The nuclear disaster of March 2011 led to the evacuation of approximately 80 000 people from Fukushima. At the time the Japanese government set three evacuation areas based on the level of annual radiation doses (msv/year). Human Rights Now has condemned the government’s decision to lift of the last restrictions in these two areas where radiation levels are still higher than those recommended by international standards. In addition NHR denounced the pressure faced by evacuees as their housing and financial compensations are being terminated. Those concerned have been expressed by HRN in statements submitted to the 34th
and 35th sessions of the Human Rights Council as well as in a joint letter written with 3 other NGO’s urging the government to maintain support for the evacuee
The Guardian has published an article on the issues described by Human Rights Now. The Newspaper refers to what HRN has called the “forced” return of evacuees. The former residents of the two areas where the exposure to radiation levels are below 20 mSv/year have seen their access to a free housing programme terminated in March 2017 and will see TEPCO’s financial compensations end in March 2018. Those measures put pressure on the evacuees who might have to move back for financial reasons. In the areas where the population is now allowed to return, radiation can still reach up to 20 times the standard recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), putting the population’s health at risk. The article quotes Kazuko Ito who said: “The government has a responsibility to protect the human rights of evacuees but it doesn’t recognise this obligation. Instead, it downplays the health impact of the accident, especially the dangers associated with long-term radiation exposure.”
The Guardian [17/03/10]: Fukushima evacuees face ‘forced’ return as subsidies withdrawn
The French newspaper Libération has also reported on the story and the joint letter published by HRN and other NGO’s. The article mentions the issues listed in the letter about the pressure and risks evacuees are facing. Legal advisor at Human Rights Now Cade Christopher Mosley comments on the “Japanese government eagerness to present the issue of Fukushima as solved” before the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Libération [17/03/31]: Fukushima : un retour forcé en terre irradiée