In a suit filed at the Koriyama Branch of the Fukushima District Court, parents of 14 pupils attending either elementary or junior high schools in the city sued the Koriyama government, demanding schools be moved as blocs into safe areas.
“Our aim is to make sure all children in Fukushima Prefecture can take classes in safety,” Kenichi Ido, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they had calculated that of the 266 elementary or junior high schools located within cities in Fukushima Prefecture, merely five recorded radiation levels below the safe average annual radiation exposure level of 1 millisievert as outlined by the International Committee on Radiological Protection (ICRP). In nearby Aizu, where radiation exposure is comparatively low, only one school falls below the ICRP guideline.
In April, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) sent out a directive that safe average annual radiation exposure in schoolyards would be 20 millisieverts. However, this move sparked opposition led by parents of schoolchildren, and MEXT announced at the end of May it would abide by the ICRP’s guideline of annual maximum exposure of 1 millisievert for ordinary people.
However, preliminary calculations of data from MEXT monitoring showed that during the 75 days from the explosion at the Daiichi reactor on March 12 through to May 25, the air at the 14 schools attended by the plaintiffs’ children exceeded the annual 1 millisievert level, ranging in places from 3.80 to 6.67 millisieverts.
Based on these results, the plaintiffs argue that the children have already absorbed amounts of external radiation alone that significantly exceed the 1 millisievert annual maximum. The parents are demanding that schools be evacuated en masse to safer areas.
The lawsuit is the first related to the effects of radiation on children since the reactor was damaged during the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated vast areas of the Tohoku Region.