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, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid