Journal of the National Institute of Public Health
Online ISSN : 2432-0722
Print ISSN : 1347-6459
ISSN-L : 1347-6459
Lessons learned from radiation risk communication activities regarding the Fukushima nuclear accident
Ichiro YamaguchiTsutomu ShimuraHiroshi TeradaR. Svendsen ErikNaoki Kunugita
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2018 Volume 67 Issue 1 Pages 93-102


Introduction: The Fukushima nuclear disaster has brought numerous difficulties to the Japanese society, such as mental health issues, and secondary health issues during the recovery phase of the nuclear disaster. To promote a balanced public health policy, sound risk communication strategies are required.

Methods: Risk communication guidelines and public health activities regarding radiation risk communication after the Fukushima nuclear disaster were reviewed within the scientific literature by using the PubMed electronic database for medical journals to clarify the current perception of the risk communication issues.

Results: There was a consistent recognition of the applicability and importance of risk communication within the Fukushima accident, as was evident in each guideline and journal article which included both the MeSH Major Topics "radiation" and "communication" with the term ”Fukushima” [All Fields]. Basic concepts of each Japanese risk communication guideline are consistent with guidelines issued by other international organizations.

Discussion: These risk communication principles indicated in the guidelines were useful for establishing good practices in local communities to empower residents and strengthen community function, potentially reducing the secondary health impacts induced by the Fukushima accident. However, the strengths within social sciences are thought to create new challenges because the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) are newly recognized difficulties within local public health activities regarding radiation risk communication, and there is only a limited number of articles focused on these relationships and radiation risk communication within the social sciences. The collaborative problem-solving strategy should be strengthened to deal with the difficult issues in local communities since ELSI are all within local public health activities regarding radiation risk communication. Therefore, a collaborative problem-solving strategy within social sciences is a challenge issue to study.

Conclusions: Successful risk communication practices were helpful to the local community and supported by the local community. They were observable in local communities by employing the strategic approaches directed by a team organized with many experts in local issues, including local risk communicators. Established risk communication guidelines are helpful, especially regarding the ELSI of science and technology.

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© 2018 National Institute of Public Health, Japan
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