“””We’re scared to be discriminated against when we say we’ve got thyroid cancer, we’ve spent the last 10 years without telling anyone.”””

“But there are approximately 300 children suffering from thyroid cancer.”

“I want to change the situation for the better by raising my voice.”

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 April 27, claiming that they had thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure caused by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. On the 27th, 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 with the Tokyo District Court demanding a total of 616 million yen in damages including compensation from TEPCO. The biggest point of contention in the lawsuit is expected to be whether or not there is a causal relationship between radiation exposure and thyroid cancer.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers hold a press conference after filing a lawsuit against TEPCO for compensation for thyroid cancer caused by exposure to radiation from the nuclear power plant accident at the First Legislative Assembly Hall in the House of Representatives in Nagata-cho, Tokyo.

January 27, 2022
The six, who were between the ages of 6 and 16 at the time of the accident, are high school students, part-time workers, and office workers living in Fukushima Prefecture, Tokyo, and Kanagawa Prefecture. They were diagnosed with thyroid cancer in their teens, two had one side of their thyroid gland removed, four had it completely removed due to recurrence, and one had it spread to their lungs. They have had to quit college or work due to the surgery and treatment, and are also worried about the recurrence of the disease as their daily lives are restricted.
 The complaint points out that most of the thyroid cancers found in children in Fukushima Prefecture, including the six children, are not hereditary and that no cause other than radiation exposure is possible. It argues that if there are other causes, TEPCO needs to prove them.
 Normally, the number of cases of thyroid cancer in children that are diagnosed and reported is about one to two per one million people per year. After the nuclear accident, about 300 people were diagnosed with thyroid cancer or suspected of having thyroid cancer in Fukushima Prefecture through prefectural health surveys and other means, but the prefectural expert panel has stated that a causal relationship with radiation exposure is “not recognized at this time.

A plaintiff woman holds a press conference after filing a lawsuit against TEPCO.

I want to change the situation by raising my voice.
 On the afternoon of April 27, the plaintiff, 26, held a press conference in Tokyo after filing her lawsuit. In a press conference held in Tokyo after the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiff, 26, choked back tears as she made her appeal. There are still about 300 children suffering from thyroid cancer. I want to change the situation for the better by raising my voice, even if only a little.
 A woman from Nakadori in central Fukushima Prefecture was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2015, when she was a 19-year-old sophomore in college. After an operation to remove one side of her thyroid gland the following year, her physical strength dropped drastically. Her physical condition continued to deteriorate, and she left the advertising agency where she had worked after graduating from university in Tokyo after a year and a half. She is now working as an office worker in Tokyo. She said, “I had to give up my dream job, and it’s still hard for me to work properly. I no longer have any dreams or hopes for the future.
 Immediately after being informed of her cancer, she felt uncomfortable when the doctor told her that it had nothing to do with the nuclear accident.

He was moving outside that day…
 When her mother heard this with her, March 14, 2011, the day of the hydrogen explosion at the Unit 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, came to her mind. She was outside helping her grandparents move their belongings out of their house, which was half destroyed by the disaster. When I heard about the explosion in the evening, I immediately brought the woman inside. I wish I hadn’t let her help me move at that time,” she said. I wish I hadn’t let her help me move. This was the only time she showed any regret.
 The woman traveled back and forth between Fukushima and Tokyo many times for the tests before she was notified. The prefectural government provides full support for insured medical expenses, but does not include transportation costs. I took a long-distance bus, which is cheaper than the bullet train, but it became physically demanding.

Surgeries and examinations in Tokyo, a heavy burden
 Because of her distrust of hospitals in Fukushima, she underwent surgeries and tests in Tokyo after she was notified. Her parents traveled to Tokyo each time, and the endoscopic surgery she underwent to reduce the scar on her neck as much as possible was not covered by the prefectural government at the time, so she had to pay for it herself.
 As the treatment continued, the woman forgot to apply for a non-repayable scholarship from the university, and from her third year, she had to pay the full tuition. She said, “When I heard my parents asking for advice on reconfiguring their insurance, I felt depressed that I had caused them so much trouble.

Fear of recurrence: “I’m worried about what will happen next.
 After the surgery, she caught colds frequently and developed pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma. However, unless it is recognized as treatment for thyroid cancer, he is not eligible for support. The prefectural government’s support for medical expenses is budgeted every year with the government’s subsidies as the source, and “will continue for as long as possible,” according to the prefectural government’s Civil Health Survey Division, but there is no telling how long it will last. However, there is no way to know how long the support will last. The woman said, “I am always afraid of a recurrence, and I am very anxious about what will happen to me in the future. (Natsuko Katayama)