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Korean distributors halt sales of instant noodles from Fukushima due to unnerved customers

Korean distributors halt sales of instant noodles from Fukushima
 Dec 5, 2018
Korean retailers Homeplus and Wemakeprice have discontinued sales of Fukushima-imported instant noodles after the product’s place of origin label stirred up health concerns.
Otaru Shio Ramen — produced in Fukushima, Japan, and imported to Korea by Homeplus and Wemakeprice — has Fukushima printed as the area of production in Japanese. However, the Korean label specifies only Japan as the place of origin, prompting some consumers to point out that the translated label is misleading and takes away freedom of choice for those who do not know Japanese.
Some Koreans have reservations about products imported from Fukushima following a nuclear meltdown during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.
Homeplus, which sold the product through its offline stores, said, “Otaru Shio Ramen is produced in Kitakata city factory, located over 100 kilometers from the area of the nuclear disaster. The product has no problems, as it has gone thorough radiation inspection.” 
The company said the instant noodles do not cause health problems, but discontinued sales in response to concerns. 
Wemakeprice, which sold Otaru Shio Ramen through its online channels, deleted the item from its website as of Tuesday night. It had sold just 10 packets before deleting the item. 
The company said, “The product went through a radiation inspection before being imported, and no health-related problems were found. However, we decided to discontinue the product in response to consumers’ demands.”
Instant noodles imported from Fukushima unnerve consumers
 December 6, 2018 
WeMakePrice and Homeplus were found to have sold instant noodles produced in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, raising food safety concerns among consumers.
Fukushima is the northeastern part of Japan’s Honshu Island, contaminated by radioactivity following the explosions of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.
According to industry officials Wednesday, the two retailers had sold the made-in-Fukushima “Otaru Shio Ramen” until early this week.
But they decided to take the instant noodles off shelves as consumers discovered product information written in Japanese shows the manufacturer is located in Fukushima.
The product information written in Korean only says it was made in Japan.
After the revelation, angry consumers claimed the retailers tried to deceive those who cannot read Japanese.
“I hurriedly canceled my purchase before its delivery. I might have been a guinea pig,” said a consumer, who had bought the instant noodles from WeMakePrice.
The companies emphasized the safety of the product, but said they decided to stop selling it to reassure their customers.
“The instant noodles were produced at a factory in a Fukushima city of Kitakata, which is located over 100 kilometers from the contaminated region,” a Homeplus official said. “The product also underwent a radioactivity check before its import, and it was found to be safe.”
The discount chain also refuted criticisms that the retailers tried to deceive consumers.
“According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety’s guidelines, the product information does not need to include the specific place of origin. It just needs to include the country of origin,” the official said.
The government has banned the import of agricultural and marine products from Fukushima, but it still allows the import of processed foods from the prefecture, if their importers get certification.
Moreover, Korea may be brought to the World Trade Organization (WTO) if it prohibits the import of made-in-Fukushima foods without any scientific reason.
Japan is seeking to file a complaint with the WTO against Taiwan which held a referendum recently and decided to ban the import of agricultural products from Fukushima.
Korean consumers, however, demand the right to know the specific place of origin at least, if the government cannot ban the overall import of products from Fukushima.
Amid the growing concerns, they have begun filing online petitions on the Cheong Wa Dae website to urge the government to demand retailers specify the exact place of origin of food products.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

50% in nuclear industry: Energy plan for 2030 is ‘unrealistic’

Tohoku Electric Power Co. has decided to decommission the No. 1 reactor at the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture. 
December 5, 2018
Half of companies in the nuclear industry doubt the government’s goal of having nuclear power account for 20 to 22 percent of Japan’s energy supply by fiscal 2030, according to a survey.
The reasons for their skepticism relate mainly to difficulties restarting or building reactors under stricter safety measures taken after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
The survey was conducted in June and July by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, whose members include electric power companies that operate nuclear plants.
The forum contacted 365 companies in the nuclear industry, such as equipment manufacturers, and received responses from 254, or 70 percent.
According to the results, 50 percent of the companies said the government’s nuclear energy goal for fiscal 2030 is “unachievable,” compared with only 10 percent that said it is “achievable.” Forty percent said the attainability is “unknown.”
An estimated 30 reactors must be operating to reach the target, but the resumption of reactor operations has been slow since all of them were shut down after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“Only nine reactors were restarted in the more than seven years after the accident in Fukushima,” Akio Takahashi, president of the forum and former senior official at Tokyo Electric Power Co., said at a news conference. “I guess respondents think it’s difficult (to achieve the goal) given the current pace (of the restarts).”
Tougher nuclear safety standards were set after the Fukushima disaster, forcing utilities to spend more on upgrading their reactors or keeping aging units operational.
Asked why they thought the government’s nuclear goal was unrealistic, 48 percent of the companies said, “There are no plans in sight to build or replace nuclear reactors.”
Thirty-three percent cited the delays in restarting idle reactors, while 16 percent said, “No progress can be seen in regaining trust from the public.”

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Former mayor expresses anger at Tepco in trial over Fukushima crisis

December 5, 2018
FUKUSHIMA – A former mayor of a city hit by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis told a court on Wednesday that he wants to express his “anger” on behalf of citizens who had to flee their homes due to the disaster and whose lives are still filled with uncertainties.
Katsunobu Sakurai, who was mayor of Minamisoma at the time the crisis erupted, testified before the Fukushima District Court in a lawsuit filed by 151 people seeking ¥3.7 billion ($32.7 million) in damages from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. They say the nuclear accident destroyed their communities due to the evacuations.
Sakurai was chosen among U.S. Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 after sharing the city’s predicament and calling for support via YouTube in the wake of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.
Following the accident, part of the city was designated as an evacuation zone where the 151 people, comprising 47 households, used to live. Most of the city is no longer subject to evacuation orders.
Sakurai said the city was forced to arrange evacuation buses on its own amid a lack of information from the central government, and that he “felt bitter and angry” after learning that the government helped arrange transportation for some other municipalities.
He also said the city’s residents are reluctant to return due to the slow progress of decommissioning the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“They think they might have to evacuate again,” Sakurai said.
Sakurai had been the city’s mayor until losing his seat in an election in January.
The Minamisoma residents filed the damages suit in 2015 for their losses and changes to their hometown as a result of the nuclear accident, triggered by a major earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan Votes to Maintain Import Ban on Fukushima Food Imports

