The sign of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is seen in the district of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 7, 2015. (Xinhua/Liu Tian)
by Xinhua Writer Sun Ding
BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- In the story of one famous Chinese idiom, a man plugs his ears while trying to steal a bell, foolishly believing that by doing so others won't hear the sound of the bell when it is moved away.
Of course they do, and he gets caught.
The cautionary tale of burying one's head in the sand aptly applies to the handling of the Fukushima incident by the Japanese government, which has chosen to turn a deaf ear to the aftermath of the worst nuclear accident in decades triggered by quake-related Tsunami five years ago.
Tokyo's irresponsible attitudes and acts such as speeding up the return of displaced residents to some nuclear disaster-affected areas of Fukushima Prefecture and reluctance to share relevant information, have sparked doubt and anger domestically and internationally.
A joint opinion poll conducted by The Asahi Shimbun, a national daily, and the Fukushima local press in 2015 showed that over 70 percent of the Fukushima residents were unsatisfied with the government's response.
In an editorial published on the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident, French newspaper "Le Monde" said the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is "eager to turn over the page of Fukushima" and has shown a "willingness to forget."
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan's eastern coast and triggered a 15-meter tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and sent its nuclear reactors into meltdown. The nuclear disaster was the worst since the Chernobyl incident in 1986.
As a result, up to 120,000 Japanese were relocated as "nuclear refugees" from the region.
A 2015 research found that children living near the Fukushima nuclear facilities are significantly up to 50 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer compared to those children living elsewhere in Japan.
Data on radiation levels collected by Japanese volunteers near the Daiichi nuclear power plant is 8 to 10 times higher than the official number.
At least 300 tons of radiation-contaminated underground water kept pouring into the ocean each day in 2013, but Abe, then vying for Tokyo's right to host the Olympics, claimed that nuclear contamination was "totally under control."
Questions over the Fukushima aftermath have never ceased to pop up.
The International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, a global organization, sent a message to the Japanese government this January expressing worry over the high incidence of thyroid cancer among children in the Fukushima region and offering as a professional organization to support the investigation on this matter.
The Japanese government, however, gracefully declined the offer.
The lack of transparency and independent investigation has led to limited access to information about the accident, one of the only two level-seven nuclear disasters according to the international nuclear watchdog.
Tokyo's approach shows a weak sense of responsibility and the intention to avoid political pressure ahead of the G7 summit later this week and the 2020 Olympic Games.
Japan is concerned with its national image, food security, tourism, nuclear policy, medical compensation and possibility of public lawsuits. But not single one of them should be the country's excuse for preventing the post-disaster situation from being known to the public.
Given the scale and impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, there is no ground for Tokyo to stay secretive and evasive over the handling of the issue.
The international community should urge the Japanese government, if it sticks to the passive attitude, to make public relevant information and its post-disaster management.
The selective amnesia over a disaster out of political or any other purposes is even more terrifying than the disaster itself. Tokyo owes an explanation to the world.