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Public Lecture Held in Hiroshima the Next Day

Fukushima Prefectural High School students speaking at RERF sixth public lecture
(Hiroshima YMCA International Culture Center)

The Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) held its sixth public lecture event at the International Culture Hall on the first basement floor of the main building of the Hiroshima YMCA International Culture Center on Sunday, November 29, 2015. As this year marks the 70th since the atomic bombings and the 40th since the founding of RERF, this public lecture event, held under the theme “RERF: Its Place in the World and its Future,” introduced RERF’s research achievements, its involvement in Fukushima, and its future outlook. Despite the cold weather, the event was attended by 143 people.

Whereas a panel discussion was a feature of the previous public lecture, this year’s event consisted of three presentations and a question-and-answer session. Before the presentations, guest greetings were provided by Mr. Sunao Tsuboi, Chairman, Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations. His greetings were followed by an RERF staff member’s reading of remarks of gratitude, in this year marking the 40th anniversary of RERF, to A-bomb survivors and their children for their participation in RERF studies.

The first presentation, titled “RERF Research Results, Involvement with Fukushima, and Future Outlook,” was provided by Dr. Kazunori Kodama, RERF Chief Scientist. He outlined the health effects learned from long-standing research that has been carried out for about 70 years since its initiation in 1947 by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), RERF’s predecessor organization, as well as questions and issues that need to be addressed in the future. He also introduced activities in which RERF has engaged since the Fukushima nuclear plant accident as well as a study involving about 20,000 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant emergency workers, which was initiated last year by RERF in collaboration with other organizations.

The second presentation was a study project regarding radiation following the Fukushima accident by Fukushima Prefectural High School’s Super Science Club. The presentation, titled “Project for Individual Dose Measurement of High School Students Inside and Outside of Fukushima,” was provided by Miss Saki Anzai and Miss Minori Saitoh, second year students at the high school. Their presentation was supplemented by their teacher, Mr. Takashi Hara, who explained the background to the dosimetry project.

Between the presentations, students from Hiroshima Municipal Funairi High School performed songs to express their sincere condolences to those who died as a result of the atomic bombings. Their music seemed to touch the hearts of those in the audience, who listened in rapt silence.

The last presentation, titled “The World and RERF,” was delivered by Mr. Malcolm Crick, Secretary, United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). UNSCEAR’s risk estimates are used as a scientific basis for radiation risk assessment and protective measures by governments throughout the world. RERF’s studies serve as the foundation for UNSCEAR’s work. Mr. Crick explained how RERF’s scientific achievements are used globally, as similarities in terms of societal and psychological impacts as well as effects on the human body can be seen in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the nuclear accident in Fukushima despite the fact that the radiation exposures differ significantly in terms of physics. He shared his impressions of the visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, his first, by remarking how meaningful it was for him to visit the hypocenters, for example, and listen to a testimony of the atomic bombing experience directly from an A-bomb survivor. He added that he would continue to observe the reality of the A-bombings with the objectivity of a scientist. Following the presentations, there was a question-and-answer session with the audience chaired by Mr. Takanobu Teramoto, RERF Executive Director.

Prior to the public lecture event, a gathering that featured an A-bomb survivor’s testimony was held at a different venue in the same building. At the gathering, attended by the Fukushima High School students, their teacher Mr. Hara, and Mr. Crick, Mr. Tsuboi—who was exposed to the atomic bombing in Hiroshima at the age of 20 and has long engaged in peace activities while struggling with numerous health issues—talked about his extraordinary experiences.

As mentioned above, RERF was able to mark its 40th anniversary thanks to the A-bomb survivors and their children who participate in our studies. At this important juncture, we express our heartfelt appreciation for their cooperation.