Yukiko Okada, biologist and radiochemist, Tokyo, Japan

"Move away if you can afford it"

Yukiko Okada is a biologist, radiochemist and assistant professor at the Atomic Energy Research Laboratory at Tokyo City University. She is a member of Women in Nuclear, a worldwide association of women working professionally in the nuclear industry.

"It's very important to me to explain radioactivity to people, which is why I give presentations at schools or at parent-teacher meetings in Fukushima. I tell them that radioactivity has always existed naturally, explain the chemical basis with the periodic table of elements, and report on using nuclear energy in power plants to generate energy. Of course I also accept the dangers of radioactive radiation, but I always stress that this risk is manageable. The radiation doses, as we measure them in Fukushima, are well under the threshold of a demonstrable risk of cancer, which is at 100 millisieverts. I want to dispel people's fear and inspire young people in particular to make a career in something to do with nuclear energy. We need them. Would I also personally live in Fukushima? Yes, but not everywhere. There are places where the radiation is too high. And when a mother asks me for advice as to whether she should stay in Fukushima, my answer is: Leave if you feel uncertain and if you can afford it. As we say in Japan, you quickly forget how hot the water was that you had just swallowed. And this is how most of the people behave in Fukushima today."

Read more:

Old ideas in new packaging