Interpellation par Katsutaka Idogawa, maire de Futaba
(une zone à évacuer impérativement), Fukushima
Mon nom est Katsutaka Idogawa, maire de Futaba, préfecture de Fukushima.
La catastrophe nucléaire qui a commencé le11 mars 2011 a dévasté notre communauté à Futaba, qui est devenue inhabitable. Environ 300 personnes à Futaba ont été exposées à des doses particulièrement élevées de radiation de la centrale nucléaire de Fukushima Daiichi, ce qui inclut les retombées de l'explosion de l'unité 1. Je suis le seul maire dans le japon d'aujourd'hui qui ait vécu cette expérience d'être couvert de cendres nucléaires. En tant que représentant de toute la population de Fukushima, Je vous demande de partager nos tristes expériences et demande votre aide pour sauver nos enfants.
Depuis le début de ce désastre nucléaire, nos droits humains, inscrits dans la Constitution japonaise, ont été violés. Au matin du 12 mars 2011, le gouvernement donna l'ordre d'évacuer. Cependant, il n'a été fourni aucune aide et aucun avis sur les moyens de transport ou la destination. Après avoir finalement rejoint les abris, nous n'avons reçu aucune instruction sur la manière dont nous pouvions reconstruire nos vies brisées. Nous avons donc dû prendre les décisions et gérer l'évacuation et toutes ses conséquences par nous-mêmes.
Une vaste superficie de la préfecture de Fukushima est hautement contaminée par les radiations. La réponse du gouvernement à cela fut tout d'abord de relever la limite réglementaire de radiation tolérable pour la population, et de nous dire ensuite qu'une exposition à des radiations inférieure à cette limite était sans danger. A cause de cette politique, la plupart de la population de Fukushima, y compris les enfants, continuent à vivre dans des régions hautement contaminées, et à s'inquiéter à propos des effets des radiations sur la santé. ces personnes sont exposées en permanence à de hautes doses de relation. Les victimes les plus sensibles sont les enfants. Certains spécialistes ont sonné l'alarme concernant les risques d'une exposition interne aux radiations pour la santé. Notre gouvernement dit que Fukushima Daiichi a libéré 186 fois plus de matière radioactive que la bombe d'Hiroshima. Malgré ça, il y a eu un black-out total sur les dangers de la radioactivité. Le gouvernement préfectoral de Fukushima s'est fait complice de l'Etat et de TEPCO, qui sont conjointement responsables de ce désastre nucléaire et cachent les informations sur les risques pour éviter une dépopulation massive.
Une partie de notre ville, Futaba, a reçu un niveau de radiations atteignant 1590 micro SV par heure. La plume est arrivée ici avant mêml'explosion de l'unité 1. Les habitants et moi-même étions toujours à Futaba et donc exposés à ce haut niveau de radiation. Cette épouvantable information a été cachée par la préfecture de Fukushima jusqu'à récemment. Le gouvernement préfectoral n'a jamais expliqué ce fait, ni ne s'est excusé pour cet incident d'exposition aux radiations.
De nombreux habitants de notre ville, Futaba, sont toujours dans la préfecture de Fukushima. Ie veux les évacuer dans un endroit aussi éloigné que possible. Pourquoi sont-ils toujours là ? C'est parce que la préfecture de Fukushima veut maintenir la population dent les limites de la préfecture, et nous empêcher de bouger malgré nous. La loi de gestion du désastre est mise en place par le gouvernement préfectoral, et ne peut être appliquée sans son agrément. Même si de nombreuses préfectures ont offert d'accueillir des réfugiés de de fournir une assistance financière pour les installer, sans l'assentiment de la préfecture de Fukushima, la loi interdit aux évacués d'accepter de telles offres. Ayant tout perdu, la majorité de la population ne pourrait survivre sans l'aide, financière ou autre, prévue par cette loi. C'est la raison pour laquelle beaucoup de personnes qui souhaitent partir de Fukushima n'ont pas pu le faire.
