Opening Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY EDANO: I have a number of matters to report to you.
The accident at the nuclear power plant continues to be a major cause for concern, including reports of water leaking from the pit. At the same time the impact of the accident is such that it is regrettably unavoidable that it is likely to continue for the long-term. Given this outlook, the government is currently considering the ways in which it can strengthen the support for daily living being provided to the people who have evacuated from the area in the vicinity of the plant and to those people who are sheltering indoors in a 20 to 30km radius of the plant, and considering what structures need to be put in place.
At the same time, various different data have been gathered, which are currently being comprehensively analyzed to gain an understanding of the ways the evacuation and shelter zones are to be designated, including measurements of atmospheric and ground radiation. On the basis of this analysis thorough preparations are being made that will enable an even more detailed response to be made.
In particular, given the high possibility of radiation impacting the health of children, surveys have been implemented on three separate occasions to test the thyroid glands of children for any evidence of radiation contamination. The third and most recent test was implemented from March 28 to 30, in the town of Kawamata and the village of Iitate. A total of more than 900 children from 0-15 years of age received tests for radiation contamination of the thyroid gland, and the results showed that there were no children whose screening levels exceeded stipulated limits. I have received a report that including the previous two tests, the second of which was carried out in Iwaki city, there have been no cases in which children were found to have screening levels in excess of stipulated limits.
Radioactive iodine, which is the cause for concern in terms of its effect on the thyroid gland, has a short half-life, and in response to questions about whether the low readings recorded in the tests were due to the fact that they were implemented some time after potential exposure, the results of the current tests have been inversely calculated to assume that exposure to radiation occurred on March 15. I have received a report that even using this inverse calculation, the data shows that there were no children whose test figures reached dangerous levels.