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Leading anti-nuclear power researcher announces retirement

Tetsuji Imanaka (Mainichi)

Tetsuji Imanaka, the only remaining member of the "Kumatori 6" -- a group of researchers at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute whose work has focused upon the dangers of nuclear power -- will retire at the end of March, although he will continue studying such matters as radioactive contamination due to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster.

    Imanaka, 65, an assistant professor with the institute -- which is located in the town of Kumatori, Osaka Prefecture -- is a leading authority on the 1986 nuclear power disaster in Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. He will deliver a retirement lecture on related matters on Feb. 10 in conjunction with an independent course begun by his research group, which is titled the "Seminar on the safety-related problems of nuclear power."

    The "Kumatori 6" is a study group that was initiated by six anti-nuclear researchers, who included Hiroaki Koide and Keiji Kobayashi in addition to Imanaka. Their nuclear safety-related seminars have been made available to members of the general public.

    Imanaka, who became the research group's final working member following Koide's retirement last year in March, is originally from the city of Hiroshima. He lost his grandmother to the atomic bombing, and his mother was also herself a hibakusha.

    He went on to enter the nuclear power engineering department at Osaka University -- a decision he described as "having nothing to do with (his background)." He explained, rather, that the subject "seemed interesting insofar as it utilized the latest technologies."

    Later finishing graduate school at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Imanaka became an assistant with the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute in 1976.

    Harboring suspicions about the nature of nuclear power development, however, he began concentrating his research toward making contributions that would lead to the cessation of nuclear power use.

    Imanaka traveled to Chernobyl in 1990, and Takeshi Seo, another one of the six researchers, came along as his assistant. Imanaka went on to return to Chernobyl over 20 times in order to conduct surveys.

    Following the nuclear power disaster in Fukushima Prefecture on March 11, 2011, Imanaka traveled to the prefectural village of Iitate -- which later became a planned evacuation zone -- within the month in order to conduct measurements of radioactive contamination. He also went on to continue providing local residents with information necessary for making decisions.

    Registration has already closed for next month's seminar, which more than 140 persons signed up to attend.

    Questions regarding his academic lecture should be directed toward the research institute at 072-451-2300.

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