Le gouvernement japonais veut faire croire que cette catastrophe nucléaire ne concerne que la préfecture de Fukushima. Ils ne veulent pas que la population sache la vérité. Sur la carte de la “dose annuelle d'exposition aux radiations de la préfecture de Futaba, on peut voir les zones où la concentration de radiations dépasse le niveau réglementaire. Ceci contredit la nouvelle limite de sécurité mise en place par le gouvernement japonais et illustre le double standard découlant de leur politique d'évacuation post-Fukushima. Comme vous pouvez le voir, la plupart des sites de Fukushima sont trop contaminés pour que l'on puisse y vivre. La carte des aliments dont la consommation ou la distribution ont été limitées” montre la réelle contamination de la nourriture de provenance naturelle. la majorité de la nourriture, incluant les poissons d'eau douce, les champignons, les noix, le gibier et végétaux sauvages sont tellement toxiques qu'ils ne devraient pas être consommés. Malgré tout, un grand nombre de personnes mangent des légumes contaminés de leur propre culture. La table des “critères d'évacuation basée sur la classification du désastre de Tchernobyl” décrit la loi de Tchernobyl, mise en place à la suite de l'observation des souffrances énormes subies par la population des régions contaminées après la catastrophe nucléaire de Tchernobyl. La loi de Tchernobyl régit les standards d'évacuation, par exemple 5 mSV par an ou au-dessus pour une évacuation obligatoire, et entre 1 et 5 mSV par an pour une évacuation volontaire, avec une aide gouvernementale. La dose maximum recommandée par la Commission de Radioprotection, universellement reconnue, est 1 mSV par an. Le gouvernement a complètement ignoré ce standard et élevé le standard d'évacuation à 20 mSV par an. Il a forcé des personnes à vivre dans des zones avec des taux de radiation supérieurs à 20 mSV par an. Nous disons aux autorités : “Pourquoi ne venez-vous pas vivre ici avant de nous dire de rester ?” Mais ils ne répondent jamais. Un standard si dangereux a été choisi pour correspondre aux zones hautement contaminées qui n'ont jamais été évacuées. C'est abominable. C'est un terrible acte de négligence de la part du gouvernement, de TEPCO et de la préfecture de Fukushima qui ont des responsabilités pour notre protection.
Pour rendre les choses encore pires, le corps médical a aidé à établir le mythe selon lequel l'énergie nucléaire était absolument sûre, en ne mettant en place aucune préparation à des accidents nucléaires. Ils n'avaient aucun système de contrôle ni matériel de mesure en place quand se produisit la catastrophe de Fukushima. Ceci est un autre fait que le gouvernement veut cacher au peuple japonais. Au lieu de cela, ils ont mené une campagne de contre-attaque dans toute la préfecture de Fukushima pour faire croire qu'une exposition aux radiations en-deçà de la limite de sécurité est sans risque en envoyant de nombreux universitaires dans les communautés pour rassurer la population. C'est incroyable, mais le gouvernement a déformé la réalité au lieu de faire face à ses responsabilités. Néanmoins, ses mensonges ont été découverts, et le sentiment de peur et de méfiance envers les autorités grandit chez les habitants de Fukushima.
Récemment, une réunion secrète s'est tenue dans le bureau du gouvernement préfectoral de Fukushima afin de contrôler les informations délivrées au public. Pendant cette réunion, il a été décidé de ne pas révéler le fait que le gouvernement préfectoral a caché les données pronostiquant la dose dangereuse de radiation provoquée immédiatement par la catastrophe nucléaire. Il a été décidé également d'annoncer qu'il n'y avait aucune anomalie dans les données fournies par le système de contrôle sanitaire des radiations de la préfecture, malgré le taux élevé d'anomalies thyroïdiennes chez les enfants examinés. Les autorités de la préfecture dont le devoir est de protéger nos vies nous a menti à plusieurs reprises et a caché les informations.La majorité des japonais ignore ces faits. Ce que les autorités ont fait au bon peuple japonais est un acte de trahison. Cela va provoquer également une perte de confiance du Japon dans la communauté internationale. Il est totalement inacceptable de détruire la santé de nos enfants, leurs espoirs et leur futur. Maintenant, vers qui nous tourner pour reconstruire notre vision du futur ?
Je demande à vous tous, et tous les peuples du monde, de vous mettre à notre place, et de regarder la situation de notre point de vue et de celui de nos enfants. S'il vous plaît (…..) continuez à rechercher les informations alternatives. Aujourd'hui, je suis ici pour parler pour mon peuple, qui est la victime. Nous avons été déplacés et abandonnés. Je demande votre aide pour ceux qui sont affligés, qui souffrent et qui ont subi une dure épreuve. Je vous supplie de nous sauver et de sauver nos enfants. S'il vous plaît, permettez-nous de vivre ensemble dans un autre endroit quelque part sur terre. Je sais que vous ferez tout votre possible pour évacuer les enfants de Fukushima. Je vous remercie pour votre attention.
