Shunichi Yamashita

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Shun'ichi Yamashita
Shunichi Yamashita cropped Shunichi Yamashita 20120113 1.jpg
in Tokyo on January 13, 2012
Occupationmedical doctor

Shun'ichi Yamashita (山下 俊一, Yamashita Shun'ichi, born 1952) is a Japanese medical scientist serving as dean and professor at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Nagasaki University.

Personal background[edit]

in Tokyo on January 13, 2012

Shin'ichi Yamashita was born in Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture, in 1952. His mother was a hibakusha[1] who survived the atomic bomb dropped in Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. He is a descendant of Kakure Kirishitans in Urakami[2] (present Nagasaki City) who kept their faith clandestinely more than 200 years under severe persecution from the Tokugawa Shogunate. Yamashita himself is Catholic and belongs to Shiroyama Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Nagasaki.[3] He is a member of the Japan Catholic Doctor Association and serves as president of its branch in Nagasaki.[4]

From his childhood, Yamashita respected Albert Schweitzer and Paul Takashi Nagai. His mottos are “Reverence for life” and “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.[5] According to an interview by the Asahi Shimbun, his respect for Dr. Paul Takashi Nagai (the author of The Bell of Nagasaki) encouraged him to become a medical doctor.[6] At first, Yamashita was attracted to tropical medicine because he respected Hideyo Noguchi. He received his education at St. Mary's Elementary and Junior High School run by the Augustinian order from the attached kindergarten to junior high school.[7] Yamashita later studied at Nagasaki Prefectural Nagasaki Kita High School.[8]

Yamashita graduated from the faculty of medicine at Nagasaki University in 1978. He finished a doctoral course at the graduate school of the same university in 1984. With the support of Dr. Shigenobu Nagataki, he studied at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at UCLA in the United States from 1984 to 1987.[9] After going back to Japan, Yamashita worked under Dr. Nagataki. He earned a doctoral degree in medicine in 1989 and was installed as a professor of the faculty of medicine at Nagasaki University in the following year. Later, he was installed as a president of the Nagai Takashi Memorial International Hibakusha Medical Center.


Scientific papers[edit]

  • Glucose Stimulation of Protooncogene Expression and Deoxyribonucleic Acid Synthesis in Rat Islet Cell Line[11]
  • Articles in CiNii

Medical research in Chernobyl[edit]

From 1991 onward, Yamashita participated in a health research project supported by the Nippon Foundation. He visited the affected Chernobyl area 100 times.[12] According to Yamashita, the communication with the children whose age was the same as his own, and their mothers, made him feel as if the area was next to Nagasaki.[12] He eventually concluded the effects of radiation in the area as follows: “Apart from the dramatic increase in thyroid cancer incidence among those exposed to radiation at a young age, there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers or leukemia due to radiation in the most affected populations”.[13]

Efforts to reduce radiation exposure in medical treatment[edit]

Before the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Yamashita showed his concern about the radiation dosage to which young people were exposed. In The Journal of Japan Physicians Association, he writes: “Mainly for the people less than twenty-years-old, if they are exposed to excessive radiation between 10 and 100mSV, the risk of carcinogenesis is undeniable”.[14]

The other report written with other scientists points out, “the lowest doses of X-rays for which reasonably reliable evidence of increased cancer risk exists range from 10 to 50mGy”.[15]

Relationship with the Catholic church[edit]

Being Catholic, Yamashita has been involved with activities held in the Catholic Church. For example, when the first general assembly of the Conference of Japan Catholic Medical Care Associations was held in Nagasaki from October 23 to October 24, 2009, Yamashita said, "As Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only cities in the world that were afflicted with A-bombings, both can claim the moral high ground on A-bomb elimination. No one can deny their claims and international diplomatic endeavors on behalf of peace free of nuclear weapons. U.N. General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto referred to this right when he visited Japan last summer."[16]

Even after his appointment to risk management advisor to Fukushima Prefecture, the Church's attitude toward the professor remains unchanged. In Saitama Diocese, the diocesan Committee for Justice and Peace led by Sadato Yabuki, a diocesan deacon and professor emeritus at Gunma University, invited Yamashita to lecture on radiation at the cathedral on May 7, 2011.[17] Later, In the name of Bishop Marcelious Daiji Tani, leaflets based on the lecture were printed in six languages and distributed in the diocese and shelters.[18][19][20]

When he was installed as a vice-president of Fukushima Medical University, the diocesan newsletter called Yoki Otozure (Good Visit) in the Nagasaki Archdiocese reported this event.[21] In November, a symposium, “Radiation Exposure” Which Causes New Damages was held at the Diocesan Catholic Center, he participated as one of the symposiasts.[22]

Relationship with Soka Gakkai[edit]

