FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

220and effective dose; and the one between direct exposure to ionising radiation and contamination with radioactive materials. The media, politicians, and the public at large are also uncertain about what these terms mean. Sometimes they have confused these terms, including mistaking millisievert for microsievert, in national government announcements, and the media have confused these in news stories.Moreover, the general public in Japan may not be good at explaining or thinking about risks relatively or in depth. At a press conference the government said, “We urge people not to drink milk, not to give tap water to infants, or not to eat vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, (…) in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures, because their radioactivity has exceeded the state's recommended safety standards." This was confusing and the Japanese people don't understand well what the risks really are, what they should or should not do, or for how long.The academic and financial year starts in April in Japan, which is increasing the uncertainty. Most graduation ceremonies in March, including FMU's, were cancelled. FMU has decided to postpone our entrance ceremony in April by one month. We have heard that a few freshmen and registrars may decline their offers and not come to FMU or its hospital, because they and their families are so anxious about the uncertain conditions here in Fukushima. I understand them, but there is something very important for doctors of the future that can only be learnt under these circumstances. Luckily I expect all three new GP registrars and one trainer will come and join my department in April. The fir­st lesson that they have to learn in Fukushima may well be “how to deal with uncertainty."• Listen to Ryuki Kassai talk about the situa­tion in Fuku­shima in a BMJ podcastThe Second Seven Days of the Disaster