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The radioactive materials dangerous at the moment

At the moment, the most hazardous radioactive materials in Ukraine are the Cesium 137 and Strontium 90. Those two materials are absorbed from the soil by the plants and were found in human body about 1 year after the Chernobyl disaster. The Ukrainian region of Polesia has been not only heavily contaminated, but was also faced with another problem because of its poor soil. When the soil is lacking of Potassium, plants absorb Cesium instead, and when it is poor in Calcium, they absorb Strontium. The scientific properties of Potassium are similar to the Cesium ones and the Calcium’s with the Strontium’s.

If you mix potassium fertilizer with the soil, pollution of crops will drop by more than three quarters.

Besides, the region of Polesia is mainly composed of acid soils, which results in the dissolution of Cesium and Strontium in water. According to the characteristics of the soil, the consequences will be very different but in some cases, the absorption by the plants can be multiplied by 100.

Cesium strongly bound to minerals

Radioactive Cesium binds strongly with minerals. The smaller the mineral particles are, the stronger the Cesium will be bound to them.

Japan’s paddy fields are made of clay soils, so that Cesium binds to the clay and can’t be absorbed much by the plants. On the other hand, Polesia’s forests are mostly composed of organic matter and sand made of big particles, so that Cesium can’t combine with the soil and end up migrating to the vegetation. Even if a high quantity of Cesium drops on the soil, it won’t be absorbed by the plants if they are growing in clay soil, and the crops will eventually be pollution-free.

Cesium is water-soluble

Cesium doesn’t produce any chemical combination in the human or vegetal organisms, but it associates with water. When water is being eliminated from the body through sweat or urine, Cesium is eliminated together. Thus, drinking a lot of water is an efficient way of lowering the amount of Cesium in the organism.

By boiling meat, 80% of the Cesium contained inside is eliminated in the broth. The broth obtained at the beginning just has to be thrown away to get rid of the Cesium contained inside.

In Fukushima too, people living in the contaminated areas must not fear the radioactivity, because the fear itself would cause harm to the body. However, they still have to take countermeasures to protect their health.

In Fukushima prefecture, the number of children developing thyroid cancer has been going up ever since Fukushima nuclear accident. A group of experts working for the Fukushima prefecture announced on May 18th that 127 children under 18 had developed it.

Before the nuclear accident, no children would normally develop thyroid cancer and only one case every few years was diagnosed.

The experts of the investigative commission on thyroid cancer stated that “This number is only due to cancer overdiagnosis. After the Chernobyl disaster, most of the numerous cases of cancers were diagnosed on infants, but in the present case infants are not developing any cancers. It is therefore unreasonable to think that it is the radiations’ influence”.

From January to the end of March this year, 16 new cases of thyroid cancers were diagnosed on children. With now 127 children affected, there is no doubt that the nuclear accident is the very cause of the problem.

Even though the experts of the investigative commission are spreading false information, they were still kind enough to declare that “the surgical fees and treatment fees for thyroid cancer should be covered by the government”.

There have been no investigations regarding the development of cancer on people above 19.

South Korea bans imports of Japanese seafood products

South Korea is currently banning imports of seafood products from 8 provinces of Japan.

The Japanese government responded to the decision by demanding the lifting of the ban, arguing that “it isn’t based on any scientific evidence”. Therefore, to assess the validity of the import prohibition, South Korea sent an inquiry commission to Japan in December 2014.

The inquiry commission composed of nuclear physicists and consumer groups visited the Chiba wholesale market and the Fukushima seafood market, listened to the explanations of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries before going to the Japan Offspring Fund (JOF) to listen to the other side of the story. The day following their return to South Korea, Japanese newspapers reported that “South Korea does not lift the ban on seafood products”.

Afterwards, South Korea sent a new investigation team to Japan in January but it didn’t result in the lifting of the ban.

South Korea still at 370 Becquerel

After the Chernobyl disaster, both Japan and South Korea set the legal limit of radioactivity (Cesium 134 and 137) in 1kg of food at 370 Becquerel (Bq). However, Japan lowered this threshold in April 2014 to 100 Bq. As Japan declares not to be selling fishes exceeding this limit, it is indeed unjustified that South Korea, whose legal limit is of 370 Bq, refuses to buy Japanese products without any valid reason. It is therefore natural for the Japanese government to demand the lifting of the ban.

Nonetheless, as we, Japan Offspring Fund, found and demonstrated that even 1.1 Bq in 1kg of food could cause harm to the body, we are asking for a legal limit at 1 Bq. Thus, we decided to support the South Korean decision, in order to protect South Korean people and eventually, to be able to protect Japanese people.

On the same level with radioactive waste

The Japanese standard for defining radioactive waste is set at 100 Bq for both Cesium 134 and 137.

As the Japanese legal limit for radioactivity in food is set at 100 Bq for Cesium 134 and 137, Japanese people are barely spared from eating radioactive waste.

But South Korean people are fishing in the Pacific Ocean just near Fukushima, and their legal limit for radioactivity is set at 370 Bq. That is to say that they are eating fishes as dangerous as radioactive wastes.

The limit defined by the Codex Alimentarius is of 1000 Bq. They are indeed deeming acceptable foods 10 times more radioactive than nuclear wastes.

