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Appeal on the schools' reaction to the post-nuclear disaster situation / Faculty Members, Graduate School of Education, UT

March 6, 2012

Almost one year has passed since the earthquake and tsunami hit northeast Japan. We would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest condolences to the victims of the disaster and our sincere respect for all those who are involved in the arduous task of reconstructing the disaster-hit areas.

The TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant accident which followed the earthquake and tsunami caused the release of a massive amount of radioactive material, and a vast area was contaminated. Highly contaminated areas have been detected even in the Tokyo region, which is 200 km or further away from the Fukushima nuclear plant, and microscopic hot-spots have been found within relatively less-contaminated areas. Schools, including those in areas not directly affected by the earthquake or tsunami, must therefore confront the problem of nuclear contamination.

Following the disaster the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) issued guidelines for schools in Fukushima Prefecture close to the nuclear plant, and subsequently also issued guidelines covering a wider area, namely "Guidelines for measuring radiation levels at schools" on 26 August 2011, and "Guidelines for measuring radiations" on 21 October 2011. The Law Concerning Special Measures against Contamination by Radioactive Materials came into full effect on 1 January 2012.

However, people are concerned about the sufficiency of the very standards these guidelines are based on, and events have shown that we cannot afford to be complacent about the situation on the ground. For instance, on 24 August 2011, it was reported that beef containing a level of radioactive materials exceeding the provisional restrictions had been served in school lunches in Yokohama City primary schools; on 2/4 November 2011, it was found that groundsheets at a primary school in Suginami Ward, Tokyo were contaminated with 90,000 Bq/kg of radioactivity; and on 3 February, 2012, a hotspot measuring over 6.85 uSv/h was detected near a primary school in Seya, Yokohama City.

Turning our eyes to schools, feelings of concern remain among parents and students. Local governments differ in the concrete measures they have taken to address the crisis, and education boards and schools are thus faced with differing circumstances as they struggle to deal with the situation.

While fully acknowledging the critical situation continuing in the disaster-hit areas and without turning our eyes from the fact that there have been some negative reports and opinions that have hurt the feelings of people in these areas, we believe that introducing radiological protection measures based on shared safety criteria and cooperating with those living in the affected areas in a spirit of mutual support are crucial issues of nationwide importance.

Against this backdrop, and recognising the necessity of examining and introducing further concrete radiological protection measures at schools, we, the undersigned faculty members of the Graduate School of Education, the University of Tokyo, call on education boards, teachers and school staff, parents, and all other stakeholders to undertake the following:

1. Taking International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) Publication 111 (2008) as a basic point of reference (note that ICRP guidelines provide the basis for many regulations related to radiation contamination and radioactive materials introduced in many countries, including Japan), examine concrete measures to be adopted at schools. We believe that the following recommendations contained in ICRP Publication 111 are especially important:

- introducing a framework within which affected populations can positively take part in the planning and implementation of protective measures;

- local governments, education boards, schools and parents examining, in cooperation, the possibility of establishing an infrastructure that supports protective measures, including self-help measures;

- all stakeholders attaining a "practical radiological protection culture" in cooperation with authorities, and implementing this culture.

2. As a first step towards achieving these goals, create a space for all stakeholders to learn, exchange information and communicate with each other.

We, the undersigned faculty members, will help to provide places and opportunities for learning and the exchange of information on the radiation situation, taking advantage of the university environment.

ICRP Publication 111 states as follows:

"Past experience of long-term contamination has also shown that, in the absence of good knowledge of the radiological situation, affected populations tend to adopt a denial or fatalist attitude. This is a way to further support the situation, which generally results in basic radiation protection advice and actions being neglected, and in increasing exposures."

In the face of this difficult situation, we, the undersigned faculty members, are determined, in cooperation with all those involved in the field of education, to make every effort to prevent such fatalistic feelings and attitudes spreading amongst schools, which are entrusted with nurturing future generations.

 

Signed:

Takashi Kawamoto, Shigeo Kodama, Atsushi Makino, Kyo Kageura, Masaaki Katsuno,

Osamu Kanamori, Yoshihiro Kokuni, Katsushige Katayama, Saya Shiraishi, Yuki Honda, 

Akira Nemoto, Lee Jeongyun, Hironobu Shindo, Kiyomi Akita, Takeshi Okada, 

Yoko Nakagama, Masahiro Nochi, Yoshiharu Yamamoto, Manabu Sato, Yasuhiko Fujie, 

Toshiyuki Omomo, Yuri Uesaka

[Graduate School of Education, University of Tokyo]

 
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Date of last update:2012-03-07 23:12:43 kyo 2thumbs up   del.icio.usに追加   はてなブックマークに追加   twitterに投稿   facebookでshare
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