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Japan’s environment minister denies mocking radiation fears of Fukushima residents

by

Staff Writer

Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa came under fire Tuesday for what opposition lawmakers called an insensitive gaffe that appeared to ridicule the fears of people in Fukushima Prefecture over radiation exposure.

At the center of the controversy was a remark she reportedly made Sunday during a speech in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.

The Nagano-based Shinano Mainichi Shimbun on Monday quoted the Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker as saying, “There are always those ‘anti-radiation’ people, as you may call them, who are worried about radiation no matter how low the levels are.”

According to the newspaper, Marukawa then went on to attack the government’s official goal of reducing contamination near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant to an annual dose of 1 millisievert, calling it a “scientifically groundless” figure decided by her Democratic Party of Japan predecessor.

On Tuesday, DPJ lawmaker Rintaro Ogata said Marukawa’s comments sounded as though she were deriding those suffering from radiation exposure fears in Fukushima.

Marukawa said she has no clear recollection of the remark as the event went unrecorded due to the absence of her secretary.

Nonetheless, she said she felt “misquoted” by the newspaper, though she added: “I would like to apologize for not expressing my views clearly enough.”

The DPJ, which was in power when the triple disaster hit Japan in 2011, set the annual 1-millisievert target based on an estimation by the International Commission on Radiological Protection that acceptable radiation exposure levels range from 1 to 20 millisieverts per year in the aftermath of a nuclear accident.

Marukawa denied that she called the target “scientifically groundless” and instead emphasized that the DPJ should have more thoroughly explained the rationale behind it.

  • GBR48

    The LDP really need to start hiring people with better memories. Most of them can’t seem to remember half the stuff they have done or said.

    As the Ministry of Culture is being moved to Kyoto, perhaps the Ministry of the Environment, and its presumably ‘pro-radiation’ minister, could be relocated to Fukushima.

  • Roy Warner

    She and anyone else who believes that radiation levels in Fukushima are harmless are quite welcome to demonstrate such certainty by moving their families there. The rapidly depopulating prefecture would welcome them.

  • Leslie Corrice

    The Minister’s alleged statement is entirely correct. Politically questionable considering the millions of Japanese suffering mortal fear of radiation (radiophobia), but scientifically spot-on.

  • Liars N. Fools

    So typical of the Abe administration both for believing what they say and for making a political gaffe.

  • Bernadette Soubirous

    She is a very beautiful woman. I don’t think she meant any harm towards the Japanese people. I will give her the benefit of doubt.

  • Charles

    Has Hell frozen over? Do I actually agree with an LDP politician about something? Wow!

    She’s absolutely right–these fears of minute amounts of radiation ARE “scientifically groundless.”

    Now, don’t get me wrong, there might be SOME parts of Fukushima (very close to the reactor) that are still contaminated at an unacceptable level. However, I’ve seen some incredible ridiculousness, like a guy in KYUSHU who was running a YouTube channel trying to get donations so his family could “evacuate” from Kyushu back to his home country! Ridiculous!

    One of my college courses was Radiological Emergency Preparedness. I just keep the things I learned in that class in mind, and check the radiation levels before I’m about to take a new job in Japan. I’ve never had a job offer from a place with dangerous radiation levels (I check).

    You say “If you think it’s ‘scientifically groundless,’ then why don’t you pack up and move to Fukushima, then?”

    Well, that would be rather impossible. Because, you see, I already live in Fukushima!

  • fromjapan

    Japan’s government and the ruling party always underestimate harm of Contamination to defend profit for industries historically.

    Japan’s shameful “tradition” still continue.

  • Timothy Milhomme

    What is with these people. A small amount of radiation! Fukushima! Really ? whatever you say

  • fromjapan

    While Japan Govt apply “Provisional radioactivity standard” to the Fukushima only,
    They insist on “Safe”.

    Abe Govt of Japan is still deceptive.

  • Hideomi Kuze

    Japan’s government has used double standard about radioactive contamination.

    They use unsafe loose regulation to the Fukushima.

  • Hideomi Kuze

    Japan’s government has used double standard about radioactive contamination.

    They use unsafe loose regulation to the Fukushima.

  • Hideomi Kuze

    Japan’s government has used double standard about radioactive contamination.

