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

TEXT SIZE - +

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

'Exceptionally Lucky' US Boy Survives Flight in Wheel Well

The boy was unconscious for most of the flight, and appeared to be unharmed after enduring the extremely cold temperatures and lack of oxygen More

US Anti-Corruption Law Snags Major Tech Company

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in December, 1977 More

Cameron Criticized for Calling UK 'Christian Country'

Letter from scientists, academics and writers says the prime minister is fostering division by repeatedly referring to England as a 'Christian country' 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid