FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line
281chap.VConveying to PosterityFUKUSHIMA: Lives on the LineDr. Yamashita mentioned, applying the experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to help these resident is the shared vision of those who have learned from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hiroshima University is an emergency radiation medicine base in western Japan and acts as a tertiary radiation medicine facility. Thus, we rushed to Fukushima to help restore the residents’ safety and peace of mind.Under these circumstances, FMU’s biggest responsibility is toward the health management of those in Fukushima, and the university is diligently working in line with this goal. It is truly an honor to be a part of this initiative, and I am grateful to FMU for both welcoming me, and allowing me to help.Becoming the “Medical University of the Fukushima Disaster”Kikuchi: With this nuclear disaster, Fukushima, rather all of Japan, was ravaged not only by the earthquake and tsunami but also by the low-dose, long-term radiation in a densely populated area; this was a type of environment that humanity has never seen before. This might be the first time since the war that the Japanese are questioning their views about life and death. What are your thoughts on re-evaluating our university’s role in the midst of this tragic accident? Yamashita: I believe our role is to fulfill a historic mission. From this standpoint, our contributions to community medicine come first; at the same time, an extremely important role is to consolidate the experiences and lessons of Fukushima to progress with rapid globalization. Apart from deliberating on the merits and demerits of nuclear power, I believe our university has a major role to play toward the world in terms of energy and health and environmental issues. This also holds for emergency radiation medicine and protecting the health of those who are exposed to low-dose but long-term and chronic radiation. FMU must become a center to provide feedback about the experiences in Fukushima and build bridges with the rest of the world. To realize these goals, an international cooperation division has been established to spearhead the efforts. But we must gather wisdom from across the world in Fukushima, and at the same time, send those who we have trained into the world. I believe these are the roles that FMU must play.Kamiya: The nuclear accident has made us rethink the relationship between society and science and technology, the progress of which we are responsible for. The accident was big enough to make us question the nature of humanity.Considerable hope and responsibilities regarding health care have been placed on FMU. The health hazards of radiation are an issue not only for Japan, a country which suffered atomic bombings, but also for the world.The progress of science in the 20th century has shed light on the health hazards of radiation, although not all of them. Certain bigger issues have been addressed in the 21st century, the biggest of which is the health hazards of low-dose radiation exposure. In addition to the health hazards of radiation, there are other important issues such as its effect on society, energy, and the environment. Since these issues are becoming reality, the university’s biggest role, our mission, is to first prioritize the consistent health management of Fukushima’s residents.Thereafter, we must share information about our efforts and contribute at an international level to address these issues. We must train and educate professionals in these fields so that they can work across the world. Doing so, we can support people suffering from similar problems and contribute to radiation protection and safety management. This is what FMU is required to do.Yamashita: As for specific projects that are now addressing FMU’s role and mission, as visualized by President Kikuchi and the faculty, we are now working within the Restoration Headquarters as a sub-task force to formulate fundamental strategies for each field. In particular, the designing of a framework for support from all over Japan to help with our budget is astounding. We plan to make the best use of this framework by providing state-of-the-art diagnoses and treatments and caring not only for issues related to radiation medicine but also the general health of Fukushima’s residents.In addition, we invited professors from the Universities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima to launch two new courses: Radiation Health Management starting in October of last year and Radiation Life Sciences in November. This has immensely motivated us.In June of this year, the Radiation Emergency Medicine Center was established at our university hospital. I expect it to soon become a radiation medicine mecca.