Japan Offspring Fund(JOF) is a consumer group and environmental NGO established in 1984. We have researched issues involving the safety of daily life, including chemical residues, endocrine disruptors, and genetically engineered food.

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Japan Offspring Fund (JOF) Monthly Newsletter
June 2005, No.194

* What to do in case of a major earthquake in the Tokai region

When a major earthquake occurs in the Tokai region of Japan , experts agree that the Hamaoka nuclear plants in Shizuoka prefecture will be badly damaged. The concrete buildings will collapse and radioactivity will be dispersed. There is no doubt that the result will be mayhem for everyone living in Japan .

* Kaiten Sushi: how to have fun and eat safely in “sushi bars” (part 2)

We continue our investigation of “sushi bars” to help consumers enjoy this typical Japanese food. Many people are surprised at the low cost at some Kaiten Sushi. What is the full story?

* Dr. Terasawa's Asthma Advice

Asthma can be a terrible problem, but according to Dr. Terasawa, there are some simple points to consider. We discuss a few of them, to help you and your family.

* What to do in case of a major earthquake in the Tokai region

By Kowaka Junichi , Japan Offspring Fund

Of all the 52 active nuclear reactors in Japan , experts agree that the 5 reactors in Hamaoka are the most dangerous. Hamaoka sits directly over a subduction zone near the junction of two tectonic plates. The ground is not solid rock, but sand. This area is in fact overdue for a major earthquake.

When the radioactivity is released, it will be much worse than if an atomic bomb was dropped in the region.

At Japan Offspring Fund, we are concerned with safety issues, and we would like to provide advice about what you can do to escape, when such earthquake happens.

Check the local weather!

As for radioactivity, winds usually blow from the West towards the East, so if you live in the Kansai (Kyoto/Osaka) region, you will probably not be directly affected. The islands of Kyushu and Shikoku will most likely also be safe from radioactive fallout. On the other hand, Japan often experiences high atmospheric pressure coming in from the Pacific Ocean in the form of typhoons. In such case, any area of Japan could be affected. Checking the local weather reports will thus be of utmost importance.

Judging from data collected after the Chernobyl accident 20 years ago, between 10 and 30 million people may have to be evacuated in case of a major earthquake that destroys the Hamaoka reactors. In our opinion, the key will be to escape as quickly as possible. Even a slight delay will mean that you and your family will inevitably get caught up in horrendous traffic jams.

There is no doubt that the entire country will be affected. When the news speaks of a “Tokai Region Earthquake”, we think the effect will be felt from Kobe to Sendai , as massive amounts of people try to get out of the Tokyo area.

Checklist for an emergency evacuation

1) Check local weather reports
2) Gather your family
3) Make sure you have enough money
4) Bring your Emergency Goods
5) Escape as quickly as possible

In case of an earthquake, the Japan Offspring Fund office in Tokyo will be temporarily closed.

For more details about what to do in case of a Tokai earthquake that damages the Hamaoka nuclear plants, please read the emergency information from Stop Hamaoka Network:


Nuclear Safety Data Alteration is Common

In a recent court case, a technician responsible for the safety designs at the Hamaoka nuclear power plants in Shizuoka prefecture explained why he altered safety data to conceal design flaws. “I had children and there was not enough time”, he said.

33 years ago he worked at Toshiba, which built the reactors for Chubu Electric Power Co. Today, he is 63 years old and lives in Tokyo . He has recently been prosecuted for falsifying and altering safety testing data related to earthquake tests.

The case revealed that when various vibrational tests were performed, data showed that the design could not withstand a major earthquake. Several attempts were made to strengthen the design, but tests still showed problems. In spite of this, the construction went ahead and the building, Hamaoka's second reactor, was completed in 1971.

“The most dangerous nuclear power plant in Japan ”

Based on these tests, an additional three reactors were constructed, including Japan 's largest nuclear plant which generates 1.38 MW. A total of five nuclear reactors are now in the area, which experts say is “the most dangerous nuclear power plant in Japan ”.

During the April, 2005 court case, the retired technician described how test data was simply pulled out of a report, so that the construction could go ahead. Had the data been made public, there is no way that the reactor could have been built. Now, he accepts responsibility for what he did, and wants the Hamaoka reactors to be shut down. He also says there should be a third-party examination and investigation of the safety concerns.

The testimony from this retired technician should not go unnoticed.

The Hamaoka nuclear plants are not earthquake-proof

By Konagaya Minro, Stop Hamaoka Network

Chubu Electric Power Co. began operating the first Hamaoka nuclear power plant in March, 1976. Only five months later, in August 1976, earthquake experts announced the result of their detailed examination of the region. The experts found that the Tokai region earthquake is a reoccurring event, with the last major earthquake hitting the region about 159 years ago. They predicted that an 8.0 Magnitude earthquake is overdue for the region. This is 10 times more powerful than the earthquake that hit Kobe in 1995.

We are concerned that there are many illegal issues regarding the construction and operation of the Hamaoka reactors.

In August, 2004, cracks in the concrete at Hamaoka 4 were found. This was revealed after a whistle-blower told the truth about faulty inspections. In addition, in April 2005, local media has shown the testimony of a former technician responsible for the safety designs at the Hamaoka nuclear power plants in Shizuoka prefecture. In his testimony, he revealed how test data was manipulated and falsified when the first reactors were built.

