16 May 2013
A farm in Kitakata, Fukushima Prefecture, where green tourism is popular, accepted a group of junior high school students as guests for the first time on May 15 after the outbreak in March 2011 of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
Farmer Kenichi Yamauchi, 64, who operated the farm in the city's Keitoku area, accepted the 77 third-graders from the Hanamigawa Daini Junior High School in the city of Chiba, east of Tokyo.
In a speech to the students, Yamauchi said he had waited a long time for their arrival.
Before the nuclear disaster, Yamauchi had accepted students from some 10 schools in and outside of Fukushima Prefecture to help them experience agriculture.
No students visited Yamauchi's farm in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 due to public concern over radiation.
12 May 2013
Fukushima Prefecture and the Fukushima Medical University will publicize results of an Environment Ministry survey that found no major difference in thyroid conditions among students in the nuclear disaster-hit prefecture and other prefectures.
The prefectural government and the medical university it runs will hold briefings for parents and school staff at about 1,700 elementary, junior high and senior high schools as well as child-care centers and kindergartens to inform them of the results to help ease concern about radiation.
They plan to hold such briefings between June and March next year. The briefings will be held at 472 public elementary schools, 232 public junior high schools, 93 public senior high schools, 201 public kindergartens, and 317 child-care centers that have cleared government-set criteria, such as the number of staff and the size of facilities, for public subsidies. The briefings will also be held at eight private junior high schools, 17 private senior high schools, 147 private kindergartens, and 213 child-care centers that have not met the government criteria.
The prefectural government and the medical university are planning to brief not only students and their parents but also parents of infants about the survey results to share the information.
At the briefing sessions, experts on thyroid surveys at the medical university's Radiation Medical Science Center for the Fukushima Health Management Survey will speak about the survey results and other matters, including the significance of thyroid surveys for children's health. The experts will also talk about the impact of radiation and urge the attendants to correctly understand radiation exposure.
The prefectural government and the medical university are planning to work out and deliver a list of potential questions and answers to school staff to help them respond to questions from parents.
To finance the project, the Fukushima prefectural government will spend part of about 600 million yen (some $5.8 million) provided by the central government as subsidies for the sharing of information about radiation-related risks in fiscal 2012 that ended on March 31, 2013.
Fukushima Prefecture and the Fukushima Medical University held such briefing sessions in eight cities, such as Fukushima, Koriyama and Iwaki, from November 2012 through March this year. Some 700 people joined those sessions.
They have decided to hold those briefing sessions again as they have received many inquiries about the thyroid survey from among citizens, they said.
In late March, the ministry released the survey results showing thyroid conditions among the juvenile populations in Aomori, Yamanashi and Nagasaki prefectures are not much different from those of their counterparts in Fukushima Prefecture, which was hit by the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
For example, the ministry's survey showed the percentage of children with small lumps in their thyroid who are categorized as "A2" was 41.2 percent for Fukushima Prefecture, lower than 57.6 percent in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, 69.4 percent in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, and 42.5 percent in Nagasaki, capital of Nagasaki Prefecture.
Ministry officials said they had found no abnormalities among children in Fukushima Prefecture, noting that the results were almost the same for the four prefectures considering differences of the number of students covered.
The Environment Ministry conducted the surveys on a total of 4,365 people aged 3 to 18 in Hirosaki, Kofu and Nagasaki where the effects of the nuclear disaster are small and surveys can be conducted with similar accuracy as in Fukushima Prefecture.
In Fukushima Prefecture, a thyroid survey covered some 360,000 aged 0 to 18 at the time of the outbreak in March 2011 of the nuclear disaster. Of those covered, results of 133,089 were compiled. Of them, three were found to have suffered from thyroid cancer, while 58.2 percent were categorized as "A1" with no lumps, 0.6 percent categorized as "B" which requires additional checks, and only one as "C" which requires immediate additional checks.
15 May 2013
A group of senior high school students in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, has designed a bus tour package for residents in the Tokyo metropolitan region to help the city hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as well as public concern about radiation in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The tour, marketed jointly by major Tokyo-based travel agent H.I.S. Co., takes tourists to beauty spots and disaster-hit areas in the city.
The bus tour is scheduled to be conducted on May 25, June 1, and July 6.
The students will guide the tourists by themselves.
Students make "take-chikuwa," bamboos wrapped with fish sausages as part of preparations for the bus tour.