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Evacuate the Children of Fukushima

Categories: East Asia, Japan, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Disaster, Environment, Governance, Health, Human Rights, Media & Journalism, Protest, Youth
Children evacuated from the town Futaba, enjoying a magic show in front of the Saitama Super Arena. Saitama, Japan. 27/03/2011. Image from Demotix

Children evacuated from the town Futaba, enjoying a magic show in front of the Saitama Super Arena. Saitama, Japan. photo by Miyoko Fukushima.
copyright © Demotix (27/03/2011).

The fear of lethal radiation exposure to their children, has pushed a group of parents, lawyers, and residents to demand that the state sanction an official evacuation from Japan's Fukushima region. Together they are known as the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial Team [1] [ja] and they are planning a demonstration on February 23, 2013 [2] in Shinjuku, in the capital Tokyo.

The group has been fighting a losing battle in court since 2011, when a nuclear plant released enough radioactive waste in their region to be declared the world's second largest nuclear disaster [3] ever.

Fourteen students from Koriyama city [4] in Fukushima filed a lawsuit [5] against their local government in June 2011, demanding that the city stop mandatory education in high radiation exposure areas and sponsor a collective evacuation to restart education in safer areas. The case was dismissed [6] by the Koriyama District Court in December 16, 2011. An appeal is now proceeding in closed hearings at the Sendai High Court.

Kōriyama1, Fukushima [4]

Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture. Image captured from wikipedia

Messages supporting the demonstration  [7][ja, en] have been submitted from Japan and around the world:


松尾憙澄(Tokyo, Self-employed)
Looking back during wartime, the government were able to handle mass evacuation, and ordered people to move from major cities including Tokyo to rural areas. Why can't they handle evacuation now?
Does the Ministry of Education devalue the lives of children today?
We cannot hope for a better future if we cannot trust the wisdom that improves our society.
That is why political and judicial systems exist, right??
Nothing should encourage them to aim for less.

Guillaume Gellenoncourt (France, Unemployed)
None of the words I might say are strong enough to say how this makes me feel… I fully apologize for the damages of the MOX my country sold to yours. Your government has abandoned you all… Stay as strong as possible, stay together, and maybe….

Jean VOGUET (France, Composer)
You have to take care of your children !

高橋陽一 (滋賀県:弁護士)

高橋陽一(Shiga Japan, Lawyer)
I worry about the health of children in Fukushima. I feel resentment towards the media for its minimum coverage, even though the health of children is a very important issue.


庄田政江(Osaka, Interpreter)
My father headed out to help people in Hiroshima right after the atomic bomb. He was exposed to radiation and had died before the 3/11 earthquake in 2011 with lung cancer. As his son, I demand periodic medical examination of residents and neighbors of Fukushima and demand that our nation compensate them, on behalf of my father. The
IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] other nation and electric power corporations are scheming to downplay the damage [of the nuclear disaster] to continue their “international business”.
I'd like to support this demonstration to let people know “Nuclear and human cannot live together”.

The reality of children in Fukushima is barely reported in mainstream media. On February 13, 2013, the non-profit Our Plant-TV reported [8] [ja] that three out of 38,114 children under the age of 18, have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Another seven children are suspected of having cancer, according to [9] [ja, pdf]  an official investigation done by Fukushima Prefecture.

At a press conference [10], Professor Shinichi Suzuki of Fukushima Medical University said these cases are unrelated to the nuclear accident, because the increase in diagnosis of thyroid cancer in Chernobyl, Ukraine was found 4-5 years after their nuclear incident [11]. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster was considered the worst nuclear plant disaster till Fukushima in 2011.

With little help from the government, Toshio Yanagihara, a lawyer with the The Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial Team [1] [ja], went to the United Nations. This video documents his plea. It was recorded on October 30, 2012 in Geneva and uploaded by the World Network For Saving Children From Radiation [12].

Please take a look at this map of Koriyama City, which is 60km from the Nuclear Plants. The numbers are the airborne radiation readings and the level of soil contamination measured in August last year. The red dots on this map indicate the equivalent radiation level of mandatory evacuation zone around Chernobyl. If you apply the evacuation standard used in Chernobyl, most of the central part of the city would fall under the mandatory evacuation area, where the residents would be required to move out. It is in this level of dangerous contamination that the children remain and attend school.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the 2011 accident in Fukushima was the largest nuclear disaster ever.