Japan: angry Fukushima citizens confront government (video)

The video above documents what I am told is a meeting between Fukushima residents and government officials from Tokyo, said to have taken place on 19 July 2011. The citizens are demanding their government evacuate people from a broader area around the Fukushima nuclear plant, because of ever-increasing fears about the still-spreading radiation. They are demanding that their government provide financial and logistical support to get out. In the video above, you can see that some participants actually brought samples of their children's urine to the meeting, and they demanded that the government test it for radioactivity. When asked by one person at the meeting about citizens' right to live a healthy and radioactive-free life, Local Nuclear Emergency Response Team Director Akira Satoh replies "I don't know if they have that right." Boing Boing reader Rob Pongi spotted this online and sent this in to us. I asked him for more info.
The current evacuation zone in Fukushima is only 20-30 kilometers. The Japanese government has compensated the evacuees from inside that zone and has financially supported them in moving out of it. However, as more and more high levels of radiation are being discovered outside of the evacuation zone, many more Fukushima residents (and many others located nearby Fukushima) want the government to also help them logistically and financially so that they can move out further away from the nuclear plants. Especially since many children are now being exposed. But the government does not want to do this at all and many people are getting very upset. This video was filmed in Fukushima at the Corasse Fukushima Building on July 19, 2011. The meeting was entitled "Japanese Government Discussion - Demands for Evacuation Authority". This meeting was attended by residents of Fukushima and some Representatives for the Nuclear Safety Commission Of Japan. It was filmed by some anonymous members of the "Save Child" website. This site includes Japanese news about the Fukushima Nuclear disaster, advice on how to avoid contamination, and many, many related videos. This site is much like enenews.com on steroids! I checked domaintools.com and the name of the registration is private. You can see the original Japanese videos of this meeting on the Save Child website here (English), and on Youtube here. This video was translated by pejorativeglut. And, for sure, the English subtitles are correct. I was not involved in the production of this video.


  1. The subtitles are mostly accurate.  There’s a couple of literary flourishes (“where on Earth is safe? was really just “Where _is_ safe?”).  Otherwise, this is mid-level bureaucrats just avoiding answers.  They were not authorized to answer about rights, so they didn’t.

  2. Wow, local councils don’t have every answer at their fingertips and flub an answer. Shocking.

    Seriously, how many people here have been to their local city/town/village council meeting? Looks pretty similar to me.

      1. Just a small one – that people sometimes say stupid things. That extends from you an I everyday up to nuclear boards and heads of state. Fifty years ago they’d have been ignored as a flub, an incorrect statement – a brain fart. Now they make the news. Maybe it was just me, but this didn’t sound like an official dismissive stance – it’s just what this guy said – poorly – when confronted.

        1. The actual statement was a deflection less than a flub.  He clearly wasn’t authorized to say anything and basically offered one or two vague platitudes without answering any questions, ignored the attendees and then walked away with them following him the entire way asking him to do what apparently they’d promised they’d do (in this case, test their children’s urine for radioactivity).

          People aren’t reacting to a single statement, but the behavior on display in the entire video.  FWICT, this sort of ‘show up to take some abuse and stonewall’ method is somewhat established in Japan, but  it clearly isn’t working in this video.  The residents aren’t having it and the minor beuracrat refuses to even acknowledge their questions.  He isn’t saying ‘No’ and he isn’t saying ‘Yes’, he’s actually not saying much of anything and it infuriates the audience more than anything else.

    1. Let’s be clear, here: we’re not talking about a regional town council of a location of 500 people. We’re talking a prefecture with four cities with populations in the six-figure range, with the city of Fukushima having over 200,000 residents.  These aren’t small town bureaucrats, but members of the federal agency responsible for Nuclear Safety…at a meeting THEY held entitled “Japanese Government Discussion – Demands for Evacuation Authority”. This wasn’t an ambush and from the looks of things, this was exactly what they were supposed to be there to talk about.  But it’s clear they were hoping that everyone would tow the line and not question authority….but things have gone too far for that, now.

    2. Are you for real? Most city councils arent having to deal with the fact that their town & its residents are being exposed to dangerous levels of radiactivity!. I’d like to see if you think your point about councils not having answers is reasonable when its your family & kids being exposed. For years now the Soviets were done down for taking 36 hours to evacuate Pripyat and the other contaminated territorys their response to Chernobyl looks positively proffessional compared to the response of the Japanese authorities. These people are living with levels of radiation after 4 months that triggered evacuation after 4 days in Chernobyl. The japanese authorities are a joke!

