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More excuses over secrecy

November 19, 2012


Fukushima health survey committee chair apologizes over secret meetings




FUKUSHIMA -- The chair of a committee overseeing a prefectural health survey issued an apology Nov. 18 after revelations the body had held secret "preparation" gatherings to harmonize members' opinions ahead of official meetings.

"I have caused a great deal of trouble to committee members, and I sincerely apologize," said Chairman Shunichi Yamashita at the body's first meeting since the secret consultations were discovered, adding, "I hope to make all meetings properly public from now on."

The committee headed by Fukushima Medical University Vice President Yamashita was created by the prefecture to conduct a health survey of its residents in response to the ongoing disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and analyze its results.

The prefecture has revealed it will revise the committee's platform such that all the body's meetings must be open to the public and the minutes be recorded.

The head of the prefecture's health and welfare division will furthermore be removed from the committee and replaced with the head of the medical association of Futaba County -- where the stricken nuclear plant is located -- and the deputy chief of the prefectural clinical psychologists association.

According to the prefecture, the committee did not hold a "preparation" meeting before the Nov. 18 open session.

"Our committee was formed in the confusion just after the (March 2011) disasters, so I think it couldn't be helped that we have not performed perfectly," Yamashita told reporters at a news conference after the Nov. 18 committee meeting. When asked if he would take the blame for the secret gatherings, Yamashita stated, "My future in this position is up to the prefecture."

In related news, health survey results reported at the committee meeting revealed that possible thyroid cancer had been detected in one girl aged at least 16 in the prefecture, and that a second test was required.

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