At a budget committee hearing held at the Lower House of the Diet on February 2, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed his concerns about a letter—sent by five former Japanese prime ministers, including Junichiro Koizumi (who served from 2001 to 2006), to the European Commission (EC)—which he said contained false statements related to the nuclear accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs).
The prime minister also mentioned at the hearing that Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, current head of Japan’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE), had sent letters to the five former prime ministers calling that to their attention.
Dated January 27, the letter to the EC was signed jointly by Koizumi and former Prime Ministers Morihiro Hosokawa (1993-94), Tomiichi Murayama (1994-96), Yukio Hatoyama (2009-10), and Naoto Kan (2010-11). In the letter, they called on the EC to reverse its determination to include nuclear power in the category of “sustainable economic activities” in the classification known as the EU taxonomy.
They stated in the letter that “for the last decade, we have personally seen unprecedented tragedy and contamination in Fukushima,” and that many children had suffered from thyroid cancer.
MOE Minister Yamaguchi, in his letter sent to the five men on February 1, wrote that various domestic and overseas experts, including the study committee for the Fukushima Health Management Survey and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), considered it unlikely that recognized thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima Prefecture had resulted from the effects of nuclear accident.
The environment minister also expressed his concern that the description in the letter would spread erroneous information and promote irrational discrimination and prejudice, and called such a situation inappropriate.
On February 2, he explained the Japanese government’s view in person to the EU ambassador to Japan (see photo).
Meanwhile, Governor Masao Uchibori of Fukushima Prefecture, believing it important “for the sake of reconstruction of Fukushima to disseminate accurate information based on scientific knowledge,” asked the five former prime ministers, when seeking to communicate on the current state of Fukushima, to do so objectively, taking into account the prefecture’s views and opinions, as well as knowledge and information from specialized organizations, global scientific organizations, and others.
In Fukushima, thyroid screenings for those who were 18 years old or younger at the time of accident have so far produced 266 diagnosed or suspected cases of thyroid cancer—a rate not significantly different from that found outside the prefecture. The conclusion of the prefectural study committee of experts was that “no relationship is recognized between thyroid cancer and exposure to radiation.”