” CHIBA – Japanese lawyers urged the government Friday to enhance health support for people affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, at a time when around 110,000 people are living away from their homes with the prospect of returning still uncertain.
“The state should provide periodical and continual medical checkups for free to those who lived or live in radiation-hit areas,” the Japan Federation of Bar Associations said in a resolution adopted during its annual human rights conference at the Makuhari Messe convention center near Tokyo.
“The results of the checkups should be widely shared, with consideration given to privacy, so experts can examine them to study the effects of low-dose exposure and map out countermeasures,” the JFBA noted.
Among the 110,000 evacuees, around 45,000 are living outside Fukushima Prefecture, home to the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex, and have to decide whether to return home.
“The evacuees may face difficulties even if they return home, as many communities have been disbanded during the four-and-a-half years since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, while medical and administrative services will not be sufficiently provided there,” the federation said.
“On the other hand, some of those who decide to stay where they are now will carry double debt loads for their old and present homes,” it said.
Given the situation, the JFBA also pressed the government to expand support for housing and psychological counseling so evacuees can reconstruct their lives.
The adoption of the resolution followed a symposium the previous day, at which lawyers, medical experts and municipal leaders discussed how to address nuclear-related issues generated by the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima plant.
Among the panelists was Masaharu Tsubokura, a physician involved in medical practices in areas neighboring the crippled plant.
“The health problems the evacuees face have been caused not only by radiation exposure but also the changes to their living conditions as a result of evacuation,” he said. “Amid social isolation, those suffering strokes and developing diabetes are growing.”
The resolution also touched on the issue of where to ultimately dispose of radiation-tainted waste from the Fukushima disaster, with the mayors of the two towns the central government has selected as candidate sites appearing at the symposium.
Shioya Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata and Kami Mayor Hirobumi Inomata said they opposed the government plan, as the chosen sites are vulnerable to natural hazards and the facilities, if constructed, would damage their municipalities’ water resources.
Opposition to the sites has grown partly because the government failed to include local residents in the decision-making process and did not provide a clear explanation, the federation said.
Based on the view that the nuclear disaster violated people’s fundamental human rights, including the right to healthy living, the JFBA urged the government during a previous human rights meeting to review its pro-nuclear energy policy and eliminate nuclear power generation. ”