The YouTube footage of an earless rabbit that I mentioned last week has been verified by the Jana Press, who have also uploaded their own footage of the rabbit. According to Jana, the rabbit was born in Namie City, just outside the 30 kilometre exclusion zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The rabbit belongs to Yuko Sugimoto, 56, who found it ‘born without ears on May 7.’ As indicated in the previous post, one other explanation for a rabbit being earless is overzealous grooming on the part of its mother; but this explanation is discounted at the beginning of Jana's video, as two individuals indicate that the ears do not appear to have been cut off. Interestingly, the rabbit also appears to have albinism (white coat, red eyes) which is actually caused by a mutation in several genes.
Two key facts have been verified by Jana's publication of the video: 1) that the rabbit was born in the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture, and 2) that the rabbit was born after the cascade of failures at Fukushima Daiichi. Coincidentally, Namie is the same town where on May 6, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technologydetected 1,500 becquerels of radioactive strontium per kilogram in soil samples, and where back in March, an International Atomic Energy Agency team detected radiation levels of 161 μSv/hour. The Jana footage also provides radiation readings from a personal dosimeter; this dosimeter, in one shot, shows background radiation in the rabbit pen at 3.5 μSv/hour. While this is far lower than levels previously detected, 3.5 μSv/hour equates to almost 31 mSv/year, exceeding the ICRP’s recommended limits. To further compare: according the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), the worldwide annual natural radiation dose per individual is 2.4 mSv/year, or 0.27 μSv/hour.
It should be noted that despite the figures cited above, there’s no definitive evidence that fallout from Fukushima Daiichi caused the rabbit's earlessness. Also, although the earless rabbit was born in Namie, which appears to be something of a radioactive hot zone, the truth is that the genetic mutation could be explained by natural, background radiation, or even simply as a fluke of nature. Still, it’s a confirmed and uncomfortable reminder from a government on the ropes of the potential radiation-related problems to come.