Your experiences in Japan
BBC News Online users in Japan email us with their experiences and concerns about the nuclear leak.
Japan`s government should have international pressure about
this. I live 60 km from Tokaimura, in Tsukuba, Ibaraki prefecture. The first
I heard about the accident was when my mother called from Australia on the
morning of Friday, 24 hours afterwards, having seen it on Australian news.
I am afraid and astonished that the public loudspeaker system, supposed
to be so good in times of earthquakes, etc, were silent that day when we
all were in the dark and wanted to know about radiation levels in our area.
We wanted to know if winds had brought radiation or if water we were drinking
had been affected by rivers coming from Tokaimura. Far worse must have been
the confusion of people right near the accident site, who weren`t told to
evacuate till 12 hours after the event.
I think the Japanese nuclear industry and government are intolerably arrogant about the safety of Japanese nuclear technology which has been shown to be failure prone on many occasions. We need to evaluate if producing one third of Japan's electricity at not particularly cheap or efficient rates is worth the cost of putting our people in constant danger. Nuclear experts say the residents of Tokaimura were put in a situation equivalent to living in an area prone any minute to being attacked by a nuclear bomb (if nuclear reactions led to an explosion).
To Japanese people more than any people in the world this
should be an outrageous position to be forced to be in. The government has
brainwashed people quite successfully until now with their Safety Myth and
people don`t see that there is a problem or that they can do anything about
it. This appears to be a domestic problem, but i think countries in the
area like South Korea and Australia, Russia, USA should raise their voices
in criticism. The Japanese people are being too quiet about it. Please feel
involved as part of the international community.
Deborah Hodgson, Japan
We have carefully read the information and comments posted here on the BBC pages for the last two days. The common thread seems to the lack or misinformation given to those of us resident here (both native and foreign)by the Japanese authorities. As well as relating our own personal experiences, would it not also be useful to discuss practical issues. Our ignorance is not only based on lack of news, but also one of no experience. We would like to ask the following questions. How concerned do we need to be on a practical, daily basis? What kind of alert should we all be on? Are there avoidance strategies we can focus on in our everyday lives? (regarding the food chain, weather patterns, water supplies etc.) As the 'disaster' shifts down to an 'incident' in status in the media- how long should we remained focused on the potential lethal consequences regarding safety. Should we be panicking and packing our bags? Any information is appreciated.
The reporting of the Nuclear Crisis by the Japanese Government and the news agencies here in Tokyo has been terrible. On Thursday there were several short mentions of a radioctive problem in Ibaragi on the main English speaking FM radio station, but they were casual and sounded un-important. When they repeated more and more I gathered interest and wanted to see what had happened on the 11:00 PM news. Of the 7 major TV stations that broadcast here in Tokyo only one (NHK) showed a news report on the accident but the broadcast wasn't bilingual, which is so common now. This is unbelievable. I understand Japanese well but many foriegners in Japan do not. Why was there so little coverage at this major news hour and then only in Japanese??
On Friday many of my non-Japanese associates, including myself, were frantically trying to get accurate information from our own Embassies. But they were just being spoon fed the paultry information released by the Japanese agencies, very little. Thank goodness for the Internet and BBC News, you have provided by far the most accurate and the greatest amount of useful information. Several of my Japanese associates didn't even seem to care about this, laughing my concern off. Only last night on the 11PM news were details starting to come out, but only in Japanese. Most of the staiojns were showing sex related and other stupid Japanese programs. It is so classic in Japan when there is horrific news that the news agencies and the government withhold real details and only release what they want us to hear. I believe this is to control panic and maintain a state of peace and harmony. BS!!! What happened in Tokaimura is a world disaster. The Japanese need to understand this and react. The people need to be educated with accurate and timely information. I am deeply saddened and ashamed to live in such a backward country. I hope the people responsible are prosecuted to the extent of world law. There will certainly be a review of Japan's shoddy nuclear program.
