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Updated: April 30, 2011 23:28 IST

Row over radiation limit at school

P. S. Suryanarayana
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A anti-nuclear protest in Tokyo on Saturday.
A anti-nuclear protest in Tokyo on Saturday.

The standard set for schoolchildren's exposure to nuclear radiation in Japan's Fukushima prefecture has caused a political furore. In prime focus is an expert's disapproval of the “high” permissible limit set for annual exposure, at 20 millisieverts, for outdoor activities at school.

Citing this limit and the government's alleged track record of ad hoc responses to the continuing nuclear radiation crisis, Toshiso Kosako, special adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, resigned on Friday night. However, the Japanese government on Saturday downplayed this development and said Prof. Kosako “misunderstands the situation.”

Mr. Kan, addressing a panel of the House of Representatives in Tokyo, said the government was consistently going by the advice of Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission. He was, therefore, “not acting in a haphazard fashion” at all.

Detailed defence

In a more detailed defence, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said there was no intention of allowing the schoolchildren to reach the upper limit of exposure. Prof. Kosako had noted that such a high ceiling for permissible exposure was not the general norm for even workers at nuclear power stations.

Mr. Edano said the basic thrust of the government's move was to reduce as much as possible

the intake of radioactive substances.

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