Itsuzo Shigematsu, former RERF chairman, dies at 94

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

It was learned on February 15 that Itsuzo Shigematsu, who served for 16 years as the chairman of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), located in Minami Ward, Hiroshima, passed away on February 6. He was 94. Originally from Osaka, Dr. Shigematsu died of pneumonia at a hospital in Tokyo. The funeral service was held on February 15 with close relatives in attendance, including his wife Yoshie. A gathering to mourn Dr. Shigematsu’s death will be held in the near future.

Mr. Shigematsu graduated from the medical school of the Tokyo Imperial University in 1941. In his time as chairman of RERF from 1981 to 1997, which is run jointly by the Japanese and U.S. governments, he led the effort by experts of both nations to develop DS 86, a method used to calculate the estimated level of radiation suffered by A-bomb survivors. He also served in a variety of senior posts in and out of Japan dealing with radiation damage and protection.

In the wake of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Dr. Shigematsu visited the area to conduct research in his role as chairman of the International Advisory Committee, an assignment given by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He compiled a report in 1991, which concluded that “no major effects” were found on the local population.

Between 1988 and 1991, Dr. Shigematsu was the chair of the “Panel of Experts on Black Rain,” a body organized by the Hiroshima Prefectural government and the City of Hiroshima. He also served as the first chairman of the Hiroshima International Council for Health Care of the Radiation-Exposed (HICARE), established by the Hiroshima Prefectural government, the City of Hiroshima, and other entities with the objective of providing international support to the victims of radiation exposure.

(Originally published on February 16, 2012)