Japan Political Pulse: The truth about Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation

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Of the unknown number of children who have been bullied for being from Fukushima Prefecture, where a nuclear disaster is still ongoing at a power station six years since its outbreak, one boy who evacuated to Yokohama was bullied and extorted by his classmates of 1.5 million yen in total.

Now in his first year of junior high school, the boy wrote when he was in sixth grade, “My classmates said, ‘You get compensation, right?’ That annoyed me, but I was frustrated with myself for not standing up against them.”

Ironically, news reports say that because the family voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, they are not eligible for the high levels of compensation from the operator of the stricken nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), that some victims are entitled to receive.

Those who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture due to the nuclear crisis can be largely categorized into two groups. The first are those who were forced to leave their homes under evacuation orders from the central government, because they lived in areas where annual cumulative radiation levels exceeded 20 millisieverts, or otherwise faced extenuating circumstances as determined by the state. Such people receive a certain lump sum from TEPCO as compensation.

The second group comprises people who lived in areas with radiation levels that did not prompt government evacuation orders, but who evacuated voluntarily out of concern for the health of themselves and their children. As a general rule, these people are not eligible for compensation from TEPCO.

In the case of forced evacuations, TEPCO conducts individual interviews with evacuees to assess the value of their property and homes. But this is strictly to compensate for the assets that people have lost.

What has often attracted attention but remains commonly misunderstood, is the monthly 100,000 yen per person that evacuees are said to be receiving as compensation for emotional suffering. Those who evacuated without orders to do so from the government are not eligible for this, either.

Meanwhile, the provision of compensation for emotional suffering to state-ordered evacuees whose homes are in areas where evacuation orders are set to be lifted will be stopped in March 2018. Whether or not such evacuees will return to their homes in Fukushima Prefecture once the no-go orders are lifted, they face the harsh reality that they will be cut off from government assistance. The government is rushing to rebuild infrastructure, and appeal to the world that they are lifting evacuation orders. But whether to return or to relocate is a difficult decision, especially for families with children.

People who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture have not only been exposed to radiation, but to prejudice and misunderstanding regarding compensation that they may or may not have received.

The false rumor that compensation recipients are enjoying the high life from compensation payments has spread. We can’t deny that some probably indulged in the momentary influx of money and bought property or a fancy car. But because of that, the internet has been teeming with rumors that compensation recipients are tax thieves or calls for them to go back where they came from. And there’s no doubt that such a backdrop of online defamation and scandalmongering emboldened the children who bullied the boy in Yokohama.

The truth is, the family of the boy in Yokohama had evacuated Fukushima Prefecture voluntarily. They received a little over 1 million yen from TEPCO, but the parents said in an interview with an NHK new program, Close Up Gendai, that the money was put toward rebuilding their lives. Voluntary evacuees are exempt from paying rent due to the Disaster Relief Act, but many must restart new lives amid unstable finances.

The abovementioned boy moved to Yokohama with his family when he was in second grade. Shortly thereafter, classmates called him by his name, with the word for “germs” added on to the end. He soon found himself the victim of physical abuse such as hitting and kicking, and once he reached fifth grade, classmates demanded he give them money.

“I was so scared I didn’t know what to do,” the boy wrote. He stole from his parents and gave away a total of 1.5 million yen.

His parents, and other parents of children at the school who realized that something was going on, alerted the school. The school conducted an investigation, but took the bullies’ claims that the boy had given them money willingly at face value, and did nothing to remedy the situation for two years.

I, too, only learned the truth about the case just recently, but I believe the school’s misguided judgment was likely based on ignorance and prejudice toward compensation given to Fukushima Prefecture evacuees.

The boy’s mother had been traveling back and forth between Yokohama and Fukushima. He knew how much his parents were struggling, so he remained silent about the bullying.

What moved the case into a new direction were notes the victim had written in the summer of sixth grade. A message calling on bullying victims not to kill themselves also written by the now first-year junior high school student who attends an alternative school, was also released to the public.

Compensation is given to some victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But there is still too little compassion toward and understanding of the various misunderstandings, discrimination and divisions that disaster victims face.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170326/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

TEPCO to delay seeking end to state control by 2 years to FY 2019

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Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. will delay a decision on whether to seek an end to its state control by about two years to fiscal 2019 amid ballooning costs stemming from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, an outline of its new business plan showed Wednesday.

