Thursday, August 4, 2011
Radiation in Japan: 12,600 High School Students from All Over Japan Gather in Fukushima for Annual Cultural Festival
As ultra-hot spots exceeding 5 sieverts/hour are being discovered Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and as the situation of serious radiation contamination is finally starting to sink in, what do they do in Fukushima Prefecture?
Hold the annual high school cultural festival, gathering high school students from all over Japan to Fukushima, in cities where high-radiation hot spots have been discovered throughout, or highly radioactive rice hay/meat cow has been found, or both. In one of the cities, Fukushima City, cobalt-60 has been detected in the soil in a park.
Business as usual, extend and pretend that everything is back to normal. Radiation? What radiation?
The 35th All Japan High School Cultural Festival in Fukushima 2011 started, as scheduled, on August 3. A variety of events organized by the high school students (yes, students in Fukushima Prefecture had been so hard at work), with the help of teachers and administrators, will be held in cities like:
Aizu Wakamatsu City
Minami Soma City
The event is organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Boards of Education in each city in Fukushima, both under the Ministry of Education and Science.
Asahi Shinbun, which is one of the special sponsors of the event, reports, with hardly a mention of the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident or radiation contamination in Fukushima. All it says about radiation is that "some venues have been changed because of a concern for radiation level..." It's just a "concern", not the real thing:
From Asahi Shinbun (8/3/2011):
The 35th Annual All Japan High School Cultural Festival in Fukushima 2011 started as scheduled on August 3. The event is organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and others and sponsored by companies including Asahi Shinbun. There was a doubt as to whether the event would be held because of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident, but now 12,600 high school students from all over the country come to Fukushima, and will compete in 15 events that include chorus, art and craft, game of "go", Japanese chess.
The Festival is dubbed as "intercollegiate for high-school cultural clubs". The organizing committee of students and teachers have been preparing for the Festival for over a year. Initially, 23 events were planned that 20,000 students would participate in. But after the March 11 earthquake/tsunami some of the event venues became the evacuation shelters, and there was a concern for the radiation level in the areas where the events would be held. As the result, some events have been canceled, or the venues have been changed to other locations.
The grand opening ceremony will be held in Aizu Wakamatsu City on August 4. 550 local high school students will participate in a play that will express their hope for the recovery of Fukushima.
The Festival is supported by 3,200 high school students in Fukushima Prefecture who serve as the operating personnel for the organizing committee. They act as guides at the airport and at the major train stations, as well as helping set up the event venues, provide tea service, flower arrangements at the train stations and at the event venues.
At the Fukushima Airport, 4 students from Sukagawa High School greeted the plane flown in from Osaka. They had prepared themselves well with hypothetical questions and answers. They guided the participants from Hyogo Prefecture through the airport, explained how to get to the event venues. They sent off the Hyogo students with "We hope you'll do your best."
At JR Koriyama Station, two girls from Asaka Kaisei High School were waiting for the participants. One girl said, "So many people are coming from far away places to Fukushima, where much damage has been sustained. I'm nervous, but I will greet them with a smile."
Visiting for a few days in a high-radiation area is different from living in such an area, you would say. So?
There was a piece of news back in May which was very quickly buried. The news said that thousands of people received elevated radiation just by being in Fukushima Prefecture for a few days.
The organization "Safe Children of Fukushima" put up a Facebook page telling the high school students of the risk of radiation, and specific steps what they should do which include not going to Fukushima. The organization tells the students, "If you do go, take protective measures against radiation, and talk about the radiation risks with the students in Fukushima." It has a map showing the radiation measurement along the railway line - approaching Koriyama City and Fukushima City, the level goes up to that of radiation control areas in nuclear facilities.
No matter. The governor of Fukushima, Yuhei Sato, as the honorary chairman of the organizing committee, would never think of depriving Fukushima high school students of their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of hosting this prestigious cultural event.
And why should he? He clearly doesn't even care for kindergarteners in Fukushima, as it turns out he was probably the one who wanted 20 millisieverts/year radiation limit for school children.