Veteran employee was involved in measuring radiation levels immediately after 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

More than seven years have passed since the tragic Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, and in that time life has returned to normal for much of the country. However, the effects of radiation exposure are not always immediate, and the government has now officially recognized the first instance of a Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) employee dying as a result of exposure connected with the 2011 disaster.

On August 31, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare issued a statement finding that the death of a male TEPCO employee in his 50s stemmed from his work measuring radiation levels in and around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was heavily damaged on March 11, 2011 and experienced multiple meltdowns. The worker was involved in on-site measurements immediately following the disaster, and in total worked for TEPCO from 1980 to 2015, being stationed at various nuclear plants but most frequently at Fukushima Daiichi, which went into operation in 1971.

In February of 2016, the worker developed lung cancer, which the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has ruled was caused by exposure to radiation following the earthquake and tsunami. He has since succumbed to the disease, although in keeping with the wishes of his surviving family, the ministry has not revealed his exact date of death.

In addition to the deceased worker, four other TEPCO employees, all still surviving, have developed leukemia or thyroid cancer that the government recognizes as being caused by exposure during their work at Fukushima Daiichi.

Sources: NHK News Web via Jin, Mainichi Shimbun
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