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Fukushima women and children on the Frontline: Workers and Children Radiation Risks and Human Rights Violations via Greenpeace

Eight years after the start of the Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear disaster and two years after the
Japanese government lifted evacuation orders in
areas of Namie and Iitate, radiation levels remain
too high for the safe return of thousands of
Japanese citizen evacuees. That is the conclusion
of Greenpeace’s latest extensive radiation survey
in Namie and Iitate, Fukushima prefecture. The
survey, conducted during October 2018, focused in
particular on the radiation risks to decontamination
workers, whose exploitation and human rights
violations have rightly become a focus of attention
from United Nations human rights experts during
the last year. The report also focuses on the failure
of the Japanese government to comply with its
international obligations to protect the rights
of children. Preventing exposure of children to
harmful radiation, one of the obligations under
the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is
particularly critical given their higher vulnerability
to health effects from radiation. In the case of
workers and children, who are in the frontline
of hazards resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear disaster, the Japanese government
continues to ignore international radioprotection
recommendations. […]

In the case of radiation levels in the highly
contaminated exclusion zone of Namie the situation
is even more severe. It will be at least many
decades for some areas, and well into next century
for others, before radiation levels start to even
approach government targets of 0.23 μSv/h.
The Japanese government continues to disregard
scientific evidence of cancer and other health risks
from low-dose radiation exposure, including in
the range of 1-5 mSv/y.1
Yet the government has
not only opened areas of Namie and Iitate where
citizens will be exposed to rates equal to this and
higher, but is also moving ahead with plans to open
even higher radiation areas in the six municipalities
of Futaba, Okuma, Namie, Tomioka, Iitate and
Katsurao. […]

In 2019, based on our latest survey, there clearly
remains a radiological emergency within the
areas of Namie and Iitate which were opened by
the government in March 2017. To clarify the use
of the word emergency: if these radiation levels
were measured in a nuclear facility, immediate
action would be required by the authorities to
mitigate serious adverse consequences for human
health and safety, property and the environment.
Risking such exposures for decontamination
workers and citizens of Namie and Iitate,
including vulnerable populations of women and
children, is unjustifiable. Potential exposures
to children is of particular concern, as they are
both more vulnerable to the impacts of ionizing
radiation exposure and are at much greater risk
of coming into contact with ground level radiation
through play.16 One year after signaling to United
Nations member states that it would accept the

recommendations made at the Human Rights
Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR), there is
no sign that the Abe government has any intention
of changing its Fukushima policies and to instead
prioritize the human rights of evacuees, especially
those of children and women. […]

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Posted in *English.

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2 Responses

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  1. Kuze says

    Japanese authorities have tried to make radioactive contamination or radiation leaks look low to beautify “Reconstruction Olympics”.
    and,have spread social atmosphere that difficult to talk about radioactivity and nuclear plants openly.

    But Japan government still ignore plural recommendations of the UN human rights about Fukushima nuclear disaster.
    Many Japanese do not know even it.

    Even talking or expressing anxiety about radioactivity has been censured as “un-patriot” “enemy against Fukushima reconstruction” in Japanese society.

    Japan is only country where cancer increasing among advanced countries.

    • yukimiyamotodepaul says

      Thank you very much for your comment.

      I agree with you that the Japanese government is violating human rights to let people stay in the place where the government issued an emergency status, to incentivize people to return, and to discourage the evacuees to be safely away. The Olympics is a nice rhetorical blanket to cover the ongoing disaster.

      And I am also concerned about the social atmosphere you mentioned, in which those voices to express their anxieties for their health and environment were considered as unpatriotic. Or when non-Fukushima citizens raised concerns for radiation, their voices are labeled as discriminatory.

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