January 19, 2022
Six men and women between the ages of 17 and 27 who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident filed a lawsuit against TEPCO on January 27, claiming that they developed thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure caused by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. On April 27, six men and women aged 17 to 27 who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident filed a lawsuit against TEPCO in the Tokyo District Court, seeking a total of 616 million yen in damages. According to the lawyers, this is the first time that patients who developed thyroid cancer as children are suing TEPCO because of the nuclear accident. (Natsuko Katayama)
Defense: “We can’t think of any cause other than radiation exposure.
The lawsuit is filed by four people who lived in Fukushima City and Koriyama City, and one each in the Aizu region in the western part of the prefecture and the Hamadori region in the eastern part of the prefecture. They were between the ages of 6 and 16 at the time of the accident, and are now high school students or working as office workers or part-time employees in the prefecture or in Tokyo.
Two have had one side of their thyroid gland removed, four have had total thyroidectomy due to recurrence, and are undergoing or planning to undergo radiation therapy. Some have had four operations and others have metastasized to the lungs. Some have had four surgeries and others have had their lungs metastasized. The treatments and surgeries have forced them to give up their desired jobs, drop out of college, or retire. They are not only worried about relapse, but also about whether they will be able to get married or have children.
The lawyers argued that most of the thyroid cancers found in the children, including the six, were papillary cancers, which were confirmed in children and young adults after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and that they were not hereditary and could not be caused by anything other than radiation exposure. Kenichi Ido, the head of the legal team, said, “Many of the cancers have recurred, so it is hard to imagine overdiagnosis. TEPCO should admit that the cause of the cancer was the nuclear accident and provide relief as soon as possible.
The expert panel’s position is that a causal relationship cannot be established.
With regard to the causal relationship between exposure to radiation from the nuclear power plant accident and thyroid cancer, the Fukushima prefectural government’s expert panel has taken the position that “no causal relationship can be recognized at this time.
Since the nuclear accident, the prefecture has been conducting tests for thyroid cancer as a part of the prefectural health survey for a total of about 380,000 people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident and who were born before April 1, 2012 (including those who evacuated from the prefecture).
Normally, the incidence of pediatric thyroid cancer is estimated to be about one to two cases per one million people per year, but according to the survey and other findings, by June last year, about 300 people had developed thyroid cancer or thyroid cancer-related diseases. By June last year, however, about 300 people had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer or suspected of having thyroid cancer. All the medical expenses are covered by the “Prefectural Health Care Fund” established with financial support from the government and compensation from TEPCO.
The expert panel is continuing to investigate the results of the diagnoses, saying, “It has been pointed out that there is a possibility of over-diagnosis, finding cancers that do not need treatment in the future.
January 19, 2022