9 Mars 2012
Over half of Fukushima Prefecture's residents worry greatly about their health due to the ongoing nuclear crisis at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, a Mainichi Shimbun poll has indicated.
The survey, conducted on March 3 and 4, covered all prefectures across Japan including Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which suffered the most damage in the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year. It found that 54 percent of residents in Fukushima Prefecture were "greatly worried" about the potential health effects of radioactive materials from the nuclear plant -- twice the national average of 27 percent.
In Miyagi Prefecture, 35 percent of residents were "greatly worried," compared with 31 percent in Iwate Prefecture.
Combining the percentages of those who were either "greatly worried" or "somewhat worried" about their health, the figure for Fukushima Prefecture reached 83 percent -- 10 points above the national average of 73 percent. The corresponding figure for Iwate Prefecture stood at 74 percent, followed by Miyagi Prefecture at 71 percent. Many residents in the disaster-stricken regions were apparently anxious due to a lack of information from the government.
The ratio of residents with such fears stood at 65 percent in Hokkaido and 63 percent in the Kinki region in western Japan.
By gender, 68 percent of men and 76 percent of women in the survey were concerned about their health due to the nuclear crisis, while 70 percent of men and 81 percent of women in Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures harbored such fears.
By age, those in their 20s were the least concerned about their health both in terms of the national average and in the three disaster-stricken prefectures.
Responding to a question on whether they think the central government has been sufficiently disclosing information on the nuclear disaster, an average of 70 percent of respondents in the three disaster-hit prefectures said they believed the government was "hiding" information -- roughly on par with the national average of 71 percent. By prefecture, 75 percent of residents in Fukushima Prefecture expressed similar distrust in the government, followed by Miyagi Prefecture at 70 percent and Iwate Prefecture at 60 percent.
Even among those who are in favor of restarting nuclear plants under suspension for regular inspections, an average of 6 percent of all respondents said they believed the government has been disclosing sufficient information on the nuclear disaster, compared with 7 percent in the three disaster-stricken prefectures. Among proponents of nuclear plant reactivation, an average of 66 percent (62 percent in the three disaster-affected prefectures) said they believed the government is "hiding" information on the nuclear crisis.
Among those in the three affected prefectures who were "greatly concerned" with their health, 86 percent of respondents said they think the government is concealing information on the nuclear disaster. Nationally, an average of 85 percent of those who are "greatly concerned" with their health said the government is keeping information on the disaster secret from the public.