About 100 women from Fukushima, Japan, have started a week-long sit-in at a government office in Tokyo to demand greater protection for children affected by radiation.
“Many children and their families are trapped in Fukushima because they can’t afford to move,” explains Ayako Oga, 38, a housewife living in the prefecture and one of the sit-in organizers. “The government has set the accepted radiation exposure rate too high.”
Japan’s standard rate for exposure to radiation is 1 millisievert per year.
For Fukushima residents alone the accepted exposure rate is up to 20 millisieverts per year. The International Commission on Radiological Protection considers this rate the top level and says it should not be exceeded over the long term.
The women are calling for two things.
First, they want to protect children living in highly contaminated areas by giving them the officially sanctioned ‘right to evacuate.’ This would include government compensation and support that would enable children and their families to relocate on a voluntary basis. “A lot of children are trapped in the contamination because it’s so difficult [for their families] to afford leaving a mortgage or going to a place where there is no job available,” says Smith. “There are families that have done it, but under great hardship.”
Secondly, they want to close down all nuclear power plants in Japan. “Fukushima women feel very strongly that there is no safe nuclear power,” says Smith “This is the lesson to be learned from Fukushima.”
A new cleanup law will not be implemented until January.