Meanwhile in one of the most contaminated towns and villages in Fukushima after the nuclear accident more than two years ago, officials have just launched a new program to encourage children to receive annual health checkups.
If a child undergoes one annual health checkup, he/she will receive 10,000 yen (these days it's close to US$100) worth of book coupons (gift certificates for books).
If a child happens to have evacuated from the village and does not go to the village schools (temporarily re-located to Fukushima City and Kawamata-machi, both contaminated to lesser degrees than this particular village), oh well that's too bad, his/her coupon value will be only 5,000 yen.
The officials openly admit the scheme is to incentivize people with children to come back to the village.
What's the name of the village?
Iitate-mura, with extremely high levels of iodine-131 and several thousand becquerels/kg of neptunium right after the March 2011 accident, and which, thanks to the very politically savvy mayor, has managed to keep the businesses and factories inside the village operating despite the village having been designated as "planned evacuation zone".
From Fukushima Minpo reporting as if it's a good thing (4/18/2013; part):
スタンプで受診率向上へ 飯舘村 内部被ばく、甲状腺検査 中学生以下図書カードに交換
Collect the stamps: Iitate-mura to give book coupons to children in middle schools and younger to boost the participation rate for internal radiation exposure [WBC] tests and thyroid tests
Iitate-mura, whose residents have evacuated from the village because of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, started a new program on April 17 to urge children in the village from kindergarteners to middle schoolers to get tested for internal radiation exposure and thyroid every year. If children get tested, they will be given a stamp, which will be exchanged with book coupons. The project is in response to the lower participation rate, and [the village officials] want these children to make it a habit to be tested.
The program will give one stamp to a child if the child receives both internal radiation check and thyroid test once a year at Azuma Neurosurgical Hospital in Fukushima City. One stamp can be exchanged for book coupons worth 10,000 yen, and at graduation from kindergartens and schools children will be given the book coupons depending on the number of stamps they will have accumulated. [The village] kindergarten and schools will plan the tests at the hospital as school events.
The program also covers children who have transferred to other schools after they evacuated from the village. However, for them, one stamp is exchangeable for book coupons worth 5,000 yen. One of the program's aims is to have them come back to the village kindergarten and middle school in Iino-machi in Fukushima City, and the village elementary school in Kawamata-machi.
The village officials want children to undergo annual internal radiation testing and thyroid testing, but an increasing number of children have stopped taking these tests after the initial tests. The officials believe that since the initial test results for most children were not in the range that would cause alarm they haven't led to regular checkups.
Testing at a neurosurgical hospital? I checked the website of Azuma Neurosurgical Hospital. They do have pediatrics as one of their specialties but the doctor in charge of the pediatrics section is a surgeon specialized in cardiology. There is no thyroid specialist, or for that matter, radiation specialist.
The hospital has Fastscan by Camberra.
From Camberra's website about Fastscan:
The Fastscan whole body counter is designed to quickly and accurately monitor people for internal contamination of radionuclides with energies between 300 keV to 1.8 MeV. The FASTSCAN system uses large area sodium iodide detectors and CANBERRA's Apex-InVivo™ and Genie™ software to achieve low minimum detectable activities with count times as fast as one minute. It is intended for use in power plants and other facilities where the possible contamination spectra are well known and uncomplicated.
That doesn't seem to fit the situation in Fukushima and Tohoku/Kanto regions affected by the nuclear accident.