December 3, 2018
While Fukushima suffered a blow, trade ties between Japan and Taiwan avoided any major impact.
On Friday, Japan and Taiwan signed off on five bilateral trade pacts just days after Taiwan voted in a referendum to uphold an import ban on agricultural products from areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear fallout.
Last week, 7.8 million voters in Taiwan approved renewing a legally binding food ban that was originally imposed after the nuclear disaster in 2011. The ongoing agricultural ban covers five Japanese prefectures including Fukushima and nearby Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Chiba over an extended two year period. Although the setback was expected to put a strain on bilateral relations, outright animosity has been diverted for now.
While there was no hiding the tension during two days of annual trade talks in Taipei, negotiations remained on cordial terms. In the absence of formal diplomatic representatives, leaders of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association and Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association reached one agreement to speed up customs clearance on trade goods and four memorandums of understanding dealing with exchanges of patent information, business partnerships, medical equipment trade, and joint research.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono described the referendum results as “extremely disappointing” based on government efforts to provide food safety information and its continuous requests to lift the ban. Critics pointed out that the issue of Fukushima food safety was addressed on the referendum without any scientific backing. Kono said he was planning to retaliate by taking into consideration all available options as a future response. One tactic included advancing the World Trade Organization dispute settlement route and pushing efforts to persuade public opinion in Taiwan based on scientific data.
Although Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has called for closer exchanges between the two countries, she also stressed the need to respect the referendum as the embodiment of public opinion. Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Andrew Lee also responded saying they will handle the issue “carefully” and seek understanding from the Japanese side.
Taiwan has also been seeking to sign a full free trade agreement with Japan, the island’s third largest trading partner, but momentum to accelerate negotiations has stalled since the referendum. Taiwan’s lack of support in dispelling misinformation based on scientific inspection fueled criticisms in Japan that the food ban referendum was politically motivated by anti-Japanese feelings.
However, Taiwan isn’t the only government to regulate Fukushima imports behind the backdrop of radiation concerns. China, South Korea, Singapore, and Macau are among the neighbors imposing partial seafood and farm produce restrictions to varying degrees. Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori acknowledged how rumors and hearsay overseas were making it difficult to eliminate import embargoes, but said progress on the safety of prefectural products can be seen from the number of countries easing restrictions. The number of countries limiting imports from the area has dropped from an initial 54 to 25.
A major breakthrough signaling regional attitudes are loosening up came with China’s announcement that they will begin to relax import restrictions on rice from Japan’s west coast Niigata prefecture. China suspended imports of all animal feed, agriculture and fisheries products after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. But after scientific evaluation, described as examining wind direction and distance from the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactor, Chinese President Xi Jinping cancelled import restrictions on the condition that white and brown rice are processed at milling factories registered with the Chinese Customs Authority.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to persuade Xi to lift restrictions at the bilateral summit in October have paid off, symbolizing a warming of political ties.
Niigata is one of Japan’s flagship regions for rice production and there is growing demand for the staple food in China, which consumes 20 times more rice than Japan and amounts to 30 percent of the world market. Seven years after the ban was first imposed, its abolition unlocks the potential to expand exports within a market of wealthy consumers eager for high end Japanese rice.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | 2 Comments

Is pushing contaminated product and poisoning people the ‘right’ path to Fukushima reconstruction?

The South Koreans did not want their food and banned it. The WHO and the UN upheld that they would import food from Fukushima. One of the guiding factors was that the US imports the Fukushima food. How much deeper can corruption go when it is all about the economy?

“Fascism should not be defined by the number of victims but by the way they were killed”. Jean-Paul Sartre


Fukushima group holds food campaign in Brussels
December 3, 2018
BRUSSELS (Jiji Press) — People from Fukushima Prefecture living in Europe have started in earnest to campaign in Brussels to dispel concerns about foods from the northeastern prefecture following the 2011 nuclear crisis there.
The move by groups of Fukushima people in Britain and three other European countries, excluding Belgium, comes as the European Union maintains import restrictions on some Fukushima food products more than seven years after the meltdown at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
As part of the campaign, sake brands from across Fukushima were served to guests at an event to celebrate the Emperor’s 85th birthday on Dec. 23, held by the Japanese Embassy in Belgium in late November.
The Fukushima groups and the prefectural government ran a joint booth at the celebratory event, offering more than 10 local sake brands while showcasing progress on reconstruction in Fukushima after the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
The sake brands included Adatara Ginjo of Okunomatsu Sake Brewery Co., based in Nihonmatsu in the prefecture, which won the top sake award in the 2018 International Wine Challenge competition.
The Fukushima sake brands were well received by guests including foreign government and company officials, according to Japanese sources.
The groups of Fukushima people aim to strengthen direct lobbying of the EU to abolish the import restrictions, planning to set up a similar group in Belgium, where the EU is headquartered.
“We’ve renewed our recognition that it’s necessary to give information about postdisaster reconstruction more actively, while promoting sake and fruit [from Fukushima],” said Yoshio Mitsuyama, who heads the British group of Fukushima people

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cloud of suspicion in China over rice from near Japan’s nuclear meltdown zone

December 2, 2018
Beijing has lifted a ban on rice imports from Niigata prefecture, neighbouring the Fukushima disaster area, but consumers will take some convincing to buy it
The Chinese authorities may be ready to lift a ban on importing rice from a Japanese prefecture neighbouring a nuclear disaster site but Chinese consumers might need more convincing.
China’s General Administration of Customs announced on Wednesday that it had lifted a ban on rice imports from Niigata, one of a number of prefectures neighbouring Fukushima, home to the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which went into meltdown and released radioactive material in the aftermath of a tsunami in March 2011.
According to the World Health Organisation, radioactive iodine and caesium in concentrations above the Japanese regulatory limits were detected in some food commodities soon after the disaster.
China responded by banning imports of food and livestock feed from 10 prefectures.
More than seven years later, Niigata is the first area to have the ban lifted on its rice. “After evaluation, we permit Niigata rice to be imported,” the customs administration said on its website.
It said the rice was produced in the prefecture and processed in registered factories, and that when imported it should satisfy Chinese laws and regulations on food safety and plant health.
But Chinese internet users weren’t so convinced.
“The officials would rather sacrifice Chinese people’s health for diplomacy,” one person said on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.
“Whoever wants to buy the rice can buy it,” another wrote. “I only ask for it to be properly marked on the packaging.”
In all, 54 countries and regions imposed temporary import bans on Japanese food from affected areas immediately after the nuclear disaster. Since then, 27 have lifted their restrictions and Fukushima prefecture shipped 210 tonnes of agricultural products abroad last year, mainly to Malaysia and Thailand.
It follows a years-long clean-up effort and a concerted campaign by the Japanese government to promote agricultural products from Fukushima and neighbouring regions, both domestically and internationally.
A page on the Japanese government website, titled “Fukushima Foods: Safe and Delicious”, is dedicated to the clean-up and monitoring efforts and features photos of farmers encouraging tourists to try their rice, vegetables and fruit.
Hopes that the ban would be eased grew as relations between the two countries thawed. An agreement was reached in March to hold talks in Tokyo between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after which Fukushima officials told the South China Morning Post they hoped Beijing would reopen the door to exports of agricultural and fisheries products. Those prospects rose in late October with the first visit to China by a Japanese prime minister in seven years.
There were grass-roots efforts, too. Last week, a group of Chinese reporters led by Xu Jingbo, from the Tokyo-based, Chinese-language Asia News Agency, quietly visited northeast Japan, stopping in disaster-hit areas including Fukushima.
Xu told the South China Morning Post he had organised the trip because he wanted there to be fair coverage of food safety and the Fukushima nuclear clean-up.
“We should look at the Fukushima nuclear leak in a scientific and fair way,” he said.
The group visited the power station and government centres that test radiation residues on agricultural products and seafood. He said that since the accident, the Japanese government had cleaned up debris and contaminated soil, digging 30cm into the earth and transporting the soil to a remote area for treatment.
“The radiation level tested on my body was only 0.03 millisieverts after the visit, about 1/80 of taking a CAT scan in hospital and about the same level as riding on an aeroplane,” Xu said.
But lingering fear and opposition in China and neighbouring regions remains strong. Last week, voters in Taiwan showed overwhelming support for keeping a ban on food imports.
On the Chinese mainland, every movement towards lifting the ban has provoked hostility online.
Xu’s Weibo account was flooded with comments, calling him a “traitor”. Some questioned whether he received money from the Japanese government for such “propaganda”.
An article published on the WeChat account Buyidao, operated by the state-run Global Times, questioned the Japanese government and media, saying they had covered up the severity of the radiation in Fukushima and dealt with the clean-up irresponsibly.
“Tokyo Electric Power [the owner of the plant] and the Japanese government have not been honest with the Japanese people and the world, the panic runs inside Japan and has permeated to other countries,” it said.
On the rice ban lifted this week, Guo Qiuju, a radiation expert at Peking University’s physics department, said the Chinese government had its own standard and detection methods.
“China has strict levels on radiation levels detected in foods; if it’s detected below a certain level, it can be assumed to be safe,” she said.
But public concerns persist.
A shopper at Alibaba’s Hema Xiansheng supermarket in Shenzhen she said she probably would not buy any products from the affected areas even if the ban was completely lifted. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.
“I’m afraid of what might happen to me,” she said.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima sake shop opens in New York

Plainly criminal. Taking advantage of the unknowing American public and at the same time using such sales as propaganda in Japan telling to the Japanese public that it is safe, look even the Americans buy it. 
December 2, 2018
The Fukushima government has opened a sake shop in New York specializing in brews from the prefecture.
The shop opened its doors on Saturday inside a commercial facility in Manhattan. Officials from the prefecture and the facility celebrated the occasion.
Sake sales are booming in the United States. Exports to the US have increased 50 percent in the past 10 years.
Sakes brewed in Fukushima Prefecture have performed well in competitions. The shop offers 50 brands from 11 breweries.
One customer said he’s tasted Japanese sake several times before, but none were as good as the one he tried in the shop. He said he would like to visit Fukushima someday.
A Fukushima tourism official said breweries in the prefecture are having a hard time finding buyers since the 2011 disaster. He said he hopes the shop will boost the image of Fukushima’s sakes worldwide.
The shop will operate until March next year.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Results of the first-round thyroid examination of the Fukushima Health Management Survey

December 2, 2018
After the accident occurred at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the Fukushima Health Management Survey (FHMS) was initiated. The FHMS consists of a basic survey and four detailed surveys: a thyroid ultrasound examination, a comprehensive health check, a mental health and lifestyle survey, and a pregnancy and birth survey. In this article, we briefly summarized whether an association exists between radiation exposure and the observation of thyroid cancer cases according to the results of the first-round thyroid examination in the FMHS. Regarding this issue, Tsuda and his colleagues showed an association using an internal comparison (odds ratio (OR)=2.6, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.99-7.0) and an external comparison (incidence rate ratio =50, 95% CI : 25-90). However, for this internal comparison, Ohira and his colleagues used two ways of objective classifications of districts in Fukushima; (1) the group of municipalities of which proportion of the exposed external dose level of more than 5 mSv was higher than or equal to 1% (≧1% of 5 mSv), the group of municipalities of which proportion of the exposed external dose level less than 1 mSv was higher than or equal to 99.9% (≧99.9% of 1m Sv<99%), and others, and (2) the location groups applied by WHO. For the classification (1), they obtained OR=1.49 (95% CI : 0.36-6.23) from the highest group to the lowest, which was similar to the results of the classification (2). For the external comparison, Takahashi and his colleagues developed a cancer-progression model with several sensitivities under non-accident conditions, and showed 116 cases were possible to observe in Fukushima under non-accident conditions. Katanoda and his colleagues found an observed/expected ratio of 30.8 (95%CI: 26.2-35.9) of the prevalence of thyroid cancer among residents aged ≦ 20years (160.1 observed of cases and 50.2 expected cases), and a cumulative number of thyroid cancer deaths in Fukushima Prefecture of 0.6 under age 40 with the same method. This large disparity implied the possibility of over-diagnosis in thyroid examinations.
A researcher reported the results were unlikely to be explained by a screening effect, which implied the association between thyroid cancer cases and external radiation exposure. However, subsequently, a possibility that it might be a result of over-diagnosis of the thyroid examinations was pointed. And, no significant associations were found by applying objective classification of districts and by raising comparability with the incidence data of whole Japan, respectively. In the Basic Survey of FHMS, only individual external doses in the first four months after the accident has been observed. So neither external dose after the four months nor internal dose was applied in these studies. Further studies are necessary to clarify the existence of the association by applying the estimation of individual overall thyroid dose.
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December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Japan may take Taiwan’s Fukushima food import ban to WTO

