Nature: People have ‘radiophobia’ if they believe food from Fukushima is not safe — “Japan kept people safe from the physical effects of radiation”

Published: January 16th, 2013 at 12:08 pm ET


Title: Fukushima: Fallout of fear
Source: ‘Nature’
Author: Geoff Brumfiel
Date: 16 January 2013

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan kept people safe from the physical effects of radiation — but not from the psychological impacts.

[…] It is a pattern seen frequently after major catastrophes, says Ronald Kessler, a professor of health-care policy at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. “In the short term, people get energized,” he says. But when extensive damage or health problems prevent them from getting back to their old lives, depression and anxiety set in. “When something this big happens, it’s just ridiculously daunting,” he says. “At a certain point you just get worn down.” […]

[Hirooki Yabe, a neuropsychiatrist at Fukushima Medical University] says that “radiophobia” remains a major problem among the Japanese refugees. A poll published last year by the Pew Research Center in Washington DC, for example, found that 76% of Japanese people believed that food from Fukushima was not safe, despite government and scientific assurances to the contrary. […]

Kessler says that unlike the tsunami survivors, whose grief will lessen over time, the nuclear evacuees could experience growing anxiety, particularly about radiation. “When everything has settled down, that will be a huge, rife issue,” he predicts. Now is the best time to try to get ahead of these problems, he says. “There’s a window of opportunity.” […]

Published: January 16th, 2013 at 12:08 pm ET


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  2. Report: The people of Japan are responsible for poisoning of world’s food chain due to Fukushima catastrophe — They have to stand up and take action — “The buck has to stop somewhere” (VIDEO) August 11, 2013
  3. Gov’t Report: Urgent that effects of radiation on human health be reduced — Experts need to investigate residents with ‘negative health effects’ — ‘Fallout is worrying people not only in Japan but also around the world’ May 29, 2012
  4. Japan TV: ‘Endless fight’ against radiation — Levels in home at 7,500% gov’t limit — ‘Shocking’ 62,700 Bq/kg of cesium in mushrooms… “They just stared at the numbers” — Retired Official: “This will taste great fried…When decontamination finished it will be safe for people to return” (VIDEO) May 5, 2014
  5. TV: “Growing problem in Fukushima” — “Healthcare workers trying to shed light on a silent killer” — “We’re seeing more and more people with physical conditions and diseases” (VIDEO) July 3, 2014

79 comments to Nature: People have ‘radiophobia’ if they believe food from Fukushima is not safe — “Japan kept people safe from the physical effects of radiation”

  • enoughalready45 enoughalready45

    “When everything has settled down…"

    You know like Chernobyl, now that everything has settled down everythings fine.

    "Radiophobia" my definitions: (1) A fear of eating or being exposed to radiation that truly does exist or doesn't exist. (2) A propaganda tool to make legitimate concerns about radiation contamination seem like paranoia so people will not question or confirm radiation contamination. A tool of the IAEA and WHO.

    • +1

      Especially #2.

      It's far too early to make this outlandish claim too.
      “Japan kept people safe from the physical effects of radiation”

    • takedake

      I've been there and been through this so I'm taking this guy's bs personally. Anyway, you don't need a facebook account or something to register and log in at "Nature" so I suggest rather than commenting here and thus preaching to the choir, that everyone sign up with a throw-away email address is you don't want to use your main one, and comment comment comment on this site about this writer's obvious bias and his biased background.

      I was on the "physics forum" after the accident and the nuclear engineers there are extremely dismissive of people questioning them if you don't have a physics background, typical incredible arrogance, but of course that same arrogance is what caused the problem in the first place.

      So get over to "Nature" and start poking holes in this guy's argument. Don't flame, just get the facts out. Any serious so-called science website and writer need to have pushback against this propaganda.

        • sound of silence

          "takedake" said:

          "I suggest rather than commenting here and thus preaching to the choir, that everyone sign up with a throw-away email address is you don't want to use your main one, and comment comment comment on this site about this writer's obvious bias and his biased background."

          Completely agree! Please do this on all articles that show bias!

          • Anthony Anthony

            I do try to get out and post, but honestly, it really almost burns me out some. The opposition has their game on, I guess they need to. I would love to have a simple, factual, indisputable copy and paste to debate with the hard core guys though. When we get into it, I am pretty sure they feel victorious. Reality is that in talking with them I think they are misguided and I honestly really just give up in even wanting to know them so intimately. Just as they have, we need something which tears directly through the heart of their lies. Short and to the point.

