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Concept: Honshū


This paper focuses on an overview of radioactive cesium 137 (quasi-Cs137 included Cs134) contamination of freshwater fish in Fukushima and eastern Japan based on the data published by the Fisheries Agency of the Japanese Government in 2011. In the area north and west of the Fukushima Nuclear plant, freshwater fish have been highly contaminated. For example, the mean of active cesium (quasi-Cs137) contamination of Ayu (Plecoglossus altivelis) is 2,657 Bq/kg at Mano River, 20-40 km north-west from the plant. Bioaccumulation is observed in the Agano river basin in Aizu sub-region, 70-150 km west from the plant. The active cesium (quasi-Cs137) contamination of carnivorous Salmondae is around 2 times higher than herbivorous Ayu. The extent of active cesium (quasi-Cs137) contamination of Ayu is observed in the entire eastern Japan. The some level of the contamination is recognized even in Shizuoka prefecture, 400 km south-west from the plant.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, Japan, Freshwater fish, Prefectures of Japan, Government of Japan, Honshū, Shizuoka Prefecture, Ayu


In Fukushima, Japan, a prolonged refugee situation caused by a major nuclear incident after the earthquake of March 11, 2011 has led to the unintentional abandonment of many pets. We received stray or abandoned dogs from rescue centers in Fukushima Prefecture. During re-socialization training and health care, we accessed the behavioral characteristics and the urine cortisol level of each dog and compared them with those of other abandoned dogs not involved in this earthquake. The dogs from Fukushima showed significantly lower aggression toward unfamiliar people, trainability, and attachment to their caretakers; also, urine cortisol levels in the dogs from Fukushima were 5-10-fold higher than those in abandoned dogs from another area of Japan. These results suggested that the dogs from Fukushima suffered through an extremely stressful crisis.

Concepts: Health care, Japan, Dog, Earthquake, Prefectures of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Tōhoku region, Honshū


A dark septate fungus of Pseudosigmoidea, Hyphomycetes, was recovered from forest soil in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan. The isolate is characterized by pale to brown conidia with up to 8 septa measuring 68-132 × 4-7.9 mm. It is also unique in producing conidia borne by long conidogenious cells in agar medium with or without water, compared to P. cranei, which must be immersed in water to sporulate. Morphological analysis indicated that the isolate is distinct from P. cranei and is described as a new species, P. ibarakiensis sp. nov. Pathogenicity tests of Chinese cabbage and cucumber seedlings indicated that the fungus grows as an endophyte and colonizes, inter and intracellularly, the root epidermal and cortical layers without causing apparent disease symptoms in the host. This endophyte showed the ability to support cucumber plant growth under conditions where NaNO3 was replaced by organic nitrogen but also conferred to Chinese cabbage the ability to grow at low pH. It also became successfully established in six other plants, including the Brassicae, Solanaceae, Poaceae, and Liliacea families, suggesting its adaptability to a broad range of host plants.

Concepts: Plant, Fungus, Japan, Spore, Endophyte, Prefectures of Japan, Honshū, Kantō region


Due to the likelihood of physical and mental health impacts following the unprecedented accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, the Fukushima prefectural government decided to conduct the Fukushima Health Management Survey to assist in the long-term health management of residents. This included thyroid ultrasound examination for all children in Fukushima. For appropriate evaluation of ultrasound screening of the thyroid, it is important to understand its reference data of thyroid findings in children in general. In order to analyze the frequencies of specific thyroid findings, we conducted ultrasound screening of the thyroid by the same procedures as used in Fukushima in 4,365 children, aged 3 to 18 years, from three Japanese prefectures. Overall, thyroid cysts were identified in 56.88% and thyroid nodules in 1.65% of the participants. Thyroid cysts and nodules with a maximum diameter of more than 5 mm were identified in 4.58% and 1.01%, respectively, and age-adjusted prevalences were 3.82% and 0.99%, respectively. Although the prevalence of cysts and nodules varied among the examination areas, no significant differences were observed among the three examination areas in the prevalence of cysts and nodules with a maximum diameter of more than 5 mm. Also, the prevalence of thyroid cysts and nodules, especially those with a maximum diameter of more than 5 mm, significantly increased with age, and showed a female predominance. We also identified ectopic thymus (1.95%), diffuse goiter (1.40%), ultimobranchial body (0.73%), lymph node swelling (0.21%) and thyroid agenesis (0.05%). This is the first ultrasound description of the age-adjusted prevalence of thyroid cysts and nodules, or of the prevalence of abnormalities other than cysts and nodules, such as ectopic thymus, in relation to age, in the general Japanese child population. We contend that this can provide relevant information for the Fukushima Health Management Survey and future population studies.

