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Near Fukushima, a Generation of Kids Who Don’t Play Outside

This week marks three years since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Shortly after the power plant’s triple meltdown (which caused radiation to seep into the land and sea, leading Japan’s government to establish a 19-mile “no-go zone”), officials in the city of Koriyama, about a 2-hour drive from the power plant, recommended limiting the amount of time children spend outside each day.

The youngest children, up to age two, were encouraged to spend no more than 15 minutes outside per day, while 3-to-5 year-olds were told to spend no more than half an hour. Last October, these limits were lifted, but according to Reuters, that doesn’t mean the city’s playgrounds (equipped with Geiger counters) are busy again. Thanks to a combination of formed habits and concerned parents, Kindergartens and nursery schools are still keeping their children inside, leading to a different range of health issues.

The Fukushima prefecture’s Board of Education found in its annual survey that local children now weigh more than the national average in virtually every age group. Mitsuhiro Hiraguri, a director of a Koriyama kindergarten, tells Reuters, “there’s a lot more children who aren’t all that alert in their response to things. They aren’t motivated to do anything.”
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