2018 Volume 67 Issue 1 Pages 71-83
Nuclear accidents and their associated radiation hazards can cause radioactive contamination in the surrounding areas and health effects associated with radiation exposure for local residents. However, the effects of radiation disasters on local residents are not limited to those caused by radiation exposure. This paper outlines the secondary health issues, unrelated to radiation exposure, experienced by residents of Soma and Minamisoma Cities after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. The most serious problem, during the early stages of the accident, involved the health effects of evacuation, especially among elderly people. While evacuation is the most effective way to reduce radiation dose, it can have the greatest mid- and long-term health impact, in particular, by exacerbating of chronic diseases, lifestyle diseases, and motor functions. In fact, the worsening of diabetes can have much more significant health effects than radiation exposure. There are also problems related to medical treatment, consultation behaviors, and nursing care, resulting from the lack of social support, rather than the judgment or decision-making of individuals. It is therefore necessary to give serious, balanced consideration to a wide range of health risks and to put in place long-term countermeasures after a nuclear accident.