In Stressful Wake of Fukushima Disaster, Japan Now Dealing With 'Atomic Divorce'

The World

A worker checks radiation levels on a bus at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Precautions in the region against radiation are still widespread, despite uncertainty over the risks. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Itsuo Inouye/Pool)

It's been almost two years since the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan, and caused one of the world's worst nuclear accidents. The reactor at Fukushima went into a triple melt-down and radiation contaminated much of the surrounding area. The radiation risk persists, leaving people in the region in a constant state of anxiety and stress. One psychologist says suicide, depression, alcoholism, gambling and domestic abuse are all up in the region. The stress has even created a new phenomenon: "genpatsu rikon," or "atomic divorce," says Abigail Haworth. Haworth wrote a piece on the issues for the magazine of Britain's Observer newspaper. "One psychologist I spoke to said she was basically overwhelmed," says Haworth There's also a perception of discrimination against people from the region, who are perceived as 'tainted.'
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