Taking into Consideration the Critical Conditions of Thyroid Cancer and Based on Research of Radiation Effects, The Government’s Policy Should be Expeditiously Revised
January 13, 2015
At the end of last year, the Ministry of Environment’s “Experts’ Meeting on the Issue of Health Management of Residents Due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident” (hereafter referred to as “Experts’ Meeting”: Chairperson: Dr. Shigenobu Nagataki Professor Emeritus at Nagasaki University) published its “Interim Report.” The Ministry of Environment has already compiled state measures regarding near-future policies concerning health management, but is waiting for public comments until January 21st.
The “Advisory Committee of Citizens and Specialists on Nuclear Radiation and Health Care” (part of Friends of the Earth Japan) has published a counter report to the Interim Report, on grounds that the Interim Report does not show any evidence of research on thyroid cancer. The counter report addressed 12 issues concerning the Interim Report.
The Advisory Committee’s counter report argued, “even before the Interim Report, there were already significan issues with the procession of the meeting and how the members of the meeting were selected,” and “there was no inspection or analysis done on the increasing numbers of thyroid cancers in children, serious symptoms including metastasis and extrathyroidal extension, or the four cases of thyroid cancer found during the second round of screenings in children who had been cleared in the first round.” Critics also noted that the Interim Report ignored the individuals’ welfare by proposing a follow-up survey to replace current thyroid inspections.
Furthermore, the Interim Report denied the need for thyroid screenings outside of Fukushima; however, according to UNSCEAR data and recent research on the spread of radioiodine and radioactive cesium, it is evident that contamination levels spreading outside of Fukushima prefecture are equal to those within the prefecture. Critics have stated, “It is unscientific to compare the levels of radiation within and without Fukushima Prefecture, assuming that the contamination levels outside of Fukushima are low, and consequently, cutting off thyroid screenings outside of Fukushima. This should not be approved.”
Other criticisms of the Interim Report include its use of quotes. The Interim Report quoted reports published by WHO and UNSCEAR, but only sections that were not part of the original document, and arbitrarily or even inaccurately quoted sections from the two as well.
Additionally, the denial (made in the Interim Report) of the risks of cancers other than thyroid cancer and of non-cancer diseases is certainly not supported by the extensive research and data collected from atomic bomb survivors and Chernobyl nuclear disaster victims.
The conclusion of the counter report was that, “from the points made above, it is clear that the Interim Report should not be used as evidence and support for a health care plan for the nuclear meltdown victims, but should be re-examined at and revised immediately.
The thirteen points made by the counter report are in the yellow box below.
The whole report (Japanese version) can be downloaded by clicking on the link below:
Issues with the Interim Report Published by the “Experts’ Meeting on the Issue of Health Management of the way of Residents Due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident” (Experts’ Meeting)
I. Introduction: The members selected to take part in the meeting, how the discussion proceeded
II. Specific Issues with the “Interim Report”
1. In its (Experts’ Meeting) basic stance, they deliberately distort the findings from the UNSCEAR 2010 Report and the ICRP 2007 published comment, and conduct risk evaluations of under 100mSv.
2. Currently, while the realities of the risks and dangers of thyroid cancer are becoming clearer, no analyses, specific inspections and research are being conducted.
3. In terms of thyroid screenings, the Interim Report proposed to replace the thorough check-ups with epidemiological follow-up surveys. The welfare of the victims is being ignored.
4. At the “Experts’ Meeting,” the reality of the current situation was not investigated; rather, general debate on “false positive results” and “over-diagnosis” or “over-estimation” were continued throughout the meeting.
5. There were no discussions regarding the risks of other cancers and non-cancer diseases, which can all be caused as a result of radiation.
6. It is inaccurate and unscientific to compare amounts of radiation within and without Fukushima Prefecture. It cannot be assumed that contamination levels outside of Fukushima are lower, nor should the discontinuation of physical checkups conducted outside of the prefecture be approved.
7. In thyroid screenings for radiation exposure, examinations are conducted on the premise that data on radioactive plumes and nuclide half-lives is limited. However, in the “Interim Report,” data from the thyroid screening process on 1080 people has been used, regardless of the known inaccuracy of the data.
8. The Interim Report mainly considered evaluations published by WHO and UNSCEAR; however, based on the quoted findings of the Interim Report, it appears as though no studies have been done on the current situation by the two organizations, as many of the quotes are not taken from the original documents or are used in an illogical manner. Moreover, the Interim Report does not quote any of the precautionary sections of the WHO and UNSCEAR reports.
9. The Interim Report states that higher risks of cancer due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident “cannot be statistically proven,” and consequently ignores any articles that indicate the significant differences in cancer outbreak risks in areas with contrasting levels of radiation.
10. There is no discussion of the opinions of outside experts who were invited to the meeting.
11. No interviews and mention of victim perspectives; simultaneously, no mention of accommodations for the needs of the victims.
12. The Atomic Bomb Victims’ Relief Law (1995) should be used as an example for overall protective, medical, and welfare policies.
13. The Interim Report is only a mid-progress report. How can a policy be made based on an unfinished report?
III. The government administration committed a crime of omission by not deciding on a “standard dosage of radiation” even in the wake of increasing numbers of nuclear meltdown victims.
Attachment 1: Example of critical thyroid cancer symptoms
Attachment 2: Evaluation published by UNSCEAR of the absorption of radiation in a one-year old’s thyroid, based on studies done in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures
Attachment 3: The spread of radioactive particles across prefectural borders
Attachment 4: Main opinions expressed by the guest experts who were invited to the meeting
Attachment 5: The facilities and policies for the medical support for atomic bomb victims
Attachment 6: Diseases applicable for government support for the victims of the atomic bomb and Chernobyl in Ukraine
Attachment 7: An overview of the comparisons of health care policies involving victims exposed to radiation
Friends of the Earth Japan
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