In the days and weeks following March 11, I followed closely the reading of environment radioactivity levels reported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (how can a single ministry properly handle so many fields?) of Japan – MEXT for short. I had good faith in their data, as there had not be any recent major scandal of cover-up by the government of industrial pollution and, besides, I could not see why should the government lie about it. Since then, the government continuously showed its dedication to brain-wash the population that there was no danger at all and the economic motivation is openly declared, as “Japan has to support the Tohoku region”. Paradoxically, although there supposedly is no danger to fear, the irradiated sludge from Fukushima must be dispatched to all regions to “share their pain”. If that waste is truly harmless, why don’t they keep it?
Recently it has transpired that Japanese green tea from Saitama and Chiba, the northern suburbs of Tokyo, are contaminated with radiation. These districts are also infamous for hosting radiation hot spots. The readings from MEXT show spikes in radiation level on March 15 there as well as in other places. MEXT readings for that day :
Saitama : 1.2 uSv/h
Chiba : 0.3 uSv/h
Tokyo : 0.5 uSv/h
Gunma : 0.6 uSv/h
Tochigi : 1.3 uSv/h
Ibaraki : 1.5 uSv/h
On MEXT website, the only districts for which records have a different format (a long list of PDF instead of a chart) are Fukushima and Miyagi. Other places have little radioactivity reported as if nothing happened. Later on, levels in Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Gunma, Tochigi and Ibaraki, places that experienced a reported surge on March 15, are shown in MEXT reports to have suddenly no more radioactivity… Even though this is the date of the hydrogen explosion at Fukushima Daiichi reactor no. 4, or rather because of it, the fall-out could not possibly disappear in one day. Besides, we know from news leaks that some hotspots have been detected and that there are “probably” more of them, since official field monitoring is now known to be shoddy and biaised.
The Safecast citizen initiative reports for instance values of 0.2 – 0.3 uSv/h along the road that goes from Tokyo to Tsukuba, which is inconsistent with MEXT data. Absolute values may not seem high, but they compare with the range of readings published by MEXT for the Tokyo – Chiba area when the hydrogen explosion occured. In the Safecast map screenshot below, all yellow dots belong to the 0.2 – 0.5 uSv/h range. Furthermore, data outside roads is not measured and we can only extrapolate.
The cumulative effect of the average 0.25 uSv/h recorded by Safecast during the 6 months since March 11 amounts to 1.1 mSv, which is over the annual legal limit for the general public in France (1 mSv/year). No wonder that MEXT does not report correctly this data! In other words, the environment radioactivity in some parts of Greater Tokyo is twice as what it should be at maximum by French standards.
The problem is that if the government is cheating about these 6 districts (or “failing” to properly monitor them), then we can not trust readings about the rest of Japan either. The different format used by MEXT for Fukushima and Miyagi suggest that closer scrutiny goes into these critical districts. Since the government put its political faith that the rest of the country was safe, it would also be logical that they paid attention mostly to Fukushima and Miyagi. Practically speaking, it is very easy for the government to turn off the instruments but for one left in a room to measure the ambient radioactive noise (the natural background radioactivity) and hence get real, good looking charts without needing to manually mess with the data.
Survival tactics imply to disregard MEXT data when they are within noise range (0.05 uSv/h), get a kit from Safecast to make your own measurements (this blog has no financial interest in this promotion), and move as far away from eastern Japan – Tokyo included – as you can. Brief stays appear to remain not too dangerous for now provided you pay attention to your food and water.