            • sound of silence

              Not just you Anthony but to everyone here. Don't give up. Even if you just post one sentence saying you disgree with the article.

              Something is better than nothing.

              Doing or saying nothing can be construed as being in agreement.

      • Time Is Short Time Is Short

        "…the nuclear engineers there are extremely dismissive of people questioning them if you don't have a physics background."

        They're in the fight of their lives. It's all about their paychecks. Get rid of nuclear power, and they're all out of a job.

        They would rather see your family melt, than not to be able to make a car payment.

        Ask yourself how far you'd go to tell the truth, what would you give up. I've been in that place several times, and now I'm broke as shit. But I like who I see in the mirror.

    • Auntie Nuke

      We need to be putting our comments out into the world where they can reach those who aren't on enenews. This applies across the board: let's get our perspective out into mainstream media and blogs where they can do a wider good.

  • domjox domjox

    This guy needs a few hot particles of plutonium to breath
    Its all under control. Nothing here to see, lets move along now

  • m a x l i

    "After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan kept people safe from the physical effects of radiation"

    That is a very bold statement to make after 22 month, when many of the physical effects of radiation (like cancer) become visible after decades and some effects are visible already.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Now this is interesting..
    I'm looking at some of his other works.

    Nuclear weapons physics: Welcome to the Atomic Weapons Establishment

    With the launch of a powerful laser facility, Britain's most secretive lab is opening up to academics. Geoff Brumfiel secures a preview.

  • or-well

    This job is for NITCO –
    World Crime TV!
    Here's our cute expert
    on Radio-LOL-oh-gee…

    "HI! Why am I covered
    in antique Christmas tinsel?
    It's made of Lead! Rad protection! So simple!
    It makes pretty highlights in ANY haircolor!
    It won't tarnish like silver and get dull and duller!
    Looped on a headband it makes really cute bangs –
    sort of like doing a harem-girl thang!
    And who doesn't like tassels somewhere on a bodice?
    Flat-chested or buxom, it's always good to be noticed!
    Dangled from a belt it sways with hip-shimmy!
    Bring back lead tinsel! It's this seasons new "Gimme"!
    Just watch your posture as it can get heavy.
    That's rad-protection tips from World Crime TV!"

    It's great that she's out of hospital again.
    Where's her next assignment? maybe Iran!
    (Or submitting a paper to Nature -good plan!)

    • or-well

      Geoff, there's a job for you at NITCO…

    • m a x l i

      "Radio-LOL-oh-gee" I like that.

      Sometimes I wonder how much might be accurate and how much false in scientific publications that have anything to do with radioactivity. Every time you get some supposed facts, you have to ask yourself questions like: "Is this with or without lead cover on the dosimeter?"

      • or-well

        Scientific Integrity?
        Words scatological!
        (For those under the influence
        of technological
        illogical nuclear
        Watch 'Science' advance –
        (to the rear) of predicaments,
        leaving behind a Last Will and Testament
        to lickspittle toadies
        and Nuclear roadies,
        to anti-life lapdogs
        and funding-trough spin-hogs.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    PS. One would think this fellow knows a little something.
    Why would he make this false statement?

  • jec jec

    Hes a TROLL..anyone who is paid by an organization and then makes favorable not to be believed. TROLL TROLL TROLL

    • jec jec

      This is the first time I have ever called anyone out. But…the children, the children. I hope this person does not have children with thyoid cancer or DNA damage. I have both–a terrible legacy from exposures-we lived as USA downwinders..then in Germany, Bavaria, during `1985-87. So first USA fallout affects, then a good solid year of Chernobyl fallout. Just to hear HOW safe it is, makes me sick….

    • PurpleRain PurpleRain

      yup! big hairy fat ugly troll making up propaganda!

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Blatant liar..for money.

  • pcjensen

    Geoff Brumfiel: "In 2007, he moved from Nature's Washington bureau to London, where he now covers physics, space, and policy from a European perspective." long academic career in physics, perhaps he just doesn't *see due to his chosen field blinders as is so typical of physicists – wonder if he "likes" LFTR? hmmm

  • weeman

    Just try and put yourselfs In the position of a refugee removed from your home with no prospect in the near future to return, living in a cubicle in some public space, no job, sustaining on government welfare, never mind the stress due to radio phobia. They deserve better they are not leopards to society, society put them in this situation at no fault of their own.
    Just say no to nuclear power please.

    • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose Hole.

