Fukushima, Jan. 28 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government will not make medical services free of charge for children aged 18 or younger in Fukushima Prefecture, home to a disaster-crippled nuclear power plant, Tatsuo Hirano, minister in charge of postdisaster reconstruction, said Saturday.
Conveying the decision to Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato at their meeting here, Hirano said it is difficult to exempt children in the prefecture from medical fee payments because it “could affect the foundation of the country’s overall medical system.”
Still, the government will do all it can for the health of people in the northeastern prefecture, Hirano said.
Showing his great regret at the central government’s reluctance to grant medical fee relief for Fukushima children, Sato indicated that the prefecture is willing to set up a system enabling free medical services on its own using a health promotion fund established by the prefectural government. “We have to create an environment where people feel safe raising children,” he said.
There are concerns that the health of young people in the prefecture could be harmed by radioactive substances emitted from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which was damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year.