The Reality of Fukushima- A Japanese Lawer Speaks at UN
Full Speech by Toshio Yanagihara, a lawer from the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial Team
Dear distinguished delegates,
Today, together with my friends, I am here to ask you to think about the people, especially the children, who are trapped in the high radiation areas in Japan after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Today, I am hear to request you to take a significant step as the UN Human Rights Council to rescue these trapped people. They are living in the zone that has equivalent or higher level of the radiation contamination compared to the evacuated zones around the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.
The health effects of radioactivity is well-established. As Dr. Fernex has been presented to you, the radioactivity will cause problems not only in your health, but also in the health of your descendents.
You also heard the actual suffering of the local people who had to escape to far away location in such a big hurry in Mr. Idogawa's speech. He can also talk a lot about the feelings of the evacuees and his own feeling as the leader of this group of people who had to experience extraordinary circumstances.
I characterize the response of our government with the following three key concepts. First, they have always been extremely selective in their release of necessary information. Second, they play down the effect of the accident. Third, they raised the standard of nuclear safety at their convenience.
25 years prior to the Fukushima nuclear accident, there was the Chernobyl accident. This is something the most relevant to compare with. What did we learn from the experience of Chernobyl?
When the Chernobyl accident happened, the Soviet government did not provide iodine tablets to its people. This caused thyroid cancers in children. Likewise the Japanese government did not provide with iodine tablets, either. One town even instructed to collect the tablets they once distrubuted.Now we are finding an unusually high rate of thyroid abnormalities among Fukushima children. There is already a reported case of one child who has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Japanese government changed the legal allowance of radiation exposure from 1 mSv/yr to 20 mSv/yr to prevent designation of wider mandatory evacuation zone. The same mistake had already been made by Soviet Union 25 years before in order to prevent the school children's evacuation.
The Japanese government selectively hid the crucial information in order to play down the accident. This includes the detailed simulation done by a state-of-the-art system called SPEEDI, which is based on the measurement of the data points next to each other, having the local geography and the weather condition of the time of the accident into consideration. They also repeatedly told the public that “there will be no immediate effect on health”. The Japanese government still withhold certain critical information even today.
The Yablokov-Nesterenko report based on 5,000 papers written mainly in Belarusian, Ukrainian and Russian provides an analysis that more than 980,000 people lost lives as a result of the accident. The population density in Fukushima is 15 times higher than that of the regions around Chernobyl. The number of people in Fukushima in the areas with contamination levels equivalent to Chernobyl is also much larger. Therefore, it is not hard to imagine that the loss of life in Fukushima will be significantly high.
Let me take an example of Koriyama City where I am currently representing 14 children in the Collective Evacuation Trial. It is known that the children are more affected by radioactivity than adults.
Please take a look at this map of Koriyama City, which is 60km from the Nuclear Plants. The numbers are the airborne radiation readings and the level of soil contamination measured in August last year. The red dots on this map indicate the equivalent radiation level of mandatory evacuation zone around Chernobyl. If you apply the evacuation standard used in Chernobyl, most of the central part of the city would fall under the mandatory evacuation area, where the residents would be required to move out. It is in this level of dangerous contamination that the children remain and attend school.
As a lawyer I came up with the idea to take an action to force the local government of the city of Koriyama to evacuate the school children to the area under 1 mSv/yr airborne radiation level. The court procedure takes time, while the economic situations of the children's parents don't allow them to privately evacuate the childen. It is also reported that the children who eat the lunch from home rather than the school lunch are bullied by the peers. Furthermore, some researchers have found out that the radiation readings from the monitoring equipment set up by the government are typically half the dose of the people are exposed to. We would be very happy to share the evidence of this in case you are interested in.
In order to know what type of data fixing is going on, please take a look a the next picture. You see two monitoring devices side by side.
There are about 500 monitoring posts at schools and parks in Fukushima, and you see two monitoring devises next to each other like in this picture. The one on the left is the equipment currently used. The one the right was previously used and abolished by the Japanese government because the one on the right meets the international standard that was used before the Japanese government started imposing its own standard to measure the airborne radioactivity. The contract with the company that provided the machine on the right was terminated. The readings from the type of equipment on the right are up to 40 % higher. This is a perfect example of how the government is trying to understate the contamination caused by the accident. The government spend a huge budget cleaning the surrounding of the official monitoring posts too.
Let me now talk about the actual health condition of the children of Fukushima. On September 11, the thyroid examinations found abnormalities such as nodules or cysts in 43% out of 42,000 children tested. The numbers for the girls are worse. 54% of the girls from age 6 to 10 had these abnormalities, and 55% for age 11 to 15. What is more, we have discovered in September that one child had pediatric thyroid cancer. However, the government still refuses the linkage of these symptoms to the accident.
After the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese government put numbers of policies into force. After the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese government put numbers of policies into force. Apparently, they are only talking about the reconstructions of the region based on decontamination. However, it was already proven in Chernobyl that decontamination is not effective. It is almost that whenever the Japanese government mentions the word “reconstruction“, it ultimately means emprisonment of the disaster victims in the highly contaminated areas for economic reasons. Many of the recovery workers at the Fukushima Daiichi site are from Fukushima Prefecture, who have to work under numerous layers of subcontractor. It may mean an economic slavery. Of course I would certainly wish that it is a groundless fear.
The Japanese government does not assume responsibility for voluntary evacuation. This means to the residents that the government will not pay if you decide to leave. As a result of this policy, those who cannot afford to leave everything behind and start from scratch have had no choice but to remain in highly contaminated regions regardless of their wishes. The Japanese government should fulfill its moral and legal responsibilities for the evacuation of those still living in highly contaminated regions, especially, the children.
So what can we do? The answer is simple. We should immediately evacuate the people, especially the children, out of the high radiation zones. Why does it have to be done immediately? Chernobyl suffered the casualties of 980,000 people, despite its internationally accepted evacuation standard. It was not because the standard was not adequate, but rather because it was implemented 5 years after the accident. For many, it was too late. This is why we must move the children out of the radioactive contamination now!!!
I hope you now feel like joining force to protect the human rights in Fukushima. Thank you very much for your attention.