Conflicting views about safety

A problem with the official earthquake predictions related to the Hamaoka reactors is that they do not take into consideration the reality of a major earthquake. For example, the “rolling” or horizontal earthquakes are usually not as severe as a “drop” or vertical earthquake. In fact, in the Kobe earthquake, even highways, that the Japanese government had claimed were safe, were destroyed due to the vertical drop.

As for safety concerns, if we apply the radiation data from the Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union in 1986, an area from Niigata to Kanto could be contaminated. This means that the entire area would be unsafe to live in. This is a terrifying thought, as one estimate puts cancer rates at above 1,760,000 people. Other estimates are even higher, depending on how many of the five Hamaoka reactors are damaged.

We cannot stop an earthquake, but we can stop the reactors. It is our wish that as many people as possible hear about these risks. We need to make the public aware of the issue, and stop the Hamaoka nuclear reactors, before it is too late.

For more details about the opposition to the Hamaoka nuclear reactors, please see Stop Hamaoka Network's website:


Chart: Superimposing the Chernobyl radioactive fallout on the Japanese map

The following chart shows the amount of radioactive fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl accident. As we superimpose the fallout in Ukraine (dotted lines) on the Japanese map (blue lines), we see that a large amount of radioactivity would fall in two regions: first of all in the immediate vicinity of Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures; and secondly in the Kanto area (Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Ibaragi prefectures) approximately 200 km from the site of the Hamaoka reactors. These areas (purple colour) would under similar conditions be hit by a potentially deadly fallout averaging 15 curie.


* Kaiten Sushi: how to have fun and eat safely in “sushi bars” (part 2)

“It is cheap!” you may have thought, if you went to a “sushi bar” in Japan . There are many reasons why some Kaiten Sushi chain restaurants are able to keep the price of a plate to 100 yen. Our investigation revealed that some of the fish used for such sushi is not the same as we are used to. For example, hirame (halibut) and engawa (the muscle that controls the halibut fins) can be a “ Greenland halibut”, a huge, 1 meter long fish that Japanese didn't traditionally eat as sushi. Also awabi (abalone) are usually displayed in shells, but not necessarily the one it originally came from!

The Japanese Fair Trade Commission and the Marine Products Agency have issued legislation and guidelines regarding proper fish names, as the number of frauds were found to increase. For the ordinary consumer, however, it can still be very difficult to distinguish between some of the fanciful names.

Another way that many “sushi bar” chains are decreasing costs is by using additives and preservatives. You should learn how to notice if the wasabi (horse radish paste) is inferior, and sometimes the fried egg or even the soy sauce is clearly not what it should be. As for imported foods, it can be very difficult to control ingredients produced overseas. These days, an increasing amount of highly processed foods are imported from China , where labour costs are low. We are told that sushi is healthy, but at some cheap Kaiten Sushi restaurants, there is no was to be sure if that is true or not, as you may be getting more synthetic food additives you're your sushi than you would normally want to eat.


* Dr. Terasawa's Asthma Advice

This month, we focus on asthma, with advice for you and your family. In Japan , asthma is a growing problem. The conventional approach is to prescribe strong drugs. We look at different approaches that prevent asthma. According to Dr. Terasawa, the strong drugs can actually make the asthma worse. Here are some main issues to consider:

1) In several recent cases, patients have died due to asthma attacks in connection withexercise. So called “ anaphylaxis shock” is thought to be connected with eating just before the exercise. In fact, anaphylaxis shock is a life threatening allergy. Dr. Terasawa warns against eating a big meal before exercise, but notes that in one case, the child had only just had breakfast, then bicycled to school.

The cause of anaphylaxis shock seems to be certain foods, such as wheat, shrimp, and squid, but the exact cause is not known. The safe interval between a meal and the exercise can also depend on many factors. It is important that the parents communicate with the school about such conditions, to avoid vigorous physical exercise after meals.

“Exercise-induced food-dependent anaphylaxis” is a serious problem. Exercise may precipitate such reactions, but in many cases it is difficult to say which food caused the asthma.

2) In case of strong menstrual pain, women sometimes take pain-killers. However, there have been reports of allergic reactions to aspirin and other drugs, including non-steroid antiphlogistic pain-killers used against inflammation.

A related substance is the synthetic yellow food colour Tartrazine, which should be avoided. Dr. Terasawa warns that such food colour can be present even in some medicines, so patients who suffer from asthma need to pay attention to the ingredients not only of food, but also to common drugs. In Japan , it is common to use a medical compress, or poultice, which sometimes also include substances that people suffering from asthma or allergies must avoid.

The adverse reactions to Tartrazine which have been reported include asthma, allergic skin rash, runny nose, and anaphylaxis shock. Such reactions are more common in asthmatics and people who are sensitive to aspirin.

3) Insecticides and other household chemicals are causing many problems for people with

In the summer, asthma attacks used to be rare. Recently, there are an increasing amount of reports of such cases. A frequent cause appears to be insecticides used in the home to kill bugs. Using such sprays indoors, while windows are closed, can cause serious problems. The lungs can be severely irritated by both organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids.

Experts warn that synthetic pyrethroid, that are becoming very common, are similar in chemistry and action to pyrethrum pesticides, but they are a bigger problem for people with allergies and asthma. There are usually other active ingredients in such products, including resmethrin and PBO. Such products should be avoided.

This report from the US consumer organization NCAP explains why pyrethrums are not safe (pdf file):


Dr. Terasawa recommends using mosquito nets instead of chemicals. Such nets are easy to use and protects against most insects. To avoid other insects, such as cockroaches, it is essential to keep the house clean, and especially to avoid leaving foods or any kind of food garbage around the kitchen. Have a nice, safe summer!


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