SMH: Too late to flee Fukushima fallout? Refugees discuss bizarre rashes — Doctor talks of purple spots, concerned about Tokyo radiation

Published: December 6th, 2011 at 6:54 pm ET
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Escape to Okinawa, Sydney Morning Herald by Jane Barraclough, Dec. 6, 2011 (Emphasis Added):

As radiation hot spots emerge in Tokyo and nuclear contamination plagues the country, some Japanese are fleeing to the Okinawa island chain to avoid the fallout from Fukushima. But is it too late? [...]

Mother Mari Takenouchi

Government’s air samples, which were measured in [Tokyo's] Setagaya Ward, where Takenouchi was riding her bike, [her son] Joe was exposed to 145 times the normal level of background radiation in the city. [...]

In a cheap-housing block in Naha [Okinawa], Takenouchi and 30 other refugees from around the mainland — mostly mothers with young children — share the same anxieties. They talk about bizarre rashes, high fevers, blood noses and government and industry failures “they can never forgive”.

Mother Yuriko Tanaka

  • Sendai refugee Yuriko Tanaka chose to leave [...] because she did not believe her children were safe
  • She was worried about a persistent rash on the body of her four-year-old son
  • “It’s been there since August and left scars all down his arms and hands”
  • “The doctor gave us steroid cream, which only made it worse”
  • “My friend’s child, who lives in the same area as us, got a similar rash mid-year”

Mother Minaho Kubota

  • Her seven-year-old son, Daito, was playing outside when she turned on the the radio and heard about a series of nuclear explosions
  • “Then Daito developed a rash on his neck
  • Four weeks later [...] Kubota’s baby son got his first-ever blood nose
  • Kubota told teachers at her son’s school not to give him milk [...] The school ignored her requests

June Survey

  • In June, door-to-door surveying in non-evacuated areas 60 kilometres from the plant revealed clusters of residents with persistent nose bleeding and diarrhoea
  • The same symptoms were also found among Tokyo residents

Dr. Shuntaro Hida

  • Hiroshima survivor Dr Shuntaro Hida
  • Operates non-profit hospital for Chernobyl and Hiroshima atomic bomb victims
  • Assessed 50 patients at a one-off clinic in the middle of the year
  • “People presented with purple spots, nose bleeding, high fevers, diarrhoea, aching bones, and extreme fatigue
  • These symptoms appeared to varying degrees in people exposed to fallout from the Hiroshima bomb
  • After seeing patients at the clinic with multiple radiation symptoms, Hida is concerned about radiation in Tokyo
  • He believes those people who fled to Okninawa are far from paranoid
  • “It’s a personal choice, as every individual has their own priorities and perceptions of the health risk. But as someone who has seen the delayed and immediate health impacts of nuclear fallout, I tend to err on the side of caution”
Published: December 6th, 2011 at 6:54 pm ET
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