The move is another sign the utility is struggling to revive its business even after receiving a capital injection of 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) from the government in 2012 to bolster its financial standing. But disaster cleanup costs have continued to rise, with the latest estimate reaching 22 trillion yen.

Under its latest business turnaround plan, which will be the third major revision since the first one was formulated in 2011, TEPCO aims to realign or integrate its nuclear and power transmission and distribution businesses with other utilities to improve its profitability. But it is uncertain whether business will get back on track as planned, with other utilities cautious about such tie-ups.

 

http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/03/464967.html

Radiation brings fear, and kids let it all out

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Kids say the cruellest things: A girl bullied at school with the taunt ‘You’ve got the radiation!’ (right) sits at her home in Chiba Prefecture, where she moved after fleeing Fukushima Prefecture in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear disaster

Radiation is a fearful thing. Colorless, odorless, undetectable except by special instruments, it’s one of those evils you can dismiss from your mind altogether, until the special instruments start registering. Then suddenly it’s everywhere, or seems to be — a ubiquitous and ineradicable contaminant.

Children, as we all know, say and do the damnedest things. They mean no harm, they just know not what they do, sometimes. Their innocence is terrifying. Sometimes innocence looks anything but innocent. But all societies recognize it.

Children are not legally responsible for their actions. Parents and teachers may punish them in order to teach them responsibility. But it’s a long process. Until it’s complete, the evil they do, when they do evil, gets filed under “mischief,” in recognition of the spirit in which it was — probably — committed.

When Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant cracked under the strain of a tsunami six years ago and irradiated large swaths of Fukushima Prefecture, refugees streamed out of the stricken area, settling where they could. Forty thousand of them remain out-of-prefecture, 5,100 in Tokyo. Most of them will never go home again. Will they ever be at home where they are?

Josei Seven magazine raises the issue of “nuclear bullying.” Children too young, one might think, to even know the word “radiation” picked it up under the circumstances, and flung it with what seems like gleeful malice at disoriented new classmates who had enough to cope with already. Six years on, says Josei Seven, they’re still flinging it.

It started immediately,” says one refugee, recalling her son’s transfer to a Tokyo elementary school in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. “‘Fukushima kids are weird,’ they’d shout at him. Kids would crawl under his desk and jab his feet with pencils. In the mornings he began saying he wasn’t feeling well. At the time, frankly, I was too traumatized myself to take much notice.”

Lawyer Yukio Yamakawa, director-general of the Tokyo Disaster Support Network, takes up the story with an account of other children he’s spoken to. What starts with name-calling (“Hey, Radioactive!” “Hey, Bacteria!”) easily escalates into what’s hard not to call torture. One kid is forced to drink a bottle of ink. Another has his shoes tossed into the toilet. A third is met in the corridor by classmates poised as if brandishing guns: “Radiation! Bang! Bang!” A fourth suffers extortion of what adds up over time to ¥1.5 million: “You can afford it, your family gets (disaster victim) compensation payments!”

Yamakawa reports this taunt making the rounds: “Fukushima kids won’t live past junior high school anyway, so you may as well die now.”

Tanaka-san,” as we’ll call the mother cited above, began to fear her son might commit suicide. A poem he wrote contained the line, “Oh, to be able to go to heaven.” Fully focused now, she transferred the boy to another school. The peace that followed was short-lived. Name-calling, exclusion — it started all over again. The homeroom teacher was well-intentioned and put a stop to it — what she could see of it. What went on behind her back was beyond her control. A lot did, its viciousness increasing.

I’d been bullied myself as a child,” Tanaka says, incidentally reminding us that the problem is neither new nor necessarily nuclear-related. “I understood what he was going through.”

She transferred him again. That seems to have ended the ugliest persecution, but, once a victim, you don’t simply get over it. The boy as a small child had dreamed of being a botanist when he grew up. Now he simply says, “I have no dreams.” Fukushima No. 1 destroyed much that is quantifiable — lives, property, livelihoods — and much that isn’t.

