[The Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Resource Center was established]
During the initial relief activities after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident occurred, the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) experienced a temporary constraint in their activities due to no preparation of equipment and safety standards for JRCS relief teams against nuclear disasters. To take advantage of the experience and lessons for the future, the JRCS established the “Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Resource Center” (NDRC) on October 1, 2013 at the National Society Headquarters in Tokyo.
In collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the NDRC engages in two main activities: to create the Nuclear Disaster Guidelines for Preparedness, Response and Recovery; and to build digital archives and gather, compile and disseminate information on nuclear disasters through its Digital Archives.
[The Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Resource Center was established]
[The Digital Archives was launched]
The JRCS launched the “Digital Archives of the Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Resource Center” to disseminate information on nuclear disasters through the Internet. The information, which was gathered, processed, and analyzed in the process of preparing the Nuclear Disaster Guidelines for Preparedness, Response and Recovery, are believed to contribute not only to activities of sister Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, but also to the public. Therefore, the NDRC releases the information worldwide through the digital archives (http://ndrc.jrc.or.jp/?lang=en).
[Release of special content “Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident & Red Cross Support Activities -Part1-“]
At the same time as the launching of the “Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Resource Center Digital Archives”, the NDRC released special content about the activities that the JRCS conducted in Fukushima during the nuclear disaster on the digital archives. Immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, JRCS relief teams were sent to the affected areas, including Fukushima Prefecture, from Japanese Red Cross hospitals across the country and provided assistance activities for survivors.
The six-month activities of the JRCS, from the turbulent phase immediately after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident to the recovery phase, are chronologically posted with information related to the Great East Japan Earthquake.
[Release of special content “Messages from Relief Team Staff - Fukushima RC Hospital -“]
The Fukushima Red Cross Hospital dispatched their medical relief teams to the affected area promptly on the day of the earthquake and provided relief activities. However, after the accident occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, their relief teams were forced to temporarily leave the affected area with other JRCS relief teams that were dispatched from other prefectures. After the withdrawal, the JRCS experienced that relief teams from other prefectures did not return to Fukushima until later.
What was happening at the relief frontlines? What was needed? What went through their minds during the relief activities at that time? The reports and thoughts from the Fukushima Red Cross Hospital staff who were involved in the relief activities amid a confused and anxious situation are posted. In addition, Dr. Watanabe, Deputy Director General of the Fukushima Red Cross Hospital, gave his review to the hospital’s relief activities and lessons learned from the experience for the future.
[Release of special content “Messages from Relief Team Staff 2 - Nagaoka & Nagahama RC Hospital -“]
Soon after the nuclear accident, the Nagaoka Red Cross Hospital and the Nagahama Red Cross Hospital, which are located outside Fukushima Prefecture, sent their medical relief teams to Fukushima. In this special content, the reports and thoughts of the relief team members are posted. The JRCS relief team of the Nagaoka Red Cross Hospital was dispatched to Fukushima as DMAT on the day of the earthquake. While the relief team engaged in their relief activities, the team was suddenly forced to terminate the activities because of the nuclear accident. They left Fukushima Prefecture and headed to Miyagi Prefecture. The Nagahama Red Cross Hospital dispatched their relief team to Fukushima after the nuclear accident happened. However, the high air dose rate in the City of Fukushima forced them to leave Fukushima without providing relief activities.
At that time, the JRCS had no clear code of conduct to respond to nuclear disasters and no necessary equipment to protect the safety of their relief team members. Therefore, the JRCS relief teams had to temporarily leave the affected area. The special content posts their painful decision to leave the frontlines, which was against their mission.
[1st Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Seminar]
According to a decision that the JRCS should hold “Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Seminars” to understand nuclear disasters in depth, the 1st Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Seminar took place at the JRCS Headquarters in December 2013. The seminar began with opening remarks made by Mr. Konoe, President of the JRCS. Next, Mr. Nishijima, Director General of the Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Resource Center, explained the role of the center, after which two experts gave keynote presentations.