Taro Kono.jpg
December 2, 2018
Japan may take Taiwan’s import ban on food products from Fukushima and other prefectures affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster to the World Trade Organization, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Sunday.
“It goes against the WTO’s quarantine-related agreement,” Kono said, referring to Taiwan’s ban on products from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures.
Taiwan voted to maintain the ban in a legally binding referendum on Nov. 25. Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrew Lee said the ministry respected public opinion on the issue and will explain to Japan the safety concerns of the Taiwanese public.
At the WTO, “there is a procedure that allows (a member state) to file a complaint. If necessary, we need to act,” Kono told a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture.
“The WTO sets clear rules that (import bans) should be decided based on scientific foundations,” he said.
Following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, the prefectural government has sought to ease consumer concern about the safety of farm and fishery products through radiation checks.
Since 2015, all shipments of rice from Fukushima have cleared the screening, with radioactive cesium levels below the 100 becquerel per kilogram limit set by the Japanese government for agricultural, forestry and fishery products. No samples of vegetables and fruit from Fukushima have exceeded the legal limit in inspections since April 2013, and no fishery products have since 2015.
The Japanese chamber in Taiwan, with 471 member companies, has also called on the Taiwanese government to re-examine the ban based on scientific evidence.
As of August, the Taiwanese government has inspected over 125,000 samples of imported food products from Japan since March 15, 2011, with none exceeding the island’s legal limits for radiation, according to the Japanese chamber.
Japan is Taiwan’s third-largest trading partner, while Taiwan is Japan’s fourth-largest trading partner.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | 2 Comments

Fukushima evacuees forced back into unacceptably high radiation zones

December 2, 2018
One man is advocating for their protection
By Linda Pentz Gunter
A UN Special Rapporteur who last August joined two colleagues in sounding an urgent alarm about the plight of Fukushima workers, has now roundly criticized the Japanese government for returning citizens to the Fukushima region under exposure levels 20 times higher than considered “acceptable” under international standards.
He urged the Japanese government to “halt the ongoing relocation of evacuees who are children and women of reproductive age to areas of Fukushima where radiation levels remain higher than what was considered safe or healthy before the nuclear disaster seven years ago.”
Baskut Tuncak, (pictured at top) UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes, noted during a October 25, 2018 presentation at the UN in New York, as well at a press conference, that the Japan Government was compelling Fukushima evacuees to return to areas where “the level of acceptable exposure to radiation was raised from 1 to 20 mSv/yr, with potentially grave impacts on the rights of young children returning to or born in contaminated areas.”
Typical housing for evacuees. 20 m2 prefab cabins, evacuation site, Miharu, Fukushima, 46 km north west of Fukushima-Daichi Nuclear Power Plant. (Photo: Lis Fields.)
He described exposure to toxic substances in general as “a particularly vicious form of exploitation.”
In August, Tuncak, along with Urmila Bhoola and Dainius Puras, expressed deep concern about the Fukushima “cleanup” workers, who include migrants, asylum seekers and the homeless. They feared “possible exploitation by deception regarding the risks of exposure to radiation, possible coercion into accepting hazardous working conditions because of economic hardships, and the adequacy of training and protective measures.
We are equally concerned about the impact that exposure to radiation may have on their physical and mental health.”
Now, Tuncak is urging Japan to return to the 1 millisievert a year allowable radiation exposure levels in place before the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. 
2011 map showing wide deposition of radioactive materials from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (Courtesy 20 Millisieverts A Year.
In a revealing response to Tuncak’s presentation at the UN, the delegate from Japan claimed that 20 msv “is in conformity with the recommendation given in 2007 by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.” He also claimed that Tuncak’s press release would cause people in Fukushima to suffer “an inaccurate negative reputation” that was “further aggravating their suffering,” and that the government and people of Japan were “making effort with a view to dissipating this negative reputation and restoring life back to normal.” 
This view is deeply characteristic of the Abe government which is desperately attempting to “normalize” radiation among the population to create a public veneer that everything is as it was. This is motivated at least in part by an effort to dissipate fears about radiation exposure levels that will still be present during the 2020 Summer Olympics there, with events held not only in Tokyo but also in the Fukushima prefecture.
However, Tuncak corrected the delegate’s information, responding that:
“In 2007, the ICRP recommended deployment of “the justification principle. And one of the requests I would make for the Japanese government is to rigorously apply that principle in the case of Fukushima in terms of exposure levels, particularly by children, as well as women of reproductive age to ensure that no unnecessary radiation exposure and accompanying health risk is resulting.” Tuncak said Japan should “expeditiously implement that recommendation.”
He also reminded the delegate that “the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council last year, did issue a recommendation to lower the acceptable level of radiation back down from 20 millisieverts per year to one millisievert per year. And the concerns articulated in the press release today were concerns that the pace at which that recommendation is being implemented is far too slow, and perhaps not at all.”
During the press conference Tuncak noted that Japan is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and that forcing evacuees back into areas contaminated to 20 mSv/yr was against the standards contained in that Convention. “We are quite concerned in particular for the health and well-being of children who may be raised or born in Fukushima,” he said.
The Yamagata family in front of their quake-damaged pharmacy in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan April 12 2011 (VOA – S. L. Herman)
Earlier, Japan had sounded tacit agreement to reducing allowable exposure levels back down from 20 mSv/yr to 1 mSv/yr. But few believed they would carry this out given that it is virtually impossible to clean up severely contaminated areas in the Fukushima region back to those levels.
Bruno Chareyron, the director of the CRIIRAD lab (Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendentes sur la RADioactivité), noted in an August 17, 2018 Truthout article that:
“It is important to understand that the Fukushima disaster is actually an ongoing disaster. The radioactive particles deposited on the ground in March 2011 are still there, and in Japan, millions of people are living on territories that received significant contamination.”
Of the cleanup process, Chareyron told Truthout: “The ground and most contaminated tree leaves are removed only in the immediate vicinity of the houses, but a comprehensive decontamination is impossible.” He said in the article that the powerful gamma rays emitted by Cesium 137 could travel dozens of meters in the air. Therefore, the contaminated soil and trees located around the houses, which have not been removed, are still irradiating the inhabitants.
While the UN delegate from Japan claimed that no one was being forced to return and the decision rested with the evacuees alone, Tuncak expressed concern about coercion. “The gradual lifting of evacuation orders has created enormous strains on people whose lives have already been affected by the worst nuclear disaster of this century. Many feel they are being forced to return to areas that are unsafe, including those with radiation levels above what the Government previously considered safe.”
Recalling his efforts to protect Fukushima workers, Tuncak observed the irony that Japan had admitted that the death of a Fukushima worker from lung cancer was directly related to exposure to radiation at the stricken plant and “quite interestingly, the level of radiation that he was exposed to in the past five years was below the international community’s recommendation for acceptable exposure to radiation by workers.”
Tuncak’s report did not focus solely on Fukushima. It also included exploitation and abuse of Roma people, South Koreans exposed to a toxic commercial product and air pollution in London. During his UN presentation, he observed that “over two million workers die every year from occupational diseases, nearly one million from toxic exposures alone. Approximately 20 workers will have died, prematurely, from such exposures at work by the time I finish my opening remarks to you.”
Before addressing the plight of Fukushima evacuees, he pointed out how “exposure to toxic pollution is now estimated to be the largest source or premature death in the developing world, killing more people than HIV AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.” While noting that this problem exists to a greater or lesser degree the world over, he added that “pediatricians today describe children as born ‘pre-polluted,’ exposed to a cocktail of unquestionably toxic substances many of which have no safe levels of exposure.”
Japan’s decision to ignore pleas to halt repatriation of evacuees into high radiation exposure levels usually deemed unavoidable (but not safe) for nuclear workers, not ordinary citizens, will now tragically contribute to these numbers.
Mr. Baskut Tuncak is Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes. As a Special Rapporteur, he is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. 

