1 . What has in fact happened since 3.11 as well as the condition of the children in Fukushima up to the court filing on June 24th, 2011.
Running through the wind, with their cheeks red, mouthfuls of raspberries, filled with the excitement, catching insects, rolling over the snow fields… Those were the children of Fukushima.
The massive accident on 3.11 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has completely changed Fukushima prefecture. In Koriyama where the14 children who are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit live, many of the citizens were exposed to the invisible radiation from the damaged power plants. After the accident no iodine tablets were distributed and no announcements of radiation levels were made.
One father without knowing the imminent danger had his son stand in line to get their ration of water from a water truck. One high school girl was outside everyday participating in after-school track and field activities. One mother brought her daughter back to Fukushima from her safe haven far from Fukushima as she had been instructed that her daughter had to attend her school graduation ceremony.
The citizens later learned that much of the safety information, including the data from the Japanese SPEED 1 Radiation Plume Monitoring System was intentionally hidden so the people in the surrounding regions had no idea as to the actual danger they faced.
At the same time the accidents themselves were trivialized by the Ministry of Education and Science backed “Safe Campaign” that raised the internationally accepted 1 mSv/y exposure standard to 20 mSv/y. At the same time the Japanese government raised other safety standards beyond levels that are internationally agreed upon.
With much anxiety and fear the parents have made desperate efforts to protect their children but the only measure that the government has taken to ensure the safety of their children and health has been a basic cleanup of the radioactive fallout, that in reality, has not significantly lowered the exposure levels.
To adequately ensure their safety and health, the only option the children had and still have is voluntary evacuation, as Koriyama has not been designated as an evacuation zone. Voluntary evacuation naturally would mean the children would have to leave their family and friends and move to an unknown world. Some families with the financial resources have sent their children to other locations. However, for the parents of these 14 children, such an option was and is not financially possible.
For these compelling reasons and more, the 14 children became the petitioners who filed “Fukushima Evacuate Children Lawsuit”.
2. Reason of the pleading and its significance
(1) Why did we file the Pleading?
The Education Ministry, in response to the massive outcries of the parents in Fukushima, corrected their earlier standard that had allowed school activities in Fukushima to continue within radiation levels up to 20 mSv/year. Finally they agreed with the parents that 1 mSv/year should be the maximum level that children be allowed to be exposed to.
After checks were carried out almost all the schools in Fukushima prefecture were found to be contaminated with levels greater than 1 mSv/year. What is even more shocking, the central areas of Koriyama, where the plaintiffs live, were found to be extremely dangerous, with levels of 5 mSv/year or more. Under the Chernobyl Evacuation Standard (more than 5 mSv/year) the whole area would have been considered a mandatory evacuation area. In other words, had this been Russia, the government would have forced all the people to move to safer locations. (See the Contamination Map)
In spite of the strong demands from hundreds of parents neither the Ministry of Education nor the local government showed any intent to actually move the children to safe locations.
The world must be clear about one thing. The Japanese government is completely responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident and thus for the irreparable damage they are causing to the children and citizens affected by the radiation. Though they are 100% responsible, they have not taken the steps they are obligated to take to save the children whose lives and health they have knowingly put at risk.
This irresponsible behavior by the Japanese government is an unprecedented violation of human rights, and as its implications are so serious we feel it should be considered a “crime against humanity” under international law.
The original purpose of the court system was and is to provide citizens with a way to remedy grievances and violations of their intrinsic rights. As the state and local governments have ignored the outcries of the citizens in their suffering, we decided to use the court system to achieve the outcome the children deserve.
In this case we want to bring justice to the members of the government that have and continue to cause irreparable damage to all the children remaining in Fukushima.
We filed our case, the “Fukushima Evacuate Children Lawsuit” on June 24, 2011. In it 14 elementary/middle school children from Koriyama filed a provisional disposition against the city of Koriyama, arguing that “the children should have the right to education in a safe place”.
(2) Significance of the Pleading
This pleading is ultimately purposed so that all the children whose lives and health are at risk as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident can get their education in a safe environment. As it would be impossible under the current judicial system for the government to implement such a measure immediately, it was necessary to provide a precedent. Thus we put together our lawsuit with the 14 school children.
It was our plan that if our initial case was approved, we would move forward to achieve the same outcome for all the school children in Fukushima that are currently in this dangerous situation. Based on the court order that the 14 children must be evacuated, as it is their right to receive their education in a safe environment, negotiations between the citizens and the government would begin for the rest of the children. In that sense, the 14 children filed the suit on behalf of all the children in Fukushima.
3. Development of the Trial
As this evacuation lawsuit was unprecedented, we initially were concerned that our pleading might be dismissed at submission, but the court accepted our pleading and thus it became a legal and binding case.
The hearings for trial were expected to be completed on September 9, 2011 with both parties giving their concluding remarks. On that day however, we submitted new evidence that was disclosed by the Ministry of Education in late August. This evidence from the government included cesium soil contamination data for Koriyama. This made it possible for us for the first time to compare the radiation levels between Koriyama City and the surrounding areas of Chernobyl where radioactive fallout had polluted the environment.
We also included a document by Ryukyu University Prof Emeritus Katsuma Yagasaki who compared Koriyama City with the Lugyny (Luginy) region in Ukraine, where the level of cesium pollution is similar to that in Koriyama. Prof Yagasaki concluded that if the children in Koriyama remain where they are, the same health effects will be expected for them as reported in Lugyny (Luginy) after the Chernobyl accident.
