526Disaster in Japan: a new medical gazeRELIEF EFFORTS AND MEDICAL CARE Japan will require help in the months and years to come. In practical terms, international aid agencies are best placed to respond initially in the aftermath of natural disasters, but require the support of those who are able to donate time and/or money. As relief efforts continue it is welcome that governments, international agencies, and professional organisations have expressed their solidarity with the people of Japan. Nuclear power deserves to be debated globally and safer sustainable power sources sought. In particular, lessons can be learned for the UK with regards to the role of primary care if confronted with a similar nuclear tragedy. It is important that political differences about the future direction of Japan's medical system are put to one side as it unites against the challenge posed by the disaster. Medicine is now a truly global profession,13 whose connections and potential are continually emerging. This may mean exposure to news of more disasters, but more importantly it is an opportunity for greater understanding, hope, and solidarity. Around the world, colleagues in general practice face challenges that can inspire acts of great human endeavour despite adversity.NotesProvenance Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.Competing interests Patrick Hutt visited the Fukushima family medicine training programme in 2008, staying as a guest of Professor Kassai and his colleagues. Ryuki Kassai established the vocational training scheme in general practice in Fukushima and is a citizen of Fukushima.REFERENCES1. Japan: Health after the earthquake. Lancet. 2011;377(9770):968. No author listed.2. The Economist. Disaster in Japan: Come back in ten years' time. A heroic public spirit, but a weak state. http://www.economist.com/node/18441111?story_id=18441111 (accessed 9 May 2011)3. Reuters. Factbox: Japan's disaster in figures. www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/19/us-japan-figures-idUSTRE73H0JM20110419 (accessed 9 May 2011)4. McCurry J. Japan: the aftermath. Lancet. 2011;377(9771):1061–1062. [PubMed]5. Pidd H, Goldenberg S. Germany suspends power station extension plans as nuclear jitters spread. Guardian. 2011 14 Mar: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/14/germany-japan-nuclear-industry (accessed 9 May 2011).6. McCartney M. Panic about nuclear apocalypse overshadows Japan's real plight. BMJ. 2011;342:d1845. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.d1845. [PubMed]7. Hutt P. Family medicine in Japan. Br J Gen Pract. 2009;59(566):699–701. [PMC free article] [PubMed]8. Sawa N. The changing scene of primary care in Japan. InnovAiT. 2011 DOI: 10.1093/innovait/inq201.9. Foucault M. London: Routledge; 1997. The birth of the clinic.10. Balint M. London: Pitman Medical; 1957. The doctor, his patient and the illness.11. Ladbrook M. Time out with OOP. InnovAiT. 2010;3(7):429–431. DOI: 10.1093/innovait/inp215.12. Brown E, Attridge M, Pettigrew L, Watson J. Family medicine into the future: blending health and cultures. Br J Gen Pract. 2011;61(583):155.13. Jones R. The BJGP International Advisory Board. Br J Gen Pract. 2010;60(581):881.