Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan from 2001 to 2006, is raising money for the hundreds of U.S. sailors that claim they became sick after being exposed to radiation during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Over 70,000 American sailors took part in the relief efforts. Many claim to have been exposed to radioactive snow, water, and even ships tainted with radioactive material.
Up to 16 ships that participated in the efforts are reportedly still contaminated with low levels of radiation. It is also believed that up to three sailors have passed away due to exposure to radioactive materials. Up to 500 have become suddenly ill with conditions linked to exposure to radioactive materials such as muscle wasting, cancer, internal bleeding, thyroid dysfunction, abscesses, and birth defects in their children. Koizumi feels that Japan is indebted to the men and women that selflessly provided aid to the disaster stricken area in the days following the disaster. Many service members fade frequent trips to highly contaminated areas to provide aid and supplies.
“I felt I had to do something to help those who worked so hard for Japan. Maybe this isn’t enough, but it will express our gratitude, that Japan is thankful.”
Koizumi recently traveled to San Diego to meet with 10 former U.S. military service members. These service members have begun a class-action lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co., the company that owns the now defunct Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Koizumi plans to raise approximately $1 million by the end of March, not to aid in the lawsuit, but to help cover the cost of medical bills.
Many aircraft carriers obtain their drinking water from the ocean. It is believed that many service members may have ingested, showered, and cooked with this water which caused the widespread illness.
U.S. Command claims they were not immediately made aware of the reactor meltdowns. Tokyo Electric Power Co. is denying any links between the ill service members and radiation.