What to make of little kids who inflict this torment on other little kids? Can innocence itself be evil? Or fictitious? One hypothesis Josei Seven raises is that children merely absorb what they hear from their parents. Lacking critical faculties and adult inhibitions, they act where grown-ups merely talk.

The energy and imagination they put into it make it hard not to suspect they enjoy it. Enjoyment of other people’s sufferings is a well-attested human trait, exploited for mass entertainment at least as far back as the Roman circuses. Nothing has happened since to root it out of us, and if radiation stimulates it today, in that respect at least it breaks no new ground.

Naked fear is a factor too. Radiation, unseen, unheard, is the most fearful of stalkers. Might school kids seriously believe their Fukushima classmates are contagious? If so, the rational response would be to stay away from them, but fear and hatred merge, short-circuiting rationality and generating “Radiation, bang, bang!”

Radiation today, tuberculosis a century ago, different causes producing similar effects. Novelist Ayako Miura (1922-1999), herself a sufferer, made what might be called “tuberculosis bullying” a sub-theme of her novel “Shiokari Toge” (Shiokari Pass), set in late-19th-century Hokkaido: “It was an age when sufferers of tuberculosis were so hated and feared that they were even forced to leave the neighborhood.” A character who innocently brings up the subject arouses horror in his listener: “Mr. Nagano, even if you only mention the name of that dreadful disease it makes your lungs rot!”

Radiation, bang, bang!” Last July a 26-year-old man slipped into a facility for disabled patients in Kanagawa Prefecture and slaughtered 19 of them, his apparent intention being to free the world from the scourge of disability. Disability, bang, bang. In February Satoshi Uematsu was declared fit to stand trial. A psychiatric evaluation found in him symptoms of a personality disorder but not of incapacity to distinguish right from wrong.

The disorder in question, writes psychiatrist Rika Kayama in the weekly Spa!, amounts to an extreme form of self-love. “Of course,” she writes, “we all love ourselves; we all at one time or another fantasize about being king or queen of the world …” We’d all, in short, be insane, more or less, if we let our fantasies rule our actions. Most of us know when to stop.

Uematsu’s self-love, Kayama hypothesizes, took the form of a conviction of having a mission, a destiny to fulfill. Maybe we all have that too, to some degree. Adults usually stifle it. Children often don’t.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/25/national/media-national/radiation-brings-fear-kids-let/?utm_source=Daily+News+Updates&utm_campaign=10c9bd6edc-Sunday_email_updates26_03_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c5a6080d40-10c9bd6edc-332835557#.WNbGPRjMx2Y

SYMPOSIUM: Locals, experts discuss radiation risks, solutions, future in Iitate

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FUKUSHIMA–Even after six years, lingering concerns over radiation loom large over the lives of evacuees from a village in northeastern Tohoku ravaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster in 2011.

Residents have agonized over whether to return to their homes in the village of Iitate, one of the most heavily contaminated areas, since evacuation orders are to be lifted on March 31.

Masanobu Akaishizawa, 67, head of an administrative district of Iitate, expressed his concerns at a recent symposium held here in mid-February.

Experts say radiation doses don’t affect us as long as we stay home,” he said. “But I wonder about the quality of my life if I can neither go to the mountains nor the river.”

Iitate was in the direct path of radioactive materials that spewed from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., following the triple meltdown due to the earthquake, tsunami as well as the government and TEPCO’s shortcomings on March 11, 2011.

Ahead of the lifting of the evacuation order for most of the village of Iitate on March 31, researchers and journalists, who have conducted field surveys since immediately after the accident, shared their views on radiation effects on health and avoiding health risks with villagers at the symposium.

The symposium, titled “Think about the future of Iitate villagers,” was hosted by the Iitate-mura Society for Radioecology, which comprises academics and citizens who committed themselves to continue their support for residents through their expertise.

During the session, Tetsuji Imanaka, a researcher at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, estimated the annual average radiation exposure to residents if they immediately return to the area after the evacuation orders are lifted. He put the figure at approximately 5 millisieverts of radiation.

How can residents come to terms with the health risks caused by radiation exposure? That’s the issue,” Imanaka said.

Katsumi Furitsu, a doctor at the Hyogo College of Medicine, highlighted the government’s responsibility.

Furitsu has conducted research in the areas devastated by the crippled Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986.