If the South Korean government asked the Codex Alimentarius to review its standards, their ban on Japanese seafood imports would then be justified and they would be able to protect the South Korean population. That is the idea we submitted to the inquiry commission, but for a country supportive of nuclear power generation like South Korea, is that even conceivable?

On May 21th 2015, the Japanese government filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against South Korea, for its policy on seafood imports.

The JOF efforts bore fruits as the Korean government is not yielding before the pressure exerted by the Japanese government, which drove the latter to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization.

At the moment, Fukushima is working on how to solve to problem, but 300 tons of the water used to cover the melted reactor of the plant are still leaking in the sea every day.

As long as contaminated water is being leaked into sea, arguing about the safety of the Pacific Ocean fishes is out of the question.

Enfeebled by mutations

Many scientists are speaking about the influence of the radioactive particles scattered during the Fukushima disaster, but none of them is analyzing the problem from a genetic point of view. Only germ cell genes are responsible for heredity. It was discovered in 1927 that radiations could affect germ cell genes, in other words that they caused them to mutate. When people think about “mutations”, many of them would think about malformations, but in fact they are rarely due to mutations. Most of mutations would cause slight body weakness, dull the mind and weaken the immune system, letting us more vulnerable to infectious diseases and cancer. But as those changes are almost imperceptible, neither the interested nor his family would notice anything. It has also been proved by experiments on animals that it shortened their life span.

Slight but real damages to the future generations

Regarding the influence of Fukushima nuclear accident on the gene pool, we must think of Japanese people as a whole. People from southern islands of Kyushu and Shikoku do not feel concerned with the nuclear disaster, but after a few generations, people would be migrating and the mutated genes would mix with others, spreading all over the country. That is the reason why gene mutations put the future of Japan at risk if we consider the whole Japanese people gene pool.

The most important aspect of the problem is the internal exposure to radiations (by ingesting irradiated food for example), but many searchers are only looking at external irradiation. When it comes to internal irradiation, the effects on the person irradiated differ from the influence on his/her children. To fear that those effects pass on to the next generations is the reality of DNA mutations.

To say that “There aren’t any effects appearing at the moment” is not the least appropriate when speaking about the safety of nuclear radiations. Indeed, the effects of radiation exposure only manifest themselves in the future.

Nowadays, it is possible to detect some diseases on infants through examinations, but there are also hereditary diseases appearing only later, like mental disabilities, that can’t be diagnosed just after birth. However, all those represent only a tiny fraction of the effects brought about by the radiations, and it is only when the number of hereditary diseases and anomalies will go up amongst the next generations that we will realize it is the influence of radiations.

Few people work at places where they are exposed to radioactive rays, therefore even if there are repercussions on the next generations, it will only concern a limited number of people, which is why it is tolerated. But the problem in the present case is that more than a million citizens are breathing in and ingesting quite a lot of radioactive particles, which makes the situation very different from the workers’ one. Moreover, children, youngsters and pregnant women are also living there, so it is of utmost importance to prevent them from being exposed to radiations as much as possible.

How is the world’s most eminent basic researcher viewing Fukushima’s nuclear accident ?

Taisei Nomura, emeritus professor at Osaka University, has achieved unrivalled research results on cancers and teratogenesis caused by radiations on second generation of mice. He is nowadays considered the world’s most eminent basic researcher in the field of radiation genetics. It was known that mice exposed to radioactive rays would develop cancer but Dr. Nomura was the first to demonstrate in the 1970’s that cancer was passing down through generations and that the probability of developing cancer was linked to the radiations intensity.

Combined radiation injuries

There are elements in Dr. Nomura’s researches that can’t be overlooked when thinking about Fukushima’s nuclear accident.

When mice are exposed even only once to radioactive rays, not only those mice but also their young and the next generation end up developing lung cancers, liver cancers and leukemia. If the young – born before their parents develop any illness – are exposed once more to radioactive rays or chemicals, the resulting effects increase exponentially.

These research results applied to human beings imply that after being exposed to low-intensity radiations, someone is even more likely to develop cancer if he was to ingest irradiated food or food containing chemicals. If people irradiated because of a nuclear accident should keep on consuming irradiated foods, the probability they develop cancer in the next 10 to 15 years is actually increased by the “Combined radiation” phenomenon.

Why predisposition to cancer is hereditary

There are three reasons why children whose parents have been irradiated are predisposed to cancer. The increase in the risk of developing cancer for the mice used in the experience is due to mutations in one of the numerous genes involved in the immune system or the functioning of the metabolism, resulting in the weakening of their immune system or the reduction of their ability to recover.

In the areas contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster in Russia, many children whose parents are soldiers, firemen, or local inhabitants, are developing illnesses exactly as in the experiences realized with the mice. The fact that those illnesses are developed rather by inhabitants’ children than soldiers’ children is hinting that it is linked to internal exposure to radiations, through the consumption of irradiated food.

As there are many more people living near Fukushima than there were at Chernobyl, we can’t help but worry about the influence of radioactive contamination on all those people.

Please Donate and Help JOF Make a Documentary Film:
“The Truth About Fukushima 311”

May 8, 2011

Japan Offspring Fund was established in 1984 and is registered as a Non-Political Organization (NPO). JOF activities include campaigning about safety issues regarding “living”, a broad concept based on the Japanese word kurashi. We publish a monthly member magazine as well as posters and books, and produce videos and documentaries about important issues including food safety and public health.

Deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis in Fukushima since March 11, 2011, JOF has a mission to change public opinion regarding nuclear energy. We have a long history as an independent NPO that is strongly opposed to nuclear power generation. To complete this mission, JOF believes we should make a film called “The Truth about Fukushima 311” (tentative title), and release this film using the Internet to viewers all over the world.

Fukushima has already changed the energy policies in several other countries. Japan, however, appears to have great difficulties to review or even discuss its heavy dependency on nuclear power generation (there are 55 nuclear power generators in Japan). We do not agree with the current lack of debate in Japan, and we must do something.

Since the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, the severely damaged Fukushima nuclear power generators have released radioactivity into the air and the Pacific Ocean. The range of the damage is yet unknown. However, if such accidents happen somewhere in Japan, we are afraid that our children will be badly hurt by radioactivity. Such damage is irreversible.

The debate about nuclear issues is extremely difficult in Japan, for historical reasons. Already in 1960, Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) made the following assessment: If an accident happens at small scale nuclear power plant (about 170,000 Kw), and if 2% of the radioactivity is released, 5,000 people will suffer from radiation damage, and 720 people will die. It was further estimated that 17,600,000 people will need to escape temporarily, and 220,000 people will be forced to move away from their homes for an extended period of time. In addition, JAIF also assumed that it will be impossible to continue agriculture in an area as large area as half of Honshu (the main island of Japan), and it was estimated that the cost of the damage will be 2.2 times larger than the national budget.

Considering this assumption by JAIF, the accident and crisis currently happening in Fukushima is an expected circumstance. But people who still support the pro-nuclear power point of view claim that “The Fukushima Daiichi No.1 atomic power generators were very old, and there was insufficient repair work. However, the Fukushima Daini No. 2 atomic power generators are all right. There will be no problems.”

Help JOF Make a Documentary Film

JOF has a mission to change this situation, and help create a society using no nuclear energy. Even though we are a small NPO, we have an important role to play.

As you may know, major sponsors of media including major newspapers and TV stations are the power companies, including oil and nuclear industries. Thus, the major media channels will continue to release opinions from those who are pro-nuclear. There are even cases of journalists who have changed to a pro-nuclear position, since they can receive up to 5,000,000 Yen (approx. 60,000 USD) for a single article, if they promise not to write about the negative aspects of nuclear power.

I personally know a great director who is famous for making documentary films. He has produced many documentary films about a wide range of topics, including nuclear power, genetics, and life. If you are interested in such topics, you may already have seen his films, which have been shown both in Japan and abroad. He is appreciated globally. Currently, he is a professor at a university. I contacted him soon after March 11, and asked him, “Do you want to make a documentary film about Fukushima?” He replied, “Of course, I can’t wait to start making a film about Fukushima 311!”

I recently met him and his old colleagues, who have all retired from film making companies. However, they never stop talking about what kind of film they will shoot next, although they don’t have any budget to make films. They never give up telling people the truth by using the power of documentary films.

Japan Offspring Fund would like to ask these experienced directors to make a film about Fukushima 311. We are sure they will make a wonderful documentary to tell the hidden truth about this accident, and motivate people all over the world to become actively anti-nuclear.

We need to raise funds for this film making project. Our initial target is to collect 2,000,000 Yen (approx. 25,000 USD). If we succeed to reach this amount, JOF will ask the great director to make the film. The fund-raising will continue as they have confirmed that they can start to make the film if we collect at least 5,000,000 Yen (approx. 60,000 USD). Also, to promote this film to all over the world, we may need additional funding at a later stage. We don’t think this is an impossible task!

I am convinced that if we succeed to produce this film, it would win international awards, and public opinion all over the world including Japan would change.

I sincerely appreciate your cooperation to help JOF raise funds for this important project.

Junichi Kowaka
Director of Japan Offspring Fund

Please send check to the following address if you are in the US.
Write “Japan Offspring Fund” on your check.
Japan Offspring
P.O. Box 2671
Winterville, NC
28590 USA

For other countries, kindly contact JOF directly.

About the earthquake and the tsunami on March 11, 2011

JOF conveys our deepest condolences to the victims and their families.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

To the folks all over the world, JOF appreciates all your support for Japan Offspring Fund.

The JOF office and all the staff at JOF is fine. We continue to lead the movement against nuclear power generation.

Director of Japan Offspring Fund,
Junichi Kowaka

Please read more about Nuclear Safety Issues

JOF put several videos related to post-harvest pesticides on you tube.
Please take a look.
Food Contamination with Post-Harvest Pesicides No1

Food Contamination with Post-Harvest Pesicides No2

DANGER OF POSTHARVEST PESTICIDES No1

DANGER OF POSTHARVEST PESTICIDES No2


DANGER OF POSTHARVEST PESTICIDES No3

There are numerous wonderful Onsen or hot springs in Japan, but also many issues and problems regarding the different types that consumers are not aware of. One type of hot spring has water flowing directly from a source, and many people probably believe it to be the most common type. This is not the case; it accounts for only about 10% of all hot springs in Japan. Rather, most hot spring facilities are re-using the water after filtering it and heating it again. Due to the filtering, the components of the natural hot spring water are reduced, while other substances such as shampoo residues often remain. During our investigation, Japan Offspring Fund found that such types of hot springs also can be called “natural hot springs” even though that is a rather fake description.

