FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

282At the core of these programs is the Radiation Medical Science Center, which I co-established with President Kikuchi. The center is designed to oversee the long-term health of Fukushima’s residents. Its purpose is not limited to surveys and research but expands to mind–body care. Thus, the center will require a certain amount of professionals and organizational systems.However, presently training these professionals is extremely difficult. We need to welcome professionals from across Japan and around the world to help in training and operations. Aiming for the creation of these organizations and systems, under the president’s guidance, we are drawing up visionary restoration plans for FMU. We hope that the plan, “Bridge to our Dreams,” will become a symbol of long-term associations between medical professionals and society.Learning from the Past and Paving the Way from a New ViewpointKikuchi: Based on our conversation so far, it seems that there are high expectations from students studying in our university and from those hoping to study here in the future.Yamashita: Hospitals and medical professionals are basically introspective; our values are such. Also, we might not have as much interaction with the broader public as desired. Like people say, “What is common sense to the physician is uncommon absurdity to the layman.” I think that this disaster has helped expose some of this reclusiveness and rigidity.Thus, those entering FMU must from the very beginning open their eyes to society and the nuclear accident and prepare for the same. I am very thankful to them for making such a great decision. To borrow the words that President Kikuchi always says at the entrance ceremony, what I would hope from these students, both as medical professionals and human beings, is that they “don’t complain about the hand of cards life deals them,” realize that “the doors of life are opened by others,” and finally that they “continue to be honest.” I believe these are the three golden rules of our university. In addition, “work earnestly” not only within the academic or professional frameworks that already exist but also with a hands-on, problem-solving approach. We will be faced by numerous problems. I want to challenge students in thinking about how we can face these problems as medical professionals. The biggest role model for this challenge is from Fukushima; he is Hideyo Noguchi. What I admire the most about him are not only his evident achievements in the medical field of his time but also his honesty and his belief in that honesty being the best policy. As President Kikuchi says the best way to live is with simplicity and honesty and “everything can be achieved through perseverance.” This is what I learned when I came to Fukushima and would like to share with the students who come here to learn from the history of Aizu and the work of innumerable medical professionals, both known and unknown.Kamiya: I agree with Dr. Yamashita. FMU, having gone through this disaster, vastly differs from other medical universities. Of course, all diseases are serious problems, but our university is facing deeper issues with greater societal impact and is working to help resolve them. I truly think it is a great experience for students to come to a university under these conditions and, directly or indirectly, experience these issues and participate in procedures to resolve them. In these situations, they must confront the realities of medical professionals and learn to truly address residents’ anxieties and health issues. Doing so helps naturally foster the students’ enthusiasm and initiative. The setting and care for the problem-solving approach is indiscriminately placed on every student; thus, by devoting themselves to studying and learning from others, student can adopt the spirit to “come to the aid of the sickly,” which is the most important characteristic of being a medical professional.Another important point is that the problems we are presently facing are not limited to the medical field. They are complicated problems intimately tied to society, the environment, and history; in other words, they are issues faced by humanity. In essence, the issues that modern society is facing are not ones that can be addressed by a single academic field; rather they can be resolved through cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary knowledge and techniques. They are the types of problems that cannot be solved without a broad perspective. This provides students with the opportunity to look at one problem from a broad academic perspective.Kikuchi: That is right. The Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will probably be considered a turning point for civilization by future historians. In Fukushima: Hope in the Midst of Adversity