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Minister apologises but what did she really say?

February 10, 2016   

Environment minister apologizes for comments on Fukushima radiation limits

Japanese version



Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa apologized during a post-Cabinet meeting press conference on Feb. 9 over a report in the Shinano Mainichi Shimbun that quoted her criticism of the former government of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)'s policy to lower the annual additional radiation exposure dose to 1 millisievert after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

According to the newspaper report, Marukawa had criticized Goshi Hosono, former environment minister and chair of the now opposition DPJ's Policy Research Committee, when she spoke during a meeting of the House of Councillors members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the city of Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, on Feb. 7.

"It might sound strange to talk about an 'anti-radiation faction,' but there are some people who will say they are worried no matter how far you lower (the radiation level)," Marukawa was quoted as saying. "The former environment minister made the decision (to lower the radiation level) amidst the hype from these kinds of people, without any sort of scientific basis whatsoever."

Marukawa offered an apology for the remarks during the Feb. 9 press conference, saying, "I do not recall using such wording. The general meaning of what I had been trying to say was not properly conveyed, and I am extremely sorry for the lack of clarity in my words."

"Our long-term (radiation level) objective will continue to be 1 millisievert," Marukawa added.

The DPJ, which was in power at the time of the nuclear disaster, had set the level of long-term radiation exposure (excluding natural radiation) for members of the general public at 1 millisievert, in accordance with recommendations issued by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

Some governmental and ruling party figures see that this 1 millisievert level has become regarded as a "safety standard" and the figure is serving to prevent residents from being able to return home.

Marukawa was also quoted as saying during the Feb. 7 meeting, "There are people who remain unable to return home when they should be able to do so (because decontamination has not brought the radiation levels down to the specified level)."



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