Dr. Yasuhiro Ina, D.M.Sc. is the world’s top innovative medical scientist. He is referred to as the “Last Samurai” and “Last Hope” by scientists in the United States, Europe, and other countries for his tenacious, consistent words and actions spanning many long years, over which he has continually made heroic efforts for the true restoration of Japan, existence of mankind, and survival of the planet. Toshio Motoya spoke with this world-renowned “Samurai of Medicine” about cutting-edge, scientific strategies for making Japan into the world’s most affluent and peaceful country.
(M) Thank you for joining me on Big Talk today. We share a similar way of thinking about the evaluation of and impacts of radiation from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station after the Great East Japan Earthquake. I actually wanted to interview you sooner…
(I) Thank you for inviting me. I am grateful to you for referencing my commentary, as an effort to convey accurate knowledge of radiation, in your essays from the July and August 2011 issues of Apple Town, right after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi accident.
(M) Can you start by telling us about your past research?
(I) My original field of specialty was immunology and gene therapy research on intractable diseases such as AIDS, cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia. I repeatedly conducted research searching for innovative therapies and medical treatments with no side effects, which is how I arrived at low dose-rate radiation therapy. This therapy utilizes extremely low dose-rate radiation of the background radiation level, around 1/100 millionth of the high dose-rate radiation used in traditional radiation therapy.
(M) I’ve heard that some people lose their hair during traditional radiation therapy. Does that happen with low dose-rate radiation therapy?
(I) That occurs when the scalp is directly exposed to high dose-rate radiation during traditional radiation therapy. People who receive low dose-rate radiation therapy do not lose any hair; in fact, some experience increased hair growth.
(M) The common knowledge of the world is that even the minutest amount of radiation is harmful to the human body and other living creatures. Yet health improvements are reported for astronauts, who are exposed to radiation in space that is hundreds of times stronger than on earth, and for the residents of areas where high background radiation is measured. In the same way, low dose-rate radiation therapy runs contrary to the accepted wisdom.
(I) For instance, the seeds of a 1,200-year-old cherry tree that is a natural monument were taken into space. These seeds did not germinate no matter what methods were used, but after spending time in space they quickly sprouted and grew well with no genetic mutations or other biological abnormalities. These “space cherry” seeds are continually planted at Japanese schools, parks, and other locations, where they are beloved by many people from children to the elderly. Actually, that mistaken knowledge of the past is presupposed on the linear no-threshold (LNT) hypothesis regarding the impacts of radiation on the human body and living things (it says that radiation is absolutely harmful and that even infinitesimal amounts of radiation, of the level found in the natural world, can cause cancer). The LNT hypothesis is based on research conducted in the 1920s by Dr. Hermann Joseph Muller, an American geneticist who was given the 1946 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine as an individual. This research was on the effects of high dose-rate artificial X-ray exposure on the mature sperm cells of fruit flies after the loss of gene repair abilities (the dose rate was from roughly 100 million to one billion times higher than Fukushima Prefecture after the nuclear power plant accident). This short, English-language paper is just 3.5 pages and contains no figures or tables. This common wisdom is also based on the emotional stereotype that all radiation is scary and dangerous, stemming from when the U.S. Armed Forces dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, when many people were actually killed by shock waves and heat rays reaching thousands of degrees. People were aware of intracellular chromosomes when Dr. Muller was doing these experiments, but no one yet knew of the existence of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which makes up genes. Despite this, Dr. Muller was the first person in the world to succeed at inducing artificial mutation. It was only natural that the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine decided to award the prize to Dr. Muller, as an individual, for these great achievements. An unscientific criterion survives based on the ICRP’s LNT hypothesis, which is entirely wrong from the standpoint of contemporary radiological medicine. The LNT hypothesis says that only carcinogenesis and other types of damage increase in proportion to the radiation exposure dose (accumulated dose) for all living things, even if the radiation is just slightly above zero. As described previously, it is based on data of artificial mutations that occurred for the first time in the mature sperm cells of male fruit flies after the loss of gene repair abilities (in which no cell division occurs, so there is absolutely no carcinogenesis) with exposure to high dose-rate, artificial X-rays – roughly 100 million times stronger than the “difficult-to-return zones” in Fukushima. Even the immature sperm cells and somatic cells of fruit flies have genetic repair abilities. Other living creatures, including humans, also have the ability to repair genes, which has been clearly indicated by many radiological medicine and radiobiology research results since then. I was born in Japan in 1967, the year that Dr. Muller passed away, which seems like some trick of fortune.
