IWAKI, Japan – When the screen starts lightning Kaori Suzuki turns the dosimeter towards her friends and announces the result of the latest measurements. The screen reads 0,171 microsieverts per hour, a level under control. Seated at a table with a cup of tea and dosimeters in one hand, a scattering of young to middle aged women takes notes of the data and compares them with the ones from previous days. Since May, these meetings have been happening more and more frequently with the goal of checking for radioactivity levels in Iwaki, a city 30 miles from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It was some months after the reactor meltdown when mothers of Iwaki gathered together to measure by themselves the level of radioactivity. Worried by uncertain and doubtful information given by the government, they saved and collected 600 dollars to buy the first Geiger counter and measure the radiation level. The group now consists of 15 people and an increasing
number of amateurs, including fathers and grandmothers, who take part in activities and meetings. They call themselves “Action Mamas” and meet at restaurants and taverns, or at the local office of the Ishinomaki city’s daily newspaper Hibi Shimbun, whose reporters are known because they used flashlights and marker pens to write their stories on poster-size papers for six consecutive days after the disasters.