The Economist on ‘Positive Side’ of Fukushima: Kids just need to gargle after being outside — “In Japan, that is something that children mostly do anyway”

Published: August 6th, 2012 at 1:18 pm ET


Title: Japan and the atom: Nuclearphobia
Source: The Economist
Date: Aug 6, 2012

In her maternity bed in this peach-farming town about 40km (25 miles) from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Akemi Makuta, a 40-year-old mother, knows all about such fears. Since the March 2011 nuclear disaster, “radiation has been preying on my mind the whole time,” she says. It makes her stop her elder children picking flowers, jumping in puddles, and touching wet umbrellas. She doesn’t like taking her newborn daughter, Mika, out for walks. She knows this is bad for her children’s well-being, but she cannot stop taking precautions.

What she is rarely told is that, according to health experts, her fear of radiation may be more harmful than the radiation itself.


But people like Mrs Makuta may benefit as much from hearing the positive side of the story. As her obstetrician, Hiroshi Nishida, puts it, the precautions she may need to take may be no more than reminding her children to wash their hands and gargle after they’ve been outside. In Japan, that is something that children mostly do anyway.

The Economist’s ‘experts’?

  • David Ropeik: (On Chernobyl) [intlink id=”time-com-study-says-only-10-people-surveyed-had-high-levels-of-radiation-exposure-fukushima-dangers-may-not-be-as-grave-as-we-first-feared-only-10-of-chernobyl-release” type=”post”]”Psychological harm from the accident, from fear, uncertainty, mistrust, was FAR worse than the cumulative health damage from radiation”[/intlink]
  • Shunichi Yamashita: [intlink id=”head-fukushima-health-study-100-msvyr-pregnant-moms-effects-radiation-people-happy-laughing-people-weak-spirited-brood-fret” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]
Published: August 6th, 2012 at 1:18 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Photos: Smiling mascot asks Fukushima kids to gargle to ‘stay safe’ from radiation — Radioactive sparkles on happy children November 9, 2012
  2. Parts of school playground declared off-limits after .25 microsieverts/hr detected 200 km SE of Fukushima — Children and staff must wear hats and gargle regularly June 23, 2011
  3. Lecturer tells parents Tokyo radiation is “not so serious” and to let kids play outside — Just gargle, wash hands, etc. February 2, 2012
  4. Lawmaker warns emperor of reality facing Japan: “Children are suffering from health problems” — Another official reveals “the incidence of cancer in children has been increasing” and is heckled (VIDEO) November 2, 2013
  5. Gundersen: 1/3 of Fukushima kids tested positive for lumps on thyroid — Forebodes some real issues in future — We’re only 10 months into the accident here (AUDIO) February 14, 2012

44 comments to The Economist on ‘Positive Side’ of Fukushima: Kids just need to gargle after being outside — “In Japan, that is something that children mostly do anyway”

  • arclight arclight

    Oil Spills and Nuclear Waste Dumps: Giving States Choice

    David RopeikAuthor of How Risky Is It, Really?
    Posted: May 17, 2010 02:53 PM

    ",,So we're back to Kerry/Lieberman's idea to give coastal states veto power over offshore drilling. It does little reduce the actual risk, but everything to make the risk feel different. That's how it is with perception or any risk. It's not just a matter of the science and the probabilities and the facts. It's how those facts feel.,,"

    his take on risk..

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Electric companies nuclear meltdowns are ruining life.

  • This story is truly sickening.

    The mainstream media, governments everywhere, and many so called "health authorities" are complicit in genocide.

    That is the basic truth in this disaster.

    Children in Japan and elsewhere are not simply being exposed to gamma radiation. They are consuming radionuclides that decay beta, alpha, and gamma radiation.

    Internal emitters will destroy DNA. Children's cells reproduce faster and therefore they are more vulnerable to DNA damage.

    These facts are not disputable.

    The claim that gargling and hand-washing will prevent contamination is a LIE.

    The person who issued the lie is responsible for genocide and the Economist is responsible also for genocide for repeating the lie without question.

    • Jebus Jebus

      The system has no function for compassion, only statistics.
      Only the individual doctor, politician, neighbor, mother or father can provide that…
      Any one of these individuals can, at any time, step in and do what is right…
      How many are at least one of these…
      It makes my head scream to witness this…
      What has happened to us as a society?

