Japan needs to ask people about nuclear fears: UN

Japan needs to do more to address fears over radiation in the area around Fukushima, a UN health expert said today, urging Tokyo to consult those affected by nuclear pollution.

Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, told reporters the
government needed to depend less on experts and give more information directly to people living with nuclear fears.

"Everything should be done with the participation of communities," he told reporters at the end of a 12-day tour of Japan that included Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures.

The Fukushima crisis, where reactors went into meltdown after cooling systems were swamped by the tsunami of March 2011, was "a man-made disaster", said Grover, echoing the Japanese parliament's own finding.

Grover said the failure of the government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to disclose key information on radiation limits had added to the confusion and
hurt.

The government's initial threshold for evacuation of 20 millisieverts per year "conveyed the message that effective radiation doses up to 20 millisievert per year was safe".

He said the "inconsistency" between that limit and the 5-millisievert dose allowed around Chernobyl before mandatory resettlement in the wake of its nuclear catastrophe "created confusion among a significant number of the local population, who increasingly doubt government data and policy".

Asked about how to clear up the confusion and reassure people, he urged the government not to rely too much on specialists.

"I personally think experts know only part of the situation. Communities must be involved," he said.

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