Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

Fukushima taboo? Politician draws Japanese Emperor into nuclear controversy

Published time: October 31, 2013 16:07
Japanese lawmaker Taro Yamamoto (3rd L) hands a letter to Emperor Akihito (front C), while Empress Michiko (R) looks on, during the annual autumn garden party at the Akasaka Palace imperial garden in Tokyo October 31, 2013. (Reuters//Kazuhiro Nogi)

Japanese lawmaker Taro Yamamoto (3rd L) hands a letter to Emperor Akihito (front C), while Empress Michiko (R) looks on, during the annual autumn garden party at the Akasaka Palace imperial garden in Tokyo October 31, 2013. (Reuters//Kazuhiro Nogi)

An anti-nuclear lawmaker broke a taboo, drawing heavy criticism in Japan, by handing the Emperor a letter of concern over the issue of the growing Fukushima radiation and the impact on children’s health.

Taro Yamamoto, an independent lawmaker at the Tokyo prefecture in the House of Councilors, the upper house of the Japanese parliament, personally handed the letter to Emperor Akihito during a party at the Akasaka Palace’s imperial garden on Thursday.

The vocal anti-nuclear activist said that he wanted to inform the Emperor “directly” of the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant north of Tokyo. The Tohoku earthquake that hit off Japan’s Pacific coast in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi. Since then the plant has been leaking radioactivity leading to the evacuation of more than 150 000 people. The land surrounding the plant has been off-limits due to high radiation that can cause cancer and other health problems.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (in red helmet), wearing protective suit and mask, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono (4th R) during his inspection tour to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, September 19, 2013. (Reutes/Japan out)

"I wanted him to know about the children who have been contaminated by radiation. If this goes on, there will be serious health impacts," said Yamamoto.

Emperor Akihito inclined his head as he took the letter in his hand but then handed it to a chamberlain, said Yamamoto adding that His Imperial Majesty made no comment.

The politician’s initiative set off a storm of protest in the Japanese media with many saying that his action was inappropriate breaking the “taboo” of involving a member of the Imperial Family in politics.

Some critical netizens called on Yamamoto to resign from parliament calling his action “really low."

Chief cabinet secretary, Yasuhide Suga, also expressed disapproval, telling a news conference, "There is a line for appropriate behavior at such an occasion".

The Emperor in Japan fills a ceremonial role. According to the first article of the postwar constitution, the emperor is “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power." While the Japanese parliament - the Diet – remains the highest organ of state power, the emperor usually convenes it. His Majesty also bestows decorations on deserving citizens and receives foreign ambassadors.

Japan's Emperor Akihito (2nd R) walks with Empress Michiko, as the Imperial family members follow towards a crowd of guests during the annual autumn garden party at the Akasaka Palace imperial garden in Tokyo October 31, 2013. (Reuters/Kazuhiro Nogi)

The politician’s concern comes as the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant responsible for the decontamination, struggles to cope with the aftermath of the nuclear crisis.

At the beginning of October the combined Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 readings just outside the damaged No. 2 reactor jumped to 1,200 becquerels per liter, the highest levels of radiation recorded since late 2011.

In attempts to tackle the problem, the Japanese government is reportedly considering stripping the Fukushima nuclear operator of the responsibility to decontaminate the devastated station, while handing the issue and decommissioning of reactors from TEPCO to a government-affiliated organization. (link)

Amid rising concerns, UN scientists said that traces of radioactive contamination have been found in rice, and far out in the Pacific Ocean.

Nuclear power expert, Arnold Gundersen, told RT that the health risks are great and continue to increase every year.

“Somewhere between 100,000 to 1,000,000 [people] will over the next thirty years get cancer from this accident...1,000 additional cancers a year from eating fish from the Pacific.”


Comments (38)

 

Ryan Villanueva 09.11.2013 03:25

I'm shocked to read that many japanese leaders and its media don't think that Fukushima desaster is not alarming enough to forgive a breach in protocol.

 

W. Joseph 08.11.2013 11:44

Finally someone explain to this Emperor than Japanese citizen's life is more important than a Garden party...

 

Mr Vision 08.11.2013 00:06

Well, somebody must tell the emperor what's going on and that something is urgent...

View all comments (38)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us

Follow us