From August 8 to August 10, 2010, Soka University Peace Research Institute had a research study in Nagasaki, and Yamashita lectured the participants.[23] On May 24, 2011, Yamashita was invited by the Komeito Party's election campaign office of Koriyama City, Fukuhsima Prefecture and lectured there.[24]

Activities after Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster[edit]

After the Fukushima I nuclear accidents, Yamashita and Prof. Noboru Takamura were asked by Fukushima Prefecture governor Yuhei Sato, on March 19, 2011, to serve as radiation risk management advisers to the prefecture. The letter of appointment as special professor to the president at Fukushima Medical University was given on April 1 of the same year.[25]

As a radiation risk management adviser, Yamashita lectured on radiation mainly in Fukushima Prefecture.[25] He claims that radiation exposure of 100 mSv/yr is safe.[26]

In an interview with the Fukushima Minyu Shimbun, a local newspaper of the prefecture, Yamashita said, ”When people are exposed to radiation doses of 100mSV or more at a time, the possibility of getting cancer increases one out of every ten-thousand people” and said of the radiation dose that “It is equivalent to the radiation dose of receiving 10 times of CT scan one time. But CT scan is necessary for medication, so CT scan itself is not bad”.[27]

On March 19, 2011, Yamashita visited the prefectural government's disaster headquarters and said, "Information about radiation risks has not been correctly communicated. Under the current levels, administering iodine pills is unnecessary."[28]

Meanwhile, as the president of the Japan Thyroid Association, Yamashita wrote a letter dated March 24, 2011 to its members that thyroid blockage was not necessary, citing the opinion of the Japanese Society of Nuclear Medicine.[29] However, in the affected areas like Iitate, Soma and Minami-Soma, high radiation doses required people to take iodine pills for thyroid blockage by the standard of Japan (100mSV)[30] and WTO (10mSV) was widely detected according to the SPEEDI map released to the public on March 24, 2011.[31]

In April, Yamashita become a member of the committee for disputes of nuclear liability by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.[32]

In reaction to the lectures by Yamashita, the citizen group[which?] collected signatures for his dismissal from the position of advisor.[33]

Due to his optimistic statements on radiation exposure in a series of lectures, Yamashita earned nicknames such as “Mr. 100mSV”[34] and “Damashita” (who tricked).[35] Some even compare him with Josef Mengele.[1]

Receiving criticism and repellence from people in Fukushima, he stated “leaving or staying Fukushima needs determination.” He explained the meaning of determination as "I do not deny over-protection, but parents shall let their children face difficulties: to judge properly by themselves in times of stress. It is to tell the risk and profit in a gray area with no answer of 〇 and X. Sailing to the ocean without any chart is the meaning of determination". He concluded the situation as “It is an endurance contest between me and people in Fukushima”.[36]

Takashi Hirose, writer and anti-nuke activist with Shojiro Akashi, made accusations of criminal negligence against executives of TEPCO and affiliated people including Yamashita in July 2011.[37]

From September 11 to September 12, 2011, by the support of the Nippon Foundation, an International Expert Symposium in Fukushima —Radiation and Health Risks – was held and Yamashita was one of the participants.[38]

Yamashita's words have gotten attention from overseas. In August, Der Spiegel interviewed the professor and asked questions about his statements.[39] In October 2011, at the German TV-channel ZDF, one of the public channels, Yamashita's comments on radiation were broadcast.[40]

On March 11, 2012, the one-year anniversary of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Yamashita spoke to the students, faculty and staff at Khalifa University, UAE.[41]

On June 12, more than 1,300 people in Fukushima filed complaints and accused 33 people, including Yamashita.[42]