(M) I see, so that’s the background. I think the intentions of the standing member-nations of the United Nations (UN) Security Council (a union of victorious nations) that possess nuclear weapons play a major part in why this discourse – based on a mistaken premise – has long been believed across the world. Perhaps they implanted the fear of radiation in Japan and other nations without nuclear weapons as a way to ensure they would avoid such weapons.
(I) Nuclear weapon states use this fiction and unscientific information to maintain their political superiority. The ICRP has not revised its thinking based on this hypothesis for nearly 100 years since its parent organization was founded in 1928. So-called “radioactive contamination” and “decontamination” are some of the unscientific terms premised on the idea that even extremely low dose-rate radiation of the background radiation level is absolutely bad, according to the mistaken LNT hypothesis (the correct terms are “removal of soil containing radioactive materials” or “removal of radioactive materials”). Twenty-four hours a day, more than six quintillion genetic lesions occur in roughly 60 trillion cells – hundreds of thousands of lesions per cell in the human body. This damage is immediately repaired and is caused by regular life, not by nuclear tests, nuclear power plant accidents, accidents in which radioactive materials are spread, etc. Moreover, nearly 10,000 cancer cells occur in the body every day, 24 hours a day, but they are thoroughly eliminated by powerful, multiple immune systems and via apoptosis (the programmed death of abnormal cells). This includes abnormal cells that could lead to cancer. Looking at the fairly extensive, strict safe zones, in environments with a very low level of radioactivity – extremely low dose-rate radiation at or below the background radiation level of 100 microsieverts per hour (876 millisieverts per year) – there is no genetic damage in terms of both internal and external exposure. There are absolutely no harmful effects on human bodies or other living things, merely a slight increase in reactive oxygen, which is always produced in the body while breathing, eating, or moving. In fact, the only effects are beneficial ones. Anyone with even a little knowledge of radiological medicine knows this is also true at an annual level of 1,000 millisieverts (roughly 114 microsieverts per hour) or 1,200 millisieverts (roughly 137 microsieverts per hour). The radioactive materials released from the Fukushima nuclear plant do not remain inside the body. This is because the small amount of radioactive materials entering the body is far exceeded by the body’s metabolic and excretory functions. The people of Fukushima Prefecture are experiencing various types of ailments, including impaired growth and development among infants and young children as well as psychoneurosis from young children to the elderly. This is caused by anxiety regarding daily life, stress from being apart from family members and friends, poor nutrition caused by unbalanced diets, and physical issues due to insufficient exercise and activity. External exposure comes from space and the earth’s land and water, and radioactive materials exist throughout our entire bodies. This applies to everyone, from fetuses, infants, and children to the elderly. We are continually exposed to internal radiation throughout our entire lives, and radioactive materials and radioactivity remain in our corpses, remains, and ashes after death.
(M) Humans and other living things co-exist with background radiation.
(I) This information – including the fact that a Japanese person weighting 60 kilograms has approximately 7,040 becquerels of radioactive materials throughout his or her whole body – can be found on the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s What High School Students Should Know About Radiation website in an illustrated, easy-to-understand format.
(M) The standard should have been relaxed, not tightened, after the accident. Under this stricter standard, many Fukushima farm and marine products cannot be shipped after inspection. People who were forcibly evacuated had to leave their livestock behind, and many animals have died.
(I) The media is mostly quiet on the fact that the government killed animals in the compulsory evacuation zones with poison, from livestock like cows, pigs, and chickens to pet dogs and cats.