    • m a x l i

      From that line up pcjensen mentioned:
      "Mr. Geoff Brumfiel
      Since 2002, Geoff has written for Nature on everything from nuclear weapons to science and faith. He wrote extensively about the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi Plant, focusing mainly on scientific and technical issues. Geoff holds a dual degree in physics and English from Grinnell College in Iowa, and a master's in science writing from John's Hopkins University."

  • or-well

    "Reports of tumors
    are no more than rumors,
    spread by conspiracy-paranoid Doomers.
    No 'Authorised Study' shows such results.
    For Best Happy Data
    it's best to consult

    (AKA shills and soulless Skinwalkers.)
    Nobody's dying from what can't be proved
    to be anything other that what pre-existed
    because relevant data has all been removed
    or baseline comparison hopelessly twisted
    by studies NOT DONE, covered up, cherry-picked,
    just give us more funding,
    we'll get this thing licked,
    with Professorial spit and some polish,
    you'll be good to go
    on your way to a death
    from what you can't know.

  • Although farmers and local civic authorities may check for food contamination, Japan has no centralized system for checking radiation contamination. Testing by local prefectural governments, farmers and distributors have found contamination of tea, beef, rice, milk, and other items. For instance, radioactive cesium exceeding the Japanese government’s upper limits were found in Japanese black cattle shipped from a farm in the Fukushima prefecture in July of 2011. Animals with radioactive emissions up to 100,000 counts per minute were considered safe by Japan’s health authorities. At 100,000 counts per minute, a human would require full-body decontamination.

    Tea, Japan’s national beverage, has also been found to be highly contaminated by cesium. On June 10 2011, tea growing 370 kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi were found to be contaminated. Contaminated tea was also found in Ichinoseki in Iwate prefecture 170 kilometers from the plant. Cesium bio-accumulates in plants because it is a potassium analogy and it bio-magnifies as it moves up the food chain. Tap water, in addition to food, may become in Japan a pathway for bioaccumulation. On August 23, 2012, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology measured cesium 134 and 137 in tap water of twelve of the forty-six prefectures sampled between April and June of 2012.

  • or-well

    As more and more articles and papers appear talking about "radiophobia", there will be more referencing of same by those reinforcing the meme.
    This is much less about evacuees, a relatively small number, already essentially consigned to the scrapheap, than it is about influencing attitude and behaviour in the rest of Japan and indeed the world. Expect much more.
    I should amend that. Expect the evacuees, to the greatest extent possible, to be essentially forced back into most of the evacuated zones, accompanied by extensive propaganda.

    • aigeezer aigeezer

      Prescient, I fear, or-well. That makes us radiophobiaphobic, I guess. Seriously… we should reflect on how best to push back the radiophobia meme before it really takes hold.

      Lame attempts:

      "Radiophobia?… I had that on vinyl. It's better now."

      "Radiophobia or die" T shirts?

      "Better live radiophobia than dead radiophilia."

      "Atomic Rod doesn't have radiophobia and he doesn't want you to get it either – so what are you waiting for?"

      "Eschew radiophobia – friendly advice from the folks at TEPCO."

      "My heads are not filled with radiophobia. Are yours?"

  • pure water

    In other words – if you care about radionuclides in your food, you are crazy! Sorry, but in order to survive, every living creature has developed testing prosedures before eating. Have you seen how animals carefully smell before eating? You do not abuse your pet for smelling what you offer for lunch!

  • CodeShutdown CodeShutdown

    Insane "leaders" and their "scientists" will continue spouting their propaganda even when they sit in a wheelchair, hairless, rife with sores and tumors. I think many DO believe what they say, blinded by some strange insanity. This reminds me of the lewd and sick ruling and religious class during the middle ages that would lock and torture people in dungeons and burn girls at the stake for witchcraft, all in pious self justification. Only yesterday in the timeline of human existence. Simply, we appear to be an insane species.

    • DUDe DisasterInterpretationDissorder

      Hi CodeShutdown , you said "Simply , we appear to be an insane species "

      Not really all there is to it , the problem is we are "programmable by culture" species.
      There where many cultures tru out history that could have lived togheter with the planet forever . Like North American Indians etc.
      Same species , same brain , exterminated…. Just what are you born in , is the question to determine your chanches to be "insane" . my two cents 😉

  • eatliesndie eatliesndie


  • Marushka Marushka

    “The evidence from the Chernobyl affected territories reveals the real-world consequences of a simple and terrible new discovery: that the effects of low dose internal irradiation cause subtle changes in the genome that result in an increase in the general mutation rate. … first seen in cells in the laboratory. The Chernobyl evidence, shows that this seems to be true for all species, for plants and animals and humans. It has profound implications that go beyond radiation
    protection and risk models.

