Shin-ichi Kurokawa Sets Straight Dishonesty and Misrepresentation in the Hayano Statement Regarding the Radiation Dose Study with Alleged Misconduct

This is an unofficial English translation of the article that originally appeared on the HARBOR BUSINESS Online (HBOL) website on February 11, 2019, posted here with permission from the HBOL. The English translation is supplemented with additional information as needed, enclosed in square brackets.

*February 20, 2019 update: PDF link for translation of the article co-authored by Kurokawa and published in the February 2019 issue of Kagaku is inserted in appropriate places. This translation is available in Kagaku's e-publication page and citable in AMA style as: Kurokawa S, Shima A. A Glass Badge Study That Failed and Betrayed Residents —A Study with Seven Violations of Ethical Guidelines Can Be No Ground for Government Policies. Kagaku. 2019;89(2):e0017-e0024.

Urgent Report: Professor Emeritus Kurokawa sets straight dishonesty and misrepresentation in the "statement" by Ryugo Hayano, the author of the radiation dose study with alleged misconduct

Written by Shin-ichi Kurokawa

   On January 8, 2019, Ryugo Hayano posted "A position statement regarding the external dose study in Date City residents" (herein, "statement") at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology press club. He also tweeted it as below.
(Translation of Hayano’s tweet itself: Today, on January 8, I posted a “position statement regarding the external dose study in Date City residents” at the MEXT press club. It describes: the serious error which undercalculated the 70-year cumulative doses by a factor of 3; the reason for the error; unintentionality of the error; and apology to the Date City people.)

   This "statement" describes the "facts" surrounding the allegation made to the University of Tokyo for research misconduct as well as falsification regarding two studies (herein, Hayano-Miyazaki Papers I & II) co-authored by Makoto Miyazaki (Fukushima Medical University) and Ryugo Hayano (Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo) and published in a British journal, Journal of Radiological Protection (herein, JRP), which is a journal for the Society for Radiological Protection (SRP):“
The "statement" is also said to describe Hayano's views as the person mostly in charge of the data analysis. Incidentally, the "statement" shows an incorrect title for Paper II, but the correct title is shown above. The "statement" consists of two pages: the first page includes four items of explanation and a closing remark, and the second page is an attachment that explains the calculation error allegedly discovered by the authors (Hayano and Miyazaki).

English translation of the first page of the "statement" by Hayano from Hayano's tweet

The second page of the "statement" by Hayano from Hayano's tweet
(Numbers added in reference to Japanese translation of text shown below.)

A Figure 6 shows “measurements over a 3-month period represented by a single data in the central month.” However, in our data analysis program to calculate the cumulative dose, we failed to recognize that each period is “3-month long”. As a result, the cumulative doses were underestimated by a factor of 3.
B Figure 6, Paper II (excerpted for explanation), Distribution of individual doses by the glass badge measurement period (µSv/h)
C Figure 7, Paper II (excerpted for explanation), Cumulative doses (mSv)
D Glass badges were worn for 3 months. Figure 6 shows the 3-month average (dose rate) represented by the central month.
E In (this portion of) Figure 6, the data are shown only for the 7th and 10th months after the accident. However, the first measurements are for the 6th, 7th and 8th months, and the second ones for the 9th, 10th, and 11th months. The figure below exhibits these situations.
F Added up to calculate the cumulative doses
G Error: Data in Figure 6 were simply added.
H To be correct, the data should have been tripled as above. There is a similar error in the integrated theoretical curve, which should also have been tripled. Figure 5 also includes a similar error.

   Item 1 on the first page of the "statement" mentions "S. Kurokawa," which is me. It was my submission of a Letter to the Editor to JRP criticizing Paper II that triggered the sequence of events leading to this incident [of the allegation of research misconduct and falsification]. Not only does Hayano's explanation in the "statement" use vague and arbitrary expressions, but it also includes multiple falsehoods. I am greatly concerned that many people who read this "statement" might believe Hayano's words and gain a false notion of the circumstance. It is because of this concern that I decided to write this critique.

Timeline of how the Letter criticizing the Hayano-Miyazaki Paper was accepted

   A critique of a paper published in an academic journal usually takes a form of a paper called a Letter to the Editor. It is a rule in the world of science to criticize an academic paper with another academic paper, and it is also a rule to reply to the criticism with an academic paper.
   The status of My Letter to the Editor,
ʻComment on ʻIndividual external dose monitoring of all citizens of Date City by passive dosimeter 5 to 51 months after the Fukushima NPP accident (series): II. Prediction of lifetime additional effective dose and evaluating the effect of decontamination on individual doseʼ(shown in the arXiv site
follows the timeline shown below:

        August 17, 2018: The Letter is received by JRP.
        September 13, 2018: First revision submitted.
        November 5, 2018: Second revision submitted.
        November 16, 2018: The Letter "is ready to accept," and it was sent to the authors.