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abe asks Xi to lift Japan food import ban following nuclear disaster

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, poses with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday.
December 2, 2018
BUENOS AIRES – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift his country’s ban on Japanese food imports introduced following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, a senior government official said Saturday.
Abe’s request came after Japan’s farm ministry said Thursday that Beijing has allowed rice produced in Niigata Prefecture, more than 200 kilometers away from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, to be shipped to China.
During their meeting Friday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Abe, welcoming Beijing’s latest decision, urged Xi to abolish the rest of the import restrictions based on scientific grounds as soon as possible, according to the Japanese official.
Xi responded to Abe by saying that China will take appropriate action in keeping with scientific assessments, the official added.
Aside from Niigata rice, China maintains its ban on all other Japanese foods and feedstuff initially subject to the import restrictions, which include products from 10 of the country’s 47 prefectures, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.
Other countries, including South Korea and Singapore, restrict food imports against a backdrop of radiation concerns, while Taiwan has decided to keep its ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures intact as a result of a referendum on Saturday.
The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex was triggered by the devastating March 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster that hit northeastern Japan.
As for the situation in the East China Sea, Abe called on Xi to improve the unstable situation in the contested waters, emphasizing the importance of restarting talks about a 2008 bilateral accord on joint gas development there.
The Japanese and Chinese leaders also reaffirmed that U.N. sanctions — aimed at preventing North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles — should be fully implemented until Pyongyang achieves denuclearization as promised.
With trade tensions between the United States and China intensifying, Abe told Xi that China should take concrete measures to stem its alleged unfair business practices such as stealing intellectual property and technology from other nations.
The Japanese prime minister expressed hope that Xi will have a “valuable discussion” with U.S. President Donald Trump at their planned meeting on the fringes of the G-20 summit.
In October, Abe arrived in Beijing for the first official visit to China by a Japanese political leader in nearly seven years. Until late last year, Sino-Japanese relations had been at their worst level in decades over a territorial row in the East China Sea.
During his stay in Beijing, Abe held talks with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, in which they agreed to accelerate new economic cooperation between Japan and China by changing the dynamics of bilateral relations “from competition to collaboration.”

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Thyroid cancer impact on children and teens following Fukushima nuclear accident

December 1, 2018
OVER 180 TEENAGERS and children have been found to have thyroid cancer or suspected cancer following the Fukushima nuclear accident, new research has found. 
A magnitude 9.0 quake – which struck under the Pacific Ocean on 11 March 2011 – and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage in Japan and took the lives of thousands of people.
The killer tsunami also swamped the emergency power supply at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, sending its reactors into meltdown as cooling systems failed in what was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
As of November, the total of dead or missing from the earthquake and the tsunami stood at 18,434 people, according to the National Police Agency.
In addition, more than 3,600 people – most of them from Fukushima – died from causes such as illness and suicide linked to the aftermath of the tragedy, government data shows.
More than 73,000 people still remain displaced, while no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the nuclear catastrophe.
Cancer concerns 
The accident at the nuclear power station in 2011 has also raised grave concerns about radioactive material released into the environment, including concerns over radiation-induced thyroid cancer. 
Ultrasound screenings for thyroid cancer were subsequently conducted at the Fukushima Health Management Survey. 
The observational study group included about 324,000 people aged 18 or younger at the time of the accident. It reports on two rounds of ultrasound screening during the first five years after the accident.  
Thyroid cancer or suspected cancer was identified in 187 individuals within five years – 116 people in the first round among nearly 300,000 people screened and 71 in the second round among 271,000 screened. 
The overwhelming common diagnosis in surgical cases was papillary thyroid cancer – 149 of 152 cases. 
Worker death
In May, Japan announced for the first time that a worker at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant has died after being exposed to radiation, Japanese media reported.
The man aged in his 50s developed lung cancer after he was involved in emergency work at the plant between March and December 2011, following the devastating tsunami.
The Japanese government has paid out compensation in four previous cases where workers developed cancer following the disaster, according to Jiji news agency. 
However, this was the first time the government has acknowledged a death related to radiation exposure at the plant, the Mainichi daily reported. 
The paper added the man had worked mainly at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and other atomic power stations nationwide between 1980 and 2015. 
Following the disaster, he was in charge of measuring radiation at the plant, and he is said to have worn a full-face mask and protective suit.
He developed lung cancer in February 2016.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

In rural towns like Shikoku’s Ikata, the Japanese nuclear industry is making a quiet comeback

