In June of 2013 UNSCEAR released a report declaring the human health impacts from Fukushima to be almost non-existent. The media dutifully repeated UNSCEAR’s claims without analysis. The UNSCEAR report was riddled with carefully worded phrases to water down or ignore the actual risks to individuals exposed after the disaster. The report also took all of Japan into their estimates even though it is clearly documented that exposures varied considerably even within the Tohoku region. Including those considerably exposed in with those in areas not impacted by radiation is a clear attempt to erase these people’s exposures. UNSCEAR has a track record of downplaying the human health impacts from Fukushima. Multiple medical groups including IPPNW and PSR disputed UNSCEAR’s claims. The critique of the report can be found here.
The UN Human Rights Council also investigated the issues around Fukushima and found quite a different reality than UNSCEAR. The investigation found human rights violations related to evacuation, access to health care and screenings, current acceptable radiation levels and the lack of proper decontamination. Japan’s response to the investigation was a series of excuses and claims that there were “misunderstandings”.
Dr. Yamashita, who became internationally known for telling people that 100 mSv is safe and that smiling would protect them from radiation admitted in 2013 that he was completely wrong about his advice. The doctor advised the Japanese government and Fukushima Medical University that there was no need to distribute potassium iodide tablets to the public because the radiation releases were “so low”. As SPEEDI data later came out it revealed that Yamashita was completely wrong. Even more disturbing was his excuse for completely wrong expert advice.
“I had thought a nuclear power plant in Japan was properly equipped with filter or something to remove iodine and other nuclides. I never imagined such wide areas were contaminated.”
Yamashita’s response to having mislead on a major public health issue? “Oops”. Dr. Yamashita is a member of WHO and was to be the resident radiation health expert in Japan in case of any nuclear accident. Yamashita will be chairing a conference on thyroid problems in Fukushima children conveniently scheduled to be right before the remembrance of the 3rd anniversary of the disaster. The conference is being organized by OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. This agency is loosely associated with the IAEA and works on economic issues of the nuclear industry.
While the nuclear industry continues to try to downplay the health impact of Fukushima, hospitals like the Ito hospital in Tokyo that specializes in thyroid disorders are so busy they began opening 3 hours before the first appointments at the clinic. They were also asking people to arrive considerably early. The clinic has seen some increases in treatments and patients since the disaster.
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