Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to appropriate funds for RERF’s relocation in fiscal 2018 budget

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

With regard to the relocation of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), a cooperative Japan-U.S. research organization, to Naka Ward, Hiroshima, it was learned on August 2 that the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare plans to cover the costs necessary for studying this relocation in the fiscal 2018 budget request. Based on the City of Hiroshima’s proposal to relocate RERF to the city’s general health center in Naka Ward, full consideration will be given to the relocation issue.

In 1993, a plan was devised to move RERF to the former site of Hiroshima University’s Faculty of Engineering in Naka Ward, which the City of Hiroshima had purchased in advance. The U.S. government, however, expressed disapproval with this plan because of its fiscal burden, resulting in an impasse. Last year, in line with the Health Ministry’s wish to reduce the costs of the relocation, the City of Hiroshima proposed the idea of moving RERF to the existing general health center.

This past June, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui met with Yasuhisa Shiozaki, the minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, and requested that the ministry appropriate funds for examining the relocation in the budget for fiscal year 2018. The inclusion of these funds to study the relocation could lead to a resolution of this issue, but toward this end, the U.S. government’s agreement to the plan, including the division of related expenses, is required. In addition, as the general health center is already being used by the Hiroshima City Medical Association to house health examination facilities for A-bomb survivors, the city must weigh a plan to move these facilities to a different site.

RERF was originally established as the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) by the United States in 1947, and in 1950 the ABCC building was constructed in Hijiyama Hill Park where it is currently located. However, there has been a strong demand among local residents for the facility to be relocated. The City of Hiroshima has crafted a plan to reorganize Hijiyama Hill Park into the “Hill for Peace.”

(Originally published on August 3, 2017)