Suspicious cancer-risk authority


I am disappointed that The Japan Times gave such a big headline to the March 2 front-page AP article “Fukushima cancer risk marginal: WTO.” People who don’t know the relationship between the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency might innocently be taken in.

In the eyes of some people, the 1959 treaty between WHO and IAEA ( could put WHO’s independence as a nuclear radiation authority in doubt.

For instance, University of Manchester professor Richard Wakeford, who is quoted in the article, worked for British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. for nearly 30 years. Might WHO have hired researchers who are favorable to the nuclear industry?

Another person cited in the article, Wade Allison, a professor emeritus of physics at Oxford University, worked two years for Argonne National Laboratory in the United States, which was part of the Manhattan Project and is famous for having built the first atomic bomb.

keiko yasuda

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.

  • JusenkyoGuide

    I’m a little curious as to just where Yasuda-san believes nuclear experts would be but the field of nuclear physics and power? It’s also hard to draw a conclusion of interference in the WHO by the IAEA on the basis of a ‘treaty’ that notes that both UN offices should work together when they need to, like in such instances of nuclear disasters.

    • johnny cassidy

      Thirty years in the nuclear power industry is a long time and worth mentioning. The fact that the article omits any note of that very relevant experience makes it less than transparent and worthy of some suspicion. The article also quotes a Dr. David Brenner of Columbia University in New York, who I gather also works in the
      field of nuclear physics but is “an expert on radiation-induced cancers.” If I wanted to know what impact the leaking reactors had on my health, I’d go see a medical doctor like him not a professor who builds them.
      I think Yasuda is just pointing out some actual holes in the article that readers like me wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. At first glance I found the article reassuring but now I wonder if the story has been padded with the opinions of energy experts just to soften the blow to the nuclear power industry.
      Maybe the greatest dangers in journalism are those that go unseen.
      Errors of omission like the one mentioned in this letter can sit there like a sinkhole waiting to swallow up the unsuspecting. Yasuda, as well as the Japan Times, should be commended for checking the facts and bringing them to light so as to alert readers and maybe prevent them from falling into an age-old trap.