Lors d’un débat au salon du livre à Paris, l’un des écrivains japonais invités, Oe Kenzaburo, le prix Nobel de littérature, a annoncé qu’il regrettait fortement de ne pas avoir écrit ce qu’il avait appris sur les effets des faibles doses à Hiroshima, quand il préparait, il y a 50 ans, son livre “Notes de Hiroshima”. “À l’hôpital pour les victimes de la bombe atomique, les médecins ont été avertis, par l’armée d’occupation américaine, de ne pas écrire ce qu’ils y ont appris ni d’en parler avec les patients. Un des médecins m’a dit que le problème serait visible dans 6 ans mais qu'il finirait dans 20 ans, parce que les enfants tomberaient malades d’ici 6 ans et mourraient tous dans 20 ans, ainsi le problème n'existerait-il plus.”
Georges Baumgartner (Frédéric Charles en France) a pu retourner sur les lieux de l’accident et pénétrer dans la zone des 20 km.
Un reportage qui traduit la profondeur de la réaction du peuple japonais.
S'y révèlent le sens de la responsabilité, dont chaque citoyen se sent redevable envers le groupe auquel il doit le meilleur de soi-même, et l'attention due aux enfant, au coeur de l'approche bouddhiste de la vie et du rôle des parents.
Fort de ces traditions, le mouvement est en train d'effacer son handicap initial da,s le domains des connaissances scientifiques adéquates. Il fera payer aux autorités la honte que leur comportement a jeté sur l'image du pays. À ses yeux elles ont perdu toute légitimité et ne méritent qu'une bonne perte de face.
Extrait d'une interview de cet homme exceptionnel.
Source: “Le Nouvel Observateur” du 25 août 2011.
Propos recueillis par Didier Jacob
traduit du japonais par Jean-Baptiste Flamin et Diane Durocher.
Arnie Gundersen, l'ancien régulateur nucléaire américain attribue la radioactivité de la nourriture des
troupeaux à la “Pluie Noire”
Ex American Nuclear Regulator Blames Radioactive Animal Feed on “Black Rain”
Le Professeur Tatsukiko Kodama est le président du Centre des Radioisotope de l’université de Tokyo. Le 27 juillet, il est venu à la Chambre Basse japonaise de la Diète, en tant que témoin pour le Comité de Protection Sociale et du Travail.
Un point bien documenté sur le nucléaire mondial.
He is currently a professor at Meiji University and lives in Tokyo. it provides a first person account of what it’s been like living through the terror of the past few weeks and provides a moving wakeup call about the unacceptable hazards from the nuclear industry. And please feel free to share with anyone you know who would appreciate this. I’ve highlighted a few of the sections that I found the most powerful and profound.
March 11th Friday
I was at home on March 11th. At 14:46, the earth started to tremble slowly at first. And then gradually the earth shook stronger and stronger. I felt I was on a small boat on the sea for five minute. I knew at least this quake was not near here, however, I was sure that this was one of the largest quake occurred somewhere in Japan.
I turned the TV on immediately to take a look at the breaking news. But it did not work because the electricity was cut off all at once. I checked the damages around my house. Luckily, tap water and gas service was normal. Then I turned on the handy radio and found out that the quake and the tsunami devastated northeast Japan at the unprecedented magnitude.
My wife, who works at the prefectural government office, called me saying that she wouldn't be able to come back home that night because every official was supposed to be at the office under the tsunami alert. She asked me to pick the kids up at the day-care. I was lucky because I had no classes or meetings on that day. If I was at my university in downtown Tokyo, I couldn't have come back home, as the train had been stopped completely until late at night.
I went to the day-care and found my kids were safe. The nurses were very well trained to evacuate children from the building to the playground.
When we came home, the biggest problem was how to live without electricity at night. I made several cup candles with salad oil and tissues. I managed to cook at the dark kitchen. The kids felt scary in a dark room without electric light and I cheered them saying “This is like a happy birthday party.” However, as the aftershocks shook us again and again, they started to cry at last. I managed to feed them and brought them to bed. As the power was cut off and we had no heaters, this was the only way to keep them warm.
I braced myself. My father survived the Tokyo earthquake that killed over one hundred thousand Tokyoites in 1923. He lost his house twice; by the quake in 1923 and by the B-29 air raid in 1945. I would surely be able to protect my kids. A little later, my elder boys sent a cell phone email saying they were safe too.
