The ruling of the Japanese Court on April 24 rejecting the damand of 14 children in the city affected by the fallout of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster evacuate its children struck the international media including ABC News, Fox News, the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Telegraph, Russia Today, Straits Times. Only one Japanese paper, Tokyo Shinbun News, reported about the decision. The following is the article of Tokyo Shinbun News published on May 3. Knowing all of the mainstream media except for Tokyo Shinbun News failed to report the case, it clearly highlights that there is a serious concern among people about the manupilation of information by the media monopoly undermining the moral value of the Japanese journalism.
Although the appeal was rejected, the Japanese High court’s ruling was significant.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the children of Koriyama City, Fukushima, arguing that the city had a legal responsibility to “provide collective evacuation” of children. The Sendai High Court (Chief Judge Yoichi Sato) rejected the petition for a temporary injunction on April 24. However, the justice clearly recognized there is a legitimate concern that the children who are under constant low-dose radiation exposure might suffer from future health problems.
Former Judge Kenichi Ido, long a supporter of the children of Fukushima, evaluated the ruling and said on April 24 that “this court ruling is significant in a sense that it strongly affirms the health risk of low-dose radiation exposure.”
The findings of the ruling were clear, stating that “Children’s emerging health problems are of concern as the children are constantly under exposure from low-dose radiation for years” and that “Considering the health damage caused to children by the Chernobyl Disaster, there is a concern that children living around the Fukushima nuclear power plant are in a more precarious condition.”
It was also pointed out that there is no known technology that makes radioactive materials harmless or seals in the materials completely. Also mentioned was that the existing stalemated decontamination effort with insufficient storage space for radioactive materials is akin to “not being free from the danger of Hibaku (radiation exposure).”
The High Court’s statement is so different from the ruling of the first court, the Koriyama branch of the Fukushima District Court, in December 2011, which was devoted to reassuring platitudes such as, “there is no problem if the radiation exposure dose is under 100 mSv per year”.
Still, the High Court concluded that “under the current air dose, it is hard to accept that there is an immediate adverse effect on health”. Attorney Ido speculates that “the ruling seems to be the combination of two different documents. The judges might have had an argument among themselves.”
Attorney Toshio Yanagihara, in charge of this trial, said “the last half of the judgment was baffling” as there is logic such as “As long as the children keep living in Koriyama City, their annual exposure doses are estimated to exceed 1 mSv in their lives outside of schools. There would be no point even if only the schools are evacuated.”
In this case, the children have no choice but to move to places of low radiation doses “voluntarily”. However, the plaintiffs have appealed that “evacuation” is “the obligation that has to be fulfilled by the government to ensure the safety of children and others.” In the judgment, the government’s obligation is replaced by “individual responsibility”.
Nevertheless, it is still significant that the justice recognized the adverse effects of low-dose radiation exposure. Last June, the Japanese Diet passed “The Nuclear Accident Child Victims’ Law” establishing “the right to evacuate” and other policies. However, since the new administration took over, there has been no discussion of specific evacuation measures.
Attorney Yanagihara said the ruling pointed out that “a collective evacuation is a serious alternative as a measure to avoid damage of exposure and should be considered as a drastic policy in educational administration”, and pleaded that “municipalities, including Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture and the Japanese Government, have to take this ruling seriously in exercising the Nuclear Accident Child Victims’ Law.”
Tokyo Shinbun News 3/5/2013