   The expression, the Letter "Is ready to accept" means that my Letter will be accepted when the original authors write and submit their reply: Both my Letter and their reply will then be published in the same issue. The November 16, 2018 email I received from the Editorial Office informing me that the Letter "is ready to accept" explained that the process of receiving the authors' reply usually takes about a month.

   My Letter to the Editor points out about 10 simple errors or inconsistencies between the numbers and graphs. The Letter was also peer-reviewed by two referees before attaining the "is ready to accept" status.

"Deceptions" seen in the Hayano "statement"

    Now, I am going to examine the content of the "statement."

   First, Item 1 states, "I was contacted by JRP to 'comment on Letter by S. Kurokawa with academic inquiries regarding the contents of Paper II.'" To those who might not be familiar with rules of academic journals, the expression, "Letter with academic inquiries," might be misunderstood as if I sent a letter of inquiries to JRP. What I did was not conducting academic inquiries nor sending a letter. Rather, what I did was submitting a form of academic paper called a Letter to the Editor. When the Letter became "ready to accept" on November 16, the authors were asked by the Editorial Office to reply. In explaining such a simple fact, Hayano's uses inappropriate and vague expressions.

   Next, I am going to examine the part, "When the main author and I reviewed the data analysis program made by myself for the study, we realized for the first time that we made a serious error in miscalculating the 70-year cumulative doses, underestimating the doses by a factor of 3."
   My Letter points out that even though Figure 7 should correspond to Figure 6 in Paper II, the  actual values [cumulative doses] in Figure 7 are only half of the values expected from calculation of the values [dose rates] shown in Figure 6. It also points out that this discrepancy between Figures 6 and 7 is due to the fact that Figure 7 is shrunk by half while Figure 6 is correct. 
 The miscalculation discovered by Hayano does not explain the discrepancy raised in my LetterThus, the phrase, "I would like to express a deep gratitude to S. Kurokawa who gave me an opportunity to find the error," only leaves me perplexed.
   Next, Item 2 says, "Regarding the error, I contacted JRP on November 28, 2018 stating, 'It is necessary to comment on the Letter and make corrections in the paper due to a serious error that has been discovered.' JRP responded on December 13, 2018 and told us to 'submit a corrected version.'" This phrase has two major problems. First, the part, "It is necessary to comment on the Letter and make corrections in the paper" is a false statement.

   In mid-December 2018, I received an email from the JRP Editorial Office including the authors' response.
   The authors' response stated, "We believe it is appropriate to publish a corrigendum rather than point-by-point replies." Here "We" refers to the authors, Hayano and Miyazaki. The authors "believe it is appropriate to publish a corrigendum rather than point-by-point replies" to my Letter. In other words, the authors are essentially saying they have no intention to "comment on the Letter." It is quite obvious that the Hayano "statement" contains a falsehood.  

   It should be noted that Corrigendum is equivalent of "seigo-hyo" (which means "erratum") in Japanese. In fact, the authors have issued the corrigendum regarding Paper I. (See Corrigendum: Individual external dose monitoring of all citizens of Date City by passive dosimeter 5–51 months after the Fukushima NPP Accident (series): I. Comparison of individual dose with ambient dose rate monitored by aircraft surveys.)
Corrigendum: Individual external dose monitoring of
all citizens of Date City by passive dosimeter 5–51 months after
the Fukushima NPP Accident (series): I. Comparison of
individual dose with ambient dose rate monitored by aircraft
surveys (2016 J. Radiat. Prot. 37 1)
(Excerpted from the IOP Science website.)

   This shows what a corrigendum looks like. In this corrigendum, the year "2011" is corrected to be "2012." The serious error of miscalculation underestimating the 70-year cumulative doses by a factor of 3 is not something that can be corrected with a corrigendum in the first place.

   Also, please pay particular attention to the fact that the "statement" uses the term "revision" rather than "erratum" or "correction" in place of corrigendum. "Correction" means fixing a sentence and can be equivalent of a corrigendum, but "revision" has a broader meaning, as in the case of "revising a plan." Hayano's use of the word "revision" could be construed as a way to manipulate people's perception with an arbitrary use of the broad meaning of the word.

Slickly replacing JRP's request for a corrigendum with a rewrite

   Also, as will be described later, it is clear what JRP requested from the authors is not a rewrite but a corrigendum. However, the "statement" says, "JRP responded (...) and told us to 'submit a revised version.'" This "revised version" is supposed to be a corrigendum, but Item 4 suggests otherwise.

