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Hatoyama dreams of a Japan anchored within a united Asia

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“I wish to apologize to the Japanese people for having betrayed their expectations,” says Yukio Hatoyama halfway through our interview, lowering his head and bowing deeply.

Hatoyama, prime minister for nine months of the Democratic Party of Japan’s three years in power between 2009 and 2012, is discussing the reasons behind his resignation in June 2010 — specifically, his failure to live up to his party’s promise to block the contentious U.S. Marine Corps base construction now underway at Henoko in Okinawa.

Recently, the former DPJ leader has been in the news for other mea culpas in Nanjing and Seoul — apologies made, he says, on behalf of Japanese for colonial-era crimes in Asia. These unsanctioned trips have incensed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which has painted Hatoyama as a charlatan and even a traitor for his foreign escapades.

For those having trouble placing Hatoyama among the three DPJ figures who served as prime minister in that brief, heady period when power in postwar Japan changed hands, he is the one who led the DPJ to that historic victory. You know — the “alien.”

Hatoyama, now 68 and retired from politics, has never been able to shake that nickname. Coined by the domestic media in 2001 during his first stint as DPJ leader, the foreign press had a field day with Hatoyama’s extraterrestrial appellation, rejoicing in the fact that they finally had a Japanese leader who stood out from the crowd.

But what was it that made Hatoyama appear so otherworldly? True, his saucer-like eyes did give him a vague resemblance to E.T., but his nickname was not just the product of his looks and his manner; it also owed much to his proposals — proposals that were and remain anathema to Japan’s conservative establishment.

But how did Hatoyama, who came from a well-known, politically conservative family, become a maverick? In an exclusive interview with The Japan Times, Hatoyama discussed a range of issues, including Okinawa, the relationship between the Fukushima No. 1 disaster and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, and his proposal for the creation of an “East Asian EU.” He began by explaining the circumstances that led him to resign the prime minister’s post in 2010 after only nine months in office.

“The DPJ, of which I was leader, proposed a revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement in our manifesto for the 2009 House of Representatives election. We also proposed the realignment of the U.S. military in Japan, including a review of the state of U.S. bases,” he explains. “As for the relocation of the U.S. Marine base to Henoko, I personally said that at the very least, it should be moved outside (Okinawa) Prefecture. However, as soon as the DPJ took power, bureaucrats close to the U.S. in the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry moved to crush my proposal.”

In the end, Hatoyama’s idea went nowhere, and Henoko was confirmed as the proposed site for the new base. Many Okinawans — and DPJ voters — felt betrayed, and the party began to fear defeat in the Upper House elections of July 2010. “So I decided to resign,” Hatoyama confesses. “There was no excuse.”

During his time in office, Hatoyama also emphasized the need for a less lopsided Japan-U.S. relationship.

“I thought that as prime minister, it was only natural for me to seek an equal relationship with the United States. However, there are many (Japanese) politicians and bureaucrats who believe that because Japan is dependent on the U.S. in so many ways, it isn’t appropriate to seek an equal relationship. Once again, my proposal ended in failure.”

This was the first time in the postwar period that a Japanese prime minister had made such a demand. Hatoyama even dared suggest that Japan’s security could be achieved without a permanent U.S. troop presence. None of this was welcomed by those, on both sides of the Pacific, long accustomed to Japan’s subservience to U.S. interests.

Loving the
Loving the ‘alien': Yukio Hatoyama waves as he shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama ahead of their meeting at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo in November 2009. | BLOOMBERG

Hatoyama was born in 1947 and graduated from the University of Tokyo before going to earn a Ph.D. in industrial engineering at Stanford. Upon graduation, he initially pursued an academic career, but later decided to run for the House of Representatives in 1986.

His lofty aim was to “restore sovereign power to the people, breaking from a system dependent on the bureaucracy,” he says, and to “transform Japan from a centralized state to one of regional and local sovereignty, and from an insular island to an open maritime state.”

During his campaign, Hatoyama took advantage of his experience as a researcher and garnered public attention with his unique appeal for “a scientific approach to politics.” Following his election, he quickly became a controversial figure for, among other things, revealing the huge scale of political campaign funding the LDP was receiving from business interests — even though he was a member of the party at the time.

“I eventually left the Liberal Democratic Party because of repeated incidents involving money and politics, such as the Recruit insider-trading and corruption scandal of 1988 and Shin Kanemaru’s huge tax evasion affair of 1992,” Hatoyama says. “Political reform was urgently called for, but the LDP was unwilling to act.”

A messy political realignment soon followed, eventually leading to the creation of the current iteration of the Democratic Party of Japan in 1998. Hatoyama went on to lead the party between 1999 and 2002, and again from May 2009. The DPJ grew steadily until finally, in September 2009, it succeeded in ousting the scandal-tainted LDP.

Hatoyama became Japan’s 93rd prime minister, though he would not remain so for long. Government bureaucrats, long accustomed to running the country behind the scenes, acted quickly to undermine his administration and hasten its demise.

Hatoyama says that Defense Ministry officials attempted to scuttle his plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air base outside of Okinawa by claiming that any replacement facility must be located within 65 miles (105 km) of the marines’ Northern Okinawa Training Area. “The bureaucrats and ministers who should have been doing their best to support me were in fact attempting to resolve the matter by supporting the U.S.,” Hatoyama says.

The 65-mile requirement effectively precluded moving the base off the main island of Okinawa, which is a convenient 70 miles long. Yet the source of this apparent requirement remains elusive. Hatoyama says the Defense Ministry simply claimed that this figure was included in a U.S. military document. “Whether or not this requirement was expressly stated in the document remains unclear even now,” he notes.

But what about the U.S.? Were American officials also involved in the attempt to derail Hatoyama’s base relocation plans? Apparently not, Hatoyama says.

“No documents on the U.S. side support the claim of Defense Ministry officials. Thus, it can be said their claim was groundless,” he explains. “It’s possible it was just their way of forcing me to abandon my proposal. However, when we consider the feelings of the Okinawan people, there’s no way they would grant permission for the base to be relocated within Okinawa.”

At this point in the interview, Hatoyama bowed and offered his apology.

Another blow to the fledgling DPJ administration came in December 2009, when it was revealed that Hatoyama had received some ¥1.2 billion in political donations that had been improperly reported. Most of the money came from his mother, the wealthy heiress to the Bridgestone empire, though ¥400 million of this was listed as coming from fictitious donors — including some who were deceased.

While Hatoyama denied personal knowledge of the donations, he later apologized to the nation for the scandal and promised to pay more than ¥600 million in gift taxes on donations made to him by his mother that were first deemed as “loans.” Hatoyama recognizes the major impact this issue had on his tenure as prime minister, admitting, “The political donations I received from my mother were the second major reason I had to resign.”

Prosecutors declined to bring charges against Hatoyama, citing insufficient evidence of criminal activity. They did, however, indict two of his former secretaries, resulting in a ¥300,000 fine for one and a suspended sentence for the other. While no question of corporate bribery or political favors was involved, the incident nevertheless served to raise questions in the public’s mind about just how different the DPJ was from the money-tainted politics of the long-ruling LDP.

The media was unforgiving. After all, Hatoyama had already managed to upset both the establishment media and their new-media competitors. The former fought against his proposal to open up the prime minister’s news conferences to journalists from outside the cozy “press club,” and the latter were angry after he failed to follow through on that pledge.

“When I became prime minister, I tried to abolish the press-club system, which had become a vested interest for its members,” Hatoyama explains. “However, I was subject to a fierce counterattack.”

One club-affiliated reporter told Hatoyama that the prime minister’s press conferences were not something he was in charge of but, rather, something the press club sponsored.

Rebel rebel: Former PM Yukio Hatoyama speaks at an anti-nuclear demonstration outside the prime minister
Rebel rebel: Former PM Yukio Hatoyama speaks at an anti-nuclear demonstration outside the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo in July 2012. | KYODO

Although by March 11, 2011, Naoto Kan was prime minister, Hatoyama was still a member of the House of Representatives, and the multiple disasters — especially the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima No. 1 plant — affected him deeply. In the December 2011 issue of the magazine Nature, Hatoyama co-authored an article expressing his concerns about both the radioactive and political fallout from the accident.

Titled “Nationalize the Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant,” Hatoyama first pointed out the need “to know precisely what happened (on March 11, 2011) and what is continuing to happen now.” He further argued that only when all the evidence relating to the accident had been gathered and made public “will the world be able to have faith in the containment plan developed by Tepco or be able to judge how it should be modified.”

Hatoyama and two fellow Diet members formed a committee to conduct an independent investigation of the accident. The group reached two major conclusions, outlined in the Nature article. First: “The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant must be nationalized so that information can be gathered openly. Even the most troubling facts should be released to the public.” Second: “A special science council should be created to help scientists from various disciplines work together on the analyses. That should help to overcome the dangerous optimism of some of the engineers who work within the nuclear industry.”

Although Hatoyama is no longer a Diet member, he has not lost interest in this issue. Recently, he joined former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland Mitsuhei Murata in calling for “an honorable retreat from the 2020 Olympic Games.” Echoing Murata, who was also present at the interview, Hatoyama says, “In a situation in which nothing has been resolved at Fukushima, Japan must not sponsor something like the Olympic Games.”

Hatoyama elaborates: “There are still many inhabitants of the Tohoku region living in temporary housing. Moreover, the government has yet to admit the truth about the accident despite its having been more severe than Chernobyl. It is regrettable that the government has failed in its duty to inform both the people of Japan and the world about the true situation. The government even goes so far as to deny the increased incidents of thyroid cancer in the Fukushima region are connected to radiation releases from the multiple meltdowns.”

Hatoyama believes the government claimed the situation at nuclear plant was “under control” in order to lure the 2020 Olympic Games to Tokyo. “The government was successful in this ploy,” he says, “but this was a complete lie. Far from having been under control then, it is still not under control even now. This is a grave situation.”

Hatoyama’s change of mind is significant because as prime minister in October 2009 he had given a speech in Copenhagen in support of Tokyo’s failed bid for the 2016 Games. At the time, he sought to promote a new image of the Olympics centered on environmental protection, held in harmony with nature and celebrating simplicity.