Shirakawago Onsen: Photo Copyright Shuichi Kikuchi

Shirakawago Onsen: Photo Copyright Shuichi Kikuchi

Mistakes during the re-circulation and reuse of the hot spring water can lead to the propagation of harmful bacteria such as Legionella. Macrophages or amoebas that can spread Legionella have been found in 60% of hot springs. Incidents and deaths from this severe bacterial infection have occurred, traced to hot spring bathing. In order to prevent further accidents, many hot springs are adding chlorine in large quantities. Of course this changes the smell and also the feeling in a negative way.

Large bathing establishments, as part of the hot spring boom, have been developed together with inns that are depleting natural headsprings of hot water. This is becoming a serious problem. The sense of healing that comes with visiting a natural hot spring will be diminished when we destruct natural environment.

JOF had many opportunities to discuss hot springs and bathing culture with Mr Etsuo Noguchi, who spent 40 years as a journalist investigating some 3000 different hot springs. Just before he passed away, we started the Association of Hot Spring Culture and Safety in January 2009. The plan is to recommend only such hot springs and inns that have a history of protecting the environment and applying appropriate safety measures, so that bathers can truly relax.

Photos Copyright Shuichi Kikuchi

Photos Copyright Shuichi Kikuchi

Following is the list of Hot springs that we can recommend.

Name of Hot Spring/Name of Inn (location)
1. Niseko Konbu Onsen/ Koikawa Onsen Inn (Hokkaido)
2. Ginkonyu (Hokkaido)
3. Nyuto Onsen/Tsurunoyu (Akita)
4. Natsuse Onsen/Miyakowasure (Akita)
5. Doroyu Onsen/ Okuyama Inn (Akita)
6. Akinomiya Onsenkyo/Takanoyu onsen (Akita)
7. Kunimi Onsen/Ishizuka Inn (Iwate)
8. Onogawa Onsen/Asahiya Inn (Yamagata)
9. Azuma Takayu Onsen/Azumaya (Fukushima)
10. Fudoyu Onsen (Fukushima)
11. Okutuchiyu Onsen/Kawakami Onsen (Fukushima)
12. Futamata Onsen/Daimaru Asunaro Sou (Fukushima)
13. Nigatatakanosu Onsen/Shikino Sato Kikuya (Nigata)
14. Muikamachi Onsen/Kawarazaki Yumotokan (Nigata)
15. Kaikake Onsen/Kaikake Onsen Kan (Nigata)
16. Hoshi Onsen/Chojukan (Gumma)
17. Tange Onsen/Misato Kan (Gumma)
18. Kawanaka Onsen/Kadohan ryokan (Gumma)
19. Sawatari Onsen/Maruhon Ryokan (Gumma)
20. Kusatsu Onsen/Tenoji ya (Gumma)
21. Sagasawa Onsen/Yuyado Sagasawa Kan (Sizuoka)
22. Simobe Onsen/Koyubougensen Kan (Yamanashi)
23. KoshuNishiyama Onsen/Keiunkan (Yamanashi)
24. Narata Onsen/Shirane Kan (Yamanashi)
25. Yamada Onsen/Fukei Kan (Nagano)
26. Shibu Onsen/Rekishino Yado Kanaguya (Nagano)
27. Kasenan Seni Onsen/Iwano yu (Nagano)
28. Hotaka Onsen Kyo/ Yunoyado Jonenbo (Nagano)
29. Fukuji Onsen/Yumoto Choza (Gifu)
30. Shinhotaka Onsen/Tani Onsen (Gifu)
31. Shinhotaka Onsen/Suimei Kan Karukaya Sanso (Gifu)
32. Shinhotaka Onsen/Yarimi Kan (Gifu)
33. Shirakawago Hiarase Onsen/Tosuke no yu Fujiya (Gifu)
34. Nagasaki Obama Onsen/Ryokan Kunisaki (Nagasaki)
35. Kurokawa Onsen/Yamanoyado Shinmeikan (Kumamoto)
36. Myoken Onsen/Wasureno sato Gajoen (Kagoshima)

(From Shokuhin to Kurashi no Anzen Issue No. 238)

Better Food Allergy Labelling Needed

The number of children with food allergy problems is increasing in Japan. From April, 2002, there is a legal obligation to clearly label foods that contain allergens.

There are a large number of such allergens. Among the many substances that can cause allergic reactions, some are more severe and common than others. Food makers must clearly label wheat, buckwheat, egg, milk and peanuts in processed foods, noting in Japanese: 「xxを含む」 (“Contains xx”). This list contains the following ingredients:

小麦

そば





ピーナッツ
wheat

soba (buckwheat)

egg

milk

peanuts

Food makers are recommended to note on the package that they use another 20 common allergens. They usually include this information below the list of ingredients. This list of allergens includes:

あわび

いか

いくら

えび

オレンジ

カニ

キウイフルーツ

牛肉

くるみ

さけ

さば

大豆

鶏肉

豚肉

まつたけ

もも

やまいも

りんご

ぜらちん

バナナ
awabi (abalone)

ika (squid)

ikura (fish roe, fish egg)

ebi (shrimp)

orange

kani (crab)

kiwi fruit

beef

walnuts

sake (salmon)

saba (mackerel)

soy beans

chicken

pork

matsutake (mushroom)

peach

yamaimo (yam)

apple

gelatin

banana

For people with food allergies, the correct labelling of food allergens on the package is a very important issue.

