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Fukushima radiation blamed for spike in U.S. sailor deaths; 400 veterans suffering serious, debilitating illnesses

J.D. Heyes

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June 14, 2016

(NaturalNews) The death and sickness toll for U.S. sailors who were aboard an American aircraft carrier sent to assist the Japanese government in the hours and days following the March 2011 meltdown of nuclear reactors at Fukushima is growing, with scores more continuing to come forward.

Japan's Kyodo news agency is reporting that the Japanese former prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has lent his support to a group of about 400 U.S. sailors who have filed suit against the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, claiming that the health problems they are currently suffering from were caused by being exposed to radiation following a triple meltdown at the plant.

Speaking recently at a news conference in Carlsbad, Calif., which he attended with a group of the plaintiffs, Koizumi noted: "Those who gave their all to assist Japan are now suffering from serious illness. I can't overlook them."


He broke down in tears

The suit was originally filed in 2012 against Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, which has recently been renamed the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. The plaintiffs include sailors and officers who were aboard the USS Ronald Reagan as it provided humanitarian and other assistance to Japanese officials following the damage to Fukushima, which was caused by a major tsunami that was launched following a massive earthquake.

During his California visit, Koizumi met with 10 of the plaintiffs in the suit. He asked them about the nature of the disaster relief they provided, and about the kinds of symptoms they were experiencing.

"I learned that the number of sick people is still increasing, and their symptoms are worsening," he told the news conference, while also calling on Japanese – whether for and against nuclear power – to find ways to help the U.S. sailors.

In a separate report, Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shinbum noted that Koizumi broke down in tears during the news conference:

Apparently overcome with emotion, Koizumi started crying, but went on and said, "Proponents and opponents of nuclear energy must think together about what can be done."

Koizumi, in power between 2001 and 2006, became a vocal opponent of nuclear energy after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant caused by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

Sick and dying crewmen

The paper noted further that Theodore Holcomb, an aviation mechanic on the Reagan at the time, was one of the sailors tasked with washing off U.S. helicopters that flew into areas where there was a high concentration of radiation. He would later go on to be diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer; he died in 2014, at the young age of 35.

After his death, the Department of Veterans' Affairs cut short a study into a possible relationship between his radiation exposure and his sickness.

His best friend in the Navy, Manuel Leslie, 41, has since become one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit on behalf of Holcomb. He told reporters that he just wants to get to the bottom of what happened and why so many are now sick.

Another Reagan crewman, Ron Wright, 26, also worked on the flattop's deck. At the end of a shift one day he was ordered to remove his clothing following a high radiation reading. He later developed testicular swelling and underwent surgery four times after returning to the U.S. However, the pain became so intense that he had to rely on painkillers and sleeping pills to cope. He was never issued with protective clothing or iodine, and was told that there was no connection between the radiation exposure and his illness.