March 11, 2011, however, changed everything. Again, like Murata, Hatoyama stresses that he is not opposed to the Olympics per se, but asks: Why now, and why Tokyo — especially in the absence of any pressing need to do so? Hatoyama nods in assent when Murata states: “At this point there is no other solution than to stage an honorable retreat from the games. Failure to do so will ultimately lead to a disgraceful retreat, dishonoring our country. The time to act is now!”

Sorrow: Hatoyama offers a prayer in front of a monument bearing the names of victims at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in 2013.
Sorrow: Hatoyama offers a prayer in front of a monument bearing the names of victims at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in 2013. | LIU JIANHUA NJ — IMAGINECHINA / AP

Hatoyama’s reservations about Japan’s future are not limited to either Fukushima or the Olympics. Politically and militarily, Hatoyama believes Japan is moving in an ever more dangerous direction.

“Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe’s recent passage of the collective security bills has made it possible for America to call upon Japan to participate in its wars,” he says. “However, the Constitution states that Japan will never again wage war and, accordingly, rejects the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

He continues: “Given this, I deeply regret that the road to our participation in war has been opened once again. It may be presumptuous of me to say this now that I am no longer a politician, but in light of the wrong direction our country is currently heading in, I earnestly hope for an end to the Abe regime.”

Just as relations between Tokyo and Beijing were sinking to new lows over historical and territorial issues, Hatoyama infuriated the Abe government with his decision to visit Nanjing in January 2013. At the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, he bowed and offered a silent prayer, later explaining, “As a Japanese, I feel responsible for the tragedy, and I am here expressing my sincere apology.”

While in Nanjing, Hatoyama also urged the Japanese government to acknowledge the dispute between the two countries concerning sovereignty of the islands known the Senkakus in Japanese and Diaoyu in China. “The Japanese government says there are no territorial disputes, but if you look at history, there is a dispute,” he says.

Hatoyama’s comments led Japanese government officials to criticize him for admitting the existence of a territorial dispute with China, something they adamantly deny. The defense minister at the time went so far as to use the word “traitor.”

“If his remarks have been politically used by China, I’m unhappy,” said Itsunori Onodera. “At that moment, the word ‘traitor’ arose in my mind.”

In March 2015, Hatoyama made another controversial trip, this time to Crimea, where he expressed his belief that Japan should “normalize” relations with Russia by lifting sanctions imposed after Moscow’s annexation of the Ukrainian territory. Hatoyama defended the referendum in the region as constitutional, stating, “Crimea wasn’t annexed unilaterally under pressure from Russia. In fact, people reached a conclusion based on their own strong will.”

Once again, Hatoyama’s remarks earned him the condemnation of the Japanese government. “It’s unthinkable that such action and comments came from a person who was once prime minister,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. Suga also described Hatoyama’s behavior as “extremely imprudent.”

In August 2015, just prior to Prime Minister Abe’s statement commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Hatoyama visited the Seodaemun Prison History Hall in Seoul. He knelt down in front of a memorial stone to apologize to Korean independence activists jailed, tortured and executed during Japan’s colonial control of Korea from 1910 to 1945.

“In the hope that no such mistake is made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology,” he said.

Though Hatoyama’s actions may seem quixotic or even deliberately provocative to some, they are best understood through the prism of his world view, which stands in stark contrast to one of the guiding principles of modern Japan in the years following the Meiji Restoration. Promoted by the famous Meiji educator Yukichi Fukuzawa, this principle is known as Datsu-A Ron or the “Goodbye Asia doctrine.” Fukuzawa maintained, “It is better for us to leave the ranks of Asian nations and cast our lot with the civilized nations of the West.”

While not turning his back on the West, Hatoyama nevertheless seeks to redirect Japan’s focus away from the U.S. and back to its geographical location in Asia. He imagines a Japan at peace with its neighbors — from Russia in the north to China and South Korea — and at ease with its position on the edge of the continent.

With this dream in mind, Hatoyama created the East Asian Community Research Institute in March 2013, with the ultimate goal of creating something resembling an East Asian EU. With membership open to the general public, the institute, through its educational arm, Sekai Yuai Forum, holds lectures and other events to promote Hatoyama’s vision.

All of which brings us back to the issue of the U.S. military presence on Okinawa. Hatoyama continues to be concerned about the struggle of the Okinawan people against the construction of the new U.S. base at Henoko. This led to a series of trips to Okinawa seeking a solution to this intractable problem. As recently as November, Hatoyama visited the island to encourage the anti-base demonstrators at Henoko.

Hatoyama envisions a future for Okinawa not as a “keystone of the Pacific” for the U.S. military but as a “keystone of peace” for the countries of Asia. He has called for the creation of an “East Asian Community” headquartered in Okinawa and composed of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Japan, China and South Korea.

“It is important for the countries of East Asia to become self-reliant, helping one another by developing win-win relationships,” he explains. “Should, however, they engage in a military arms race, it would only lead to a decline in deterrent power.”

“If Europe can do it,” says Hatoyama, pointing to the continent’s postwar integration, “there is no reason East Asia can’t.”

Brian A. Victoria is a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • DA

    The best Prime Minister Japan ever had. Such a shame he was forced to resign.

    • 99Pcent

      well unlike in your country, Japan is a democracy.

      • DA

        Are you saying Sweden is not? And what does democracy have to do with Hatoyama resigning?

  • zer0_0zor0

    Note the smirk on Obama’s face, before he tasks the CIA controlled media to manipulate public opinion against Hatoyama for his opposition to the American bases in Okinawa…

  • Kento

    He is a good man, I really admire him.

  • Starviking

    I thought that as prime minister, it was only natural for me to seek an equal relationship with the United States.

    I do not recall any proposals to increase the load carried by the SDF.

    Once again, my proposal ended in failure.

    That happens a lot with posturing or poorly-thought out ideas.

    Hatoyama says that Defense Ministry officials attempted to scuttle his plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air base outside of Okinawa by claiming that any replacement facility must be located within 65 miles (105 km) of the marines’ Northern Okinawa Training Area.

    Yet the source of this apparent requirement remains elusive.

    Ah, there’s one of the poorly thought-out ideas, as the requirement resides in basic logic:

    1) The Marines fly into Okinawa using their base, Futenma.

    2) Then they are transported to their Okinawan training area.

    Simple.

    Recently, he joined former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland Mitsuhei Murata in calling for “an honorable retreat from the 2020 Olympic Games.”

    Ah, joining the non-expert Murata in advising in an area outside his expertise.

    There are still many inhabitants of the Tohoku region living in temporary housing. Moreover, the government has yet to admit the truth about the accident despite its having been more severe than Chernobyl. It is regrettable that the government has failed in its duty to inform both the people of Japan and the world about the true situation. The government even goes so far as to deny the increased incidents of thyroid cancer in the Fukushima region are connected to radiation releases from the multiple meltdowns.”

    Hmmm… poor logic and posturing.

    Worse than Chernobyl? Ridiculous!

    The “true situation”? Conspiracy theorist!

    The link to increased incidents of thyroid cancer? An artifact of the screening process.

    He was a poor PM, and trying to remain relevant through fear-mongering is very, very sad.

    • Sam Gilman

      Did you notice the byline?

      • zer0_0zor0

        What about it?

      • Sam Gilman

        He has a history of using the JT to recycle junk science claims about Fukushima from the mouths of other people. His last appearance here was defending Murata’s call for Tokyo to withdraw from hosting the 2020 Olympics, which he alludes to here. This call was based most of all on a theory Murata had about “recriticality” at the plants, a huge and serious charge (which if you think about it, and about how many people are involved in monitoring from many different organisations, would indicate a massive cover-up likely involving thousands of people if true), which it turned out was based on Murata misconstruing a subsequently corrected spreadsheet error in a monthly report from a single radiation monitoring station a fair distance from the plant. And on Murata studiously ignoring the huge mountain of evidence from everywhere else.

        The author took part in the comments discussion (good on him for doing so) but despite repeated requests to admit Murata had made a mistake, (including being provided with the link to the published correction) he wouldn’t do so.

        Here we have him recycling Hatoyama’s claims that Fukushima is somehow worse than Chernobyl (it plainly isn’t), and that the government is trying to deny a clear increase in thyroid cancers. It’s the medical researchers handling the thyroid screening programme (and international experts) who do not believe the cancers they have thus far discovered are caused by Fukushima for some very straightforward reasons (there is no real increase, it’s an artifice of what happens when you screen everyone with highly sensitive equipment).

      • Sam Gilman

        He has a history of using the JT to recycle junk science claims about Fukushima from the mouths of other people. His last appearance here was defending Murata’s call for Tokyo to withdraw from hosting the 2020 Olympics, which he alludes to here. This call was based most of all on a theory Murata had about “recriticality” at the plants, a huge and serious charge (which if you think about it, and about how many people are involved in monitoring from many different organisations, would indicate a massive cover-up likely involving thousands of people if true), which it turned out was based on Murata misconstruing a subsequently corrected spreadsheet error in a monthly report from a single radiation monitoring station a fair distance from the plant. And on Murata studiously ignoring the huge mountain of evidence from everywhere else.

        The author took part in the comments discussion (good on him for doing so) but despite repeated requests to admit Murata had made a mistake, (including being provided with the link to the published correction) he wouldn’t do so.

        Here we have him recycling Hatoyama’s claims that Fukushima is somehow worse than Chernobyl (it plainly isn’t), and that the government is trying to deny a clear increase in thyroid cancers. It’s the medical researchers handling the thyroid screening programme (and international experts) who do not believe the cancers they have thus far discovered are caused by Fukushima for some very straightforward reasons (there is no real increase, it’s an artifice of what happens when you screen everyone with highly sensitive equipment).

      • Brian Victoria

        Dear Sam,

        I am among the first to admit that even after five years we still don’t know the full extent of radiation-induced damage to either the environment or human health caused by the three meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi. On the other hand, we now know that TEPCO and the Japanese government purposely lied to the Japanese public and to the world by its repeated and lengthy denials of meltdowns at Daiichi. They now claim it was to prevent the spread of panic among the public.

        Given this track record, can either TEPCO or the Japanese government be completely trusted to tell us the full truth now? Please answer this question, Sam.

