Saturday, March 4, 2017

6 Years Have Passed Since the Disaster

It is time again to reflect on the unforgettable fear and grief of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. People in Japan were horrified to witness the apocalyptic images that streamed across TV screens, and we all prayed for the disaster victims. We pledged to share in the anguish of the victims, and put our efforts into restoring their communities quickly. The entire Japanese nation responded with collective kindness and compassion for the victims. The world was impressed to see it, and spoke highly of us. Prime Minister Abe publicly stated that there is no recovery for Japan without the recovery of Fukushima. It has already been three years since Prime Minister Abe declared the initial recovery

steps in Fukushima.

[Sadness of the disaster victims]

           How often do we think of the victims of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima today? I suggest that we unite once again in a feeling of shared grief, and listen to the disaster victims.

There are some who say that, even now, they still cant get to sleep whenever they think of the tsunami.
As I was fleeing, I saw someone clinging to a tree, asking for help. I cant get that scene and his voice out of my head. I feel guilty for leaving him behind.(Okuma Town)

           I took shelter in a school gym, and slept on cardboard there. I suffered from back pain and from the cold, and I still suffer from back pain caused by that day.(Kawauchi Village)

           I wasnt informed of the nuclear explosion, and let my children play outside while the nuclear fallout was spreading. I wouldnt have let that happen if I had known about it.(Okuma Town)

           The mayor of Namie Town wasnt informed of the explosion, and he directed town residents to head in the direction of the nuclear fallout. If he had only known about it, people could have avoided the exposure.(Namie Town)

           Fukushima has been totally forgotten. The national government doesnt listen to us, and ignores us. Now I know that abandoning us was their initial intention. They are instructing the old people to move back, but the younger people refuse. Once the old people die out, the town of Futaba will be deserted, and the nuclear power plant will be forgotten. I think that this was their plan from the beginning. They want to showcase the return of the Futaba residents as a symbol of recovery in Fukushima. This was all planned out, thats why they dont listen to us and ignore us. And our problems will never be resolved. There wont be any monetary compensation after we are evicted from the temporary housing. The Fukushima recovery cant proceed this way. We Fukushima disaster victims were forced out of our homes, not evacuated.(Futaba Town)


           Some of the Fukushima victims have had to relocate seven or eight times in the past six years. Please imagine yourself in this situation. Over the course of six years, a first-grader grows up to become a middle schooler, and sixth-graders become college students or are old enough to get a job. In six years, a 65 year old turns 71, and a 75 year-old turns 81. Many people have passed away after spending sorrowful years longing to return to their own homes. There are also many cases of psychological stress among the evacuees. These individuals have succumbed to sickness caused by stress and been confined to bed, unable to work, and not even compensated by the government. How can we leave these people behind? I ask all of you to raise your voices in support of these evacuees. Please let more people know about Fukushima.


[Fukushima evacuees after six years]

<Male, late 60s, Futaba town>

           My wife got Parkinsons Disease after the disaster. Living in one of the temporary housing units, I work as the community leader and take care of my wife and all other household duties. I hired a lawyer to apply for compensation for psychological damages. I was paying out of my savings, but ran out of money last year. So, I decided to give up the lawyer and do the legal work by myself, which is a daunting task. Im facing an eviction notice now. Its been hard for the evacuees to find new places to live, because the price of real estate has gone up to three times what it used to be. Ive been looking for a house with a back yard. I was a farmer before and would like to do gardening. And my wife loves flowers. However, its so tough to find the right house for us.


<Female, 87 years old, Kawauchi Village>

           I have to move out of the evacuation housing by the end of March. I dont get any compensation, since my house is outside the 20km zone. My house has been destroyed. There is a well, but its unusable. I need a doctor, but there are no doctors offices or stores in my village. Just thinking of this gives me sleeping issues and loss of appetite. I throw up and have vertigo in the morning, so I stay in bed. I dont want to eat, because I vomit. I want to pack up my belongings, but cant get it done. My friends in the evacuee housing are also worrying about the future.


<Married couple, early 70s, Naraha Town>

           We are back in Naraha, but the entire town is covered with weeds. They say that wild boars live in the overgrown bushes. We have to clean out the weeds around our house and a few other houses. Its scary, but we have to do this. We requested that the town spray herbicide, but they hardly listen to us. We cut down some weeds ourselves this morning, but it was a lot of work. There are no stores open in Naraha Town, except for one in the shopping district. The evacuation order hasnt been lifted in Tomioka Town, but their town is clean. They will have a supermarket open in April, and they have a police station and a municipal government office too. Probably Tomioka will be the center of the region. The government should follow Tomiokas example, and clean up the other towns before lifting the evacuation order.


<Female in her late 60s, Namie Town>

           Im planning to go back to my home in Namie, so Ive been commuting there to bring back my stuff and clean up the house little by little. But the house is covered with weeds and rat droppings. There are also wild boars out there, and that scares me. My neighbors wont be coming back, but I hope everything will be ok once I move back. Its also rumored that there are thieves. I think I will hang some male clothes on my laundry line. Im so worried, but have no choice but to move back.


           Six years after the disaster, there are still many people without a permanent place to go. There are many towns and villages filled with dilapidated houses covered in weeds and bushes. The municipal government receives reconstruction support from the national government. However, there is no such compensation for the individuals. I still dont understand why they

cant give at least some money to each individual.

           Recently, Prime Minister Abe has been offering millions of dollarsworth of financial support to foreign countries. I suggest that Mr. Abe set aside the same amount of funds for Japanese disaster evacuees who currently find themselves in these life-or-death situations. The national government should provide a support system that gives aid in response to all large disasters, whether they be natural or man-made.


Please continue to help me support the disaster victims in Fukushima.


[Book recommendations]

Deadly Deceit: Low-level Radiation, High-level Cover-up, written by Dr. Jay M. Gould and Benjamin A. Goldman, translated by Shuntaro Higo and Osamu Saito, publisher: PKO Zassoku wo Hiromeru Kai

Tel: 042-251-7602


Radiation impact: Atoms to zygotes low level radiation in the nuclear age, written by Donnell W. Boardman, translated by Shuntaro Higo

Tel: 042-251-7602

Momoko Fukuoka


Cell: 080-5547-8675   

Fax: 047-346-8675  

Please call me 11:00 am through 5:30 pm (Japan time).

Thank you.

Translation: Tony Sahara
Editing: Karen Rogers

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