A port with orange farms dotting the mountains in the background in Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, which relies on the nuclear power industry for revenue
November 30, 2018
IKATA, EHIME PREF. – On a side street near a darkened Ikata shopping arcade full of abandoned storefronts, the Sushi Ko restaurant is unusually busy on a weekday.
Balancing a tray full of drinks, Sachiyo Ozaki said most of her restaurant’s customers were there because of an industry shunned elsewhere: nuclear power.
“He drives a minivan to take workers to the plant,” she said, gesturing toward a man sitting at the counter. Pointing to another man sipping a beer, she added, “And he works in construction, so they’ve been busy too.”
“We’re all for nuclear power, and you can print that,” Ozaki said.
In the mostly residential neighborhood around her restaurant, hotel rooms and local inns were also packed with workers preparing to reopen Shikoku Electric Power’s Ikata nuclear plant, nestled on the Shikoku coast at the base of the verdant Sadamisaki Peninsula.
Nearly eight years after an earthquake and tsunami triggered nuclear meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, the battered industry is making a quiet and somewhat unexpected return.
Ikata is a poster child for that recovery. In September, a court reversed a decision that had idled Shikoku Electric’s sole nuclear reactor for about a year, paving the way for the operator to reopen the facility in late October.
Regional utilities like Shikoku Electric have aggressively fought a string of lawsuits since 2011, hiring veteran lawyers to beef up their legal teams. At the same time, they wooed towns where nuclear plants are based, visiting with residents door to door while the government kept up a stream of generous subsidies for local projects.
Thanks in large part to this strategy, Japan is on track to have nine reactors running in the near future.
That is a far cry from the 54 running before 2011 — all of which were idled after the Fukushima disaster — but more than analysts and experts expected, considering it seemed at the time like the end of the road for the country’s nuclear industry.
A Reuters analysis calculates that as few as six more reactors are likely to restart within the next five years, eight will mostly likely be mothballed and that the prospects for two dozen others is uncertain.
Despite that cloudy outlook, nuclear power recently overtook renewables like wind and solar in the country’s energy mix for the first time since Fukushima.
Japan embraced nuclear power after World War II, spurred by the promise of clean energy and independence from foreign suppliers.
But the botched Fukushima disaster response sowed public distrust in the industry and the government.
Given that skepticism, some see a recent run of court victories by utilities as the resurgence of an alliance of industry, government and host communities that for decades promoted the construction of nuclear facilities.
“If our losing streak continues, we could see 20 to 25 reactors come back online,” says Hiroyuki Kawai, a prominent anti-nuclear lawyer who represented citizens in a suit against Shikoku Electric.
Since 2011, hundreds of citizens represented by volunteer lawyers like Kawai have filed nearly 50 lawsuits against the central government and utilities in 25 district and appellate courts.
In Ikata, Shikoku Electric spent months gaining approval for a restart from the tougher post-Fukushima regulator, rebooting one of its plant’s three reactors in 2016. But in December 2017, an appellate court issued a temporary injunction keeping the reactor, already idled for routine maintenance, shut down for nine more months.
In response, the company pulled more staff into its legal department and drafted its head of nuclear power to supervise the team. The utility also recruited outside lawyers who had handled cases for other operators.
“There are only a handful of lawyers knowledgeable about nuclear litigation, so they’re popular and sought after,” said Kenji Sagawa, the deputy general manager of the company’s Tokyo office.
Yoshiaki Yamanouchi, 76, began his career in nuclear litigation in 1973 when he represented Shikoku Electric in a landmark suit brought by Ikata residents seeking to stop the plant from opening.
He still represents the utility and works with other companies, advising younger lawyers fighting similar cases, which he calls “superficial,” in far-flung district courts.
“Utilities, in particular Shikoku, have gotten much smarter about fighting for the plants they know they can reopen and mothballing others that would cost too much time and money,” Yamanouchi said. The utility is decommissioning two of the three reactors at Ikata.
Shikoku Electric would not disclose how much it has spent fighting legal challenges, but said it was a fraction of the cost of idling a plant.
Every month a nuclear reactor sits inoperative, the utility spends ¥3.5 billion for additional fuel at its conventional power plants. Shikoku has also spent ¥190 billion on safety upgrades to meet stricter rules set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.
Activists have seen some victories. Kansai Electric Power Co. has had its reactors slapped with temporary injunction orders multiple times over the years. All of these decisions were later overturned by higher courts.
“Before Fukushima, these utilities won by default — now, they have to work harder,” said Yuichi Kaido, a lawyer who has spent three decades dueling Yamanouchi in court.
Shikoku Electric still faces several lawsuits and injunction requests. A Hiroshima court rejected a request from residents to extend the suspension of the Ikata reactor on Oct. 26, a day before the operator restarted it.
The quiet revival of the industry is most tangible in rural areas like Ikata. Rural regions are home to the bulk of the country’s nuclear plants.
Ikata is best known for its mikan mandarin oranges harvested on terrace farms on the sides of steep hills overlooking the Seto Inland Sea and Uwa Sea.
The town, with 9,500 residents, relies on nuclear power for a third of its annual revenue. Since 1974, Ikata has received more than ¥101.7 billion in such payments.
These funds literally built the town; Ikata’s roads, schools, hospitals, fire stations and even five traditional taiko drums for festivals were all paid for with subsidies.
“My biggest struggle now is finding one or two more pillars for this town other than nuclear power,” said Ikata Mayor Kiyohiko Takakado.
The town and utility’s mutual dependence stretch back decades.
Former Mayor Kiyokichi Nakamoto was a city councilman in Ikata when he successfully wooed the utility to his hometown. On the walls of the dim parlour of his home are framed commendations from two prime ministers, thanking him for his contributions to the national energy policy.
“We were a poor village with only farming and fishing,” the 90-year-old said. Had the town failed to attract the plant, Ikata would have gone broke, he said.
In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Shikoku Electric campaigned to reassure residents of their plant’s safety. Employees wearing the company’s blue uniforms went from house to house to explain how their plant was different from Fukushima No. 1 — and therefore safe.
“If something like Fukushima happened here, our reputation would be destroyed in an instant,” said orange farmer Shigeto Suka, 54, as he checked still-green mikan on tree branches.
He and other farmers in Yawatahama, a neighboring town 15 km from the plant, worry that even a hint of contamination would devastate their brand.
After the 2011 disaster, Fukushima’s farmers and fishermen were unable to sell their produce because of fears over contaminated food. Dozens of countries still have restrictions on Fukushima produce.
For others in the area, the Ikata plant feels like an inextricable part of life.
Hiroshi Omori, 43, spent most days over the summer at Shikoku Electric’s visitors’ house overlooking the Ikata plant. His three young children take free art classes there while Omori and other parents wait in air-conditioned rooms sipping water and tea.
But Ikata is projected to shrink to 5,000 residents over the next 20 years, and Takakado recently said he found it hard to imagine an industry that could replace nuclear power.
This year he joined dozens of other mayors nationwide to voice their support for the industry and ask the government to clarify its position on building new plants or replacing old ones.
“I’m just trying to prevent the town from losing even more people,” he said.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima teens thyroid cancers from overdiagnosis, ‘unlikely’ to be from radiation exposure!!!

