Jul 02

Radiation Expert Predicts More Threats (Wall Street Journal, JULY 2, 2011):

TOKYO—A former nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan blasted the government’s handling of the crisis, and predicted more revelations of radiation threats to the public in the coming months.

In his first media interview since resigning his post in protest in April, Toshiso Kosako, one of the country’s leading experts on radiation safety, said Mr. Kan’s government has been slow to test for dangers in the sea and to fish, and has understated certain radiation threats to minimize clean-up costs. In his post, Mr. Kosako’s role was to advise the prime minister on radiation safety.

And while there have been scattered reports of food contamination—of tea leaves and spinach, for example—Mr. Kosako predicted there will be broader discoveries later this year, especially as rice, Japan’s staple, is harvested.

“Come the harvest season in the fall, there will be a chaos,” Mr. Kosako said. “Among the rice harvested, there will certainly be some radiation contamination—though I don’t know at what levels—setting off a scandal. If people stop buying rice from Tohoku … we’ll have a tricky problem.”

Mr. Kosako also said that the way the government has handled the Fukushima Daiichi situation since the March 11 tsunami crippled the reactors has exposed basic flaws in Japanese policy making.

“The government’s decision-making mechanism is opaque,” he said. “It’s never clear what reasons are driving what decisions. This doesn’t look like a democratic society. Japan is increasingly looking like a developing nation in East Asia.”

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