Irradiated U.S. veterans to get help from Japan

Former diplomat Peter Van Buren reported on his web log how the U.S. Department of Defense rejected claims by U.S. troops who were irradiated during rescue efforts at the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.   It has fallen to a former Japanese prime minister to come to their aid.

Junichiro Koizumi

The U.S. Navy rushed thousands of troops to the scene in 2011 to help Japanese disaster victims, after an earthquake and tsunami caused meltdown of the Fukushima plant.

A few years later, hundreds of them began to report symptoms of radiation disease—rectal and gynecological bleeding, thyroid problems, leukemia and testicular and brain cancers, Van Buren said.  Some had worked in the area of the nuclear disaster, some had flown over it and some had drunk desalinated sea water from the contaminated ocean.

The U.S. Department of Defense, relying on information from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), said they couldn’t possibly have received high enough levels of radiation to be harmful.   Some 400 service members are suing TEPCO, but this lawsuit will take years to resolve, and seven of the plaintiffs already have died.

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who left office five years before the disaster, has started a fund-raising appeal to raise $1 million to help the U.S. veterans pay medical bills.   Van Buren said Koizumi already has raised $400,000 through lecture fees.

As an American, I am grateful to Prime Minister Koizumi and ashamed of this example of U.S. government neglect of American veterans.


Abandoned by U.S. Government, Irradiated Servicemembers Turn to Japan for Help by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well.

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3 Responses to “Irradiated U.S. veterans to get help from Japan”

  1. Edward Says:

    You know, this is typical of the military, Part of the problem may be our expensive health care. This is good material to discourage enlistment.


    • philebersole Says:

      The same thing happened with veterans who suffered symptoms of being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Or to exposure to depleted uranium munitions in Iraq.

      Even if there was some doubt, the Department of Defense owned it to veterans to resolve the doubt in their favor.


  2. Edward Says:

    I knew a veteran at one time who had lung cancer, he believed, from being exposed to asbestos while working for the navy. The people who worked with him were also sick, he said. He could not prove this for sure and the navy would not help him. I think with these bureaucracies you have to put a fire under their butt to get them to do anything. It shows how cynical the “support the troops” line is.


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