Clinical radiologist uses manga, TV to raise awareness(放射線、漫画やテレビで伝える)

Kosaku Saotome stands in front of a magnetic resonance imager for education use at the Fukushima Medical University’s School of Health Sciences in Fukushima.(教育のために使用するMRIの前に立つ五月女康作さん=福島医大福島駅前キャンパス)

 "Radiation House" is a TV show based on a popular manga about a clinical radiologist and those around him. The manga, published by Shueisha Inc., was pitched and supervised by Kosaku Saotome, a clinical radiologist with a fervent desire to change the way people perceive his profession.
 Saotome, 44, is determined to directly confront problems regarding prejudice and discrimination related to radiation in Fukushima Prefecture, the site of a nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011.


 "Radiation House" tells the story of a genius-level clinical radiologist as he solves various problems. First serialized in Grand Jump manga magazine in 2015, Fuji TV adapted the manga into a TV drama that aired its first season in 2019 with a second season airing from October to December in 2021.


 Clinical radiologists are experts in computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and other technologies. Despite those in the profession being sometimes referred to as the first to discover a patient's disease, the occupation hasn't gained widespread recognition. Saotome thought a manga based on the job would help improve people's understanding of it and repeatedly approached editors at Shueisha with the idea.
 After a while, production got up and running, a scriptwriter and a manga artist were appointed and its publication in Grand Jump began.
 "Hearing that the number of applicants to departments training clinical radiologists increased at universities across the country thanks to the manga and the TV adaptation made me happy," Saotome said.


 When Fukushima Medical University launched its School of Health Sciences in April, Saotome was brought on as an associate professor of the school's department of radiological sciences. One aspect he'd like to set his sights on is getting rid of prejudice surrounding radiation exposure, he said.


 In a survey Saotome himself conducted on 100 women clinical radiologists, he found that about 40% had suffered prejudice regarding their job, such as their families opposing to their getting into the profession and a concern that the job will make them infertile.
 According to a survey conducted by Mitsubishi Research Institute Inc., 40% of respondents living in Tokyo believe that the Fukushima nuclear disaster will pose a health hazard to those in the area and will genetically affect future generations.
 "Both surveys show that about 40% of people have decided to be scared of radiation because they don't understand it very well," Saotome said.


 "We must take serious steps to raise Japan's radioactivity literacy. I'd like to get involved with activities that will prevent the young from acquiring these prejudices," the clinical radiologist said emphatically.

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2021年12月5日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】