Gary Larson, Japan (US citizen in Tokyo, 20 yrs)
Originally from New Zealand (nuclear-free), I've been living in Chiba-ken with my 8-year-old son for the past year. We're about 50kms from Tokaimura, as the crow flies. We've had no information about the wider effects of the radiation leak, and the Japanese people around me are not talking about it at all. The people that I have pointedly asked for their opinion, have either laughed ("ha-ha, we're all being exposed to radiation!") or seem relatively unconcerned. It blows my mind that Japan, who has experienced atomic warfare first-hand, can be so nonchalant and passive about a nuclear plant accident. There seems to be incredible ignorance about even the very nature of radioactive substances. It's my understanding that once released into the environment, those substances are completely pervasive in their contamination. How is it that we are living with these kinds of life-threatening energy sources in our back yards, yet we know so little about how we're being affected?
Fiona Smythe, Japan
I live in Hitachi-Naka city by the Tokaimura. And so the location is about only 8km from the plant. We had to stay in own houses, however I could not listen to the broadcastings from city proclimations. There are some manuals about the nuclear accidents because the town is near the town which has many nuclear plants. It doesn't work well at the accident yesterday. We could gain the most of information from TV or internet... There're many serious problems. I wish the government to reconsider how to evacuate from such kind of accident.
Hiromi Inada, JAPAN
I am very sad and distressed to have to confirm that everything your other correspondents have said is true. I live in Tokyo and right now, I am sitting at home listening to NHK broadcasting some sort of historical documentary following a special "extended edition" of news which added nothing to my knowledge of the event, gained almost exclusively from the BBC and the frantic emails and messages received all day from people in Europe and America. I am sickened by the pictures of senior people at JCO and Sumitomo bowing, kneeling and apologizing. It doesn't help ! What about the 16 JCO employees who effectively gave their lives in the early hours of this morning to end the criticality event ? Why is it that at 11:00 pm last night this was being reported on NHK as a recent event ? when it had already been running for more than 12 hours ? Why is it that NHK reported tonight, almost as an intriguing sidebar, that ABC, CNN, and the BBC were treating this as their "TOP STORY" ? How can the Japanese government's (and NHK's) perceptions of this event be so massively out of line with the rest of the world ? I don't understand it at all.
Susan Andrews, JAPAN
I was very interested to read to report on this page from one of the staff at university here in Tokyo saying that they had not detected any radiation in Tokyo (I hope this is true). The local media has released absolutely no information about radiation levels and the spread of any fallout other than in the immediate vacinity of the plant. If there is anyone else with a geiger counter could they please go post their results here.
Mark Roddick, Japan
Regarding the media coverage of this incident, it may interest you to know that whereas the photographic coverage you provided showed clearly that damage to the roof of the building where the accident happened, photos in today's Japanese newspapers and indeed aerial shots on this evening's NHK news showed absolutely no damage. Presumably they were all using old photographs and one can only wonder why they did not show the real extent of the damage. Surely this is not a case of the Japanese government controlling the media? I am not so cynical as to believe that, am I?
Neil Smith, 25-year resident and fluent in Japanese
What is so disturbing, sitting in Tokyo, is both the incompetence that allows such accidents to happen in the first place, and the inability to manage a crisis when it does occur. Both, unfortunately, appear to be an inevitable part of Japanese public life.
Paul Blamire, Japan
I am living in Nagoya, approx.440km from Tokai mura. The feeling here is one of incredible indifference. Information is released at a very 'careful' rate. Most of us are looking to the BBC or other overseas publications on the internet or via satellite news. for details. There is absolutely no feeling of panic - which is hard to believe when one considers the severity and potential consequences of such an error
Julia Beardwell, JAPAN
With reference to the Japanese Tokaimura nuclear accident, I wish to point out that although some 300,000 residents have been told to stay indoors, the design of their sliding windows on tiny rollers is such that they are not properly sealed even when closed. Because of the humid Japanese climate, the outside air is permitted to flow freely into the room at the top and bottom of the windows, gaps which even insects can negotiate with the greatest of ease. Obviously this factor has to be taken into account when assessing the effectiveness of keeping people indoors, and so far it seems to have been completely overlooked in the media coverage of this event.
