JOC delegates in radiation spin control

Media trip up team while it tried to put best foot forward

by and

Kyodo, AP

What should have been a resounding kickoff for the Tokyo 2020 bid with the International Olympic Committee’s vote coming Saturday turned into a fencing match as bid chief Tsunekazu Takeda tried to parry questions from the media about the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Takeda, who is president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, and Fujio Cho, president of the Japan Sports Association and honorary chairman of Toyota Motor Corp., held a media event Wednesday in Buenos Aires to pitch Tokyo’s proposed marketing program and emphasize the capital’s certainty to deliver the games in first-class style.

A space-aged, 34-cm robot called Mirata, was brought on stage as a symbol of Japan’s technological excellence. It demonstrated exercises, stretches and fencing maneuvers with Yuki Ota, winner of two Olympic silver medals in fencing and a delegate for Tokyo 2020.

But it was Takeda, speaking in English for most of the news conference, who appeared to be doing a robot act as he repeatedly delivered the same talking points. Four of the six questions asked by reporters were about Fukushima.

Takeda sent a letter to IOC members on Aug. 27, reassuring them that Tokyo is “completely unaffected” by the problem of radiation-contaminated water at Fukushima No. 1.

Asked whether he is more concerned privately than he is letting on publicly, Takeda said, “I sent a letter to IOC members, I think last week, and I mentioned Fukushima. Now, Tokyo is very safe. The water, the seafood and also the radiation is absolutely safe. Our prime minister, Mr. (Shinzo) Abe, officially announced the government’s response for this problem and already started the project.”

Takeda was referring to the government’s announcement to provide ¥47 billion for measures to deal with the huge volume of radioactive water accumulating at the plant, but he failed to answer the question of how it might influence the vote. Abe is scheduled to give an explanation to IOC members on the day of the vote.

“The radiation level in Tokyo is the same as London, New York and Paris, like the major cities in the world. It’s absolutely safe,” Takeda said. “There are 35 million people living there in very normal conditions with no worries about this problem.”

Asked whether worries from IOC members could weigh against the bid, Takeda again said: “I already explained the radiation level in the water or food is absolutely safe. Same as here (in Buenos Aires). We’re not concerned about this problem in Tokyo and also 2020 Tokyo.”

Finally, he was asked whether IOC members, who will vote Saturday on the host city, are questioning him about the crisis, irrespective of the safety of radiation levels, and he answered in Japanese.

“The prime minister will explain in a way that reassures people in the presentation,” he said. “The water and food is absolutely safe. The radiation levels are the same as in London, Paris, New York or here.”

He added that Fukushima is more than 200 km from the capital and in that sense there is no reason for alarm.

“They’re not dealing with the issue,” said Duncan Mackay, founder and publisher of insidethegames, a publication that features in-depth analyses of all things Olympic. “The issue isn’t whether the (radiation) situation is the same as London, New York or Paris. London, Paris and New York aren’t bidding for the games. Tokyo is. The perception internationally and among some IOC members is that Fukushima is an issue.”

Fukushima was so much of a distraction that Tokyo’s real agenda became almost an afterthought. Cho said Toyota is ready to become a sponsor of the 2020 Games if Tokyo, which is competing against Madrid and Istanbul, is selected as the host.

“Of course, if the Olympics come to Tokyo, Toyota plans to be a sponsor,” he said. “We have already been helping the bid. You can be sure that Japanese companies will be lining up to become business partners of the 2020 Games.”

Meanwhile, representatives of Istanbul and Madrid, the two other cities bidding for the games, were themselves forced to fend off criticism over various aspects of their bids. The Istanbul officials were grilled about a string of doping cases that have embarrassed the bid, while Madrid’s envoys were also quizzed about doping, as well as Spain’s 27 percent unemployment rate.

All three cities present liabilities and IOC members voting Saturday may settle for the location with the fewest question marks over it. Though Tokyo is seen as the slight favorite by some, for most the race is considered too close to call.

  • Steve Novosel

    “The issue isn’t whether the (radiation) situation is the same as
    London, New York or Paris. London, Paris and New York aren’t bidding for
    the games. Tokyo is. The perception internationally and among some IOC
    members is that Fukushima is an issue.”

    What a nonsense comment. The question was asked and answered. What more would you like him to say?

  • Sam Gilman

    Dave Hueston: do YOU believe Tokyo is under threat from radiation?

    If you do, perhaps you could come to the comments and talk about it so your fears can be put to rest. What Takeda says is perfectly and uncontroversially correct.

    If not, what was the point of this article?

  • Dad

    Inverse square law. Let’s see. 1. ~200Km radius from THREE complete plutonium and mox nuclear meltdowns -or- 2. 10,838Km away from THREE plutonium and mox nuclear meltdowns. Ummm, let me think here. Uh, I’ll take door number two please!

    • Sam Gilman

      I don’t think you’ve quite grasped the inverse square law, Dad. Double the distance, quarter the dose.

