Fukushima Women Demand Better Protection for Children Exposed to Radiation

About 100 women from Fukushima, Japan, have started a week-long sit-in at a government office in Tokyo to demand greater protection for children affected by radiation. “Many children and their families are trapped in Fukushima because they can’t afford to move,” explains Ayako Oga, 38, a housewife living in the prefecture and one of the sit-in organizers. “The government has set the accepted radiation exposure rate too high." Japan’s standard rate for exposure to radiation is 1 millisievert per year. For Fukushima residents alone the accepted exposure rate is up to 20 millisieverts per year.  The International Commission on Radiological Protection considers this rate the top level and says it should not be exceeded over the long term.

National and prefectural governments have determined that until the 20 millisieverts level they are not obligated to offer financial support to residents, certain businesses or schools wanting to relocate outside the irradiated areas. At the heart of the debate is the question of who has a ‘right to evacuate.’

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Japan cuts radiation limits for kids

Japan’s Education Ministry has decreased radiation exposure limits for all school children across the country to below one millisievert per year.

The ministry announced on Friday that the new instructions comprise all schools including those in Fukushima where high levels of radiation were released after the nuclear plant crisis, AFP reported.

Following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami which caused radioactive leakage at Fukushima nuclear power plant, Japanese authorities took measures to reduce nuclear exposure in the area and increased exposure limits from one to 20 millisieverts per year.

Protests were mounted in April after the Education Ministry set a radiation exposure limit of 20 millisieverts per year for children, the same dosage the International Commission on radiation Protection recommends for nuclear plant workers.

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Japan tackles radiation concerns

Responding to fury among parents in Fukushima, Japan’s education minister said Friday that the country would set a lower radiation exposure limit for schoolchildren in areas around a stricken nuclear plant and pay for schools to remove contaminated topsoil from fields and playgrounds.

In recent days, worried parents have spoken out over what they say is a blatant government failure to protect their children from dangerous levels of radiation at local schools. The issue has quickly become a focal point for anger over Japan’s handling of the accident at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, which was ravaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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