Hisako Sakiyama has a PhD in Medicine and is a Member of the Takagi School of Alternative Scientists, a Japanese NGO established in 1998 to study the environment, nuclear issues, human rights, and other issues in modern society from the perspective of citizens. The School seeks to create ways that scientists and prospective scientists can link their specialized expertise and capabilities with citizen movements. She has been a Research Associate at MIT and worked on cancer cell biology as Former Senior Researcher at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) in Japan. Sakiyama served as a member of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), a commission established by the Japanese Diet in 2011. She subsequently co-established the 3.11 Fund for Children with Thyroid Cancer with Ruiko Muto in 2016. As a former member of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigative Commission, Dr Sakiyama continues to be active in sharing her findings, which often contradict those of the Japanese government and its associated scientists’ in terms of their evalution of the health effects of the nuclear disaster, with media and citizens around the world (K.H.).
The interview was held on June 3rd, 2018 and updated on August 13, 2020.
Health Effects of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Hirano: Seven years have passed since the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. Do you think that the effects of radiation on the human body have decreased since then?
Image on the right: Hisako Sakiyama, M.D. & Ph.D
The health impact of radiation adds up over time, so long-term exposure certainly becomes a health concern. The risk is determined by how long you live in a contaminated area. The risk in a given locality may diminish, but the effects of cumulative radiation exposure will gradually increase over time. Sensitivity to radiation differs among individuals, but the risks for children are generally greater than for adults.
You inherit two sets of genes, one from each parent. Cells have DNA repair enzymes that correct any physical damage of DNA — including that caused by exposure to radiation.