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Fukushima offers free medical care for children under 18

40 Comments

The Fukushima prefectural government this week started offering free medical care for children under 18. It is the first project of its kind in Japan and is aimed at 36,000 children living in the prefecture, health officials said.

According to a prefectural government spokesman, the project is designed to create a more supportive environment for families living in areas where the population outflow due to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is significant, TBS reported. Local governments hope the free medical care will act as an incentive for families to remain.

Since last year's nuclear disaster, almost 18,000 children under the age of 18 have been evacuated outside the prefecture, officials estimate.

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40 Comments
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That only took a year and a half.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Well done.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

That's the least the gov't can do. I'm glad, though late, that it is gonna happen.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

36, 000 children. Read that. Tell people. 36, 000 children. And the children throughout Japan as the debris is burnt in some of the most densely populated places on the planet... Simply beyond belief.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I understand their concern in Fukushima and the opinions of those who comment here. But this issue should be a requisite not just for the children of Fukushima,but for all children Worldwide. Free health care for the worlds children until the age of 18. This should be a major issue by politicians when seeking election.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This should have been done a long time ago and not just for the children of Fukushima. The best way to deal with perceived risks is to ensure that they are faced head on and immediately.

And the children throughout Japan as the debris is burnt in some of the most densely populated places on the planet... Simply beyond belief.

It is simply beyond belief that 18 months after the event you are still trying to link tsunami debris with nuclear waste.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

This is a smart idea. Offer free health care for children to keep them in heavily radiated areas so that they then need more health care, mostly in later life, when it is no longer free.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Regardless of motive - good or cynical, it will be important to track the health issues of youths in this region. As noted above, burning debris from the region is not the same as exposure to radioactive materials, but then again, depending on the method of the burning, combustion of wastes including chlorinated and fluorinated plastics, materials containing heavy metals like chromium and mercury can result in the spreading of a variety of compounds including dioxin-like compounds, species of chrome-chlorides and vapors of mercury that are difficult to capture with scrubbers and particulate control measures. It is difficult to evaluate the extent of complications from afar, but I imagine coupled with dense population the task of management of the debris collected is a difficult task without sharing pollutants with the environment and with the population. And, with such densely populated areas, where does one go to escape. It would be my hope that doing no harm during this process would be the principle measure guiding actions.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Assuming the medical staff aren't volunteers, the bill will go to the taxpayers, anyway.

Send the bill to Japan's "atomic village," I say. The people who for decades covered up all the sodium fires and explosions, allowed workers to mix substances in buckets, pushed for dangerous technologies like MOX, while squashing any public dissent.

They should be the ones to pay.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

They already had 90% coverage, so finally they get the last 10%. In fact, all children should have 100% coverage, along with competent medical staff they currently have a lack of across the country

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Congratulations!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Children under 18 is an absurdly redundant phrase. There are no children above that age so wtf.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Children under 18 is an absurdly redundant phrase. There are no children above that age so wtf.

The age of majority is twenty. That means there are a fair number of eighteen and nineteen-year old children around in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good show. The people up their need all the help they can get.

They already had 90% coverage, so finally they get the last 10%. In fact, all children should have 100% coverage, along with competent medical staff they currently have a lack of across the country

I agree. And, I don't even have any children yet.

Check back a little later for posts complaining about their tax dollars being used for something such as this.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Free? It's a guarantee that national health insurance will be hiked to cover it, so really it is the public that will pay for their so-called "free" service...

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Childrens's health services are already free under the national health insurance system. However, even free board and food would not be enough to entice me to have my kids living in Fukushima.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

aisaiOct. 03, 2012 - 11:00AM JST

Check back a little later for posts complaining about their tax dollars being used for something such as this

Looks like valley of the damned did it on purpose or something...