      If the measurement is 2200mSv/hour at 5cm, then then at 200km, it will be

      2200 / ((20,000,000/5) x (20,000,000/5))

      Which is:


      Which is:

      0.0000000001375 mSv/hour

      Which, if we ignore the difference between acute and chronic exposure and take 4 sieverts as the fatal dose, would take around 3,320,880,000 years to kill you.

      By a strange coincidence, this is roughly as long as life has taken to evolve from a single-cell organism into the people having this discussion about the inverse square law.

      If you prefer New York for the delis, fair enough. I wouldn’t choose it for the lower radiation. New York has more.

      • Dad

        Actually I do understand it and was using this as a rhetorical tool. New York, does not have “more radiation” in terms of radioactive compounds in the water and food supply. And as a scientist, you would understand the even more important aspect of the inverse square law relative to the risk of living near 3 Chernobyls. That is, internal exposures put the source of radiation right up against cells undergoing mitotic division and at the same time adversely affect T cell mediated cellular immunity and surveillance. That is a double whammy that causes oncogenic changes that after a tad of unchecked angiogenesis cause one of a number of related conditions known as cancer. Your calculations are for background radiation (which is far less relevant to human health).

        But as they say about Jews during Hitler’s rise to power, the pessimists fled the country and the optimists stayed…and were killed. I get the feeling that many who are posting optimistic assertions that all-is-okay-in-Japan opinions are people who LIVE in Japan. They (understandably) want to feel that everything is fine and dandy. But sometimes a false sense of security is a BAD thing.

      • Sam Gilman

        Sorry Dad, but you’ve not demonstrated understanding of the inverse square law. It’s about levels of radiation at various distances from a point source. You started out citing the importance of the difference between 200km from source and 10,000km with reference to the inverse square rule. However, as I showed, from the point of view of human health, these distances are quite indistinguishable in their level of safety. They’re both simply Very, Very Far Away.

        Unfortunately, you don’t take correction very well.

        Indeed, you say “oh, no, it’s about ingestion and ingested radioactive material being no distance from human bodies”, which is basically you trying to change the subject. Alas, the inverse square rule is pretty irrelevant in cases of ingestion of radioactive materials. What really matters is where the radioactive element is absorbed (iodine in the thyroid, radium in bones etc., plutonium actually not really anywhere.) and the half-life. Please don’t try and pretend you have a specialism where you don’t.

        Then you try to imply that the inverse square law is about the distribution of radioactive materials following a release. Except it isn’t; it’s a very poor way of modelling, owing to things like wind, gravity in general, the weight of the various elements, the trajectory of emissions and so on. Tokyo is no longer under any threat at all of receiving dangerous radioactive material from Fukushima. After all, why do you think there have been hotspots, rather than a uniform distribution of material?

        I’m sorry, but the funniest bit is where you’ve gone and dug out your high school biology notes to try and scare me away with long words like “angiogenesis”, taking care to mix it up with a smug world weary tone to cover your tracks. Can I summarise that whole section for you? “Radiation can cause malignant cancers”. Well done you for spotting that. However, the challenge for you is demonstrating that there is radiation at levels or in places which have any hope in hell (a hope I really hope you don’t share) of causing cancer in Tokyo. I notice that in none of your claims are there any numbers about radiation whatsoever that we can go and check on. This has, I’m afraid, been par for the course for people determined by hook or by crook to “prove”, for whatever personal reason, that lots of Japanese are going to die of cancer.

        A case in point is your description of Fukushima as “three Chernobyls”. What do you mean by this? It’s not true in terms of radioactive releases (you’re out by about a factor of twenty), or health (a factor of – who knows, but probably up to a thousand), or what actually happened to the plants. If what you mean is “reactors that have suffered meltdown”, then even then you’ve not understood what happened at Chernobyl (the core containment blew open and core material was projected into the air by a fire). I hate to be rude, but your confident tone is completely at odds with the knowledge you put on display.

        Anyway, what about your claims that Tokyo has more radioactive water and food? Tokyo food is monitored intensely, and the safety standards are ten times stricter; it’s pretty difficult for anyone to say if New York’s food is more or less radioactive, although I notice you’re happy to state something as fact that you can’t possibly know. But worse: the water supplies in both New York and Tokyo are monitored regularly for radioactive substances. As of a couple of days ago, both had undetectable levels of radioactive substances. So when you say Tokyo’s water supply contains more than New York’s, it’s quite clear you’ve either simply made that up or taken the idea from someone else who made it up..

        You say I’m a scientist. I’m not. And quite clearly, neither are you.

        You clearly have your own personal reasons for disparaging Japan and defending your decision to move back home – that’s all up to you. However, those reasons and the motivations that clearly burn inside you are quite disconnected from a scientific issue such as levels of radiation and the threat to human health.

        The references to Hitler are just weird, by the way. Be careful, or you’ll come across like you would like people in Tokyo to be suffering from radiation.

      • Dad

        Like I said, I was being cute with the distance calculations from New York, but I guess you didn’t take the humor well. As a matter of fact, I am in the real world a well published medical scientist with a specialization in cancer immunology. So I assumed you were a scientist as well, since you were able to describe the maths. As I am sure you also know, the inverse square rule is especially relevant at close distances, as in those distances between DNA and the source from within a cellular membrane, for instance.