  3. Nobody has ever lived a “radioactive-free” life, even before Fukushima, even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  A more realistic question is when they can get back down to a reasonable background level.  I’d still like to see this radiation release expressed in terms of equivalent number of above-ground nuclear tests.

    1. U need to learn some more science dude, there is a huge difference between nturally existing radioactivity and man-made radioactivity it’s not just a question of levels. Natural radioacitivity is not benign either, in areas where there are naturally’ high levels of radioactivity such as Kerala in India there is a significant and correllated higher incidence of infant mortality & birth defects. There are over 600 radioisotopes being spewed from Fukushima of those none are at concentrations found in nature, naturally occuring radioactivity is EXTREMELY diffuse in nature & NOT found in the concentrations that we create when we mine Uranium, So yes we were living a radioactive free life before WWII free of man-made radioisotopes, weapons testing is not benign exposure either nor does it justify further exposure. It is know amongst biologists that exposure heightens your radiosensitivity it does not immunise you against it so your insinuation that it’s ok cos we’re all exposed to weapons test fall out is disingenous also. Why dont you go live there if you think it’s so safe?

  4. http://www.examiner.com/civil-rights-in-jersey-city/japan-passes-law-to-cleanse-internet-of-bad-fukushima-radiation-news

    “The government of Japan has issued an official order to
    telecommunications companies and web masters to censor reports which
    contradict the state media reports that the Fukushima nuclear radiation
    disaster is over.”Continue reading on Examiner.com Japan Passes Law To Cleanse Internet Of “Bad” Fukushima Radiation News – Jersey City Civil Rights | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/civil-rights-in-jersey-city/japan-passes-law-to-cleanse-internet-of-bad-fukushima-radiation-news#ixzz1T9VpNcaL
    WTF Japan? and I don’t mean that as funny. Are they a free and democratic society or not?

  5. Is there any interesting data on what the radiation levels are?  Obviously we can’t trust the Japanese gov’t, and I see local people’s reporting CPM’s or other questionable readings from their home-made Geiger counters.  Is there any trustworthy data collected by a disinterested 3rd party?  I feel for these people, but environmental radiation is a complex thing.  Geiger counters always beep, the beeps don’t mean a lot if you don’t know what the sample being measured is.  It’s a hugely complex issue.

    1. It would be nice to get really good, verifiable data from an agency. That being said, if someone bothers to put together a working Geiger counter, don’t you think they might just look up how to read and interpret it?

  6. Not sure about the source for the Examiner story about news regarding radiation being suppressed. Just a few days ago there was a whole segment on a major news network (TBS) about a group of volunteers, mostly foreigners living in Japan, who have mobilized with their own geiger counters and are taking readings all over Fukushima to help provide more data and context to the radiation issue. This was not only not suppressed, the response to the piece was so positive that an extended version was re-broadcast a few days later with extra footage and commentary…
    here is a link to the original news piece on TBS news:

    here is the extended piece (#233): http://news.tbs.co.jp/newsi_sp​/catch/Sorry – Japanese only

  7. I understand that these officials may not have been authorized to say “yes” to anything, so they just said the only things they were authorized to say — “no.”  

    And I understand that they probably just hoped that no one would show up at the meeting, which is a common hope among such bureaucrats.  

    Oops, the people did show up.  And the people called on them to account for the plainly evil things they were doing.  So the just-say-no bureaucrats simply ran for the exits, undoubtedly planning their excuses as they ran (including the ever-popular, “They were mean to us!”).  

    Not to over-simplify, but this is when one of two things happens:  1. Someone who is authorized to spend money on fixing these problems decides it is in their best interests to do the right thing; or, 2. Nothing changes until mass violence breaks out.  

    You see these predictable patterns everywhere.  Yet it appears that Japan has concluded that it would be cheaper to deal with mass riots than it would be to relocate people and pay for additional health care. Personally, I very seriously doubt their apparent conclusion is correct.  

    Or their (again, predictable) hopes that when there are mass protests, no one shows up.

