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Japan Update 5 APR

On Monday, Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, stressed that the global nuclear community cannot take a "business-as-usual approach." When asked if the Fukushima catastrophe could have been avoided, Amano replied, "The measures taken by the operators as a safety measure (were) not sufficient to prevent this accident." On Tuesday the Fukushima prefectural goverment started radiation measurement at schoolyards in the prefecture. The move came as parents expressed concern to authorities about the start of the school year (April 1) and if it was safe to allow their children to walk to school, or to play outside in the school yards. The Kyodo News reports the emergency measurements will continue through Thursday at some 1,400 kindergartens, elementary and junior high level schools outside of the 20 kilometer evacuation zone area. Meanwhile, news reports contend the Japan Meteorological Agency has been withholding forecasts on radiation dispersal from the public, despite making forecasts everyday to the IAEA. In contrast, online sites have been publishing their own radiation dispersal forecasts on the Web, based on data from NOAA, EURAD, and other established and vetted agencies.  Among the best for a generalized global view is the UK's Weatheronline Fukushima page (linked on this website as "Radiation Plume Maps" under RELATED LINKS section). The website includes an animated EURAD mapping of potential dispersal of Caesium 137 at various altitudes. Also on the site is mapping from the Central Institute for Meteorology and GeoDynamics in Austria (ZAMG) showing probable dispersal models for Iodine 131, Xenon 133, and Caesium 137. And modeled air parcel trajectories from NOAA.

Whether to announce the IAEA analysis is left to each government's judgment. The Japanese government's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters has so far not released the IAEA analysis. An article in the Daily Yomiuri Online quotess a Meteorological Agency official,

"Japan has its own Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry- operated System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI) for dispersal forecasts. The government in its Basic Disaster Management Plan defines forecasts by SPEEDI as official forecasts. We don't know whether the IAEA basic data the agency uses for the forecasts really fit the actual situation. If the government releases two different sets of data, it may cause disorder in the society."

We don't know whether the IAEA basic data the agency uses for the forecasts really fit the actual situation. If the government releases two different sets of data, it may cause disorder in the society." While the Nuclear Saftey Commission claims "We can't do it because the accuracy is still low."

Updated radiation levels for Fukushima area are reported daily on the Graphing Earthquake, Radiation and Water Data in Japan website, (known as The radiation graphs are made from data feed in from monitoring posts setup by the Prefectural Offices, TEPCO and NISA.

The Washington Posts reports in an article headlined Peace of mind, livelihood gone as Japanese town withers in shadow of nuclear plant:

Radiation data released daily by the regional government, however, show just how difficult it is to work out who is and who isn’t at risk. Fukushima City, the regional capital, is much farther from Fukushima Daiichi than Minami Soma but has far higher radiation readings. The level of hazard depends not just on distance but a host of often inscrutable factors such as local topography and wind patterns.

Official Japanese data, said Jan van de Putte, the leader of a radiation monitoring team sent by Greenpeace International, shows “no inconsistencies” but raises “a lot of questions” about where danger lurks. Greenpeace wants mandatory evacuations extended. The U.S. government last month urged its citizens in Japan to stay at least 50 miles away from the plant, four times the distance suggested by Japanese and possible salvation, careering between despair at reports of a spike in radiation and hope stirred by whispers of a secret Ameri

How to reduce the risk and vulnerability of people living in harms way? The Japanese government is considering spending a huge amount of money to buy the coastal disaster hit land from owners for what it was worth before the earthquake. Reportedly the government is also planning to consider allowing residents to continue living near the ocean by developing urban areas that might withstand a tsunami. Over the long term, protection of communities must take priority in quake restoration efforts.  For now, the problem is where are people going to live? Eight towns and villages situated around the quake- and tsunami-hit nuclear power plant are particularly threatened by radiation leaking from the power station, and an unkown number of people were displaced by the earthquake and tsunami. The central government has not grasped how many residents from disaster-hit areas have fled to other areas. It is feared that some residents have lost contact with the local governments of their hometowns after shifting their resident registrations to areas where they are taking shelter, and cannot receive information on relief measures in their hometowns.

 One fact is clear, there is not currently enough housing. In Rikuzentakata, Iwate,, a draw for temporary housing for quake and tsunami displacd residents was held on 05 April. Over 1000 households applied for 36 openings. 18 households from the general public, and another 18 for special housing for elderly, disabled and single mother families.

As if a 9.0 earthquake and hugely destructive tsunami were not enough stress on a population, reports of disaster anxiety are beginning to surface in the larger Japanese population over radiation fears. One psychiatrists reports a patient saying, "No matter how much I wash my hands, I can't shake the worry that they might be tainted with radioactive substances."

Radiation fears are not limited to Japan. 25 nations are now restricting food imports from Japan. Prior to the earthquake, Japan had plans to increase farm exports to 1 trillion yen by 2017 from 492.1 billion yen in 2010, up 11.8 percent from the previous year. Now, the nuclear plant accident is expected to lead to foreign curbs on imports from Japan to be prolonged.

Least we not forget the sacrifice made by the people who are now working in harms way to avert further meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant. One worker is quoted as saying "We tell each other that Japan was utterly destroyed in World War II. Now Japan has once again been burnt to the ground. Although the battlefield is different, we are the modern-day kamikazes." "Kamikaze" refers to suicide pilots who flew planes filled with explosives into Allied ships at the end of the war, and in modern Japan the word carries connotations of sacrificing one's life when ordered to. "Our enemy is now different. But this time it is perhaps more terrifying," he said.

howdy folks