Indie | The Role of Specialists: Dr. Kodama vs Dr. Yamashita

Posted on August 11, 2011


Indie | EX-SKF | 11 August 2011

One is a scientist, the other like a politician. One has things to say, the other has things to un-say.

Tokyo Brown Tabby will put the caption as soon as Tabby figures out the captioning software glitch (anyone know of a good software compatible with the latest Youtube? Tabby’s software (freeware) apparently cannot deal with the change). But in the meantime, you can view how these two specialists talk, how they look. That alone seems to speak volume on what they are.

First, Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo, in a recent TV appearance:


From the viewpoint of specialists in genome science, like I am, we should not modify our conclusions in the face of the reality. Specialists should tell the truth as it is, no matter how difficult it is.

You know, ordinary Japanese people are not stupid. From what I’ve seen, they take things seriously and think them through. So, specialists should tell them the truth and discuss things based on the truth. Only then, specialists will be trusted by the public and risks can be avoided. If the public know the risks, such as the removal of radioactive cesium, they will be determined to solve the problems no matter how much effort it may take. No matter how hard the food inspection may be, they will be determined to pull together and…

MC: “carry it through.”

That’s right. So, the primary responsibility of specialists, specialists in medicine like us, is to tell the public what health damages could potentially occur. It a specialist assumes from the beginning, “If I say this here, it will cause problems there”, he/she is a politician, not a specialist.

Responsibility of specialists manifested itself when the tsunami hit the Tohoku region. In Ishinomaki-City, specialists in disaster prevention were devastated when their disaster prevention measures had failed in the tsunami. But at the same time, they were delighted that children, whom they had taught, as part of the disaster prevention program, “When tsunami comes, run. Look around, help each other, and run to the higher ground at all cost”, survived. They felt they had fulfilled their obligation as true specialists.

This incident has reinforced my belief on the role of specialists: if there is a real danger, inform the public that it’s really dangerous, and tell them we will pull through together.

What people want from specialists is not the word of compromise that politicians are good at. They want specialists to call danger a danger…

MC: “…as it is.”

I think the fundamental reason why the Atomic Energy Society of Japan [nuclear specialists] and Japan’s nuclear policy have failed is because specialists have abandoned their pride and dignity as specialists. Because they’ve become politicians, or businessmen, by not telling the truth to the public. Without the self-examination of this fact, I don’t think the rebirth of the University of Tokyo, or of Japanese scientists, would happen.

Next, Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, whom some Japanese have started to call Dr. Shunichi “Damashita” Yamashita – Yamashita “who tricked”, Vice President of Fukushima Medical University. Get ready for an outrageous remark after another…

…at the lecture by Radiation Health Risk Advisor of Fukushima.

“Now that the national government has decided the safety exposure limit to be 20 millisieverts per year, we, as Japanese citizens, have an obligation to follow the government’s decision.”

Can the safety limit of 20mSv/yr really protect our children? After the lecture, we went to him to confirm that point.

“You should think of 20mSv/yr as a provisional level.”

[In the lecture] You said you didn’t know [about the health risk under 100mSv/yr]. Does it mean you cannot say it’s safe, either?

“Of course I can’t. That’s why we are discussing where to draw the line in that gray zone.”

You mean you’re telling the people of Fukushima to put up with it?

“If they don’t, they’ll have to evacuate. Where would you evacuate them?… ” [implying “Would you be willing to be responsible for evacuating the residents of Fukushima?” Clearly he wouldn’t.]

After all, we couldn’t hear the words of confirmation that he would guarantee the safety of children.



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