Anti-Nuke Who’s Who Katsumi Furitsu, Japanese activist working for a nuclear-free world Nuke Info Tokyo No. 151
by NAKAGAWA Keiko*
|Dr. Katsumi Furitsu|
Katsumi Furitsu is a quiet but strong-willed medical doctor, devoting her life to the treatment of radiation victims and participating in various campaigns for peace and a nuclear-free society both at home and abroad. She is also a parttime lecturer (genetics and basic medical radiology) at the Hyogo College of Medicine. Dr. Furitsu is head of the secretariat of the Osaka-based “Chernobyl Relief Group of Kansai,” and a member of the “Campaign Against Radiation Exposure.” Since 2004, Dr. Furitsu has been a member of the steering committee and science team of the “International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons” (ICBUW), and since 2005, a member of the “International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War” (IPPNW).
This year (2012), Dr. Furitsu received the Nuclear Free Future Award (educational category) from the German-based Franz Moll Foundation. This award is granted to individuals or groups contributing to movements to create a nuclear-free world for future generations. The award was given to Dr. Katsumi Furitsu in recognition of her 30 years of work with the Japanese Hibakusha (atomic-bomb survivors), and work to publicize radiation risks from nuclear power plants, spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities and nuclear weapons.
Dr. Furitsu read a report about workers at nuclear power plants when she was a student, and was greatly shocked by the fact that the operation of the plants was based on the sacrifice of socially vulnerable people. This prompted her to participate in the anti-nuclear movement. After graduating from university, she worked at the Hannan Chuo Hospital in Osaka as a physician and was engaged in the treatment of radiation victims. At the same time, she took part in the hospital’s project to examine the physical condition of 1,200 sufferers of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were living in Osaka. The health checkups were conducted during the 1985-89 period. As a result, she came to realize that, even 40 years after the bombing, the patients were still suffering not only from damaged health but also from social discrimination in terms of employment and marriage, anxiety over radiation risks on their descendents, and other mental anguish. The more she knew about their plight, the more she felt the need to prevent such tragedies caused by radiation. Since then, she has actively participated in campaigns against the construction and operation of nuclear power plants in Fukui and Wakayama
In the spring of 1991, Dr. Furitsu visited Belarus, seriously affected by the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, and met local residents, who were still suffering great hardship. After returning to Japan, she organized the “Chernobyl Relief Group of Kansai” jointly with her friends. This group is extending both material relief and mental and emotional support to the residents in contaminated regions. Group members visit the disaster area every year to offer medical equipment and other supplies, and to provide local children with financial assistance for medical treatment. Moreover, the group occasionally invites victims to Japan, taking them to Hiroshima and Fukui Prefecture, where many nuclear power plants are located. On those occasions, they hold exchange meetings with local residents and children. This year, the group invited a medical doctor and a teacher from Belarus and held exchange meetings with sufferers of the Fukushima nuclear
accident. Immediately after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Dr. Katsumi Furitsu rushed to Fukushima to provide local residents with advice on how to reduce their exposure to radiation and to conduct an investigation concerning residents’ health effects. Starting this year, Dr. Furitsu is visiting Fukushima City once a month to give health-related advice to local residents. She is frequently asked to deliver lectures in Fukushima and her native Kansai region.
Dr. Furitsu flies to many parts of the world, carrying a notebook PC with her. In 1992, she attended the World Uranium Hearing held in Salzburg, and the second world conference on nuclear radiation victims held in Berlin. In 1996, she participated in the International Medical Commission on Chernobyl along with Dr. Rosalie Bertell and her colleagues, and gave testimony at the Permanent People’s Tribunal Session on Chernobyl which was held in protest
against IAEA, which has greatly underestimated the human damage from the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Furthermore, she visited several areas affected by the impacts of the “nuclear chain,” including uranium mine sites on Native American people’s land in the Southwest of the US, and in the downwind area of the Nevada test site. She is still communicating with the victims in those areas. Backed by a strong anti-nuclear sentiment, she is working tirelessly for the sake of socially disadvantaged radiation victims, and for me, she seems to be the reincarnation of Dr. Rosalie Bertell.