Low-dose radiation exposure also has health risks in accordance with the amount,” Furitsu said.

Offering appropriate health management and medical benefits (for the disaster victims who have been exposed to radiation) is the government’s minimum responsibility just like it issued ‘hibakusha’ (A-bomb victims) health books in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Furitsu emphasized.

Hibakusha health books have been awarded to those certified by the government as radiation victims of the 1945 atomic bombings, making them eligible for special health-care benefits, including allowing them access to free medical assistance.

Such a book could also become a powerful weapon to force the government to take responsibility for Fukushima evacuees for future damage to their health potentially related to radiation exposure.

Villagers expressed, however, concern that this could lead to possible future discrimination.

We understand the necessity of issuing the radiation exposure record books to protect victim’s health,” said one resident. “But high school girls have fears and worries about possible future discrimination that is likely to be caused by possessing the books by posing such questions as, “Can we get married?” or “Can we have children?”

In response to those poignant voices from the disaster victims, Furitsu said, “In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the same concerns were expressed. However, unjustified discrimination occurred not because of the health book, but because those who should take responsibility didn’t take it.”

The government should take measures that help residents who had been burdened with unnecessary risks,” Furitsu said, referring to such matters as providing health management, medical benefits, education and other activities to raise awareness of discrimination against disaster victims, especially if they have been exposed to low-dose radiation.

Yoshinobu Ito, 73, a farmer who moved to Iitate before the disaster, was especially worried about the risk radiation could have on children when they return to the village.

He released the results of measurements of radiation levels around his house that he has taken since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Although the levels of radiation dose have dropped, they are still 10 times higher than the figures before the disaster. Even if I return to Iitate, rebuilding agriculture is a hardship,” said Ito.

The effects of radiation also cast a shadow over Japanese cattle farmers such as Kiyomi Shigihara, 62, of Nagadoro in the southernmost section of Iitate. Nagadoro was designated as the only “difficult-to-return zone” in the village.

With regard to the government policy of decontaminating only reconstruction base areas and then lifting an evacuation order after five years, Shigihara said, “Under these circumstances, even if I return home, there’s nothing I can do.”

Unable to repress his emotions, Shigihara wiped tears from his eyes.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703250003.html

Nuke watchdog critical as robot failures mount at Fukushima plant

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Some Nuclear Regulation Authority members are skeptical of continuing to send robots into reactors in the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to collect vital data on the locations of melted nuclear fuel and radiation levels.

These regulators are increasingly calling for a new survey methodology after recent investigations utilizing robots controlled remotely generated few findings and were quickly terminated.

We should come up with a method that will allow us to investigate in a short period of time and in a more sensible way,” said a senior member of the NRA, the government watchdog.

The suggestion followed the failure of the latest probe from March 18 to March 22 in which a robot was sent in the No. 1 reactor to ascertain the location of fuel debris, information crucial to preparing for the decommissioning.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, said on March 23 the robot was unable to deliver a camera to planned spots from where images of nuclear fuel debris could be taken.

The utility cited the piping and deposits of what looked like sand accumulating on the piping as impediments that hindered the robot surveyor’s path.

The survey was designed for the robot to reach numerous locations inside the No. 1 reactor to determine the location of nuclear fuel debris and their radiation levels.

The lower part of the reactor’s containment vessel is submerged in water where deposits of fuel debris are believed to reside below the surface after melting through in the 2011 nuclear disaster, triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

At one location, the robot succeeded in placing a camera, which is combined with a dosimeter, to a depth 0.3 meter from the containment vessel floor.

The probe measured underwater radiation levels from 3.0 to 11 sieverts per hour during the five-day survey. But it was unable to take images of the debris in the water.

TEPCO and the government hope to start removing molten nuclear fuel from 2021. But they have yet to collect information on the location, amount and condition of the melted fuel.

In a survey of the No. 2 reactor in February, a robot became stuck in deposits and other debris after traveling only 2 meters inside.

Surveyor robots for the No. 1 through No. 3 reactors have been developed by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning since 2014, a project costing 7 billion yen ($62 million) by the end of March 2018.

It takes time to develop such multifunctional robots, but the surveys centering around the robots so far have failed to produce meaningful results.

