Nature prints an interesting article that puts hard facts behind what I have suspected, that the fallout from fear is most likely a greater risk than that from Fukushima Daiichi. (Note that the picture at the head is rather confusing; it is a snapshot from early 2011 yet a casual reader might take it as current radiation levels.)
It is true that the government did not handle the initial reaction very well (which is understandable to some extent), but they then compounded the problem by not being more proactive at explaining the issues, nor promptly setting up comprehensive monitoring schemes to reassure the public, thus leaving a gaping hole that scaremongers have been more than happy to jump into.
A further problem is that people are very bad at risk perception; take the above article:
The children carry dosimeters provided by the health survey to collect radiation data and to calm public concerns. But Yuka wonders whether they will one day develop cancer.
[I’ll bet that line will be quoted on many Fookooshimar sites] On the other hand, we have real, measurable risks that Fookooshimars seem to care little about:
The 39-year-old father of three spends hours each evening playing video games and drinking shochu
These days, he exercises less and rarely socializes. He drinks more and has put on weight.
Yuka is prone to public outbursts of anger
Kenichi was in the smoking room at the plant when he felt the ground shudder for several minutes. [Implying he smokes]
Roughly 15% of adults showed signs of extreme stress, five times the normal rate, and one in five showed signs of mental trauma
Two decades after the accident, those who had evacuated [from Chernobyl] as children complained of physical ailments more often than their peers, even though there was no difference in health. And the mothers of those children suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder at about twice the rate of the general population
Other studies of Chernobyl’s aftermath found that evacuees had elevated rates of depression and that a subset of clean-up workers committed suicide at a rate about 1.5 times that of the general population.
76% of Japanese people believed that food from Fukushima was not safe
Yuka got a flyer in the post inviting her to talk to someone over the phone. She thought about it but decided not to.
It really does annoy me when I see Fookooshimar voices of doom casually talking about stuff like the irradiated food chain (at a level that would be safe in just about every other country in the world, and that is based on eating the foodstuff three times a day for a year) as they are yet another voice adding to the stress that will kill people in measurable quantities.