Japan Tells Children To ‘Avoid Touching The Outside Air’
The fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster continues. Radiation rates are only “slightly higher than normal,” and yet children are told to “avoid touching the outside air.” Reuters highlights the “invisible enemy” being fought.
Some of the smallest children in Koriyama, a short drive from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, barely know what it’s like to play outside – fear of radiation has kept them indoors for much of their short lives.
Though the strict safety limits for outdoor activity set after multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in 2011 have now been eased, parental worries and ingrained habit mean many children still stay inside.
And the impact, three years on, is now starting to show, with children experiencing falling strength, lack of coordination – some cannot even ride a bicycle – and emotional issues like shorter tempers, officials and educators say.
“There are children who are very fearful. They ask before they eat anything, ‘does this have radiation in it?’ and we have to tell them it’s okay to eat,” said Mitsuhiro Hiraguri, director of the Emporium Kindergarten in Koriyama, some 55 km (35 miles) west of the Fukushima nuclear plant.