No survey has been conducted at the No. 3 reactor.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703240064.html

The Nihonmatsu Declaration on the Risks of Exposure to Low Doses of Ionising Radiation

A statement by participants to the 6th Citizen-Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection 7–10 October 2016in Nihonmatsu, Japan

Over recent years, some interested parties have claimed that human exposure to low doses100 mSv/mGy or lessof ionising radiation does not confer an increased risk of cancer, or that the risk is so small that it cannot be estimated.

Our understanding of the risks of ionising radiation leads us to conclude that:

The accrued epidemiological data do not support there being a threshold of risk at 100 mSv for the induction of cancer. [1-11] [12-14]. Most of the available evidence together with mechanistic considerations, point to linearity of dose response at both high and low dose-rates.

Direct measurement of risk below 100 mSv [1-5, 7, 9] and extrapolation from higher doses [3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 15], support the use of the linear dose response model for doses less than 100 mSv and for the estimation of risks for the protection of public health after nuclear accidents.[3]

The INWORKS study of workers is particularly important because the mode of exposure is similar to that which will be experienced by returning evacuees. It provides important information in re- lation to the risks in the dose range 0 to 100 mGy. Over this range the risk0.8 per Gyis higher, but not significantly so, than the overall estimate of 0.48 per Gy.This estimate is not influenced by the slope at higher doses.The paper states: “INWORKS thus provides supportive evidence for a positive association between radiation dose and all cancer other than leukaemia, even if less precise when analyses are restricted to data for the 0-100 mGy dose range.”

This position is consistent with:

The 2000 report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Ionising Radiation [16] [17]UNSCEAR, subsequently endorsed in their 2012 White Paper [18] and the 2012 analysis of the 2006 BEIR VII report from the US National Academy of Sciences [6] the Japanese bomb survivor data .

The World Health Organisation report of 2013 [19] on the Fukushima accident.

We conclude that a recommended “reference level” of 20 mSv/year for returning evacuees from areas adjacent to the Fukushima Daiichi accident will entail an increased lifetime risk of cancer, par- ticularly for those exposed as children.

Signatories

Keith Baverstock, Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Fin- land, Kuopio, Finland.

Iuliia Davydova, Institute of Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, National Academy of Medical Science of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine.

John Mathews, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Carlton,Australia Sebastian Pflugbeil, Society for Radiation Protection, Berlin, Germany

Ben Spycher, Institute of Social and Preventive MedicineISPM, University of Bern, Bern, Switzer- land.

Wolfgang Hoffmann, Institute für Community Medicine, Urnst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, Greifswald, Germany

 

References

1Spycher, B. D., et al.,2015Background ionizing radiation and the risk of childhood cancer: a census- based nationwide cohort study. Environ Health Perspect. 123: 622-8.

2Mathews, J. D., et al., 2013Cancer risk in 680,000 people exposed to computed tomography scans in childhood or adolescence: data linkage study of 11 million Australians. Bmj. 346: f2360.

3Richardson, D. B., et al.,2015Risk of cancer from occupational exposure to ionising radiation: retro- spective cohort study of workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the United StatesINWORKS. Bmj. 351: h5359.

4Kendall, G. M., et al., 2013A record-based case-control study of natural background radiation and the incidence of childhood leukaemia and other cancers in Great Britain during 1980-2006. Leukemia. 27: 3-9.

5Cardis, E., et al., 2005Risk of cancer after low doses of ionising radiation: retrospective cohort study in 15 countries. Bmj. 331:77.

6Ozasa, K., et al.,2012Studies of the mortality of atomic bomb survivors, Report 14, 1950-2003: an overview of cancer and noncancer diseases. Radiat Res. 177: 229-43.

7Pijpe, A., et al.,2012Exposure to diagnostic radiation and risk of breast cancer among carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations: retrospective cohort studyGENE-RAD-RISK. Bmj. 345: e5660.

8Pearce, M. S., et al., 2012Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of leu- kaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study. Lancet. 380: 499-505.

9Bithell, J. F. and A. M. Stewart,1975Pre-natal irradiation and childhood malignancy: a review of British data from the Oxford Survey. Br J Cancer. 31: 271-87.

