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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid