by Yuri Kageyama / Japan Times / April 18, 2013 /
Despite high stakes, lawsuit getting scant media attention
Their demand: The right to live free of radiation. The plaintiffs who started the legal battle: 14 children.
The Sendai High Court is expected to rule soon on this unusual lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the children by their parents and antinuclear activists in June 2011 in the district court in the city of Fukushima, about 60 km west of the crippled nuclear plant.
The lawsuit argues that Koriyama, a city of 330,000, should evacuate its children to an area where radiation levels are no higher than natural background levels in the rest of Japan, or about 1 millisievert annual exposure.
In a culture that frowns on challenging the authorities, the lawsuit highlights the rift in public opinion created by the baffling range in experts’ views on the health impact of low doses of radiation.
Although some experts say there is no need for children to be evacuated, parents are worried about the long-term impact on their kids, who are more vulnerable to radiation than adults.