Fukushima has started ultrasonic thyroid exams on Sunday for the prefecture's 360,000 children aged up to 18 to monitor the health conditions of young people amid the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis following the March 11 earthquake-cum-tsunami in the country.
The Japan Times quoted officials as saying that taking a lesson from the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, in which many children developed thyroid cancer years after the accident, Fukushima Medical University in Fukushima have decided to screen the prefecture's 360,000 youths over the next 29 months to March 2014.
The first thyroid tests were given to 4,908 children who lived closest to the plant when the crisis began on March 11.
Authorities would reportedly conduct detailed examination if any pathological lesions are detected, the paper said.
Reports suggest that Sunday's examination was the first round of thyroid tests, and that the children undergo followup exams every two years until they turn 20. After that, the checkups will be conducted every five years during that person's lifetime.
A 38-year-old mother, originally from the town of Namie that is located only a few kilometers from the crippled plant, brought her 7-year-old son to the medical center all the way from Maebashi in Gunma Prefecture, where they have taken shelter.
"While my son has not shown any symptoms (of radiation), I worry about him four or five years from now. I'm with Fukushima in spirit, but I can't return here as the radiation level is still high," she added.
Japan suffered a heavy setback following the earthquake-cum-tsunami in March, which eventually led to the leakage of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant. Since then, many concerns were raised over its long term impact on the citizens of the country.