The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) convened 12 Dialogue Seminars for Fukushima Prefecture residents, with other domestic and international participants, from November 2011 to September 2015. Dialog Seminar reports appear on the ICRP site.
Following these 12 seminars, an international workshop on this Dialog Initiative convened in Date City, Fukushima, on 12-13 December 2015, as reported here.
This year, a follow-up study tour and Dialogue Seminar convened in Iitate Village, Fukushima, 9-10 July 2016, which is reported here.
This time, a Dialogue Seminar entitled “The rehabilitation of living conditions in the Futaba region” was convened in Kawauchi Village on 1-2 October 2016 jointly organized by Kawauchi Village and Nagasaki University.
The First day:
Session 1: The situation in the Futaba region
Administrative officials from some towns and villages in the Futaba region made presentations on their reconstruction activities and outcomes since the disaster.
Following these presentations, the chairman of a commerce and industry association in Kawauchi Village talked about the association’s efforts for reconstruction.
Nagasaki University has been active in Kawauchi Village since 2013, and their representative who has been in the village gave a presentation on the measures of strengthening risk communications with residents there.
Session 2: The socio-economic conditions for returning home
Roundtable discussion by residents in the Futaba region was held concerning the activities they have been doing since the disaster.
In the afternoon, the participants were divided in to three groups; in each group, residents discussed and exchanged various views about what has been carried out for recovery in order to ensure acceptable living conditions in their communities at this stage and what future plans should be implemented.
The Second day:
Session 3: Returning home: decontamination, waste management and environmental surveillance
A Japanese expert and a resident made presentations on decontamination, waste management and environmental surveillance, after which participants were again divided into three groups to discuss the above-mentioned issues.
Session 4: Supporting and disseminating experience for the future of Futaba region and beyond
Three experts, from the Ministry of the Environment, Fukushima Medical University, and Fukushima University, made presentations on their support of local activities in this region for a brighter future.
Finally, the two-day seminar concluded that for the way forward, a shared vision of the future is needed, along with a framework to support local products.
Proceedings of the 24th Prefectural Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health Management Survey
Proceedings of the 24th Prefectural Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health Management Survey were released.
For English translations, click here .
For the original Japanese reports, please visit:
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Second Announcement: 5th International Expert Symposium in Fukushima will be held on September 26, 27 (Program is available now)
Thirty years have passed since the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and five years since the Fukushima nuclear accident. Building on what we have discussed at previous International Expert Symposiums, this time our theme is, “Chernobyl+30, Fukushima+5: Lessons and Solutions for Fukushima’s Thyroid Question.” At this symposium, we will focus on thyroid cancer issues, deepen everyone’s understanding of the thyroid gland from the standpoint of evidence-based medicine (EBM), and discuss recent situational improvements in Fukushima, as well as the latest thinking about long-term health surveillance in the prefecture.
The schedule of the symposium is as follows:
Date: September 26-27 (Mon-Tue), 2016
Venue: The Celecton Fukushima
Organizer: Nippon Foundation
Co-organizers: Fukushima Medical University, Nagasaki University, Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation
Program of the 5th Expert Symposium
Secretariat of the 5th International Expert Symposium in Fukushima
16-17 Jun 2016 Radiation Medicine in Research and Practice (4th International Seminar of WHO): Health effects 30 years after Chernobyl, 5 years after Fukushima
The World Health Organization (WHO) Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN) convened a two-day seminar at Würzburg University, a REMPAN Collaborating Center, June 16-17, 2016. Fukushima Medical University, a REMPAN Liaison Institution, sent Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and Dr. Atsushi Kumagai to Würzburg as delegates and speakers. Würzburg University has been especially involved in thyroid cancer treatment following the nuclear accident in Chernobyl. As the seminar’s secretariat, Würzburg University was an outstanding venue for information sharing about health effects attributed to Chernobyl and Fukushima. FMU’s Dr. Suzuki presented the latest thyroid ultrasound screening results of children and adolescents in Fukushima. Dr. Kumagai reported 5 years of comprehensive health management for Fukushima residents of all ages, the current status of radiation risk perception, and various challenges residents face. Other speakers from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United States provided deep insights into post-Chernobyl and post-Fukushima disaster remediation, along with broadly applicable epidemiological theory and risk-mediation measures.
The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) held 12 Dialogue Seminars for Fukushima Prefecture residents, with other domestic and international participants, from November 2011 to September 2015. These are reported at the ICRP site.
An international workshop on this Dialog Initiative convened in Date City, Fukushima, on 12-13 December 2015, as reported at here.
Most recently, a follow-up study tour and Dialogue Seminar convened in Iitate Village, Fukushima, 9-10 July 2016.