10Preston, D. L., et al., 2003Studies of mortality of atomic bomb survivors. Report 13: Solid cancer and noncancer disease mortality: 1950-1997. Radiat Res. 160: 381-407.

11Preston, D. L., et al.,2007Solid cancer incidence in atomic bomb survivors: 1958-1998. Radiat Res. 168: 1-64.

12Brenner, D. J., et al., 2003Cancer risks attributable to low doses of ionizing radiation: assessing what we really know. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 100: 13761-6.

13Brenner, D. J. and R. K. Sachs,2006Estimating radiation-induced cancer risks at very low doses: ratio- nale for using a linear no-threshold approach. Radiat Environ Biophys. 44: 253-6.

14Goodhead, d.T. Clustered damage to DNA:Time to re-evaluate the paradigm of radiation protection. in Proceedings of the Eleventh International Congress of Radiation Research. 2000. Dublin Ireland:Al- len Press, Lawrence, KS.

15Preston, D. L., et al., 2003Dose response and temporal patterns of radiation-associated solid cancer risks. Health Phys. 85: 43-6.

16UNSCEAR, Report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiations: Sources and Effects. 2000, United Nations: New York.

17UNSCEAR, Biological Mechanism of Radiation Action at Low Doses:A white paper to guide the Sci- entific Committee’s future programme of work. 2012, United nations: New York.

18NAS, Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII – Phase 2. 2006, Na- tional Academy of Sciences:Washington.

19WHO, Health Risk Assessment from the Nuclear Accident after the 2011 Great East Japan Earth- quake and Tsunami. 2013,World Health Organization: Geneva.

 

https://www.iwanami.co.jp/kagaku/eKagaku_201703_CSRP.pdf

The 6th Citizen-Scientists International Symposium on Radiation Protection

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Founded in 2011, The Citizen-Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection CSRP, is a non-profit organization established by citizens and scientists concerned about the issue of low dose exposure. Since the explosion at Fukushima’s nuclear plant in March 2011, CSRP has held several workshops each year, as well as an annual international symposium, on radiation protection from the viewpoint of citizens, inviting researchers and citizens from both Japan and overseas to find the most effective ways to deal with the issue together. The 6th CSRP symposium was held in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, between October 7 and 10, 2016for full details of the symposium, please refer to our website http://csrp.jp. The symposium published two recommendations ̶ the “Conclusions” and the “Nihonmatsu Declaration on the Risks of Exposure to Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation” ̶ based on four days of presentation sessions and roundtable discussions. We sincerely hope that discussions by both experts and members of the public on this issue allow us to deepen our understanding of the situation and better able us to recommend the wisest policy decisions in regard to management of the disaster, beyond positions and paradigms, for better radiation protection measures.

The 6th Citizen-Scientists International Symposium on Radiation Protection

For further scientific elucidation of health risks due to radiation exposure caused by the 2011 TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, in order to practice better public protection and response measures

Conclusions

Radiation protection measures should be carried out in agreement with the research of scientists from rel-evant disciplines, based on the underlying epidemiological findings. In particular, there are a number of epi-demiological evidences supporting the linear non-thresholdLNTmodel that states that the health effects of ionizing radiation have no safety threshold and are linearly proportional to the exposure dose even at a cumulative dose lower than 100 millisievertmSv.All the radiation protection measures should presuppose this model from a precautionary standpoint.Note 1

Recommendations to the Japanese Government and relevant parties

Expansion of thyroid cancer examination and enhancement of support

Several epidemiological views conclude that the results of the Fukushima prefectural health management survey are already clearly showing the frequent occurrence of thyroid cancer. Considering the diagnosed tu-mor sizes and the surgery cases that resulted from the survey, the currently practiced thyroid examination is consistent with one of the objectives of the survey, “early detection, early treatment.” The survey should be expanded, and the support should be enhanced for people suffering from thyroid cancer and other thyroid abnormalities.Note 2

Expansion of health survey

Health protection must be provided not only to the affected residents, but also to the people who are at risk of exposure to radiation while carrying out accident-related work, such as the nuclear plant workers and the off-site decontamination workers. The survey of health effects should be expanded to these people in or-der to determine what damages are being caused by radiation exposure, whether the current measures are effective enough and what should be done to improve the situation.Note 3

