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On the Global Voices website, a woman in her 20s from Minamisoma city, near Fukushima, Japan, voiced her frustration about the the country’s nuclear disaster in 2011 : “Since the nuclear accident I’ve come to criticize others as being evil: the country, the government, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. But when I really think about it, I’ve not once participated in an election, I don’t read the newspaper, and as for TV, I only watch comedies. Even though I was living next to the power plant, I didn’t even try to learn anything about nuclear power. When I think about it now, I’m embarrassed.”

In an essay, Japanese doctor Shigeru Mita warned against radiation by saying, “Tokyo should no longer be inhabited.” According to an article on, Mita moved his medical clinic away from Tokyo in March after he and his father had served the community for 50 years.

The doctor relocated because he said he researched the comparative radiation levels in Tokyo to the area around Chernobyl (a nuclear disaster site in Ukraine in 1986). After measuring the contamination of the soil, Mita found that the eastern part of Tokyo measured nearly double (and some places even more) the amount of levels than the capital city of Ukraine measured.

The doctor cited that he noticed health problems in the area that were not present before the Fukushima tragedy. He found a decline in white blood cells in his patients under the age of 10, asthma and sinusitis, rheumatic polymyalgia, flu, coughs, nosebleeds, hair loss, etc. — most ailments that were improved after families moved to a safer location.

Mita found that the problems were related to “long-term low-level internal radiation.” This is very different from medical radiation or external exposure to radiation. The problem here is with breathing.

However, according to Vox editor Brad Plumer, nuclear power is slowly going out of style.

Back in 1996, atomic energy supplied 17.6 percent of the world’s electricity. Today it’s down to just 10.8 percent — and it could drop even further in the years ahead. Many reactors are closing — and new reactors have been bogged down by delays, according to this year’s World Nuclear Industry Status Report.

The upshot, Plummer asserts, is that significantly fewer nuclear reactors are in operation today than was the case in 2010 — in large part due to the shutdown of 48 reactors in Japan after the Fukushima disaster. Only China has big nuclear power plans.

Please spread the word. A world that is nuclear-free and carbon-free is possible and imperative. (

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” column runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.

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