40th HRC Session: Oral Statement on People Affected by the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

On 04 March 2019, Human Rights Now gave an oral statement at the Human Rights Council’s 40th Session in Geneva on the situation of the people affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In the statement, HRN urged the government of Japan to follow the recommendation of relevant UN experts, implement human rights-based policies on housing and health rights of the affected people, including for voluntary evacuees, and relieve the financial pressure on evacuees to return to unsafe areas. HRN further asked the government to take measures to ensure that vulnerable populations, such as children or foreigners, are not illegally or unsafely mobilized into doing decontamination work for the Olympic Games, particularly if it involves false information or misrepresentation.

A video of the statement and its full text is available below.


Thank you, Mr Vice-President.

Human Rights Now expresses its continuing concern about the failure of the Japanese government to protect the human rights of people affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

As of December 2018, there have been over 273 cases of thyroid cancer among affected children. The lifting of housing support for evacuees also places families under serious financial pressure to return to unsafe areas against their will, subjecting them to health risks.

Moreover, vulnerable people, such as asylum seekers and foreign technical interns have been illegally forced to conduct decontamination work without their informed consent, as the government rushes decontamination for the 2020 Olympic Games. Further, the government designated the path of the 2020 Olympic Games Torch Relay to begin in Fukushima prefecture. In preparation, a local community mobilized children to do clean-up work along the highway.

We have grave concern over these situations which clearly contradict numerous UN recommendations including from the UPR, special rapporteurs, and most recently the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

In 2018 the Special Rapporteur on toxic waste, Baskut Tuncak, reported on children and women of reproductive age returning to areas exceeding a 1 mSv/year and warned that Japan should not compel people to return to unsafe areas. Also, five special rapporteurs issued a joint statement to the government of Japan in 2018 expressing grave concern about the safety of decontamination workers.

Human Rights Now joins these urgent calls and urges the government to take all necessary measures to protect the right to health of affected people. The government must also stop mobilizing vulnerable people such as foreigners and children to do dangerous decontamination work.

Thank you.