    They use unsafe loose regulation to the Fukushima.

  • Hideomi Kuze

    Japan’s government has used double standard about radioactive contamination.

    They use unsafe loose regulation to the Fukushima.

  • Hideomi Kuze

    Japan’s government has used double standard about radioactive contamination.

    They use unsafe loose regulation to the Fukushima.

  • Hideomi Kuze

    Japan’s government has used double standard about radioactive contamination.

    They use unsafe loose regulation to the Fukushima.

  • Hideomi Kuze

    Japan’s government has used double standard about radioactive contamination.

    They use unsafe loose regulation to the Fukushima.

  • Hideomi Kuze

    Japan’s government has used double standard about radioactive contamination.

    They use unsafe loose regulation to the Fukushima.

  • Hideomi Kuze

    Japan’s government has used double standard about radioactive contamination.

    They use unsafe loose regulation to the Fukushima.

  • fromjapan

    Nuclear disaster migrants are forced to return to Fukushima by Govt who want to discontinue compensation.

  • Nelson Surjon

    Radiophobia ? Yeah sure! We are all so “paranoid” .. see, international legal standards set by the Nuke lobby itself was at 1 mSv/y (20 mSv for nuclear workers and noting that 5 mSv was the benchmark to evacuate people near Chernobyl). BUT, after 311, all these standards meant nothing. Everything changed and 100 mSv was somehow ok. The standard of 20 mSv is still in place in Fukushima only (discriminate much?) for adults as well as CHILDREN. No scientists ever since brought up a true reason or scientific data as to why it is ok now for Japanese children to be contaminated at such levels (internally and externally). Nope … no explanation needed as to why, instead all we have to rely on is a bunch of clowns mocking everyone else who somehow would be worried for their children and insulting them as if they (we) were complete clueless over-emotional morons. I am one of these morons and I have been helping in taking kids away from Fukushima. I will continue to do so and won’t be offended by that LDP’s little soldier, nor by any of you. After all, you are breathing, inhaling and being exposed with the same contaminants as we (I) do. We do have an advantage though; we are protecting our loved ones by choosing not to believe the criminals from the Fukushima Medical University, ETHOS etc … So laugh all you want! We don’t really care at this point. Bottom line; everything over 1 mSv is ILLEGAL and morally wrong. And that ladies and gents is the mother of all truth on this subject. Enjoy your bequerels!

  • Rod Adams

    The minister has nothing to apologize for. She did not blame the people who are afraid, she blamed those who have imposed that fear based on loud campaigns against all doses of radiation no matter how small.

    The groundless fears can be dispelled by clear communications from leaders and knowledgable professions describing the experimental facts revealed during more than 100 years of experience with radiation.

    We know that high doses are harmful and should be avoided. We have just as high a level of certainty about acute doses below 100 mSv. There is no evidence of negative human health effects, but there is a growing body of evidence that doses below that level can stimulate immune responses and cellular level protective measures that provide a positive health effect similar to that received from moderate exercise or proper nutrition that includes adequate levels of necessary vitamins and minerals.

    There are plenty of credentialed people who will vehemently disagree with my stated level of certainty, but unless they are dishonestly motivated by job protection or donations by people interested in promoting competitive technologies, they will not be able to make a statement with solid experimental evidence contradicting me.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

  • nelsonsurjon

    We are not talking about the same source of radiation … but i think you know that already !

  • Sam Gilman

    Thank you – and that’s an excellent blog. I think it’s great the way that you take the issue of numbers and go over what they actually mean. Throwing around numbers confidently without explaining what they actually imply for health or the environment is a classic fear tactic.

    (I doubt I am more knowledgeable than you!)

  • Sam Gilman

    Thank you – and that’s an excellent blog. I think it’s great the way that you take the issue of numbers and go over what they actually mean. Throwing around numbers confidently without explaining what they actually imply for health or the environment is a classic fear tactic.

    (I doubt I am more knowledgeable than you!)

  • Rainer Klute

    No need to excuse for calling something scientifically groundless that is scientifically groundless! If Marukawa should excuse for anything at all, it’s for not confronting the radiation fearmongers more articulate and for not explaining clearly what science says about the biological effects of radiation. No need to worry below 100 millisieverts per year!