        With oncogenesis, the point is not single-exposure lethal dose from the radiation itself or maximum acute dose but how many times DNA gets cut and mutated over time in a given cell when replicating many times. This happens quite easily when strontium or cesium concentrates in various organs or is dispersed. Specific to cesium, an analysis of mutations in 10 individuals accidentally exposed to cesium-137 during the 1987 radiological accident in Goiania, Brazil., peripheral T-lymphocyte samples were obtained 3.3 years after the original exposure and mutation was studied at the hprt locus using the 6-thioguanine-resistance selection assay. The mutational spectrum for the exposed population was comprised of 90 independent mutants. Based on T-cell receptor analysis, only 5% (5/95) were clonally related. Mutants were initially studied using RT-PCR and directly sequenced using an automated laser fluorescent DNA sequencer. Mutants that repeatedly failed to produce cDNAs were studied using a multiplex PCR assay with genomic DNA. Missense mutations were the most frequent event recovered, comprising 40% (23/57) of the spectral sample. An excess of events involving A:T base pairs was observed, exhibiting a significant difference (chi square = 12.7, P = 0.0004) when compared to the spontaneous spectrum.

        And this is only for somatic mutations, but it is at a level similar to rates seen in prokaryotic cells!

        Then one must consider the effects on having kids after being exposed. For example, in the first Belarus study the level of surface contamination by cesium-137 was used as a broad dose measure, and the children of parents inhabiting heavily contaminate areas (>250 kBq/sq m) were found to have twice the frequency of mutations compared to those of parents from less contaminated areas (<250 kBq/sq m). Note that the distances involved would place folks living throughout Kanto in a similar risk profile even at Chernobyl emission rates.

        I am so sorry for you that you are convinced that Tokyo is so safe and that things are "well monitored" when clearly they are not. Ignorance is bliss. Good luck with that strategy, really. I am glad you think that all that rice from contaminated areas is subjected to cesium 137 content analysis. And that the birds that fly in and out of there are quarantined before they poop on Kanto rice fields. You took the Hitler comments the wrong way too. Let me spoon feed. Being optimistic is sometimes stooopid. As a Jew, I do not take the Shoah lightly at all and would wish that Japanese and non-Japanese, gentile and Jew alike would be neither stupid nor dead. So there you have it. Tizku leshanim rabbot!

      • Enkidu

        Dad, Again, you’ve shown us that radiation can cause cancer, which I don’t think anyone would disagree with. However, it would be nice if you could link this back to the radiation levels we are seeing here in Tokyo and why you think they should be a concern.

        Also, your description of the Goiania incident is just a cut and paste from this abstract:
        As a well-published medical scientist, it would be interesting to hear your own thoughts on this.

        “Note that the distances involved would place folks living throughout Kanto in a similar risk profile even at Chernobyl emission rates.” This statement does not make any sense, but I am curious to know what you are trying to say, so please try again.

        “I am so sorry for you that you are convinced that Tokyo is so safe and that things are “well monitored” when clearly they are not.” Please describe why they are “clearly” not.
        Also, do you seriously think that bird poop would have a measurable impact on the radiation levels we are seeing? Please expand on this interesting statement.

      • Sam Gilman

        Here’s what I find a little unusual for someone who is a trained cancer specialist and who’s all read up about Chernobyl

        1. No proper consideration of dose-response. You admit that it’s not about a one-time hit with a radioactive particle, but subsequently fail to address what the actual levels are in Tokyo (you present zero evidence for your proposed high levels that everyone else – including private individuals and citizen groups – is missing) and what kind of risk they pose. No estimate of dose at all, no statement of expected response.

        Indeed, you seem to have no idea of the amount or nature of material or where it was deposited in the case of Fukushima. You keep on referring to it as “three Chernobyls”. That just makes you look thoroughly ill-qualified to offer any medical opinion. Dose-response is a pretty fundamental idea in the area you say you’re well-published in.

        The WHO and UNSCEAR have tried to measure the doses and clearly conclude that somewhere like Tokyo was not put at any meaningful risk from the releases. What do you find wrong with their work?

        2. On a related note, if you think the occasional birdpoop is a radiological threat to the food supply, you’re effectively treating radiation as a contagion where even tiny amounts can ultimately cause massive morbidity and mortality, not as a naturally declining phenomenon where concentrations/levels clearly matter. Any relevantly qualified specialist should know that, certainly if I do. If you’re capable of looking at scientific literature, then you’re capable of looking at the research into the relationship between exposure to various intensities of ionising radiation and the incidence of cancer.

        Instead all you do is the same thing you did last time: attempt to blind people with lots of cut and pasted sciencey words that, as Enkidu has already pointed out, boil down to what we all know: radiation can cause cancer. To repeat: What people need to know is how much cancer will probably be caused by the releases from Fukushima and in which groups of people.

