United Nations Human Rights Expert Urges Japanese Government To Protect Fukushima Workers Rights – Greenpeace Supports

United Nations Human Rights Expert Urges Japanese Government To Protect Fukushima Workers Rights – Greenpeace Supports

Geneva, 12 September 2018 – The Japanese government was once again challenged at the United Nations over its human rights compliance for decontamination workers in Fukushima prefecture.[1] At the 39th  Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, the Special Rapporteur for toxic and other hazardous material raised the issues of Fukushima decontamination workers rights. Greenpeace Japan strongly supports the view of the Rapporteur.

Special Rapporteur, Mr. Baskut Tuncak, was presenting a report to the UNHRC on measures member states need to take to improve the conditions and protection of workers from exposure to hazardous materials. In his concluding address to the United Nations HRC session with regards to the situation in Fukushima, and specifically to the issue of compliance with Principle 1 of the report presented to the UNHRC session, which requires that states have a duty to protect workers through the prevention of exposure, the Special Rapporteur stated that,

“In my view Japan must do everything in its powers to protect all workers from occupational exposures, including workers who are doing the remediation work at Fukushima, whether at the power plant or in the surrounding countryside. Japan may wish to consider its policy of continuing to expose its workers to radiation based on the justification principle of the ICRP. The justification principle notes the importance for decisions that lead to radiation exposure to include a public consultation procedure, and to be justified with a net societal benefit. This seems particularly important in this situation because the return rates of populations with higher contamination areas, where workers will be exposed to higher levels of radiation, remain relatively low.”[2][3]

The International Association for Democratic Lawyers (IADL), attending the HRC session, and supported by Greenpeace Japan, made an oral statement in support of the work of the UN human rights bodies on Fukushima at today’s session. “We welcome and strongly support UN Human Rights bodies, including the Special Rapporteurs, in their continuing efforts to seek to protect the rights of Japanese citizens, including workers, who are suffering the consequences of deliberate Japanese government policy and their mis-management of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster,” said Micòl Savia of IADL in the session.

“The policy of decontamination has been demonstrated to be ineffective in highly contaminated areas, such as Namie and Iitate, while thousands of evacuees are being pressurized to return to contaminated land. “The government continues to ignore the fundamental issue which is that in the last seven years tens of thousands of workers have been exposed to radiation risks without justification. We see some hope here that international communities are addressing and raising awareness on this,” said Kazue Suzuki of Greenpeace Japan.

Greenpeace aims at shifting from nuclear power that creates human rights violations as well as coal-fired power generation power that is heavily responsible for climate change to sustainable renewable energy that takes into consideration people and our planet.

[1] Together with two other UN experts, the Special Rapporteur for toxics issued a highly critical statement last month on the radiation threats to thousands of decontamination in Fukushima.  The Japanese government’s response was to express ‘regret’ at the UN making the statement.

[2] The Special Rapporteur was citing the International Commission for Radiological Protection (ICRP) Publication 103.

[3] Full sentences by the Special Rapporteur on the Fukushima decontamination workers rights


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