2017/03/30 Greenpeace to UN: Japanese government violates Fukushima survivors’ human rights

2017/03/30 Greenpeace to UN: Japanese government violates Fukushima survivors’ human rights

Tokyo, 30 March 2017 – Today, Greenpeace Japan submitted comments to the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review[1] charging the Japanese government of deliberate human rights violations as a result of Fukushima resettlement policies, particularly for women and children.[2] The evacuation orders in much of the heavily contaminated area (excluding Area 3) of Iitate, Kawamata and Namie are set to be lifted tomorrow, 31 March 2017, followed by Tomioka on the 1st of April.

“The human rights violations resulting from Prime Minister Abe’s reconstruction policies are calculated and deliberate. Orders are being lifted in areas that are too contaminated for people to safely live.  The public is being given deliberately misleading information regarding the risks and the extent of the clean-up efforts. Worse, the government is pressuring people to return to the contaminated areas by stripping self-evacuees of their housing support this month, and compensation for those in the areas lifted next year. This is economic coercion, not a choice freely made,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Japan.

Japan is party to numerous human rights treaties.[3] The so-called “reconstruction” deliberately violates Fukushima-survivors’ recognized rights under these treaties, including: the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including the right to information and participation in matters impacting one’s health; the right to a healthy environment; the right to housing; the rights of Internally Displaced Persons – including the special needs of vulnerable groups (women, children, the elderly and the disabled); and the rights of the Child to participation, health, survival, and development – including the right to play.

Greenpeace radiation monitoring has found contamination at levels far exceeding long-term decontamination targets. The most recent Greenpeace case study[4] of seven homes located in areas of Iitate where orders will be lifted tomorrow, showed that residents could receive lifetime doses up to 183 m/Sv over a 70-year period, starting this month. This dose would be in addition to the unknown, very high doses received in the immediate aftermath of the disaster due to an extremely delayed evacuation of Iitate in 2011.

“Women and children are more vulnerable to the effects of ionizing radiation, as multiple studies of both medical exposures and atomic bomb survivors have shown. Yet, not only is this greater risk ignored in the government’s resettlement policies, but is actively downplayed. This has gone so far as to require school children to read misleading information about radiation risks in their textbooks. High school students even went to the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi site on a school field trip. This not only violates basic, internationally accepted radiation protection protocols, but also women and children’s right to health,” said Ulrich.

Due to significant gender economic disparities, women are also at greater financial risk and thus more vulnerable to economic pressure.[5]

A Greenpeace public petition calling on Prime Minister Abe to protect the rights of Fukushima evacuees has collected over 15,000 signatures in Japan. It will be submitted in early April.

Ms Suzuki and her daughter Shiori. Her daughter goes to the Soramame nursery. The family lives in Watari, a district in Fukushima City which has been contaminated by the nuclear accident at Daiichi nuclear powerplant.


  1. The UPR is a four-year UN cycle for reviewing the human rights situation, identifying issues, and monitoring progress of member states. Japan will be subject to review again in 2021. It is a state-driven process, wherein countries have the opportunity to declare what steps are being taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries. Civil society organizations in the country under review also have the opportunity to participate in these proceedings. See details.

  1. Greenpeace Submission to the UN Human Rights Council

  1. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including its two Optional Protocols; and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. These treaties obligate Japan to uphold citizens’ right to health, defined as the “right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” Inherent in the right to health is the right to knowledge and participation, so that individuals can make informed choices regarding their health.

  1. No Return to Normal: House Case Studies of the Current Situation and Potential Lifetime Radiation Exposure in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture. February 2017. Greenpeace Japan.

  1. Unequal Impact: Women’s and Children’s Human Rights Violations and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster. March 2017. Greenpeace Japan.

Media contacts:

Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Japan kendra.ulrich@greenpeace.org, phone: +81 90 6478 5408

Chisato Jono, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Japan, chisato.jono@greenpeace.org, phone +81 80 6558 4446