– Professor’s anger at lawmakers creates buzz on Internet (Asahi, Aug 13, 2011):
An exasperated University of Tokyo professor who launched an angry tirade at lawmakers over the Fukushima nuclear crisis has become a hero to many on the Internet.
Tatsuhiko Kodama, 58, who heads the Radioisotope Center at Todai, was called to provide expert testimony before the Lower House Health, Labor and Welfare Committee on July 27.
Facing a panel of lawmakers, Kodama said, “At a time when 70,000 people have left their homes and have no idea where to go, what is the Diet doing?”
Video footage of Kodama’s testimony was soon posted on YouTube, and within a few days, the video had been viewed more than 200,000 times.
Responses to the footage were generally favorable.
“I was deeply moved that Todai has a professor like him,” said one post.
“I understand the scary truth. I understand the inaction of the central government,” said another.
Besides being a doctor of internal medicine, Kodama is also an expert on internal radiation exposure. His background made even more shocking the testimony he provided in the Diet.
“(On March 21), Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, ‘There are no immediate problems for people’s health.’ At that time, I felt something very disastrous was about to occur,” Kodama said. “When we look at problems from radiation, we consider the total exposure amount. Neither Tokyo Electric Power Co. nor the central government have made any clear report about total exposure from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.”
The Radioisotope Center conducted its own calculations on the level of radiation contamination arising from the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Kodama explained the horrifying results of those calculations at the committee session.
“The equivalent of 29.6 times of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, or in terms of uranium about 20 atomic bombs, were released by the accident,” Kodama said. “While the remaining radiation from atomic bombs decreases to one-thousandth of the original level after a year, radioactive materials from the nuclear power plant only decrease to one-tenth the original level.”
After the nuclear accident, Kodama visited Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on seven separate occasions to help decontaminate the area of radiation.
“What I am doing right now is totally illegal,” Kodama said. “Under the present law to prevent problems arising (from radiation), the amount of radiation and the type of nuclide that can be handled by each facility is determined. While I am providing support in Minami-Soma, most of the facilities do not have the authority to handle cesium. Transporting the materials by car is also illegal.
“However, we cannot leave materials with high levels of radiation to the mothers in the community. In the decontamination process, we place all materials into barrels and bring them back to Tokyo,” he said.
Kodama also strongly called for a new law that would help reduce radiation exposure among children as soon as possible.
As the most pressing concern, he called for thorough measurements of radiation amounts in the contaminated areas.
“Why does the central government not spend the money needed for comprehensive measures? I want to express an anger from my entire body,” Kodama said.
After the huge response from the Internet, Kodama’s son posted a message on Twitter that said: “While my father may be an influential scientist, he is also just a 58-year-old man who has to take care of an ill wife. There is no way that he alone can resolve everything. In order for the situation to really improve, I believe there is something that each and every individual can do.”
On Aug. 6, Kodama appeared at a news conference with Katsunobu Sakurai, the mayor of Minami-Soma, and called for emergency decontamination measures. His tone was that of a mild-mannered gentleman.
He was slightly embarrassed by the Twitter message written by his son, but he added, “The public should pay attention to see which lawmakers from what party move quickly to draw up legislation.”