Seventeen months after the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the Tokyo Electric Power Company's six-reactor complex at its Fukushima Daiichi, discussions continue about the possible effects of the radiation "dusting" the prefecture's inhabitants received, and their consequences.
Far outside most media coverage, 2012 is shaping up to be the media battleground between the massed proponents of the ongoing 'safety' of nuclear power, as opposed to a motley coalition of environmentalists, renegade nuclear scientists and anti-nuclear opponents, largely bereft of media contact.
The 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami double punch that effectively destroyed Tokyo Electric Power Company's power plant complex has effectively become the newest "ground zero" in the debate over nuclear power. Advocates pro and con debate the implications of everything from the amount of damage to the release of radionuclides to the long term health effects on the Japanese population.
The stakes are high - quite aside from Japan's multi-billion dollar investment in civilian nuclear energy, dating back to the 1960s, there remains the issues of Fukushima's radioactive debris polluting neighbours.
All sides in the debate are playing for massive stakes, with the Japanese government and the nuclear industry broadly indicating the issue is under control. Accordingly, every issue from the amount of radiation released to the long term health consequences of the Fukushima disaster are subject to acrimonious debate.
That said, there is an involuntary irradiated "test" Fukushima group monitored since March 2011 displaying disturbing health abnormalities that may ultimately decide the debate, should the global media report it, forcing governments to debate its consequences.
The children of Fukushima.
The issue of nuclear radiation on human health cites besides Fukushima the August 1945 U.S nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the April 1986 explosion of the Chernobyl reactor complex in Ukraine, but in reality, there are no comparisons to evaluate Fukushima.
The 1945 U.S. Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were weapon "air bursts," raising no nuclear debris from the ground. Furthermore, the Japanese medical establishment had no experience with the problem and when U.S. military forces arrived over a month later, information about the human cost of the bombings was censored for decades. Showing pictures of destroyed buildings, okay - showing victims with kimono patterns seared into their skin, no.
As for Chernobyl, the 26 April 1986 catastrophe represented a major black eye for Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's "glasnost" policy. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Soviet emergency workers, the Chernobyl smoking nuclear roman candle burned for nine days before being extinguished.
In contrast, Fukushima Daiichi has been like a suppurating wound, leaching radionuclides into the environment since March 2011, and since then furious arguments have swirled about not only how much radiation Fukushima released, but the potential long term health consequences.
But both disputes ultimately devolve into pure speculation.
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