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

Is this so surprising?

Over 40% of Fukushima children do not understand much about radiation: poll

March 19, 2012




FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) -- A total of 95 out of 225 children, or 42 percent of respondents to a Kyodo News poll, who evacuated from areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant but still reside in Fukushima Prefecture, said they do not understand much about radiation, according to the result of the survey released Sunday.

When asked about radiation, a total of 103 children, or 46 percent, said they are afraid of it in response to a multiple-choice question, but among them, 84 children said they became aware of the risks of radiation for the first time after the disaster at the crippled complex.

Only 17 said they knew of the risk before the disaster, according to the poll taken on fifth-grade elementary school and second-year middle school students.

A total of 75, or 33 percent, said they have been mindful about radiation or have become mindful for the first time after the accident in a question where they were asked to select one of four options.

A total of 138, or 62 percent, said they are not paying attention to radiation even after the disaster.

Of those who are mindful of radiation, 44 percent said they are concerned about dosages near their homes and neighborhoods, 33 percent worry about food and 25 percent said they did not know what they should be concerned about also in a multiple-choice question.

The survey was conducted in February and March in cooperation with eight out of the 11 Fukushima municipalities whose areas encompass evacuation zones.

At least 4,000 of some 16,000 elementary and junior high school children in the 11 municipalities have evacuated outside Fukushima.

Of the respondents to the Kyodo survey, only 3 percent said they want to take refuge outside Fukushima Prefecture, while 14 percent said they did not want to.

The respondents were also asked questions related to Fukushima Prefecture's demand for decommissioning all of the 10 nuclear reactors located in it.

A total of 46 percent said nuclear energy is necessary for society, while 10 percent said it was not necessary in Fukushima but necessary outside Fukushima.

The high percentage of children who learned about the risk of radiation only after the nuclear disaster suggests they felt real fear only after the experience of their evacuation, said Mitsuo Yamakawa, professor at Fukushima University.

''Still, there are many children who think nuclear energy is necessary but that's probably because their parents or relatives have had nuclear-related jobs,'' he said.

Asked to write in a free description section what Fukushima will be like in 30 years, the children's reactions were mixed.

A second-year middle-school girl wrote, ''It will be safe just like the days before the nuclear accident,'' while a second-year middle-school boy said Fukushima will be powered mainly by renewable energy.

Those who aired pessimistic views said Fukushima would remain deserted or that radiation fears will persist.

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