The fact is that they will end up spending less on medical coverage for these children than they would otherwise, since completely unrelated illness will be better detected and treated while it is still cheap and effective to treat. The chance these children ever develop radiation related illness before age 18 is infinitesimal compared to every other problem they could face. Imagine not a single child dying of pneumonia because their parents took them to a qualified doctor in time. Far less costly to provide antibiotics than weeks of hospitalization due to septic shock from an untreated infection.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

@Hed: Tsunami 3/11. Debris on land after said date. Explosions massive releases of radiation int to the air. QED. Plus, the debris contains many other very nasty things. At Chitose Funabashi's incineration plant last month the burning was stopped AFTER asbestos was found to be being released into the surrounding air. The only madness you can question is that of those who deny that's it's a VERY, very, VERY, stupid idea to burn the waste in some of the world's most densely populated suburban areas on the arrogant say-so of one old man.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

YongYangOct. 03, 2012 - 12:31PM JST

@Hed: Tsunami 3/11. Debris on land after said date. Explosions massive releases of radiation int to the air. QED. Plus, the debris contains many other very nasty things. At Chitose Funabashi's incineration plant last month the burning was stopped AFTER asbestos was found to be being released into the surrounding air. The only madness you can question is that of those who deny that's it's a VERY, very, VERY, stupid idea to burn the waste in some of the world's most densely populated suburban areas on the arrogant say-so of one old man.

Guess you've never heard of the Jinkanpo Atsugi incinerator incident linked to over 60 cases of cancer. Of course, none of that was radiation related, 100% was simply burning trash in an illegal manner releasing dioxins, PCB, and heavy metals. Imagine having children next to one of these poorly maintained and regulated REGULAR incinerators that spews mercury and carcinogens?

And I think you have something mistaken. Chitose Funabashi is a municipal waste incinerator that processes just 600 tons/day, mostly to use byproduct heat. Any issues they have are unrelated to Fukushima. The incinerator in Tomakomai/Chitose HOKKAIDO was the one accepting tsunami debris that may or may not be radioactive.

Regardless, with all these poison spewing factories elsewhere in the country, all other children should have the same medical care.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@basroil

Not too many months ago on another thread about the difficulties being suffered by people who were still trying to remain in their home towns near the affected area, some posters actually said that the government should be cutting off and not increasing healthcare related assistance to such people. They felt it was unfair of the government to expect the rest of us to be paying for high health costs of a stubborn few who were too stupid to leave the area for "greener pastures" and might get sick as a result. @ @

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Free medical care sounds great....but from a Japanese doctor? I'd sooner take my chances!

Be my guest. If you're ever (and I hope it doesn't happen) lying in a Japanese street after being hit by a bus, I hope you'll remember to tell people that you don't want to go to a hospital with its scary, scary Japanese doctors.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Last week I had two minor operations on my leg and everything went well just has had many times over the past 20 years, so I have no complaints about doctors or medical care.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What about the kids from Fukushima who had smart parents who got out? Why don't they get free medical care? And besides, don't kids up until 16 get free medical care here anyway?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

tmarieOct. 03, 2012 - 01:55PM JST

What about the kids from Fukushima who had smart parents who got out?

Depends on where they went. If they went from countryside to urban area, they could actually face higher morbidity rates than the 1 in a million chance you get from 0.1mSv (multiplied by whatever number the area is a year). Regardless of what the media wants you to believe, the finance ministry's pet project kills more children a year, especially in urban areas.

And besides, don't kids up until 16 get free medical care here anyway?

I thought that was the case, but I can only find older information stating age 6. I could swear I remembered JT having an article on that though.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

It isn't six. I am pretty sure it is either 12 or 16. Any links for your other claims?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The reason they're doing this is so that they can track the health (or lack thereof) of these kids in one, central database.

The health records of these kids will be analyzed thoroughly so the effects of radiation can be properly understood.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A good approach for Fukushima prefectural officials. The question is ...for how long will these free medical care and treatment be... Radiation caused illnesses and effects does not appear abruptly. It's been written and reported here at JT that the Fukushima's Nuke melt down is even worst than Chernobyl. 10 to 20 years or more, some if not all of these kids will show symptoms and illnesses caused by radiation. Read an article with a photo of a mutated butterfly from Fukushima. Now, will these medical care still covers them after soooo many years.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

NeverSubmitOct. 03, 2012 - 02:18PM JST

The health records of these kids will be analyzed thoroughly so the effects of radiation can be properly understood.

Very good idea, but not legally possible without consent forms. They should have drafted into the law that consent was needed for free treatment. They can have rough estimates though, and 36000 is a reasonable sample size, though possibly too small to detect any increase.

tmarieOct. 03, 2012 - 02:12PM JST

Any links for your other claims?

I used a fairly old source for this as there are simply no newer ones that aren't based off of this source. The source that this page uses though is the guy who wrote the manual on nuclear safety (quite literally): http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/introduction/risk.htm

10mREM is equivalent to 0.1mSv

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

don't kids up until 16 get free medical care here anyway?

