TWO years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster local children are showing signs of cancer, prompting cries of a cover-up.
The rice fields are overgrown with weeds as tall as a man. The rest of this village, near the scene of the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, is deserted. Washing still hanging on lines hints at the panic which engulfed this region of Japan.
The farmer is among a handful of people who defied an order by the authorities to evacuate. Beef from this area was once prized for its taste and quality but his cows, which graze within sight of the chimneys of the plant, should have been slaughtered and are now worthless.
Two years after an earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown in the reactors at Fukushima, releasing clouds of radiation, the world has moved on.
Officially the mass evacuation was a success and the prompt action of a heroic band of workers at the crippled plant averted a nuclear catastrophe. No one has so far died as a result of radiation from Fukushima, insist the authorities. However there are growing concerns that the full scale of the disaster has yet to be seen. There are claims of complacency and a cover-up. It's not the Japanese way to stage protests but there has been a series of anti-nuclear rallies in Tokyo, 160 miles south.
Most worrying are the results of tests carried out on more than 130,000 children who lived around Fukushima. More than 40 per cent have the early signs of thyroid cancer, while other forms of the disease may not become apparent for a decade.
While it's true that people living very close by were evacuated within the first few days, damage may already have been done to their health. Many more, living up to 25 miles away, were not moved away until six weeks after the radiation escaped.
It's also feared that the food chain has been contaminated. Radioactive material has been detected in a range of produce, including spinach, tea leaves, milk and beef, up to 200 miles distant. Fish caught near the plant this month were more than 5,000 times over safe radiation limits, according to Japan's state broadcaster NHK.
Then there's the daily risk of more radiation escaping from the smouldering plant, which is still not fully stable. It's being cooled with vast amounts of water but workers are running out of tanks in which to store the contaminated liquid once it has done its job.
and most people think it is over.........
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