        And if you admit that neither TEPCO nor the now pro-nuclear Japanese government can be completely trusted. why won’t you and Starviking join me, Hatoyama, Murata and many thousands of others who continue to demand ALL RELEVANT FACTS RELATED TO FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI BE MADE PUBLIC?

        Finally, let me suggest to both you and Starviking that by continuing to deny any and all radiation damage from Fukushima Daiichi, you do yourselves and all pro-nuclear advocates no favors, for you simply don’t appear credible.

      • Starviking

        Denying “any and all radiation damage”?

        What does Buddha have to say about people who misrepresent others?

      • Brian Victoria

        Dear Starviking,

        Thank you for a wonderful response! This is one time I would welcome being proven wrong (Buddha or not!) So please, please prove me wrong, Starviking, by detailing what you recognize as “radiation damage” in all of its forms, most especially radiation damage to the people of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan and beyond.

        I, and hopefully many other readers, await your response.

      • Starviking

        Obviously radiation damage is damage to cells and DNA of individuals who are exposed to ionizing radiation.

        Fukushima released radioisotopes which emit ionizing radiations into the environment, so increasing the amount of ionizing radiation which Fukushima people could be exposed to.

        Scientific studies do not expect such exposures to be of a magnitude that would have a noticable long-term effect on the health of individuals or the population. They do, however, expect the stress from exposure – caused by ill-founded fears promilgated by persons in positions to do so – to have a large effect, as was seen with Chernobyl.

      • Brian Victoria

        Dear Starviking,

        Thank you again for proving my point that you recognize no “noticeable” damage to either the people of Fukushima, Japan, or beyond due to radiation exposure from Fukushima Daiichi. You wrote, “Scientific studies do not expect such exposures to be of a magnitude that would have a noticeable long-term effect on the health of individuals or the population.”

        Well, Starviking, you may not care to “notice” the damage, but I, and many others like me, very much CARE TO NOTICE, most especially to children who are the most susceptible to radiation damage for the rest of their lives.

        With that, let us bring this round of another fruitless exchange to an end. You have clearly revealed what you stand for (as have I).

      • Sam Gilman

        Oh dear. You don’t understand what is meant by “noticeable”.

        Hand on heart – how many classes of statistics have you ever taken in your life?

      • Brian Victoria

        Dear Sam,

        In this case, Sam, you question completely misses the mark. Why? Because, as you well know, the phrase in question is always presented to a lay audience of worried individuals to reassure them that they are safe. I refer to the statement: “Scientific studies do not expect such exposures to be of a magnitude that would have a noticeable long-term effect on the health of individuals or the population.”

        How many times have I heard pronuclear folks like you and Starviking use these same words to deny any radiation damage from Fukushima Daiichi. Play with words if you like, Sam, but please don’t play with human lives.

      • Sam Gilman

        You fail to answer my question, and so fail to show that you actually understand what Starviking means.

        Instead, you appear to be attacking him in a quite unpleasant manner on the grounds that you think other people might not understand something he wrote, and thus he must therefore intend a meaning that he plainly didn’t. This makes no sense.

        I am seriously beginning to worry if the Japan Times hasn’t been duped by someone pretending to be Brian Victoria. It would be nice if someone from the JT to confirm if they know that it is indeed him.

      • Jag_Levak

        “the phrase in question is always presented to a lay audience of worried individuals to reassure them that they are safe.”

        It is used to relate the risk to the scale of routine background risk. In this case, the overall effect on risk, whether positive or negative, will be small enough to be lost in the normal variability in background risk.

        “How many times have I heard pronuclear folks like you and Starviking use these same words to deny any radiation damage from Fukushima Daiichi.”

        It may be used to deny hyperbolic and absurdly inflated claims of damage, but saying an effect will likely be too small to be measured is not the same as a denial that there will be any effect.

        “Play with words if you like, Sam, but please don’t play with human lives.”

        It is neither playing with words nor human lives to understand what “no noticeable effect” actually means.
        And the nuclear fearmongers’ hands are far from clean when it comes to playing with words and human lives. People have died because of their words.

      • Sam Gilman

        Oh dear. You don’t understand what is meant by “noticeable”.

        Hand on heart – how many classes of statistics have you ever taken in your life?

      • Starviking

        Very sanctimonious… I guess you saw where the dialogue was going – in the direction of science – and thought muck-throwing and door-slamming was in order.

        As for children, the health and well-being of my children is of utmost concern to me, which is why I have educated myself as much as possible on the effects of radiation exposure. Let me just say that when my children are of an age to understand it, I will tell them that in addition to what I told them about not fearing bullies, they must not succumb to fear – and to beware of those who peddle it.

      • Starviking

        Obviously radiation damage is damage to cells and DNA of individuals who are exposed to ionizing radiation.

        Fukushima released radioisotopes which emit ionizing radiations into the environment, so increasing the amount of ionizing radiation which Fukushima people could be exposed to.

        Scientific studies do not expect such exposures to be of a magnitude that would have a noticable long-term effect on the health of individuals or the population. They do, however, expect the stress from exposure – caused by ill-founded fears promilgated by persons in positions to do so – to have a large effect, as was seen with Chernobyl.

      • Jag_Levak

        False dichotomy. What forms of life of extraterrestrial origin do you recognize? If you say none, that does not logically entail that you must deny the existence of such life. It would be quite possible for you recognize no life from outer space while also not denying the existence of such. In that event, if someone characterized you as denying the existence of life elsewhere in the universe, that would be a mischaracterization.

        There were definitely radiation burn injuries to the feet of workers who stood in radioactive water, but I don’t view such injuries as categorically worse than the other routine accident injuries that take place in such a demolition/construction work site. But as regards the whole-organism effects of radiation, I don’t know what they are at low levels. I don’t think anyone really does. There is clearly cell damage and cell death, but you also get that with exercise and inoculations, so establishing cell damage isn’t nearly enough to establish whole-organism damage. Some studies on low level effects even suggest there may be some whole-organism benefit. At this point, I would say the most likely form of long-term detrimental whole-organism radiation effect from Fukushima would be a possible increase in risk of thyroid cancer, and for workers who had highest exposure a possible increase in risk for other forms of cancer. But a possible risk also means it is possible there will be no adverse radiation effect. At this time, it would be entirely reasonable to suspend judgement–neither denying nor recognizing radiation damage, until we have some actual measured results to draw conclusions from.

        On the flipside, however, we have very clear indications of considerable damage due to fear of radiation. Infirm and elderly people who were at very low risk of suffering any long-term radiation effect died in a panicked evacuation, or died later due to deteriorated care, and at least two individuals I’ve heard of actually committed suicide, and that’s without even getting into the psychological and physiological stress damage from chronic fear–over aggregate levels of radiation that are within the range of natural background radiation found on Earth. And much of that fear has come from people, anti-nukes in particular, saying things that were manifestly untrue. So the violations of trust were far from one-sided on this issue, and so far, the death toll from the fearmongers’ lies is much higher than the death toll from Tepco’s lies.

      • zer0_0zor0

        I see. Thanks for the reply.

        He is a scholar of Buddhism and a critic of “new religions”, like Soka Gakkai, which is how I am familiar with him. I seem to recall having read an article or two related to religion he has submitted to JT that were pretty reasonable.

      • Sam Gilman

        He clearly must be sound on Buddhist studies otherwise he wouldn’t have the accolades he has. Soka Gakkai, from what I know of them, seem like a fair target.

        But on this topic he’s completely at sea. He’s an associate of the anti-nuclear conspiracy theorist Helen Caldicott, which plainly doesn’t help matters. You can see him here in his latest reply casually lob accusations against Oxford University scientists of academic corruption based absolutely on nothing other than they disagree with him, a religious studies scholar, on the science (“this ethical question whether they are in the academic world or members of the “nuclear village.”). He doesn’t seem to understand the first thing about the subject. He thought it was possible for people to fall ill from radiation (enough for vomiting and headaches) passing through Fukushima city station for five minutes on the Shinkansen. This is someone fluent in written and spoken Japanese.

        I’ve argued strongly on these pages against the appalling attack by the Abe government on the humanities because of the general analytical skills they furnish people with beyond whatever specific topic studied (I recall the example I provided was Babylonian studies). I have to say, he does represent quite a strong counterargument to that thesis.

      • Brian Victoria

        Dear Sam,

        Once again, you have chosen to disregard the questions I have put to you in previous posts, most particularly about the critical need for ALL of the relevant facts about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster to be investigated and the results made public by a capable and objective 3rd party group of experts. Nevertheless, Sam, you claim that I am “completely at sea” and, moreover, that I lack “general analytical skills.”

        Well, Sam, let me be the first to admit that I would love to be “completely at sea” in a body of water that contains no human-made deadly radiation or other poisons (and I would like to think I speak for all marine life as well!)

        As for my alleged lack of analytical skills, somewhere in the back of mind I recall that the first thing necessary to apply one’s skills is to ACCURATELY ASCERTAIN THE FACTS.

        The fact, Sam, that you continue to resist (or ignore) the call for transparency and full disclosure of the relevant facts speak for themselves, Sam.

      • Sam Gilman

        I haven’t disregarded anything. I chose to reply to zer0_0zor0 before replying to you, which I will do so in due course, including attending to the allegations you repeat about me here.

      • Starviking

        Yep. It was not a surprise to me.

      • Starviking

        Yep. It was not a surprise to me.

  • 99Pcent

    This guy is a disgrace to Japan.

  • 99Pcent

    Hatoyama is an ugly frog looking like traitor. He should move to China and suck up to the CCP.

  • Sam Gilman

    That’s a junk science blog making incoherent claims based on falsehoods (such as 75% of all radioactive material at Fukushima being ejected). One can also find it promoting the works of Joseph Mangano, a known crank.

    Could you explain the process by which you decided it was a reliable source? Was it (a) because you assessed the scientific credentials of the writer and the reception of their work in the wider scientific community or (b) because you sought to find a source – any source with a website – that confirmed your pre-determined conclusion, regardless of their establishable reliability.

    Brian, you’ve mentioned your connection to Oxford University in your byline. Oxford has a lot of good scientists in this area:

    http://www.energy.ox.ac.uk/people/?theme=32&letter=&type=

    Go to one with expertise in this area and ask them which is likely more accurate, your blog, or a widely cited peer review article like this:

    Steinhauser, G., Brandl, A., & Johnson, T. E. (2014). Comparison of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents: A review of the environmental impacts. Science of the Total Environment, 470, 800-817.
    Chicago

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004896971301173X

    which makes it clear, in line with other estimates (such as those reported by the IAEA) that Fukushima released around 1/10th of the radioactive material that Chernobyl did.

