On February 19, a review team of the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority presented a proposal to consider shortening the period to monitor the thyroid condition for approximately 360,000 children in Fukushima. The original plan was to provide the monitoring for thyroid cancer for all children for their lifetime in order to study the impact of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Objections have been raised from the stakeholders.
Fukushima Prefecture has been carrying out ultrasound examinations of thyroid for all children who were 18 or younger at the time of the accident. The review team now puts forward a proposal making the monitoring period shorter for those whose radiation exposure is estimated to be lower, or who live in areas with lower radiation readings. This proposal will be submitted to the Nuclear Regulation Authority shortly, which will make its recommendation.
Dr. Kida, who is a member of this review team and vice-chairman of the Fukushima Medical Association, was critical of this proposal and said, “The extent of thyroid radiation exposure or the effect of low level radiation exposure on health are still not clear. It does not make any sense to compromise a monitoring program, intended for everyone for the span of their lifetime, for the purpose of helping to dispel the sense of worry and unease”. The review team had four meetings so far, but this proposal was never mentioned and brought up for discussion until this time. Dr. Yamashita, vice president of the Fukushima Medical University, which manages the prefecture’s thyroid examination program, stated that there is no change in the policy to monitor and protect the health and well-being of those children for the rest of their lives.
By Yuri Oiwa, Asahi Newspaper, 2/20/2013