• Abandoned by U.S. Government, Irradiated Servicemembers Turn to Japan for Help

    July 11, 2017

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Military

    fukushima


    It was a rescue mission, but one that years later turned the tables on victim and rescuer. Abandoned by their own government, American servicemembers who came to the aid of Japanese disaster victims will now benefit from a fund set up for them by a former prime minister.

    Following a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011 in Japan, it quickly became clear the rescue work needed far outstripped the capabilities of Japan’s Self Defense Forces. The tsunami, whose waves reached heights of 130 feet, crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant, shutting down its cooling system and causing a nuclear meltdown that devastated the immediate area and at one point threatened to send a radioactive cloud over much of the nation.

    Operation Tomadachi

    The United States quickly dispatched an entire aircraft carrier group, centered on the USS Ronald Reagan, some 25 ships, for what came to be known as Operation Tomadachi (Friend). The U.S. provided search and rescue, and medical aid. Thousands of American military personnel assisted Japanese people in desperate need.

    But it did not take long before the problems started.


    The Aftermath

    Military personnel soon began showing signs of radiation poisoning, including symptoms rare in young men and women: rectal bleeding, thyroid problems, tumors, and gynecological bleeding. Within three years of the disaster, young sailors began coming down with leukemia, and testicular and brain cancers. Hundreds of U.S. military personnel who responded to Fukushima reported health problems related to radiation.

    Some of those affected had worked in the area of the nuclear disaster, some had flown over it, many had been aboard ships that drew water out of the contaminated ocean to desalinate for drinking. All personnel were denied any special compensation by the U.S. government, who referred back to Japanese authorities’ reports of relatively low levels of radiation, and to the military’s own protective efforts.

    In a final report to Congress, the Department of Defense claimed personnel were exposed to less radiation than a person would receive during an airplane flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo. The Defense Department stated due to the low levels of radiation “there is no need for a long-term medical surveillance program.”

    However, five years after the disaster and more than a year after its final report, a Navy spokesperson admitted that 16 U.S. ships from the relief effort remain contaminated. However, the Navy continued, “the low levels of radioactivity that remain are in normally inaccessible areas that are controlled in accordance with stringent procedures.”



    Other Parts of the U.S. Government Reacted Very Differently to the Threat

    On March 16, five days after the meltdown, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure from Japan of eligible family members of government personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and other State Department facilities.

    Ten days later, the U.S. military moved over 7,000 military family members out of Japan under what was also called a “voluntary departure.” The effort, codenamed Operation Pacific Passage, also relocated close to 400 military pets.

    And around the same time, the American Embassy repeated a Japanese government warning to parents about radioactive iodine being detected in the Tokyo drinking water supply. Tokyo is about 150 miles away from the Fukushima disaster site.



    U.S. Servicemembers Sue the Nuclear Plant Owner

    After receiving no help from their own government, in 2013 a group of U.S. servicemembers (now numbering 400; seven others have died while the lawsuit winds its way through the courts) filed a lawsuit against the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO, the owner of the nuclear plant) seeking more than two billion dollars.

    The suit contends TEPCO lied about the threat to those helping out after the nuclear disaster, withholding some information and downplaying the dangers. The suit requests $40 million in compensatory and punitive damages for each plaintiff. It also requests a fund for health monitoring and medical expenses of one billion dollars.

    It is unclear when the lawsuit will reach a decision point, one which, if it implicates TEPCO, will then begin another long legal journey through the appeals process. A resolution will take years.



    Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Steps Up

    However, while the U.S. government seemingly abandoned its servicemembers, and TEPCO hides behind lawyers, one unlikely person has stepped up to offer at least some monetary help with victims’ medical bills: former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

    Koizumi left office five years before the Fukushima disaster, but has what many feel is a sense of national guilt over how the Americans were treated. In May 2016, Koizumi broke down in tears as he made an emotional plea of support for U.S. Navy sailors beset by health problems, saying “U.S. military personnel who did their utmost in providing relief are now suffering from serious illnesses. We cannot ignore the situation.”

    The former prime minister had become a vocal opponent of nuclear energy after the Fukushima meltdown. He responded to a request from a group supporting the TEPCO lawsuit plaintiffs and flew to the United States to meet with the veterans.

    Koizumi later told reporters he has set up a special fund to collect private donations for the former service members, with the goal of collecting one million dollars. Koizumi has already raised $400,000 through lecture fees.

    “I felt I had to do something to help those who worked so hard for Japan,” he said. “Maybe this isn’t enough, but it will express our gratitude, that Japan is thankful.”



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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • Philip Ebersole said...

      1

      A shocking report. Thanks.

      But in the next to last paragraph, you write: “just this week, on September 8”. Did you mean July 8?

      07/11/17 8:16 AM | Comment Link

    • Philip Ebersole said...

      2

      Oh, the link says Sept. 8, 2016. Sorry for not checking before commenting.

      07/11/17 8:23 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      3

      DOD just cut-and-pasted the soldiers’ radiation claims ifrom the Gulf War Syndrome report. Disgusting.

      07/11/17 10:21 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      Who would ever believe that a corrupt government that has engaged in war crimes for more than 50 years would fuck its own soldiers?

