Aug 14, 2012

Critical Alliances: Japan’s Yamashita and USA’s Yanagisawa --convincing the world of radiophobia lies

International Symposium:  Radiation Contamination and Mental Health

On August 11 and 12, 2012, there was an international symposium at Fukushima Medical University called “Radiation Contamination and Mental Health.”

One of the speakers was Robert Yanagisawa, M.D., an endocrinologist and an Associate Professor in Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  He spoke through the Internet on “Radiophobia and Reality of Thyroid Cancer.”

According to a Fukushima newspaper, “Fukushima Minyu,” he spoke on the possible occurrence of thyroid cancer in Fukushima, comparing the Chernobyl nuclear accident and the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident.  He said the risk of thyroid cancer in Fukushima is expected to be significantly less than Chernobyl. (Japanese)


Born in the United States to Japanese parents, he has medical licenses in both the U.S. and Japan.  He established the Mt. Sinai-Tokyo Women’s Medical University (TWMU) exchange program, and has been appointed Visiting Professor by TWMU. (Japanese)

Incidentally, Tokyo Women’s Medical University is one of the hospitals which have put up signs refusing to examine patients for radiation-related illnesses.

It seems that Fukushima Prefecture is inviting overseas specialists to add validity to their medical management.  Dr. Yanagisawa might play a convenient and critical role for them, considering he is licensed in both Japan and the U.S., adding credibility to his claim about  “radiophobia.”

“Radiophobia” has been used in the past to deny the damage from the Chernobyl accident.  

The term “radiophobia” in Japan appears to be used by those who do not want to face a reality of radiation contamination:  it’s a denial process used to validate continuation of “life as usual.”

Shunichi Yamashita, M.D., a vice president of Fukushima Medical University and the Radiation Health Risk Management Adviser for Fukushima Prefecture, has maintained from the early days after the accident that Fukushima children had lower exposure to radioactive iodine than Chernobyl children.  He based this statement, widely accepted by those who are interested to minimize the effect of radiation on health, on the claim that Chernobyl children kept drinking milk whereas contaminated milk was withheld from Fukushima children.  However, In fact, the local residents in Chernobyl were exposed to radiation through multiple vectors.  

Immediately after the accident, the route of exposure would have been through inhalation and direct exposure to the radioactive cloud, called “cloudshine,” and exposure to the radioactive particles falling on the ground and emitting large amounts of gamma radiation, called “groundshine.”  Beyond the first week, their exposure would have been from groundshine; inhalation of resuspended particles from the ground; and consumption of contaminated food and water.  Thus, the local residents in Chernobyl had both internal and external radiation exposure over time.

In addition to radioactive iodine, there were numerous, supposedly over 200, radionuclides released from Chernobyl in the form of gases, aerosols, and “hot particles.”  The true extent of the release is said to be difficult to assess due to the inadequacy of available data.

In Fukushima, the exposure vectors would have been similar to Chernobyl.  The amount of actual release as reported by TEPCO keeps changing, and the true extent of the release from Fukushima might be difficult to assess.

Studies published in English so far about the Fukushima accident, including the WHO Preliminary Dose Estimation report, appear to be based on inaccurate assumptions such as smooth evacuation from the 20-km zone and administration of stable iodine tablets.  Because the government did not release SPEEDI information to warn residents of the direction of the radioactive plume, many residents with children fled in their cars sometimes to more contaminated areas.  In addition, a simple fact that Dr. Yanagisawa is bilingual and might be able to read information in Japanese does not mean he has correct information.  There are a lot of stories by people who actually experienced the chaos of the period around the explosions.

Also, Fukushima Medical University appears to be trying very hard to keep their physicians from thinking and talking about radiation.

Lastly, in regards to health damages from the Chernobyl accident, all one has to do is read Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment by Yablokov, et al., published in 2009 by New York Academy of Sciences.

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