Results of mass screening of children, teens for thyroid cancer following Fukushima nuclear accident
November 29, 2018
Bottom Line: The accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in 2011 raised grave concerns about radioactive material released into the environment, including concerns over radiation-induced thyroid cancer. Ultrasound screenings for thyroid cancer were subsequently conducted in the Fukushima Health Management Survey. This observational study group includes about 324,000 people 18 or younger at the time of the accident and it reports on two rounds of ultrasound screening during the first five years after the accident. Thyroid cancer or suspected cancer was identified in 187 individuals within five years (116 people in the first round among nearly 300,000 people screened and 71 in the second round among 271,000 screened). The overwhelmingly common diagnosis in surgical cases was papillary thyroid cancer (149 of 152 or 98 percent).
US screening data from Fukushima shed light on thyroid cancer in kids
November 29, 2018 — The latest results of mass ultrasound screening of children for thyroid cancer after the Fukushima disaster were published online on November 29 by JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery. The study provides vital data on thyroid cancer and may lead to growing demands outside of Japan for more ultrasound scans in younger people, increasing the risk of overdiagnosis, experts have warned.
In an observational study, Dr. Akira Ohtsuru, PhD, from the department of radiation health management at Fukushima Medical University, and colleagues analyzed the incidence of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents screened with two rounds of ultrasound within five years of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The main question they addressed was, what is the pattern by age group of cancer detection via ultrasound screening of the thyroid among children and young adults?
The first round of ultrasound screening was carried out between 2011 and 2013, and the second round between 2014 and 2015. A total of 324,301 individuals younger than 18 years at the time of the disaster were included in the analysis.
Thyroid cancer, or suspected cancer, was identified in 187 patients within five years (116 people in the first round among nearly 300,000 people screened and 71 in the second round among 271,000 screened). By far the most common diagnosis in surgical cases was papillary thyroid cancer (149 of 152, or 98%). Overall, the distribution pattern of the incidence rate by age group in second-round examinations increased with age, according to Ohtsuru and colleagues.
Looming risk of overdiagnosis
Large-scale ultrasound screening can identify many detectable cancers from a sizable pool of nonclinical and subclinical thyroid cancers among individuals of a relatively young age, in an age-dependent manner. However, to avoid overdiagnosis, an improvement in screening strategy based on the understanding of the natural history of thyroid cancer will be urgently needed, Ohtsuru and colleagues explained.
“The fundamental ethical principle of doing more good than harm should be central to accident management, including conducting thyroid screening that is designed to avoid the problems of potential overdiagnosis,” the researchers wrote. “We should not be influenced by the negative experiences or psychosocial issues of the examinees under the potential for overdiagnosis.”
Because the natural progression of thyroid cancer in young patients remains unknown, further studies are required, they believe. Data from the Fukushima Health Management Survey may contribute to understanding how to conduct future screening programs to both limit overdiagnosis and support an accurate evaluation of the effect of low-dose radiation on the thyroid glands of children and adolescents, they stated.
The 2011 disaster raised grave concerns about radioactive material released into the environment, including over radiation-induced thyroid cancer. Ultrasound screenings for thyroid cancer were subsequently conducted in the Fukushima Health Management Survey. The debate over whether a rise in thyroid cancer among children in Japan is related to the nuclear disaster — or whether it’s simply due to overdiagnosis as children near the site of the disaster are screened for the disease — has been ongoing since 2015.
Reaction to latest results
In a linked commentary also published in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery, U.S. experts welcomed the research.
“Before the Fukushima Survey, we did not know if there was a substantial reservoir of subclinical thyroid cancer in children and adolescents. These data show that there is a very large reservoir,” wrote Dr. Andrew J. Bauer, from the Pediatric Thyroid Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, and Dr. Louise Davies, from the VA Outcomes Group at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, VT.
More children and adolescents are likely to undergo ultrasound of the thyroid in the U.S., leading to the detection of a substantial reservoir of subclinical thyroid cancer. This could open up children to the risks and consequences of overdiagnosis and subsequent treatment that may worsen health, as has happened within a segment of the adult population, Bauer and Davies continued.
“We are still left with the difficult question of how to apply the concepts of overdiagnosis in this scenario. Pediatric thyroid cancer has a 98% rate of survival, even for patients with pulmonary metastasis, so benefits of treatment should not be considered in regard to effects on disease-specific mortality,” they pointed out.
Ohtsuru gave a lecture on this topic at the 5th International Expert Symposium in Fukushima on Radiation and Health, entitled “Chernobyl+30, Fukushima+5: Lessons and Solutions for Fukushima’s Thyroid Question.” His full presentation can be downloaded here.
Association between screening-detected thyroid cancers, radiation exposure ‘unlikely’ in Fukushima children
November 29, 2018
Many thyroid cancers detected by ultrasound screening in Japanese children in the 5 years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident mirror many low-risk, sporadic cases of adult thyroid cancer and are most likely not associated with radiation exposure, according to findings published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery.
“Large-scale mass screening of young people using ultrasonography resulted in the diagnosis of a number of thyroid cancers, including potential overdiagnosis cases,” Akira Ohtsuru, MD, PhD, professor in the department of radiation health management at Fukushima Medical University, Japan, told Endocrine Today. “These findings indicate that ultrasonography screening can identify many detectable cancers from large pool of nonclinical and subclinical thyroid cancers among individuals of a relatively young age, in an age-dependent manner.”
The level of radiation exposure in Fukushima immediately after the great earthquake in eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, has been deemed to be much lower than the levels reported in Chernobyl immediately after the 1986 nuclear power station accident, Ohtsuru and colleagues wrote in the study background. However, the researchers noted that there was a divergence in estimations of the thyroid equivalent dose of radiation during the early phase after the accident, as there was little direct measurement of the individuals, whereas radiation-induced thyroid cancers have been rated as causing some of the greatest concern after the accident.
“Thus, health surveillance, including thyroid screening, has been thought to be necessary for both scientific and social reasons,” the researchers wrote.
In an observational study, Ohtsuru and colleagues analyzed data from 324,301 Fukushima residents aged 18 years or younger at the time of the nuclear accident. Researchers assessed the number of detected cases of thyroid cancer during first (fiscal years 2011-2013) and second (fiscal years 2014-2015) rounds of screening, with age groups stratified by 3-year intervals. Researchers compared results against an age-specific incidence of unscreened cancers form a national cancer registry.
Researchers found that, among 299,905 participants screened in the first round (50.5% boys and men; mean age at screening, 15 years), 116 were diagnosed with malignant or suspected thyroid cancer. Among 271,083 participants screened in the second round, (50.4% boys and men; mean age at screening, 13 years), 71 were diagnosed with malignant or suspected thyroid cancer, according to researchers. In both the first- and second-round examinations, mean age at diagnosis was 17 years; however, mean tumor diameter was larger in the first- vs. the second-round screenings (mean, 12.7 mm vs. 9.7).
Papillary thyroid cancer was the most common pathologic diagnosis, they wrote, at 149 of 152 cases (98%). The researchers also noted that the distribution pattern by age group at the time of the accident increased with older age in both screening rounds, with an interval between screenings of about 2.1 years. The number of detected thyroid cancer cases per 100,000 persons was estimated to be approximately 175 for those aged 18 years at the time of the accident in the first round of screening and 97 for those aged 18 years at the time of the accident during the second round of screening.
Researchers calculated that the estimated age-conditional incidence rate of cases per 100,000 person-years was 0.5 for those aged 15 to 17 years, 1 for those aged 18 to 20 years and 1.7 for those aged 21 to 22 years.
“Although a longer observation period is needed, this pattern by age at the time of the accident differs from that of the Chernobyl nuclear power station accident; for example, there was a higher frequency of cases of cancer at younger ages with a relatively short latent period after the Chernobyl nuclear power station accident,” the researchers wrote. “Thus, an association between the large number of thyroid cancers detected and radiation exposure is thought to be very unlikely, in addition to the very low doses of radiation in the Fukushima nuclear power station accident.”
Ohtsuru added that, to ensure the merit of early detection and prevent overdiagnosis via large-scale screening, development of a careful monitoring system is urgently needed based on the understanding of the natural history of thyroid cancer.
In commentary accompanying the study, Andrew J. Bauer, MD, medical director of the Pediatric Thyroid Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Louise Davies, MD, MS, research fellowship director of the VA Outcomes Group at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont, wrote that researchers should not assume that every asymptomatically discovered case of pediatric thyroid cancer is a “triumph of early detection.”
“Going forward, research to better define which pediatric thyroid cancers are likely to progress, and a better understanding of the trajectory of the natural history of thyroid cancers detected in early life, is urgently needed,” Bauer and Davies wrote. “The extremely high prevalence of subclinical thyroid cancer shown by the Fukushima Survey, including many with lymph node metastases, suggests that we have much to learn about the natural history of lymph node metastases, but that we should not assume that every asymptomatically identified case of pediatric thyroid cancer is an instance of overdiagnosis.” – by Regina Schaffer
For more information:
Akira Ohtsuru, MD, PhD, can be reached at Fukushima Medical University, Department of Radiation Health Management, 1 Hikarigaoka, Fukushima 960-1295, Japan; email:
Disclosures: One of the authors reports he received grants from commercial sponsor JCR Pharmaceuticals Co. Bauer and Davies report receiving travel funds from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Japan signs trade agreements with Taiwan despite ongoing dispute over nuclear food ban

