Although it seems almost too bizarre to be true, the Tokyo government “angrily” says the WHO report on Fukushima public exposures is an unreal overestimation (Asahi Shimbun). Some of the WHO estimates are greater than the government has published, and Tokyo doesn’t like it one bit! “The WHO estimates deviate considerably from reality,” says one source, “If those figures are taken at face value, that may spread disquiet and confusion among the Japanese public”. What makes Tokyo’s response so strange is, first, researchers from Japan’s Radiological Sciences and the National Institute of Public health served on the WHO panel. Further, the data used for the WHO report came from the Japanese government last September! Why is Tokyo be so upset? Another official said something that seems to shed revealing light, “If they [the WHO estimates] are released, that will not only arouse unnecessary anxiety among the Japanese public but also serve as negative publicity (emphasis added).” In other words, the WHO report might give Tokyo another political black eye. But, the hit may well be self-inflicted.
The WHO report on Fukushima health impacts is based on highest-possible exposure estimates. The estimates are high because WHO assumed all people stayed in their homes for 4 months after the accident, when in-fact most quickly evacuated. Plus, the effect of sales bans on contaminated food was not included in the prognosis, which suggests over-estimation of internal exposure. Such conservative approaches are common, and Tokyo has previously used the same techniques themselves. Should the government blast WHO because they came out with a somewhat different assumption?
The public in Japan has literally lost faith in their government because of Tokyo’s penchant for naïve bungling during the F. Daiichi accident. Naoto Kan’s inept handling of the F. Daiichi crisis, combined with his censorship of information released to the public, created a chasm of suspicion that the present government has been shackled with. Instead of possibly easing the distrust situation, Tokyo adds more fuel to the fire by attacking the findings of one of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world, and concurrently denigrates their own official data. What are they thinking? Tokyo had been offered the opportunity to recover a modicum of confidence by praising rather than criticizing the WHO report. But in an utterly confounding move, they have decided to amplify rather than mitigate voter non-confidence. Naoto Kan shot himself in the foot several times after 3/11/12. Now, the Yoshihiko Noda government may have followed suit.