The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has been hosting Dialogue Seminars for Fukushima Prefecture residents, with other domestic and international participants, since November 2011. The 12th Dialogue Seminar was held for 2 days on September 12 (Sat) and 13 (Sun), 2015 with theme of “Experience we have gained together,” in Date City Hall. This 12th seminar is the final one.
Session 1: The path of recovery
Presenters reported their past and ongoing efforts in each field to build better communities. A panel discussion followed.
Presentations: Reports from experts
Hisashi Katayose (PESCO): My response to Tokyo Electric Power Company and my reflections as a former prefectural official
Osamu Sato (Fukushima College): Staying present to the fear of people
Megumi Tomita (NPO Beans Fukushima): The past and future of support for parents and children in Fukushima
Motoko Goto (Odaka, Niigata): From evacuation to now
Tetsuo Yasutaka (AIST): My engagement and research with the local area over the past four years
Panel: Four years later: the path taken in Suetsugi
Six panelists talked about the actions taken in the Suetsugi district of Iwaki City. As there was no official radiation map, panelists voluntarily measured and made their own map, not only writing down measurements, but also formulating new information from raw data to guide their daily community life. This effort was transferred to, and is currently performed by, the local government. Also, their efforts for decontaminating farmland was reported. Actions taken by a Tokyo-based photographer were discussed. He took pictures hoping that they are shown primarily to the residents of Suetsugi. The photo exhibition was held along with the seminar.
Session 2: The path taken by farmers
Presenters who remained as farmers in or from Iwaki, Iitate, and Nihonmatsu spoke of their ways past and hopes for the future.
Presentation: Reports from crop and cattle farmers
Susumu Hakozaki (Iwaki): The course of Arigato-Farm and its future
Takeshi Yamada (Iitate): Hopes for reopening farms
Mizuho Kanno (Nihonmatsu): Throwing the seeds of hope on “Fukushima land”
Session 3: Dialogue on matters so far
Twenty-one people including today’s speakers, residents, experts, and media representatives, talked about their paths so far, in round-robin style, and then commented again after hearing everyone’s first remarks.
After four and a half years, panelists felt Fukushima has recovered strongly and the process of information disclosure and sharing was progressing. On the other hand, issues of healthy growth of children, family problems due to living separately, and the need for future generations in otherwise aging communities came out, along with other related issues.
The following points emerged:
– Dialogue is crucial
– The choice of each individual should be respected
– People are now forward-looking
– Think about individual’s and community’s overall well-being
– People outside can be still supportive
Session 4: Media and society
At this session, media representatives, as well as people in various roles of action or mediation, reported their ways of sending, receiving, and interpreting information on Fukushima.
Reports from the sender
Makoto Ohmori (TUF): Looking back on past media reports
Ryugo Hayano (University of Tokyo): Using measurements
Reports from receiver
Yukiko Ban (Undergraduate from the University of Tokyo): From dots to lines and from lines to area
Yu Miyai (Freelance, Tokyo): The distance to “Fukushima” for director of news in Tokyo
Reporters from mediator
Makoto Miyazaki (FMU): The past four and a half years from the viewpoint of a liaison
Osamu Sakura (University of Tokyo): A “Glocal” Case – taking up Fukushima in a little Tokyo magazine
Michiko Kageyama (Former Teacher at High School in Tokyo): The climate helps me to live, and I live in the climate
Panel: Three years later
The 3rd Dialogue Seminar held in July 2012 focused on “contaminated foods.” At that time, a final slide shown by one speaker gave some people the impression of discrimination against Fukushima. Then, there was not enough time for a full discussion, so on the occasion of this 12th Dialogue Seminar, facilitators decided to re-visit this important matter. The same facilitator from the 3rd seminar along with panelists exchanged their current opinions and thoughts related to this slide.
Session 5: Testimony: Raisa Misiura, Belarus “Rehabilitation and recovery program to engage people from local communities”
After graduating from Saint Petersburg State University School of Medicine 30 years ago, Dr. Misiura, went back Stolin to practice pediatrics, and has been living there ever since with local residents. To let people form their own situational awareness of radiation, she implemented two healthcare projects from 2005 and 2009 for healthy women and healthy families.
In the first project, pregnant women were targeted, because they were the most negatively affected people, and receptive to the provided information. The continuity of transmitting information in the project was also considered. Pregnant women’s clubs were organized, and at meetings, common concerns such as practical aspects of radiation, pregnancy, and how to raise children were discussed, and it relieved otherwise unbearable stress by speaking openly, and even cheerfully. Also, pregnant women measured the radiation of various foods before and after cooking, and participants were convinced that it was possible to reduce the radiological components in foods by proper handling.
The second project targeted families and included whole-body (radioactivity) counting, or WBC. WBC for children was already in place before this project, and this time, it became possible to assess the radiological situation of each entire family. If one family member’s value exceeded the WBC annual standard, then they intervened, and all family members were investigated in more detail to understand and improve their exposure situation.
Through implementing these projects, the useful policies, processes and achievements were been made:
-In order to obtain people’s trust, authorities must disclose only reliable data.
-In parent meetings around severely polluted areas, a nurse also living nearby could speak as a specialist and as a stakeholder, so that communication was not one-sided.
-Do not draw comparisons between individual children. Speak openly with children’s parents, and make efforts so that parents listen to their advice. Continuous involvement is important.
-Information and skills could be provided, but final decisions belong to the family.
-It is important to have some feeling of control over the radiological situation, and through various activities, bring up children with confidence.
-Equipped with necessary knowledge, people can live there. Project experts did their part by sharing scientific evidence.
-Tell accurate information on the health status of residents. Not only diagnosing and treating physical ailments, but also addressing stress and any other mental health issues.
– Looking back over 30 years, now no one says his/her life was ruined by radiation.
-When one’s internal dose is at 0.1m Sv/year (40 Bq/kg) or less, protective interventions are no longer necessary.
-It is important speak on the basis of facts, evidence and actual measurements.
-The last WBC in Olmany showed eight of 166 residents >40 Bq/kg. The cause was food habits at home that were constructively addressed after the measurements.
Session 6: Dialogue at the next stage
Twenty-six panelist, including locals, experts, media representatives, and healthcare professionals exchanged their thoughts and ideas in the same round-robin method as on the first day. Then they added their own impressions after hearing everyone else.
Through this dialogue, the following issues are recognized as major challenges and considerations to the future:
– It is difficult to imagine the far future.
– Radiation is only one facet of the problem.
– It is important to understand the situation and manage people’s stress.
– Address and overcome malicious rumors.
– Avoid discrimination against Fukushima people.
– Ensure the safety, health, and welfare of the children.
– Support individuals in their own environment and situation.
– Provide a fair environment.
– Share stories of Fukushima, and continue to communicate experiences with others, now and for future generations.
– Consider energy policies for the future, notably in Fukushima Prefecture.
– Experiences of Belarus and Norway provide hope for the bright future.
The Dialogue Seminar has been held 12 times, with this being the final one. Finally, Jacques Lochard from ICRP, chair of this seminar, expressed sincere thanks to organizations and individuals supporting the dialog initiative. He received a hearty round of applause for his initiative and leadership from the beginning.