TOKYO (majirox news) — The citizens’ group known as Protect Children from Hotspot Radiation in Kashiwa city in Chiba prefecture has disbanded, Yuki Ohsaku, a representative of the group, said in a radio interview.
Ohsaku said the differing opinions on radiation by the Japanese public was too stressful for its members, and the discord was harder to deal with than the radiation issue.
“Members of the group were tired of being ridiculed as ‘freaks,’” she said.
Additionally, some people do not want to think about radiation. Ohsaku’s neighbors told her not to make a big deal of the issue. Some Japanese make statements like: “All is fine” and “Thank goodness, it’s only Fukushima,” she noted.
The organization’s activities caused problems for Ohsaku’s family as well. Her in-laws were upset that she was battling the authorities and that her name was published in the media.
However, Ohasku believes her group did a lot of good. For example, Kashiwa city originally had no plans to measure radiation levels when citizens reported they were high. However, after her group collected more than 10,000 signatures on a petition that was then submitted to the City Council by its 100 members, the city began measuring radiation levels in schools and decontaminating those areas, Ohasku said.
Tension is building between people who worry about the pollution and those who not want to think about it, according to Stig Bjorge, a volunteer researcher for Safecast and owner of Lyrca Co. in Tokyo. Safecast provides people with data on levels of radioactivity from schoolyards, highways, farmlands and cities all over Japan.
“The core point really is the polarization of the people who are Internet savy and want to know about radiation and take precautions, and those who simply don’t want to think about it,” he said.
Perhaps people see no way to do anything about it and are worried about the value of their houses and livelihoods. They believe it’s worse in Fukushima, so there is no need to worry about it here.
Bjorge added that a dynamic that particularly splits people is inside hotspots such as Chiba. Kashiwa’s roads measured around 40,000 Bq/m2 contamination, which is over the level of 37,000 Bq/m2 used in Chernobyl to designate areas as contaminated, according to Safecast.
“The Chiba hotpot area is now recognized to a great extent by the local governments,” Bjorge said. “The local and central governments have taken action by measuring radiation and organizing clean-ups.”
He said that even if some local governments try to play down the significance of the hotspots at Chiba, the Japanese government and local government agree that the hotspots are there.
Link to Safecast map: http://maps.safecast.org/