News / Asia

Japanese Doctors Treat the Ill, Hope for the Best

People walking towards a radiation screening center, Koriyama, Japan, March 17, 2011.
People walking towards a radiation screening center, Koriyama, Japan, March 17, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
  • Steve Herman's interview with Japanese Dr.Masae Kokubun

The Japanese military worked furiously on Thursday to cool dangerouly overheated fuel rods at the severely damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, stepping up their efforts to avert a nuclear disaster.

Efforts are also underway to restore electricity to the plant that was crippled by last week's 9.0 earthquake and huge tsunami. On Friday, Japan says it will try one last time to douse the reactors with water.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says the situation remains serious.

But on Wednesday, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko sounded a more serious alarm when he told the U.S. Congress that all the cooling water may have drained from the pool at one of the damaged Fukushima reactors and caused the release of high levels of radiation.

More than 200,000 people have evacuated their homes in Fukushima Prefecture. And thousands are being tested for radiation every day in the area. Many are showing higher than normal levels of radiation, but officials say a very small number of them need medical attention.

Our correspondent Steve Herman is in Koriyama, Japan, where many of the evacuees are staying. He spoke with Dr. Masae Kokubun, who is among the medical professionals treating the sick in Koriyama.

What is the government telling the doctors here?

"The government says the radiation level here in Koriyama now is very safe and the government check the radiation level every one hour. And the level here in Koriyama or Fukushima or the middle part of Fukushima Prefecture - it's about 60 kilometers or 70 kilometers away from the nucelar plant - and they all have the safe level of the radiation. No need to worry about health or some diseases."

Listen to the entire interview with Dr. Masae Kokubun

There's 26 centers in Fukushima and maybe more than 10,000 people were checked and, according to the reports, we have only six people were found to have some radiation contamination. Does this sound right to you based on what you've heard?

"This is the same information we [have gotten]. And we doctors say now it's safe to live in Koriyama or Fukushima, the middle part of Fukushima Prefecture, and please be [calm] and not in a panic."

The situation now is that they are trying to get things under control at the reactor number 3, reactor number 4 at Fukushima 1. If those spent fuel rods go critical and high levels of radiation are released into the air, what will you and others doctor do here or have to do? Has there been any information from the government?


"I am afraid we doctors here have no information from the government because everyone had no experience about these kinds of accident and many medical staffs or doctors are worrying about ourselves and our patients and our cities. But the one thing we can do is to get the information from the government or from the prefecture level. One thing we can do is to believe it."

But if there is large potential radiation exposure, does this city or have some sort of disaster plan for that kind of event? Have you done some sort of drills or training for that type of event?

"Unfortunately, we doctors do not have enough experience [with] patients who have radiation diseases, but we know about anti-radioactive drugs, but not at the hospital level. Maybe at the city government level, and if the level is [higher] to the health injury level, the city government says they will give to every citizens the drugs [that are needed]."

Did you ever anticipate that you would be in this particular situation?

"For me, this is the first experience. And we are trying our best to get rid of our worries about the patients or to get rid of the worry of the citizens. Even the nurses and the staff in the hospital are nervous, but they come to the hospital and come to work for the sick people. So we are now trying our best."

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs