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Friday, 1 August 2014

Brave Japanese Doctors

 In December 2013, Japan passed a vaguely worded secrecy law, which made it illegal for anyone to reveal information that might be harmful to Japanese "security". This includes information about the ongoing health problems caused by radioactivity from Fukushima Daiichi, the nuclear reactor complex damaged by the March 2011 earthquake/tsunami. The new law carries stiff penalties, prison terms up to ten years. Mainly aimed at government officials and journalists, it can be applied to anyone, including physicians. 
In January 2014, a secret agreement was made between the International Atomic Energy Commission and Fukushima Prefecture and University, that all health information pertaining to radiation illness would be kept "confidential". Japanese doctors have been ordered to cover up radiation sickness.
Imagine how difficult it is for a doctor to speak out in Japan! 
Officially, there have been no illnesses and no deaths from the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi. So says the World Health Organization, in a study released in February 2013. The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) also concluded, in October 2013, that there were no illnesses and no deaths, and the major adverse effect was on the mental health of the population.

This study has been severely criticized by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)and their U.S. affiliate Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Still, these two reports, from highly respected UN bodies, have been widely quoted, and serve to bolster the Japanese government and the nuclear industry worldwide. Anyone who follows the Fukushima news knows that they are patently false.
Three obvious examples:

1) One hundred twelve sailors (at latest count, the number keeps increasing) from the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan are now suing TEPCO. They spent almost 3 months in Fukushima harbor helping victims of the earthquake/tsunami, Healthy young people, mostly in their 20's, they have come down with various cancers, bleeding disorders, and other varieties of radiation sickness, only three years after the disaster.
2) As of May 2014, 90 children in Fukushima Prefecture had thyroid cancer. This is about 300 cases per million- average Is 1-2 cases per million. Yet the authorities are saying it couldn't be due to Fukushima radiation, because it took FIVE years for children in Chernobyl to develop thyroid cancer, while in Fukushima, it's only been THREE years. To me, as a physician, this means that the exposure was more intense in Japan.

3) Thousands of people in Japan report daily unstoppable nosebleeds, a symptom of radiation sickness. This problem has been published in the popular Japanese comic Oishinbo. The authors have been criticized for "spreading rumors", and Fukushima doctors are quoted by authorities as saying there is no relationship between nosebleeds and Fukushima.

Hiding the health consequences of radiation from Fukushima is serious, both for those suffering, who can't be properly treated, or compensated as victims, and for those at risk, who aren't being warned. Below are comments from two brave doctors, who have dared to speak out despite the state secrets law.

DR. TOSHIHIDE TSUDA, an epidemiologist and Okayama University professor was invited to speak at the Ministry of the Environment, which held an Expert Meeting Discussing Health Support After the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, on July 16th 2014.
Dr. Tsuda said:"Radioactive materials [being disseminated due to the Fukushima nuclear accident] are not thought to remain within borders of Fukushima Prefecture. We need to urgently figure out if there are any cases in non-Fukushima residents. [...] Fixating on dose assessments will delay countermeasures, worsening the damage [...] health checkups should be immediately carried out within and out of Fukushima Prefecture, in order to identify cases of thyroid cancer and other illnesses." 
The committee dismissed his remarks, preferring to simply measure exposure of the population to radiation- an unreliable measure, as it doesn't take into account variations from place to place, ingestion of radioactive food and water, etc.
The committee chair [said] "I don't want to discuss the issue." 
A member of the expert meeting and a professor at Osaka University, Tomotaka Sobue, explained disadvantages of health checkups using the term, "overdiagnosis." This means [...]" discovery of cancer during health checkups could cause excessive anxiety and a psychological and physical burden due to surgery. "

The second brave doctor is DR. SHIGERU MITA, who published a letter in the local physicians' newsletter. I am quoting it fairly completely, as the information in it is vital.

Dr. Shigeru Mita's essay published in the newsletter of As sociation of Doctors in Kodaira (Tokyo) , translated by WNSCR , July 16, 2014: Why did I leave Tokyo? To my fellow doctors, I closed the clinic in March 2014, which had served the community of Kodaira for more than 50 years, since my father's generation, and I have started a new Mita clinic in Okayama-city on April 21. [...] It is clear that Eastern Japan and Metropolitan Tokyo have been contaminated with radiation [...] contamination in the east part [of Tokyo] is 1000-4000 Bq/kg and the west part is 300-1000 Bq/kg. [...] 0.5-1.5 Bq/kg before 2011. [...] Tokyo should no longer be inhabited [...] Contamination in Tokyo is progressing, and further worsened by urban radiation concentration [...] radiation levels on the riverbeds [...] in Tokyo have increased drastically in the last 1-2 years. [...] Ever since 3.11, everybody living in Eastern Japan including Tokyo is a victim, and everybody is involved. [...] The keyword here is "long-term low-level internal irradiation." This differs greatly from medical irradiation or simple external exposure to radiation. [...] People are truly suffering from this utter lack of support. [...] If the power to save our citizens and future generations exists somewhere, it [is] in the hands of individual clinical doctors ourselves. [...] Residents of Tokyo are unfortunately not in the position to pity the affected regions of Tohoku because they are victims themselves. Time is running short. [...]
Dr. Mita on patient symptoms since 2011 : White blood cells, especially neutrophils, are decreasing among children [...] Patients report nosebleed, hair loss, lack of energy, subcutaneous bleeding, visible urinary hemorrhage, skin inflammations [...] we began to notice changes in children's blood test results around mid-2013 [...] Other concerns I have include symptoms reported by general patients, such as persistent asthma and sinusitis [...] high occurrences of rheumatic polymyalgia [...] Changes are also noticeable in the manifestation of contagious diseases such as influenza, hand-foot-and-mouth disease and shingles. [...]
Given this information, it's criminal to bring the Summer Olympics to Japan in 2020. Dr. Mita reports that Tokyo is becoming more radioactive, not less. I urge readers of this article to sign the petition
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