The Cabinet Office said it will soon start distributing iodine jelly to infants living within 30 km of nuclear power plants in a bid to protect their thyroids from possible radiation exposure in the event of a nuclear disaster.
According to the office, about 110,000 infants qualify for the iodine jellies.
There are 21 prefectures where the 30-km radius applies. In addition, infants living within three other prefectures — Kanagawa, Osaka and Okayama — which have nuclear fuel processing facilities are also part of the initiative.
Some local governments have been distributing iodine tablets to all residents for over three years, including in a tablet form for infants that would have to be crushed and mixed with syrup in the event of an accident. But to date this had not been in an iodine jelly form.
The local governments will receive about 300,000 packages, starting as early as this fall, which have a shelf life of three years, the Cabinet Office said.
There are two types of iodine jelly: one for babies under 1 month old and another for those over 1 month and up to 3 years.
Taking the jelly or tablets is supposed to stop the thyroid glands from absorbing iodine contained in radiation in the event of a nuclear disaster, as iodine tends to accumulate in the thyroid.