    “Krysanov …find that mice living in the high irradiation zone, 22 generations after the initial exposure, are MORE radiosensitive than mice living in lower exposure areas. The same effect is reported for plants by Grodzhinsky who wryly points out that plants cannot exhibit the ‘radiophobia’ that many of the Chernobyl effects have been blamed on. This flies in the face of current ideas about genetic selection.

    “The effects of genomic instability are apparent in the evidence of massive harm to the organs and systems of living creatures at low doses of internal exposure, resulting in a kind of radiation ageing associated with random mutations in all cells.
    “WHOLE BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS COLLAPSE; at the cell level, at the tissue level and at the population level. a
    people… plants… animals…
    – higher for internal exposures than external "

    pg 2, "ECRR Chernobyl: 20 Years On"

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    The food is't safe. Check crops, livestock, milk, and water in the U.S. and Japan (before making up silly names like "radiophobia") …you lose all credibility doing that.

  • amberlight amberlight

    Scum like this Kessler clown are no better than the toadies that enabled Hitler and Stalin to massacre millions. Global radiation poisoning is a slow, silent, bloodless massacre. To call those of us who are actually CONCERNED about it "radiophobic" is just a ploy to paint us as paranoid ignoramuses. It has entered the vocabulary. Now it's just a matter of time before it goes viral like "conspiracy theorist."

    conspiracy theorist: someone who examines the evidence to arrive at the truth even when the facts contradict the official story.

    radiophobia: the fear that damaged nuclear power plants, depleted uranium and other sources of highly toxic radionuclides might be bad for living things.

    P.S. Or-well, your poetry is dead on! [not-so-humorous pun intended]

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      amberlight, I was going to make a similar comment. To label the reasonable fear of radioactive food contamination some kind of somatic disorder is disgusting.

      The same thing has been done with Lyme disease. A group of physicians with monetary interest in Lyme studies, vaccines, and later consulting with insurers to deny treatment and reimbursement to Lyme patients wrote treatment guidelines which state Lyme just "doesn't exist." They call the deathly serious illness, chronic Lyme, "post Lyme syndrome." Doctors who follow these treatment guidelines (the ones which state the disease doesn't exist) often write chart notes like "somatic preoccupation" in patient's charts when the patient complains of symptoms. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people (possibly two million or more in the U.S.) are completely disabled, or are dying from Lyme-induced complications.

      It's really easy to stigmatize a group of people by inventing a label for them, especially by naming them some new kind of crazy. Yes, it's like calling people who want to investigate the corrupt activities of true criminal conspirators, "conspiracy theorists." The pot calling the kettle black.

      • HoTaters HoTaters

        As if people who are afraid of radiation poisoning are just nuts. What a horrible thing to do to innocent people, to label sane people as nuts because of their valid concerns.

        I get especially irritated by this kind of thing, as my own doctor's arrogance and labeling me as having "somatic preoccupation" destroyed my health and career.

        Anyone who calls people concerned about radiation "radiophobic" can just go and uh, well, I won't even say it. Grrrrr.

        Spin, spin, spin. You're so right, Or-well.

  • nedlifromvermont

    Call me radiophobic … it's okay … I'd like to see what General Electric – Hitachi or any other corporate person in the nuclear cabal has to say about getting those damaged fuel rods at Daiichi and elsewhere into relatively safer dry casks …

    … instead of a whole lot of nothing from these nuclear nutcases in Japan and in the USA at places like MIT which whored themselves to the nuclear nightmare … years ago … can you spell Rasmussen Study … have you made up your own "probabalistic risk assumptions" which explain to you how something that has already happened can never ever happen …

    …cue Jeffrey Immelt for a comment …

    Jeff??? Uncle GE (Hitachi) …

    Your silence is rendering you irrelevant!!! Just like that!!

    And a big fellow, too, with corporate jets at his disposal, and a large retirement account …. NOTHING TO SAY????

    You fat ass, Immelt!!!!

    Go away …


  • Ron

    Radiophobia??? WTF.

    Yeah, I have radiophobia. I also have bulletophobia and strychnineophobia and psychopathophobia
    fallingoffcliffsophobia etc. Phobia meaning "fear of". Most thinking people have these same fears and they are quite understandable. It's because we all have dyinghorriblybeforeourtimeophobia.