  8. Be glad you can’t read Japanese if you go to the profile page of the user who uploaded that video…  The comment section there is filled with vicious right-wing folk telling the user to die or go back to his own country. (They seem to be assuming he’s a Zainichi Korean, but if he’s translating to and from English I don’t know why they would think that.)  I guess that’s youtube for you…

  9. http://www.safecast.org has citizen radiation data from the group of tech people. If you want some good ongoing info on what is going on in Japan go to http://www.simplyinfo.org  Even the govt. radiation data shows hot spots and they refuse to evacuate people in places that have higher radiation than the evacuation areas after Chernobyl. This is why these people are so mad. The government won’t help them and people need help to evacuate. The govt. is also going to close down existing evacuation centers in Oct. Food is showing up contaminated all over and the govt. is seriously not dealing with the issue. There has been a pattern of the govt. claiming something is fine, then it is proven to not be fine. If it was your kids being slowly poisoned you would be pretty mad too. 

  10. The translation of this video is very poor.

    What is translated as “the right to live in perfect safety” is actually “the privilege of perfect safety”. The guy reasonably responds that he doesn’t know whether the situation is as safe as it is in the rest of the country. It’s patently obvious that Fukushima City is closer to the reactor than, say, Sendai. So far, it’s been safe to live there. But we don’t know whether it will be safe tomorrow, or in three months. That is the reality of the disaster.

    The guy doesn’t say “evacuate at your own risk, the government asks you to stay here”, he says “you can leave whenever you want to, we are not requiring anyone to stay”. The protester is asking him to evacuate whole cities forcibly, like in the Soviet Union or apartheid South Africa. But in a free society we do not force people out of their homes like that without good reason. The government already evacuated people who could be reasonably affected by the disaster so far. If people feel scared they are free to leave at any time.

    When you put these two translation errors together you realize what’s actually going on: the protesters are trying to encourage an atmosphere of fear, while the bureaucrats are simply trying to encourage rational and calm thought without actually making assurances about things they can’t control (“platitudes” are not popular in Japan). Their first tactic fails, so the protestors run after the bureaucrats with a bottle of pee. It’s certainly not one bathroom’s visit worth of pee. How are they supposed to determine what level of particulates are in that pee bottle? There’s no way to measure that.

    1. Sorry, but I couldn’t find any subtitles that said “the right to live in perfect safety” at all. Also this subtitle “evacuate at your own risk, the government asks you to stay here” is actually correct too! What are talking about? Yes, the word “risk” is not spoken but it is definitely implied and already understood by everyone in this emergency situation and terrible economy! Everyone knows that leaving their homes and possibly quitting their jobs is a big huge financial risk!

      This is the Japanese language and how it is spoken by native Japanese people. And very often, it is not always spoken in clear concise detail like English is spoken. Yes, word for word the subtitles may be slightly different than the spoken Japanese but only about 1-3%. I know this as I lived in Japan for 20 years, worked as an interpreter and translator and I was taught by a veteran native Japanese translator who had also achieved native level English. From all of that I am now quite fluent in spoken and written Japanese. You are gravely mistaken and there are no significant errors at all! Yeah, sure maybe some exaggerations but the English subtitles are including the unspoken implied terms and they were done in the way that native English speakers would say it all. And that’s the mark of a very good Japanese/English translator. Also your implications that the Fukushima residents are wrong in asking for financial and logistical help to move away from a previously tested and proven dangerous area are self deceptive delusions of some very disturbed thinking. You are either part of this quarantine scandal or you seriously need to see a doctor. Get well soon.

  11. http://www.SimplyInfo.org does an excellent job of reporting and analysis. They are very conscientious to provide links so the user may verify. They also offer sources of technical and hard research data. There are no walls around Japan- this has the real potential to affect all children through bioaccumulation. Some day our children (God willing) will be reading about this in their history books as a crime against humanity.

  12. Avery’s “opinion” is not representative of what I and others have seen actually happening in Japan over the last 4 months. The Japanese govt. did a mandatory evacuation of 20km around the plant. It is illegal to enter that area. Anyone living there was told to leave and given help to do so. The problem is that radiation doesn’t go out in perfect little circles. It follows topography and wind. This is causing concentrations as high (or higher) than the evacuation zone. Some hot spots have been evacuated, other areas completely ignored and the people there are refused any sort of help at all. They have to send kids to school, eat, work, and live wallowing in radiation. The govt. has decided they don’t want the cost and hassle of moving all these people so they do nothing. The people being screwed over are getting justifiably angry and they need help. The international community (and people online) could do much to pressure the govt. to do the right thing. 

    Just so people know the govt. in Japan has hired agencies to monitor the internet and “correct internet rumors” on twitter and websites. So if you hear someone clumsily excusing away things that seem rather obvious it might be why. 

