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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid