On March the 11 2011, the world watched as the tsunami, caused
by a massive underwater earthquake hit the coast of Japan, the huge immediate
effect on people’s lives was apparent, but as we watched the explosions at the
nuclear power plant at Fukushima it became clear that this was a catastrophe
that would have huge and ongoing consequences, a catastrophe that is being
ignored and swept under that carpet by world governments and the main stream
media alike. However the consequences of the meltdown of the nuclear power
plant at Fukushima are increasingly hard to ignore as evidence mounts.
The consequences of any nuclear leak are very hard to link
definitively back to the leak, and many of the dangers to health are ongoing
and accumulative, the Japanese government is downplaying connections between
human health problems and the radiation that has and is leaking from Fukushima,
36% of children in Fukushima are reported to have thyroid cysts, in tests
conducted in September 2012 this is apart from the other symptoms.
All of Japan is affected, and we may never know the true
cost to human health, many children will not be born, many people will become
sick and not be able to make the contributions to their community that they
would like to. Many people cannot live at home, cannot be with their friends
and family, or if they are close to home are worried and confused because home
has changed, people around are worried and confused and may well be getting
ill, real support and clarity does not seem to be forthcoming for people.
Although the Japanese government are downplaying any risks
to health, the accumulative health effects of people living in the area seems
to be another catastrophe in the making, With people still living and working
in heavily contaminated areas, children are only allowed out to play for an
hour at a time and covered up as much as
possible. People who go out to the local park are advised to only remain for an
hour, and to wash hands and faces and to gargle.
The Prefecture of Fukushima, which is similar functionally to a “State”
in the United States, is a beautiful, rural alpine region with wetlands, a
mainly rural farming and fishing population. People supplementing incomes with
traditional local crafts.
Welcome to Fukushima ! March 2007
This You Tube video uploaded on July 22 2008, containing
tourist information as of March 15 2007 portrays a wonderful, pristine
environment. The beautiful, alpine environment is, however part of what
complicates any attempt at clean-up operations as an estimated 100 tons of
water travel down from the mountains to the sea, past and through the
contaminated ruins of the nuclear power plant.
Estimates of the amount of water flowing through the
contaminated nuclear power plant into the ground water and into the pacific
ocean vary considerably from 300 to 600 tons per day, Tokyo Electric Power
Company (TEPCO) announced in August of 2013 :
"We are not currently able to say clearly how much
groundwater is actually flowing into the ocean," said Tokyo Electric Power
spokesman Noriyuki Imaizumi in response to a reporter's question about the
government estimate.” However :“….The Japanese government believes radiation-contaminated
water has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean at a rate of 300 tons a day"
The Pacific Ocean, it would seem has been profoundly
affected by the Tsunami, with debris
reported as far away as Hawaii, in his report from the Newcastle Herald, New
South Wales, Greg Ray reports that yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen who recently sailed
from Melbourne to Osaka and then from Osaka to San Francisco claims that the
sea “seems dead..” Macfayden claims that the lack of sea birds and sea life
made the journey silent and eerie,
“….The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San
Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous
horror and a degree of fear.
"After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself
was dead," Macfadyen said.
"We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale,
sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on
its head. It was pretty sickening.
"I've done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and
I'm used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds.
But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be
In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding
"Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit
Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an
unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it's still out there,
everywhere you look."
Ivan's brother, Glenn, who boarded at Hawaii for the run
into the United States, marvelled at the "thousands on thousands" of
yellow plastic buoys. The huge tangles of synthetic rope, fishing lines and
nets. Pieces of polystyrene foam by the million. And slicks of oil and petrol,
Countless hundreds of wooden power poles are out there,
snapped off by the killer wave and still trailing their wires in the middle of
"In years gone by, when you were becalmed by lack of
wind, you'd just start your engine and motor on," Ivan said.
"In a lot of places we couldn't start our motor for
fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable.
That's an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.
"If we did decide to motor we couldn't do it at night,
only in the daytime with a lookout on the bow, watching for rubbish.