      • I agree Jebus

        But, the system gets its legitimacy from its purported neutrality and concern for public welfare.

        Hence, we are facing a legitimacy crisis that dwarfs the crisis that rocked Europe and the US in the 1930s

        Nation-states are aware and are responding by expanding and militarizing their domestic and international "security" at unprecedented levels.

        The rise in global hunger that will be produced by the current US drought and the rise in global sickness caused by Fukushima may very well be the tipping points, as they come closely in the wake of the greatest financial pillaging of all of recorded human history….

        I think the time has come to identify the affronts against human survival for what they are.

        • aigeezer aigeezer

          "…in the wake of the greatest financial pillaging of all of recorded human history." I agree with your observations majia, but want to add that the financial one is ongoing, still building and globalizing. It will dwarf the 2008 meltdown when it bursts.

          I'm guessing the tipping point will come out of nowhere, like the Archduke Ferdinand thing, rather than be one of the ones we can see on the horizon. Black swan, not white swan, but everything will change in an instant sooner rather than later.

        • Siouxx Siouxx

          I agree. Everything that so many people have held onto and lived by for centuries i.e. the pursuit of money is falling apart and unraveling before their eyes on a daily basis. I thought the 1980s was the tipping point but when it didn't happen then knew when it finally did, the economic fallout would be huge. Just so with Windscale, people who were anti-nuke thought society would wake up to the danger then, but they didn't and so we have had Chernobyl and now Fukushima. The Economist et al are just the band playing on the Titanic, only they are supported by self-interest in squeezing the last bit of money out of the advertisers. It doesn't matter what garbage they write in their editorials, they know the ship is going down. What happens in the aftermath will be interesting because then, Jebus, we really will see if societies as such can continue to exist because if they can, then my hope is they will come together with better values than the hollow one of always wanting more.

        • patman

          majia, I agree. Can't help believe there is more to this story than what we see. To tell Fukushima kids to wash their hands and gargle and then publish in an Uber magazine like the Economist? Have I woken up in crazyland again?

          Perhaps consent is being manufactured by our corporations to transcend this whole nuclear power generating liability and push forward on either coal or alternative/conservation. 2012 summer heatwave already has people talking.

          I don't have a dog in that show; I think 2011 rainout/snowout damaged crop genetics before this year's drought hid the damage.

          • GE's CEO critique of nuclear's costs demonstrates that the market does not view nuclear as cost-effective.

            However, the issue is that the nuclear energy industry is so closely wedded with the nuclear weapons industry.

            Heart of the Rose just posted a link demonstrating that effect. I've been investigating it also for my research



            Yes, climate change is disastrous for food production and Fukushima is merely contributing to the disequilibrium.

            Aigeezer's point about black swans is a good one. It is hard to tell what final event catalyzes the cascade of chaos until afterwards.

            However, one thing is clear: The welfare of the populace, even in the most economically advanced nations, matters not at all for many of the most powerful decision makers…

            • patman

              majia; Interesting GE would go public with an opinion that critiques nuclear power generation's total cost.

              When I saw that I thought GE consultants probably have done all the math and now advise to row away as fast as possible from this sinking hulk of an industry.

              Because a)-no one can poison a whole damn country and get away with it for long and/or b)-the consultants see nothing but trouble from even a modest plant accident in the states or c)-GE has already got the next big idea sewn up and is ready to throw the whole nuclear industry under the bus.

              Our populations would gratefully adapt to some version of renewable/cool power generating. What that new alternative is, if it exists, who knows. Probably not windmills, at least not as we see them now.

              We will only be grateful for an alternative if it's kewel. And coal ain't kewel. So what else is there? Don't know.

  • Yes… and after they wash their hands they will most likely have a bowl of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes.

    "These facts are not disputable." – majia
    (I agree)

    However, apparently, some people actually believe the advice they are giving. (Even though it's clearly, horribly incorrect.) They use 'guilt' as their manipulation tool.

    What does one do? Where is the line drawn for liability and criminal genocide?

  • charlie3

    The Economist is as pro-industry, pro-corporation, pro-status quo, pro-globalization, pro-military as anything gets.

