FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

chap.IFukushima Medical University Girds for BattleFUKUSHIMA: Lives on the Line69— Are there American foods that you miss?Dr. Nollet: In today’s world, American food is everywhere, both good and bad. What I miss in Japan is the food of my Scandinavian ancestors, especially lutefisk. A lot of traditional foods in Tohoku are preserved with salt, but lutefisk is preserved with lye (traditionally, birch ash). High blood pressure from salt consumption is a problem in modern times, and I wonder if we Caucasians might be more vulnerable than Japanese. American specialists recommend less than 1.5 grams of sodium per day, whereas Japanese specialists allow 6 grams, and the average Japanese diet might include more than 10 grams per day. In late 2010, I consulted an FMU cardiologist about high blood pressure. He encouraged me to be more careful about salt intake, and I’m back to normal. For me, sodium is a bigger risk than cesium.— You had to leave Australia when a qualified citizen asked for your job. What about your job at FMU?Dr. Nollet: I’ve had to renew my Japanese “Professor Visa” twice, once before and once after 3.11. Both times, FMU President Kikuchi signed a document to the effect that Nollet was employed at FMU without restriction or time limit. — Going forward, what are your plans? Do you have a message for the people of Japan?Dr. Nollet: Yes. Holding a visa that needs to be renewed periodically, I regard it as privilege, not a right, to live in Japan. I hope citizens, too, can appreciate what a privilege it is to live on these islands. Late in 2011, I was invited to consider a professor and chair position in Tokyo. Well, of all the mega-cities of the world, Tokyo is the one I would rank as my first choice. It’s nice being just an hour and a half away by bullet train. I like visiting Tokyo. But even more, I like coming back to Fukushima. This is my home.