The first presenter was Dr. Makoto Akashi, Executive Director of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS). He made a presentation entitled “Radiation Medicine in Japan”, providing some basic knowledge of radiation, the radiation emergency medicine system in Japan, and how the NIRS responded to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. The next presenter was Dr. Yoichi Watanabe, Deputy Director General of the Fukushima Red Cross Hospital. He gave a presentation entitled “Relief Activities Conducted by the JRCS after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident”. Dr. Watanabe presented how the JRCS relief teams and the Fukushima Red Cross Hospital acted during the disaster and the constraints they experienced in their relief activities posed by the nuclear accident. Furthermore, he raised issues about how the JRCS should respond to a possible similar situation in the future.
[Release of special content “Photo Gallery: JRCS Medical Relief Activities during the Survivors’ Temporary Re-entry to the Restricted Area”]
Due to the effects from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, the 20km-radius area from the nuclear power plant was designated as a restricted area according to the Basic Act on Disaster Control Measures, and cordoned off. The people who used to live in that area of evacuation order are still living under evacuation circumstances.
The temporary re-entry program to the restricted area (within the radius of 20km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant) started in May 2011. During some rounds of the program, the JRCS dispatched 87 relief teams in total to the entry point and provided medical relief activities for survivors who got sick during their temporary re-entry to the restricted area. The special content introduces in photos how the JRCS activities started and how the relief teams provided the relief from May 2011 through March 2012.
[Release of special content “Survey for Japanese Red Cross Personnel on their Relief Activities during the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster”]
During the nuclear disaster which followed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, the JRCS experienced temporary constraints in their activities. The JRCS thinks that those constraints occurred because they had no manual for safety standards in place for nuclear disasters, and lacked information related to nuclear power and radiation. Based on the findings, the JRCS is now creating guidelines for Red Cross activities during nuclear disasters to prevent such constraints in the future.
The JRCS conducted a hearing and questionnaire survey of their staff who engaged in relief activities in Fukushima Prefecture for about six months from March 2011 to September 2011. The JRCS organized the issues and challenges which emerged during the relief activities conducted at that time, and compiled them into an activity record and survey report. The purpose of the survey was to make use of the experience of responding to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in the future and to use the survey results as basic materials in preparing the guidelines. The special content posts these issues and challenges along with the comments made by the staff who worked on the relief activities.
[2nd Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Seminar]
The 2nd Seminar was led by some high school students aimed at giving them an opportunity to learn the importance of thinking for themselves about what they can do if another nuclear disaster happens in the future.
At the venue, a simulation game of running an evacuation center took place. The game was developed by Shizuoka Prefecture in 2007, and is called “HUG” (abbreviation for the Japanese game name “hinanjo un’ei game”). In addition, the participants prepared actual hot meals normally provided at evacuation centers. These experiences gave the attendees an occasion to think about what kind of action they should take in the event of a nuclear disaster or what they should do in a preparedness phase.
Also at the seminar, a lecture was given by Project Associate Professor, Kazuhiko Amano of Fukushima University, who was a responsible person for running the largest evacuation center in Fukushima which was set up at “Big Pallete Fukushima” at that time. The lecture was about “what was happening at the evacuation center, the reality of Fukushima and the importance of forming a community”. In addition, the high-school student team of The Simplest Explanation of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission made a presentation on what they have been and are doing to get young people to understand the nuclear accident in Fukushima.
[Presentation at an IAEA experts’ meeting by Dr. Yoichi Watanabe, Deputy Director General of Fukushima Red Cross Hospital]
At the IAEA International Experts’ Meeting (IEM) on Severe Accident Management in the Light of the Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was held from March 17, 2014 in Vienna, Austria, Dr. Yoichi Watanabe, Deputy Director General of the Fukushima Red Cross Hospital, made a presentation entitled “Relief activities conducted by the Japanese Red Cross Society after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident and the challenges for the future”. The IEM is aimed at having discussions focusing on the massive-scale nuclear disaster by aggregating and sharing the experience and knowledge obtained by experts.