Taiwan to seek understanding as Japan threatens to sue over food ban
November 29, 2018
Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) Taiwan will seek Japan’s understanding in a row over a ban on imports of agricultural and food products from radiation contaminated areas in Japan, the foreign ministry said Thursday, in response to a threat by Japan to take the case to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Earlier in the day, Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono told lawmakers in Tokyo that the government will not rule out the possibility of filing a complaint with the WTO over the ban, which has been in place since the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in March 2011.
Kono’s statement came after Taiwanese voted on Nov. 24 in favor of maintaining the ban, by margin of 78 percent to 22 percent in a referendum.
Commenting on Kono’s remarks, Andrew Lee (李憲章), spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said the ministry will cautiously engage in talks with Japan over the referendum result to seek understanding and protect the bilateral relations.
The Taiwan government has to respect public opinion, as expressed in the referendum result, but it also has to make sure that its cordial relations with Japan are not affected, Lee said.
He said it is MOFA’s long held stance that any decision on the ban must be based on international standards, scientific evidence and the relevant WTO rules.
In addition, the health of the Taiwanese people must be taken into consideration, Lee said, adding that the final decision on the issue rests with Ministry of Health and Welfare.
In 2015, Japan filed a complaint with the WTO against South Korea over a similar ban and won the case on Feb. 22 this year.
The WTO said the ban was inconsistent with its rules against “arbitrarily or unjustifiably” discriminating against another country and recommended that South Korea take corrective action.
South Korea, however, has appealed the WTO ruling and has maintained the ban.
Taiwan’s ban on food products from radiation-contaminated areas of Japan, namely Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures, was imposed in 2011 by the then-Kuomintang government and tightened in 2015 after products from some of the listed Japanese prefectures were found on store shelves in Taiwan.
Since the Democratic Progressive Party came to power in 2016, it has been considering lifting the ban on food imports from all the affected prefectures except Fukushima, but has run into strong public opposition to the idea. 
Japan signs trade agreements with Taiwan despite ongoing dispute over nuclear food ban
November 30, 2018
Japan signed five trade agreements with Taiwan on Friday, despite the ongoing ban on imports of Japanese food products that Taipei imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
It had been feared that the ban, which is to be upheld following last week’s national referendum, could upset trade ties between the two sides.
Yet Taiwan-Japan Relations Association President Chiou I-jen and his Japanese counterpart, Mitsuo Ohashi, chairman of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association – the closest thing the two have to ambassadors in the absence of diplomatic ties – still signed one agreement and four memorandums of understanding at the Ambassador Hotel in Taipei, signalling their mutual desire to overlook the issue for now.
The agreement pertains to the speeding up of customs clearance process for goods traded between Japan and Taiwan, while the four MOUs deal with a wide range of trade issues, including the exchange of patent information, business partnerships, trade in medical equipment and materials, joint research, and cooperation in promoting small and medium-sized enterprises.
All five were signed only six days after Taiwanese voters approved a referendum requiring the government to maintain a ban on food imports from Fukushima prefecture and nearby Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures. In campaigning ahead of last Saturday’s referendum and in the days since, much attention focused on whether its passage would drive a wedge between Japan and Taiwan, especially when they are otherwise working to cooperate more closely on security matters.
According to diplomatic insiders, Ohashi expressed regret over the referendum result when he visited Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday.
Tsai reportedly described bilateral ties as “stable” and “close,” and said Taiwan hopes Tokyo will support its bid to participate in the second round of accession talks to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation free trade agreement in which Japan plays a leading role.
In the trade talks, Taiwanese negotiators raised that issue, Chang Shu-ling, secretary general of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association, told a press conference after the signing ceremony. She also dismissed speculation that the food ban referendum would have any negative impact on bilateral relations, saying the trade agreements were a clear demonstration of close ties.
Japanese negotiators had asked Taiwan to ease the food ban on scientific grounds, while Taiwanese officials stressed the civic right of its people to affect policy through referendums.
On Thursday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told the Diet that Tokyo did not rule out taking the matter to the World Trade Organisation, which has already ruled that South Korea’s import ban on seafood from Fukushima and other parts of Japan is “arbitrarily and unjustifiably” discriminatory. South Korea has appealed the ruling.
China, meanwhile, on Thursday lifted its ban on rice produced in Niigata Prefecture, but maintained restrictions on nine other prefectures.
Taiwan’s representative to Japan, Frank Hsieh, previously said that if China eased its restrictions before Taiwan, the latter would be “embarrassed” because it would become the only place to retain a comprehensive ban on Japanese food products from regions affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment