Koizumi: Hand out iodine tablets to more people

Japan's minister in charge of preparing for nuclear emergencies says he wants to expand areas that receive advance iodine tablets in case of disasters.

Shinjiro Koizumi, who also serves as environment minister, told reporters on Tuesday that he wants to expand the advance distribution area for the tablets to include anyone living within 30 kilometers of a nuclear power plant.

Current guidelines adopted after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant accident require that tablets are automatically given to anyone living within 5 kilometers of a nuclear plant.

Iodine tablets are said to help people exposed to radiation reduce the risk of developing cancer in the thyroid gland.
People living in the 5 kilometer zone are currently subject to immediate evacuation orders in the event of a severe accident.

Residents living between 5 and 30 kilometers of a plant are to stay indoors after an accident and evacuate later if necessary.