   Item 4 states, "We believe that, in order for us to submit a revised version, it will be necessary for Date City to re-supply us with only data with appropriate consent so we can re-conduct the analysis. However, whether or when this is possible is to be discussed in the near future between Date City as the contractee and Fukushima Medical University as the contractor. When the decision is made, we will do our best to follow it."
   It was originally supposed to be a corrigendum, but somehow "a revised version" has morphed into re-writing the paper after the data is re-supplied by Date City. All that JRP requested is submission of a corrigendum. Replacing that request with rewriting the paper would have to be considered a fraud. 
   Item 4 also states, "The data used in the two papers have been deleted, in accordance with the research protocol approved by the Ethics Committee at Fukushima Medical University."
   Deletion (more appropriately called "destruction") of data is a violation of the Ethical Guidelines which would be considered research misconduct, as pointed out in the article that I co-authored with another person in the February issue of Kagaku [Note: English translation of an abridged version of the article will be is now available on the Kagaku website soon. PDF download link.] I will not go into the details of the article here, but "data deletion" in the "statement" refers to destruction of all the data as reported in the Status Report on the Maintenance of Materials and Data which is attached to the Research Completion Report that was submitted to Fukushima Medical University (FMU).

   The "statement" only refers to destruction of the data, but actually the research itself was completed as of October 31, 2018. There is no way to rewrite a paper when the research has already completed and all the data have been destroyed. Even if Date City were to re-supply the data to FMU, it would be considered new research and a new research proposal would have to be submitted to the Ethics Review Committee at FMU. A resulting paper would no longer be a revised version, but an entirely different paper based on new research. A scientist should never conceal such information, let alone pretend as if what was requested by JRP was a rewritten paper when it was a corrigendum that was actually requested.

  Item 3 states that the authors "discovered for the first time through a media report" that the data used included data without appropriate consent of Date City residents, but the previously mentioned article in the February issue of Kagaku clarifies that is not true. The Kagaku article also shows the authors committed six more violations of the Ethical Guidelines in addition to the data destruction. If you are interested in more details, please refer to the Kagaku article.

Hayano avoiding discussions in an academic setting

   Lastly, I would like to express my opinion regarding the part, "As described above, the serious error in the study is advancing to be addressed in discussions in an academic setting of JRP." that appears on the first page of the "statement."

   Academic discussions mean nothing other than advancing the cycle of criticisms  of papers and replies by authors. Yet Hayano is refusing to take the initial step, that is, replying in a point-by-point manner to the Letter criticizing his paper. Then, how can he say, the situation is "advancing to be addressed in discussions in an academic setting"? Regarding this, Hayano owes a clear explanation.
Note: In the Retraction Watch article that reported that JRP issued Expressions of Concern (EOCs) to both Paper I and Paper II, a spokesperson from Institute of Physics (IOP) that publishes JRP is quoted to have said, 
"(...) due to the nature of the investigation(s) the authors would need to await the outcome prior to re-analysing the data to correct the mistake by way of a potential corrigendum."
As described in the main body of this article, a corrigendum is a simple erratum, not a rewrite of the paper. (An EOC is issued when an editorial office of a journal alerts readers regarding a potential issue in credibility of a paper.)


Supplementary information regarding the reference to Paper I in the "statement":

   Item 1 in the "statement" says, "It should be noted that this error is limited to the calculation of the cumulative doses in Paper II, and no analytical error has been found in Paper I." This phrase strikes as bizarre.
   It was in Paper II that the cumulative doses were calculated, and Paper I says nothing about the cumulative doses. Of course there is no analytical error in Paper I as in Paper II
   Researchers submitting papers to journals do so because they believe their papers contain no errors. After a paper is published, it is not the author(s) but a community of scientists that determines whether or not the contents of the paper are correct. An Inclusion of such an uncalled-for phrase in the "statement" could be considered a message directed towards those outside the scientific community.
   Sure enough, the "statement" was read aloud during the January 25, 2019 session of the Radiation Council of the Japanese government. The secretariat of the Radiation Council went on to explain that Paper I "is not something to be completely disapproved in terms of its academic significance." For more details on this matter, please refer to the HBOL article by Junichiro Makino (available here only in Japanese).

Shin-ichi Kurokawa is Professor Emeritus at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization. Born in 1945. Graduated with a major in physics from the University of Tokyo in 1968. Withdrew from Department of Physics, Graduate School of Science, the University of Tokyo in 1973. Doctor of Science. After joining the High Energy Physics Research Institute (currently the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization) as a research assistant, Kurokawa advanced to positions of assistant professor and professor, retiring in 2009. Awarded the Rolf Widerøe Prize by the European Physical Society in 2011 and the People's Republic of China International Science and Technology Cooperation Award in 2013. Specializes in accelerator physics.

(Translation by Yuri Hiranuma)

Citation in AMA style for the article co-authored by Kurokawa and published in the February 2019 issue of Kagaku: 
Kurokawa S, Shima A. A Glass Badge Study That Failed and Betrayed Residents —A Study with Seven Violations of Ethical Guidelines Can Be No Ground for Government Policies. Kagaku. 2019;89(2):e0017-e0024.

No comments:

Fukushima Thyroid Examination February 2020: 186 Surgically Confirmed as Thyroid Cancer Among 237 Cytology Suspected Cases

Highlights   The third round: 1 case newly diagnosed as suspicious or malignant, and 5 new cases surgically confirmed.  The fourth ...