David Appleyard, Matsue City, Japan
I live in the east of Tokyo (Edo River) and the wind was quite strong today from the north, but there was no information regarding any danger from drifting radiation. Also, the government has made no effort to release information in any foreign languages even though there are thousands of foreigners in the Kanto area who I am sure are concerned.
Patrick Lovell, Japan
I live near the plant and I can see the blue smoke. I have headaches almost every day and I vomit often.
Vlada Chen, Japan
I lived in Tokyo, and I am frightened by two things in this Uranium-leek-accident.1 The accident itself scared me, and I hope for safety. 2 I did not know that Japanese Government requested help to US Force, until I come here. The news in Japanese language said what to do. But they do not report it. I feel deceived. What we want is not only to know what to do. I want more information. The Japanese broadcastings did not tell a lie, but I think that they hid the truth. So I can not believe the Japanese broadcastings, and it makes me more anxious. We want to know the truth, and we want to decide what to do by ourselves. I think that is our right, and dignity.
Maki Nakayama, Japan
I'm hoping that someone there can answer the question of whether I, who live in Tokyo, should be migrating south, or whether 75 miles is a sufficient difference in area for the amount of overflow present?
Chris Williams, Japan
My family lives in Chiba which is about 150km away from the site. What worries me now is that after a nuclear accident, rain becomes so dangerous because it would contain radiation and I worry if my parents would have any chance to be exposed to radiation. The area, Ibaragi prefecture is a supply area for vegetables and this fact worries me as well.
Tomoko Tominaga, Japan (currently UK resident)
We live close to the place where the accident has happened, about 2.5 km away. One of the biggest problems we have is that we don't understand the messages that are continuously broadcast in Japanese on the public announcement system. We try to keep up to date by contacting Japanese friends end surfing the internet. In Tokai-mura there is a large contingency of foreign researchers and their family who are working in the various laboratories that are present here.
Fam. G.J. Kramer, The Netherlands and Indonesia
I live in HITACHI city near TOKAI village. I was advised that do not go out of doors at 11:00pm (JST) yesterday. Today I was absent from my company. I had been unhappy till safety was announced.
Yuuichi Yamaki, JAPAN
I live in Hitachinaka in the 10km zone. Thanks for the good coverage. Nothing here has been reported about the hole in the roof. We are still being advised to stay inside.
Patrick Savage, UK
At some web based bulletin board system in Japan, people suspect that Japanese officials and politicians hide what is going on, and think that it is bigger problem than reported.
Since we are at night, only TV News covers this disaster. No Japanese major News web have reported it, either. Thanks to your news web, I could be informed the serious accident in detail. As a Japanese, I get mad at the slow reaction of the Japanese government.
Mariko Mitsui, Japan
We are at a university in western Tokyo. We tested the ground for increase in radiation, but found nothing. We haven't had time yet to go onto the roof and collect airborne particles. There has been no information from officials about prevailing wind and weather at the time of the accident and thereafter. It seems information came more quickly from overseas via email from friends than it did within Japan. It was a major and very lengthy news item last night on the television, but they just kept repeating the same small amount of information. The relevant officials seem not to have had a firm plan for such an 'accident', they do not seem to be able to understand the seriousness of it, the long term effects, or indeed what to do about it. What is most astonishing is that the technicians concerned appear to have lacked suitable training. Indeed they decided to pour in 16kg because they thought that it was time consuming to only do 2kg at a time.