      07/11/17 11:18 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      Surprised the radiation report wasnt classified and its leakers charged with violating the Espionage Act. Speaking of Espionage bad actors:

      How many foreign contacts does someone have to omit from their SF-86 forms to lose their security clearance ? Jared Kushner managed to forget more foreign contacts than he listed, since he listed exactly zero. Jared is in charge of everything at the Russia White House. He forgot. Who could’ve known that meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about setting up a secret back channel with Moscow or scrounging for dirt on Hillary Clinton from a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer were noteworthy?

      The Janitors at the CIA are held to a stricter standard.

      07/11/17 5:00 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      6

      Unfortunately…… Very Unfortunately….. It is not just the United States that are doing these things.
      And worse…

      I’m going back to my solution….. Zombies…. Clear and defined solutions with them.

      M

      07/12/17 9:01 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      7

      Killery/202o

      07/12/17 9:09 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      8

      Well, here I go again with my tired theory. If it had been Hillary the Russians wanted to see elected would we know about it? I think the DNC and Obama would have been very quiet and pleased. Prediction for 2020- a crisis and a postponed election. Martial law and the slow nasty wind down of empire. If Trump survives his first term he may want a second and if so all bets are off. I want to believe this empire doesn’t have to end in such a way and am trying to engender an alternative. What else is there to do? Heroin and opioids hold no attraction for me.

      07/12/17 9:59 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      9

      Is anyone in Congress pushing to make people have to vote? It might cause a problem when they say there are only two Parties (and the lobbyzombies)to choose from for “Demockracy”. MIC budget to go up with Trump (not much as it went up with Obomber)! What would the She Devil Do ?

      07/12/17 10:41 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      10

      Who would Jesus Bomb?

      07/12/17 10:41 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      11

      How many countries has North Korea bombed?

      07/12/17 10:43 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      12

      Will Russian Dressing be banned at the Capital cafeteria , like the Freedom Fry days?

      07/12/17 10:47 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      13

      Where is Snowden living, and why?

      07/12/17 10:48 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      14

      Back to timeout. Have a nice day!

      07/12/17 10:48 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      15

      The Federal Gov is the entertainment division of the Military Industrial complex.

      07/12/17 11:55 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      16

      If peace between US and the Russkies broke out, it would threaten the MIC. As the MIC is the real power, the Trumpies are already dead. They just dont know it.

      The Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) of 1917 (40 Stat. 411, enacted 6 October 1917, codified at 12 U.S.C. §§ 95a–95b and 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 1–44) is a United States federal law to restrict trade with countries hostile to the United States. The law gives the President the power to oversee or restrict any and all trade between the United States and its enemies.

      Cant change the law, change the presidense.

      The Pence Administration will play ball.

      07/12/17 12:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      17

      Denying medical benefits – Sick Pence none the wiser:

      On health care, Pence is on board with repealing the Affordable Care Act, though as governor he did embrace the law in a pretty bold act of hypocrisy. He also supported denying non-emergency care for people who cannot afford a Medicare co-payment and opposed expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

      07/12/17 12:39 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      18

      I love Colonial houses. Can the slaves vote yet? Watch TV? Is the internet a “Deep State”? Tweet me. pppp’s….

      07/12/17 1:29 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      19

      Chuck you’re onto my idea from the mid 80s. Every election is an automatic plurality. The tally includes all those who refused to vote or were too lazy to vote or didn’t even register once they were voting age (that compensates for party loyalty vote). So if you are a human at and above voting age your non participation always counts as a vote against either of the two parties. They know they’d never win another election until they started being truly representative of all Americans not just the ruling plutocracy.

      07/12/17 2:25 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      20

      Is BB under water?

      07/12/17 2:25 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      21

      Should I vote a short 80’s Billionare who says (in other terms) Thing are fucked by the Parties. Is he alive? BDS,EDS.

      07/12/17 2:42 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      22

      John…

      I’m thinking…. It may not make it to the “next four years”….

      People are just going nuts…. And getting worse… Hourly.

      M

      07/13/17 12:03 AM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      23

      Rich…

      When your off about Trump and a 1917 law….

      Might want to look a bit back….. Can anyone say…’Bengazi’???

      What do you that was all about anyway???

      M

      07/13/17 12:06 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      24

      DOD: You fucked up. You trusted US.

      The Pentagon conducted a series of secret chemical and biological weapons tests involving military personnel in the 1960s and 1970s. Veterans groups and members of Congress are demanding to know exactly what happened – and who has suffered.

      The tests, known as Project 112 and SHAD (Shipboard Hazard and Defense) involved some 6,000 military personnel between 1962 and 1974, the Vietnam War era. Most served in the Navy and Army. The purpose was to identify any weaknesses to U.S. ships and troops and develop a response plan for a chemical attack.

      The tests involved nerve agents like Sarin and Vx, and bacteria such as E. Coli. Sarin and Vx are both lethal. According to DOD documents, death can occur within 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to a fatal dose of Vx.

      After exposure to a sufficient amount of Sarin, symptoms include, “difficulty breathing, dimness of vision, confusion, drowsiness, coma, and death.”

      “Veterans were exposed to some of the most extreme and hazardous agents… and they now suffer from debilitating health care conditions,” said Ken Wiseman, senior vice commander of the Virginia branch of The Veterans of Foreign Wars, one of the nation’s largest veterans groups, at a press conference outside the Capitol Wednesday. They want to know more about the extent to which service personnel were exposed.

      Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/mcclatchys-america/article160998169.html#storylink=cpy

      07/13/17 3:03 PM | Comment Link

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