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President's Comments - March 23, 2005 -2

For the report "Risk Assessment of Old and Abandoned Chemical Weapons and Development of Safe Advanced Destruction Technology"

March 23, 2005

 The Science Council of Japan published a report, entitled "Risk Assessment of Old and Abandoned Chemical Weapons and Development of Safe Advanced Destruction Technology" on March 23, 2005. Based upon the Chemical Weapons Convention, this report proposes the safe destruction of the abandoned chemical weapons (ACWs) left in China by the former Japanese Army at the end of World War II. The report concerns the safety of the workers in charge of the destruction and the prevention of environmental contamination generated from the weapons. Also, the report addresses the hazard and injuries recently caused by old chemical weapons (OCWs) which had been disposed in the ground, lakes, and coastal areas of Japan.

 Advanced technologies are required for the safe destruction of OCWs and ACWs. In addition, medical science and emergency medical care are necessary for the prevention of injuries to workers/residents and for emergent treatment in case of accidents, such as that in Samukawa Town, Kanagawa Prefecture. It is, therefore, desired that recent scientific knowledge should be fully applied for these purposes.

 In the past, the Science Council of Japan published two reports on the safe disposal of ACWs. As a result of the reports, the proposal of research projects and the publication of their results concerning ACW disposal have become easier. Also, proposals on the robotization and automation of surveys, excavation, and handling of ACWs were discussed by specific academic societies and were taken into consideration in the design of the practical installations. Nevertheless, considering injuries to people that have recently occurred in China and Japan, presumably caused by ACWs or OCWs, scientific cooperation and exchange between physical science/engineering and medicine is desirable for the medical treatment of urgent and chronic toxication. In addition, risk assessment and risk management are important in pursuing the safe disposal of ACWs and OCWs. In carrying out their destruction, the contributions of human and social sciences, such as history, sociology, and geography, are also important. Thus, all fields of science should work together on this project. Approximately 50 million people are reported to suffer latently from toxication by arsenic present in the environment. It will be possible to apply Japan's arsenic disposal technique and therapeutic treatment technology against such arsenic toxication. It will be highly appreciated if Japan can contribute internationally not only to the amendment of the negative heritage but also to the improvement of the global environment.

by Kiyoshi Kurokawa, President of the Science Council of Japan

SCIENCE COUNCIL OF JAPAN  7-22-34, Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8555, Japan