    • patman

      Granted charlie3 and you are correct.

      A master anti-nuclear propagandist could not invent a bigger insult to the intelligence and common sense of western educated citizens.

      Nothing pro-status quo about this story; industry, corporations and globalists should be hopping mad about this craziness. Hard to imagine a deeper attack on the credibility of our industrial corporations and regulatory institutions as this short article in the Economist.

      Thought that "No bread? Let them eat cake" public relations disaster was bad. Fur is going to fly over this Economist story.

    • aigeezer aigeezer

      There's a slick twist in their blog logo:

      "The blog takes its name from the Banyan tree, under which Buddha attained enlightenment and Gujarati merchants used to conduct business."

      I think we are supposed to get warm fuzzy feelings from the word "enlightenment" but they are really conducting business – they even told us so!

  • patman

    Wash your hands and gargle. In radionucleide contaminated areas ranging from zero to ??? high. This 'story' has got to be some kind of prank.

    Has anyone followed up to see if this story has actually been published in the 'Economist'?

  • patman

    Surely our nuclear industry, military and police/fire department Hazmat teams advise their workers to higher standards of industrial hygiene than wash hands and gargle. Those poor Japanese parents.

    Surely unspecified radionuclide contamination demands more 'responsible care' than this story suggests.

    Any nuclear industry 'wall flowers', looking in, care to either comment or make some attempt to pull the plug on this 'Economist' story before it goes absolutely viral?

  • chrisk9

    Anything you can do to reduce exposure is good. Gargling and hand washing could help, but it certainly is a bullshit approach to the problem.
    A better approach would be to move if you have children, or never go outside, or wear a respirator. But even then there would be dangers to especially children.
    The video of the school children and the playground from a few weeks ago still bothers me.
    We are destroying our world and at the same time are telling our children it's normal, just wash your hands and gargle. This is perverse.

    • patman

      Thanks chrisk9.

      Always of the opinion that any significant amount of radionuclide contamination particles were quite hazardous to wear, ingest or inhale; chronic exposure is bad.

      How could one be so wrong about the basic understanding of the radioactivity risks?

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Speaking of putting a positive spin on things…
    It seems the war hawks in Japan is busy selling the need for nuclear weapons to Japan.

    Japan's pro-bomb voices rise as nuke power debated

  • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

    Whoever wrote this BS article, I would like to take him to eat as much as you like sushi bar. I won't be eating though as I'll be fasting on that day. The radiation contamination doesn't exist, it's all false, it's all in the head right!?

    You know because it's Da Economist, everyone in the west is gonna think, "what's the big deal now!?"

    Yamashit's name keeps cropping up. How unfortunate 🙁

    • patman

      Sorry, 'shit' being the operative word.

      • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

        @patman If you would like, you can add the missing 'a' :p

        It only works in English. Although I can think of one like it in Japanese too…something along the line of poison tongue!
        PM Noda is best known as 'Noda Buta' (Eng: PIG) btw.
        And of course, FYI: the TEPCO guys who come to the press conference all have nicknames too. They were coined in the UST chatroom while we were watching but that happened ages ago.

  • arclight arclight

    these are the children that the "experts" are talking about

    In Containment 「格納容器の中」 part 5/5
    Published on Jul 21, 2012 by DocumentingIan

    Part 5 STORY: After returning from the exclusion zone, the crew goes to a testing site to be measured for radiation exposure. Later, Ian visits a nursery school located just outside of the 30km radiation zone, where the head teacher opens up about her fears for the children's future. Finally, the children go out to play, but their conversation quickly turns shockingly real.

    FUKUSHIMA, through the Eyes of Children [Part1/4]:

    This video is the first part of a web media program webcasted by OurPlanet-TV( on January 2, 2012, as its new year's special edition. The original title of this program is "What Will Our Future Be?: Nuclear Power Plants and Radiation Seen through the Enes of Children."

    I translated some parts of the program and created a series of 4 short subtitled videos:
    Part 1/4: "How the Disaster Transformed Me" (this video)
    Part 2/4: "Looking Back on 2011"
    Part 3/4: "Children's Opinion Poll"
    Part 4/4: "Let's Go to A Nuke Plant"

    Translation and captioning by tokyobrowntabby.


    staggering, is all I can say…

  • rambojim

    Mrs. Makuta's obstetrician, Hiroshi Nishida, should be force fed octopus,blue fin tuna and kelp from California,then washed down with water from the water fountain at the Fukushima nuclear power plant,then led home so that he can wash his hands and gargle to be safe from the ravages of radioactivity..

