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Sixth Public Lecture Held in Nagasaki

RERF sixth public lecture being held in Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum Hall

The Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) held its sixth public lecture event at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum Hall, from 13:30 to 17:00 on Saturday, November 28, 2015. The lecture series is designed to enhance communication by conveying information to the general public, including atomic bomb survivors and their children, about results from RERF’s long-standing research on A-bomb radiation health effects.

This most recent public lecture event was designed to introduce to Nagasaki citizens RERF’s research results, involvement with Fukushima, future outlook, and how its scientific findings are utilized throughout the world, as well as details about a radiation study conducted by high school students. The event was attended by more than 100 people.

In his opening greetings, RERF Chairman Ohtsura Niwa remarked, “This year, the 70th since the atomic bombings, is a milestone for passing down our knowledge gained from the experience of the atomic bombings to future generations. For this, we need debate from multiple perspectives. On this occasion of our public lecture event, I look forward to receiving candid opinions from people with different backgrounds, especially young people.”

The event’s first speaker, Mr. Malcolm Crick, Secretary, United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), presented a lecture titled “The World and RERF.” He explained how RERF studies are crucially important to UNSCEAR and the international scientific community because data obtained from A-bomb survivors and their children serve as the “gold standard” for establishing radiation protection standards. He added that while the radiation exposures from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the nuclear accident in Fukushima differ significantly in terms of physics, there are some similarities in terms of societal and psychological impacts as well as effects on the human body. He also emphasized the importance of not losing objectivity and maintaining a holistic perspective.

The second talk, titled “RERF Research Results, Involvement with Fukushima, and Future Outlook,” was presented by Dr. Kazunori Kodama, RERF Chief Scientist. He outlined what has been learned from RERF studies on radiation health effects and what needs to be investigated further. He also introduced the activities in which RERF has engaged since the Fukushima nuclear plant accident, with special focus on a study involving about 20,000 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant emergency workers that RERF initiated approximately one year ago in collaboration with other organizations. Lastly, he explained the future outlook regarding remaining questions and issues.

The last presentation, titled “Project for Individual Dose Measurement of High School Students Inside and Outside of Fukushima,” was made by Miss Minori Saitoh and Miss Saki Anzai, students from Fukushima Prefectural High School, and their teacher, Mr. Takashi Hara. They presented their research project, which looked into when, where, and how much radiation individuals were exposed to on the basis of the collation of information on their daily activities along with a record of hourly radiation dose readings using a dosimeter called “D-Shuttle” and time and date information at the time of each reading. They also described the hardships Fukushima now faces and called for broad understanding of the actual situation in Fukushima based on scientific facts. This project was carried out in collaboration with high school students inside and outside of Fukushima as well as overseas. The results have been presented in not only Japan but also France and Italy.

Following the lecture and presentations, there was a question-and-answer session with the audience chaired by Mr. Takanobu Teramoto, RERF Executive Director.

As this year marks the 70th year since the atomic bombings and the 40th anniversary of the founding of RERF, remarks of gratitude to A-bomb survivors and their children for their participation in RERF’s studies were read aloud by an RERF staff member. In addition, a choir comprised of Nagasaki Junshin Girls High School students performed songs to express heartfelt condolences to those who perished in the atomic bombings and their desire for the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons.

The event concluded with closing remarks by Vice Chairman Robert L. Ullrich, who expressed his gratitude to the audience in Japanese for their participation in the public lecture and the valuable opinions expressed therein.