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U.S. Congressional Study Group on Japan Senior Staff Visit, Tour Hiroshima RERF

U.S. Congressional Study Group on Japan senior staff taking in RERF’s photo exhibit

    On the morning of Monday, May 25, 2015, senior staff of the U.S. Congressional Study Group on Japan and members of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, a total of 11 people, visited Hiroshima RERF. After RERF Chairman Toshiteru Okubo welcomed the group, Dr. Eric Grant, Assistant Chief, Department of Epidemiology, gave a general overview of RERF that included a description of the Life Span Study (LSS) cohort and findings. Dr. Waka Ohishi, Chief, Department of Clinical Studies, then spoke on the Adult Health Study (AHS), its significance, and some of the findings in the many years since that study’s inception.
    Dr. Yoshiaki Kodama, Director of the RERF Biosample Center, introduced the visitors to the freezers and nitrogen tanks used for the storage of RERF’s more than 900,000 biosamples. The group then viewed the now-empty space at which the Biosample Center’s robotic freezer system is scheduled to begin operations later this year. At the end of their visit, the visitors passed by RERF’s photographic exhibit and looked over the historical photographs of well-known political figures who had visited RERF in the past.
    The group had an ambitious schedule. On Sunday, May 24, after arriving in Hiroshima, they visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. On the morning of May 25, they paid a courtesy visit to Hiroshima Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki before arriving at RERF. During their RERF tour, the group mentioned they were scheduled to visit the Satake Corporation, a multinational grain-sorting equipment manufacturer located in Higashi-Hiroshima, before flying to Tokyo the same day. They are also to visit Fukushima to gather information on the area affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and by the continuing radiation leak from the Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) nuclear power plant. Given their itinerary, the group expressed great interest in RERF’s involvement in Fukushima, especially our health survey of the roughly 20,000 emergency workers who worked at the Fukushima nuclear power plant during the first nine months following the accident in March 2011.
    According to the Congressional Study Group on Japan’s website at http://usafmc.org/international-programs/congressional-study-groups/congressional-study-group-on-japan/, the Study Group is an independent and non-partisan organization that promotes legislative exchange between the U.S. Congress and the Japanese Diet. The group was conceived in 1993 and has served as an ongoing forum for dialogue about important issues concerning the U.S-Japan relationship.
    As the website states, “Bipartisan pairs of current members of Congress chair the Congressional Study Group on Japan in each Chamber of Congress. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) serve as co-chairs in the House. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) lead the Study Group in the Senate…. The Study Group’s activities are supported in part by a generous grant from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA....”
    The Sasakawa Peace Foundation is a private Japanese foundation that works to strengthen cooperation at all levels among nations in terms of issues facing societies as well as natural and social crises. For more information, see the Foundation’s website at: https://www.spf.org/e/ .