The Third Citizen–Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection Brief Introduction

The Third Citizen–Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection Brief Introduction

This symposium aims at scientifically examining the health effects of exposure to radiation resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster, and realizing the implementation of health protection measures

Since March 2011, we have been committed to minimizing damage and radiation exposure resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster in our individual positions. Victims, children and citizens, who are concerned about radioactive contamination, demand establishment of better radiation protection measures and radioactivity control measures. To satisfy these demands, we need to examine scientifically the health effects of radiation, a major part of which is unknown. The purpose of the Third Citizen–Scientist International Symposium, which will take place in October 2013 in Tokyo, is to provide citizen scientists from within Japan as well as from abroad with the opportunity to discuss health effects from radiation and prevention measures, thus contributing to the establishment of an extensive international network for radiation protection. We would appreciate your cooperation.

The two-day symposium will include lecture sessions on day 1, October 13. On day 2, October 14, working sessions will be held in the morning and round-table sessions in the International Conference Room in the afternoon.
We plan to hold three working sessions. The planned themes of the working sessions are as follows:
Session 1. Biological effects and their mechanisms
Session 2. Epidemiology and dose evaluation
Session 3. Laws and rights for public health

Currently, the Japanese government is determinedly taking steps to restart nuclear power plants in Japan and to export Japanese nuclear power technologies to other countries. On the other hand, dozens of years are expected to be needed for settling the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reactors into a stable condition. It is said that we will need to wait 30 years until “stone coffins” for the crippled reactors, like the one covering the Chernobyl reactor, start to be built to enclose them. It is not certain that we, who experienced the disaster, will see the completion of the coffins. At the Fukushima disaster site, no effective solutions have been found to handle the increasing volumes of contaminated water. Onsite workers, who are already immense in number and expected to increase further, are operating under extremely severe conditions, where they can be exposed to radiation. During the dozens of years spent to handle the crippled reactors, an adverse event may occur unexpectedly. Many people are concerned about the recurrence of the days when they will need to lead a life in fear of radiation.

In spite of these gloomy expectations, the Japanese government and its hired radiation experts say, in the guise of science, that low dose radiation hardly has effects on health, and are talking evacuees into returning to the areas where the yearly dose is determined – by the government and its experts – to be under 20 mSv. Health examination of disaster victims is conducted only in Fukushima Prefecture; furthermore, the examination focuses on thyroid cancer and checks a small number of health areas, and is conducted on an extremely limited portion of the population. Under the name of “communication opportunities with stakeholders including locals,” the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) is holding seminars that deliver one-sided views. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) released a report telling “no health effects attributable to radiation exposure have been observed,” based on the dose estimates presented in discussion with radiation experts designated as representatives by the Japanese government, supporting the Japanese government’s actions. The subterfuge used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the U.S. atomic bombing, in the three Chernobyl-hit countries which were formerly part of the Soviet Union, and in many sites of calamity where nuclear weapons were developed or tested, is being repeated here.

The Statute on Protection and Support for the Children and other Victims of Tokyo Electric Power Company Nuclear Power Plant Disaster (Children and Victims Protection Law) was established last year by the initiation of lawmakers; it recognizes the right of moving to prevent radiation exposure and specifies that the government should assume the responsibility of providing victims with health examinations during their entire lives, exempting them from medical care cost or otherwise reducing the cost, and organizing and promoting the surveys and studies of health effects. The report of the United Nations Human Rights Council recommends the implementation of the Children and Victims Protection Law in the areas where the extra yearly exposure dose is 1 mSv or higher. The report also indicates that the risk versus benefit assessment, based on which the ICRP report was written, prioritizes collective benefits over the rights of individuals and is not appropriate to examine the framework concerning health rights. However, the Japanese government has postponed the establishment of basic policies for the implementation of the Law for more than one year and thus has neglected to designate the regions where the Law would take effect; the government announced on August 30, 2013 that the Law would be implemented with a miscellany of conventional policies and measures, without incorporating the purposes of the Law or the wills of the lawmakers and victims. The government has been repeating the tremendous abuse of human rights.

The only way to resist such strong policies of trying to divide those who are suffering from the disaster is that citizens begin with measuring radiation and radioactivity by themselves, acquiring scientific and medical knowledge of health effects, and coming up with the measures for stopping the expansion of damage. If citizens expand their networks while learning with Japanese and international scientists and conducting surveys and actions together, we will eventually obtain great power. We expect that the Citizen–Scientist International Symposium will help achieving this goal.

The first Citizen–Scientist International Symposium was conducted in October 2011, immediately after an international symposium on radiation and health risks was organized by the Nippon Foundation at the Fukushima Medical University in September 2011, six months after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, to review that symposium critically. It assessed the Japanese government’s actions taken in response to the disaster, and pointed out the problem that the framework of the governmental health examination scheme, which was limited to Fukushima Prefecture, was established on the extremely biased initiative of a small group of experts, who had been hopping around international organizations.

The second Citizen–Scientist International Symposium was held in Inawashiro Town, Fukushima Prefecture, in June 2012, coincidentally at the same time as the release of the Act for Establishment of the Nuclear Regulation Authority and of the Children and Victims Protection Law. The symposium started with the examination of basic concepts concerning the health effects of radiation, based on the knowledge obtained by the multifaceted review of nuclear power, including the development and use of nuclear technology that started in the 20th century, the civilian use and accidents of nuclear power, and the health effects of medical radiation use. The symposium then summarized the contamination and exposure
to radiation resulting from the Tokyo Electric Power Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster and discussed how to take effective actions through dose measurement and health consultation programs. At the conference, it was made clear through the voices of local people that exposure to radiation and health are not only a scientific, medical issue but also a social issue — an issue of human rights.

While the third symposium is coming up soon, the health examination in Fukushima Prefecture is proceeding to a new stage: International nuclear organizations, international experts promoting nuclear development, and Japanese nuclear and radiation-effect experts are going to interpret the findings of the health examination in their favor. The symposium organizing committee hopes to create the starting points of establishing a third-party organization that can closely examine their health-effect studies and epidemiological surveys, performing independent surveys and studies that will be verifiable, and building a specific program based on which to implement necessary medical actions and care. Concerning Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Three-mile Island, and Chernobyl, a great number of studies have been publicized but many things remain unknown concerning the details and extensions of health effects and their connection with exposure or contamination. As for the health effects that may emerge over a long period of time, studies should be performed in a great variety of areas in the future, and we human beings have found no ultimate answer to them. Studies and surveys concerned with Fukushima should be shared with international radiation protection communities. At this symposium, we hope to discuss
–    how to verify, criticize, and use the surveys and studies by the government and its hired experts,
–    how to use them for radiation protection, medical actions and care, –    in what ways citizens should perform measurement, surveys, studies, and actions, and –    what problems remain in terms of laws, ethics, and society.

Citizen–Scientist International Symposium Organizing Committee

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