First of all, the 20 millisieverts standard per year is the international standard for nuclear workers inside nuclear power plants. In comparison the international standard for civilians is 1 millisievert per year. Nuclear workers are willingly choosing the risks to their health and are paid to take those risks. To make people live in an environment with more than 1 milliesievert per year and to lie to them that it won’t be harmful to their health is plainly criminal, especially when it comes to pregnant women, children, infants, who are so much more vulnerable to radiation.
Second, to place such Radiation Council under the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, is to put the fox in charge of the chicken house.
All the rest is damage control, lies and deception….The Japan News, The Yomiuri Shimbun, is a pro-government newspaper, a government propaganda organ.
Thoroughly implementing scientific radiation protection and safety measures so that post-disaster reconstruction from the nuclear accident at a power plant in Fukushima Prefecture can be accelerated: This is the duty the government’s Radiation Council must carry out.
The council, under the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, comprises experts working at medical institutions or universities.
The matters taken up for discussion by the council had previously been limited to inquiries submitted by government ministries or agencies. As radiation measures have gained importance, the council’s functions were strengthened with the revision of a related law in April, enabling the council to conduct investigations and make proposals based on its own judgment. Now with five additional members, the council has become a 13-member entity, and related research budgets have been allocated.
Rebuilding a legal structure is a task at hand for the council.
After the accident, ministries and agencies concerned developed a number of laws and regulations. The government’s headquarters has set a radiation standard by which residents must evacuate from a place where 20 or more millisieverts are gauged in a year. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has set standards for levels of radioactive cesium in food products, while the Environment Ministry has set standards for decontaminated waste.
As all of these standards were set by the ministries and agencies concerned on their own, the safety levels are difficult to understand for ordinary citizens.
The standard of 20 millisieverts for evacuation orders was adopted by the administration led by the then Democratic Party of Japan based on the opinions of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and others. It is in line with international standards, but there are some who have misgivings about it.
Reflect reality in law
The standard limits for radioactive substances in food products are far lower than those adopted overseas. While the United States allows 1,200 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of drinking water, the permissible level is 10 becquerels in Japan.
The standard limits for radioactive substances in general foods other than drinking water and the like are calculated on the presumption that 50 percent of the general foods eaten by Japanese people are contaminated with radioactive substances. Given the current situation, in which food contamination has rarely been detected, the standard limits are out of tune with the reality.
Regarding these standards, the Environment Ministry has compiled “uniform, basic data,” which have been widely circulated in pamphlets and via the internet. It also presents information saying that radiation exposure of less than 100 millisieverts does not pose a significant cancer risk. But disaster-hit areas and the like remain in the grip of the “1-millisievert curse.”
From now, the council plans to scrutinize the ICRP’s latest recommendations on radiation protection and safety measures, and have them reflected in related laws.
Laws and regulations should be created to reflect the real situation of the areas concerned, including the fact that there has been a steady decline in the amount of radiation.
In a speech advocating the phase-out of nuclear power generation in his country, South Korean President Moon Jae In said that 1,368 people died in the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and that it is impossible to even grasp the number of deaths or how many have developed cancer due to the impact of radiation. On what basis did Moon say this?
The World Health Organization and other bodies have presented a view that there is a low possibility of confirming the health impacts from radiation. In order to wipe out harmful misconceptions, the council must communicate reliable information both inside and outside the country.