The 5th International Expert Symposium in Fukushima on Radiation and Health: Chernobyl +30, Fukushima +Five: Lessons and Solutions for Fukushima’s Thyroid Question

Fukushima, Japan

I would like to start by extending a very warm welcome to each participant who has traveled long distances from overseas and different parts of Japan to attend this two-day symposium.

In March 2011, a major earthquake and tsunami struck across northeastern Japan. And here in Fukushima, daily life has been completely changed after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant accident. It was six months later that we held the first “International Expert Symposium in Fukushima on Radiation and Health.”

In the days following the nuclear accident in Fukushima, there was a flood of conflicting information. Amid the confusion, it was difficult to judge what information was reliable. This made us realize the importance of communicating in a way that was easy to understand, and based on scientific evidence. It was then that we decided to support these symposia on radiation and health.

It was 25 years ago that The Nippon Foundation, together with the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, conducted thyroid examinations of children in regions affected by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. These examinations were conducted for a period of 10 years from 1991. The data obtained in this project continues to be used by WHO (World Health Organization), IAEA(International Atomic Energy Agency), and other research institutes around the world today. The experience reaffirmed me the importance of supporting such scientific research. I saw that there was a role for us to take, something we could and should do in Fukushima.

Today, all of you, experts from around the world, have come here to share your knowledge and experience. For the past five years, an annual symposium has been held on different themes related to radiation and health. Through these symposia, our continuous aim has been to provide information based on the latest scientific research.

The theme of this symposium is the effect of radiation on the thyroid. Among the many experts present today, some of you have experiences from of the Chernobyl accident. I hope that your rich experience and research work that you bring to us will, through the summary and recommendations of this symposium, provide further directions for future policymaking in our country. Today’s symposium is now being broadcast on U-stream, and I hope that the wider public, especially the residents of Fukushima, will find the discussions useful when thinking about health and daily life in the future.

Once again, it is truly a pleasure to welcome you, experts from a diversity of disciplines who have come from far and wide. Many of you have taken part every year since the first symposium. We recognize the important contribution that your research is making not only to Fukushima, but to the whole world.

In closing, I would also like to express my appreciation to Fukushima Prefecture, and to all those who have graciously cooperated in organizing this symposium.