Respect of the victims’ rights

The emigrated ex-residents or the evacuees should not be forced to return to their hometowns. Those who wish to stay evacuated or emigrated, those who wish to evacuate or emigrate hereafter, or those who want to return to their hometowns, as well as those who have decided to stay in their hometowns despite the ac-cumulating exposure dose — all of the parties should be supported so that they can build the life they de-sire, all while avoiding radiation exposure as much as possible.Note 4

Revision of risk communication

In order to improve the current social environment that dissuades the victims from expressing their con-cern about the health effects of radiation, it is necessary to revise the “risk communication” measures led by the central and the local administrative authorities. Measures that aim to persuade the victims of the small risk of health effects without provinding sufficient evidence and impelling them to act as the authorities want, should be revised.Note 5

Education and public information on nuclear power and radiation

School teaching materials and learning places are provided from the pro-nuclear standpoint, unilaterally stressing the safety of nuclear power plants and downplaying the risk of health effects. Instead, the stand-point of those who bear the riskaccident victims, workers and future generationsshould be taken into ac-count fully.Note 6

Role of citizens and scientists

Citizens, including scientists, researchers and media professionals, are requested to promote an open dia-logue in which each party accomplishes its original mission for the pursuit of truth. Together, the victims and all the people involved are expected to create a living environment and public space that enable each of them to express what they really think and feel, to form a consensus, and thus to give rise to mutual trust. Note 7

Notes

Note 1On this issue, a separate joint statement by the epidemiologists who participated in the 6th Citizen-Scientist Symposium on Ra-diation Protection is to be published.

Note 2It is necessary to re-examine the thyroid surveys conducted on those who were 18 years old or younger at the time of the acci-dent, by expanding the rangesages and regionsand frequency of the surveys. Cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed by examinations other than the Fukushima prefecture health management survey should be disclosed, including those diagnosed in other regions that may also suffer from radiation effects. Several municipalities located outside the Fukushima prefecture indeed do carry out their own surveys. In addition, it is required to examine thyroid abnormalities other than cancer and to publish the results.

Five years after the accident, when the health effects of radiation exposure are now expected to emerge, the appearance instead, of ar-guments aiming to reduce the thyroid surveys is an issue. Building a debate based on the unsound concept of the “negative effects of the survey” does not appear as a scientifically driven decision. It is historical fact that the delay after which thyroid cancer appears after exposure to radiations, originally estimated to 10 years or more based on data from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bomb survivors, had to be revised to five years after the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Continuing the survey is thus crucial because it ties into the issue of future compensation. Therefore, the review committee for the Fukushima prefectural health management survey should not be limit-ed by past ideas but should take new data and findings into full consideration.

Studies should be promoted to estimate how much irradiation happened just after the accident, and the results should be made public. As was discussed at the 5th International Expert Symposium in Fukushima on Radiation and HealthSeptember 2016, data on the contamination by iodine-131 are scarce. The only way to determine the initial exposure dose is to investigate the existing contamination by iodine 129 and other fission products in the environment and to reconstruct the initial dose. Studies need to be extended to regions outside the Fukushima prefecture, because contamination spreads in wide areas in Eastern Japan as shown by results from the air-borne monitoring of the Ministry of Science and TechnologyMEXTand the Nuclear Regulatory Agency.

Note 3The Fukushima prefectural health management survey has been criticized from the very beginning for its narrowness of appli-cation. For example, blood testing, whose importance has been emphasized in the areas affected by the Chernobyl accident, has been treated lightly in the case of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Moreover, given that contamination has spread to ar-eas beyond the border of Fukushima prefecture, it is difficult to understand why the comprehensive health check is limited to evacua-tion zones in Fukushima prefecture. Cancer registration data and other medical information essential for comparative studies of the health status in the affected areas are not made public. Concerns have been expressed about the exposure management of subcon-tracted workers. A re-examination of the health care system for all workers at risk of radiation exposure, including the off-site cleanup workers is imperative. The fact that the Government and TEPCO have failed to disclose necessary information, has given rise to the suspicion that they might be concealing inconvenient information. They are required to take action to address the spreading distrust.

