As we reported last night, Japan's economy may once again be relapsing into a slowing phase, perversely well in advance of the dreaded sales-tax hike which many expect will catalyze Japan's collapse into another recession as happened the last time Japan had a tax hike, but that doesn't mean its population should be prevented from enjoying the heavily energized local atmosphere buzzing with the hope and promise of imminent paper-based "wealth effects" for those long the daily penNikkeistock rollercoaster.... and just as buzzing with copious gamma rays of course. Which is why for the first time in over three years, since Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster, residents of a small district 20 km from the wrecked plant are about to be allowed to return home. Because if the honest Japanese government says it is safe, then so it must be.
But how is this possible?
Just recall, as we reported in December citing SCMP, that the incidence of Thyroid cancers had surged among Fukushima youths. It took the government a few days of contemplation before spinning this deplorable revelation as one which blamed not the coverup surrounding the Fukushima fallout, but - get this - the fact that children were getting sick because they were not going out enough!
Mindboggling as it may be, this is precisely the kind of ridiculous propaganda one would expect from a flailing authoritarian regime, with a crashing economy, and a demographic collapse with no credible options left except to goose the manipulated market higher... The kind of propaganda that is now being used to give the "all clear" to move back to Fukushima!
The Miyakoji area of Tamura, a northeastern city inland from the Fukushima nuclear station, has been off-limits for most residents since March 2011, when the government ordered evacuations after a devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered a triple meltdown at the power plant. Tuesday's reopening of Miyakoji will mark a tiny step for Japan as it seeks to recover from the Fukushima disaster and a major milestone for the 357 registered residents of the district - most of whom the city hopes will go back.
Because children need to be outdoors, mingling with the high energy radiation, to avoid the dreaded consequences of being locked indoors of course. Still, not everyone is a complete idiot:
But homesick evacuees have mixed feelings about returning to Miyakoji, set amid rolling hills and rice paddies, a sign of how difficult the path back to normality will be for those forced from their homes by the accident. Many families with young children are torn over what to do, one city official acknowledged.
"Young people won't return," said Kitaro Saito, a man in his early 60s, who opposed lifting the ban and had no intention of going home yet.
"Relatives are arguing over what to do" and friends disagree, he said, warming his hands outside his temporary home among rows of other one-room trailers in a Tamura parking lot. "The town will be broken up."
Saito said he wanted to go back to his large hillside house in Miyakoji, but thinks the government is using residents as "guinea pigs" to test whether larger returns are possible.
Japan? A terminal Keynesian regime in its death throes? Experimenting with its population? Perish the though...
The 2011 crisis forced more than 160,000 people from towns near the Fukushima plant to evacuate. Around a third of them are still living in temporary housing scattered over Fukushima prefecture, their lives on hold as they wait for Japan to complete decontamination work.
Japan's $30 billion cleanup of radioactive fallout around Fukushima is behind schedule and not expected to achieve the long-term radiation reduction goal - 1 millisievert per year - set by the previous administration.
What next: cash-strapped Ukraine makes Chernobyl's Pripyat a global tourism hub? So just why again are people coming back to what is a nuclear disaster zone? Oh who cares. Let's just go with the propaganda.
Across Fukushima prefecture, hundreds of workers are still scraping the top soil off of the ground, cutting leaves and branches off trees and hosing down houses with water to lower radiation levels.
Radiation levels in selected monitoring spots in Miyakoji ranged from 0.11 microsieverts to 0.48 microsieverts per hour, according to Tamura city's February results. This was higher than the average 0.034 microsieverts per hour measured in central Tokyo on Monday, but comparable to background radiation of about 0.2 microsieverts per hour in Denver. A commercial flight between Tokyo and New York exposes passengers to about 10 microsieverts per hour.
Populations exposed to radiation typically have a greater chance of contracting cancers of all kinds after receiving doses above 100 millisieverts (100,000 microsieverts), according to the World Health Organisation.
Because we all know TEPCO would never misreport the radiation surrounding Fukushima. Oh wait: "From April to September of 2013 TEPCO admits that levels of radiation measured from water samples around the destroyed Fukushima nuclear reactor were "significantly undercounted." But that was all, TEPCO swears - this time will be different. And it is certainly "counting" radiation correctly now, when it has given people the all clear to go back to the disaster zone.