by Yoshihiro Kaneda
Recently, Ministry of the Environment in Japan and the Fukushima prefecture had the experts’ meeting. In the meeting, Professor Toshihide Tsuda, Okayama University, said “An incident rate of thyroid cancer on children in Fukushima are from several times to dozens times higher than usual. This is a rash of disease. There is a possibility to increase more in future and we need a countermeasure.” But Shinichi Suzuki of Fukushima Medical University still denied the cause of radiation and the influence of Fukushima nuclear accident.
In November, Fukushima prefecture government announced the result of their health monitor for children. The result found 59 children who have thyroid cancer or were doubted as having thyroid cancer. Total monitored children were 226,000.
I want to introduce one trial which Noam Chomsky supports. I interviewed Mr. Kohichi Kohzen, the lawyer of the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial on late September. I will upload it soon. Before that, read my article about the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial.
The Sendai High Court handed down the decision of Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial on 24th April, 2013. The decision rejected the plaintiffs’ claim which demanded the evacuation of children from Fukushima to avoid high radiation effects and low-dose exposure to radiation after the Fukushima nuclear accident. However, the decision would be a half victory for the plaintiffs in this case because the Court admitted the several bad effects of radiation on children living in the Koriyama City in Fukushima state.
According to the decision, both state and local governments have an obligation to consider the health of students living in the Koriyama City in order to avoid risks to lose lives and health due to radiation effects. The plaintiffs might have specific risk of cancer and leukemia because of radiation hazard. In this regard, those risks are obvious with comparing the situation of the damage on Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, as the same kind accident. There is no way to avoid the risks without that the schools moving to outside of high radiation areas to educate children, or evacuate collectively. So far, the court admitted a half of plaintiffs’ claim.
But the decision denied the claim consequently. The reasons of rejection were that there were no immediate bad effects of radiation, radiation affected the plaintiffs as far as the plaintiffs lived there whether go to the school or not, and the plaintiffs could move to the safety areas alone.
These reasons are in contradiction to the first half part of the decision. The lawyers objected to the decision at the press conference after the trial and said:
“the judgment was ‘baffling.’ In the first half of the statement, the judges basically said, ‘there is a considerable amount of concerns about the health condition of the children in Koriyama city.’ They clearly noted that there is an increasing risk in their health due to radiation exposure. Then, in the last half of the statement, the tone of the arguments changed suddenly. At last, they concluded that ‘the plaintiffs of the children have no right to evacuate and Koriyama city has no obligation to support their evacuation’, which is not consistent with the first half of the statement at all.”
Toshio Yanagihara, the lawyer of the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial, talked with expectation on the interview by Our Planet TV:
“I think the judges did admit that the governments were responsible for evacuating the children in their general argument, although they could not be brave enough to announce it as their final decision. So, what we expect to do is we encourage the state and local governments to apply this idea into their policies and try to evacuate the children as soon as possible.”
Noam Chomsky sent a message to the Fukushima Collective Evacuation team:
“It is deeply disturbing to learn that the courts have blocked efforts to evacuate children from the Fukushima site, though acknowledging the health risks. Nothing tells us more about the moral level of a society than how it treats the most vulnerable, in this case its most precious possession, its children. I hope and trust that this grim decision will be reversed.”
Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial is asking the city government of Koriyama in Fukushima to evacuate children from high radiation areas in Fukushima because the City of Koriyama’s atmospheric radiation levels are as same as Chernobyl’s evacuation standards’ level. The original plaintiffs of Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial were 14 elementary school and junior high school children and, some of the plaintiffs already moved to more safety place to radiation.
The original plaintiffs sued the city government of Koriyama June, 2011 at the Koriyama District Court and the court judged December, 2011. The decision of the court disappointed people who were involved in the trial. The decision said there were no data about incidence of late radiation injury under 100 millisieverts(mSv)/year which was determined as a safe level of exposure by the state government.
The plaintiffs and the lawyers appealed to the Sendai High Court in order to force the city government of Koriyama to accept their claim. The Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial team has continued to aim to derive a result that children have right to evacuate from high radiation areas to safety areas in Japan. They will spread the fruit of their efforts which the plaintiffs and the lawyers hold the meetings in Tokyo and Fukushima and bring their voice to the world persistently.
In addition, the news report of the Sendai High Court’s decision and the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial team appeared in Newspapers and the news websites in the world such as New York Times, Washington Post, ABC news, The Guardian, and so on, but the Japanese newspapers including local newspapers and TV news programs neglected it except the Fukushima TV, the Asahi Shimbun English version, Tokyo News Paper, and the citizen’s media. This decision of the Sendai High Court and the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial has never been reported in major Japanese media even though the world news media reported it and Noam Chomsky has supported.