– Japan’s nuclear evacuees denied Canadian refuge (Calgary Sun, Feb. 18, 2012):
TORONTO – A Japanese woman who claimed exposure to radiation from damaged nuclear reactors has been denied refugee status in Canada almost one year after that nation was rocked by an earthquake and tsunami that left more than 100,000 people homeless.
The woman’s identity has not been released by an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) since she’s seeking asylum in this country. She is among several dozen Japanese nationals who filed refugee claims to stay in Canada following the disaster and is one of the first decisions to be reached by the IRB.
“The claimant feared risks of exposure to radiation,” an IRB member said in a ruling. “She was not convinced by the Japanese government’s assurances of safety from radiation.”
The woman was one of hundreds of Japanese citizens who sought refuge in other countries following the March 11, 2011 catastrophe caused by a magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami that left more than 15,000 dead and nearly 3300 missing.
The acts of nature crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant, leading to core meltdowns at three of its six reactors, and ongoing leaks of radioactive material.
A board member ruled the claimant “feared being a victim of hazards that emanated from a combined natural and man-made disaster.”
The member said the claimant’s risk “is characterized as being widespread and prevalent in Japan.”
The woman can still appeal her case to the Federal Court of Canada, and that decision can still be appealed.
She claimed her life was in danger from radioactive contaminants that spewed into the environment from the Fukushima plant.
More than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes and businesses in a 20-km no-go zone around the plant.
The accident also raised fears of contamination in everything from fruit and vegetables to fish and water.
It took about nine months for the Japanese government to declare that the Fukushima plant was stable, although it will take about 40 years to decommission the plant.
Japan has since decided to lower its reliance on nuclear power, reversing its plans to boost it to 50 per cent by 2030. Most of its 54 reactors are currently off-line, most of them undergoing safety inspections.