        3. Your attempt to undermine trust not only in the Japanese government but in the WHO, in citizen monitoring groups, in the UNSCEAR studies, in local government, – pretty much to say, without any evidence whatsoever, that thousands of ordinary citizens, as well as a very large number of doctors, are engaged in a conspiracy theory against their own population – is remarkably unethical for someone involved in medical science. I don’t know if you’ve taken the hippocratic oath, but you’d be violating it with what you’re doing here.

        You should listen to a proper scientist – Gerry Thomas – express her feelings of guilt on finding the health impacts of the Chernobyl radiation emissions far lower than she had and others had publicly predicted, and the psychological impact on locals of hearing these doom-laden predictions being the biggest disaster. It’s quite moving. Is she part of the conspiracy?

        4. What makes you think it takes a scientist to be able to work out the inverse square rule? Kids in the UK are given that kind of stuff to calculate when they’re 14 if not earlier. Maths for adult science is a bit tougher than that.

        In general, comparing the risk of cancer from Fukushima to the Holocaust is surreal (is it another one of your jokes?). Being Jewish doesn’t inoculate you from being tin-eared when it comes to talking about other ethnic groups. Your words about “Japan” being conspiratorial, deceitful and indifferent to the suffering of others (and as I pointed out above, you clearly mean more than just TEPCO and government officials – you mean ordinary citizens, researchers and medical workers) have unfortunate but clear echoes of very common historical western prejudices about East Asians and the “yellow peril”.

        Finally: a little tip about science jokes: it helps if you get the science right. Otherwise people might start to think – unforgivably, of course – that you don’t actually know what you’re talking about.

      • Dad

        Best not to argue with pejorative cretins on the internet who have all the answers. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. You need to tell these people what they want to hear. I mean, you’re right. Obviously good scientists never cut and paste or quote from other peer reviewed research reports into their own papers. Good scientists as you indicate repeat all of the experiments themselves so that they can have their own “opinions” on the data LOL. If you are convinced that there is no radioactive fallout in Tokyo, then good luck with that. Here is some more of what you would like to hear. There were never any hydrogen explosions of units 1, 3, and 4. And even if there were hydrogen explosions at 1, 3 and 4 there were no meltdowns. And even if there were meltdowns, no fissile materials were released into the air. And even if fissile materials were released into the air, there were no hotspots. And even if there were hotspots, none of them made it so far as Yokohama, which is west of Tokyo because the winds were all blowing east. And even if there were hotspots in Yokohama, there were none in Tokyo because the radiation magically skipped over Tokyo on its way to Kanagawa-ken. The reports in the press that “In Yokohama, officials are testing samples in an area of Kohoku ward after a resident removed sediment from an apartment building roof that laboratory tests showed contained strontium found in radioactive fallout.” were not true and even if they were true they are not significant. And anyway, as stated above, there is no radioactive fallout in Tokyo, just Yokohama, so no worries! Readings of 8X background consistent with plume exposure from Fukushima were never detected at Atsugi, Camp Zuma and Sagami Depot. And even if they were detected, those readings were never reported to ALCON. And even if they were reported, they must have been faulty readings at all three locations. That’s why those data are not currently being used in pleadings by servicemen and women in civil suits against TEPCO in U.S. federal court. And even if they were used in the pleadings, they were a red herring because all those people want is money, those greedy you-know-whats! No danger here. These are not the readings you are looking for. Move along and troll elsewhere.

      • Enkidu

        I’m sorry, so what are the radiation levels you’re seeing in Tokyo and why should they be cause for concern?

        You might also be able to help yourself out by explaining why these hotspots you’re on about should be significant for someone living in Tokyo. Or maybe explain why the plume from the initial release would have a significant health impact. Again, as a well-published medical scientist, I would like to hear your view.

        Also, would you kindly respond to my initial questions?

        Thank you.

      • Sam Gilman

        Best not to argue with pejorative cretins on the internet

        This is one of the most brilliantly unself-aware openings ever. Someone who claims to be both a “medical researcher” and (as someone Jewish) concerned about a repeat of the Holocaust thinks it is acceptable to use a eugenics-based medical term for congenital physical and mental impairment as an insult. Thank you mods for letting it through. Upvote from me for the stunned laughter.

        But to the main point: “Dad” is an excellent case study in nuclear fearmongering.

        1. Exaggerated or simply false claims about expertise. The classic case is Arnie Gundersen, who has parlayed the reality of being in charge of a 100W reactor when he was a university student and half a life as a schoolteacher, into, according to some of hos devotees. management of 50 reactors, 40 years experience as an insider in the nuclear industry and being a world expert in radiation and health. Another one is Robert Alvarez, a music college dropout whose marriage to an anti-nuclear activist saw him hired as an advisor in the Clinton administration energy department and now is touted by the fearmongering set as a world expert in spent fuel pools – which he isn’t. A recent one is Christina Consolo who is an ophthalmologist claiming to be a world expert in fallout.

        And here we have “Dad”, who claims to be a well-published cancer and immunology specialist, but has such a shaky grasp of some basic ideas in his chosen specialised subject that someone who finished formal science at the rough equivalent to the end of junior high school (I have a tidy set of GCSEs) can smell a rat.

