One Day in Fukushima City
Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.
On April 11, I visited Fukushima City with two activists from Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants (Fukuro-no-Kai). We met four members from Fukushima Citizen’s Conference for Reconstruction from Nuclear Disaster, a citizen’s group established immediately after the events of March 3.
We spoke about how we can convey their voices to the Parliament and Government of Japan and the possibility of further collaboration. As they spoke under the stress, the sense of duty for immediate actions and the stress and the ongoing fear of radioactive contamination / exposure, each and every word weighed heavily.
During the meeting, there was a very strong earthquake. We interrupted our meeting as the TV reported that Fukushima Daiichi had lost its power sources. Several strong earthquakes were felt afterwards, but people didn’t seem to care, they just continued talking. I think they have become accustomed to the quakes.
Fukushima Citizen’s Conference for Reconstruction from Nuclear Disaster have been monitoring the amount of radiation at several schools and kindergartens in Fukushima and the southern part of Miyagi. As a result, some high values were monitored in some playgrounds. They aim to request and pressure the local government to monitor thoroughly and conduct necessary actions by presenting the data monitored by the citizens. Their intention was partly realised, as Fukushima Prefecture began the radiation monitoring at more than a thousand schools. Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants (Fukuro-no-Kai) have collaborated by providing the Geiger counters and utilising the monitoring of results at a national level.
During our meeting, the activists stressed the following:
- People in Fukushima have accepted Nuclear Power Plants, which meant that we put priority on money over life and safety. This disaster is a direct consequence of it. It is the time to reverse the order. We have been struggling to change our society, which does not want to move under severe pressure and stress. But we must change. We would like to build a foundation of the future society for our children.
- We feel a sense of urgency when we see children playing in the rain without umbrellas.
- The government should evacuate the children from all schools where high amounts of radiation have been recorded. The governmental support is indispensable, thus, it must provide for the coordination of host communities and financial support”
- Independent monitoring by citizen's group is very important, but we do not have a sufficient number of Geiger counters and any measurement instruments for food and soil contamination. We need international support to continue our activism.