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2017/11/14 UN Human Rights Council’s Review of Japan voices serious concerns for Fukushima nuclear survivors

プレスリリース - 2017-11-14
Geneva, 14 November 2017 – This morning in the Working Group for the United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR) Universal Periodic Review (1) of Japan multiple nations raised concerns for Fukushima survivors’ human rights in the face of the Japanese Government’s ongoing resettlement of the contaminated zones. Germany, Austria, Portugal, and Mexico introduced formal recommendations to address these issues, especially related to health and Fukushima-impacted women and children. Greenpeace Japan urges the Japanese government to accept those recommendations.

These countries’ recommendations echo the concerns of the OHCHR treaty bodies and Special Mandate holders in the UN compilation report on Japan for this proceeding. (2)  The Japanese government ignored the disproportionate impact of the 2011 nuclear disaster on women and children completely.

“Belgium and Germany both raised questions about Fukushima-impacted women’s and children’s human rights. The fact that the Japanese government did not respond reflects the sensitivity of this issue and their official attitude domestically. Instead of upholding treaty protected human rights, the Japanese government is throwing Fukushima’s women and children under the bus of their political agenda. Women and children are not only more vulnerable socially and economically, but also physically at higher risk following radiation exposures. It is past time for the Japanese government to rectify its policy failures that are violating Fukushima survivors’ human rights, especially those of its most vulnerable people.” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Japan.

The resettlement of areas contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear accident, which exceed the international standard of 1 mSv/year for the general public, raise multiple human rights issues. The Japanese government has also ended housing support for so-called ‘self evacuees’ in March 2017 and compensation payments to those in areas where evacuation orders are lifted ends one year later. This amounts to economic cohersion where survivors may be forced to return to the contaminated areas against their wishes due to economic pressure. This clearly contravenes multiple human rights treaties to which Japan is party.(3)

Along these lines, Portugal, Austria, Germany, and Mexico introduced formal recommendations urging the government to continue its economic, health, and other support for Fukushima survivors. Germany urged the government to implement the 1 mSv standard for its resettlement policy, which is in line with the findings of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health following his mission to Japan for Fukushima survivors in 2012.(4)

“The international community is calling on the Japanese government to step up and address the violations of Fukushima survivors human rights, especially those of women and children. We urge the Japanese government to accept the recommendations and work to fix their resettlement policy failures. Survivors are being forced into the impossible choice of returning to areas too contaminated to safely live or face even greater economic hardship as their housing support ended in March and compensation payments are stripped away. This is a clear violation of their internationally protected human rights,” said Micòl Savia, Representative to the United Nations for  the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

Greenpeace Japan has intervened in the UPR proceeding including submitting comments to the UPR in March 2017 and bringing Fukushima survivor and mother, Ms. Sonoda to Geneva to testify at the Pre-Session in October.  

1. Japan is undergoing a United Nations process called a "Universal Periodic Review." 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 declare what steps are being taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries. Civil society organizations, UN Special Mandate holders, and other UN member nations also have the opportunity to participate in the proceedings to raise human rights concerns in the country under review.

2.  Please see “Compilation of UN information” and click “E” for the English language report here

3. These include: 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; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including its two Optional Protocols.

4. “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Anand Grover.”

Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist, Greenpeace Germany, , Mobile: +49 151 6432 0548 (Currently staying in Geneva)
Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Japan,    Mobile: +81 90 (6478) 5408
Chisato Jono, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Japan, email: , Mobile: +81 (0) 80-6558-4446