(M) I found it bizarre that, one month after the Fukushima Daiichi accident, it was rated the same level of severity as Chernobyl. The nuclear reactor at Chernobyl went out of control and exploded while it was being operated. In contrast, at Fukushima the zirconium cladding on the nuclear fuel merely had an oxidation-reduction reaction with water, producing hydrogen that increased past the standard value and caused hydrogen explosions that blew the roofs off. If Prime Minister Naoto Kan had not gone to observe Fukushima Daiichi, the hydrogen could have been successfully vented to prevent the explosions. These explosions made many citizens anxious and caused an outcry in foreign countries and the media. Maybe Kan knew a little bit about nuclear power generation, but his plant visit was a flashy political performance using the accident to evade suspicions that he had accepted donations from foreign nationals. It backfired, however.
(I) The emergency, compulsory evacuations were absolutely unnecessary from a scientific viewpoint. Some elderly people died after their intravenous drips were removed and they were put in bus aisles because there were no seats left for them to sit. More than 2,000 people have already committed suicide at the places where they evacuated, when they returned to their homes in Fukushima, and other locations. These suicides are increasing each year at an accelerated rate that is unprecedented across the world, inspired by damage caused by misinformation that fans unscientific fear of radiation in Fukushima.
(M) The nuclear powers have also encouraged this fear. Right after the Fukushima Daiichi accident, many people called APA Hotels in Kansai to book rooms because they thought Tokyo was dangerous. When we asked why they thought this, they said it was information released by embassies including the U.S. and France. They used this accident in their stratagems. The media spread this strategic information without sufficient investigation, which left the people of Japan in great confusion. Of course, the people who were forcibly or voluntarily evacuated are experiencing immense hardship. Considering the amount of radiation, they would still be healthy even if they had remained where they were. These evacuations have resulted in a vast amount of deserted land that is still a place of death.
(I) Guarapari, a world-famous health resort in Brazil, has annual background radiation of approximately 35 millisieverts. People receive treatments and health therapies in which their entire bodies are buried in the beach sand, which emits approximately four microsieverts of radiation per hour. European and American university medical faculties are collaborating in this field, including radon therapies using uranium mine ruins.
(M) Carcinogenic risk charts show that drinking alcohol and smoking pose a higher risk than exposure of 100 millisieverts a year.
(I) Actually, that is also unscientific information according to the unscientific LNT hypothesis. The truth is that extremely low dose-rate radiation exposure around that level only results in positive phenomena in the body.
(M) Japanese people have been continually defeated in information warfare before and after World War II. I have proposed that, after gaining a comprehensive view of these causes, we should establish a Ministry of Information with a staff of 3,000 people and budget of 300 billion yen. This ministry would gather and analyze information from across the world, and then promptly refute any mistaken statements, news reports, and other information about Japan in the UN or other countries in the local language. Because Japan has not spoken up, people around the world believe in the entirely fabricated Nanjing Massacre and comfort women stories, which are even included in foreign textbooks. The Japanese media has continually gone along with this and had a masochistic stance. All countries speak critically of other nations, but only Japan continues showing contempt for itself. Japan is the most anti-Japanese nation in the world.
(I) We must quickly object to irrational fabrications and unscientific information.
(M) Internal enemies are like cancer, so we may need to remove them surgically. I have published Apple Town, this monthly magazine, for the past 26 years. I have penned my essays every month, but my views are still the minority. In January an outcry occurred around my book that says the Nanjing Massacre did not happen, which is placed in APA Hotel rooms. The Chinese government criticized APA Hotel by name, gaining myself and APA Hotel instant global renown. One person even said that this publicity, translated into advertising expenses, totaled 100 billion yen. Thanks to this, APA Hotel has constantly set occupancy rate and sales records from February to June. I am grateful to the people who first posted that online video about my book (laughs).
(I) Information warfare can have positive effects. Historical facts and scientific truths absolutely cannot be distorted.