To our shock Koriyama City refused to discuss this comparison with Lugyny (Luginy), ignoring our submission, stating that this issue was “unknown”. In other words, they examined the evidence but refused to discuss it.
They then stated that those who feel that it is a health risk to remain in Koriyama are free to move if they want, as all students have the right to change schools. Finally they said that it was TEPCO, not Koriyama City, who infringed upon the right of students to get an education in safe place, therefore, it was not the duty of Koriyama City to evacuate the children to safe areas.
With these words Koriyama City openly and officially declared that they are not responsible for their citizens and thus violated the basic human rights of the citizens they are responsible for.
After this statement in the court by Koriyama City, we decided to do everything in our power to gather as much evidence from the Chernobyl accident as we could so that deeper and more detailed comparisons could be made with Koriyama City. The court and the citizens of Koriyama have a right to know what the expected health consequences will be if they remain in Koriyama.
Thus we needed more time to gather evidence, so the trial was extended to the end of October.
4. 12/16 Conclusion of Court Decision and its grounds
An urgent provisional disposition was requested for the case. However, the Koriyama court took their time to arrive at their ruling which was finally announced on December 16th, exactly 45 days after the conclusion of examination. It fell, rather coincidently, on the same day that Prime Minister Noda publicly announced that the Fukushima Daiichi reactors were now in a “Cold Shut Down Condition”. The Koriyama district court dismissed the pleading of the plaintiffs, the14 school children in Koriyama.
The court said that the primary reason for their decision is that it felt the 14 children were in fact demanding the exclusive mandatory evacuation of all elementary/middle school students in the region. (The number is estimated to be 300,000.) The court said that such a large-scale evacuation would require concrete evidence proving that there is an immediate risk to the lives and physical health of the 14 plaintiffs. The court claims that their basis for evacuation would be only if levels in the air in the area where the children live were to be found to be more than 100mSv/year. The court went on to claim that there is no evidence of such levels in the air.
On the fact that the levels are not above 100mSv/year, the plaintiffs agree.
This 100mSv/year that the judge adopted however, is not the internationally accepted safety level. The court has not revealed the scientific grounds for their decision to use 100mSv/year as their evacuation standard.
There is currently no internationally accepted evacuation standard. The internationally accepted safety standard is 1mSv/year.
In any area that has a level of more than 1mSv/year, people are advised that there is no immediate risk to their health. They are not required by law to evacuate, but it is generally considered not healthy to be exposed to such a level for an extended amount of time.
In the case of the Chernobyl accident, the Russian government evacuated all citizens from areas contaminated with 5mSv/year or higher.
The chief judge Hibiki Shimizu in his ruling, did not mention or refer to any of the evidence we submitted in this matter. Specifically, we prepared a comparison between the radiation levels measured in Chernobyl and the levels in Koriyama City at the time of submission. Our evidence clearly shows that the levels in Koriyama City would have warranted the Russian government to designate the area as a mandatory evacuation zone.
In our submission and during the court proceedings that went on for several months prior to the judgment, the court did not make a single reference to the 100mSv /year safety standard that the court based its final decision on. In the modern judiciary system, a judgment must be based on evidence submitted and discussed by both parties. As there was no such discussion in this case, the courts ruling cannot be considered fair nor can it be considered legal.
The court has thus trampled upon the very principles of the modern judicial system that is meant to be the “Last Fortress of Human Rights”.
5. Actions to correct the injustice of the court decision in order to save the children of Fukushima, whose lives and health are at risk
The conclusions reached by the court demonstrate that the judicial system in Japan has lost its integrity and can no longer be relied upon to deliver fair and just judgments. It is clear that the judicial system in Japan is no longer the “Last Fortress of Human Rights” that it was designed to be. It has committed a serious crime that gives its seal of approval to the state and local governments’ violations of human rights.
These violations have put the lives and health of the children living in Fukushima at risk, a risk that is not only serious but also unwarranted. Our duty as adults is to protect children from dangerous situations, especially those that can be avoided. Thus, we must take action to save them from the dangers they are being exposed to. After much deliberation we decided not to base our appeal on the UN Declaration of Human Rights as it was made by the governments of the world to serve themselves. Instead we went back to its root, chose a declaration that was made during the American Independence Revolution in 1776 by the citizens of America. It embraces the universal value of the human race, and it was the basis for the Constitution of America. It is known as the Constitution of Virginia:
Section 3. Government instituted for common benefit.
“That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration; and, whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.”
We have decided to hold a Citizens Tribunal “by the people, of the people, for the people” so we the people can judge whether the above mentioned decision by the court is not only correct but also ethically just. Our appeal will also draw from the universal values expressed in the “Convention on the Rights of the Child” , which itself is based on the Declaration of Human Rights, as it is specifically applicable to children.
We are calling our appeal “The World Citizens’ Tribunal of the “Fukushima Evacuate Children Lawsuit”. Through this tribunal we wish to achieve a judgment that reflects the values of human rights, not business or corporate interests. The children of Fukushima deserve a judgment that is just and ethically sincere. The right to live and study in a clean and healthy environment is their God given right.
We believe that the current judgment is a farce, for if it was reasonable, then the Prime Minister of Japan, and all the members of his cabinet, as well as all the executives from TEPCO, Hitachi and the other major companies behind the nuclear industry here in Japan would have no hesitation in sending their children and grandchildren to live and study in Koriyama. If Koriyama is truly a safe place for children to live and study, then they will have no hesitation in relocating the younger members of their families to Koriyama for the entire duration of their school lives.