Dr. Watanabe presented the relief activities that the JRCS conducted immediately after the earthquake on March 11, 2011, the status of the medical support activities and the “Manual for Relief Activities nuder Nuclear Disasters” which was created by the JRCS in March 2013. After his presentation, questions were asked from the floor, about the guidelines created by the JRCS for medical relief activities in a radiation environment and the status of the health of citizens in Fukushima after the nuclear accident.
[1st meeting of the “Guidelines for Red Cross Activities during Nuclear Disasters” Committee]
The JRCS experienced constraints in their relief activities after the nuclear accident in Fukushima which occurred right after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Based on the experience, the JRCS decided to formulate “(tentative) Guidelines for Red Cross activities during nuclear disasters”. In order to listen to opinions from both JRCS and non-JRCS experts and reflect their views in the guidelines, the JRCS set up the committee for the guidelines. The JRCS assumes that the experience in responding to the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima will contribute to sister Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies through the guidelines as reference for them, and that the guidelines will inspire society to recognize possible issues of a nuclear disaster as a challenge to the entire society.
At the 1st committee meeting, the purpose of the committee, how the committee will be run and how the output will be reflected in the guidelines were presented and confirmed. Then the outline of the guidelines and matters to be considered were discussed among the committee members.
[Renewing of the Digital Archives with an information portal function added]
In order to make it more useful, the Digital Archives was enhanced by adding an information portal function. In this function, links to websites with various kinds of information on nuclear disasters are included. The Nuclear Disaster Resource Center (NDRC) expects to provide more information for our users by putting links.
The function offers websites about: introductory knowledge about radioactivity and radiation; nuclear disasters which occurred previously; the current situations of the affected areas; preparedness information; and detailed information on measures against radiation and nuclear disasters. The NDRC will continue to add to links to websites providing useful information.
[Release of special content “Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Aid Report -Part1-“]
The JRCS received international donations of over $ 1 billion from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 100 countries and regions around the world. This was the first experience for the JRCS to provide assistance programs for survivors with such a large-amount of donation received. The JRCS conducted the programs for the survivors while understanding their needs in the affected areas.
Due to the damage from the earthquake and tsunami and effects from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, the survivors have been forced to evacuate for a long time. This special content introduces part of the JRCS recovery programs such as: rebuilding lives; social welfare services; educational support for children who bear the future; medical support; and nuclear disaster preparedness.
[2nd meeting of the “Guidelines for Red Cross Activities during Nuclear Disasters” Committee]
In order to reflect findings of those who responded firsthand to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in the guidelines, a representative from the JRCS Fukushima Chapter and the Fukushima Red Cross Hospital, respectively, began to be present at the meeting as the committee observers.
After reviewing and summarizing the discussion made at the previous committee meeting, events specific to nuclear disasters were discussed while organizing the activity cases in Fukushima. In addition, other matters were also discussed including: necessity of building a human network in a preparedness phase; scope of activities; chain of command; an understanding of needs in an affected area; and stockpiling of supplies in a preparedness phase. A discussion was made regarding safety standards during relief activities as well.
[Release of special content “Red Cross Smile Park”]
In Fukushima, decontamination is underway led by the national and local governments. However, parents are concerned about effects from radiation on children. For this reason, children’s outdoor activities are limited. At elementary and junior high schools, this problem was dealt with to a certain extent, but sufficient action was not necessarily taken for pre-school children.
With that in mind, the “Red Cross Smile Park”, an indoor-playground program, took place aimed at providing children with a place where they can freely play and move their bodies. This program was held as part of the JRCS recovery programs for 13 rounds from February 2012 to December 2013 in six cities: Fukushima, Soma, Iwaki, Shirakawa, Koriyama and Sukagawa. A total number of 86,584 visitors came to the venues. This special content reports on the children playing cheerfully with the play equipment placed at the venues, and a message from the members of the JRCS Fukushima Chapter, the organizer of this program, and voices of the parents who participated in the program with their children.