(M) That may be true, and today it is easier to spread the truth as more and more people use the Internet. In the past the huge media outlets of newspapers and TV channels controlled the expression of views. The newspapers are bound by the Press Code, which was then applied to TV channels in the same conglomerations. In 2014, Member of the House of Representatives Mio Sugita asked a question in the National Diet about the validity of the Press Code. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied that it was invalidated by the Treaty of San Francisco, but The Asahi Shimbun newspaper actually forces the entire media to abide by this code. Even the Sankei Shimbun cannot publish reports contrary to the Press Code. We must quickly abolish this regulation of freedom of speech.
(I) I agree.
(M) Many Japanese people believe that the UN is a just institution, which is not true. This organization enables the victorious Allies from World War II to maintain their hegemony. That is why Japan, a defeated Axis power, is criticized by name by the UN Human Rights Commission even though it makes huge financial contributions as a country subject to the enemy state clauses.
(I) The erroneous, unscientific fear of radiation and masochistic historical awareness both stem from total falsehoods.
(M) When the U.S. Armed Forces conducted Operation Tomodachi after the earthquake, the media frequently showed videos of helicopters being decontaminated when they returned to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan without specifying where they had gone or how much radiation they had been exposed to. This spread anxiety across the world. I am thankful for the assistance of the U.S. Armed Forces, but I wonder why it released these videos.
(I) Information warfare is unceasing 24 hours a day, both from inside and outside the country. We absolutely must be victorious in this fight.
(M) Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was moved to gather donations for U.S. veterans, and a kind entrepreneur has contributed 100 million yen. Thinking scientifically, it is certainly not possible that the USS Ronald Reagan crew was exposed to enough radiation to harm their health. Koizumi is being ridiculous.
(I) If the crewmembers were harmed by radiation or radioactive materials during that amount of work, then all medical institutions across the world should immediately close their doors. Furthermore, Japanese people have bathed in natural radium hot springs, which are radioactive, since ancient times. We have built and enjoyed a culture of taking hot-spring cures by bathing in and drinking spring water. This results in external exposure of the whole body, as well as internal exposure through general circulation. For instance, radioactive materials enter the entire body’s blood vessels and lymph ducts both via the respiratory system when breathing steam and via the gastrointestinal system after drinking cold or hot water.
(M) In science, mistakes are amended according to new discoveries, something I think we have failed to do over the last 70 years. On the topic of radiation, I often recall the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many people died from shock waves and heat rays reaching thousands of degrees, but people who were not hit directly, such as those behind concrete walls, lived long lives after the war. My impression is that few people died from direct radiation.
(I) Scientific papers have been published on this in English. In fact, many people who were exposed only to low dose-rate radiation behind concrete walls or mountains are healthy and long-lived.
(M) Claims based on no scientific proof have become accepted wisdom, and people either cannot speak the truth or are ignored when they do so. We must change these circumstances. Many media outlets should interview scientists who can explain correct, scientific truths to convey accurate information to the people and release them from their brainwashed, mistaken view of radioactivity.
(I) Nuclear power plants across Japan are shut down, and in exchange we are paying roughly four trillion yen annually (more than 10 billion yen per day) in fossil fuel costs for thermal power. I think we would be enjoying more affluent lives if this money – which already totals 24 trillion yen since the disaster – was used for citizen health and welfare, national defense, national security, childrearing support, education, and other purposes. Moreover, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) survey, more than three million people across the world die each year due to air pollution from burning fossil fuels (among which there are more than one million annual deaths in China).
(M) Japan is forced to buy oil due to the ulterior motives of American major oil companies and oil-producing nations.
(I) That’s right. More corporations are moving their factories overseas, which is a national crisis.
(M) I suspect that loss totals hundreds of trillions of yen.
(I) The fundamental cause for this is an unscientific stratagem by premodern nuclear weapon states utilizing the results of an experiment on fruit flies – flies around one millimeter long of the smallest class of insect.
(M) Perhaps people could return to live in the areas referred to as “contaminated” – an unscientific term – if this accurate, scientific way of thinking became more popular.