  • Brian Victoria

    Dear Jag Lavak,

    Thank you for an intelligent response. This is clearly an immensely complicated issue involving the highest stakes possible, i.e., the lives and wellbeing of literally millions of people. We desperately need robust debate though it must be grounded in the most factually accurate information possible, something we sorely lack because of the self-interested secrecy of both TEPCO and the Japanese government. Thus, while not perfect as you properly point out, the addition of a disinterested 3rd party of experts would be a major step in the right direction. Too much is at stake not to do so.

    Secondly, you write:

    “. . . your proposal presumes the way we will deal with our existing stockpiles of spent fuel is to store them for thousands of years. I expect that isn’t going to happen. The first team that develops a waste burning reactor will be able to tap into the virtual gold mine that spent fuel represents, and that race is already under way.”

    I join with you in hoping “that isn’t going to happen.”
    But “hoping” or “expecting” something isn’t going to happen in and of itself doesn’t change anything. Thus, until and unless it does happen, I believe the risks are just too great, especially in light of the many aging reactors throughout the world.

    • Jag_Levak

      “We desperately need robust debate though it must be grounded in the most factually accurate information possible”

      I don’t think so. All we need is sufficiently accurate information. In a Tokai-mura study, for example, atmospheric plutonium levels were measured with a wide enough margin of error that the number of in-lung plutonium decay events an individual exposed to those levels could expect ranged from one to four per year. With more funding and scaling up, it likely would have been possible to narrow that range to a more precise figure, but even though that would be more accurate information, the increase in accuracy would be utterly useless. What would it matter whether it is 2.1 or 3.6 plutonium decay events per year for a standardized adult when that same standardized adult would have something like a billion whole-body polonium 210 decay events taking place over the same period?

      “something we sorely lack because of the self-interested secrecy of both TEPCO and the Japanese government.”

      In the particular case of the mass of radionuclides released, I don’t think secrecy is the reason we don’t have that information, I think we don’t have that information because nobody has that information. But not having this information does not mean it is a sore lack, because we have other more useful information to displace it.

      “Thus, while not perfect as you properly point out, the addition of a disinterested 3rd party of experts would be a major step in the right direction.”

      You are just reasserting the same unsupported claim. Forget the fact that such a disinterested party may not even be achievable, or at least consensus recognition of it as such would not be, how exactly would this be a step in the right direction? What information do you think they could produce about the radionuclides released which would be of any greater use than the information we already have?

      [ re: storing spent fuel for thousands of years]
      I join with you in hoping “that isn’t going to happen.” But “hoping” or “expecting” something isn’t going to happen in and of itself doesn’t change anything.

      I never suggested that it would. An expectation is just an anticipation of a future state of affairs. And in this case, I’m not basing my expectation on hope. I’m basing it on my understanding of science and human nature. In reasonably good waste burner reactors, the current stockpile of spent fuel could generate around 200 terawatt years of electricity. At, say, 2 cents per kilowatt hour, that would be $35 trillion in revenues, and that stockpile is still growing. We know from physics and materials science that such waste burners are achievable. Their profitability mostly boils down to a question of how cheaply they can be made. I don’t need to have hope in order to expect that multiple teams are going to work very hard and compete to cash in on a multi-trillion dollar resource. That’s already happening. If we know something is attainable and we know there is an enormous incentive to attain it, it isn’t unreasonable to expect we will get there. It’s comparable to those in the 19th century who expected man would achieve powered fixed-wing flight. All the principles were known, we’d done manned gliders and powered model aircraft, and all the component technologies existed and were steadily improving. It was just a matter of time before they came together in the first workable plane. And if the Wrights hadn’t got there first, others were not far behind.

      “Thus, until and unless it does happen, I believe the risks are just too great, especially in light of the many aging reactors throughout the world.”

      I want to see the existing reactors replaced, but only with something better. In our current reality, taking our aging nuclear reactors offline generally results in replacement with fossil fuels, and even the best fossil fuel is still worse than present day nuclear power.

  • Brian Victoria

    Dear Jag Lavak,

    Thank you for an intelligent response. This is clearly an immensely complicated issue involving the highest stakes possible, i.e., the lives and wellbeing of literally millions of people. We desperately need robust debate though it must be grounded in the most factually accurate information possible, something we sorely lack because of the self-interested secrecy of both TEPCO and the Japanese government. Thus, while not perfect as you properly point out, the addition of a disinterested 3rd party of experts would be a major step in the right direction. Too much is at stake not to do so.

    Secondly, you write:

    “. . . your proposal presumes the way we will deal with our existing stockpiles of spent fuel is to store them for thousands of years. I expect that isn’t going to happen. The first team that develops a waste burning reactor will be able to tap into the virtual gold mine that spent fuel represents, and that race is already under way.”

    I join with you in hoping “that isn’t going to happen.”
    But “hoping” or “expecting” something isn’t going to happen in and of itself doesn’t change anything. Thus, until and unless it does happen, I believe the risks are just too great, especially in light of the many aging reactors throughout the world.

  • Sam Gilman

    Dear Brian,

    You seem to really struggle to understand that what you consider to be (and type as) “THE FACTS” are in genuine dispute, and that it’s these alleged facts and your evidence for them, not your calls to action, that people want to talk to you about. The mainstream scientific community does not agree with you. Consequently, your various attempts to besmirch people’s characters (and please read to the end; I have some good real world advice for you on this) for disputing your FACTS on grounds that they fail to speak and act as if your FACTS are true, are invalid.

    Let’s look at how secure you are with facts, say, about me. You claim that I

    deny any and all radiation damage from Fukushima Daiichi

    That’s a very strong accusation. It had better be true, hadn’t it? Alas, this next bit is me writing:

    There are of course genuine health concerns from radiation. Some workers at the plant have received dose high enough to clearly raise their risk of cancer. Food needed to be monitored – and has been successfully by all accounts. An increase in thyroid cancers is a possibility, and it is right that there is a screening programme – and also right that the interpretation of the programme results be handled dispassionately by the best experts

    The thing is, not only is it me writing, it’s me writing to you two months ago. So you had at your disposal information that directly contradicted your FACTS, and you ignored it. Does that not raise questions about your reliability? How about another of your accusations against me:

    you continue to resist (or ignore) the call for transparency and full disclosure

    Again, writing to you two months ago I had this to say about transparency:

    Transparency is, of course, a good idea, and there is actually a lot of information published now about the situation at Fukushima, gathered and made public by various bodies. This allows expert eyes from around the world to monitor the situation for problems as well as within Japan.

    So am I against transparency? Clearly not, and again, you had the information in hand that contradicted your allegation against me. I will leave it to others to decide why you felt it was important to your case to make things up about me.

    2. Enough about me. How about your ability to assess evidence? You’ve been rather stung by my suggestion in another comment that you don’t appear able to transfer analytical skills you should have gained in your own fieldto this one. Let me give a good example: how to assess evidence and research. To defend Hatoyama’s and now your own claim that Fukushima is worse than Chernobyl, you cited an anonymously written blog article suggesting patently false claims, on a blog that also promoted the work of an author who by common consent is a crank. Against that, I cited an article in the journal Science of the Total Environment. Here is your response to this article:

    Have you carefully read this article, Sam? If so, you will find that Steinhauser is working from what he admits is an “estimate” of the release of all forms of nuclear radiation from Fukushima Daiichi. In the absence of an INDEPENDENT, 3rd party investigation, how are we to know if Steinhauser’s “estimate” is accurate or not? Please answer this question, too, Sam.

    Very well, let me give you a lesson in how to assess the quality of scientific research. This is an example of skills you are lacking, and which increasingly are taught to first year undergraduates, at least to my knowledge, in the US.
    The source I cited is a peer-reviewed article – It has been subject to independent assessment before publication
    – It is in a journal with a decent impact factor for its field (around 4.1), meaning that there are likely lots of expert eyes on it, and its editorial policy produces what the community sees as good research. (An impact factor is a measure of how much the journal’s articles are cited in the quality science press).
    – It has been cited 80 times by other researchers since its publication in 2014, which is impressive.
    – To my knowledge, it has not been the subject of post-publication dispute by other experts working in the field.
    – It is consistent in a number of ways with findings by other authoritative sources. This is important in science, as reality is governed by the same physical laws everywhere on Earth.

    All this indicates that its findings are accepted within the community. But what about corruption or gaps in the system?
    – These researchers are also obliged to disclose any conflicts of interest when they publish, a failure to do so being severely injurious to an academic career.
    – There is no history of poor research or censure with these academics that I can find.
    – These are researchers writing within their field of expertise, in an appropriate journal.

    All in all,in the absence of positive concrete validated counter-evidence (and your blog article, for the love of God, does not constitute viable evidence), there is no honest reason for non-scientists such as you or I to dispute the findings of this paper.

    Furthermore, your claim that the paper does not count because it deals in estimates reveals two things about you. First of all, because your own citation is also an estimate, you are applying double standards to evidence you like and evidence you don’t. That’s not allowed. Second, it shows that you don’t understand what an answer to the question of whether Chernobyl or Fukushima released more radioactive material into the environment would look like. Of course it’s an estimate. There is not, for example, a magic fairy counting the number of nucleus disintegrations per second everywhere at once.

    3. Moving from literature to individuals, you had this to say about Oxford University scientists specialising in this area. I have redacted parts of the text, for reasons I will explain later:

    However, in this instance it is clear that the department in question is clearly in the pro-nuclear energy camp. For example, Professor ******* ******** writes in an article on this website:
    [quotation redacted]
    As a statement of ‘fact’ I have no problem with Prof. *******’s statement, but he nevertheless completely ignores the ethical question of whether, given the immense dangers associated with nuclear accidents, waste disposal, etc., nuclear power OUGHT to remain a key component. Sadly, those in the pronuclear camp, including yourself, seldom if ever discuss this ethical question whether they are in the academic world or members of the “nuclear village.”