        That list of wild accusations he makes against me (of denying there were meltdowns and releases and hotspots and raised radiation levels etc etc) reveals an interesting point. Even though he’s supposed to be a cancer expert, he clearly doesn’t know the difference between radiation in general, and harmful levels of radiation in particular.

        2. Hair-trigger hostility to being challenged. Helen Caldicott is famously incapable of calm discussion. When former UK Green Party science advisor Chris Busby was asked about useless mineral pills being sold by his foundation at four times the Japanese market price to “protect” the “children of Fukushima” from radiation, he made no attempt to defend himself but told the highly experienced Guardian environmental journalist George Monbiot to f### off. He famously described all physicists as “idiots”.

        Here, I get called a cretin, before he flounces off, for asking “Dad” to address the actual situation in terms of radiation doses and cancer outcomes rather than repeat various technical descriptions of how cancer is caused by radiation in general.

        The thing is, I’ve seen proper scientists react to idiotic non experts – the situation that the “expert” Dad here wants to tell the world is happening. Before anything else, they go calm, try to use simple language, resort where they can to high school textbooks to get across the point that this person knows nothing. They patronise. They generally flip out only through exasperation after exploring every avenue.

        3. Promotion of conspiracy theory. As I pointed out above, in the Western imagination a place like Japan is fertile ground. Chris Busby claims the Japanese government is covering the entire country in radioactive material in order to conceal cancer increases around Fukushima – and his crowd believe him. Helen Caldicott promotes the idea that the World Health Organisation is an agent of the global nuclear industry and an amazing number of people believe her, including people published by this paper.

        “Dad” wants you to believe that in Japan, a large number of people across a large number of government, private, international, voluntary, medical and research organisations representing “Japan” have all got together and decided to steal his essential essences hide the true level of radiation from us. One wonders if, during his stay here, he used to check under the bed for yellow monsters.

        While I have time for people who have been genuinely frightened by what is happening at Fukushima, and who have been bombarded with messages from the likes of Dad and others, these quack fearmongerers themselves really need to be called out for what they are. At a certain point, the spreading of disinformation simply becomes malicious.

      • Dad

        Nah, you are right Sam! Shame on me. Better for readers to go along and accept the “there ain’t no radiation here and even if there is then it’s at a bloody safe level” opinion from someone who admittedly has not earned solid A levels in the maths and sciences, than G-d forbid listen carefully to the allegedly delusional ranting of an actual cancer immunologist who has researched and taught at Cambridge among other fine institutions– and who is a senior member of a proper Cambridge college. That is indeed how the public can be better ‘informed”. You’re right. Start learnin’ these here reader folks real good ’bout how radiation ain’t so dangerous and stuff so they ain’t scared no more by the likes of a country boy like me. Listnin’ to the likes of me would be downright malicious! And BTW, where did them there hotspots in New Town where I used to live disappear to by chance? Nah, on second thought, why don’t we just listen to you and stick our collective heads back in the sand. That there sand sure looks warm and cozy! Yeeehaw.

      • Sam Gilman

        Making further, more extreme, anonymous claims about your alleged qualified expertise is just silly at this point. If I had identified as Irish, would you have claimed membership from Trinity College Dublin to impress me instead?

        You’ve been asked very politely by several people to back up several controversial claims, and have failed to do so.

        1. The WHO and UNSCEAR research teams do not view exposures in Tokyo as any kind of meaningful risk, only those close to the plant, a conclusion supported by the head of the Chernobyl tissue bank (who actually thinks the risk is even less) and researchers both inside and outside Japan. You have failed to explain where you think they all went wrong and you with your Internet connection are going right.

        2. You have failed to make any clear statement linking exposure dose and possible cancer risk. You’ve said eight times background is dangerous, but actually, eight times background results in a chronic annual accumulated dosage that is roughly eighteen times lower than the lowest acute dosage ever observed to have any effect in the most vulnerable people (the very young). You have failed, despite repeated requests, to give any meaningful evidence for the raised levels in Tokyo that happened following the explosions – including hotspots – let alone what levels are now, being dangerous.

        3. Despite requests, you have failed to make clear why you think the releases from Fukushima are larger and worse for health than those at Chernobyl, when all recognised estimates say quite the reverse. You have also failed to elaborate on your extraordinary claim that defecating birds are a radiological risk.

        So forgive me for not believing that you’re a senior member of a “proper” Cambridge college. Not unless the SCRs have taken to adopting mascots. I like the idea of improper colleges though. They sound fun.

        Of course, you are welcome to persuade me otherwise by actually addressing the questions above, instead of hurling politically incorrect abuse, and making things up about what I have said to try make me look bad rather than dealing with what I have actually said. You are welcome to demonstrate that you aren’t actually just another oddball who gets a weird kick out of scaring people for no reason. How about it?