What Are Trans Fatty Acids – And Are You At Risk In Japan?

Known to increase the risk of heart disease, Trans Fatty Acids are substances often found in margarine and similar products. To avoid this, Denmark was the first country to regulate the labelling in order to encourage a reduced intake. Other countries have made similar efforts. In Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has stated that “the intake of Trans Fatty Acids is low” and decided to not require mandatory labelling. As for the food industry, Japanese companies have made independent efforts to reduce the levels in their products.

In 2005, Japan Offspring Fund decided to investigate the levels of Trans Fatty Acids in several different products, including margarine, shortening and coffee whiteners.

Consequently, an organically certified shortening with no Trans Fatty Acids was introduced on the market.

After Japan Offspring Fund revealed the test results of Trans Fatty Acid levels in margarines in 2005, Koiwai Margarine was sold with very low levels of Trans Fatty Acids. Other large margarine makers also found ways to reduce the levels in their products. As of 2009, it appears that consumers no longer need to worry about Trans Fatty Acids in margarine products sold in Japan.

Here in Japan, people often drink coffee with “whitener” sold under different fanciful brand names. In ordinary coffee shops, if a customer asks for milk with their coffee, the shop may supply a small plastic container with a liquid white substance. While some people are probably under the impression that this contains milk or cream, in reality it is a vegetable oil/fat based substance with emulsifiers, polysaccharides, pH regulating additives – – and partially hydrogenated oils, which is where the Trans Fatty Acids can be found.

The advantages of coffee whiteners are that they do not spoil easily, and they are also extremely cheap compared to real milk or cream (In other countries, the containers are usually labeled as being “non-dairy” but this is not required in Japan).

JOF analyzed the amount of Trans Fatty Acids in one single container of coffee whitener. The level was 0.29 gram of Trans Fatty Acids. A person who uses 3-4 containers each day should be careful as this is a very high level. Using real milk instead would be better for his or her health.

Finally, the fried potatoes at McDonald’s were found to contain 2.5 gram of Trans Fatty Acids in a medium size serving. This is very high, especially in contrast with Japan’s second largest hamburger chain, Mos Burger, where the fried potatoes contained virtually no Trans Fatty Acids at all.

It has been stated that the intake of Trans Fatty Acids is low in Japan compared to other countries. However, if certain fast foods are consumed in large amounts, then it is clear that Japanese people also consume high levels of Trans Fatty Acids, and this should be a cause for concern.

Organic Agriculture in Japan
By Natsuko Iino Kumasawa

Organic agriculture is growing in the world. Over the past 20 years, the global growth rate is over 15%. However, in Japan, organic agriculture grows very slowly.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry (MAFF), the rate of organic food is only 0.17%. The most popular item is green tea, with a market share of 1.68%. The amount of domestic organic food is low. Domestic organic produce is 48,596 ton, while imported organic produce is 1,295,266 ton annually. This means that domestic organic produce only has 3.6% of the market. Domestic organic processed food is 187,455 ton, while imported organic processed food is 67,777 ton. However, most ingredients of domestic organic processed food are imported.

The JAS mark is becoming an increasingly familiar sight in Japan's supermarkets and restaurants

Why is organic agriculture not developing well in Japan? There are several reasons. In Europe, policies for the enhancement of organic agriculture are well developed. In Japan, policies had not developed well, until December 2006, when finally the Law on Promotion of Organic Agriculture was enacted. The enhancement of organic agriculture has just started recently and it is not enough.

Consumers in Europe and Japan are different, too. In Europe, consumers try to buy organic food produced by their neighbors to protect the natural environment. They don’t care so much about the size or the shape of the produce. In Japan, consumers care about the safety of the products, and buy organic food only when the quality of the vegetables is excellent. According to a 2007 survey of consumer attitudes by MAFF, 87.8% among people who buy organic food said they buy organic food because organic foods are safe, while only 28.8% said they buy organic food because they can “contribute to environmental protection.”

The survey also showed that 72.9% said if the labels are trustworthy they will buy organic foods. 70.3% said that if they can buy organic food from neighbors or in convenient places, they will buy organic foods.

From this survey, we can conclude that Japan needs to enhance its certification system, and diversify the marketing of organic foods, such as farmers market.

In many countries, organic foods are selling very well at farmers markets. Consumers can buy organic food directly from farmers, and consumers feel they can trust the farmers. Consumers can buy fresh foods in their neighborhood when organic foods are sold at farmers market. Since farmers markets are becoming popular in Japan, it would be good if organic foods are increasingly sold at farmers markets.

Read more:

Japan for Sustainability: Government Initiatives to Support a Sustainable Agricultural Industry in Japan
IFOAM: The Voice of Katsu Murayama, Japan
Rodale Institute: Japanese consumers hungry for more organic food

Avoid Making Mistakes in Economic Policy:

Encouraging Supply to Counter Demand Declines

March 19, 2009

The important principle to counter the current global economic crisis is to first increase the demand, not the supply.

Dr. Atsushi Tsuchida’s analysis of the great world economic depression

Interviewed by Junichi Kowaka, chief editor of Safety of Our Foods and Life

Kowaka: Dr. Tsuchida, you have analyzed the severe global economic crisis. How would you characterize the current situation?

