FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line
2723. Applying Value JudgmentsTry applying your own value judgments to how much radiation exposure (from 2.) can affect your life. This type of decision-making, based on scientific truth, constantly occurs at an unconscious level; however, in the wake of the earthquake, when it is difficult to get hold of accurate information, such decisions are not easy to make.4. Scientific Truth and the Feeling of HappinessHowever, this alone does not resolve the situation. The risk of radiation, suddenly imposed upon us by the earthquake, is a matter of life and death with no form of compensation due to the possibility of carcinogenic risks. Science, our last bastion of hope, uses rather uneasy wording, “an amount of 100 mSv is so small that we cannot say whether it increases the risk of cancer, although we cannot completely rule out the possibility”; in other words, there is a risk. The acceptable amount of risk differs by individual. There are some people who refuse to overlook even the slightest risk. However, unfortunately, we cannot immediately change our environment. People have realized that their demand for zero risk from radiation is impracticable. All that remains is a sense of emptiness, as their hopes can never be achieved.5. Unachievable Pursuit of Zero RiskThere is no happiness in the demand for zero risk. If that is so, then we should change our perception of risk. This is possible if you are able to, at some point, give up the pursuit of zero risk, accept some degree of risk, and find a way to live alongside this. I believe that changing your view about the risk of radioactivity will allow you to live a happier life.6. Considering the Damage of MisinformationMany people have shown cooperation and generosity toward Fukushima. However, if people refuse to accept the actual amount of radiation in Fukushima after scientifically examining it and applying their individual value judgments, then, unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to change this situation. In particular, the unfounded non-explicit negative labeling of Living Happily in FukushimaFukushima is most certainly a form of prejudice. This, at the very least, is something that we wish to avoid.7. Radiation Protection Principles: ALARAThe principles for dealing with radiation are referred to as “As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA)” by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. It aims to reduce external and internal radiation amounts as low as reasonably achievable by considering socioeconomic factors. Alongside ALARA, the risk of developing cancer can also be reasonably reduced in Fukushima by eliminating other influential factors such as drinking, smoking, lack of exercise, obesity and high salt levels.A friend told me a story that deeply saddened me. The story was about a mother who felt guilty because she believed that living in Fukushima was causing harm to her child. Although the specifics vary, it was a decision made by correctly evaluating the amount of radiation by applying risk measures and value judgments. While I agree with the mother’s decision, I would also like to tell her that by “following the principles of ALARA to reduce unnecessary amounts of radiation, you can protect your child by eliminating other cancer causing factors.”8. Considering the Problem Your OwnIn retrospect, as a doctor in Fukushima, I wish I had more knowledge about nuclear power before the earthquake. Today, I constantly think about how we can help the people of Fukushima live a healthy and happy life. There are people who constantly feel anxiety and those who are completely indifferent to the effects of radiation. Nevertheless, Fukushima can become a land where one can enjoy to the full a beautiful, clean, and healthy life. This is only possible if the following steps are adopted: embrace the issue of radiation as your own; learn about spatial dose distribution in your sphere of life, the amount of radiation in local food products, the analysis of film badges and the results of prefectural health surveys; follow the principles of ALARA to reasonably reduce radiation exposure; and cultivate leaders who we can be called risk communicators. Fukushima is my precious second home.