    Here’s the problem:In a discussion of whether you, a religious studies lecturer, or the scientific community are correct about science, you cannot point to the fact that the scientific community disagree with you as evidence that they are wrong or corrupt. This is not just a circular argument – you’re trying to convict someone even though you accept that what they say is true. This is a really clear example of how you – an experience humanities academic – fail to apply the analytical skills you must surely have in your own discipline to another field.

    4. My piece of real world advice to you, and why I redacted the name and the quotation. I am not a lawyer, but I believe you may be potentially libelling a named Oxford Professor, implying quite heavily that they have compromised the integrity of their work because of their connection to corporate interests. Academics are people whose reputations for integrity are central to their livelihoods. I am surprised the Japan Times moderators let your comments through. I suggest you redact your comments on the matter as soon as possible.

    5. You have suggested I lack credibility. If I may quote from an observer of our last discussion, someone who, as far as I can see, really should be on your side in all of this:

    Singapore Joe • 2 months ago

    I am really distressed reading all of this. Brian Victoria completely failed to answer the legitimate questions put to him about the actual health risks from radiation in Japan, which, despite his protestations, was one of the major issues he raised in the article

    Brian, why do you think Singapore Joe felt the need to write that?

    I look forward to your reply.

    • Brian Victoria

      Dear Sam,

      While I thank you for taking the time to write a lengthy reply, my comment that you and Starviking continue to deny actual radiation-induced damage/injury from Fukushima Daiichi stands unchanged. And you do so by your own admission in the following statement:

      “Some workers at the plant have received dose high enough to clearly raise their risk of cancer. Food needed to be monitored – and has been successfully by all accounts. An increase in thyroid cancers is a possibility, and it is right that there is a screening programme.”

      Even though the Japanese government, however reluctantly, has already recognized one Fukushima Daiichi plant worker’s cancer as a result of radiation exposure, the best you can do, Sam, is state that such radiation exposure raises the risk of cancer. And what about the hundreds of thousands of other Fukushima residents exposed to radiation? Did radiation releases from Fukushima stop at the plant’s fence line? You don’t even mention the “risk,” faced by Fukushima residents, Sam. Is this because you believe there is none?

      As for thyroid cancers, the best you can do is admit there is a “possibility” of such. Yet recent studies have shown there are already 605 thyroid cancer cases per 1 million evacuees when only 1-2 would be expected in normal circumstances. [Ref. http://ecowatch.com/2015/10/15/thyroid-cancer-fukushima-study/

      What would you say, Sam, to one of those (mostly) Fukushima children diagnosed with thyroid cancer, Sam? “Tough luck, kid, the rest of us need our electricity?”

      No matter how cleverly worded, Sam, your continued denials and obfuscations of reality won’t wash.

      • Sam Gilman

        Hi Brian,

        I’ll break this into two parts – leukaemia and thyroid cancer – and explain how your understanding of the situation with each does not accord with the actual evidence. It’s important to see reality as it is, not how your attachments would drive you to see it. I’m sure you appreciate that sentiment.

        Leukaemia from Fukushima?
        I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the government has not recognised that someone has developed leukaemia from Fukushima. The press have reported it like that (they’re on your side, because fear sells papers and clicks, remember). However, someone who understands even a small part of the science of radiation and cancer would know that such a recognition would not make medical sense. This was not a medical judgement but a follow-through of the compensation adjudication process. This minor detail appears to have been overlooked amid all the champagne corks popping at Greenpeace HQ.

        Here’s what happened. That worker has leukaemia. He also received a dose (11mSv, three or four times background yearly exposure) which is high enough to trigger potential eligibility for compensation according to the rules. The rules basically posit a simple question: Is there anything in his life history that suggests another known external cause of leukaemia, such as prolonged contact with benzene? In his case, no there isn’t. Thus he qualifies for compensation under the compensation rules without any positive assessment that his leukaemia was radiogenic. And good luck to him. Leukaemia is a horrible condition and I’m glad he gets all the help he can.

        However, the chance that his leukaemia was caused by his very low exposure is actually tiny, particularly given the very early time of onset relative to work starting, and the typical latency period of leukaemia. Not zero, just very, very small. Taking British men as standard and the latest mass study of radiation workers as a guide, an 11mSv exposure would result in a lifetime increase of 5 in 1000 to 5.16 cases in 1000 of leukaemia, and that’s ignoring the problematic onset time in this case, and ignoring the fact that the latest study failed to establish clearly that exposures of 11mSv would actually result in leukaemia. There is no way of knowing if this or that specific individual has developed leukaemia as the result of radiation exposure, as there are no specific markers for radiogenic leukaemia. There are 45,000 people who have worked at Fukushima, and supposing they’re all men, around 225 of them will develop leukaemia regardless of exposure because that’s what would happen to a group of 45,000 people anywhere. Although there are known causes (and radiation exposure is one of them), leukaemia occurs in people without any known cause. The only way we can tell if there are leukaemias caused by radiation from Fukushima is if there is a higher than expected rate of leukaemia. That’s not evasiveness, that’s reality. Disputing reality because it does not suit your political ends is not healthy.

        This is the point about “noticeable” effects that Starviking was making when you accused him of not caring about people’s lives – including his own children. He’s reporting how medical science works. Nobody should be harassed for that. I would strongly recommend you take his advice and revisit the teachings of the Buddha about how you should speak of other people. It’s not being heartless or uncaring to report facts, particularly when they are to counteract fearmongering. I have tried in the past to discourage your attacks on people’s moral standing for fighting fearmongering by pointing to the actual and detectable, serious damage fearmongering does to the health and lives of residents of Fukushima prefecture, but their stories haven’t had any noticeable impact on you, so let’s move on.

        An epidemic of thyroid cancer? Err…no.
        As for Toshihide Tsuda’s thyroid paper, I am more than happy to talk to you about that. Unfortunately, you didn’t use the checklist I gave you to assess the quality of this evidence, so we’ll need to go over that once more. No one learns everything all in one go.

        Here’s the good:
        – It’s peer reviewed
        – It’s in a reputable journal in the right area, with a decent impact factor.

        So far so good. But then things start to fall apart really badly. As we all know from recent high profile scandals, and attempts by climate change deniers and the anti-GMO lobby to pervert it, peer review is good, but not perfect, which is why my checklist for sources is longer than “is it peer reviewed?”.
        – Tsuda’s study has been received rather poorly so far in the scientific community. I understand at least one letter has been submitted to the journal in response from the Fukushima research team, although I don’t know if or when it will be published. The head of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank (a repository for the study of the affects of radiation on the affected population there) has described it quite bluntly: “This is not a very good paper to be basing opinions on”. Even someone like David Brenner, perhaps the most hawkish mainstream scientist on the effects of radiation on health has given it a wide berth: From NPR: “It’s simply relating geographic regions to cancer risks and not looking at individual radiation doses,” he says, adding that without that information, it’s virtually impossible to connect the screenings to the accident. “It really doesn’t tell us the whole story,” he says.
        – The same issue of the journal contains a companion piece essentially saying that the study adds nothing because it lacks crucial data. To have such a conflicting companion piece is highly unusual. There was also a phenomenally long time between submission and final acceptance. One senses a battle going on between reviewers and authors.
        – The author has previously been sharply criticised by leading scientists for the methods he uses, including the ones he uses here. For example, Tetsuya Ohira of Fukushima Medical School has said it is “not scientifically appropriate to compare the Fukushima child numbers with the national cancer registry”.
        – The author has no previous experience of researching radiation and cancer. As you will see if you keep reading, this turns out to matter rather a lot.
        – The findings of the study are, as Tsuda has tried to present them to the foreign press, radically at odds with pretty much everything we know about dose and cancer. He purports to find an effect of exposure from Fukushima that is much, much stronger than that seen at Chernobyl, despite the fact that average doses received were likely less than a hundredth those of children in Chernobyl (in Chernobyl they were giving children milk to drink with radioactive iodine in in a ridiculous show of bravado), and despite the fact that Japanese children have a much richer iodine diet than those in Chernobyl meaning they would take up less radioactive iodine anyway. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence.

        So actually, as non-scientists, we do have very good cause to raise an eyebrow about this study and wonder if it’s sound. The good news is that it’s easy to see what’s wrong with Tsuda’s study. If you’re genuinely interested in learning why Starviking, and myself, and the mainstream scientific community look at Tsuda’s work with scepticism (rather than assuming we’re all heartless child haters in the pay of some vast nuclear conspiracy) read on.

        I have written out an explanation below, but if you like your information presented more visually, you can look at this thoroughly sourced presentation on YouTube here, by a journalist called Ian Goddard who seems to lean anti-nuclear, but doesn’t run away from the science.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztg29UGIO2s

        There are two basic problems: how he counts cancers, and how he ignores (and indeed fixes) corroborating evidence. This is not me making this up, this is a summary of what various people have said.

        I’ve included a couple of checkpoints for you to say “Yes, I understand” or “No, I don’t understand”.

        First, let’s explain what’s wrong with Tsuda’s basic comparison of cancer registry stats with stats from the screening programme. It really is this bad, and it’s why Gerry Thomas and others are so critical of what Tsuda does.

        Imagine a village where every month there are on average ten babies born. Imagine that you wanted to find out how many children were going to be born next month in this village. So you test all the women of child-bearing age for pregnancy, and you get 80 positive results. So, how many women are going to have children next month? If you’re Toshihide Tsuda, the basic answer is 80. Can you see the problem with this? Yes – not all the women who tested positive will be 36 weeks or later into their pregnancy. Babies have, as it were, a “latency period”, between the time you can detect first pregnancy, and the time they pop out. A better guess for next month’s births would be about 10 (surprise surprise), given that there is a bit of lag between conception and the pregnancy test working.

        And that’s the case with thyroid cancer. It has a latency period between when ultra sensitive equipment can pick up the first beginnings of a tumour (confirmed by biopsy), and when it would normally come to the notice of a doctor – it’s big enough to cause discomfort or to be felt by hand examination of the thyroid. How long is this period? The standard distribution is between 4 and 30 years. There are cases studies of thyroid cancers apparently forming more quickly, but they are rare, and there are case studies of thyroid cancers taking fifty years of more to become “clinical”. Actually, a survey of old age cadavers found fully one third of people died with undiagnosed thyroid cancers. But let’s go with 4 to 30 as the basic pattern.

