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Children of Japan's Fukushima battle an invisible enemy

Published on Mar 10, 2014 6:26 AM
 

KORIYAMA, Japan (REUTERS) - Some of the smallest children in Koriyama, a short drive from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, barely know what it's like to play outside - fear of radiation has kept them in doors for much of their short lives.

Though the strict safety limits for outdoor activity set after multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in 2011 have now been eased, parental worries and ingrained habit mean many children still stay inside.

And the impact is now starting to show, with children experiencing falling strength, lack of coordination, some can not even ride a bicycle, and emotional issues like shorter tempers, officials and educators say.

"There are children who are very fearful. They ask before they eat anything, 'does this have radiation in it?' and we have to tell them it's okay to eat," said Mr Mitsuhiro Hiraguri, director of the Emporium Kindergarten in Koriyama, some 55km west of the Fukushima nuclear plant. "But some really, really want to play outside. They say they want to play in the sandbox and make mud pies. We have to tell them no, I'm sorry. Play in the sandbox inside instead."

 
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