Fukushima Disaster Strains Families

The concerns about radiation risks, safety of their children, food and water have strained relationships. Many have separated families as one flees with the children while the other stays behind to tend to commitments in Fukushima. Confusion and differing understandings of radiation risks due to the lack of an honest and coherent government leadership add to the problems.

The problems are hitting not just people in Fukushima but families all over Japan. A housewife in Aichi who has concerns about her children’s food habits and time outdoors struggles with her husband who doesn’t take the risks seriously. She said relationships with friends and family became distant as she tried to educate them about the risks in the food supply. While the family relationships are still strained she did find many like minded people online and is now volunteering as an anti-nuclear activist.

A family in Tokyo split, sending the wife and daughter to Germany where they felt it was safer and the husband staying behind in Tokyo for his job. The adjustment to Germany on their own has been tough for mother and daughter.

Emiko Numauchi has been documenting her bizarre and sudden health problems from Minamisoma. Doctors have shrugged off her problems or tried to treat the symptoms, giving up on finding a cause. She has had sudden hair loss, lost toenails, rashes, nosebleeds and saw her teeth go from a good checkup to falling out all over a few months. Though her husband has been supportive, she has felt isolated. She recently posted that she felt encouraged to continue telling her story after talking to the independent media and agreeing to interview with them on air.

Family Farms in Fukushima are facing multiple threats. The concerns about contaminated food products has caused sales to plummet and farmers to worry if they should continue operations at their farms. Before the disaster Japan family farms were facing the same issues seen in other developed countries. Aging farmers, less interest in farming by younger people and corporate pushes to take over farming.  The TPP trade agreement being considered by Japan would take away many of the things that currently protect small family farms making it even harder for them to compete against giant corporate farming companies. Loss of family farms would further strain rural communities through job losses and removing more of the social fiber of the community.

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