Frank Boulton's blog from the IPPNW International Congress in Hiroshima
Frank Boulton’s blog
from the IPPNW International Conference in Hiroshima
Frank’s blog Wednesday August 22nd
Over 30 degrees here and humid. Have met several IPPNW
colleagues today, and been given a load of paper cranes to pester the UK Prime
Minister with. A good session at the student Congress; great potential for
increasing contacts between Student IPPNW and Medsin UK and raising the profile
of the Nuclear Weapons Inheritance Project. Alex Rosen spoke on the “Hibushaka
Around the World” (victims of the numerous nuclear accidents since 1945). He
has also drafted an excellent critique of the recent WHO report on Fukushima
There is a detailed poster exhibition on this.
I visited the Memorial
Museum - very sobering
indeed. I was most affected by the tatty ‘log-book’ which was an attempt to
document as they were found the identified bodies in the immediate and
awful aftermath. There is a tendency among some recent commentators on the
August 6th and 9th to discount the early ‘non-documented’
medical consequences (how much acute radiation sickness, how many leukaemias,
etc.) but the exhibition and this log-book just show how unreasonable such
Have just bought the tickets for my rail trip to Fukushima; now to welcome Judith McDonald from Glasgow - the only other
Medact delegate - who has just arrived.
Frank’s blog Thursday August 23rd
It was the day for the Committees today - IPPNW Board (at
which I was a ‘guest’) in the morning and International Council (IC) in the
afternoon. Several subjects overlapped, including how many Co-Presidents;
activity reports: ICAN, humanitarian consequences, Aiming for Prevention (small
arms), and from student IPPNW.
The IC voted overwhelmingly to allow for four Co-Presidents,
so that all four candidates were voted in - Vladimir
Ira Helfand, USA;
Robert Mtonga, Zambia
(re-elected) and Tilman Ruff,
IC also voted in Kati Juva,
Finland, as its
next Speaker. Altogether there will be 20 members of the new Board including
all nine Regional Vice-Presidents so that only 4 or 5 of the 10 IC candidates
will be elected to the Board. These include yours truly. The elections will
take place at Sunday’s re-convened IC.
More interestingly, on the activities, ICAN seems
particularly successful although I remain slightly concerned about the
strategic emphasis on increasing the Non-nuclear Weapons’ States persuasive
powers over the Nuclear Weapons States. It appears that there has been little,
if any, consultation with NGO’s in USA
about the place for an active ICAN chapter in those countries. However, the
five nuclear powers were rattled at the 2010 NPT Revue Conference by the work
on humanitarian consequences of nuclear war, so it is clearly worthwhile to
encourage this to continue.
The Visa restrictions placed by the Japanese Authorities for
several delegates - most notably from Nigeria
- was raised: I reported on Medact’s letters to the Japanese Ambassadors in UK and Nigeria - which was appreciated..
I also did our ‘plug’ for Medicine Conflict and Survival,
and myself as a candidate as an ‘At Large’ Board Member but am prepared to be
Greatly entertained by some Japanese children playing
xylophones and percussion at the opening ceremony this evening - it’s the first
day of the main congress tomorrow.
blog, Saturday 25th August
an early start, to meet IPPNW’s anti-nuclear energy group. We will continue
exploring a non-nuclear agenda and report back; understanding that the
anti-nuclear energy feeling throughout IPPNW is now strong although not yet
universal. Alex’ draft critique of the WHO Fukushima report (preliminary dose
estimates up to September 2011) was commended and will be further developed. I
took the opportunity to outline my own work - and the Hexham debate - to
general interest and approval. Jeff has a fairly comprehensive data base and
Alex will help develop a ‘drop-box’ system so that within our group we can
share data more easily.
symposium went well: following my brief introduction, Maureen McCue addressed
the American scene, explaining that global warming addresses economic, human rights, lifestyle, and health
issues, and is about race, class, democratic participation, global democracy
and security. Martin Sonnabend gave an overview of the initiatives in Germany to promote local and efficient sources
of renewable energy; while Arun Mitra gave a sober assessment of the situation
My student co-presenter, Arashdeep Singh summarised the anxieties felt by the
Indian Medical student body. Several participants asked questions which were
fielded most expertly by panel members, including the matter of military energy
demands and their impact on global emissions.
