(English summary of the article of Tokyo Shimbun published on February 10th 2014 in Japan)
Japanese and Local Governments Refuse to Support Research on Radiation Effects on Fukushima Residents
According to the Tokyo Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, dated February 10, 2014, the medical care and support that residents of Fukushima Prefecture are receiving from the Japanese government and Fukushima local government after the catastrophic nuclear power accident of March 2011 are far from sufficient.
Starting October 2011, Fukushima Prefecture has conducted thyroid examinations of residents who were eighteen or younger as of March 11, 2011, when the nuclear accident happened. There were 33 confirmed and 41 suspected cases of thyroid cancer as of December 21, 2013. However, Fukushima Medical University, which conducted the examinations, has continued to deny any connection between the accident and thyroid cancer.
As a result, care for residents who were diagnosed for thyroid cancer in the examinations is very limited. Fukushima Prefecture pays treatment costs for thyroid cancer patients as long as they have continued to live in the prefecture and until they are eighteen years old. If they move out from the prefecture, they are no longer eligible for such support. Also, individuals who were under eighteen as of March 11, 2011 and subsequently diagnosed with thyroid cancer years later and over eighteen are not eligible for free medical care to treat it.
Data from another survey used by Fukushima Prefecture for analysis of the effect of radiation on thyroid cancer also lacks credibility. For the purpose of surveying radiation, each Fukushima resident was sent four months after the nuclear power accident a questionnaire sheet in which residents were asked to state where they were after the accident. However, only 25% answered. Radiation was measured only in 30% of the respondents.
The Japanese government has not provided proactive support. Although Fukushima Prefecture has repeatedly requested funding for medical care on this issue, the Japanese government has not given any. What it emphasizes is “self-help.” According to basic policies for the return of residents made in public last November, people who have decided to return to Fukushima are asked and advised to carry a radiation dosimeter wherever they go and to live a life avoiding areas with high radiation.
Kazuko Ito, Secretary General of Human Rights Now, criticizes the Japanese government. “When a resident suffers from medical damage (caused by radiation), (the Japanese government) might say, ‘The resident who was not careful enough is to be blamed.’ The Japanese government which promoted nuclear power, and Tokyo Electric Power Company which operated the plant, are responsible for the accident. They have the obligation to create an environment in which residents can live without fear. Switching the focus of the argument and underestimation of the effects [of the accident] only leads to mistrust.”
English Translation Provided by Cinema Forum Fukushima