(I) Gigantic interim storage facilities are being built in the vast difficult-to-return zones of Fukushima, to store soil and other waste produced from so-called “decontamination” (correctly referred to as the “removal of soil containing radioactive materials” or “removal of radioactive materials”).
(M) The soil and other waste has extremely weak radiation.
(I) Yes, but it could be used as a source of low dose-rate radiation if the radiation was strengthened by condensing and concentrating it. Accordingly, at these interim storage facilities we should build a low dose-rate radiation medical science center – the first facility in human history to use nuclear waste to exhaustively confirm and share the impacts on the human body and living things with the world from a medical and scientific standpoint – as well as a low dose-rate radiation medical treatment center to help the people of the world live long, healthy lives. If we utilized the latest scientific knowledge on low dose-rate radiation medical science and therapy, then nuclear waste – both the high-level radioactive waste from the nuclear power plant (said to be the worst in human history) and the massive amounts of nuclear waste from the industrial world, medical circles, nuclear weapons, related fields, etc. – would become humankind’s greatest treasure to save human lives across the globe and increase the number of people living long, healthy lives worldwide. In other words, Japan – the only country that has been the victim of a wartime nuclear attack in human history – could be restored and revived as the world’s most affluent, peaceful country without having to increase taxes or issue more government bonds. The nation of Japan and its people would be respected by many across the world, and it would be possible to solve global nuclear waste processing issues and restore the global environment. Right now is likely our last chance, a golden opportunity that comes only once every thousand years.
(M) That’s a wonderful idea. I also hope for Japan to be revived. At the end of the interview, I always ask for a “word for the youth.”
(I) When panicked, humans of all races, ages, and genders particularly hate discord and desire harmony, and have the tendency to reject any information they cannot understand or that isn’t beneficial to them. That is why I hope that youth and all people will master the custom of first remaining calm in all circumstances, fully confirming the information, correctly understanding the mechanisms and principles behind all phenomena, and coming to a conclusion after scientifically analyzing the situation.
(M) Too many people become anxious without considering whether something is feasible. Regarding the Nanjing Massacre as well, it makes no mathematical sense to say that Nanjing had a population of 250,000 before the entry of the Japanese Army, 300,000 people were massacred, and then the population once again reached 250,000 a short time later.
(I) With a cool head we can definitely understand radiation, radioactivity, and radioactive materials. I feel that scientific thinking allows us to live with energy, positivity, joy, peace, and affluence, both mentally and physically. I believe this will bring back the fantastic country of Japan, which can save the human race and the earth.
(M) I agree entirely. Thank you for our wonderful conversation today.
Born in Tochigi in 1967. As a child he saw people suffering from the after-effects of medication and surgery mistakes, which inspired him to work in medical research. After entering The University of Tokyo, he studied overall medical science including general education, basic medicine, and clinical medicine. He completed the Doctoral Course in etiology, pathology, and immunology at the Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo and was awarded his Doctor of Medical Science degree by The University of Tokyo. His original field of specialty was immunology and gene therapy research on intractable diseases such as AIDS, solid carcinoma, lymphoma, and leukemia, but he immersed himself in researching innovative medical therapies with no side effects after personally seeing many patients die from adverse reactions. He was the first person in the world to discover and establish low dose-rate radiation medical science and low dose-rate radiation therapy. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) completed an official academic report on the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident, based on the results of extensive international academic research spanning more than 25 years near Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. This report stated the same scientific opinion as Dr. Ina, namely that there would be no negative effects on humans or other living things, and was voted on and approved at the UN General Assembly in 2012. Dr. Ina’s past positions include visiting researcher at the Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, and he is president of The Dr. Yasuhiro INA, D.M.Sc. Memorial Organization for Research and Development of Low Dose-Rate Radiation Medical Science as well as the World Healthy Long-Life Cheering Team and All Japan Healthy Long-Life Cheering Team. His current activities include lecturing at the University of Oxford (England) and in the United States.