Concepts: Demography, Japan, Nuclear power, Goitre, Prefectures of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Honshū, Parafollicular cell


In an unprecedented food monitoring campaign for radionuclides, the Japanese government took action to secure food safety after the Fukushima nuclear accident (11 March 2011). In this paper we analyze a part of the immense data set, in particular radiocesium contaminations in food from the first year after the accident. Activity concentrations in vegetables peaked immediately after the campaign had commenced, but they decreased quickly, so that by early summer 2011 only few samples exceeded the regulatory limits. Later, accumulating mushrooms and dried produce led to several exceedances of the limits again. Monitoring of meat started with significant delay, especially outside Fukushima prefecture. After a buildup period, contamination levels of meat peaked by July 2011 (beef). Levels then decreased quickly, but peaked again in September 2011, which was primarily due to boar meat (a known accumulator of radiocesium). Pre-Fukushima 137Cs and 90Sr levels (resulting from atmospheric nuclear explosions) in food were typically lower than 0.5 Bq/kg, whereby meat was typically higher in 137Cs, and vegetarian produce was usually higher in 90Sr. The correlation of background radiostrontium and radiocesium indicated that the regulatory assumption after the Fukushima accident of a maximum activity of 90Sr being 10% of the respective 137Cs concentrations may soon be at risk, as the 90Sr/137Cs ratio increases with time. This should be taken into account for the current Japanese food policy as the current regulation will soon underestimate the 90Sr content of Japanese foods.

Concepts: Nuclear medicine, Food, Japan, Radioactive contamination, Prefectures of Japan, Government of Japan, Honshū, Cabinet of Japan


Twelve high schools in Japan (of which six are in Fukushima Prefecture), four in France, eight in Poland and two in Belarus cooperated in the measurement and comparison of individual external doses in 2014. In total 216 high-school students and teachers participated in the study. Each participant wore an electronic personal dosimeter ’D-shuttle' for two weeks, and kept a journal of his/her whereabouts and activities. The distributions of annual external doses estimated for each region overlap with each other, demonstrating that the personal external individual doses in locations where residence is currently allowed in Fukushima Prefecture and in Belarus are well within the range of estimated annual doses due to the terrestrial background radiation level of other regions/countries.

Concepts: Ionizing radiation, Japan, High school, Background radiation, Prefectures of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Tōhoku region, Honshū


Since the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima in March 2011, the Japanese government has conducted screening and removal of contaminated foods from the market that exceed provisional regulation limits for radionuclides. This study aimed to provide an urgent estimate of the dietary exposure of adult residents recruited from three areas in Japan to cesium 134 (134Cs), cesium 137 (137Cs), and, for comparison, natural potassium 40 (40K) on December 4, 2011. Fifty-three sets of 24-hr food-duplicate samples were collected in Fukushima Prefecture and neighboring regions. The 134Cs, 137Cs, and 40K levels in the samples were measured using a germanium detector. Items in the food-duplicate samples were recorded and analyzed for radiocesium intake. Radiocesium was detected in 25 of 26 samples from Fukushima. The median dietary intake of radiocesium was 4.0 Bq/day (range <0.26-17 Bq/day). The estimated annual dose from radiocesium was calculated assuming that the daily intake of radiocesium was constant throughout the year. The median estimated dose level was 23 μSv/year (range <2.6-99 μSv/year). The estimated dose level of radiocesium was significantly higher in Fukushima than in the Kanto region and western Japan. Stepwise multiple linear regression analyses demonstrated that the intake of fruits and mushrooms produced in Fukushima were significant factors for the dietary intake of 137Cs in the 26 participants from Fukushima. The average radioactivity (±SD) of locally produced persimmons and apples (n=16) were 23±28 and 30±35 Bq/kg for 134Cs and 137Cs, respectively. The preliminary estimated dietary dose levels among Fukushima residents were much lower than the maximum permissible dose 1 mSv/year, based on new Japanese standard limits for radiocesium in foods (100 Bq/kg for general foods). In future studies, the exposure estimates should be refined by probability sampling to eliminate biases.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Linear regression, Chernobyl disaster, Japan, Prefectures of Japan, Government of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Honshū