At mid night the power came back. I was shocked to watch the TV news and realized that the quake and tsunami damages were unbelievably grave. A little later, my wife came back home. She was “released” by humanitarian reasons by her boss.
March 12th Saturday
The next morning, we were terrified by the news that the nuclear power plants were in a serious accident. The news said the cooling water level had been declining and the temperature of the reactors increased. I remembered the Three Mile Island and the Chernobyl nightmare and considered evacuation to protect children’s health from nuclear fallout.
I had the faculty meeting. Quite a few professors could not come due to interruption of the train service. Many of the attended professors told me that they stayed overnight at the university because they could not go back home on the previous day.
In the after noon, the news reported the situation was worsened. Series of hydrogen blast occurred around the reactors, which destroyed the buildings. The engineers and the firefighters were struggling to cool down the reactors. I knew we were about to be exposed to nuclear fallout. This is the very situation I have been concerned about for a long time.
March 13th Sunday
It was a comfortably warm spring Sunday. The kids wanted to go out naturally. I brought a radioactivity detector I bought when I went to Australia to interview indigenous people against Jabiruka uranium mining development. It counts the gamma rays. So far, the gamma ray counts were normal.
At the power plants, they tried to pump seawater into the reactors. Yet, they did not succeed to recover the water level enough to cool down the nuclear fuel. I also checked the wind direction. I took the kids just to the park nearby so that I can come back home when serious radioactive discharge occurs.
As horrible scenes of tsunami disaster were televised all over the world, I received emails from friends and colleagues asking after my family and me. I wish to thank you again.
March 14th Monday
The northeast deeply indented coastline is one of the most beautiful areas in Japan with full of delicious seafood such as oysters, abalones, turban shells, and seaweed. I visited several times there and noticed ten-meter high seawalls were constructed to protect towns and smaller fishery villages. The seawalls could not stand with more than twenty-meter high tsunami of this time. The unprecedented powerful tsunami not only killed so many people but also paralyzed the emergency core cooling system of the nuclear power plants.
I thought I would go to the university but I didn’t. The accident seemed to be aggravated on Monday and I decided to be ready to evacuate if something happened. I felt as if I was waiting for the doomsday. It became harder to buy food at supermarkets or to buy gasoline at service stations even in Tokyo. Needless to say how difficult it would be for evacuees to live. Crippled nuclear power plants made the society as a whole crippled as well.
March 15th Tuesday
In the morning, my radiation detector continued to beep. It indicated four to five times as high gamma rays as usual. The news said the container of the second reactor might have been destroyed by a hydrogen blast. The wind direction was directly toward us. Oh, no, I became a “hibakusha”, or the exposed. I was in a panic. I decided that if radiation level continue to increase, I would take kids to somewhere west to avoid radioactive exposure at least for a week or two.
Suddenly, the gamma ray counter became calm. The wind direction changed at around noon. So I compared the radioactivity in the room and outside. If the radiation level outside was higher than in the room, radioactive fallout such as iodine 131 must have fallen on the ground, which would continue to threat us. Fortunately, I found little difference. The TV news said that there was some partial success in lowering the temperature of the nuclear fuel in the reactors. So I decided to stay home for the time being.
The TV news reported that more than 90 countries dispatched rescue teams to Japan. Citizens in many countries started donation for the quake and tsunami victims.These cheered us very much, warming our depressed hearts up. “Oh, oh, we are not alone. We have so many friends in the world.”
March 16th Wednesday
As the accidents seemed to be in a brief period of tranquillity, I decided to go to my office to make things in order. March is the final month of the school year in Japan. We only have some of admission exams and the graduation ceremony. As I usually invite my graduating students to my office, I had to clean the messy room.
When I put some books back to the shelves, an aftershock occurred and some of the books dropped to the floor again. It was a little Sisyphean labor. I just cleaned half of the room and let me call it a day’s work. Sorry for my students but let me go home a little earlier to pick up my beloved kids who were also shaken by the aftershocks at the day-care.
Tokyo had become a quite different city from what it used be a few days before. The train services were not convenient any more. Train stations were darker and some of the equipment such as escalators and vending machines were out of service in order to save electricity. I saw very few overseas tourists in downtown Tokyo, as a matter of course. Many people were troubled with shortage of gasoline, preservable food, battery and flashlights, and so on.
Yet, as a sociologist, I observed social bonds and sense of solidarity had been enhanced remarkably since the occurrence of the earthquake. As was the case in the Kobe earthquake in 1995, there were almost no riots or robbery in the affected areas. The sufferers were very patient and cooperative each other. These virtues may be our sad national treasure, since we periodically suffer from disasters such as typhoons, flood, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, fire in the urban areas, etc. almost every year somewhere in Japan.
Of course, there were some narrow-minded people not to accept the evacuees from nearby communities of the troubled nuclear power plants in their shelters, because they had been already “contaminated” with radioactivity. This was very the same reaction as what the late Professor Nobuko Iijima called “victimization structure” in the case of Minamata mercury poisoning. We might be able to call it “victim blaming” or “discrimination against the victims”. This may be the other side of the same coin of a highly homogeneous and group-minded society, Japan.
Well, at last I arrived at the day-care and my one and half year-old daughter waited for me to pick up with the fever of 39.6-degree Celsius. I was so sorry for her that I couldn’t warm up the living room the day before due to the power cut. Fortunately, she had an ordinary cold, not flu.
March 17th, Thursday, 18th Friday
I had to take care of the feverish daughter on 17th. Unlike the nuclear reactors, the Emergency Core Cooling System for her (the medicine powder the doctor prescribed for her) worked very well. She got quite well on 18th.
Taking care of her, the only thing I could do was to watch TV news and comments by the nuclear professionals and the professors.
High level of radioactivity had been detected both in the air and food items such as milk and green vegetables. The rhetoric the TV commentators used was, supposedly, for example, “The radioactivity of one micro Sv per hour is, of course, very high compared with the ambient level. However, it does not harm you in a short period of time. Radioactivity exists everywhere. If you fly from Tokyo to New York, you will be exposed to 200 micro Sv of radioactivity. We are exposed to 2,400 micro Sv of natural radioactivity every year.”
This typical rhetoric for calming down the panic among nearby residents ignores the difference between radioactive substances and radioactive ray. They just talk about omnipresent natural radioactive ray but seldom mention synthetically produced radioactive substances such as I131, Cs137, and St90 which are bio-accumulative and carcinogenic. We learned lessons from the Chernobyl accident that synthetic radioactive iodine was accumulated in the thyroid gland and emitted radioactive rays from very short distance. Babies and younger children are more vulnerable to it. It was so sad to see children dying from thyroid gland cancer in Ukraine.
I saw some of the nuclear experts I trust working at environmental NGOs such as the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center on the early two or three day after the accident. However, they seemed to be eliminated from the TV stations later, because their comments were too critical, too pessimistic, and too “true”. This is quite understandable because the Tokyo Electric Company is one of the largest stockholders of these TV stations.
In spite of their desperate efforts to calm down the public opinions, the majority of patient, obedient, diligent, and honest Japanese citizens would never admit to resume the operation of the damaged nuclear power plants by any means. Nor would they admit to reconstruct the troubled facilities such as the Rokkasho-mura nuclear fuel reprocessing facility and the Monju fast breeder reactor.
Not only in these small Japanese Islands but also in many countries in the world, this disaster will and will have to lead to enhancement of strong anti-nuclear public opinion. I’m convinced that this is the only hope that deserves the lost lives of all victims from this disaster.
Fire fighters and self-defense army soldiers had been struggling to pour or pump cooling water onto the reactors. After the surge of radiation level on 15th, the wind had blown from the land to the sea, and radiation had been at the normal level at least in Tokyo and Kawasaki. I went to the Akihabara electric shop area, which is just ten-minute walk from my university. It was understandable but strange that there were very few overseas tourists there.
The weather forecast said it would be rainy in the evening and I hurried home. As I was afraid, the rain contained certain amount of radiation, which heightened the radiation level on the soil surface and in the air, in turn, up to twice or three times above the normal background level.
In the case of the Chernobyl accident, a big explosion and fire blew up the nuclear fuel to the sky as high as 1,200 meters. And the radioactive clouds drifted about from Scandinavia to Turkey, dropping highly polluted rain here and there. In the Fukushima’s case, however, the hydrogen blast was not strong enough to blow up the fuel high in the sky. As a result, the radioactive pollution seems to form a concentric circle, which is distorted by the wind direction time to time. I felt sorry for the residents nearby, but I was selfish enough to feel relieved, to be honest, for my kids. It was a dismal night for me.
2011.3.21 Monday, National Holiday
Although the rain stopped, my gamma meter continued to indicate twice to three times of radiation in the morning. It was quite likely that I-131 or Cs-137 dropped with the rain. I muttered Joan Baez’ song, “What have they done to the rain?”
