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Saturday, February 15, 2014

~ Fukushima ~


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 seen."
In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes…”
Ivan Macfadyen claims :
"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, everywhere.
Countless hundreds of wooden power poles are out there, snapped off by the killer wave and still trailing their wires in the middle of the sea.

"In years gone by, when you were becalmed by lack of wind, you'd just start your engine and motor on," Ivan said.
Not this time.
"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 utensils.
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 help….”

“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.

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