Robert Ridge PhD, Japan
I live in Tokyo about 70 nautical miles leeway side from Tokaimura. As a survivor of Kobe earthquake, it is a pity that the government here is not ready for any risk management for this kind of disaster yet. There was no instructions at all except staying in homes, they say it is safe enough now. I strongly doubt about that kind of comments. We (my baby and wife and I) are going to stay in the house, windows shut, survive on our survival kits for the next 6 days and follow USAir Force manual for nuclear induced conditions.
Keishi Kishimoto, Japan
I live just outside the 10 Km zone, in a small town called Takahagi. No effects yet and no visible effects on the people. Life as normal as it were. I wonder though if we were exposed and if so by how much? No doubt time will tell, though one can't help wondering how forthcoming the Japanese officials will be with information. If they had set a 20 Km zone it would have included several major cities and thus caused a great deal more havoc. Hmmm...
D R Mark, Japan
I live about an hour from the incident. I am an English teacher in Chiba prefecture which borders Ibaraki prefecture, the site of the incident. Amazingly enough, there has been almost no reaction among any of my neighbours, students, or my fellow teachers who are all Japanese. When I mentioned the incident all I got was some nervous laughter from a few people and total apathy from almost everyone else. It's no wonder that incidents of this nature occur all too frequently in this country.
Chriss N. Earnest, Japan
I live in Tokyo, and am greatly worried about this accident. Some of my friends say that the cause is the development of atomic bomb, which is illegal.
Seiryu Aoyagi, Japan
I live in Tsuchiura, about thirty miles south of the power plant. I work with medicinal levels of radiation and I find it hard to believe that adding an extra 14 kg - 800% extra was human error. It must be shoddy practice. Recent history of the Japanese nuclear industries attempts to cover up incidents don't enthuse confidence in the regulatory system here. There's been no panic in this area, but perhaps we'll look back in future when a fuller picture is revealed and think ourselves fortunate that a worse accident hasn't occurred.
Dr Michael Jones, Japan
If they poured in 16kg of solution on the day of the accident, I'd love to know whether exceeding the 2.3kg limit was actually a common occurrence at the plant. Also, a government official said the amount of radiation released would not be a hazard "unless the reaction continued for a long time". Would experts back that assessment? Part of the reason why it took so long was that the plant was completely deserted as they downed tools and legged it. Are there no radiation suits etc. available at the plant?
James Minney, Japan
I've lived in Japan for three of the past four years, and this latest accident is little surprise. The photo you posted of JOC President Koji Kitani is a familiar sight here, that of the powerful prostrating themselves before the powerless whose lives they have ruined. I remember seeing the same silly image after it became clear that the so-called Health and Welfare Ministry allowed HIV-tainted blood to be sold to haemophiliacs. Apology is a magical thing in Japan: it absolvesyou utterly of responsibility for what you have done, especially if you are a high-ranking bureaucrat or company executive. Once absolved, there is no need to compensate the victims or take steps to ensure that such things never happen again. It takes little clairvoyance to see that more nuclear accidents will occur in Japan. So far they have been near-misses, but next time we may not be so lucky
Kerim Yasar, Japan (US Citizen)
The first news we received about the situation was at 4am when a concerned friend called from London. We live about 50 km away from the plant and so far have received no warnings and very little news. Once again the policy seems to be to keep as many people in the dark as possible and only release limited information. The press conference was screened on NKK, Japanese television at 4.30 am local time, but there was no English translation. It appears that provision to warn the significant number of foreigners which live in this area is non existent. In the event of a major disaster I shudder to think what the consequences would be for the foreigners living and working here.
Perhaps the most frightening thing is that the Japanese seem greatly unaffected by this accident and have generally dismissed it as a small problem which can be dealt with on a local level. The apologies offered by the company concerned I am sure are heartfelt, but this does little to address the problem of a decaying nuclear sector and the unprofessional way it is run.