“Just a little rain falling all around
The grass lifts its head to the heavenly sound
Just a little rain, just a little rain
What have they done to the rain
Just a little boy standing in the rain
The gentle rain that falls for years
And the grass is gone, the boy disappears
And rain keeps falling like helpless tears…”
My little boy said to me, “I want to go to the park today.” I was embarrassed. I don’t want him to disappear. But how can I tell him, “No, we shouldn’t go out today, because poisonous powder was dropped from the sky that might hurt you.”?
I always tell my kids that the grass and the earth are your best friends. Today, I had to tell them that they might be your enemy. Spring had come. The scent of daphnes tickled my nose. Daffodils were like a yellow carpet. Cherry blossoms were about to bloom. I decided to take just a short walk with kids, hoping that the boy and the girl wouldn’t disappear.
Suddenly, the TV news said that 200 Bq/kg of I-131 had been detected from the tap water of Tokyo. The allowable for adults is 300 Bq/kg but children’s allowable level is 100 Bq/kg. This news drove concerned parents, including myself, to the supermarkets to buy bottled water. Many people still remember that a lot of children suffered from thyroid cancer in the late 1980s and the 1990s in Ukraine.
My house is located in the city of Kawasaki, but just a few kilometers from the border of Tokyo. I checked Kawasaki waterworks data and found that I-131 in our tap water was 9.6 Bq. Tokyo, Kawasaki, and Yokohama are a continuum of a gigantic metropolis rather than independent separate cities, however, tap water sources are quite different. Tokyo is dependent on the river basin in Tochigi and Gunma, which are close to Fukushima. Kawasaki and Yokohama’s water is located in the west. This seemed to make difference. Fortunately, fine days continued after that and I-131 level dropped dramatically.
Radioactive contamination of green vegetables such as spinach was detected too not only in Fukushima but also in adjacent prefectures. A friend of mine teaching environmental sociology at University of Ibaraki, located in the south of Fukushima, told me that she had big trouble to select food items for her daughters too. I found out that psychological pain was as stressful as, or even more stressful than, the physical health damage from radiation.
TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power Company, just succeeded in temporary cooling but not in recovering essential stabilizing devices such as cooling water circulating pumps. Our fate was still depending on the wind direction.
I think I am in a safer area in Japan, comparing with the northeast area, Tohoku. Those who lost their houses, temporarily evacuated to public facilities, began to move and to settle down in temporary housings.
My wife took turns to receive phone call application for the temporary housing in our prefecture. She said it was hard to answer the phone calls. The available houses were limited and they had to prioritize according to some criteria. But in fact everybody was desperately in need. Yet, she had to say “No.” to somebody. The only thing she could do for them was to tell them other phone numbers for them to call to find temporary housings.
Many volunteers started actions to help the sufferers both in Japan and from abroad. It was like the Olympic game to see, for example, Muslims (maybe Pakistanis in Japan) offering curry dishes, Israeli medical team treating patients, and Indian rescue team searching survivors. I just wondered how the Sikh rescue person put the helmet on his turban. Or I thought his helmet was in fact a helmet-looking turban. I appreciate it very much any way.
Professor Lee, Seejae, a Korean environmental sociologist and one of my long-standing friends, sent me an email message cheering up us. He attached an article he had contributed to the Hankyoreh News Paper, which moved me very much:
“Many Koreans continue to harbor emotions of hostility, alarm, and rivalry toward Japan. I can remember the events of the 2002 World Cup, co-hosted by South Korea and Japan. Koreans wanted a victory over Japan, and I saw some who rooted openly for whatever nation Japan happened to be playing. This was a display of just how strongly people perceive themselves as historical victims of colonialism by Japan.
The situation with the earthquake has been different. The kind of cynicism that appeals to such nationalist emotions to mock this tragedy for the Japanese people has no place to stand on the Internet. I have also seen a number of major news outlets printing pieces that encourage Japan to“stay strong” and “not give up,” and various social groups and citizens are already working to raise funds to send Japan’s way. Even the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery in Japan has sent messages of sympathy and condolences for the victims of the disaster, and reported plans to substitute a memorial gathering for the deceased for the assemblies it has held in front of the Japanese embassy for the past two decades.”
Thank you, Professor Lee. This really cheered me up.