Tsuchida: This current depression occurred as the demand fell down and the supply surplus rose up. Given such conditions, if the government provides loans for companies in bankruptcy to prevent unemployment, they will increase production. Therefore, such measures to provide loans, as most governments in the world are doing, will have a contrary effect. As a result, the depression will be prolonged.

Kowaka: So we are all making a mistake in coping with the crisis.

Tsuchida: Yes. In other words, even if a company produces commodities, it would only fail to sell them due to a lack of demand. If one person is employed, another will be fired. If one company is saved, another one will go bankrupt. Therefore, an important principle to counter this devastating global economic crisis is to increase the demand first, not the supply.

Kowaka: What kind of measures can be taken in reality?

Tsuchida: First, the government should provide the unemployed and business failures with minimum loans to maintain their life. Second, for those who are unable to work, it should just provide them with enough money to live. By doing so, the money will reach those in need and they will spend the all amount to purchase the necessities of life.

Kowaka: Those in need will use all the money provided for sure, won’t they?

Tsuchida: Yes, and that will certainly create demand. If the basic human needs of the poor are secured, the feeling of happiness in the whole society will be improved, and soon, the industries producing the necessities of life will grow. And then, other industries will also grow. At that point, supply may be increased as demand rises, and businesses will start to recover. However, a law is needed to prohibit collecting the money provided by the government as repayment.

Kowaka: In your opinion, should the government pay for these measures by issuing national bonds?

Tsuchida: It should be paid by a tax to help those who are unable to work. For loans to the unemployed and business dropouts, government notes may be used. The government can issue currency notes with its own loan guarantee, but not just give the money away. Then, when people become employed or start their own business again, the loans should be repaid according to their income. In fact, issuing government notes should be the last and limited option. Because if the government can print its own money, it would be able to practice any policy without taxation, and the economy will fall into terrible disorder. That is why government notes in my proposal are restricted to loans to those in need. In the case of national bonds, we owe the principal and a huge amount of interest to future generations. On the other hand, government notes used for this purpose must be recollected as loans and should not be given as grants or subsidy payments.

Kowaka: Government notes will drive the currency rates down during the present time, but it will not cause trouble in the distant future, and that is good.

* * *

Original text is available in Japanese.

An extract and summary of Dr Atsushi Tsuchida’s analysis was published in Safety of Our Foods and Life No. 239, March, 2009.

Dr. Atsushi Tsuchida is a physicist and economist, born in 1933. He is the author of Introduction to The Entropy Economics and many other publications.

Safety of Our Foods and Life is the monthly magazine issued by Japan Offspring Fund (JOF). JOF is a consumer group and environmental NGO established in 1984. JOF has researched issues involving the safety of daily life, including chemical residues, endocrine disruptors, and genetically engineered food.

Contact:

Japan Offspring Fund

2-14-18 Honmachi-higashi, Chuo-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama 33-0003 Japan

Tel: +81-48-851-1212 Fax +81-48-851-1214

E-mail: natsuko (at) tabemono.info

Website: http://tabemono.info

Sick School Buildings: 53% Of Young Pupils Report Allergic Reactions

Japan Offspring Fund (JOF) Monthly Newsletter
September 2008, No. 233

As Japan goes through a period where school buildings in particular are targeted for reform, some students are spending their school days in a prefabricated environment with toxic chemicals from walls, carpets, curtains and other building materials.

In Miyagi prefecture, we followed the case where young students said, “it is hell” even though toxic contaminants were found to be below levels stipulated by official safety guidelines. Students reported chronic illnesses like asthma, headaches, muscle pain (myalgia), fever, and other serious symptoms. Among 800 people, 38 reported health problems similar to the sick house symptoms known to be caused by VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). VOCs are often found in construction materials such as antiseptics, paint solvents, adhesives agents, wood preservatives, and insecticides.

jof-sick-school-corridor

Japan Offspring Fund worked with Dr Terasawa Masahiko to try to find the cause of the pupils’ problems. During construction of a new school building, schools let pupils use prefab buildings; Dr Terasawa was alarmed as he received a number of children who had spent only a few days in a local prefab school building. At his clinic, he interviewed the patients, and it was clear that the new school environment was the problem.

“The symptoms were very similar or identical to the known cases of sick house disease,” Dr Terasawa noted. “They can be caused by high levels of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, a preservative commonly used in building materials. It is well known that formaldehyde causes lung problems, exacerbates asthma and that long-term exposures pose a cancer risk.”

jof-sick-school-outside

Dr Terasawa inspected the school, and found that the building was constructed as a square, surrounding an artificial lawn in the center. The ventilation was poor.  Such temporary buildings are becoming common all over Japan. He noted a strong odor or chemical smell that was clearly noticed inside. The principal of the school agreed that in 40 years, they had never had such issues, and that the new prefab building was clearly the cause of the young pupils’ health problems.

Asked to fill in a questionnaire, 53% of the students replied that they had sometimes or always experienced health problems since moving into the new prefab school building. 11% percent reported strong allergic reactions, and 20% replied that they had felt changes in their physiology.

