ICRP-hosted workshop on Fukushima nuclear accident held in Date city

An international workshop was held in the city of Date, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 12-13 under the sponsorship of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) to review the outcome of past related meetings and discuss future challenges in connection with the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The workshop at the city hall, themed on the “Rehabilitation of Living Conditions after the Nuclear Accident,” was attended by researchers from around the world and citizens. The workshop was a culmination of 12 meetings of the ICRP Fukushima Dialogue Initiative held in various locations in the northeastern Japanese prefecture between November 2011, right after the disaster, and September 2015. About 120 people attended the workshop. On the first day, five people from the academic, medical, media and government sectors spoke on the theme of “What is the situation in Fukushima? What has been achieved?” Among the speakers was Ryugo Hayano, professor of physics at the University of Tokyo, who has been studying the effects of radiation from the nuclear disaster on residents. “On rare occasions, some people showed high-level measurements of internal radiation exposure, but we were able to reduce the amount of exposure by advising them on their dietary life,” Hayano said. On the other hand, he said, it is difficult to lower external radiation exposure because there are limitations to decontamination work. “It is hard to say what we can do for the residents’ greater peace of mind.” Another speaker stressed the importance of helping residents understand numerical data obtained from surveys on radiation dosage. “It is necessary to have people who play an intermediary role between experts and residents,” said Makoto Miyazaki, assistant professor of radiation health management at Fukushima Medical University. “In Belarus, teachers and public health nurses play such a role. A similar practice needs to be put in place beforehand in Japan.” At ensuing panel discussions, a member of the audience asked about the significance of the Dialogue Initiative. The five speakers took turns to answer the question, with one saying that “by listening to people in various positions, we have been able to single out challenges to be addressed.” Among the other speakers was Masaya Hayakawa, deputy editor at the news department of Fukushima-Minpo Co., the publisher of the namesake local daily. (Translated by Kyodo News)