An organic farmer committed suicide in Fukushima. He had devoted himself to promote organic farming for over thirty years. To our grief, he was deeply disappointed by the fact that his vegetables and crops were banned to sell due to the high level of radioactive contamination. It must be a total denial of his sixty-four-year life to produce safe and healthy vegetables for concerned consumers. The situation was the same for tens of thousands of farmers and fisher persons in Fukushima and in adjacent prefectures. They all were threatened and feared that they were going to lose their irreplaceable source of production almost forever.
The northern two prefectures, Iwate and Miyagi, suffered more from the quake and tsunami. There were much more casualties there. Tens of thousands of residents lost their houses. Several cities and towns disappeared completely including their city administrative buildings and the basic productive fundamentals such as fishery ports. Nevertheless, the quake and the tsunami could never deprive the most important treasure from them, “the hope”. Many people said that they would reconstruct their hometowns though they had no idea on how long it would take. They would surely do so as their ancestors had overcome periodical disasters.
In Fukushima, by contrast, people suffered less directly from the quake and the tsunami except for the nuclear power plant accident. However, we can imagine thatthe nuclear accident alone dealt them a fatal blow. This would make vast arable land sterile and make a lot of ghost towns. The farmers and the fisher persons, who had lived on the earth and the sea for generations to generations, would abruptly and ruthlessly uprooted and cut off the relationship with their ancestry forever.
The land area of Japan is only one twenty-fifth of that of the United States, almost as large as the state of California. Fifty-four nuclear reactors, about half of the reactors in the U.S., exist in this small densely populated country. Wherever you live in major cities in Japan, you are almost within 200 km. And wherever you may be, the earthquake periodically hits you. We stand on the “shaky ground”. The situation is similar in adjacent Asian countries and regions such as Korea, Taiwan, and China. It’s time to realize that we should change the course from nuclear energy to renewables.
The power was cut off again in the evening. Kids asked me, “Happy birthday dinner again?” they were getting used to having dinner with candles. But I didn’t like frequent happy birthday dinners. I didn’t want my kids to grow older so quickly.
I remember that in the 1980s the nuclear power proponents criticized anti-nuclear camps saying, “You are saying that we are to have dinner under the candle light everyday?” Then, it was ironical that the same words were addressed to the nuclear proponents from the opponents.
March is the end of the school year in Japan and we have graduation ceremony in every school. However, many universities canceled the ceremony because there were casualties on the quake day at some of the graduation ceremony halls. My students were so disappointed because girls were ready to wear special KIMONO dresses for that. They asked us if they could have a smaller party on the 26th.
As I like to make songs and to sing, I made a song in celebration of their graduation and sang at the party with my students to cheer them up. I’m sorry that lyrics were only in Japanese: “I felt ninety minutes of class time too long. Yet how quickly these four years have passed. It’s sad that we have no graduation ceremonies, but I never forget this our own small graduation party. We’ll never forget to help each other…”
The nuclear power plants seemed to avoid the worst scenario of severe meltdown accident. Outer electric power was connected to the plants and the pumps powered by them replaced the fire-trucks. Yet, they had a long way to go until they recover the normal circulating pump systems.
Workers running the risk of being exposed to radiation were trying to minimize the risk taking turns in five or ten minutes depending the level of radiation. However, three workers stepped in a puddle of highly contaminated water in the turbine building. Their legs were burned by beta rays, though the exposure was not fatal to the three workers fortunately.
It became a tricky situation. They had to pump water into the reactors to cool the nuclear fuel. However, the leaked contaminated water from the damaged containers made it difficult for the workers to fix the leakage or to set up the new circulating systems to access the containers. We realized it would take a long time until they stabilize the reactors.
I had never experienced such persistent aftershocks as these. Both in terms of frequency and magnitude, this earthquake and its aftershocks were unprecedented. Today, I felt a pretty strong quake and several others almost all through the day. Well, someone said it was like feeling sea sick on a day we felt the aftershocks so frequently.
In the evening when we had supper, the TV news was suddenly interrupted by the alert. When the alarm sound of “mi-fa, mi-fa” came out of the TV, my kids automatically ran toward us and we covered them. At the day care, they were told to run under the tables and desks. It was a sad conditioned response but absolutely necessary for them right now.
We had a friendly orange tabby cat that just looked like Garfield. When the alarm sounded, he also sneaked under the table. Oh, he was smarter than we expected.
The Toxic Watch Network had a teach-in on the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Most of the participants were anti-toxic chemical activists and occupational safety activists. We started from basic lectures on the structures of nuclear power plants and the risks from nuclear fallout. For me and for some others, this was familiar information that I had learned since the Three Mile Islands accidents. I found that the nuclear issues were not so familiar to activists in general. Needless to say how difficult it would be for lay citizens.
