Statement concerning the unjustified discrimination of the people living in close proximity to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants
Human Rights Now (HRN), a Tokyo-based human rights NGO, expresses serious concern about the unjustified discrimination of people living in close proximity to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants.
According to media reports, after the accidents at the Fukushima nuclear plants there have been many kinds of discrimination against people who lived nearby. For example, inns and hotels have rejected reservations from people from Fukushima prefecture ; children who evacuated from Fukushima have been bullied at school , as they were perceived to be contaminated with radiation; and people from Fukushima prefecture were forced to undergo screening to inspect radiation levels .
Such discrimination is supposedly based on the perception that the people living near the Fukushima Nuclear Plants have been exposed to radiation and therefore if they move to other areas, people in those areas will be secondarily exposed to radiation.
However, such secondary exposure to radiation is impossible.
The publication entitled “Basic Facts About Radiation Exposure”  published by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences on April 8th, 2011, made this point clear.
The aforementioned discrimination and rejection of people from Fukushima prefecture is unjustified as it is based on erroneous perceptions and violates basic human rights, such as the right to equality and the right to maintain peaceful living, which are guaranteed by the Constitution of Japan.
This discrimination is a violation of international human rights law including Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stipulates that “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”
HRN strongly criticizes the unjustified discrimination of people living near the Fukushima nuclear plants and calls for an immediate stop to this kind of discrimination.
HRN urges the Japanese central government, local governments and related agencies to take all necessary measures to prevent further undue discrimination of the people living near the Fukushima nuclear plants.
HRN supports the speedy reaction against this discrimination by the Human Rights Bureau, Ministry of Justice, with the presentation of “Urgent message concerning the damage of rumors of radiation exposure” on April 21st, 2011.
However, HRN is concerned that this only asks individuals to behave “with tenderness” and does not make clear that the exposure to radiation is not contagious. The message is therefore not sufficient to prevent discrimination.
HRN urges the Japanese central government, local governments and related agencies to publish official materials domestically and internationally, explaining clearly and easily, with concrete examples, that internal exposure and external exposure are distinct, and that people living near the Fukushima nuclear plants should be accepted in other areas because those areas will never be contaminated as a result. HRN also urges them to make it known that not accepting and rejecting those living near the Fukushima nuclear plants is unjustified and discriminatory.
The people living near the Fukushima nuclear plants are the people most afraid of the influence of radiation on their bodies. They are forced to evacuate to unfamiliar places for safety. They cannot enjoy their rights to privacy and peaceful living. They cannot get accurate information on radiation and live with constant fears about radiation. The people living near the Fukushima nuclear plants are more concerned about the influence of radiation than people from other areas. This discrimination is based on misconceptions and is a serious human rights violation.
Furthermore, HRN emphasizes that the Japanese government should fulfill its responsibility to take necessary measures to protect the people living near the Fukushima Nuclear Plants from illnesses due to radiation contamination resulting from the accidents at the Fukushima Nuclear Plants. The Japanese Government must provide accurate information and take necessary measures, including providing medical care to the people who may suffer illnesses caused by internal exposure and so on.
Lastly, HRN confirms that not only people living near the Fukushima nuclear plants, but also all victims of the earthquake, have the right to equality and to maintain peaceful living without discrimination. HRN emphasizes that victims, including those who live near the Fukushima nuclear plants, must be protected and must be able to enjoy basic human rights without discrimination. Victims of the earthquake need cordial support and warm acceptance as their lives have been severely disrupted.