AP Exclusive: Japan scientists assessing radiation risks took travel money from utilities

Japanese scientists who help set national radiation exposure limits have for years had overseas trips paid for by the country's nuclear plant operators.

The potential conflict-of-interest is revealed in one sentence in a 600-page parliamentary investigation into last year's nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima. A medical doctor on the 10-person investigation panel pointed out the reference to The Associated Press.

The trips are for meetings of the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

Some of these same scientists have consistently given optimistic assessments about the health risks of radiation. Their pivotal role in setting policy after the March 2011 tsunami and ensuing nuclear meltdowns meant the difference between schoolchildren playing outside or indoors and families staying or evacuating.

One scientist acknowledged receiving funding but said it didn't influence his science.