      • Dad

        Nope, Sam, never been to Ireland. I am of part Irish descent though. Hence, the pasty white skin and freckles. ;-) Your avatar looks pretty …ummm… grey by comparison. Wonder what ethnicity that is from? LOL Why do you think that living and doing research at Cambridge must be silly or untrue? Come on now, you imply that you are more intelligent and in-the-know than “fake” me, so use some deductive reasoning, Google, Twitter and Linked-in. You will find out that this is all true. On the other hand, in contrast with my “anonymous” claims backed with a photo of me, your pseudonymous claims that the levels of radiation in Tokyo’s food supply are indeed BOTH silly AND untrue. There was an article today in this very newspaper about how farmers have recommenced rice agriculture just 20 kilometers away from the meltdowns. Did they ship in soil from another part of Japan, just to be safe? Nah, didn’t think so. When you finally find out who I am will you man up and take back all your rants about my supposedly manufactured academic background? Didn’t think so. In fact I expect heightened ad-hominem attacks. So, while you’re at it, why don’t you go first and explain where all the hotspots have disappeared to. You haven’t answered MY well-intentioned queries, have you? Geez that sand looks awful warm and cozy. Just makes one want to bury his head there doesn’t it! Oops, I think that MOX derivatives are what’s making the sand warm…. Ouch!

      • Sam Gilman

        Dad, I think it’s obvious by now to everybody you’re not any kind of expert, but someone unsuccessfully pretending to be one. I’ve been direct about it, but the sarcasm dripping from the questions put by those posters with actual higher level scientific training should have made you realise the game was up a while ago. You can’t answer the simplest questions, you’re making high school science errors, and the more you’re pressed on providing evidence that you’re an expert in the form of, well, expertise, the more your posts come across as a kind of odd stream of consciousness bluster.

        Let’s put aside that bluster. Very few people will be reading these comments by now, so this is kind of a private conversation between us. Indulge me.

        Why do you do it? Why do you go onto the Internet to troll people and pretend to be someone you’re not? Why do it on a subject that involves cancers and deaths and things like that? Is this really the best use of your time?

      • Dad

        Right back at you “Sam”…. “Why do you do it? Why do you go onto the Internet to troll people and pretend to be someone you’re not? Why do it on a subject that involves cancers and deaths and things like that? Is this really the best use of your time?” Indeed. Especially since I am in real life a real scientist with a real doctorate degree and real publications in actual peer reviewed journals in the field of “cancer and deaths” [sic] and you have done none of the above. My thesis was specifically in the “cancer and deaths” field of immune responses to colon cancer, so for me research into “cancer and deaths” is a matter of many years of my life work behind a bench in a lab. That’s why I care about it. I also care about it because uninformed non-scientist “posters” like you should not be giving Japanese people or others a false sense of security. That is highly immoral IMHO.

      • Sam Gilman

        So you think the World Health Organisation is immoral for saying that for the general population inside and outside of Japan, the predicted risks are low and no observable increases in cancer rates above baseline rates are anticipated, do you?

        You think the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation are immoral for saying “It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers” to radiation, do you?

        You think these researchers are immoral when they find that children 50km from Fukushima have a year later undetectable levels of caesium in their bodies, meaning they’re not eating any meaningfully harmful dose of radioactive caesium, if any?

        You think the head of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank is immoral to say about Fukushima, based on her doubtless in your view immoral work logging the effects of the Chernobyl disaster “it’s not a health problem because none of this [radiation release] is going to do anything health-wise”, do you?

        Do you even know where Tokyo is on a map?

      • Dad

        Yes sir. Because for every one of those anecdotes I can cite peer reviewed journal articles that contradict those silly notions. I have tried that and then was criticized (by non-scientists) for copying peer reviewed articles. Go figure. But I can see why you might *want* to believe all that crap science. I really understand that primal denial urge. And I am empathetic regarding this. It is a hard wired part of the genome. And believe it or not, I know where Tokyo is and even what a genome is too! I lived in Kanagawa-ken (within half a kilometer of where some of the hotspots were found in New Town) while I held a research post at IMSUT… among other endeavors. Now why are YOU trolling? What motivates YOU? If I am so obviously off base, then why not just drop it?

      • Sam Gilman

        Dad, I’m afraid your tactic of pretending to be a qualified medical researcher is backfiring again through you showing your unfamiliarity with some basic ideas. I really do advise against this sort of thing on the Internet as it really doesn’t help your case (it makes you look if not dishonest, then simply a bit unhinged). Try to let your sources speak for you instead.

        Your problem is that “anecdote” has a specific and well-known meaning in research, whether that’s natural science or social science: it’s a single report of an instance of a phenomenon: a story. In this situation it would be something like “I know someone who did a radiation reading in their back garden and it was x.xx uSv/hour and five years later their kid got a rare cancer”. While these reports can be useful for prompting more thorough investigations, they cannot be seen as representative of a population you’re studying nor indeed do they show any kind of definitive link at all. They’re just personal stories that have been picked up, often because they are unusual or confirm the bias of the researcher.

        On the other hand what you mistakenly describe as “anecdote” are either population studies looking systematically at a large number of people (a sample) where there has been some effort to ensure a high probability that the conclusions we can draw apply to the whole of the population we’re interested in, or systematic dose estimates used to apply current models of radiation dose-response to the population. Being systematic and broad in coverage, they’re the opposite of anecdotes. The exception to this is the comment by Thomas, but that’s not an anecdote either, but an expert opinion which is backed up by her extensive and well-respected publication track record on the topic.

