As a response to the ‘letter from a Fukushima mother‘ from May 25, and on behalf of the school children who are the future of Fukushima, we are thinking of sending the letter around with an accompanying statement of support. The text here will be edited to reflect the current version as it gels. If you have ideas for this, or for places we should send a copy or just want to add your voice, put it in the comments. You’ll need an email address to comment, but it’s just so we can minimize comment spam. We’ll work out a petition-style approach for the future.
Here’s the current draft:
We are people from across the world drawn together in shared concern for the suffering of the people of Japan, first from the earthquake and tsunami, and now from the continuing nuclear emergency at Fukushima Daiichi. We have followed news reports, press releases, and both official and private radiation readings taken in areas outside the boundaries of the evacuation zone.
It is clear to us that people living in Fukushima city and some surrounding areas are being subjected to abnormally high levels of radiation. Parents of children in local schools are protesting after the discovery of levels of radiation significantly higher than those officially recorded. (New York Times 28th May 2011)We note that the original limit of 3.8 microsieverts per hour for children’s exposure in school playgrounds has been supplemented by a non-binding target to reduce such exposure considerably, and that local authorities, now government funded, are planning to remove or bury contaminated topsoil found in school playgrounds.
In our view these laudable efforts are insufficient to protect the children. At school and elsewhere, the air they breathe, the water they drink, the food they eat and the environment in which they live all pose a grave risk to long-term health. This risk is not reducing.
For as long as the reactors at Daiichi remain unstable radiation will continue to pour out of the plant, to be blown by the wind and to leak into the groundwater and sea. Now the typhoon season has started, and the risk of widespread contamination increases.
No child should be expected to live in such an environment. Every child has a right to safe air, food, and water, and to be able to walk, run and play outdoors without wearing a mask and without fear.
Every child has a right to trust that adults will keep them from harm. This special responsibility falls not only on parents but on other adults too, especially those in government. The children and parents in the affected areas need you, the Government of Japan, to defend them. This is your most important responsibility and must be your top priority.
We have recently seen a letter from a mother in Fukushima who has appealed for support to persuade the Government of Japan to take strong action. We write in response to that appeal. We stand with her and with other parents in saying this situation must not continue as it is now. Confidence building measures such as radiation readings at school and the screening of children are not sufficient. The situation is too grave and the threat too immediate.
If necessary the affected schools must be relocated or closed, and the children and their families moved to safer areas. We know this is hard. But it must be faced. There are precedents in the UK and elsewhere. As a government you have emergency powers at your disposal. Unfortunately it is not in your power to immediately stop further radiation from spreading, but you can take strong and decisive action to prevent further harm to your most vulnerable citizens. We urge you to do so immediately.
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