    Clearly though the individual making this statement about radiation is trying to dishonestly associate fear of radiation with ignorance. Despicable when you consider that we should want to limit our exposure to radiation as much as possible since its proven to be hazardous to our health.

    "A poll published last year by the Pew Research Center in Washington DC, for example, found that 76% of Japanese people believed that food from Fukushima was not safe, despite government and scientific assurances to the contrary."

    This is so so ridiculous in light of the coverups that TEPCO and the Japanese government have pursued since 3/11.

    Oh well. One more outrage.

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      Go, Ron. That was creative.

      I'm Tepcophobic, Hitachophobic, Westinghousophobic, GE-ophobic, Chubu-ophobic, Hamaokophobic, Rokkashophobic, Arevophobic, Shaw-ophobic, SONGS-ophobic, Dukophobic, Dowophobic, Texas Brinophobic. Yeah, I'm phobic about lots of things, actually.

      • HoTaters HoTaters

        Oh, and let me not forget, Monsterantophobic.

        • If a person is NOT terrified, mortified and scared stiff of radiation, they are ignorant, foolish, brain dead, or really dead.

          ANYONE with half a lick of any common sense is deathly afraid of radiation…

          Like an invisible monster that comes in your room while you sleep, it hides under your bed, it creeps around your childrens bedrooms at night and contaminates food, water, clothing, homes, and everything outside… It is the worst kind of monster there is; an invisible one, that cannot be killed, but who can keep killing you and your family for a million years into the future.

          Sounds kind of like H(## on Earth, wouldn't you agree?

          Wonder who thought up that monster?

          • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks


            If that very small amount of molasses killed all those sea creatures just think what damage Fukushima is now doing to the entire Pacific Ocean.

    • Anthony Anthony

      Amen to all that.

  • snowwy snowwy

    There is nothing irrational or strange about being fearful of foods that bear the potential to poison the consumer and could cause lasting damage…

    … remember radiation is accumulative

  • unincredulous unincredulous

    I cannot believe this article has appeared in Nature. Well, Let's say I am disappointed. Not much surprises me anymore. We have all seen the reality TV shows where people are interviewed on the street to reveal how stupid the common people are. For instance, Americans who cannot find their state on a map. We should have demand a new television show where the ignorance of corporate heads and government is exposed. What a hoot that would be!
    I can see it now: A nature journalist is asked, "Why do doctors provide a lead shield to people having x-ray photography done?" Journalist responds, "Oh that's because of the patients radiophobia."
    Ha! Ha! What a dumbass! (Audience hoots)
    Seiously, I know they are not stupid and are under enormous pressure to spin. I notice on that Nature web page in the "recent" side bar is an article titled, 'Planetary disasters: it could happen one night.' In the article, there are subsections on different ways we might die: death by volcano, death by fungus, death from above (solar flares, comet strikes, etc), and death by water. It appears that selling fear is only permitted when liability can only be placed on God. When parties may be sued here on the earth it is time to spin.

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      Unincredulous, that's brilliant.

      • richard richard

        yes HoTaters, what unincredulous has written is good stuff. Where I feel things need a slight correction is stating physical reality disasters have something to do with a mythical character. That kinda blew it for me.

        • amberlight amberlight

          That "blew it" for you? Really, Richard? Are you not aware of the fact that the law recognizes natural disasters as "acts of God" which often very conveniently releases corporations from liability and spares the insurance industry from having to pay out.

          In spite of your relentless put-downs every time Deity is mentioned, nobody here is dismissing your comments as the babblings of an atheist. Please show us the same courtesy and GIVE IT A REST!

        • norbu norbu

          Richard, your existence has to do with a mythical character.

  • PattieB PattieB

    Japan protects their people buy not informing them of this!

    They didn't do what Soviets did to prevent it.

    They would have panic, and folks would have DIED while trying to escape what's coming… trampled each other… maybe even KILLED the owners of such things.

  • sound of silence

    Another example of downplaying radiation exposure?

    A "health physicist" claims that radiation in wildfire smoke was not harmful to humans.

    Airborne uranium was 10 times the national average, and thorium was eight times the national average, but that's not harmful humans to inhale?

  • a neuropsychiatrist where? Fukushima Medical University. guess who is president? three guesses. go ahead.

    a clue:

    (converted pdf online of a certain google search of a certain neuropsychiatrist and a certain… person. and i use the term loosely. or-well knows him, don't you, o laureate, sir?

  • stopnp stopnp

    Hey Kessler, f@#$ you dude.