If your kids go to school in Kawasaki City, you might want to consider home schooling. When high levels of radioactive cesium were found in the city’s school lunches, Mayor Takao Abe said it was there for educational purposes.
Since April 2012, Kawasaki, Japan’s 8th largest city, has been feeding its kids frozen oranges from Kanagawa that show a cesium level of 9.1 Bq/Kg. From September, it’s giving them canned apples from Aomori with 1.6 Bq/Kg.
At a press conference on September 4th, Abe said it’s important for kids to understand that we live among dangers. Exposing them directly to these dangers is a good way to teach them that. His exact words in Japanese: ‘危険の中で生活していることを子供たちが知ることが大事だ.’
When asked about nearby Yokohama and Kamakura ditching the radioactive foods, he said that it’s wrong to teach kids about such a trifling thing as a tiny bit of radiation. He compared it to the danger of getting hit by a car or stabbed in the street and asked whether we should teach our kids not to pass anyone.
In Japanese: ‘このレベルでビクビクする教育をすることが間違い。道路では車にぶつかる危険性があり、すれ違ったあかの他人に刺される可能性もある。だから人とすれ違うな、と教育しますか？’
Abe, who is from Fukushima, then implored parents to not be chicken.
The national safety limit for fruit is 100 Bq/Kg. While it’s true that the fruit is well below the safety limit, most people don’t think it’s a good idea to take chances with children, for whom ingesting radioactive substances poses a far worse risk. You definitely don’t want to hear a city official claiming that exposing your kids to that kind of risk is somehow ‘educational.’
What’s somewhat worrying to me is that the Japanese government is now putting together an educational program to teach about food safety. A meeting was held on September 14th to create the Consumer Feeling Safe Action Plan to counteract ‘baseless rumors’ about radioactivity and food safety. Small meetings will be held at 2,000 kindergartens and nursery schools across the country to help mothers understand the truth about food safety. Similar programs will be carried out for dieticians and health experts.
Maybe if we ‘feel’ safe, we will be.