    Repeat every day for one year or until Mr. Nishida starts to glow in the dark…

  • rambojim

    Do you believe This Economist story Arclight!!!

    Harry Big Potatoes to Hiroshi Nishida…..

  • This is typical of how our democratic (in name only ) western society works. It is more important to keep the economy going then to protect children. We are all part of this system and all partly to blame. Similar things happen in Canada and USA. When I was a kid school buses ran on gasoline. Now they run on diesel fuel, the exhaust a known carcinogen. But they don't even bother to install elevated tailpipes like what most 18 wheelers have, smoke stacks. I've driven lots of trucks in my day and the smokestacks really help. Therefore the carcinogenic exhaust is allowed to float around school kids instead of at least being above their heads. OK its not plutonium but still a health hazard. Just saying please save your rage for your own backyard. Plenty to fix at home. Fukushima does suck but just remember the political/economical system that allowed this to happen was installed by USA. And is the same basic system for Canadians and Europeans. USA profited by installing those nuke plants and Canada profited by selling uranium to fuel them. We are all somewhat complicit by letting our governments make these decisions for us. Democracy requires eternal vigilance.

  • rambojim


    The pollution from diesel exhaust doesn't linger for 30 years,but I understand where you're coming from. Canada is the biggest contributor of pollutants in Lake Ontario. The US will never win a gold metal for being mister clean.When I was a kid and needed new shoes for school,My feet were put under the fluoroscope machine to make sure the shoes fit properly. This hi-tech device was nothing more than an X ray machine left on. When you looked thru the viewer you saw the skeleton of our feet and the outline of your new shoe…

  • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

    Another strange hibaku symptom…
    Children has been complaining about feeling cold even though it's scorching hot in Japan right now. Apparently, the same thing happened with soliders who were affected by internal radiation poisoning in Hiroshima. Could it be something to do with nerve damage and may be brain is not interpreting the correct message!?


      @GlowInTheDark: I'd attribute this condition to suppressed circulatory response. Lethargy (manifesting as chronic fatigue) is another symptom of a suppressed circulatory system. The lack of oxygen to cells leads to improper transfer of energy. As these cells deteriorate (die), we see an excess production of white blood cells. It's a form of slow motion shutdown of the system. Doubtless others out here are more capable of further development of this condition…

      • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

        Poor thing. I can imagine all that cesium circulating, destroying cells & DNA…. chronic fatigue is also another one which is horrible.

        • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

          I've just learnt that feeling cold in the summer could be a symptom of Hashimoto disease, this kind of make sense since it affects thyroid.

  • rambojim

    Maybe we will hear more about this as days go by GlowInTheDark…

  • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

    According to Kouta Kinoshita, it's not summer cold and it's been going on for about a month(s). Summer in Japan is really hot.

  • dosdos dosdos

    The only cure for idiots like that is a firing squad. What they push as "safe" is plain criminal.

  • pierre

    so how do you gargle as you are smiling? please, TEPCO and GE reps first to demonstrate (I hope you all choke. which is too kind and quick for you).

  • JustmeAlso

    I wish 550 representatives who went to Charlotte to discuss the future of nuke power (and all the other pro-nukers) to live in the exclusion zone of Chernobyl and Fukushima to be the human test subjects of this failed experiment!

    Let them eat plutonium and iodine 129!

    Here's a vid with Arnie Gundersen
    ''Car Air Filter and Children's Shoes Study Fukushima'':

  • GlowInTheDark GlowInTheDark

    This is sick! The video (sorry, in Japanese ) was shot yesterday on Hiroshima anniversary. Yamashita gave lecture to a bunch of teenagers to groom and spread lies about the safety of nuclearrrrgh.

    The woman at the beginning goes on for 2.5 minutes of introduction to tell the student his 'achievements'.

    How can invalidate Yamashita's 222 (in Japanese) 431 (in English) 'research' papers?

    [Classroom photo]