When health officials tested the indoor air, they found levels of formaldehyde, toluene and ethyl benzene, as well as other chemicals, to be below the official guidelines. Yet, the combination of a large number of substances and VOCs may be the reason the pupils reacted so strongly. It is clearly not acceptable to let children spend long hours in an unhealthy school environment. Prefabricated school buildings must be much more carefully examined to avoid allergic reactions and serious health problems among young pupils.

jof-sick-school-hall

What to do in case of a major earthquake in the Tokai region

By Kowaka Junichi, Japan Offspring Fund

Japan Offspring Fund (JOF) Monthly Newsletter
June 2005, No. 194

Of all the 52 active nuclear reactors in Japan experts agree that the 5 reactors in Hamaoka are the most dangerous. Hamaoka sits directly over a subduction zone near the junction of two tectonic plates. The ground is not solid rock, but sand. This area is in fact overdue for a major earthquake.

hamaoko-map

When the radioactivity is released, it will be much worse than if an atomic bomb was dropped in the region.

At Japan Offspring Fund, we are concerned with safety issues, and we would like to provide advice about what you can do to escape, when such earthquake happens.

Check the local weather!

As for radioactivity, winds usually blow from the West towards the East, so if you live in the Kansai (Kyoto/Osaka) region, you will probably not be directly affected. The islands of Kyushu and Shikoku will most likely also be safe from radioactive fallout. On the other hand, Japan often experiences high atmospheric pressure coming in from the Pacific Ocean in the form of typhoons. In such case, any area of Japan could be affected. Checking the local weather reports will thus be of utmost importance.

Judging from data collected after the Chernobyl accident 20 years ago, between 10 and 30 million people may have to be evacuated in case of a major earthquake that destroys the Hamaoka reactors. In our opinion, the key will be to escape as quickly as possible. Even a slight delay will mean that you and your family will inevitably get caught up in horrendous traffic jams.

There is no doubt that the entire country will be affected. When the news speaks of a “Tokai Region Earthquake”, we think the effect will be felt from Kobe to Sendai , as massive amounts of people try to get out of the Tokyo area.

Checklist for an emergency evacuation

1) Check local weather reports
2) Gather your family
3) Make sure you have enough money
4) Bring your Emergency Goods
5) Escape as quickly as possible

In case of an earthquake, the Japan Offspring Fund office in Tokyo will be temporarily closed.

For more details about what to do in case of a Tokai earthquake that damages the Hamaoka nuclear plants, please read the emergency information from Stop Hamaoka Network:

http://www.stop-hamaoka.com/english/explanation4.html

Nuclear Safety Data Alteration is Common

In a recent court case, a technician responsible for the safety designs at the Hamaoka nuclear power plants in Shizuoka prefecture explained why he altered safety data to conceal design flaws. “I had children and there was not enough time”, he said.

33 years ago he worked at Toshiba, which built the reactors for Chubu Electric Power Co. Today, he is 63 years old and lives in Tokyo . He has recently been prosecuted for falsifying and altering safety testing data related to earthquake tests.

The case revealed that when various vibrational tests were performed, data showed that the design could not withstand a major earthquake. Several attempts were made to strengthen the design, but tests still showed problems. In spite of this, the construction went ahead and the building, Hamaoka’s second reactor, was completed in 1971.

“The most dangerous nuclear power plant in Japan ”

Based on these tests, an additional three reactors were constructed, including Japan ‘s largest nuclear plant which generates 1.38 MW. A total of five nuclear reactors are now in the area, which experts say is “the most dangerous nuclear power plant in Japan ”.

During the April, 2005 court case, the retired technician described how test data was simply pulled out of a report, so that the construction could go ahead. Had the data been made public, there is no way that the reactor could have been built. Now, he accepts responsibility for what he did, and wants the Hamaoka reactors to be shut down. He also says there should be a third-party examination and investigation of the safety concerns.

The testimony from this retired technician should not go unnoticed.

The Hamaoka nuclear plants are not earthquake-proof

By Konagaya Minro, Stop Hamaoka Network

Chubu Electric Power Co. began operating the first Hamaoka nuclear power plant in March, 1976. Only five months later, in August 1976, earthquake experts announced the result of their detailed examination of the region. The experts found that the Tokai region earthquake is a reoccurring event, with the last major earthquake hitting the region about 159 years ago. They predicted that an 8.0 Magnitude earthquake is overdue for the region. This is 10 times more powerful than the earthquake that hit Kobe in 1995.

We are concerned that there are many illegal issues regarding the construction and operation of the Hamaoka reactors.

In August, 2004, cracks in the concrete at Hamaoka 4 were found. This was revealed after a whistle-blower told the truth about faulty inspections. In addition, in April 2005, local media has shown the testimony of a former technician responsible for the safety designs at the Hamaoka nuclear power plants in Shizuoka prefecture. In his testimony, he revealed how test data was manipulated and falsified when the first reactors were built.

Conflicting views about safety

A problem with the official earthquake predictions related to the Hamaoka reactors is that they do not take into consideration the reality of a major earthquake. For example, the “rolling” or horizontal earthquakes are usually not as severe as a “drop” or vertical earthquake. In fact, in the Kobe earthquake, even highways, that the Japanese government had claimed were safe, were destroyed due to the vertical drop.