        So the correct comparison is not between how many cancers you would expect to find in a population of under 19s in any one year, but how many you would expect to find in that population over the next couple of decades or so, remembering that the registry rate risk of thyroid cancer goes up with age. Tsuda doesn’t do that. He fixes the latency period at four years – right at the low end of the scale. This would be like saying all pregnancies last two months. It’s patently wrong.

        Can the “screening effect” (or “detection bias”, as Goddard describes it) cause such a huge rise in cancers? Yes, it can. We know from Korea, one of the only countries in the world where thyroid scans have slowly become part of regular health checks for adults, thyroid cancer detection rates have gone up 15-fold as a result. There are studies from other countries showing similar effects.

        Checkpoint A: Do you understand the issue with comparing the results of an aggressive screening programme with annual registry figures?

        Now, all of this merely serves to remind us that whatever pattern Tsuda has found, it’s certainly exaggerated whatever is happening. However, maybe even after the screening effect is properly accounted for, there would still be a rise. So we look at corroborating evidence. Key here is a simple question: if radiation were causing thyroid cancer in children, what would the pattern look like? Here we can take our cue from what happened at Chernobyl.

        – Radiogenic cancers increase most in the lowest age group (0-4). In general, the younger you are, the more vulnerable you are to the effects of radiation.
        – Potentially pre-cancerous nodules should be more prevalent in Fukushima than in other areas of Japan.
        – If these are cancers that should be compared with registry figures, they should be around 4.1cm.
        – Dose and response: there should be a geographical pattern whereby areas of higher dose should see more cancers, and areas of lower dose should receive less.
        – Gender balance. This is really interesting. Regular adult thyroid cancer affects women more than men. Radiogenic thyroid cancer affects the sexes more evenly, as does child thyroid cancer more generally. At this age, for registry thyroid cancers, we’d expect 1.8 females to 1 male getting cancer.
        – The second round of screening should find more cases than the first.
        – Unlike leukaemia, there are DNA differences between regular thyroid tumours and radiogenic tumours, and between regular adult thyroid tumours and child tumours. We should see markers of radiogenic cancer in analyses of tumours.

        What about the results in Fukushima:
        – No tumours found in this low age group. They’re mainly concentrated in the highest age group. Tsuda actually complains about this because some tumours may have gone off to university and missed the test. As I pointed out, this is not his specialist area.
        – Fukushima prefecture children actually have a lower rate of thyroid nodules than in comparator screening programmes done in regions very far from Fukushima.
        – The cancers discovered are not 4.1 cm on average, but only 1.4cm. This indicates they are future cancers found early.
        – There is no geographical difference between highest and lowest dose areas. This is confirmed by the researchers doing the programme, as found in their presentation to international groups of thyroid cancer specialists. Tsuda claims that there is a difference, but he does this by cherrypicking regions. He compares a higher dose and lower dose region and shows they have different rates. He skips over the fact that the lowest dose region actually has rates just as high as the highest dose one. I’m a bit puzzled how that bit got through peer review.
        – Gender balance of victims (4.3 females to 1 male) resembles the kind of patterns in adult thyroid cancers, not child or radiogenic cancers
        – Second round is finding far fewer cancers than the first round.
        – An analyses of tumour found none had the DNA markings of radiogenic thyroid cancer, and most had the markings of adult thyroid cancer.

        So it really does look like Tsuda’s high rates are just an artifact of the poor methods he uses.

        Checkpoint B: Do you understand all the problems with the lack of corroborating evidence for Tsuda’s claims?

        As the companion piece in the same journal says, after reiterating the :

        Similarly, these findings do not add anything new regarding radiation-induced (or related) thyroid cancers

        Given what Tsuda’s trying to make the world believe about his study and how it doesn’t fit with what is expected, that is an author politely but firmly dismissing him. It’s not often that you get a study published alongside a paper dismissing it, but that’s what happened here.

        Anyway, I’m sorry if this is all very long for you to read, but that’s how things have to be. It’s so very, very easy to scare people with the idea of their kids getting cancer, but it takes time to explain why the specific grounds for this scare tactic here are invalid.

      • Sam Gilman

        Hi Brian,

        I’ll break this into two parts – leukaemia and thyroid cancer – and explain how your understanding of the situation with each does not accord with the actual evidence. It’s important to see reality as it is, not how your attachments would drive you to see it. I’m sure you appreciate that sentiment.

        Leukaemia from Fukushima?
        I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the government has not recognised that someone has developed leukaemia from Fukushima. The press have reported it like that (they’re on your side, because fear sells papers and clicks, remember). However, someone who understands even a small part of the science of radiation and cancer would know that such a recognition would not make medical sense. This was not a medical judgement but a follow-through of the compensation adjudication process. This minor detail appears to have been overlooked amid all the champagne corks popping at Greenpeace HQ.

        Here’s what happened. That worker has leukaemia. He also received a dose (11mSv, three or four times background yearly exposure) which is high enough to trigger potential eligibility for compensation according to the rules. The rules basically posit a simple question: Is there anything in his life history that suggests another known external cause of leukaemia, such as prolonged contact with benzene? In his case, no there isn’t. Thus he qualifies for compensation under the compensation rules without any positive assessment that his leukaemia was radiogenic. And good luck to him. Leukaemia is a horrible condition and I’m glad he gets all the help he can.

        However, the chance that his leukaemia was caused by his very low exposure is actually tiny, particularly given the very early time of onset relative to work starting, and the typical latency period of leukaemia. Not zero, just very, very small. Taking British men as standard and the latest mass study of radiation workers as a guide, an 11mSv exposure would result in a lifetime increase of 5 in 1000 to 5.16 cases in 1000 of leukaemia, and that’s ignoring the problematic onset time in this case, and ignoring the fact that the latest study failed to establish clearly that exposures of 11mSv would actually result in leukaemia. There is no way of knowing if this or that specific individual has developed leukaemia as the result of radiation exposure, as there are no specific markers for radiogenic leukaemia. There are 45,000 people who have worked at Fukushima, and supposing they’re all men, around 225 of them will develop leukaemia regardless of exposure because that’s what would happen to a group of 45,000 people anywhere. Although there are known causes (and radiation exposure is one of them), leukaemia occurs in people without any known cause. The only way we can tell if there are leukaemias caused by radiation from Fukushima is if there is a higher than expected rate of leukaemia. That’s not evasiveness, that’s reality. Disputing reality because it does not suit your political ends is not healthy.

        This is the point about “noticeable” effects that Starviking was making when you accused him of not caring about people’s lives – including his own children. He’s reporting how medical science works. Nobody should be harassed for that. I would strongly recommend you take his advice and revisit the teachings of the Buddha about how you should speak of other people. It’s not being heartless or uncaring to report facts, particularly when they are to counteract fearmongering. I have tried in the past to discourage your attacks on people’s moral standing for fighting fearmongering by pointing to the actual and detectable, serious damage fearmongering does to the health and lives of residents of Fukushima prefecture, but their stories haven’t had any noticeable impact on you, so let’s move on.

        An epidemic of thyroid cancer? Err…no.
        As for Toshihide Tsuda’s thyroid paper, I am more than happy to talk to you about that. Unfortunately, you didn’t use the checklist I gave you to assess the quality of this evidence, so we’ll need to go over that once more. No one learns everything all in one go.

        Here’s the good:
        – It’s peer reviewed
        – It’s in a reputable journal in the right area, with a decent impact factor.

        So far so good. But then things start to fall apart really badly. As we all know from recent high profile scandals, and attempts by climate change deniers and the anti-GMO lobby to pervert it, peer review is good, but not perfect, which is why my checklist for sources is longer than “is it peer reviewed?”.
        – Tsuda’s study has been received rather poorly so far in the scientific community. I understand at least one letter has been submitted to the journal in response from the Fukushima research team, although I don’t know if or when it will be published. The head of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank (a repository for the study of the affects of radiation on the affected population there) has described it quite bluntly: “This is not a very good paper to be basing opinions on”. Even someone like David Brenner, perhaps the most hawkish mainstream scientist on the effects of radiation on health has given it a wide berth: From NPR: “It’s simply relating geographic regions to cancer risks and not looking at individual radiation doses,” he says, adding that without that information, it’s virtually impossible to connect the screenings to the accident. “It really doesn’t tell us the whole story,” he says.
        – The same issue of the journal contains a companion piece essentially saying that the study adds nothing because it lacks crucial data. To have such a conflicting companion piece is highly unusual. There was also a phenomenally long time between submission and final acceptance. One senses a battle going on between reviewers and authors.
        – The author has previously been sharply criticised by leading scientists for the methods he uses, including the ones he uses here. For example, Tetsuya Ohira of Fukushima Medical School has said it is “not scientifically appropriate to compare the Fukushima child numbers with the national cancer registry”.
        – The author has no previous experience of researching radiation and cancer. As you will see if you keep reading, this turns out to matter rather a lot.
        – The findings of the study are, as Tsuda has tried to present them to the foreign press, radically at odds with pretty much everything we know about dose and cancer. He purports to find an effect of exposure from Fukushima that is much, much stronger than that seen at Chernobyl, despite the fact that average doses received were likely less than a hundredth those of children in Chernobyl (in Chernobyl they were giving children milk to drink with radioactive iodine in in a ridiculous show of bravado), and despite the fact that Japanese children have a much richer iodine diet than those in Chernobyl meaning they would take up less radioactive iodine anyway. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence.

        So actually, as non-scientists, we do have very good cause to raise an eyebrow about this study and wonder if it’s sound. The good news is that it’s easy to see what’s wrong with Tsuda’s study. If you’re genuinely interested in learning why Starviking, and myself, and the mainstream scientific community look at Tsuda’s work with scepticism (rather than assuming we’re all heartless child haters in the pay of some vast nuclear conspiracy) read on.

        I have written out an explanation below, but if you like your information presented more visually, you can look at this thoroughly sourced presentation on YouTube here, by a journalist called Ian Goddard who seems to lean anti-nuclear, but doesn’t run away from the science.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztg29UGIO2s

        There are two basic problems: how he counts cancers, and how he ignores (and indeed fixes) corroborating evidence. This is not me making this up, this is a summary of what various people have said.