Note 4The current policy promoted by the government under the name of “reconstruction” is laying a disproportionate emphasis on the return of evacuees to their hometowns, through the prompt cancellation of evacuation orders and while neglecting support towards victims who desire to emigrate or to remain evacuated. The government has announced the cut off, in March 2017, of the provision of free housing for what they call “voluntary evacuees”evacuees from outside the evacuation order area. A similar policy is expected to be applied to evacuees from the current evacuation order areas, once the orders are lifted. Such policies leave no choice to the victims who wish to remain evacuated and avoid further radiation exposure, but to return to their hometowns. Meanwhile, long-term support is needed for those victims who are living in contaminated regions, inside or outside the Fukushima prefecture, including support to resi-dents who wish to evacuate hereafter.

Note 5The government’s so-called “risk communication” currently underplays the health effects of radiation exposure caused by the nuclear power plant accident and merely consists in delivering basic knowledge of radiation while claiming that the risks are small, of-ten comparing the health risk of low level radiation to those of medical radiation, smoking, and obesity. This “risk communication” activ-ity has been nothing but a unilateral delivery of information that highlight optimistic views on the risk of radiation exposure. It has failed to install a dialogue that considers the diverse points of view held by the affected residents.

In particular, the conventional government-led “risk communication” has created a social atmosphere in which choosing to avoid being exposed to low-level radiations for long-term safety, is regarded as “wrong”. Victims who wish to emigrate or to remain evacuated from areas where exposure is possible, or those who desire to avoid as much radiation as they can from the food, clothing and shelter even though they chose to remain in their regions, all of them are repressed from expressing their concerns. At times, this causes conflict and cleavages between family members, friends and neighbors.

Intrinsically, “risk communication” should consider the wide range of opinions that exist regarding the risks and, through dialogue be-tween experts and residents, it should elaborate a set of measures that are adapted to each resident’s lifestyle. Initiatives such as col-lecting straightforward scientific data that is useful for avoiding exposure in daily life, illustrate the importance of mutual learning and common efforts between residents and experts.

Note 6In public teaching materials, such as the supplementary reader on radiation issued by MEXT in 2014, the instructional materials issued by the Fukushima Prefectural Board of Educationthe 1st to the 5th editionsin 2011-16, and the exhibition of the Exchange BuildingKomyutan Fukushimainaugurated by the Fukushima Prefectural Environmental Innovation Center in July 2016, there is al-most no explanation on the official limits of radiation exposure doses, including those in radiation controlled areas5.2 mSv/year, the additional exposure for the general public1 mSv/yearand those of the evacuation order area20 mSv/year. Nor is there any expla-nation on emergency radiation protection measures such as the administration of stable iodine, or on the Nuclear Accident Child Vic-tims’ Support Law, enacted in 2012 to protect the victims’ rights.

Note 7Since the beginning of the accident, not only the information needed in order to avoid radiation exposure was insufficiently dis-closed, but also the voices of victims were not reflected in the policy decision process related to radiation protection. In order to devise countermeasures that reflect the voices and needs of the most affected victims, it is also required on the side of the citizens, to make opportunities for communication, that is, dialogues widely involving citizens, including scientists, researchers, media, etc.

The symposium participants who agree on this document are as follows:

Cécile Asanuma-Brice, National Center for Scientific ResearchCNRS,France Keith Baverstock, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

Iuliia Davydova, Institute of Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, NAMS of Ukraine :Ukraine Shinobu Goto, University of Fukushima, Japan

Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Scientific illustrator, Switzerland Wolfgang Hoffmann, Urnst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, Germany Paul Jobin, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Toshiki Mashimo, Citizen-Scientist Symposium on Radiation Protection, Japan John Mathews, University of Melbourne, Australia

Sebastian Pflugbeil, Society for Radiation Protection, Germany

Yoshiyuki Segawa, Citizen-Scientist Symposium on Radiation Protection, Japan Susumu Shimazono, Sophia University, Japan

Nanako Shimizu, University of Utsunomiya, Japan Ben Spycher, University of Bern, Switzerland Yasuyuki Taneichi, Kuwano Kyoritsu Hospital, Japan Tomoko Tsuchiya, NPO HSE Risk C-cube, Japan Takuya Tsujiuchi, University of Waseda, Japan

https://www.iwanami.co.jp/kagaku/eKagaku_201703_CSRP.pdf