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Japan Censorship Communications Government The Media

Japanese Government Will Censor Fukushima "Illegal Information" 411

dgilzz writes "The Japanese government says that the damage caused by earthquakes and by the nuclear accident are being magnified by irresponsible rumors, and the government must take action for the sake of the public good. The project team has begun to send letters of request to such organizations as telephone companies, internet providers, cable television stations, and others, demanding that they take adequate measures based on the guidelines in response to illegal information. The measures include erasing any information from internet sites that the authorities deem harmful to public order and morality."
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Japanese Government Will Censor Fukushima "Illegal Information"

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  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @02:44PM (#35922742) Homepage Journal

    There's also information that while true, is formulated in a falsely alarmist way.

    Like, true fact coming from authoritative measurements: the Iodine-131 levels in Poland have risen some 1000-2000 times above their usual level.
    Conveniently omitted fact: that's still about 500-1000 times less than levels causing any measurable increase of risk of thyroid cancer.

  • by Lazareth ( 1756336 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @03:17PM (#35922988)

    Freedom of speech is, roughly speaking, the freedom to express your opinions without fear of retribution or censor. This does not inherently include "freedom to deceive" or "freedom to threaten". You can use your freedom of speech to advocate more freedom to threaten people or scare them, but good luck convincing society at large to implement it. You cannot use your freedom of speech to threaten people, that will land you in jail or with a fine.

    Nations implement freedom of speech to varying degrees. For example, some would consider freedom of speech to include freedom to blasphemer and provocate. Indeed, if you think some guy is a huge dickwat, isn't that an opinion you're allowed to voice often and openly? Others view this as an attack and therefore outlaw it. Most often in cases where you offend somebody, the line is drawn depending on how well founded your opinion is. Well founded criticism is therefore not viewed as an attack, even if the end result is calling somebody an embezzling incompetent.

    Hope it makes sense.

  • by edxwelch ( 600979 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @03:52PM (#35923236)

    > The fact is, unless you're within 6 or so blocks(not counting the ocean) of the Fukushima plant, there is no dangerous level

    readings taken by the Japanese government shows that is plainly not true (which is why the evacuation zone is in place):

    "An analysis of MEXT's data by New Scientist shows just how elevated the levels are. After the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the most highly contaminated areas were defined as those with over 1490 kilobecquerels (kBq) of caesium per square metre. Produce from soil with 550 kBq/m2 was destroyed.

    People living within 30 kilometres of the plant have evacuated or been advised to stay indoors. Since 18 March, MEXT has repeatedly found caesium levels above 550 kBq/m2 in an area some 45 kilometres wide lying 30 to 50 kilometres north-west of the plant. The highest was 6400 kBq/m2, about 35 kilometres away, while caesium reached 1816 kBq/m2 in Nihonmatsu City and 1752 kBq/m2 in the town of Kawamata, where iodine-131 levels of up to 12,560 kBq/m2 have also been measured. "Some of the numbers are really high," says Gerhard Proehl, head of assessment and management of environmental releases of radiation at the International Atomic Energy Agency."

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20305-caesium-fallout-from-fukushima-rivals-chernobyl.html [newscientist.com]

  • physicsforums.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by Christian Marks ( 1932350 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @04:09PM (#35923352)

    The Japan Earthquake thread in the nuclear engineering forum [physicsforums.com] at physicsforums.com [physicsforums.com] has become a more reliable and timely source of information on the stricken reactors at Fukushima than mainstream news sources, according to commenters posting from Japan [physicsforums.com]. The latest news [jaif.or.jp]:Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says air may be leaking from theNo 2 and No 3 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.Another example, as of March 30, 11 AM JST [physicsforums.com]: Radioactive iodine 3,355 times legal limit found in seawater near plant. Another from March 30: IAEA Confirms Very High Levels of Radiation Far From Reactors [physicsforums.com].

    April 11, 2011. The Japanese government's nuclear safety agency has decided to raise the crisis level of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant accident from 5 to 7 [nhk.or.jp], the worst on the international scale. Also, see this post from the physics forum [physicsforums.com]. In each case, the news was available on physicsforums.com before publication in the mainstream press.

    Let's hope that the Japanese government does not suppress this essential source of information.

  • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @04:16PM (#35923410)

    Remember the swine flu panic? Remember how badly the MSM blew the details out of proportion? Remember how fast the panic died once it was clearly explained that "epidemic" doesn't mean to the CDC what is does to the general populace... and that it was just a new strain of flu, and thus nothing to worry about if you weren't worried about normal flus? People pretty quickly realized it amounted to "if you have a weak immune system or are otherwise abnormally vulnerable, get a flu shot. If not, ignore it

    This is a nit for me, because a lot of the above isn't true at all. First, the swine flu was significantly more deadly for the non-AARP generations, due to lack of immunity for people under about 60. It was hitting teenagers and others who weren't immune-compromised far harder than normal. Second, the CDC got hit for 'blowing the details out of proportion' because it enacted a vaccine program that prevented a wide-scale loss of life. In other words, they did a great job. Talk about a no-win situation - either they screwed up and failed to save lives, or they do save lives and blow it out of proportion.

