Japanese government downplaying internal exposure to radiation, lawyers argue

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

On July 27, a meeting was held on the health effects of internal exposure to radiation in connection with the atomic bombings and nuclear power plant accidents. Sponsored by the Hiroshima Bar Association, about 120 people attended the meeting at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Lawyers who are familiar with the damage caused by radiation criticized the Japanese government for underestimating the seriousness of internal exposure.

The keynote speech was given by Tetsuro Miyahara, who represented the attorneys who support the nationwide class action lawsuits involving the certification of A-bomb diseases. Referring to a judicial ruling which acknowledged the effects of internal exposure in the connection between the atomic bombing and disease, Mr. Miyahara argued that the Japanese government is downplaying the health damage caused by internal exposure to radiation. Hiroko Takahashi, a researcher in American history and an assistant professor at Hiroshima City University’s Hiroshima Peace Institute, said, “To this day, the central government has not accepted the claim of the A-bomb survivors when it comes to internal exposure.”

During the panel discussion held after the speeches, Kiyofumi Yuza, an attorney from Nishigo, Fukushima Prefecture, reported on radiation levels that he measured in mid-July. Mr. Yuza, who lives about 80 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant, cited the example of radiation levels in a Koriyama park in Fukushima Prefecture. He said that he measured radiation levels near a bench and found that the level on soil was three times greater than on concrete. “Radiation levels differ significantly from place to place, even within a single park,” he said. “The decontamination work should be carried out in line with the actual conditions.”

(Originally published on July 28, 2013)