[Meeting for Medical Personnel of Japanese Red Cross Radiation Emergency Hospitals]
The JRCS is working on nuclear emergency preparedness. Eight Red Cross hospitals are designated as radiation emergency hospitals. In order to recognize the importance of enhancing collaboration, medical personnel from the eight Red Cross hospitals, Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital & Atomic-bomb Survivors Hospital, Japanese Red Cross Nagasaki Genbaku Hospital and Fukushima Red Cross Hospital gathered for the first time to exchange their opinions.
First, the medical personnel from hospitals located in prefectures with a nuclear power plant reported on their arrangements for radiation emergency medical care. After the presentations, Dr. Makoto Akashi, Executive Director, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, gave a lecture entitled “The Ideal New System of Radiation Emergency Medical Care”. Next, the meeting participants discussed how radiation emergency hospitals should cooperate with each other and the roles of radiation emergency medical advisors. Also, they discussed implementation and content of a nuclear disaster response basic training session scheduled for this year.
[3rd meeting of the “Guidelines for Red Cross Activities during Nuclear Disasters” Committee]
At the beginning of the meeting, the committee secretariat reported that the Meeting for Medical Personnel of Japanese Red Cross Radiation Emergency Hospitals had been held, where radiation emergency medical advisors were selected and agreed to cooperatively prepare a training program for JRCS relief team members.
Then the committee members reviewed and organized the previous meeting’s agenda and started discussion of the revised guidelines draft prepared by the secretariat. Following the discussion, it was agreed that the secretariat will give further considerations to the guidelines draft based on the feedback from the committee members during this meeting. The committee members referred to the following points for further consideration: local characteristics in implementing the guidelines; support for Japanese Red Cross facilities in an evacuation area; assistance in local governments’ formulation of their local disaster management plans; and enhanced psychological care.
The meeting concluded with agreement that “Guidelines for Red Cross Activities during Nuclear Disasters” and “Matters for Discussion” should be formulated. The committee members also confirmed that the guidelines will be used as the JRCS activity principle and referred to the IFRC, while “Matters for Discussion” will continue to be discussed within the JRCS and also be addressed in cooperation with external organizations for solution.
[3rd Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Seminar]
The JRCS and the Japanese Red Cross College of Nursing (JRCCN) co-hosted the 3rd Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Seminar entitled “Health Assistance for Nuclear-Disaster Affected People”. The JRCS’s health consultation program for people evacuated from Namie Town to Iwaki City was used as a case study to discuss nuclear emergency preparedness in terms of mid- and long-term health assistance for affected people and future challenges.
At the beginning of the seminar, Prof. Shinji Tokonami from Radiation Physics Section of the Institute of Radiation Emergency Medicine, Hirosaki University, gave a keynote presentation entitled “Current Situation and Issues on Radiation Exposure in Fukushima”. Following his lecture, Ms. Mie Naiki of the JRCCN reported on the first year of the health consultation program (October 2012 - September 2013); how the program started, the outline of activities; what they learned from the experience; and future challenges for assistance in a long-term evacuation.
Finally, a symposium was conducted regarding the subject of the seminar. Prof. Morita, Dean of the JRCCN, chaired the symposium, and three panelists who engaged in activities for affected people spoke, followed by Q&As.
[The Third Reference Group Meeting on Nuclear & Radiological Emergency Preparedness]
Following the severe earthquake and tsunami which triggered the nuclear power plant accident in March 2011 in Japan, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies adopted Resolution/Decision on ‘RCRC Preparedness to Respond to the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Accidents’ at the IFRC General Assembly in November 2011. To follow-up on the implementation of this resolution, several meetings were held. This was the 3rd Reference Group Meeting with participants from 16 countries across the world. They visited several places in order to see the current situation of the affected people and the reconstruction: Fukushima Prefectural Office; the areas affected by the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear accident; and temporary housing where the affected people live. Based on what they saw in Fukushima, the participants discussed nuclear emergency preparedness, the Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response Guidelines and the way forward for the next Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement statutory meeting scheduled for December 2015.