    In this case, I do support the notion of getting as much accurate info out as possible. The best way to fight the scare sites is to tell the full truth. If the government gets caught minimizing or hiding anything, they won't be believed again and the ZOMG sites will become the authorities.

  • Re:Seems like... (Score:4, Informative)

    by camperslo ( 704715 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @06:55PM (#35924512)

    Their not involving people as much as they could goes beyond the foreign media and bloggers not being let into press conferences.

    "Japan nuclear commission fails to send experts to Fukushima

    TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan has failed to send designated experts to Fukushima Prefecture to look into the crisis at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant even though a national disaster-preparedness plan requires it to do so, many of the experts said Saturday.

    A commission spokesperson said problems following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami such as blackouts had discouraged it from sending any experts to Fukushima Prefecture, but many of the specialists and government officials questioned the claim.

    The commission designates 40 nuclear accident experts including university professors and senior officials of relevant institutions as well as five others as members of its panel on emergency technical advice.

    The disaster plan requires the commission to dispatch members of the panel to a location near an accident site.
    (follow link for the whole story)

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110417p2g00m0dm009000c.html [mainichi.jp]

    They're looking into "the flow of retiring ministry officials to senior positions at the country's electric companies"

    It seems like Japan isn't the only country that needs to prevent regulators from later taking jobs with the companies they were supposed to be tough with. They shouldn't be allowed to be paid lobbyists either.

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20110419p2a00m0na012000c.html [mainichi.jp]

    To a great extent democracies depend on the media to put corporations and government in the spotlight for the public good. Reporters shouldn't be going to work for those they are reporting on.

    But KSBY the NBC affiliate in San Luis Obispo county in California, home of the Diablo Canyon 2-unit power plant, has over the years had several of the newscasters hired by the utility P.G.& E. as PR people (including the one currently seen). KSBY is the only full power English speaking station in the county. Their reporting is very brief and lacks technical depth. They don't seem to do things like research NRC reports, mostly going . Although run by the same utility company, when the NTSB was starting hearings about the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, all it got was a 20 second mention (Charlie Sheen got over 3 minutes the same day).
    No details of the streamed hearings or mention anything from the related documents documents (on the NTSB site) was broadcast. They say the plants says it can handle a tsunami, but didn't mention that three of the plants radiation monitors were taken out by "heavy rain". There is talk about more earthquake studies, but no mention of a local tsunami in 1812. Nice people at the station, but should they be allowed to work for things like the power plant? Are they doing all that's needed in "Americas' Happiest City"? (in fairness, smaller market t.v. has a lot of other competition for a slice of a fairly small pie. No doubt resources are limited. They let a well liked newscaster go to cut costs.)

    "On December 21, 1812, one of the largest earthquakes in California history completely destroyed the first Mission along with most of Santa Barbara. With an estimated magnitude of 7.2, and a hypothesized epicenter near Santa Cruz Island, the quake also produced a tsunami which carried water all the way to modern-day Anapamu Street, and carried a ship a half-mile up Refugio Canyon."
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/History_of_Santa_Barbara,_California [wikimedia.org]
    LA Times article on tsunami (pdf)
    http://www.usc.edu/ [usc.edu]

  • by Kyusaku Natsume ( 1098 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @07:16PM (#35924654)

    The concentration of volatile radionuclides in the air from Fukushima Daiichi is below the maximum allowable limit at the moment. See
    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11042405-e.html [tepco.co.jp] Press Release (Apr 24,2011)
    The results of nuclide analyses of radioactive materials in the air at the site of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (30th release)
    And the attached documents:
    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110424e4.pdf [tepco.co.jp]
    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110424e5.pdf [tepco.co.jp]
    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110424e6.pdf [tepco.co.jp]

    In the last document, you can see that the concentration of volatile radionuclides at Fukushima Daini is almost two magnitudes below the maximum limit set by regulation. I'm not here defending TEPCO, because if their managers had been a little bit less greedy and far more intelligent that power station could be out of service but overall fine; also, I wouldn't have been forced by my death scared family to cancel my spring vacations to Japan and lose around 800-1000 USD in the process. In fact, I should be on board of one of the planes at my returning home flight at this precise time.