    1. I gotta agree; Avery’s post is mighty suspicious. My Japanese certainly isn’t fluent enough to nitpick nuance, but I got a totally different interpretation of the meeting from what Avery said. “Kenri” can mean both ‘right’ and ‘privilege’ but it is most often used to mean “the right (to do)”, and in context with the rest of the sentence I took it to mean just that. And the official says  “you can leave on your own if you want, but.. ” which I took as dismissive – if you want to leave, do it on your own. 
      IMHO, the video’s translator was neither incorrect nor misleading.
      And interpretations aside, that still doesn’t explain why the official panel ducked questions, repeatedly. As to Avery’s mention of “in a free society we do not force people out of their homes”, these people WANT to leave, yet seem to be unable to do so on their own. They are asking the government for help.

    2. This is the first I’ve heard of Japan having a paid team of nationalists like China. Don’t believe everything you read on conspiracy websites.

  13. @Avery Morrow
    “When you put these two translation errors together you realize
    what’s actually going on: the protesters are trying to encourage an
    atmosphere of fear, while the bureaucrats are simply trying to encourage
    rational and calm thought without actually making assurances about
    things they can’t control ”

    This statement (being such Orwellian double speak) make me strongly suspicious that you are an astroturfer.

  14. This is the original I downloaded from METI’s website. It has since been taken down after the press got wind of it. http://www.houseoffoust.com/fukushima/METI_SPYING.docx  Second article down discusses this job posting where METI is seeking to hire an agency to monitor and “correct’ whatever they consider internet rumor http://shingetsublog.jugem.jp/?eid=107   If you wish more sites hit Google.jp and do some translated search terms. This issue was all over around 7.14 at least on Japanese websites.

    1. I invite anyone to click on Nancy’s link to the shingetsu blog, which is in English, and read for themselves this article, which she has grossly misquoted and misrepresented. Reading Twitter posts about discrimination, without responding, is not the same thing as “correcting” anyone on anything. The post doesn’t mention any kind of government communication, planned or otherwise. Really, just read the post for yourself and see if you can imagine this paranoid fantasy.

      1. I posted a copy of the original request from METI seeking to hire an agency to do exactly what I said. I hope they are not paying you much Avery. Your not a very good industry shill. :-)

    2. Is “7.14” a typo or the actual date? I’m asking because the lead-in says it happened almost a week after that, and in the past few days the evacuation zone has been enlarged a little bit. I’m wondering if they already had that in the works before this got around.

  15. I’d like to live in a country where the citizens would not have allowed those criminals to leave that room alive. Period.

    That’s not a government. It’s a crime family.

  16. “Test this urine!  Test this urine!” 

    This video falls into the “would be funny if it wasn’t so sad” category. 

    Here’s a map showing radiation monitoring data from various sources… 

    The contamination doesn’t stay in the neat circles declared evacuation zones.  It’s much more uneven than that.

  17. A couple of things worth noting. The US nuclear industry is in major damage control mode. They do not want a nationwide conversation about what happened in Fukushima and if it could happen here. The EPA downplayed the radiation risk in the US and purposely said nothing as levels in some areas became concerningly high. There is a large amount of money at stake in the US. Companies that want to build nuclear plants will fight the very area the plant will serve to put one up. Iowa rejected just such a plan by a 75% vote. Vermont is currently fighting to get Vermont Yankee shut down. The company that owns is going against the wishes of the state and people to keep it going. Greed is behind all of this.

  18. Using
    an old trick: Telling people they are living in a radiation pool anyway
    because of background radiaiton. In National Geopgraphic from April
    1989, Richard Guimond of the Environmental Protection Agency said: “we
    can’t avoid living in a sea of
    radiation” – what a stupid, criminal, un ethic and un scientific thing
    to say. Strontium 90 was created by humans / atomic age / is created by
    every atomic reactor on the plant. IT DID NOT EXIT BEFORE THE ATOMIC
    AGE. So everyone saying, that background radiaiton is the same as man
    made radiation lies! In a very criminal way – or is un-informed. Well,
    the principle of substantial equivalence doesn’t work here. IAEA, WHO,
    UN (UNDP), Studies, Institutes, Politicians and Science today try to
    sell the Philosophy of The Principle of Substantial Equivalent Basically
    THEY say: Radiation and Radioactivity were before Atomic Age, atomic
    reactors and atomic bombs.
    So it is natural and therefor atomic
    explosions and emissions of atomic reactors and radiation from reactor
    accidents cannot be linked to illness, mutations, handicaps and deaths.
    But they want to forget one thing: Radioactive Iocine, Strontium and other Radionucleides didn’t exist before atomic age.
    1929 genetic and cancer creating effects of radioactivity are known. In
    1946 Hermann J. Mueller got for his experiments the nobelprice: Source: http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/artificial-transmutation-of-the-gene-by-radiation-ignored-by-iaea/
    …and don’t you forget this. So, even Science itself is backing the real truth not the ideological truth today.
    IAEA, WHO, UN (UNDO), Studies, Institutes, Politicians and Science try tell us the following:
    People suffer from Radiophobia and there lifestyle.
    This is absolutely crazy. Ever wanted to see your own child to grow in these areas? Yes? No? Which truth?
    As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) was replaced by: As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP):
    To satisfy the ALARP principle, measures necessary to reduce risk must
    be taken until or unless the cost of those measures, whether money, time
    or trouble is disproportionate to the reduction in risk.” PAGE 170 – by
    UK Departement of Energy & Climatechange – QUOTE:

