NYTimes: Gov’t scientist not allowed to publish findings that Fukushima cesium-137 levels could be 10,000 times higher than after Chernobyl in Pacific surface waters — Japan researchers pressured to downplay disaster’s impact — Professors obstructed when data might cause public concern

Published: March 16th, 2014 at 3:29 pm ET
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New York Times, Mar. 16, 2014: [...] As a senior scientist at the Japanese government’s Meteorological Research Institute, [Michio Aoyama] said levels of radioactive cesium 137 in the surface water of the Pacific Ocean could be 10,000 times as high as contamination after Chernobyl [...] as Mr. Aoyama prepared to publish his findings [...] the director general of the institute called with an unusual demand — that Mr. Aoyama remove his own name from the paper. [...] Aoyama asked for his name to be removed, he said, and the article was not published. [...] Off the record, university researchers in Japan say that even now, three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, they feel under pressure to play down the impact of the disaster [...] In several cases, the professors say, they have been obstructed or told to steer clear of data that might cause public “concern.” [...] stories of problems with Fukushima-related research are common, [Aoyama] said, including accounts of several professors’ being told not to measure radiation in the surrounding prefectures.

  • Joji Otaki, Ryukyu University biologist who published studies linking butterfly deformities to radioactive releases from Fukushima Daiichi: “Getting involved in this sort of research is dangerous politically [...] It’s an exceptional situation.”
  • Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “Researchers are told not to talk to the press, or they don’t feel comfortable about talking to the press without permission.”
  • Timothy Mousseau, University of South Carolina: “[2 postdoctoral students who dropped out of a joint research paper] felt it was too provocative and controversial [...] worried it could hamper their future job prospects [...] It’s pretty clear that there is self-censorship or professors have been warned by their superiors that they must be very, very careful.”
  • Michio Aoyama, Fukushima University scientist: “I was later told that [the MRI's director general] did not want to say that Fukushima radioactivity was worse than Chernobyl [...] The key phrase is ‘don’t cause panic.”’

For more, see these reports published on ENENews:

Published: March 16th, 2014 at 3:29 pm ET
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