In an ironic twist of fate, the former head of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in eastern Japan has died, according to new reports. After battling a bout of throat cancer that emerged just months after the stricken plant was overrun by a historic tsunami and subsequent earthquake, 58-year-old Masao Yoshida died at a Tokyo hospital from a condition that many others will likely also develop in the years to come as a result of Fukushima radiation poisoning.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns the facility where at least three nuclear reactors either partially or fully melted down, insists that Yoshida’s cancer and eventual death were not the result of radiation poisoning from the plant. It would take at least five years, the company has claimed, for radiation from the plant to develop into full-fledged cancer.
But the circumstances surrounding the timing of Yoshida’s cancer diagnosis and his work at the plant following the disaster seem to tell a different story. Unlike many other TEPCO officials, Yoshida remained onsite at the failed plant in the days and weeks following the disaster, putting himself at serious risk of developing chronic illness. According to the U.K.’s Telegraph, Yoshida led efforts to get the Fukushima plant under control following the disaster, even though aftershocks and a cascade of plant failures threatened to its undoing.
In November 2011, however, just eight months after the initial disaster occurred, Yoshida was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Not long after, he underwent surgery for this cancer, and subsequently developed a brain hemorrhage, which resulted in him having to have another operation nearly one year later. And less than one year after this second surgery, Yoshida died.
“Yoshida is believed to have prevented the world’s worst atomic accident in 25 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986,” reads an RT.com piece about Yoshida’s work at the plant. “It was Yoshida’s own decision to disobey HQ orders to stop using seawater to cool the reactors. Instead, he continued to do so and saved the active zones from overheating and exploding. Had he obeyed the order, the whole of north eastern Japan would possibly have been uninhabitable for decades, if not centuries.”
Fukushima radiation levels high enough to have triggered Yoshida’s throat cancer
In its arbitrary pronouncement that Yoshida’s cancer was unrelated to Fukushima radiation, TEPCO failed to acknowledge a key aspect of the disaster — radiation levels were unusually high as a result of all the meltdowns, melt-throughs, and explosions. Of course, TEPCO has long denied the severity of all this, so it is to be expected that the company would also deny that radiation from the plant could have been a cause of Yoshida’s cancer.
But it does not take a rocket scientist to connect the dots. Being in insanely close proximity to untold levels of ionizing radiation for all those months was sure to have had an accelerated effect on Yoshida’s health, not to mention the health of other onsite workers. This would explain why adults and especially children living in nearby areas of Japan are also developing cancers and other health problems at a much higher rate than normal.
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