Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:13AM
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants (file photo)
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants (file photo)

A fresh report in Japan shows the number of deaths resulting from the country’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in 2011 increased by 18 percent last year.

The report published on Tuesday by the Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun said figures from authorities in Fukushima Prefecture showed a total of 1,232 deaths in 2014 were linked to the nuclear disaster.

The highest number of fatalities occurred in the town of Namie near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, with 359 deaths, followed by 291 cases in Tomioka town also near the plant.

Nuclear radiation exposure can cause serious health problems. The first signs of nuclear radiation exposure are nausea and vomiting.

Exposure increases the probability of developing some other diseases, mainly cancer, tumors, and genetic disorders.

The Fukushima disaster took place on March 11, 2011 when the area was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake that triggered a devastating tsunami, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing.

The nuclear plant, located on Japan’s northeast coast, suffered multiple meltdowns following the disaster. The destroyed reactors have leaked radiation into air, soil and the Pacific Ocean ever since.

The incident, which is regarded as the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, also led to the evacuation of 160,000 people.

Four years on, some 120,000 people have not been able to return to their homes due to radioactive contamination.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised that his government will take prompt steps to clean up the wrecked power station. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has said the clean-up will take decades and will cost more than 150 billion dollars.

This is while a report released by a Japanese parliamentary panel following the natural catastrophe said the incident at the Fukushima nuclear plant was not only due to the tsunami, but also a “man-made disaster.”

The report criticized the “government, regulatory authorities and Tokyo Electric Power Company” for being devoid of “a sense of responsibility to protect people’s lives and society.”

CAH/GHN/HMV