In February 2013, Yamashita informed Nature by email that he would quit his post as the head of Fukushima prefecture's massive survey at the end of March.[43] Yamashita was chosen to be the tenth Warren K. Sinclair Keynote Speaker at the 49th Annual Meeting of the NCRP to be held March 11 and 12, 2013.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Fukushima: a strange kind of homecoming By Mure Dickie
  2. ^ 東日本大震災で長崎大学が果たした役割 (The role played by Nagasaki University in the great Earthquake of Eastern Japan)
  3. ^ ■ カトリック医師会ニュース ■ 2005/1/14 ▼ カトリック新聞 2005年1月15日号から ▼ Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ 第19回カトリック医療関連学生セミナー報告  長崎支部 山下俊一・芦澤潔人 Archived 2012-11-06 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ 日本一の長寿県を目指して・山下 俊一 福島県立医科大学 副学長・長崎大学大学院 教授 〜福島県復興に向けて健康の見守り事業〜
  6. ^ ひと 朝日がん大賞を受ける山下俊一さん(59) (The person to be bestowed with Asahi Cancer Award, Mr. Shunichi Yamashita) The Asahi Shimbun September 1, 2011
  7. ^ よきおとずれ 2005年 916号 3月号4面 あなたの60年長崎原爆忌 被爆地長崎の医療を世界の届ける山下俊一さん(52)長崎大学教授
  8. ^ 2012年2月 - 長崎県立長崎北高等学校同窓会
  9. ^ 笹川チェルノブイリ医療協力事業を振り返って - 笹川記念保健協力財団
  10. ^ 朝日がん大賞に山下俊一さん 被曝医療に貢献朝日新聞社)2011年9月1日6時0分
  11. ^ 国立国会図書館蔵書検索 による
  12. ^ a b Concern about the future of medical care for radiation victims
  13. ^ Report of the Health Effects of the ChernobylAccident
  14. ^ ”The Light and Dark Side of Radiation: The Strategy of WHO”, The Journal of Japan Physicians Association, Vol.23 No.5, 2009
  15. ^ N. Ghtobi, M. Morishita, A. Ohtsuru, S. Yamashita (2005). “Evidence-based guidelines needed on the use of CT scanning in Japan”JMAJ 48 (9): pp. 451-457
  16. ^ "DOCTORS, NURSES, CARE WORKERS COMBINE EFFORTS FOR BETTER SERVICES, Catholic Weekly, November 1, 2009". Archived from the original on June 11, 2012. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  17. ^ "カトリックさいたま教区2011イベント報告 ◆「放射能」について学ぼう・サポートセンター講演会". Archived from the original on 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  18. ^ 福音宣教 7月号 放射性物質の遺伝子への影響について さいたま教区助祭 矢吹貞人 36ページ
  19. ^ 本当に大丈夫? 放射能 ~放射能について学ぼう 山下俊一先生に聞く~ カトリックさいたま教区サポートセンター 2011年5月30日発行
  20. ^ "カトリックさいたま教区サポートセンター ~これまでの活動のまとめ~ 2011 年9 月1 日 カトリックさいたま教区サポートセンター センター長補佐 矢吹貞人 斉藤紳二" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  21. ^ よきおとずれ カトリック長崎大司教区報 第986号 2011年8月1日[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ よきおとずれ カトリック長崎大司教区報 第991号 2012年1月1日[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ 長崎平和研修を実施(2010年8月8日)創価大学平和問題研究所
  24. ^ 原発事故 わが子の健康は大丈夫・・・ 党福島・郡山総支部と市民らが共催 山下教授(長崎大学 大学院)を招きセミナー 公明新聞:2011年5月30日付 Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ a b 緊急ひばくしゃ対応支援 活動状況一覧
  26. ^ Open Letter of Inquiry to the Organizing Committee for the International Expert Symposium in Fukushima — Radiation and Health Risks
  27. ^ The Risk of Getting Cancer is Close to Zero, The Fukushima Minyu Shimbun, March 21, 2011 page 15
  28. ^ Authorities jump gun on iodine pills / Premature distribution risked ill effects on health, depleted emergency supplies, The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 22, 2011
  29. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-13. Retrieved 2012-04-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-18. Retrieved 2011-09-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2011-09-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ 原子力損害賠償紛争審査会 委員名簿 Archived 2012-04-21 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ "Fukushima Parents Seek Dismissal of Radiation Advisor Shunichi Yamashita, Fukushima Update". Archived from the original on 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  34. ^ Experts struggle to collect data in Fukushima - Features - Al Jazeera[permanent dead link]
  35. ^ "Finding meaning in the changing face of matter".
  36. ^ Determination to Judge personally is necessary. Anxiety toward Radiation Continues - Asking Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, Perefectual Risk Management Advisor, The Fukushima Minyu, June 20, 2011 (Japanese)
  37. ^ Journalist to Sue Prof. Yamashita, Minister of Education and Science and TEPCO Management on YouTube
  38. ^ International Expert Symposium in Fukushima - Radiation and Health Risks -, The Nippon Foundation's Website
  39. ^,1518,780810,00.html "People Are Suffering from Radiophobia", Spiegel Online
  40. ^ German TV-channel ZDF talks with workers at Fukushima Dai-ichi on YouTube (German, English subs)
  41. ^ "Shunichi Yamashita Speaks to Khalifa University about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster and Radiation Health Risk Management11/03/2012". Archived from the original on 2012-05-07. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
  42. ^ Over 1,300 Fukushima residents file complaints with prosecutors over nuclear crisis, June 12, 2012 (Mainichi Japan)[permanent dead link]
  43. ^ Fukushima health-survey chief to quit post Shunichi Yamashita led well-received study of nuclear accident's effects but was blamed for poor communication. Geoff Brumfiel 20 February 2013
  44. ^ "Shunichi Yamashita is named the Tenth Warren K. Sinclair Keynote Speaker, National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements (NCRP)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-03-30. Retrieved 2013-02-24.

External links[edit]