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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Fukushima screens its children

November 5, 2012


Briefing on Fukushima children's thyroid screening exposes residents' dissatisfaction



KORIYAMA, Fukushima -- A briefing session on thyroid tests conducted on children in the prefecture 18 years and younger following the outbreak of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant was held for prefectural residents on Nov. 4.

The screenings began in October 2011, and the first round for 115,000 children -- or about one-third of the total -- has thus far been completed. Residents, however, had criticized the process as lacking in sufficient explanation.

At the briefing, participants voiced dissatisfaction over having to put in requests for thyroid images to receive them. In response, Fukushima Medical University professor Shinichi Suzuki, who leads the thyroid screenings, said, "We will consider releasing the images (without requiring requests)."

Around 70 Fukushima residents attended the session, during which Suzuki emphasized that it was highly unlikely that thyroid cancer rates would rise at this point, and that the results for children in Fukushima Prefecture were not out of the ordinary. He also sought understanding from residents, saying that epidemiological studies on thyroid tumors in children had never before been conducted in Japan.

Some participants expressed concern that the next round of tests for children who were given a grade of A2 (having cysts 20 millimeters or smaller), comprising the second largest group of children at around 35 percent after the 65 percent who were graded A1 (having no cysts), would not be for another two years.

The briefing session ran one hour over its planned two-hour limit. Similar sessions will take place in the prefectural capital of Fukushima on Nov. 10, and Minamisoma on Nov. 18, as well as other cities around the prefecture.

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