Posts Tagged Guardian

Japan’s life expectancy ‘down to equality and public health measures’ | World news | The Guardian

Some interesting statistics on Japan’s longevity in this Guardian article:

A baby girl born in Japan today can expect to live to 86 and a boy to nearly 80. But it has not always been so.

According to a paper in a Lancet series on healthcare in Japan, this is a rise of 30 years from the expected lifespan in 1947. While Japanese diet has contributed, it is far from the only factor.

The remarkable improvement in Japanese health began with the rapid economic growth of the late 1950s and 1960s. The government invested heavily in public health, introducing universal health insurance in 1961, free treatment for tuberculosis and cutting childhood deaths through vaccination and treatment of intestinal and respiratory infections.

via Japan’s life expectancy ‘down to equality and public health measures’ | World news | The Guardian.

But all is not rosy in the Land of Wa:

At the moment, 23% of the population is over 65 but by 2050, that will rise to 40% in a population shrinking from 127 million to 95 million. Other problems include drinking and smoking among overworking business people and a high suicide rate partly attributable to rising unemployment. Unless these issues are tackled, the paper suggests, Japan could lose its position at the top of the longevity table.

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Inside Fukushima – interactive guide | World news |

Earlier this month, Kazuma Obara became the first photojournalist to gain unauthorised access to the power plant and produced an exclusive glimpse of life inside the facility

via Inside Fukushima – interactive guide | World news |

Mouse-tip to EX-SKF

Some interesting nuggets of information provided by Obara:

  1. The plant has its own petrol station within the compound.
  2. Petrol is free to workers
  3. Most workers don’t know the purpose of what they are doing.
  4. Workers do not talk to each other much, and don’t know what other groups of workers are doing.


Fukushima Dai-ichi. Photo by Kazuma Obara

Fukushima Dai-ichi. Photo by Kazuma Obara. Posted on the Guardian website

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Fukushima cleanup recruits ‘nuclear gypsies’ from across Japan | Environment | The Guardian

My favourite blogger of the moment, Ex-SKF, links to an interesting Guardian article on the cleanup at Fukushima. It’s long but worth reading for the details about the working conditions and who is doing what. Here’re just a few bits that caught my attention:

In the aftermath of the 11 March disaster, Tepco called on major construction and maintenance companies to help. Those firms in turn hired workers from a sprawling network of 600 contractors of varying expertise and reputation.

For the time being Iwaki-Yumoto will comprise three disparate communities – about 30,000 locals, 2,000 plant workers and 1,000 people evacuated from towns and villages near Fukushima Daiichi.

The presence of so many contractors, and the sheer number of men, has led to fears that not all are observing health and safety regulations.

One restaurateur complained of workers returning in the evenings still wearing their uniforms, even down to the boots they wear inside the plant’s grounds.

Toshiyuki Sasaki, an employee at a construction firm in Hokkaido, is one of the better-paid contract workers who have made Iwaki-Yumoto their temporary home.

He is earning twice his monthly salary of 350,000 yen clearing debris from in front of the No 3 reactor, preparing it for the arrival of a 700-tonne crane that will erect a huge steel shroud over the unit to prevent further radiation leaks.

“I’m not allowed inside the reactor itself, and I work for just one or two hours a day,” says Sasaki as he drinks a cold beer at a local restaurant. “If my reading reaches 40mSv for the a year, I have to leave for good.”

Sasaki, like other machinery operators, spends his shift inside crane and digger cabins, the only way they can clear dangerously radioactive debris.

“We are very careful,” he says. “If my dosimeter hits a certain level during a single shift, I have to get out. But that hasn’t happened yet.”

Not all of the firm’s staff share his optimism. About half the company’s employees have refused to work at the plant at the pleading of their families.

All of the men who spoke to the Guardian said they believed the most immediate threat to their health came not from radiation but from hours spent wrapped in masks, goggles and protective suits sealed tight with tape at the ankles, wrists and neck. “Radiation doesn’t bother me, but I am worried about falling ill because of the heat,” says a 34-year-old man from Osaka who declined to give his name. “It is unbelievably hot inside those suits. I know of several people who have been taken ill on the job.”

