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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Koichi Ohyama, a city council member of Minamisoma, a town about 25 kilometers away from the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, asks for information on radiation levels

Is This Mike On? Another YouTube SOS from Fukushima

Using social media, Koichi Ohyama, a city council member, uses YouTube to take Sakurai to task for asking residents who voluntarily evacuated to come back home. Ohyama says the mayor and the central government are asking residents to come back too soon, putting economic interests ahead of residents' best interests.  Selective spots in the 20-30 km band around the plant found to have high radiation levels were evacuated in the spring, but the mandatory order was never applied to Minamisoma.
Ohyama says he has been fielding questions from concerned residents who are scared to move back, worried about their drinking water and the schools, and says that there has never been a satisfactory answer from Tokyo as to where the large amounts of radioactive materials that the IAEA says were emitted in the first days of the Fukushima meltdown landed.

Ohyama's point is clear: however inconvenient it might be, this crisis is not over, especially not until residents have all the answers they deserve. Recent events do lend the sentiment credibility: Last week, consumers balked at a breakdown in the safety system designed to protect them from unwittingly buying irradiated food as officials announced that beef contaminated with radioactive cesium made it onto supermarket shelves around the country.
And on Thursday, just three days after Ohyama posted the video, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the government was due to announce more "hot spots" in Fukuhsima that are newly recommended for evacuation where radiation levels are persistently high.
Ohyama's questions are reasonable ones that any YouTube viewer would want answered too if they were living in a city that's a ten-minute drive away from a nuclear power plant that recently experienced meltdown in three of its four reactors. The question is whether anyone is still watching. Ohyama himself says that the challenge the city faces is the calendar: "Now in Minamisoma, people are losing their protection from contamination just because a long time has passed since March 11."
Krista Mahr is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kristamahr. You can also continue the discussion on TIME's Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.
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