        This sort of stuff is covered in undergraduate research methods classes in medicine; a professional medical researcher simply wouldn’t make the mistake you do. It would be like a car mechanic mistaking the front and back of a car.

        Also, despite your claim, you didn’t actually cite any peer reviewed studies to contradict anyone else. What you actually did was copy and paste from one paper without any attribution or indication that these were not your own words (for an “expert” like you staking your reputation like this, it’s plagiarism – and believe me, trained researchers avoid that like the ruddy plague, as it ruins careers). Also, the study did not, as people spelled out to you in fairly plain English, contradict a single thing anyone else had said. Everyone knows that radiation can cause cancer; the issue that you fail to address is the relationship between the level of radiation and the expected incidence of cancer. That you don’t understand that the paper you cited doesn’t contradict what other people are saying suggests that you don’t understand the topic very well.

        The thing is, there is nothing wrong with not knowing about or understanding everything about a difficult subject like radiation and health; personally, I’m always open to being corrected if someone provides evidence. There is something wrong, however, with brazenly pretending that you do know or understand expertly when clearly you don’t.

        Now, regardless of whatever claims you are going to continue to make about yourself (I’m making no claims about myself for example, just citing mainstream research), if you do know of peer-reviewed studies that contradict the scientific basis upon which the WHO, UNSCEAR and others make their predictions of minimal health impacts on the general population from the radiation releases (and limited to those living close to the plant), it would be helpful if you could cite them, rather simply going on and on about how much you know better than some of the leading experts in the world in the field of radiation and health.

        By the way, you ask me why I don’t drop the issue. It’s because you are providing me with the opportunity to show others how Internet fearmongers like you operate. I cite leading research organisations and leading researchers in the field of radiation and health, and you dismiss them as “crap” while offering not a scrap of evidence in return. You make incredible claims about your own expertise while making errors so basic they can be picked up by non-science specialists who’ve done the most cursory reading on the subject. And, as I’ve pointed out before, you’ve got a very short fuse when you’re challenged. It’s like you don’t have a plan B when someone calls your bluff.

        As ever, you are welcome to prove me wrong with links to good sources. That’s how proper debate works on the Internet. Not through bad language and asserting that you’re right, regardless of evidence.

      • Dad

        That’s a load of [fill in the blank]. Anecdote has no such super secret specific meaning in “research”. And just how would you know this super secret language without any A levels anyway??? How many peer reviewed articles have you authored or co-authored? A really quick and dirty pubmed search on myself just now found 14 of them with an impact factor over 3.0. A USPTO search showed 5 issued patents with me as inventor. And yet you persist with the pseudoscience and personal attacks. Get off it, please. What a boar. [sic]

      • Sam Gilman

        OK. I’ll try a different tack. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are who you think you are, which appears to be the Nobel Prize Winning Professor of Radiological Ornithodefecation at the University of Caltech Oxbridge at Harvardyale, and I’m someone who apparently left school at sixteen (news to me, but hey) and that successful academics regularly tell everyone how many publications they have as a way of winning arguments without their colleagues looking at them as if they’re sad, drunken wash-ups (and that’s when these publications exist, ffs).

        Given your stratospheric expertise, why can’t you provide a single source to support your extraordinary claim that the WHO, UNSCEAR and the head of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank are doing, and I quote, “crap science”?

        It’s a hell of a claim, and you’re staking your immense reputation on it.

      • Dad

        Why do you persist with the ridiculous personal attacks? I have not exaggerated a bit. No Nobel prize, but I did found a publicly traded pharmaceutical company and I have a JD in addition to my scientific doctorate. The editor here knows my email address and real name and so understands full well that I am not lying about my background, as suggoooiiii as it may seem. I suggest you grab your laptop, head to the nearest Yoshinoya and chow on some “extra spicy” gyuudonn while you research that question about why the U.N. is not the best place to look for peer reviewed science. Then think about the flow of money to the U.N. and where it comes from. And money to the IOC, for that matter, which promulgated this article in the first place. While you are at it, ask yourself why the heck Japan, whose own national bar association says its prisons torture inmates is on the torture committee at the U.N. Even without the A levels or uni experience, and even with the extra dose of emotionalism you have been gifted with, I think you’re a decently intelligent individual. Just connect the dots and be done with it. Living in a place where you will get an inordinate amount of internal exposure to radiation than elsewhere is a choice. You have made your choice, just be happy with it. No need to convince others that it is a good idea. Blow on that gyuudonn before eating. I hear it is served extra hot.

      • Sam Gilman

        So it’s a law degree you have as well, Walter Mitty? That’s useful. I’d like to know your legal opinion on the fact that you have effectively accused, amongst others, a whole lot of named scientists in those WHO and UNSCEAR reports, of complicity in distorting research for money.

        The thing is, these people don’t receive piles of cash for helping compiles these reports. UNSCEAR funding barely covers costs of meetings. These scientists are often provided by governments as support in kind to the UN bodies.