In the afternoon plenary, Ron McCoy
and Rebecca Johnson eloquently addressed the urgency of the global situation.
The basic message of the day supported my contention that we DO NOT NEED
nuclear energy, and there is no need to develop it (see my Hexham talk on this
website) and that a nuclear weapons ban should be negotiated immediately.
After a moving evening ceremony for
Congress participants hosted by the Governor and by the Mayor of Hiroshima,
Judith and I lit candles at the Memorial
Monument - the end of
another rewarding day.
blog Sunday 26 August
day of this Congress started with a session on the health implications of
nuclear energy, followed by accounts of what happened in Fukushima. Ohtsura Niwa, radiation biologist
and member of the ICRP (International Expert Symposium in Fukushima), gave an
account of the dose effects of radiation on the victims based on the distance
from the hypocentre and how much the victims were sheltered - for example by
being indoors, and the background of the dose exposure estimates. The IRCP
still goes by the LNT (linear no-threshold) theory and the increased
sensitivities of infants and children. He described the absence of inherited
genetic effects in the children of Hibakusha, and the changes of lymphocyte
sensitivity to chromosomal damage at the time of birth.
following session described what happened at Fukushima in line with WHO’s report of
earlier this year which an IPPNW working group feels makes under-estimations of
the victims’ radiation exposure: this caused a frank and lively disagreement
from the floor.
day - and the Congress - finished with a reading of the ‘Hiroshima Statement’
by the Congress President. In the IC Meeting which followed the new ‘At Large’
Board members were elected, along with Kati Juva as Speaker of the ICF and
Bjorn Hildt as Deputy.
Frank’s blog - Monday 27th - morning
Up early before setting off to Tokyo
and the Fukushima
symposium tonight. I attended the morning Board Meeting as an Observer. Lars
was elected as Board Chair with Bjorn as Deputy, and Ira as Secretary. The
student reps were introduced but had to leave before they could give their
report (which they will email on). As Lars was elected Chair, he has stepped
down from chairing the Nuclear Energy Interest Group (not yet a Core IPPNW
project) and it was agreed that I take over this function.
It was agreed to endorse the IPPNW Resolution on the state
of insecurity in the Middle East, with particular reference to Iran and Syria and the need to outlaw
nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction from the ME Zone. Also to
support the meeting planned for Helsinki
on 15/16 October 2013 on the ‘Nuclear Exit Strategy’. The next Board Meeting
will be held in Germany
during the Aiming for Prevention Meeting organised by Helmut Loehrer in
The BM was ‘adjourned’ at 11.20 so that those (including me)
attending the Fukushima Symposium in Tokyo
tonight could catch their train.
Monday evening. Excellent symposium - a contrast to
yesterday’s meeting and the attempt to downplay the degree of exposure from the
accident. The hard work of Peace Boat colleagues in organising this and the
tour (tomorrow) is greatly appreciated. Good to see a colleague from Oxford - now based in Japan – a social anthropologist who
has a deep understanding of Japanese society and political trends. An
interesting discussion with a Japanese Diet Member about epidemiology.
Frank’s blog - Tuesday August 28th
6.40 am train to Fukushima
(two hours), them the bus tour which took us through deserted fields and
dwellings, but also to temporary settlements for the evacuees, a health centre
(very well appointed). Many blue bags with contaminated topsoil dumped on
fields (as the first stage of decontamination) and radiation detector counters
carefully sited so as to give lower ‘re-assuring’ indications of environmental
exposure. Good conversations with several in the company: and an impromptu
presentation, on the social consequences of the Fukushima disaster, over the bus loud
speaker. Back to the Tokyo Hotel by 10pm, to pack and prepare for the return
Frank’s blog - Wednesday August 29th
Civilised hour for breakfast - 8am. Met many delegates most of
whom are going to the Press Conference at 10am. I had a plane to catch at 12.05
so travelled by hotel bus to Narita
Airport, missing the
Press Conference. Arrived home at 12.45 am Thursday 30th feeling
that there is still much to do. My main priorities now are the nuclear power
issue, ICAN UK, and to get Student IPPNW to create an enthusiasm for the
nuclear causes among UK
students at Medsin etc, including the dangers of the downplaying messages.