"On the bow, in the waters above Hawaii, you could see
right down into the depths. I could see that the debris isn't just on the
surface, it's all the way down. And it's all sizes, from a soft-drink bottle to
pieces the size of a big car or truck.
"We saw a factory chimney sticking out of the water,
with some kind of boiler thing still attached below the surface. We saw a big
container-type thing, just rolling over and over on the waves.
"We were weaving around these pieces of debris. It was
like sailing through a garbage tip.
"Below decks you were constantly hearing things hitting
against the hull, and you were constantly afraid of hitting something really
big. As it was, the hull was scratched and dented all over the place from bits
and pieces we never saw."
Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of
throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys
And something else. The boat's vivid yellow paint job, never
faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off
Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.
BACK in Newcastle, Ivan Macfadyen is still coming to terms
with the shock and horror of the voyage.
"The ocean is broken," he said, shaking his head
in stunned disbelief.
Recognising the problem is vast, and that no organisations
or governments appear to have a particular interest in doing anything about it,
Macfadyen is looking for ideas.
He plans to lobby government ministers, hoping they might
“More immediately, he will approach the organisers of
Australia's major ocean races, trying to enlist yachties into an international
scheme that uses volunteer yachtsmen to monitor debris and marine life.
Macfadyen signed up to this scheme while he was in the US,
responding to an approach by US academics who asked yachties to fill in daily survey
forms and collect samples for radiation testing - a significant concern in the
wake of the tsunami and consequent nuclear power station failure in Japan.
"I asked them why don't we push for a fleet to go and
clean up the mess," he said.
"But they said they'd calculated that the environmental
damage from burning the fuel to do that job would be worse than just leaving
the debris there."
The World changed beyond comprehension, life for the people
of the once pristine area known as Fukushima in the Land of Japan was never to
be the same again. Many, many of the survivors have left, families have helped
to finance their young people and children in trips away from the contaminated
areas, Japanese people have left their homeland and now live overseas. For
their own safety, for their health and to give their young people a chance at
surviving to lead a healthy and productive life. Support groups reach out to the world, in a way,
possibly unfamiliar for respectful, independent and reserved people. They come
to lands unfamiliar and strange, witness our struggles so different yet
familiar, and must remember their faraway home that is no more.
In Portabella Road, that magical place, I heard the most
beautiful ladies, dressed in kimonos hand painted and buttersoft silk, soft
peach, deep pink and powder blue, as I gazed down I saw the whitest of pure
white socks, then wooden shoes that I recognised from Japanese paintings. Ooooh
looking up the ladies obi were tied around slender bodies, then at the neck
pure white silk under kimono just peaked, white powdered necks
and faces, sparkling eyes laughing into each other’s beautifully painted sparling
eyes. A tradition to behold, I was transported to another time and place and I
wished the girls well with their joyful, divine, magical journey. We are also
blessed with the emergence onto the Craft marketplace of the traditional crafts
that may have previously been hard to find in the Global marketplace.
We can also learn to Traditional Japanese Arts for
ourselves, in You Tube Videos and we can find Pinterest Boards to inspire
creativity and our own Art. Japanese people bring with them, as have many
others, a wealth of longstanding tradition that we Londoners have always
traditionally welcomed - strangers in a strange land, as Benjamin Zephiniah
writes so wonderfully in his poem The London Breed
….and on a Global level as children of men we would extend
the hand of friendship as Mrs. Jane E. Locke reminds us in her heartfelt,
empathic words Welcome to a Stranger.
A reminder that with Empathy we can understand and become
kind towards what may be foreign exotic, strange but has love and beauty that
we all hold close, that we can all understand, or try and understand, people
holding tradition as a reminder of our Thousand Ancestors and the Love they
gave to us before we were ever a twinkle in someone’s eye. Their own eyes
twinkling at the thought of what we may become. For me I hold the secret wish
that Cherry Trees may still blossom in the Heart of Fukushima, and wish that
love and kindness may shine through for the people profoundly affected by the
tsunami that the world watched sweep over Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.