A support group for children with cancer in Fukushima on Friday confirmed the diagnosis of a boy who at the time of the 2011 nuclear disaster was 4 years old, contradicting the prefectural government’s view that no child that age had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
The boy underwent surgery after the diagnosis and after taking part in a survey to gauge the impact of the disaster. Local authorities, however, claim his cancer hadn’t been officially confirmed at the time of the survey as we was still under observation.
The prefectural survey found that of the 385,000 people aged 18 or younger during the disaster, a total of 184 between the ages of 5 and 18 were diagnosed with or are suspected of having thyroid cancer.
The revelation is explosive for the prefectural government, as it has repeatedly denied that any child under 5 could have the disease and has yet to walk back its long-held position that child thyroid cancer cases are unrelated to the triple core meltdown.
The Tokyo-based 3.11 Children’s Fund for Thyroid Cancer, paid ¥100,000 in medical support to the boy, who resides in the prefecture.
Hisako Sakiyama, chairwoman of the group, told a news conference in Tokyo, “It has become clear that the health survey was inadequate.”
Sakiyama, who was a member of Diet panel investigating the disaster, stressed the finding casts doubt on the prefectural government’s argument that “the thyroid cancer cases (of children living in Fukushima) have nothing to do with the nuclear plant accident.”
Further damaging the government’s position, the support group said it asked the prefecture-run Fukushima Medical University whether any patient who was 4 or younger at the time developed thyroid cancer, and was assured that none did.
But the fund later confirmed through an audit of medical receipts that the boy underwent an operation to remove his thyroid gland at the university, it said.
The medical university declined to confirm whether it had treated thyroid cancer in children of the age in question, citing doctor-patient confidentiality.