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Fukushima nuclear power plant accident: issues on radiation monitoring and its relation to public health
  1. Yasue Fukuda1,2,
  2. Koji Fukuda3
  1. 1Graduate School of Medicine at Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
  2. 2Organization for European Studies, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
  3. 3School of Political Science and Economics, Director of European Union Institute, Waseda University, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Professor Koji Fukuda, School of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University, 1-6-1 Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-8050, Japan; fukudak{at}

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In the days following the earthquake and tsunami, which hit Eastern Japan on 11 March 2011, there was great uncertainly and concern about the extent of the radiation leakages emanating from the stricken nuclear power plant at Fukushima. To what extent have the radiation monitoring system and government announcements regarding radiation served to benefit public health? According to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, radioactive materials emitted into the air from 12 to 16 March 2011 were estimated at 131I 1.6×1017 Bq 134Cs 1.8×1016 Bq and 137Cs 1.5×1016 Bq.1 However, Stohl et al 2 reported that 137Cs 3.58×1016 was emitted, more than twice the level announced by the Japanese government. They indicated the possibility of a radioactive material leakage from the unit 4 fuel pool and suggested that radioactive materials had already been emitted from the plant by the earthquake before the tsunami, which was inconsistent with government announcements. New concerns were raised over the safety of drinking water and farm products as radioactive contamination was spread over a wide area, which included Tokyo, by the rain that fell on 21–22 March. In this report, we will discuss the radiation monitoring system in Japan and make recommendations for the future.

Dysfunction of radiation monitoring system in Japan

After the disaster it became clear that one of the main problems with the radiation monitoring system was the number of ministries and agencies involved. Under the Nuclear Safety Commission's monitoring …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.