    basically: Money over Health – a licence to kill. In
    the beginning the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) principle was
    turned against the atomic industry. It said, that radiation exposure
    has to be held as low as possible, that means as low as rasonably
    achievable. But hydrogen bombs cause much radiation.The ICRP
    (International Commission on Radiological Protection) turned around this
    principle (after the first hydrogen bomb explosion in 1954) – so that
    the ALARA principle is now working FOR the atomic industry, even if a
    reactor crashes next to you. ICRP said, that ALARA does not refer to
    accidents. Basically this means:
    When an accident happens (an atomic reactor crash, for example) the
    whole point of Status Quo is that the people are contaminated with
    They can irradiate you and do not compensate you – and if they do, they do it with your money. No reactor is assured, mind you.
    Used in Belarus (Most Chernobyl affected country in the world) and Japan (Fukushima).
    EXELON nuclear (US company) talking about ALARA:  http://www.decc.gov.uk/ass
    Remember: This is the only VALID and OFFICIAL angenda for compensation during an atomic accident!Soon, Japanese government will call independent radiation measurements illegal and disturbing the industry, so NGOs and civil society will be hunt down just like in Belarus (Most Chernobyl affected country in the world): http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/japan-goes-the-same-way-as-belarus-dictatorship-a-deep-insight/The same will happen in France, the U.S., ANYWHERE a reactor explodes.

  19. At least a good thing, yes. But unfortunately, it sounds more like a systematic/ceremonious test than actual support for people’s well-being. Similarly, a few weeks ago Fukushima children were provided with dosimeters to carry with them where they go to school in long sleeves and masks on. Obviously it’s not even debatable to have these people evacuated or not.

  20. The man who followed them to the elevators claims that the government itself said they would test the urine. Likely, some shameless government official made remarks about testing the children in a duck-and-cover sort of way, and then later realizing the fallaciousness of the urine testing and legal culpability of accepting the samples, they just walked away. The Japanese government has simply abandoned all pretense of addressing the situation. It’s all crocodile tears, duct tape, and Bring Your Urine to Town Hall Day chaff.

  21. Those dosimeters were set to be distributed in SEPTEMBER, last I read. They will wear them for three months, at which time the government will collect and analyze them. They will then inform the parents of the radiation dose. Hmmm…

  22. For another look at the video, and how it may not be all that it appears to be, go to Japan Probe. 

    From the article: 
    “Its ridiculously biased title (“Japanese government killing its own people in Fukushima”) should have been enough to tip off most people. It’s also fairly obvious that the video has been heavily edited. ”

    “While it is easy to sympathize with the citizens, many who have been living under extreme stress for the last few months, it is nonetheless important to stand back and take a rational look at the situation. Simply put, most of the demands they make in this video are unrealistic and unreasonable.”


  23. at the birth of the nuclear age  during the manhatten project that from the various designs of reactors to be used to harness nuclear energy like the thorium based reactor was disreguarded because uranium based reactors waste could be weaponised there are 439 uranium plants around the world with spent fuel in ponds that will have to be managed for not just thousands of years but because of the shear volume and concentration of the spent fuel will need to be managed for milions of years all bacause of a choice made during the second world war and will hang like a judggment over us forever

  24. It’s three times more radiation released than Chernobyl.  This is dirty
    radiation, worse than what you get from a nuclear bomb blast.  It’s the
    worst.  It’s a “dirty bomb” and it’s still releasing pollution.   That’s
    how we should look at this … deadly toxic pollution.   How does this
    figure into the “cost-effective” equation?   Nuclear power is a fiasco. 
    No more.  Go Solar!

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