Dr. Rihito Kimura, former Research Director (1980–2000) of the Asia/International Bioethics Program at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, and an ongoing faculty affiliate, recently visited Washington, DC, to present some of his work on ethical issues related the health problems of atomic bomb survivors to the US Department of Energy.
Dr. Kimura is one of a group convened by the Department of Energy to review the work of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), a binational organization dedicated to studying the health effects of exposure to atomic bomb radiation. RERF was inaugurated in 1975 by the governments of the US and Japan to conduct research on medical effects of radiation and associated diseases in humans, “with a view to contributing to the maintenance of the health and welfare of atomic bomb survivors and to the enhancement of the health of all humankind,” according to a recent overview published by the RERF.
The RERF was preceded by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), which was established in 1947 after the end of the second World War. Its study of atomic bomb survivors has continued for more than 60 years, making it the only undertaking of this size and scale of its kind in the world. Its ongoing epidemiological studies of health and longevity of a population of more than 120,000 individuals are intended to contribute not only to the health of the survivors being studied, but to meet the needs of a global community concerned with radiation-related medical treatment and safety measures.
Kimura’s trip to the US involved a few days at the KIE and its Bioethics Research Library. “I very much appreciated the warmth in which everyone at KIE welcomed me back,” he said. “It was so wonderful to see many former colleagues and also meet new scholars and staff members. Thanks to the great work … of the KIE staff (especially the librarians), I was able to jump right into my research studies,” he explained.