Socialize Radiation Fear.

I want to socialize radiation fear but there are too many other visible fears in our lives already.

The effects of radiation is like your body getting beat up with a heavy steel pipe in super slo-mo and pain is super delayed but your body is definitely injured.

Here’s a little story from my little hometown in northern Japan. The only daycare center in town (with 20 kids between ages 0-5) has been actively serving non-radioactive lunch since 2011. In the north, it gets difficult to come by colored vegetables during winter months. Green veggies pretty much all come from the south of the region, the still contaminated Tohoku and Kanto area. If you try to avoid radiation-free veggies yet you can’t afford expensive spinach from the way south, you’d often end up with just local potatoes and onions on your kitchen.

This daycare orders their veggies from the local food co-op. In the beginning the co-op didn’t like this daycare being picky and used to say “you guys are the only daycare in town that worries about radiation.” But the daycare people didn’t give a fuck. Recently, the co-op started asking them: “the only carrots we have this week are from xxx (contaminated region)… What would you like to do?” The daycare director goes out in search for local carrots that are way more expensive than the co-op ones. They remain the only daycare in town that puts “special orders” at the co-op.

The daycare director “hope[s] to socialize radiation issues with parents and other locals by saying out loud how we monitor our food.” But how bizarre is it that this one small daycare center has to voice loudly that they serve safe food for kids, and has to feel so isolated at the same time?

Of course this is an exciting example of fighting the “radiation safety myth” on a local basis. But what happens to these kid’s food beyond this daycare is of little hope. Do the parents have the same capacity to care for their food at home? They probably drive to the nearest cheap supermarket and choose cheap vegetables from contaminated region because there is no other choice.

Plus, buying these cheap food has its bonus:
a. The government officials, the celebrities… they all talk how delicious these Fukushima tomatoes are on TV…
b. Think about all these farmers who can’t sell their products. Some of them even committed suicide because their business is dead…

This is just an example of how reproductive labor (or care work) is hit hardest when crisis (in this case a nuclear disaster) hits a society under capitalism. The ruling class puts all the responsibility on working class by guilt-tripping them to consume the toxins they left behind. Oh and children are way more susceptible to radiation than adults, which might as well be just a bad luck.

It would be different if more people said out loud every time they decide to avoid “might be radioactive” food from Japan or fish from the Pacific, it would be different if people socialized radiation fear (a very underrated fear) beyond social circles and class. It would be totally different if every radioactive particles had name tags that read “Tokyo Electric Power Co..” My personal hope is that moms who live in Fukushima can stop feeling guilty about their radiation fear and young people who live in Tokyo could stop blaming themselves for feeling sick every now and then.

This March it will have been four years since the start of this disaster, and our governments are kicking hard to reset the fear and push harder to go back to the same nuclear business as usual.  My proposal for you dear blog readers is to add some of these hashtags in your life. #nonbequerel #cesiumfree #noradiation #radiationkills #radiationsucks #iliveinfear #whereisthisradiationfrom #radiationbelongstoTEPCO #TEPCOsucks #deathtoTEPCO #burndownTEPCO

Why ‘Guide to Avoid Radiation’?

A year and 9 months after the nuclear meltdowns, many people continue to live in the radiation-contaminated areas of Japan. Not only does radiation keep releasing from the crippled power plant, it is also spreading into everyday life of the vast majority – through air, water and especially food distribution. Many people are using various methods to avoid exposure to radiation on their own. Yet we know very little about the contamination. And what should we travelers do about radiation while we stay in Japan? Is this something we can ignore in a short-term visit? Is it really safe to travel there right now? How long can I stay there? What are the precautions we should know about? What can we eat? Is it okay to drink tap water? Any possibilities of more radiation releases? We attempt to find guidance to these questions.

The best thing to do about radiation is to stay away from it – but we do not want to discourage people who are seeking to visit Japan. The people in the current political climate in Japan needs our solidarity, and most importantly, voices of the people need to be heard. There have been numerous conferences, international meetings and actions with guests from overseas but there are little information on ‘how to avoid’ in languages other than Japanese. For this reason, we’re going to share information in English for those who plan to visit, yet avoid exposure to radiation as much as possible. At the same time, this is a way to learn and imagine what it is like to live under the radioactive contamination. Nobody is obliged to risk negative effects of radiation at any level.

This project is hugely supported by the knowledge and will to survive of our friends in Japan. In addition, your insights and support are necessary to keep this project alive. To get in touch with us, please contact at

December 2012