Soon after March 11, the Japanese government ordered an evacuation of the area within 12 miles of the nuclear power plants damaged by the tsunami, three of which had suffered meltdowns. In spite of the evacuation order, some residents of Iwaki chose not to leave. One church congregation decided to stay put. City and government workers weren't willing to expose themselves to radiation by entering the area to help the people and there is no government financial help for individuals so members of the church are pitching in to help those who remained in the city.
The church has formed a group called Global Mission Center and their vision is "a restored city which will be a new community based on the foundation of Christ." They have accepted volunteer relief workers from around Japan and other countries. Here are updates about the center:
"Most of the officials and leaders in this city of 350,000 have fled with whatever they had. Many of the business owners and wealthy have left leaving many of the stores, gas stations, restaurants and businesses abandoned. Unfortunately, about half the pastors fled as well, but those who stayed are burning with passion for this city to know Jesus and are uniting together to serve and fill in where the elite and those in power had abandoned. The church we are staying at is called the 'Global Mission Center.'” The Radiant Church (March 25)
". . . The Global Mission Center is set up in such a way that individuals and groups alike can come, have a place to stay and meals to eat, and serve in whatever area they feel called. . ." Journey with us (May 15)
"Days 2 and 3 were spent removing debris at a seaweed factory... We had the honor of working alongside the owner of the seaweed factory and his wife. They were such incredibly gracious and grateful people, radiating joy despite their tremendous loss. In Japan the government does not offer any financial assistance to individuals, only to public aid (roads, schools, etc...). The people who lost their homes or businesses are left to try to financially and physically rebuild their lives on their own. So humbling..." Journey with us (Part 2)
". . . The Global Mission Chapel team is providing relief in other ways. For example, church members wash the feet of the evacuation center survivors, using relaxing hot onsen water that helps the victims begin talking and telling their stories. “This is the example we get from Jesus, who washed the feet of his disciples. Once we begin soaking and washing their feet, they begin to open up and talk about their experiences. That is very important for their emotional recovery,” said Pastor Mori. . . ." iwakis-global-mission-chapel-is-helping-the-helpless (August 29)
"Here are some images from the first day of work at the Global Missions Center at Iwaki Fukushima. They say that pictures are worth a thousand words but I can’t seem to capture the sweat, the filthy, the mold and the ruin that the team experienced today. Nor can pictures capture the gratitude of Mr. Sato. . . " 2011/09/05/day-1-global-missions-center-iwaki/ (Sept. 5)
THE BAD NEWS
Residents in Iwaki may be very naive about radiation there. One blog above refers to "radiation overreaction." Another reads, "There has been a lot of talk about radiation here in Japan and many people warned us not to come. It is true, we have encountered more radiation than I have ever encountered in my life… but not the kind you are thinking of. The nuclear radiation levels here (18 miles from nuclear reactor) are reading .38 us/hr (45 us/hr is considered dangerous) on our hand held detectors, so we have a long way to go till that becomes a threat to anyone… The radiation I am talking about is of far greater power and far greater significance. The only real radiation here is the love of Christ burning into this community with a ferocity that can only be explained by the power of the Holy Spirit moving through the people of God." The Radiant Church (March 25)
IWAKI, JAPAN — Kiyoko Okoshi had a simple goal when she spent about $625 for a dosimeter: she missed her daughter and grandsons and wanted them to come home.
Local officials kept telling her that their remote village was safe, even though it was less than 20 miles from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. But her daughter remained dubious, especially since no one from the government had taken radiation readings near their home.So starting in April, Mrs. Okoshi began using her dosimeter to check nearby forest roads and rice paddies. What she found was startling. Near one sewage ditch, the meter beeped wildly, and the screen read 67 microsieverts per hour, a potentially harmful level. . . (New York Times: Japanese find radiation on their own)
More updates on the worst nuclear disaster in human history:
Reader Supported News: Fukushima-sea-radiation-three-times-higher-than-estimated-and-increasing
Here are two of many articles summarized on FukushimaCatastrophe:
TEPCO announced August 30, that a man in his 40s who had worked to help contain the radiation crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has died of acute leukemia. The man worked at the Fukushima plant for seven days from early August. His jobs included radiation exposure management, the officials said. A medical checkup prior to his work at the plant showed no problems in his health. Of 10 nuclear power plant workers who have developed cancer, despite radiation exposure below legal limit, and received workers’ compensation in the past, nine had been exposed to less than 100 millisieverts of radiation. According to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry statistics, of the 10 nuclear power plant workers, six had leukemia, two multiple myeloma and another two lymphatic malignancy. Only one had been exposed to 129.8 millisieverts but the remaining nine were less than 100 millisieverts, including one who had been exposed to about 5 millisieverts.
The amount of radioactive cesium that has leaked from a tsunami-hit nuclear plant is about equal to 168 of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II, Japan’s nuclear agency said Friday August 26th. While the remaining radiation from atomic bombs decreases to one-thousandth of the original level after a year,radioactive materials from the nuclear power plant only decrease to one-tenth the original level. That’s like dropping one nuclear weapon a day since the beginning of this disaster and this is what they have been calling safe, no problem, don’t worry about it, go home and go to sleep. The damaged plant has released 15,000 tera becquerels of cesium-137, which lingers for decades and could cause cancer, compared with the 89 tera becquerels released by the U.S. uranium bomb. (Emphasis in original)