FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

191chap.IVPatient Relief Activity Records [Essays and Research Publications]FUKUSHIMA: Lives on the LineCorrespondence to : Kenneth E. Nollet, MD, PhD E-mail address : nollet@fmu.ac.jp or abo24x7@yahoo.com http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/browse/fms http://fmu.ac.jp/home/lib/F-igaku/WORDS ON WORDS1. HibakushaHibakusha has entered the English lexicon, particularly in reference to survivors of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki1). It may surprise English speakers to hear the same word applied to people exposed to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. An important distinction is lost when hi-baku-sha is rendered in Roman letters rather than the ideographic kanji characters that Japan adopted, and adapted, from Chinese. 被爆者 (subjected to - explode - person)2) refers specifically to victims of an A-bomb or H-bomb blast3). 被曝者 (subjected to - expose - person) can be anyone exposed to radiation2,3). Nuclear power plant accidents are typically cited in this definition, but laboratory mishaps and medical radiation can also make people 被曝者. The middle kanji of each word can be understood as a composite of two simpler elements : either 火 (fire) or 日 (sun, day) on the left, and 暴 (violent) on the right2). Thus, A- or H-bomb exposure to radiation is connoted by violent fire, and other exposures to radiation are connoted by violent light. More rigorous analyses are available, but inordinate attention to linguistics can interfere with practical understanding of language. In everyday Japanese, the distinction between 被爆者 and 被曝者 is often blurred by rendering the baku of hi-baku-sha with two hiragana characters that represent the syllables ba (ば) and ku (く) without imposing a specific meaning : 被ばく者. Early language learners, Japanese or foreign, might render the entire word in hiragana : ひばくしゃ.2. FukushimaFukushima, too, has entered the general English lexicon as a name associated with detrimental effects of ionizing radiation. In a specialized English lexicon, Fukushima had previously been associated with a beneficial effect. In 1988, Fukushima Medical University was the first institution worldwide to treat all allogeneic donor blood cell products with ionizing radiation to prevent transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease4). Modern authors continue to cite pioneering articles on graft-versus-host disease from Fukushima Medical University5,6).Abstract : A magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami originating off the east coast of Japan triggered the explosive release of radioactive isotopes from one of four nuclear power plants in the affected area. This event has been compared with the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the intervening era of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. The credibility of any comparison depends on the source, for which reason various specialists were invited to address an audience of media, healthcare, and disaster response professionals on July 18, 2011 in Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture. This article is based on a presentation given July 18, and interprets the Fukushima nuclear crisis from the perspective of an American doctor who grew up downwind of an atomic bomb test site, and who now works at Fukushima Medical University.Key words : hibakusha, radiation exposureFukushima J. Med. Sci.,Vol. 57, № 2, 2011An American Hibakusha in FukushimaKenneth E. NolletDepartment of Blood Transfusion and Transplantation Immunology, Fukushima Medical University, Fukushima, Japan(Received July 21, 2011, accepted August 31, 2011)