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Fukushima survivor submits evidence to UN

Fukushima survivor submits evidence to UN over Japanese government human rights abuses

Geneva, 12 October 2017 - Fukushima survivor Mitsuko Sonoda will testify today on the ongoing human rights abuses of Fukushima victims and the ever-present risk nuclear power plants pose to the communities that live near them at the United Nations Human Rights Council. She is presenting evidence at the pre-session for Japan’s Universal Periodic Review - an assessment of every nation by the United Nations Commission for Human Rights.

Ms. Mitsuko Sonoda was forced her to flee her home in order to protect her then 10-year-old son in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. Since then, she and other mothers have been standing up to fight for themselves and their children.

“I want to tell the world we haven’t had our human rights respected since the disaster. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else in any other countries,” said Mitsuko Sonoda. “I know so many mothers who have been suffering and struggling as a result of the nuclear disaster, because the Japanese government and TEPCO won’t admit to their responsibilities.”

Despite residents’ opposition and the fact that there are areas in Fukushima Prefecture that remain too contaminated for people to safely live [1], the Japanese government has moved forward with lifting evacuation orders and pushing for nuclear restarts.[2] Evacuees from contaminated areas that were not under a mandatory evacuation order lost housing support in March 2017 [3]. In March 2018, former residents from those areas will lose what remains of their compensation.

Since the Fukushima nuclear accident, the Japanese government and global nuclear interest organisations such as the IAEA have sought to understate the impacts of the disaster on the nuclear industry at the expense of its victims [4].

“The Japanese Government’s resettlement policies not only fail to meet obligations under multiple human rights treaties, but also clearly violate Japan’s own domestic law regarding the treatment of people impacted by the nuclear disaster,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Japan.

“Although most Fukushima nuclear evacuees meet the criteria for consideration as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), the Japanese government has refused to acknowledge them as such and ignored international frameworks for their protection.”[5]

Mitsuko Sonoda speaks today not only on behalf of herself, but for all those impacted by the Fukushima nuclear accident and the Japanese government’s response to it. Global nuclear interests have been involved in influencing the Japanese government’s resettlement policies and what happens to Fukushima impacted peoples has implications for all those who are living near nuclear reactors the world over.

People like Jinseop Lee, who lives in Gijang, South Korea, which has eight nuclear power plants within a 10km radius. Mr. Lee and his family have serious health problems and they worry about the nuclear reactors nearby. “We want to debunk the myth that nuclear power plants are 'safe',” said Mr. Lee. “Local people don’t really know what nuclear power plants are, so nuclear operators cause and use the conflicts among the local people to create a myth of safety. Nuclear phaseout must be achieved in our generation.”

Greenpeace Japan is calling on the Japanese government to rectify the issues with its troubled nuclear reconstruction policy and to respect Fukushima survivors’ treaty-protected human rights, including ensuring accurate and transparent information is accessible, survivors have the ability to fully participate in policy decision-making that affects their resettlement and health, and adequate continued compensation so people may freely choose whether they will remain evacuated or return to their former homes.

[ENDS]

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