By: William Hoffman
Produced & Edited By: Zainab Kandeh
Families and businesses are still suffering from the effects of this disaster and it has caused an upheaval of environmental issues and a focus on a new green movement in Japan that has consequences in many different facets of East Asian environmental issues: radiation, agriculture, social responsibility and sustainability in business.
One of the areas that has been most affected by the disaster is agriculture and fishery markets. Mari Takenouchi, an independent journalist in Japan, has followed the effects of the disaster, and found the government is doing a lot to hide some of the radiation’s effects.
She speculates strontium 90 and yttrium 90 radiant raise the incidence of leukemia, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, damage of nervous systems and developmental damage to unborn babies. However, the government was slow to include these radiant in its initial reports.
“Since the Japanese government acknowledged the severe danger of strontium 90, they are doing their best to avoid this topic,” Takenouchi said. “Since there is no scientists who do the research on this in Japan, nobody can say the negative impacts for sure, but I think it is already happening.”
|Nuclear protest continue in Japan |
following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. © Courtesy of: AFP
“In spite of majority of people's opinion, more than 70 percent are against nuclear power now in Japan,” Takenouchi said. “But one day, I think Japanese people's inner outrage could translate into real change when the next nuclear disaster takes place.”
Despite the government's actions there is a strong anti-nuclear sentiment growing in Japan. The Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center (CNIC) is one such group which looks to spread information on the dangerous consequences of nuclear energy and strive towards a nuclear free world.
Hajime Matsukubo, an officer with the center, said the organization has gathered eight million signatures towards its 10 million signature goal to prove there is a strong opposition to nuclear power.
While these efforts have an impact on the startup of some nuclear plants such as the Takahama Power Plant, the government is ultimately looking to restart its nuclear program by January or February, Matsukubo said.
“Maybe it’s difficult that nuclear power is one of the main political issues,” Matsukubo said. “It’s only nery one political issue and to people the economic issue is more important.”
Many different environmental issues make-up the Japanese political landscape and many of them stem from Japan’s lack of mineral resources. The country is largely dependent on imported resources in order to sustain itself ranking it the world’s largest importer of coal and liquefied natural gas, according to the CIA World Fact Book. Japan also suffers from low levels of food production, making it more dependent on imports.
Larry Korn, student of the farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka and English translator of Fukuoka’s book The One-Straw Revolution, said rice is heavily subsidized in Japan, a practice left over from the Tokugawa period (1603 - 1868).
|Farmer Takashi Nakajima operates a tractor in his lettuce field in |
Kawakami Village, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.
© Courtesy of Masaaki Iwamoto/Bloomberg
“They feel like they have to grow enough rice to feed the country,” Korn said. “They have to depend on other places for all of their oil and most of their natural resources, but rice they won’t let go of that one thing, so they subsidize the rice growers.”
But very few people make their way as farmers anymore as 91.3 percent of the population lives in urban zones according to the CIA World Factbook.
This has brought about the need for more urban agriculture in the cities. There’s been a dramatic increase in urban farm production with one-third of all Japanese agricultural output generated by urban agriculture according to a United Nations University article.
|An employee harvests veggies grown inside an office "urban farm" in
The Pasona Group, an employment and staffing company, established the
growing area to foster a work environment that "coexists with nature."
© Courtesy of Yuriko Nakao, Reuters