Regarding the Sept. 13 Kyodo article “Fukushima finds first child thyroid cancer after 3/11“: What shameful journalism. Everyone with whom I’ve shared this article and who read only the headline assumed that a link had been proven between the nuclear reactor disasters at Fukushima and higher rates of childhood cancer.
In fact, the article goes on to say that professor Gen Suzuki, a professor at the International University of Health and Welfare in Tochigi Prefecture and a radiation epidemiologist, states that there is no link between the Fukushima accident and the thyroid cancer: “It usually takes five to six years before abnormality in chromosomes caused by radiation develops into thyroid cancer and grows into a size that is detectable by medical checks.”
As children were not routinely screened for thyroid abnormalities before the Fukushima accidents, reliable baseline data is not available. As for the background statement that “Following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a dramatic increase in thyroid cancer was detected among children in the affected area,” one would expect a source for this allegation as well as a detailed comparison of the very different situations in Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Readers would have been far better served with coverage of the “First International Symposium on Post-Disaster Radiation Psychology and Physiology” (Aug. 11-12) at Fukushima Medical University, cosponsored by Fukushima Medical University and the International Medical Crisis Response Alliance. It was mentioned there that the media, in its effort to be “exciting,” has excited undue public alarm, increased stress and hindered people’s ability to cope.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.