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Response to the Chicago Tribune Editorial "The children of Fukushima: When medical tests mislead"

The following is a letter to the Editor for the Chicago Tribune editorial, "The children of Fukushima: When medical tests mislead." The letter was submitted through the online form on April 19, 2016, but there has been no response from Chicago Tribune. (Brevity of the content is due to the 400-word limit for letters).


Dear Editor,

The March 25, 2016 Chicago Tribune editorial, “The children of Fukushima: When medical tests mislead” is misleading on its own regarding the childhood thyroid cancer situation in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

Differences in cancer rates by distance from the accident site and contamination levels may not be obvious, but an epidemiological analysis by Tsuda et al. ( found a dose response tendency with proximity to the accident site after adjusting for the length of time between the accident and the time of screening. It is also important to remember only 1,080 children ha…

Thyroid Cancer in Fukushima Children: When the Language and Information Gaps Mislead

With the year 2016 marking the passage of five years since the Fukushima nuclear accident, many writings—articles, editorials, academic papers—have been released reflecting on the first five years after the accident. Some of the writings address a psychosocial aspect of the accident such as “problems” caused by the stress of evacuation and the “unwarranted” fear of radiation, dismissing the potential health effects of radiation exposure, even ignoring the science. Others focus on the alleged withholding of medical data by authorities, speculating on the health effects of the Fukushima accident reaching even the United States. 

Official data and information available in English are often limited and biased. Transparency and impartiality of such information, released by the government and international agencies, can be influenced by ulterior motives other than public health protection. However, without a fluency in Japanese and an ability to navigate through and comprehend the mass of of…

Fukushima Thyroid Examination Fact Sheet: March 2016

Fukushima Thyroid Examination Fact Sheet:  March 2016

This fact sheet was compiled mostly from the official documents and data, some available only in Japanese, for the purpose of reviewing the first four and a half years of the post-accident thyroid ultrasound screening in Fukushima Prefecture. It is intended as a common knowledge base of the history, basic principle and current status of the largest thyroid ultrasound screening undertaken with controversial results. (For the shorter version of the fact sheet, please refer to this).
March 2016 Fukushima Thyroid Examination Fact Sheet by Yuri Hiranuma


On October 9, 2011, Fukushima Prefecture began the Thyroid Ultrasound Examination (TUE) on about 360,000 residents who were age 18 or younger at the time of the triple disaster of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident on March 11, 2011. As the exposure to radioactive iodine dramatically increased the incidence of pediatric thyroid cancer cases after the 1986 Chernobyl nu…