        Now, you promised me “for every one of those anecdotes (sic) I can cite peer reviewed journal articles that contradict those silly notions”. So, instead of offering me New World Order conspiracy theories about the UN using mind control on international bodies of scientists, how about offering those reviewed journal articles?

        By the way, I have an ASA Bronze swimming badge. It’s about as relevant to the subject of health and radiation as a law degree.

      • Dad

        It’s not irrelevant to your unfounded personal attacks on my credulity and intelligence, though. ;-)

      • C.J. Bunny

        Dad, great to have an expert tumour Immunologist here. It is a field that hasn’t really been discussed much in relation to the nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima.

        You were talking about internal radiation “adversely affect[ing] T cell[-]mediated cellular immunity and surveillance”. I am interested to hear whether the worry is from internal radiation sources from food/water or from the background radiation increases. I was under the impression that increased background radiation enhanced tumour surveillance, but I’m not entirely up to date, so would be great to have some references.

        You were also using the figures of 8x background radiation: was this a peak amount you were worried about as an acute dose, or were you citing this as a likely chronic low dose, although perhaps this level was short-lived?

  • Freddie Krug

    Just desalinate the seawater to remove the radioactive material. Then dehydrate the contaminated seawater to form salt and incinerate the salt to oxidise the radioactive material. Then throw the oxidise material into big ocean faraway. Ensure thick vegetation on contaminated soil. Same process for the contaminated grass.

  • John Grey

    Very funny !

    The idea that the rest of the world give the Olympic Games to Japan, is a joke!
    A country that has shown its incompetence and corruption by allowing a Nuclear Power Plant to be built so unsafe, and then because of its utter incompetence lets the cleanup operation makes the country a laughing stock in every other country….

    These Olympic games are 7 years away. Given the present state of Fukushima one has to laugh at the thought that anyone outside Japan would be stupid enough to take a risk like that.

    You are dreaming

    • C.J. Bunny

      John Grey, still laughing at that thought?

  • The media did not “trip up” Takeda, they tripped all over themselves trying to create a gotcha moment or a controversy. The fact that four reporters asked the same question one after another is not indicative of Takeda not answering the question (he did, the first time around), it is indicative of him not answering the question the way the reporters wanted him too. There was no point-counterpoint, no reporter stepped up and said something like “You say it is safe, however I have this report from the IAEA which says different, how do you respond?” or anything like that. If I was the editor in charge of the second, third or fourth reporter to ask the question I would be having a talk with them this morning telling them they either needed to learn how to ask a question that had not already been answered or learn how to challenge a claim made in a press conference with actual facts – and if they couldn’t do either they needed to learn another trade.

    The problem is “reporters” like Duncan MacKay who have a appear to have perception based on willful ignorance of facts and science, not Takeda’s straightforward answering of a question.

  • Max Erimo

    Maybe the question to ask is can Japan afford the time and financial burden of the Olympics when it can’t find the time, money or more importantly the will to deal with the FUKUSHIMA PROBLEM. Having let the plant leak, bubble and fester for two years they have alot to make up for.

  • Dad

    Let’s see Tokyo is ~200 km from 3 nuclear meltdowns. NYC is 10,000 km away. Ummm. Lemme think about this. ummm I choose door number 2!

  • I really do think concerns about Fukushima affecting the Olympic bid is unfair. The point made by Japanese officials that the radiation level of Tokyo is not high is a perfectly reasonable point. As I have pointed out to my mother and sister, who live in Boston, the ambient radiation there is three times that of Tokyo.

  • Dad

    The world must DEMAND a solution. The Chernobyl disaster was contained as quickly as possible, although perhaps not perfectly. But Japan has done nothing but lie, cover up, obfuscate, minimize the issue, and delay some more. Japan has been more focused on saving face rather than saving lives. For some background information, google Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plan sarcophagus to learn about Chernobyl’s containment. After all, isnt Japanese ingenuity supposed to be beyond compare??

    • Toolonggone

      Yeah, yeah, I know what your point is. The GOJ is worthy of blame for deliberate procrastination and willful indifference. No doubt about it. But are local organizers at fault for this overall distraction; and hence, deserve grilling by those who actually don’t have any dealings with political affairs?

    • Sam Gilman

      Can you describe in detail – and in your own words, not CP’ed – what you understand about what happened at Chernobyl, and why the releases from a single reactor were so much higher than from the three here combined? It’s really relevant to why the decision was made not to copy the Chernobyl solution.

      By the way, if you’re going to talk about “Japan” making decisions, “Japan” lying, “Japan” covering up, rather than the Japanese government, or TEPCO, you’re really going to struggle to get a handle on the situation. I don’t know how well you know the country, but the entire population does not move in lock step.

  • Toolonggone

    Hate to say this, but those who have the stakes in hosting Olympic games concern the safety of the city most. PM Abe and Olympic bid chair Takeda made it very clear in their respective speeches. “Tokyo is free of nuclear radiation” is a very strong word that invokes the rhetorical disconnection with Fukushima and its neighboring prefectures. That’s why evacuees and local residents became very concerned with Tokyo’s win, with the fear that it could serve as a distraction from slow progress of de-contamination and reconstruction plan.