It depends on where you live. Some places it's for kids up to entering elementary school, other places it's till the end of elementary, so 6 and 12 could both be correct. Not sure about 16, though.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A little more detail here.

http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1001/TKY201210010444.html

Looks like the kids with "smart" parents are covered as well.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The article at the link says 公的保険の対象となる治療であれば、通院や入院時の自己負担分が無料になる。- any treatment covered by public health insurance will be free. No mention of check-ups for radiation-related illness. The kids' gotta get ill first.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Thanks Cleo. I thought it was free for all until they are of the age where school is not mandatory - which i think is 15 so covered up until they turn 16.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

bajhista65Oct. 03, 2012 - 02:26PM JST

A good approach for Fukushima prefectural officials. The question is ...for how long will these free medical care and treatment be...

Until age 18 of the children already born and subject to the most radiation that is possible in the areas they now live in (almost all radiation from Iodine).

Radiation caused illnesses and effects does not appear abruptly. It's been written and reported here at JT that the Fukushima's Nuke melt down is even worst than Chernobyl. 10 to 20 years or more, some if not all of these kids will show symptoms and illnesses caused by radiation.

1) No, it has never been reported as such, Chernobyl was in a more densely populated area, with nearly 100% of radioisotopes falling on land. It also spewed several times more radiation and due to a graphite fire, spread it over a larger land area. Only a small fraction of Fukushima radiation stayed on land, and the area contaminated is sparsely populated in comparison.

2) Most cases of children with radiation related illness were leukemia and thyroid cancer, usually discovered within a decade of the accident. leukemia numbers were not statistically significant, though thyroid cancer was. Of the 700 cases discovered above the average number, only 10 resulted in deaths. This is on average with thyroid cancer survival rates in general.

Children of Fukushima prefecture are much less likely to ever develop issues thanks to a different diet and overprotective parents, and any that do, naturally or induced, will be treated much sooner. In the case of thyroid cancer, there is a nearly 100% survivability rate for stage 1 and stage 2 cancer, and likely the rate of stage 3 and 4 cancer will be LOWER among these children than the country average thanks to early detection.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Fukushima gov't recently released new DATA showing the radiation level in Futaba on Mar.12, before any of the explosions was 1500 microsieverts/hr. The evacuation of the people started the evening before but took several days to complete.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

All the nuclear refugee's should be offered internal radiation measurement. Last year, the gov't stated all people of Fukushima would have free health checks for 30 years? Guess they dropped that one?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

@Bas: Onagawa, Miyagi has sent and had burnt tsunami debris at both incineration plants close to Chitose Funabashi and at other municipal plants in and around The 23 including Machida, Hachiyoji, Tama etc. Am sure you can read Japanese, have a look around the net.

http://www.city.setagaya.lg.jp/index.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is this an other way to say that many children under 18 have been contaminated by the radiation?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@lucabrasi to define a child by Japan's age of minority is non-sensical. How you managed to even type the words "19 year old child" without laughing, is beyond me.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The government may be wise to lend greater attention to childhood medical care well beyond Fukushima. Radioactive particles from Fukushima are still falling on large areas of Japan, including Tokyo and at least as far as Nagoya. http://radioactivity.mext.go.jp/ja/contents/7000/6287/24/194_8_1002.pdf Therefore, incinerating anything from any of the prefectures listed in the above table as still receiving contaminants will result in a higher level of airborne radioactive contamination than would have been experienced in the absence of the Fukushima debacle and in the absence of such incineration. Radioactive contaminants did fall on tsunami debris in Iwate, Fukushima, and Miyagi. In addition, radioactive contaminants continue to fall on that debris to this day. Whether incinerating materials from the most heavily contaminated prefectures in areas that did not and still do not receive much contamination is dangerous to children is a debatable point. But such incineration will undeniably increase the amount of radioactive material in the areas where it is burnt. If one supports erring on the side of caution regarding child health, as I do, one would be wise to both oppose burning the debris and support the expansion of monitoring of children's health and increasing their access to health care in the wake of Japan's unprecedented three melt-through accidents.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

to define a child by Japan's age of minority is non-sensical.

How silly of me. Please let me know how to define a child correctly, according to the jumpultimatestars guide to everything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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