    Best regards

  • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @09:31PM (#35925590) Homepage

    wildly inaccurate? Seems to me TEPCO and the japanese government have been the biggest offenders as later reality proves their lies:

    How about backing up your claims. You have 2 posts in this thread, both saying the same thing, both modded up highly and both without any references

    "don't need an exclusion zone, just stay indoors and you'll be fine"

    According to Wikipedia: "A nuclear emergency was declared by the Government at 19:03 on 11 March. Initially a 2 km, then 10 km[336] evacuation zone was ordered. Later Prime Minister Naoto Kan issued instructions that people within a 20 km (12 mile) zone around the plant must leave, and urged that those living between 20 km and 30 km from the site to stay indoors." Are you saying those measures were inadequate?

    "no fuel has melted
    "the rods in the spent fuel pool aren't uncovered"

    According to Wikipedia: In a press release at 07:00 JST 12 March, TEPCO stated, "Measurement of radioactive material (iodine, etc.) by monitoring car indicates increasing value compared to normal level. One of the monitoring posts is also indicating higher than normal level."[75] Dose rates recorded on the main gate rose from 69 n Gy/h (for gamma radiation, equivalent to 0.000069 m Sv/h) at 04:00 JST, 12 March, to 866 nGy/h 40 minutes later, before hitting a peak of 0.3855 mSv/h at 10:30 JST.[75][76][77][78] At 13:30 JST, workers detected radioactive caesium-137 and iodine-131 near reactor 1,[3] which indicated some of the core's fuel had been damaged.[79] Cooling water levels had fallen so much that parts of the nuclear fuel rods were exposed and partial melting might have occurred.[80][81] Radiation levels at the site boundary exceeded the regulatory limits.

    "containment hasn't been breached"

    According to Wikipedia: On 25 March, officials announced the reactor vessel might be breached and leaking radioactive material.

    Look, I'm not even trying hard and I can tell that you're just spouting nonsense. It pisses me off that you get modded up without anyone even going through the pretense of checking up on your BS.

  • by camperslo ( 704715 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @01:23AM (#35926802)

    There's also information that while true, is formulated in a falsely alarmist way.

    Like, true fact coming from authoritative measurements: the Iodine-131 levels in Poland have risen some 1000-2000 times above their usual level.
    Conveniently omitted fact: that's still about 500-1000 times less than levels causing any measurable increase of risk of thyroid cancer.

    You should provide a link to the source so that we can tell how much of the issue is what the source said, and how much might be in how you read it. There are a number of issues with what you said.

    First off, in a normal location there isn't any "usual level" of Iodine-131 because it is something that has a short half life. And since the noise that's at the threshold of such measurements isn't a stable constant, saying 1000 or whatever times that isn't specific. Provide levels with units, and know the difference between a dose and a dose rate.

    And what you say about levels causing a measurable increase in thyroid cancer needs to be qualified too.
    The risk is not the same for all individuals. It's far far higher for a fetus or a child. Since cancer may not show up for 10 or 20 years, and there are other risk factors, it being difficult to measure the harm doesn't mean there isn't any.

    The NRC generally recognizes a zero-threshold proportional model for long-term risk from exposure.
    The more the exposure, the more the risk. The risk level for a particular condition plots to a line offset at zero exposure because is usually risk from other causes as well (chemical etc.). So radiation at any dose carries risk, it just may be very small. Doubling a small dose of radiation still doubles the risk. A dose in a single glass of milk would be a fixed amount. The doses are additive. How much does it matter? Well if the milk in an area is only affected for a short time, a given dose per glass is far less significant than if you get that dose every day.
    Some of the abnormal levels seen in some places are continuing for a longer time period than emergency plans called for. So in some areas outside the previous evacuation zone (and shelter inside zone) in Japan, people have been told they'll have about a month to evacuate. It's not that the radiation being released from the plant is increasing. Levels have been going down. The problem is that the dose people are getting is adding up, and in certain areas will be more than they wish to allow if they continue to stay. That's because the length of time that levels are up is longer than was expected.

    Levels spiking in Poland are likely said to be insignificant risk not only because of the level, but because it probably a transient event from a passing air mass carrying material from one of the fires or small explosions. It tends to be worse when there is rain. It can bring more of the material down fairly abruptly. The rain falls on the grass, the cows eat the grass, then it is in the milk. Studies have shown that most of the cancer in Sweden years after Chernobyl was from fallout that occurred on a single day. It was a matter where the air currents were going and when and where the rain fell.

    Low levels of long term increased cancer can be small enough to be indistinguishable from that caused by food additives, chemicals in water, and other pollution including smoke exposure. If there was reason to panic, we should have been doing it already. Some, in certain cases most, of the so-called background radiation isn't some normal thing from the earth or space, it's what's still around mostly from earlier in the atomic era when there was atmospheric testing going on, some messy processing facilities, WWII and various accidents.

    So make no mistake about it, less is better but there is no reason to panic. The Russians have lifted advisories on going to Japan after finding that levels in Moscow were twice that of Tokyo. Japanese products are being well screened. They could use our business.

    Don't rely on sound bites

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain