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OSAKA — Two dozen Diet members have signed a letter calling on the government to immediately get young children and pregnant women out of the 30-km danger zone around the heavily damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The statement also calls for extending the current 20-km mandatory evacuation zone radically to avoid further exposure and discontinuing official declarations that there is no immediate harm to human health, charging they aren’t properly transmitting to the public the dangers of possible long-term radiation harm.

The statement, drawn up by antinuclear groups, will be delivered to Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Monday. As of Friday afternoon, it had been signed by 25 Diet members from both chambers.

Eleven Democratic Party of Japan members have signed, including Kazumi Ohta, a Lower House representative from Fukushima Prefecture, along with eight members of the Social Democratic Party and one from the Liberal Democratic Party.

Antinuclear activists were working to collect more signatures over the weekend.

“A grave situation continues at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor, while at the same time there is no order for an expansion of the evacuation area. Reactor No. 2’s containment has been damaged, there have been fires at the Reactor 3 and 4 spent nuclear fuel pools,” the statement reads, warning there is still a danger that radioactive iodine could be released in quantities significantly dangerous to young children and pregnant women.

“Those infants and pregnant women between 20 km and 30 km from the plant have been abandoned. Residents are forced to receive unnecessary radiation exposure,” the statement says.

Until Friday, the central government was telling people in that zone to stay indoors as much as possible.

But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano announced Friday the central government is telling local governments 20 to 30 km from the plant that it is encouraging people to voluntarily relocate farther away, and will provide full support to help them move. However, he said the government has no plans to expand the mandatory evacuation range.

The statement also warns information in the media and from government officials that there is no immediate harm to human health is misleading because it fails to take into account possible long-term damage. The Diet members are calling on the government to halt what they see as a deliberate attempt by the Kan administration to downplay the danger.

“Such statements do not convey the dangers of internal exposure (by drinking contaminated water) and the latent effects of radiation exposure, such as cancer and leukemia,” the statement says.

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