Ms. Chiba and her children hand a letter to Mr. Metcalfe (second from left), Secretary-General of the UN Scientific Committee, stating that many children are suffering from thyroid cancer in Fukushima City.

July 22, 2022
On July 21, the United Nations Scientific Committee on Radiation Effects (UNSCEAR), which compiled a report on the health effects of radiation exposure following the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, held an exchange of opinions with researchers in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture. Gillian Haas, former chairperson of UNSCEAR, explained that “overall radiation doses are low and the possibility of an increase in cancer and other health problems is low. The researchers questioned the report, saying that it underestimated the radiation exposure.
 The report was published in March of last year, summarizing the results of peer-reviewed papers published from the time of the accident to the end of 2019. Dr. Mikhail Baranov, the author of the report, commented on the large number of pediatric thyroid cancers confirmed in Fukushima Prefecture, saying, “I think the results of the ultra-sensitive screening tests have had an impact.
 Many questions were raised from the audience. Dr. Hiyako Sakiyama, Ph.D., representative director of the “3.11 Thyroid Cancer Children’s Fund,” pointed out the problem of estimating the exposure to radioactive iodine released by the accident to be half the world average, based on a paper published more than 50 years ago, which stated that Japanese people eat a lot of marine products. As the Fukushima Prefectural People’s Health Survey shows, the amount of iodine ingested by Japanese people is the same as the world average,” she said. This is a clear underestimation of exposure.
 Shinichi Kurokawa, a physicist emeritus professor at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), said, “In addition to several incorrect graphs and data, the report also gives physically impossible figures and underestimates the radiation doses by misquoting papers. It is far from a scientific report,” he criticized. Kurokawa and his group of researchers also demanded that the report be independently verified and that its conclusions be retracted.
 The committee will consider modifying or correcting the points raised, but Haas said of the report, “The conclusions are solid and will not change significantly in the future.
 The three members of the committee met with the governor of Fukushima Prefecture on March 20. Immediately thereafter, Chiba Chikako, 74, of the Ajisai no Kai, which supports pediatric thyroid cancer patients and others, directly asked Borislava Metcalfe, Executive Director, to reconsider the report, saying, “The conclusions of the report may promote discrimination and prejudice against patients and their families.
 A woman who accompanied Ms. Chiba, a junior high school student at the time of the accident who developed thyroid cancer, said, “I am distressed that the report concludes that there is no causal relationship between radiation exposure and cancer in the absence of sufficient data on initial exposure doses. I hope that a proper investigation will be conducted. (Natsuko Katayama)