News / Asia

    Thyroid Examinations Begin of All Fukushima Children

    Pills of potassium iodide after being delivered to a shelter to help reduce chances of thyroid cancer, in Miharu town, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan (File Photo).
    Pills of potassium iodide after being delivered to a shelter to help reduce chances of thyroid cancer, in Miharu town, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan (File Photo).

    Japanese doctors on Sunday began checking the thyroids of 360,000 children in Fukushima Prefecture, site of a nuclear reactor meltdown during the days following Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March. The examinations, on a scale medical officials are calling unprecedented, come amid concern that the cancer rate in the area could surge.

    Ultrasonic thyroid examinations

    Children from the two towns closest to the Fukushima-1 Nuclear Power Plant were among the first to undergo ultrasonic thyroid examinations at the Fukushima Medical University.  

    The power plant was severely damaged after this year's massive earthquake and tsunami which left 20,000 people dead or missing.

    Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, of the university's medical school, says it will take several years to carry out preliminary examinations of those 18 and under in the prefecture (state).

    The physician says it can take a long time for any irregularities in the thyroid to manifest as cancer. While that was seen four or five years after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine, he says some experts contend a longer period of vigilance will be needed here.

    Family's reaction

    A father from the evacuated village of Itate says his child's initial checkup Sunday was encouraging.

    The man says since the procedure is so simple it should be repeated on a regular basis.

    A mother from Namie, another town evacuated, concurs.

    A worker decontaminates radiation from the exterior of Yasawa Kindergarten in Minami-Soma, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) away from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility, in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan (File Photo).
    A worker decontaminates radiation from the exterior of Yasawa Kindergarten in Minami-Soma, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) away from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility, in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan (File Photo).

    She says she is anxious to quickly know the results of the examinations.

    About 5,000 children who were living closest to the nuclear plant when the meltdowns occurred are being examined first. In all, 360,000 children will be checked.

    Follow-up exams

    Officials say follow-up exams will be conducted every two years until the children reach the age of 20. After that, checkups will be done every five years. If any lesions are discovered then more detailed exams will be conducted.

    More than six months after the Tokyo Electric Power Company facility was crippled, emergency crews are still trying to halt radiation emissions.

    Tens of thousands of people have not been allowed to return to their homes in a 20-kilometer radius from the plant. The accident has also contaminated livestock, fish and crops. But no human deaths have been attributed to radiation from the meltdowns.

    IAEA visit

    The area received a visit on Sunday from a 12-person team dispatched by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    The U.N. agency is providing assistance to Japan, at Tokyo's request, to cope with the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

    The mission's leader, Juan Carlos Lentijo of Spain, on site in Fukushima told reporters it will take some time to review Japan's efforts to mitigate the disaster.

    "We are visiting very interesting places," said Lentijo. "We have to analyze all the information they are providing to us, which is a lot."

    The IAEA says it is also discussing decontamination efforts with local authorities in Fukushima. The cleanup is expected to last for years and cost billions of dollars.


    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora