The photo accompanying the Aug. 6 article by The Washington Post, titled “Opening of Iwaki beaches offer semblance of normalcy,” belies any notion of a typical summer day at Nakoso Beach. The two lovely young ladies look as though they’re having a lovely afternoon, but in the background the beach looks deserted, forlorn. Hardly the image of a fun-filled sunny, summer holiday.
The scene gives rise to the suspicion that these two women were asked to pose for the photo simply to give the beach a “semblance of normalcy” — when, in reality, places like Iwaki, a mere 70 km from Fukushima’s radioactive ground zero, are anything but normal and won’t be for a hundred years or more. When I read that Iwaki’s tourism division had decided not to close the beach, I was reminded of the beach scene from the American film “Jaws.”
Who wants to swim at a beach where the lifeguard must lower a dosimeter into the water every few hours to measure radioactive contamination levels?!
And just how reliable is the dosimeter that workers use? Was it provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.? Who can you trust? What if the radioactivity levels along the shore suddenly spike for some reason just as a busload of holiday makers hit the surf?
Recent reports from Tepco on the conditions at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant give no reason for optimism or renewed trust. Who wants to spend an afternoon on a beach surrounded by a landscape still in need of much decontamination work? I would want to know a lot more about the tide and the ocean currents along that 70-km distance from Fukushima to Iwaki before I’d venture into the ocean at Nakoso Beach. Sorry.
Immediately after the 3/11 disaster, the U.S. government recommended that every location within an 80-km radius of the stricken nuclear power plant should have been declared off limits. Until Tepco is willing to provide accurate radioactive contamination data on a daily basis to the Japanese public, or allow an independent outside agency to provide such information, you know what tourism managers can do with their dosimeters.
Separately, is Tepco making any effort to compensate the local fishermen in Iwaki for their lost income? How can these struggling fishermen survive when their catch is said to be worth only 20 percent of what it was before the Fukushima nuclear disaster?
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.