Poor Noda, our new Prime Minister. He's trying so hard, only to be let down by his newly appointed Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry who visited Fukushima on Saturday and committed a number of gaffes. He said the area around the reactor was like 'Death Town'. Well we all know it is, but we want our leaders to give us hope and positive leadership. Then he brushed his sleeve and joked he'd got radioactive particles stuck on him and might give them to someone. That's worse. Fuels the prejudice against us. So by Sunday he was gone. To be replaced by our old friend Edano. He was Cabinet Secretary during the crisis, offical spokesman and tireless front man, reassuring us that the reactor was safe, and saying memorably, 'There is no immediate danger from radiation'. But at least he's familiar with the situation so will get on with the job. The danger is of course that the opposition will start hounding the Prime Minister and try to make him responsible and he'll fall and we'll get another Prime Minister, the so-called revolving door.
Some good news. Kawauchi-village, in the 20 to 30 km zone, has announced plans for its 2,800 strong population to return to the area by March next year. It depends on getting the water supply properly checked and schools cleaned up. Woods are to be cleaned after the people return - over the next TEN years. In spite of this upbeat plan, the residents being interviewed didn't sound too keen to go back. A lot of work needs to be done in reassuring them that they will be safe.
An international conference was held at Fukushima University over the weekend and world radiation experts seem to agree that the risk for us is very low, lower than at Chernobyl. But it did recognise that people here are very anxious and stressed and there needs to be transparency about the risks and policy decisions in addition to help for people under stress. Even the ICRP representative said they would reconsider their recommended levels. But more of that another time.
Listening to the radio as I drove around today I heard that the prefecture is recruiting people for its new Clean Up qualification. You can attend a two day course for free which will teach you the basics of radiation, radiation health and safety, and how to operate a digger. A hundred people for each of five courses with more planned. Now that's supply and demand.
Bye for now