Survival: how to manage when a big earthquake hits the Hamaoka nuclear plants

Japan Offspring Fund (JOF) Monthly Newsletter
August 2005, No.196

Japan Offspring Fund continues the investigation of nuclear safety. Experts consider that a so-called Tokai megaseism occurs once in 150 years. The last big Tokai earthquake in the Shizuoka region occurred 151 years ago. Thus, a major disaster is already overdue. When the Hamaoka nuclear reactors collapse due to the Tokai megaseism, there will be a catastrophe. How can you prepare to protect lives and avoid the terrible effects of nuclear radiation?

The five Hamaoka nuclear reactors were built in Shizuoka prefecture, central Japan , near Omaezaki, a coastal town on the Izu peninsula. Uranium is used as fuel. The amount of uranium at this location is the equivalent of 5000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. In an earthquake, large amounts of radioactive particles will be released into the air. Even if only one reactor should collapse, the effect would be catastrophic. Should several or all five Hamaoka reactors be destroyed, the disaster could be much worse than Chernobyl .

Radioactive clouds

The Chubu Electric Power Co., Ltd insists that their Hamaoka reactors are 100% safe. In our opinion, the effects of an earthquake can never be predicted, so their assessment cannot be trusted. The Tokai megaseism could be up to 60 times as powerful as the 2004 Niigata earthquake. It is almost impossible to estimate where radioactive dust and debris, containing uranium, would fall as it depends on wind currents and wind speeds, as well as climate conditions. As radioactivity can stay in the atmosphere for long periods of time, it can fall anywhere and seriously pollute any spot on our rotating planet.

The key to avoiding the radioactivity is to not get it on your skin or into your body. Living cells will be attacked by the cancer-causing radioactivity. Therefore, Japan Offspring Fund recommends wearing a face mask to avoid breathing the radioactive air. In addition, it is crucial to stay out of rain in the aftermath of a Hamaoka nuclear disaster.

Lack of news

When a large earthquake strikes the Hamaoka nuclear reactors, there is no assurance that the public will find out what has happened. Media is usually quick to report about visible effects, such as delayed trains or shaking buildings. But the image of burning nuclear reactors may perhaps not immediately be shown on TV, as it would cause panic. The telephone communication with the region could also be broken, so there would be no way of knowing what has happened.

Transportation would be paralyzed due to the Tokai megaseism, making it virtually impossible to escape. Getting stuck in the middle of a traffic jam is also a scenario that everyone should consider. This is not the same as just an ordinary earthquake, or, for that matter, just an ordinary nuclear reactor accident. In JOF’s newsletter 127 we discussed the difficulties related to a big earthquake affecting the Hamaoka reactors, and especially the risks to people living in Tokyo . We warned that since the Kanto region, including Tokyo , may very well be downwind from the Shizuoka region, a large number of people will all want to escape at once. However, people living in Shizuoka are particularly at risk. In addition to the difficulties of escaping by road, it should also be considered that electricity and water services may be interrupted.

Use a mask

An ordinary cotton face mask is not sufficient to prevent radioactive particles to enter the lungs. Soaking such masks in water makes them a lot more effective, but not to the extent that they would be 100% safe. The best ordinary masks have passed a DS2 level in the national official approval rating system. Such masks cut out more than 95% of dust particles the size of 0.1 microns. For the people living in Shizuoka this would still not be sufficient, so we recommend masks that have passed a DS3 level, cutting out 99.99% of dust particles the size of 0.1 microns. Thinking ahead is important. Make sure to have such masks ready, at home and in your office, as they will be very difficult to buy once the disaster has happened.

Using DS3 level face masks, almost no radioactivity can enter the lungs. There are no DS3 level masks available for children, so we recommend using a DS2 level mask with additional gauze inside. Take care in advance to make sure that your child is breathing comfortably while wearing such mask. DS3 level masks are more expensive, but last considerably longer than DS2 level masks. Also, make sure you stay indoors. Sealing off the doors and windows of the house with duct tape as much as possible is also a good idea. Cleaning and wiping inside the house is also an important way to avoid radioactivity. Use a disposable dust cloth or a towel. Put the cloth in a plastic bag after cleaning, and throw away outside of the house.

Spread the word

Most people do not know about the Hamaoka nuclear reactors, and have not understood the risks associated with a Tokai megaseism. You should consider yourself a leader in your community, with the responsibility of explaining to others how they can protect themselves. Buying masks for yourself and your family should be a priority. Make sure your dearest ones understand how to use the mask. Discuss this issue with neighbours and colleagues as well. In this way, more people will also become aware of the problem of the nuclear reactors in Hamaoka. Even if you do not consider yourself an “activist”, buying face masks shows that you are serious about this problem and others will also start to demand that these five nuclear reactors are shut down. We recommend the 3M mask.

Emergency goods for earthquake and nuclear safety

The following items should be stocked as emergency goods:

Maps
Seaweed (tororo kelp): decreases the intake of radioactive iodine which causes thyroid cancer – eat large quantities
Duct tape and aluminum foil: use to seal windows and doors to avoid radioactive particles to enter

Face masks (One DS3 mask will last 24 hours. DS2 masks last 12 hours or less)
Shoe covers
Polyester gloves
Raincoat
Towels
Head protection (including hair cover)
Band aid
Plastic bags
Garbage bags

General emergency goods

Radio
Flashlight
Water and food
Emergency medical supplies
Sport shoes
Pen/paper
Bank cards
Postal savings book
Valuables

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