Some Japanese Children To Wear Radiation Detectors

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Authorities in the Japanese city of Fukushima will give radiation detectors to 34,000 children between the ages of four and 15. They will wear the devices for three months, and readings will be taken on a monthly basis. The move is aimed at reassuring parents near the failed nuclear reactor that radiation levels are safe.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Starting in September, the Japanese city of Fukushima will begin distributing radiation detectors to children. That move comes after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated a nuclear plant. As eerie as the plan sounds, the radiation detectors are intended as reassurance. Lucy Craft reports from Tokyo.

LUCY CRAFT: Reeling from charges that it's not doing enough to protect citizens from radiation, the embattled Fukushima city government will spend about two million dollars on radiation detectors for children 15 and under. The badge-type gauges will be checked monthly to pinpoint accumulated radiation exposure. The response from local residents, like Keiko Sasaki, has been lukewarm.

Ms. KEIKO SASAKI: (Japanese language spoken)

CRAFT: She says, they already know the radiation is too high. That it's not fit for children to live here. The world knows it and the government can't deny it.

Sasaki and other parents - who angrily confronted bureaucrats in Tokyo recently - say there's only one solution - wholesale evacuation of everyone under 18, along with pregnant women.

Ms. SASAKI: (Japanese language spoken)

CRAFT: She says all kids, including high school students, should be evacuated outside the city. That's what the government priority should be.

Under pressure from residents, the city has started removing contaminated topsoil from some of the hardest-hit public schools.

For NPR News, this is Lucy Craft, in Tokyo.

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