Proteus mirabilis is a common cause of urinary tract infection. Wild-type P. mirabilis strains are usually susceptible to penicillins and cephalosporins, but occurrences of P. mirabilis producing extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs) have been recently reported. Here, we surveyed the prevalence of cefotaxime resistance among P. mirabilis strains at seven different hospitals in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, and investigated their molecular epidemiology to explain the mechanism of their spread. The prevalence of cefotaxime resistance among P. mirabilis increased annually, from 10.1 % in 1998 to 23.1 % in 2003, and increased drastically in 2004, exceeding 40 %. We collected 105 consecutive and non-duplicate cefotaxime-resistant P. mirabilis isolates (MIC 16 to >256 µg ml(-1)) from these hospitals from June 2004 to May 2005 and characterized their profile. PCR and sequence analysis revealed that all resistant strains produced exclusively CTX-M-2 β-lactamase. PFGE analysis identified 47 banding patterns with 83 % or greater similarity. These results indicated that a regional outbreak of P. mirabilis producing CTX-M-2 β-lactamase has occurred in Japan and suggest that the epidemic spread occurred within and across hospitals and communities by extended clonal strains. Plasmid analysis revealed that 44.8 % of plasmids harboured by bla(CTX-M-2) isolates had common profiles, encoding ISEcp1, IS26 and Int1, and belonged to incompatibility group T. Spread of the resistant isolates in Japan resulted from dissemination of narrow-host-range plasmids of the IncT group encoding bla(CTX-M-2). These findings indicate the rapidly developing problem of treating the species to prevent dissemination of ESBL producers.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Urinary tract infection, Plasmid, Urease, Prefectures of Japan, Proteus mirabilis, Honshū, Kanagawa Prefecture


The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident that occurred after the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 released large quantities of radionuclides to the environment. The long-term effects of radioactive cesium (Cs) on biota are of particular concern. We investigated the accumulation of radioactive Cs derived from the FDNPP accident, and chronic effects of environmental radionuclides on male reproduction, in the large Japanese field mouse (Apodemus speciosus). In 2013 and 2014, wild mice were captured at 2 sites in Fukushima Prefecture and at 2 control sites that were distant from Fukushima. Although the median concentrations of (134)Cs and (137)Cs in the mice from Fukushima exceeded 4,000 Bq/kg, there were no significant differences in the apoptotic cell frequencies or the frequencies of morphologically abnormal sperm among the capture sites. Thus, we conclude that radiation did not cause substantial male subfertility in Fukushima during 2013 and 2014, and radionuclide pollution levels in the study sites would not be detrimental to spermatogenesis of the wild mice in Fukushima.

Concepts: Ionizing radiation, Chernobyl disaster, Natural environment, Radioactive decay, Japan, Radionuclide, Apodemus, Honshū


In April 2012 we carried out a 1-year hematological study on a population of wild Japanese monkeys inhabiting the forest area of Fukushima City. This area is located 70 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which released a large amount of radioactive material into the environment following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. For comparison, we examined monkeys inhabiting the Shimokita Peninsula in Aomori Prefecture, located approximately 400 km from the NPP. Total muscle cesium concentration in Fukushima monkeys was in the range of 78-1778 Bq/kg, whereas the level of cesium was below the detection limit in all Shimokita monkeys. Compared with Shimokita monkeys, Fukushima monkeys had significantly low white and red blood cell counts, hemoglobin, and hematocrit, and the white blood cell count in immature monkeys showed a significant negative correlation with muscle cesium concentration. These results suggest that the exposure to some form of radioactive material contributed to hematological changes in Fukushima monkeys.

Concepts: Hemoglobin, Blood, Red blood cell, Hematology, Japan, Hematocrit, Complete blood count, Honshū