Dr Philip Blazdell, UK - living in Japan
I had been in a Junior College which is nearly seven kilometres north of the accident's site since I am the part-time lecturer in the college. I had arrived at Omika Station which is the next station to Tokai station around quarter to one yesterday to go to the college. No caution or information of the accident was around the station though the leak had started since half past ten a.m. Around half past three p.m. I heard about the accident while reading the information on the board which was the photocopy of one of the Japanese newspaper for the first time. It was in the break and many students were around the board. In the next class, I reconfirmed whether my students knew about the accident and I asked whether there were students from
Tokayimura, and there were a few students from there.
Suddenly an announcement of Vice-Chancellor through the college's broadcast started in the middle of the class around a quarter past four p.m. It was very unusual matter. He said that the college had just got the advice for the accident from Ibaragi Local Gov. and advised to shut the all windows in the class room as soon as possible. He also said there had been no restriction for going back to home in spite of the accident. "The railways around there was normal and it could be possible to use them for going back" he said as well. Nevertheless the railway has stopped since the beginning of today.
What I have felt strange is the way of government's advice to the residence around the site. The accident had already occurred before noon. However, the college received the first advice to shut windows around 4 o'clock p.m. So many people including myself might have been under the effect of nuclear nearly for 6 hours which seemed to be at the highest level of nuclear until we got the first official advice to shut windows since many people live on normally while keep the windows open, etc. I am wondering why the national and local government had took so long time to give us the first official advice.
Toshio Kadokura, Japan
I live in Fuji City, I know of a person who lives very close the plant. He was told to stay indoors but this morning his boss rang to tell him it was OK, that radiation levels are almost back to zero!!!!! The Japanese here do not seem any bit worried about the effects of the accident.... I sit here hoping that the foreign news is blowing this out of proportion... while the Japanese sit there working away as if it was just another profit enforcing day!!!
Thomas Mc Grath, Irish working in Japan
It interests me to read this article because it is the first I have heard of any such incident. I am living in Fukuoka ken on the island of Kyushu in Southern Japan (originally I am from England). A week ago there was a typhoon here and nobody could stop talking about it. This morning there is a nuclear accident and nobody seems to be in the least bit interested. I wonder if people would be so readily dismissive back home?
Sam Cameron, Japan
Why can't the Japanese nuclear authorities get the safety procedures right? Living in Nagasaki, I am only too aware of what could have happened. The reaction in Nagasaki is simple incredulity. This has done nothing to inspire confidence in the already mistrusted authorities.
Sebastian Fuller, Nagasaki, Japan
I'm living temporarily in Yokohama. It is really worrying that we don't get any information about the situation. We have to read your website to know what happened. The government in Japan is silent about seriousness in this.
Kristina Cederberg, Japan
Thank you very much for the detailed report of the facts. I read it and heard it, thanks to the internet. Your report seems to be one of the best sites regarding the accident. At least better than the Japanese media who are not telling much. We are disappointed that our Government and media are giving us such scarce info.
This morning, TV tells that trains, newspapers, highways blocked in the surrouding areas, schools closed, offices also. People are told to stay inside the houses closing the window, and there seems to be no panic in the area.
But it seems that before a kind of ceasing chemical was put into the plant in 3 am this morning, radiation remained expanding in the area. It seems to be a good choice, since the radiation levels goes down at 6 am. I cannot believe that people living there were not made known about the terrible fact what happened yesterday.
I was in Tokyo, 110 km away from the plant. What I would like to know now is, how the radioactivity expands with the weather of yesterday, how large is the radiation level in Tokai-mura and in Tokyo, whether we have to concern our health. Looking forward to your further reports, thank you very much for reading.
Keiko, 28, student Yokohama, Japan
HI, I am 24 years old Japanese man, working in Yokohama. I live about 300km away from the place where the accident occurred. As far as I know, I do not think it was as bad as people thought. However, I am concerned the way Japanese government treats the issue in the public. Are we really safe or not? IF you know anything about what is happening here, please let me know.