I had dinner with some friends last night. One of the guys had prostate cancer but was cured a few years ago after a course of low dose radiotherapy. But his PSA levels have gone up again. He told us he's been sleeping with a stone in his bed which gives off low radiation (granite?). We were joking that the low radiation we're all getting now might be just the thing for his cancer! Come to think of it, it might be knocking many nascent cancers in the bud. Living here might even lengthen our lives, we oldies joked.
But one of the women was telling us that her daughter is newly pregnant and is planning to go and stay with friends in Hokkaido. Whatever the government tells us, I know that if I were in her situation I'd do the same. And at least her older child will be able to play outside, something she can't do here.
The situation is not improving. The reactor continues to leak radioactive materials into the air and sea although most of the damage was done in March at the time of the explosions. The number of people being advised to evacuate is rising all the time. Today four more areas (Date, Hara-machi) were designated as special evacuation areas. This means that the people living there, who've been anxious as they had the same levels as the evacuated areas, will now get financial help to move. Pregnant women and small children are actively being encouraged to leave (I've read of one hospital in Niigata sheltering nearly 100 women with babies and young children, there are probably more).
The removal of soil from school yards continues apace. Today TV footage of a school with grass grounds, (unusual here and the school's pride and joy) being bulldozed away. Parks continue to be monitored. Sakubuta Park, little park famous for its cherry blossom, has reopened but Araike Park has closed (4.4 microsievelt/hr). This is in a prime residential area so the residents there are not going to be pleased. And what about people's gardens? No one's got round to measuring those yet.
Tonight's NHK 9 o'clock news was entirely given over to radiation including a 10 minute piece on the efficacy of water for washing away iodine and caesium. So we are to wash vegetables well and boil in water, and slice meat thin and boil rather than grill or fry, and boil fish taking care to remove the scales and the innards. It's like being in the 60s and the Cold War again ....
I don't know quite what to make of all this. My head tells me that only radiation levels of 100 millisievelts/year will increase the risk of cancer (the government evacuates areas over 20 millisievelts/year) so there is nothing to worry about. But it's just dragging on so long, and wearing us down. No end in sight.
I saw an old lady out today in yukata (cotton kimono) and parasol. I'm not going to emulate her but I did think it was a far more elegant, and cooler, way to cover up than the raincoat and hat I continue to wear.
Goodnight, from a Japan in the midst of radiation 'fever'.