I remember one student of mine from Fukushima once told me that he had never thought nuclear power plants could be dangerous until he talked with his friends from other prefectures. When he was in Fukushima, all the information he got from the mass media and from his schools was that nuclear energy was perfectly safe, efficient, and cost-effective. He said, “I realized that I had been brainwashed when I was in Fukushima.”
In the 1980s when I worked at University of Saga, located in a western island, Kyushu, I visited a community that had accepted a nuclear power plant. I asked a schoolteacher whether or not he conceived any pollution. He said to me, “Radioactive pollution is hard to recognize, but everybody can see social pollution from bribery money.” He explained how public opinion and mass media had been silenced by the subsidy for promotion of the power plants. My impression then was that the nuclear energy promotion policies could not coexist with a healthy democratic society. Rather, it enforced environmental risks on remote communities and worsened environmental injustice.
Let me go back to the teach-in. Even among well-informed educated citizens, who tend to be critical against nuclear energy policies, the specific knowledge on, for example, why synthetically produced radioactivity such as I-131 or Sr-90 are more dangerous than natural radioactive isotopes is not shared clearly. This was a good opportunity to educate people.
However, it was difficult for the experts to evaluate the current situation of the reactors in danger. It was quite unpredictable but many agreed that it would take a long time to recover stable systems to cool down.
One opinion was that we should pay attention to the accumulated level of the workers’ exposure as well as the exposure level of residents and consumers. Another was that, supposing that we would have to get along with radioactive contamination for years from now on, we should give priority to support farmers and fisher persons in affected areas. We could no longer expect zero radioactive risk food, so we, the middle aged consumers, would accept food products under the allowable level of radioactivity to support producers. This was quite impressive.
I personally proposed to publicize the list of PRTR factories in the destroyed areas by tsunami so that people would be able to pay attention to toxic materials from destroyed factories.
The reactors are still in condition of “stabilized instability”. Reconstruction of the water circulating systems seems to take a long time as leaked contaminated water makes it difficult. The authorities estimate that it will take several months to recover the cooling systems and to seal the leaky containers.
These days, the radiation level has been almost normal around Tokyo. The radioactive pollutants seem to flow into the sea recently. They have to suspend fishing for the moment. The haul of northeastern fishery ports holds one fourth of the whole catch. What a big loss.
A month has passed and people pray in many places. Many parents are still looking for their missing children. They say, “Time has stopped since March 11th for us.” Yet, time flies and we have to move forward. The evacuees who lost houses and jobs are moving to many places including my area.
I’m so sure that people of Tohoku (Northeastern Area) can make it. I know they are so patient and hard workers. Following is the poem I love by Kenji Miyazawa, “Not losing to the rain”. He was born in Iwate and devoted himself to the peasants and for a better society. His spirit represents Tohoku people.
I was so glad that people read this at the vigil at a cathedral in Washington D.C. today.
Not losing to the rain / Kenji Miyazawa
Not losing to the rain
Not losing to the wind
Not losing to the snow nor to summer's heat
With a strong body
Unfettered by desire
Never losing temper
Cultivating a quiet joy
Every day four bowls of brown rice
Miso and some vegetables to eat in everything
Count yourself last and put others before you
Watching and listening, and understanding
And never forgetting
In the shade of the woods of the pines of the fields
Being in a little thatched hut
If there is a sick child to the east
Going and nursing over them
If there is a tired mother to the west
Going and shouldering her sheaf of rice
If there is someone near death to the south
Going and saying there's no need to be afraid
If there is a quarrel or a lawsuit to the north
Telling them to leave off with such waste
When there's drought, shedding tears of sympathy
When the summer's cold, wandering upset
Called a nobody by everyone
Without being praised
Without being blamed
Such a person
I want to become
The losses were so grave; however, we learned – and are learning – from this disaster a lot. We learned we are not alone in this planet. We have such nice and kind friends all over the world. We are convinced that we can overcome any differences among us to cooperate. Let us help each other from now on forever.
I know some policy makers and scholars are insisting on the necessity of nuclear power from their conscientious intention to cope with the global warming issues. I respectfully request you to reconsider. I understand the issue of climate change is one of the most important challenges. However, for the ultimate sake of the sound eco-system, we found it too costly from the disaster. Let us think of other ways in which we enjoy both the sound environment and democratic societies.
Article du Prix Nobel de littérature à propos des la catastrophe nucléaire au Japon.