Tatsuhiko Kodama : The Emotional scientist

On March 11th, this year a massive earthquake of magnitude 9.0 which caused widespread destruction hit Japan. But what followed was a tragedy, for which Japan was not prepared at all. A 15-metre tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima Daiichi reactors, causing a nuclear accident. This was the biggest nuclear accident after Chernobyl (1986).

Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the Radioisotope Center of the University of Tokyo was trying to reach the nuclear safety commission to tell them that they are not handling the crisis properly. The Government was not ready to warn the public about the actual impact of the nuclear accident. Then, the Nuclear Safety Commission and the parliament bickered over whether safety levels should be set at 20 millisieverts or 1 millisiev- ert, delaying decontamination efforts and further confusing citizens. “While these committees were arguing, the situation was getting worse and worse. That’s another thing that makes me mad,” says Kodama.

Finally he was allowed to talk in the parliament about the issue. Tatsuhiko Kodama began his testimony calmly. But a few minutes into his speech before the Japanese parliament’s health and welfare committee on 27 July, the biologist’s tone grew sharp — and then downright angry — as he blasted the Japanese government for not accurately reporting the amount of radiation that had leaked from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the earthquake on 11 March. “This is clear negligence on the part of the government,” he shouted. “With 70,000 people wandering around, unable to go home, what is the government doing?”. The 16-minute rant has since been viewed around one million times on YouTube, and Kodama, quickly became known as the ‘emotional scientist’ spokesman for the victims of the Fukushima disaster. The academic eventually got the government’s ear. The week after his rant, Tajima visited him. The following week, Kodama met then prime minister Naoto Kan, and advised him to get more data from the worst affected areas.

On his counsel, the local government encouraged pregnant women and children, who face an increased risk from radiation exposure, to evacuate from those areas outside the exclusion zone that had elevated radiation. Later, such advisories became common in the wider affected region. Kodama also started emergency decontamination efforts in Minamisoma, teaching town administrators how to measure radiation and look for micro-hotspots.

Kodama’s frustration continues. He says that the government is still not doing enough to help the victims, and he opposes plans to build a state-of-the-art ¥100-billion hospital in Fukushima city, arguing that support should be spread out more widely. He also says that the government is still not releasing enough information. A ban on entry to the exclusion zone has kept scientists from sizing up the true situation in the area and has hampered the work of journalists. Kodama calls it a “censorship that is quite unusual in democratic countries”.

When asked what triggered his anger he said, “The specialist committee’s major mistake was trying to act as politicians rather than scientists.”Unlike · · Unfollow Post · December 27, 2011 near Singapore, Singapore

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