9-10 Jul 2016 Follow up to the ICRP Dialogue Initiative

Iidate July, 2016The 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.



20 Jun 2016 Korean Traumatic Stress Experts Visited FMU

2016-06-21 photo collage_1 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.



Article of The Fukushima Minyu Shimbun 【Wednesday, June 15, 2016】

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

From 9.11 to 3.11 and Beyond: (Transfusion) Medicine and Amateur Radio


2016-05-20 TIARA


The 20 May 2016 Power Point presentation by Kenneth Nollet to members and guests of the Tokyo International Amateur Radio Association (TIARA, http://www.qsl.net/7j1yaa/) is now available. “From 9.11 to 3.11 and Beyond: (Transfusion) Medicine and Amateur Radio” describes how licensed Amateur Radio operators provide emergency communication in support of medical care, including transfusion medicine, during disasters. A similar presentation was made to the Medical Amateur Radio Society of Japan, which convened its 40th general meeting in Fukushima on 23 April. As with Ken’s previous presentations, this one is published in slide-over-note format, with notes approximating what was said with each slide. The third-from-last slide includes a bibliography of relevant publications.


3.11 and Beyond: (Transfusion) Medicine and Amateur Radio


Previous presentations to TIARA can be accessed at these URLs:

28 Nov 2014 TIARA and FMU convened EmComm Lab in Tokyo

13 Jun 2014 TIARA (Tokyo International Amateur Radio Association) hosted a presentation from FMU