        I’ve included a couple of checkpoints for you to say “Yes, I understand” or “No, I don’t understand”.

        First, let’s explain what’s wrong with Tsuda’s basic comparison of cancer registry stats with stats from the screening programme. It really is this bad, and it’s why Gerry Thomas and others are so critical of what Tsuda does.

        Imagine a village where every month there are on average ten babies born. Imagine that you wanted to find out how many children were going to be born next month in this village. So you test all the women of child-bearing age for pregnancy, and you get 80 positive results. So, how many women are going to have children next month? If you’re Toshihide Tsuda, the basic answer is 80. Can you see the problem with this? Yes – not all the women who tested positive will be 36 weeks or later into their pregnancy. Babies have, as it were, a “latency period”, between the time you can detect first pregnancy, and the time they pop out. A better guess for next month’s births would be about 10 (surprise surprise), given that there is a bit of lag between conception and the pregnancy test working.

        And that’s the case with thyroid cancer. It has a latency period between when ultra sensitive equipment can pick up the first beginnings of a tumour (confirmed by biopsy), and when it would normally come to the notice of a doctor – it’s big enough to cause discomfort or to be felt by hand examination of the thyroid. How long is this period? The standard distribution is between 4 and 30 years. There are cases studies of thyroid cancers apparently forming more quickly, but they are rare, and there are case studies of thyroid cancers taking fifty years of more to become “clinical”. Actually, a survey of old age cadavers found fully one third of people died with undiagnosed thyroid cancers. But let’s go with 4 to 30 as the basic pattern.

        So the correct comparison is not between how many cancers you would expect to find in a population of under 19s in any one year, but how many you would expect to find in that population over the next couple of decades or so, remembering that the registry rate risk of thyroid cancer goes up with age. Tsuda doesn’t do that. He fixes the latency period at four years – right at the low end of the scale. This would be like saying all pregnancies last two months. It’s patently wrong.

        Can the “screening effect” (or “detection bias”, as Goddard describes it) cause such a huge rise in cancers? Yes, it can. We know from Korea, one of the only countries in the world where thyroid scans have slowly become part of regular health checks for adults, thyroid cancer detection rates have gone up 15-fold as a result. There are studies from other countries showing similar effects.

        Checkpoint A: Do you understand the issue with comparing the results of an aggressive screening programme with annual registry figures?

        Now, all of this merely serves to remind us that whatever pattern Tsuda has found, it’s certainly exaggerated whatever is happening. However, maybe even after the screening effect is properly accounted for, there would still be a rise. So we look at corroborating evidence. Key here is a simple question: if radiation were causing thyroid cancer in children, what would the pattern look like? Here we can take our cue from what happened at Chernobyl.

        – Radiogenic cancers increase most in the lowest age group (0-4). In general, the younger you are, the more vulnerable you are to the effects of radiation.
        – Potentially pre-cancerous nodules should be more prevalent in Fukushima than in other areas of Japan.
        – If these are cancers that should be compared with registry figures, they should be around 4.1cm.
        – Dose and response: there should be a geographical pattern whereby areas of higher dose should see more cancers, and areas of lower dose should receive less.
        – Gender balance. This is really interesting. Regular adult thyroid cancer affects women more than men. Radiogenic thyroid cancer affects the sexes more evenly, as does child thyroid cancer more generally. At this age, for registry thyroid cancers, we’d expect 1.8 females to 1 male getting cancer.
        – The second round of screening should find more cases than the first.
        – Unlike leukaemia, there are DNA differences between regular thyroid tumours and radiogenic tumours, and between regular adult thyroid tumours and child tumours. We should see markers of radiogenic cancer in analyses of tumours.

        What about the results in Fukushima:
        – No tumours found in this low age group. They’re mainly concentrated in the highest age group. Tsuda actually complains about this because some tumours may have gone off to university and missed the test. As I pointed out, this is not his specialist area.
        – Fukushima prefecture children actually have a lower rate of thyroid nodules than in comparator screening programmes done in regions very far from Fukushima.
        – The cancers discovered are not 4.1 cm on average, but only 1.4cm. This indicates they are future cancers found early.
        – There is no geographical difference between highest and lowest dose areas. This is confirmed by the researchers doing the programme, as found in their presentation to international groups of thyroid cancer specialists. Tsuda claims that there is a difference, but he does this by cherrypicking regions. He compares a higher dose and lower dose region and shows they have different rates. He skips over the fact that the lowest dose region actually has rates just as high as the highest dose one. I’m a bit puzzled how that bit got through peer review.
        – Gender balance of victims (4.3 females to 1 male) resembles the kind of patterns in adult thyroid cancers, not child or radiogenic cancers
        – Second round is finding far fewer cancers than the first round.
        – An analyses of tumour found none had the DNA markings of radiogenic thyroid cancer, and most had the markings of adult thyroid cancer.

        So it really does look like Tsuda’s high rates are just an artifact of the poor methods he uses.

        Checkpoint B: Do you understand all the problems with the lack of corroborating evidence for Tsuda’s claims?

        As the companion piece in the same journal says, after reiterating the :

        Similarly, these findings do not add anything new regarding radiation-induced (or related) thyroid cancers

        Given what Tsuda’s trying to make the world believe about his study and how it doesn’t fit with what is expected, that is an author politely but firmly dismissing him. It’s not often that you get a study published alongside a paper dismissing it, but that’s what happened here.

        Anyway, I’m sorry if this is all very long for you to read, but that’s how things have to be. It’s so very, very easy to scare people with the idea of their kids getting cancer, but it takes time to explain why the specific grounds for this scare tactic here are invalid.

      • Jag_Levak

        “my comment that you and Starviking continue to deny actual radiation-induced damage/injury from Fukushima Daiichi stands unchanged”

        That could just be because you are slow on the uptake. An acknowledgement of increased future risk is in no sense a denial of damage/injury.

        “the Japanese government, however reluctantly, has already recognized one Fukushima Daiichi plant worker’s cancer as a result of radiation exposure”

        Actually what they said is that that there is a chance, however small, that this man’s leukemia might have been caused by the moderate levels of exposure he received. By your reasoning, that would count as a denial that there was any damage/injury.

        “And what about the hundreds of thousands of other Fukushima residents exposed to radiation?”

        No radiation effects have been seen so far. There will be screening and studies watching for effects, but for the general population, these are not expected to be discernible.

        “recent studies have shown there are already 605 thyroid cancer cases per 1 million evacuees when only 1-2 would be expected in normal circumstances.”

        “Studies” plural? Did you actually find another study which independently arrived at that conclusion, or did you exaggerate because you thought “studies” would sound better than “a study”? (Not to mention that it was just another agenda-driven study from a previously rebuffed “researcher” where he replaced the control group of the screening program with a very different reference sample with no justification. It’s easy to engineer the results you want if you get to pick and choose which highly unequal sample sets to compare.)

        “What would you say, Sam, to one of those (mostly) Fukushima children diagnosed with thyroid cancer”

        What do you say to the Fukushima residents who have suffered as a result of needless fear and panic? Those effects have at least already been documented. Jumping straight to an emotional pitch about children diagnosed with thyroid due to Fukushima is an obvious ploy to distract from the flimsiness of the evidence that any children have developed thyroid cancer from Fukushima in the first place. This is like Christians who try to guilt trip unbelievers about rejecting Jesus after he gave his life for us–skipping over the step of first establishing that any such thing happened. This is a cheat, trying to convince on emotional grounds. What it betrays is that you don’t have confidence you can be convincing on rational grounds.

        I can understand the thinking that dishonesty can sometimes be justified if it is in a good cause. But every ideologue thinks they have a good cause. And if you can’t make an honest, rational case for your position, maybe your cause isn’t as good as you think it is.

  • Sam Gilman

    Dear Brian,

    You seem to really struggle to understand that what you consider to be (and type as) “THE FACTS” are in genuine dispute, and that it’s these alleged facts and your evidence for them, not your calls to action, that people want to talk to you about. The mainstream scientific community does not agree with you. Consequently, your various attempts to besmirch people’s characters (and please read to the end; I have some good real world advice for you on this) for disputing your FACTS on grounds that they fail to speak and act as if your FACTS are true, are invalid.

    Let’s look at how secure you are with facts, say, about me. You claim that I

    deny any and all radiation damage from Fukushima Daiichi

    That’s a very strong accusation. It had better be true, hadn’t it? Alas, this next bit is me writing:

    There are of course genuine health concerns from radiation. Some workers at the plant have received dose high enough to clearly raise their risk of cancer. Food needed to be monitored – and has been successfully by all accounts. An increase in thyroid cancers is a possibility, and it is right that there is a screening programme – and also right that the interpretation of the programme results be handled dispassionately by the best experts

    The thing is, not only is it me writing, it’s me writing to you two months ago. So you had at your disposal information that directly contradicted your FACTS, and you ignored it. Does that not raise questions about your reliability? How about another of your accusations against me:

    you continue to resist (or ignore) the call for transparency and full disclosure

    Again, writing to you two months ago I had this to say about transparency:

    Transparency is, of course, a good idea, and there is actually a lot of information published now about the situation at Fukushima, gathered and made public by various bodies. This allows expert eyes from around the world to monitor the situation for problems as well as within Japan.

    So am I against transparency? Clearly not, and again, you had the information in hand that contradicted your allegation against me. I will leave it to others to decide why you felt it was important to your case to make things up about me.

    2. Enough about me. How about your ability to assess evidence? You’ve been rather stung by my suggestion in another comment that you don’t appear able to transfer analytical skills you should have gained in your own fieldto this one. Let me give a good example: how to assess evidence and research. To defend Hatoyama’s and now your own claim that Fukushima is worse than Chernobyl, you cited an anonymously written blog article suggesting patently false claims, on a blog that also promoted the work of an author who by common consent is a crank. Against that, I cited an article in the journal Science of the Total Environment. Here is your response to this article:

    Have you carefully read this article, Sam? If so, you will find that Steinhauser is working from what he admits is an “estimate” of the release of all forms of nuclear radiation from Fukushima Daiichi. In the absence of an INDEPENDENT, 3rd party investigation, how are we to know if Steinhauser’s “estimate” is accurate or not? Please answer this question, too, Sam.

