NEW YORK – Human rights experts, including a U.N. special rapporteur, are criticizing a U.N. scientific report dismissing concerns about the effects of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the Japanese public.
Speaking Thursday at an event organized by U.S. and Japanese nongovernmental groups, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to health Anand Grover took issue with the report’s conclusion that “there is nothing to worry about” for members of the public exposed to radiation from Fukushima No. 1.
The report was prepared by the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.
The committee, which studied the levels and effects of radiation exposure caused by the nuclear disaster after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, found that for the general public, “no discernible increased incidence of radiation-related health effects are expected.”
Grover, who visited Japan in November 2012 and compiled his own report on the situation from a human rights perspective, said the data on radioactive exposure is insufficient to rule out the possibility that low doses could have ill effects on health.
He also said that ensuring the participation of affected communities in decision-making is “one of the core obligations” of governments and that the public has a right to information.
Special rapporteurs are independent investigators tasked by the United Nations with investigating human rights issues and can only investigate a country if invited to do so by its government.
Mari Inoue, a representative of Tokyo-based Human Rights Now, meanwhile called for the UNSCEAR report to be revised.
She said the report should endorse evacuation from areas where exposure exceeds 1 millisievert of radiation per year, well below the Japanese government’s yardstick of 20 millisieverts per year.
It should also recommend continued study of contract workers exposed to radiation, increased community participation in the government response to the disaster, and recognition that it is too early to rule out future health effects for the exposed, Inoue said.
Also on Thursday, Human Rights Now released a statement signed by 64 community organizations in Japan calling for revisions to the report.
The UNSCEAR’s full report, including scientific data supporting its findings, has not yet been published. The group said when finished, the report will be “the most comprehensive scientific analysis of the information available to date.”