The First day:
International and Japanese experts visited the farm land and homesteads of several residents who have made continuous efforts to restore their pre-3.11 lives and work..
The Second day:
International and Japanese stakeholders, including a local youth, made presentations and had a panel discussion. The participants expressed their views about (1) the many things to do for reconstruction of the village; (2) many evacuees who would not return to the village, especially young people; (3) employment opportunities needed to enable evacuees to return to the village; (4) further decontamination of forest and mountain areas to reassure inhabitants; (5) perception gaps between the government and residents on the situation of the village; (6) diverging views, even among experts, on residual radiation; (7) how restrictions by the government can impede reconstruction; and (8) how new agricultural approaches including farming without soil, and expanding farms would be promising.
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A delegation of traumatic stress experts of Korean institutions including Daegu University, Kyung Hee University and others visited Fukushima Medical University on 20 June 2016, as part of their 19-22 June International Workshop on Prospects of Disaster Mental Health Services. Convening in various locations, this travelling workshop allowed them to research psychological distress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the Great East Japan Earthquake. FMU’s Department of Disaster Psychiatry and Office of International Cooperation co-organized the visit to our main campus, offering presentations and a facility tour. Representatives of the Fukushima Center for Disaster Mental Health also attended, to discuss their service to residents, whether affected by the earthquake, tsunami, nuclear power plant crisis, or any combination of these. In exchange, we sought the insights of our distinguished Korean colleagues, and benefitted from a healthy dialog over morning, lunch, and afternoon sessions.
IAEA announced a completion of its STS (Science, Technology and Society）Handbook at the meeting in Singapore about STS perspectives on nuclear science, radiation, and human health on June 23-24.
Signpost of Reconstruction： Five Years Forward
To screen or not to screen? Patient and parental autonomy should be respected.
“Is it right to keep screening people without knowing how well they understand the program, but knowing that the result may be a diagnosis of cancer?”
Dr. Sanae Midorikawa, a 48-year-old endocrinologist at Fukushima Medical University (FMU), started a traveling classroom program (出前授業) for children last year. She began to wonder if most children in Fukushima had been screened for thyroid disease without understanding how the examination was intended to protect their health. Dr. Midorikawa holds the rank of Associate Professor in FMU’s Department of Radiation Health Management.
Thyroid screening has been performed for residents of the prefecture who were 18 years old or younger when the nuclear plant accident occurred. Cancer cases have been found in this group, but the Prefectural Oversight Committee, consisting of doctors and other experts, maintains that “It is hard to conclude any influence of radiation as yet.” They point out that mass screening with high sensitivity ultrasound equipment can detect abnormalities that would go unnoticed in the course of routine patient care..
With the fear of radiation widespread among parents, most children in the prefecture have been examined at least once. However, Midorikawa thinks, “it is important to make individual decisions about whether or not to continue screening after parents and children understand what screening can and cannot do.”
Generally, thyroid cancer is curable [even when found incidentally by less sensitive means – Editor], so a “reduction in mortality” by screening is unlikely. On the other hand, there are demerits such as the mental health impact of receiving a cancer diagnosis, for which reason comprehensive thyroid screening is not recommended worldwide. “Five years have passed and now is the time to reconsider our way of screening based on current circumstances.”
In the traveling classroom program, Midorikawa explains that there is a possibility of finding cancer by screening. Then she acknowledges that some people don’t want to be told they have cancer. Especially when actual health risks are not apparent, this decision should also be respected.
Owing to the fear of radiation among prefectural residents, sufficient understanding about the demerits of screening and the informed consent process for screening has not advanced enough. Midorikawa reflects: it was natural that residents thought they should be screened when the nuclear plant accident took place; it was also natural to tie the screening result with radiation, and continue to be afraid, but in retrospect, we may have acted unreasonably.
Thyroid screening is just one of the things parents and children in the prefecture have endured. Chiharu Itoh (age 44), Vice Director of the Fukushima Seedling (芽生え) Kindergarten (Fukushima City) set up a counseling room immediately after the accident, where mothers could discuss their anxieties one-on-one. The issues they discuss range from “Should we leave the prefecture?” to “Should we avoid eating prefectural products?”
Five years on, there have emerged opinions to take the experience positively. “Mothers hope to take advantage in the future of what they have experienced in adverse circumstances.”
Dr. Midorikawa hopes that interacting with children through the traveling classroom program will help them think about other health risks and encourage them to make sensible choices in the future. If so, these five years may prove to have informed their decision-making in a constructive way.
The Fukushima Minyu Shimbun Homepage: http://www.minyu-net.com/news/news/FM20160615-084349.php