact that they are about to gut millions of American citizens via lack of job creation, extreme tax hikes, medical coverage loss, and cuts to critical social services.
      American politicians by and large have no sense of morality. The House and Senate, with Obama's help, are about to make millions of children homeless and hungry. Add to that the major loss of medical treatment access and you have a lot of people dying on the streets. The loss of medical coverage ensures that there will be a lot more Sandy Hooks as more and more mentally ill people lose access to their meds and act in extreme ways.
      All the while not a one of the politicians,in either party, loses a thing.They take no pay cuts and they keep all the perks. They won't lose a single benefit and will probably get raises.
      This is America the hypocritical.

  • kalidances

    On topic when the reactors fail in America, and they will as many of them have the same design as Fukushima, the politicians are not going to let Americans leave. We'll probably get locked down in place. Okinawa is not safe either because the contamination is completely in Japan's water table now.
    They are switching chairs on the deck of the Titanic unfortunately. If a peaceful and relatively painless end of life can be obtained then it's probably the best that can be hoped for.

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    Japan is toast. Get over it. Flee if you can. Sorry about the end of your 7,000 year old civilization. It was nice, sort of, while it lasted. You got us at Pearl Harbor. We got you back by insisting that you buy nuclear power plants from GE. I think we are even. How will you ever get even with Israel?

    • kalidances

      Israel has the ancient Dimona plant. All it needs is one large earthquake to ensure Israel's extinction.
      You must be forgetting that there are 55 nuke reactors on Japanese islands which roughly correlate to the size of the US state of California. If there is chain-reactive criticality there will be nothing for anyone on the planet to worry about.
      Japanese civilization is not over, it is just changed from what it once was. Japanese people live all over the world. The culture will ultimately survive. America however, might not.
      Japan may have extreme flaws but the people are loyal to one another. America's loyalties shift per religion and economic class.
      At this time it is probably best to concentrate on new water and air radioactivity treatment/removal technologies.
      If one is too sick to work solutions cannot be found.

  • Sickputer

    >" they are still in Japan, but in the south-western most remote corner"

    SP: Okinawa is better than ground zero…but not far enough. The air and water radioactivity is much less, but over the long run it will also bioaccumulate.

    The biggest threat to Okinawans is their food supplies from Honshu and the Fukushima breadbasket. Mislabeling food origins is a deadly issue in Japan.

    Life tables data show the world's highest known concentration of centenarians for any country or state is found in Okinawa. Check back in five years and see how that changes.

    • m a x l i

      Where is "far enough"?

    • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

      Good questions & points!~where is far enough? and that 5 year question is as good a question for me,or should I say my wife since that's exactly the number they used to determine whether the treatment program for her IB Cancer that reached Stage 3B from when it was estimated the tumors began forming in late-December,2011 & by mid-Feb.,2012 the tumors had grown so large so fast that she was classified stage 3B-which is just a hair away from stage4 which is considered hopelessly terminal! They started her on a pill that she has to take every day for the next 5 years starting in late October following her chemotherapy,radical mastectomy & 7 lymph nodes surgery which was followed up with 39 days excluding weekends or 39 radiation therapy treatment sessions along with numerous follow-up treatments including a year of Hercepin infusions on a monthly basis via IV to the Portacath still surgically implanted into her chest & heart…ugghh,I can't even think of everything & know I'm forgetting something else people will be going through from Okinawa to the Okefenokee & beyond! My point being that should we be around in 5 years I will remember the suggestion to see what the life expectancy rate looks like on the day that my wife takes her last oral anti-cancer pill(chemo?) and is only then declared "completely" cured with recurrences of the cancer unlikely. Problem is,"how will the likelihood of Fukushima continuing to subject her to radiation affect her odds?… πŸ™

  • timemachine2020 timemachine2020

    Tepco cam rockin hard now