    Very well, let me give you a lesson in how to assess the quality of scientific research. This is an example of skills you are lacking, and which increasingly are taught to first year undergraduates, at least to my knowledge, in the US.
    The source I cited is a peer-reviewed article – It has been subject to independent assessment before publication
    – It is in a journal with a decent impact factor for its field (around 4.1), meaning that there are likely lots of expert eyes on it, and its editorial policy produces what the community sees as good research. (An impact factor is a measure of how much the journal’s articles are cited in the quality science press).
    – It has been cited 80 times by other researchers since its publication in 2014, which is impressive.
    – To my knowledge, it has not been the subject of post-publication dispute by other experts working in the field.
    – It is consistent in a number of ways with findings by other authoritative sources. This is important in science, as reality is governed by the same physical laws everywhere on Earth.

    All this indicates that its findings are accepted within the community. But what about corruption or gaps in the system?
    – These researchers are also obliged to disclose any conflicts of interest when they publish, a failure to do so being severely injurious to an academic career.
    – There is no history of poor research or censure with these academics that I can find.
    – These are researchers writing within their field of expertise, in an appropriate journal.

    All in all,in the absence of positive concrete validated counter-evidence (and your blog article, for the love of God, does not constitute viable evidence), there is no honest reason for non-scientists such as you or I to dispute the findings of this paper.

    Furthermore, your claim that the paper does not count because it deals in estimates reveals two things about you. First of all, because your own citation is also an estimate, you are applying double standards to evidence you like and evidence you don’t. That’s not allowed. Second, it shows that you don’t understand what an answer to the question of whether Chernobyl or Fukushima released more radioactive material into the environment would look like. Of course it’s an estimate. There is not, for example, a magic fairy counting the number of nucleus disintegrations per second everywhere at once.

    3. Moving from literature to individuals, you had this to say about Oxford University scientists specialising in this area. I have redacted parts of the text, for reasons I will explain later:

    However, in this instance it is clear that the department in question is clearly in the pro-nuclear energy camp. For example, Professor ******* ******** writes in an article on this website:
    [quotation redacted]
    As a statement of ‘fact’ I have no problem with Prof. *******’s statement, but he nevertheless completely ignores the ethical question of whether, given the immense dangers associated with nuclear accidents, waste disposal, etc., nuclear power OUGHT to remain a key component. Sadly, those in the pronuclear camp, including yourself, seldom if ever discuss this ethical question whether they are in the academic world or members of the “nuclear village.”

    Here’s the problem:In a discussion of whether you, a religious studies lecturer, or the scientific community are correct about science, you cannot point to the fact that the scientific community disagree with you as evidence that they are wrong or corrupt. This is not just a circular argument – you’re trying to convict someone even though you accept that what they say is true. This is a really clear example of how you – an experience humanities academic – fail to apply the analytical skills you must surely have in your own discipline to another field.

    4. My piece of real world advice to you, and why I redacted the name and the quotation. I am not a lawyer, but I believe you may be potentially libelling a named Oxford Professor, implying quite heavily that they have compromised the integrity of their work because of their connection to corporate interests. Academics are people whose reputations for integrity are central to their livelihoods. I am surprised the Japan Times moderators let your comments through. I suggest you redact your comments on the matter as soon as possible.

    5. You have suggested I lack credibility. If I may quote from an observer of our last discussion, someone who, as far as I can see, really should be on your side in all of this:

    Singapore Joe • 2 months ago

    I am really distressed reading all of this. Brian Victoria completely failed to answer the legitimate questions put to him about the actual health risks from radiation in Japan, which, despite his protestations, was one of the major issues he raised in the article

    Brian, why do you think Singapore Joe felt the need to write that?

    I look forward to your reply.

  • Sam Gilman

    Hi Brian,

    The pattern you three present is crystal clear for all to see. When I
    demonstrate there is reason for concern regarding radiation damage from
    Fukushima Daiichi, you all describe it as “junk science,” or flawed
    science presented by “alarmists” and worse.

    Well, there are two explanations for this pattern.

    A) The head of the Chernobyl Tissue bank, the head of, the World Health Organisation, the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, and several senior Japanese researchers, that I’ve cited, as well as – according to you – several leading Oxford University energy experts are all in the payroll of Toshiba, Hitachi, Westinghouse or GE (or whoever), perverting their results and co-ordinating them across hundreds and hundreds of papers to produce a consistent view that is also in line with the general body of scientific literature and the laws of physics, but managing to hide the entire papertrail, and none of their colleagues who are not on the payroll (there are thousands of scientists around the world looking at this) have blown the whistle on them despite academia being precisely the environment where that would just so happen

    or…

    B) You are in fact promoting junk science.

    I realise you are not the kind of person who is good at admitting errors in public no matter how clear cut they are (cough Murata and the Excel spreadsheet cough), but I really do think it might be an idea to sit back and reflect upon a couple of things.

    Think on what it looks like when businesses do get involved in trying to pervert science:
    – climate change denial: small group of corporate funded “experts” + media talking heads vs mainstream science.
    – denial that smoking causes cancer: small group of corporate funded “experts” versus mainstream science.
    – anti-vaccinists (Andrew Wakefield was funded by a law company to find
    problems): small group of scientists + media talking heads vs.
    mainstream science.

    The moral of the story is that mainstream science doesn’t get bought. What gets bought and paid for are a small number of talking heads working in the media pretending to be experts. If your conspiracy net needs to be cast as wide as you are casting it, it’s probably not reality.

    Then – and don’t take this as insulting, but as a reality check, think about the kinds of people who spurn mainstream science and claim it’s all a conspiracy:
    – climate change deniers
    – anti-vaccinists
    – HIV/AIDS deniers
    – moon-landing hoax theorists
    – 9/11 truthers
    – David Icke followers

    That is, it happens a lot, and some of these people are really very intelligent. But they somehow get drawn in.

    As for you moral outrage – how do you think we feel about your lack of concern for the victims of fearmongering?

    P.S. Regarding your EcoWatch article, do you know what a Gish gallop is?

    • Michael Mann

      I believe Brian truly believes he is the lone person able to understand the truth and he is not capable of acknowledging any other point of view. Try not to upset him, just post the facts for others to see so they don’t get caught up in his fervor.He doesn’t realize he’s hurting people, he truly believes he is helping them.

    • Michael Mann

      I believe Brian truly believes he is the lone person able to understand the truth and he is not capable of acknowledging any other point of view. Try not to upset him, just post the facts for others to see so they don’t get caught up in his fervor.He doesn’t realize he’s hurting people, he truly believes he is helping them.

  • Jag_Levak

    “The pattern you three present is crystal clear for all to see. When I demonstrate there is reason for concern regarding radiation damage from Fukushima Daiichi, you all describe it as “junk science,” or flawed science presented by “alarmists” and worse.”

    Every inhabitant of a bubble-reality cult sees the same “pattern” with respect to how people on the outside respond to their insider sources. And they generally construe that “pattern” of rejection to be the product of a well-coordinated conspiracy. But when you post junk science sources, we can do more than just describe it as junk science. We can show why it is junk science. You can’t do the same for our sources, which is why you have to resort to the conspiracy explanation to dismiss outside mainstream science.

    “None of you, however, has raised the issue of the “three hundred pound guerilla in the room.” I refer to the billions and billions of dollars that have been invested by corporations like GE, Westinghouse, Toshiba and Hitachi, together with their political agents, in promoting nuclear power generation.”

    Let me guess, this is how the international conspiracy is funded.

    “Do any readers think for a moment that these groups are not going to make every effort to dismiss/limit/ignore the damage caused by nuclear disasters such as those at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima?”

    None of them built Chernobyl, and I would assume they focus on the most cost effective means of promoting their various divisions, whether those be nuclear, renewable, or something else.

    “Here is an excellent summary of the lies and obfuscation of the above parties.”

    From longtime anti-nuke activist and founder of NukeFree(dot)org, Harvey Wasserman. What a surprise. If someone from a bubble reality cult you didn’t belong to cited one of their unscientific leaders, would you find that convincing?

    “I leave it for the reader to decide where the “truth” lies.”

    Or at least, which side has the greatest rational and evidentiary support.

    I concur that one unit at TMI had a partial meltdown, released some radiation, and that there was a similar precursor event at Davis-Besse. The mainstream scientific consensus is that the dose received by the general population was modest. At least a dozen mainstream studies concluded that the health effects were small or below detectable, but I think some of that was down to luck and does not excuse the accident. I also think a great deal has improved since TMI and could be improved further if we had reactors which could not melt down.

    Wasserman claims “the most credible study of Chernobyl’s human death toll put it at 985,000 in 2010.” It may be the study he prefers to believe, but the Yablokov study was not peer reviewed, was widely criticized for its dubious methodology, hasn’t been replicated, and reaches conclusions which are very far out of the mainstream. So far as the world scientific community is concerned, it appears to be one of the least credible studies. Chernobyl does still have elevated levels of radioactivity, but most of the exclusion zone has aggregate levels lower than that found naturally in a number of places. Chernobyl was a disaster for the humans living there, but a boon for the wildlife which has flourished there.

    There were indeed a number of poor design engineering and construction decisions made at Fukushima, and I don’t think we should do nuclear power that way. We don’t know the exact position of the melted cores, but all indications are that they are still contained. Wasserman exaggerates when he says four reactors blew up at Fukushima. Three of the reactor buildings had explosions, and three of the reactors had meltdowns, but zero reactors exploded. The figure for the amount radioactive water flowing into the Pacific was correct when that was written, but it has been mostly curtailed since then. The claim that “thousands of highly radioactive spent fuel rods remain scattered around the Fukushima site” is simply preposterous. In addition to the total lack of evidence for such a thing, we know they could not have come from any of the reactors nor any of the spent fuel pools, so where could they have come from? The pools are not significantly damaged, none of them leaked, and they are part of the robust reactor block. Core fuel has melted, but the reactors themselves are not shattered. And Wasserman launched that petition to take over the defueling operation at pool 4, predicting dire consequences if Tepco were to be allowed to attempt it. So far as I know, Wasserman has yet to acknowledge that the defueling operation was a spectacular success and that none of his disaster predictions came true.

    This, of course, is more of the “pattern” of pointing out that the people you cite are making false or exaggerated claims. So long as you keep citing such people, I don’t foresee that pattern changing.