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HomeWorld NewsFukushima nuclear disaster: Japanese youth sue over cancer diagnoses

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Japanese youth sue over cancer diagnoses

Six young Japanese people are suing the Fukushima nuclear plant operator after contracting thyroid cancer in the years after the tragedy in 2011. The plaintiffs, with ages ranging from 17 to 27, were living in the Fukushima region in March 2011 when an earthquake triggered a tsunami that lead to the nuclear disaster. At the time of the event, they were between the ages of 6 and 16. The Plaintiffs are seeking 616 million yen (£4m) in compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and will file a class-action lawsuit at Tokyo District Court today, according to Japanese media.

Two of the plaintiffs had one side of their thyroid removed, while the remainder had their thyroids entirely removed and must take hormonal medications for the rest of their lives. Lastly, cancer had spread to one of the patients’ lungs. None of the plaintiffs have a history of family members contracting thyroid cancer. The Fukushima natural disaster is said to be the worst nuclear power accident since Ukraine’s Chernobyl disaster in 1986. However, due to a lesser amount of iodine being released, it was viewed as vastly less harmful.

Nearly eight years following the Fukushima disaster,  a Japanese court cleared three former executives of the firm operating the plant of professional negligence. This leads many to question whether the lawsuit would stick or not. Especially considering that an expert investigation committee set up by the government claims there is no evidence of a link between radiation exposure from the Fukushima disaster and thyroid cancer.

In June 2021, roughly 380,000 people aged 18 and under at the time of the catastrophe, 266 people were diagnosed with thyroid cancer or suspected thyroid cancer following a Fukushima Prefectural Government survey on thyroid glands. Lawyers claim that cancer was detected in five of the six plaintiffs in the survey. The other was diagnosed with cancer after voluntarily undergoing testing at a hospital. A TEPCO spokesman acknowledged the case being filed against his company and said they would address the issue once they had seen the details of the complaint.

This case paves a path of hope for the six plaintiffs taking TEPCO to court. However, if they’re found guilty and the plaintiffs win, other citizens who believe they were also infected with cancer from Fukushima might attempt to seek compensation as well. 



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