The food, meanwhile, has improved since the early days of the crisis, when Tepco and the government were criticised for not providing workers with enough to eat and drink…

At 8am they begin the first of two 90-minute shifts at Fukushima Daiichi, separated by a break of similar length. Radiation exposure and heat bring their working day to an end by early afternoon.

Rune gave the Guardian a rare insight into working conditions inside the plant.

As he leaves his place of work for his 90-minute break, he must remove his cotton gloves before opening a door into a second room, where he takes off two pairs of rubber gloves and strips down to his underpants. In a third room, he is scanned for radiation. If he gets the all clear, he is given a new uniform and underwear. The process is repeated again after his second 90-minute shift of the day.

“It is so hot there at the moment, we have to take lots of breaks, so I don’t think this will be done by January,” he says, referring to Tepco’s self-imposed deadline for stabilising the plant. “That said I have seen signs of progress, like the treatment of contaminated water.”

He is part of the team of 25 men removing and packing 23,000 firefighters’ uniforms dumped near reactors No 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the first chaotic days of the crisis, when three of the plant’s six reactors suffered core meltdowns. One group retrieves the uniforms, which he collects by truck and drops off for another crew to sort and pack before they are taken away for disposal.

“We don’t have any contact with the Tepco engineers or technicians,” he says. “My company is about six places down the pecking order.”

via Fukushima cleanup recruits ‘nuclear gypsies’ from across Japan | Environment | The Guardian.

23,000 firefighters’ dumped uniforms! Woah!

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Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor | World news | The Guardian

The headline is typical media hype, but this Guardian article contains a couple of nuggets (mouse-tip again to Marketing Japan):

In the light of the Fukushima crisis, Lahey said all countries with nuclear power stations should have “Swat teams” of nuclear reactor safety experts on standby to give swift advice to the authorities in times of emergency, with international groups co-ordinated by the International Atomic Energy Authority.

The warning came as the Japanese authorities were being urged to give clearer advice to the public about the safety of food and drinking water contaminated with radioactive substances from Fukushima.

Robert Peter Gale, a US medical researcher who was brought in by Soviet authorities after the Chernobyl disaster, in 1986, has met Japanese cabinet ministers to discuss establishing an independent committee charged with taking radiation data from the site and translating it into clear public health advice.

“What is fundamentally disturbing the public is reports of drinking water one day being above some limit, and then a day or two later it’s suddenly safe to drink. People don’t know if the first instance was alarmist or whether the second one was untrue,” said Gale.

via Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor | World news | The Guardian.

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Why I don’t read newspapers (2)

There has been a bigger-than-usual amount of scare-mongering and panic-fostering amongst the news media over the Japanese disasters recently. Here is an example from today. This is a good example of why I refuse to read newspapers.

First the headline: Fukushima workers exposed to illegal radiation levels. (this is a cached page: the Guardian has since changed its headline). Note the eye-catching, inflammatory headline.

Then it says, “Six workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant have been exposed to radiation levels beyond the usual legal limit while carrying out emergency operations to make the complex safe.”

“beyond the usual limits” is not the same as “illegal”. Further down, it says, “The Kyodo news agency reported that Tepco said six staff members had been exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation…” and in the next paragraph it reported, “The government earlier increased to 250 mSv the limit for those working in the emergency operation.”

Earlier. That means before the workers had been exposed to more than 100 millisieverts. In other words, it was not illegal, because the government had already raised the permitted dosage level.

According to this chart of radiation dosage levels, 50 mSv is “Radiation worker one-year dose limit”; 100 mSv is “Dose limit for emergency workers protecting valuable property” and 250 mSv is “Dose limit for emergency workers in lifesaving operations”. For comparison, 100 mSv is “Lowest one-year dose clearly linked to increased cancer risk”.

Newspapers cannot be trusted. They lie, shamelessly. Their purpose is not to propagage true information, but to sell eyeballs to their advertisers. Hence headlines that will grab attention are chosen. If they are not actually true or factual or accurate, well, who cares! They casn always change it later, or make some excuse.

And this is a relatively mild example. The “lie” is actually exposed in the article itself!! In many cases, the lie is only exposed if one searches for alternative sources of information. Not everyone does: they either do not have the time, or they tend to believe what they read.

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