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From Fukushima We Change the World

Sachiko Sato: Picture retrieved from Beyond Nuclear.org

Sachiko Sato, Fukushima

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident affected the lives of two million people in Fukushima prefecture, including myself. It was not our own choice. Even a year later we are still agonized as we are not able to accept what happened to us on 11 March 2011.

The same goes for my children who were evacuated to Yamagata prefecture. My eldest daughter had just celebrated her first wedding anniversary when the earthquake hit. When her husband refused to evacuate from Fukushima, she told him that she would not bear children if she were to stay in Fukushima with him. Her husband came around to her point of view, and the two moved to Yamagata. But their moving had negative effects on their relationship with my daughter's in-laws, with whom they had just started living together.

My 14 year-old daughter has been refusing to go to a new school in Yamagata as a protest against having been separated from her best friends back in Fukushima. At her primary school she had had no other girls in her class, and then she finally had for the first time girl schoolmates in her junior high school in Fukushima. Today, she still stays at home.

My third son who is now 18 used to help on our family farm and worked at the social care facility that I run. But as we were no longer able to grow vegetables on contaminated soil and it became illegal for me to hire minors to work at the “radiation controlled area”, I had no choice but to fire him who was then 17 years old. He has some learning difficulty which complicates his situation. It is difficult for him to find a job in other places. He is still unemployed today.

At my workplace, we suggested that young staff members and those with small children evacuate. As a result three families have left. Among the remaining staff members there are still some who can not accept the change, which is still affecting our relationship at the workplace. Those who left and remained were not only colleagues but personally very close friends.

I had to give up my organic farming to which I had devoted 30 years of my life. I began building up this social care facility on my own in the prospect of a happy retirement plan, but it is uncertain today how long I will be able to keep it going. Most of our good friends who used to farm in our neighborhood are all gone, dispersed across the country. We helped each other, lived modestly and thriftily, but this happy life was taken away from us by the nuclear power, which had merely produced electricity. We lost everything because of nuclear power.

Our government and TEPCO repeatedly lied to us by spreading “a nuclear safety myth” and today they refuse to admit that they were at fault in this respect. Furthermore, they are now even trying to spread a new myth, which is “a radiation safety myth”, arguing that radioactive substance is actually safe now, which, however before 3.11, was considered to be so dangerous that it had to be sealed with 5 layer walls to protect the environment from any leakage.

Now that they have abandoned the children in Fukushima without protecting them from radiation exposure, and have ignored immense suffering of people in Fukushima, what is our government intending to protect at the cost of our lives? When their economic priorities are this important comes, it is hard to believe that they have any consideration of human beings at all. 

Furthermore, not yet satisfied with their domestic nuclear program, our government is planning to sell nuclear reactors abroad. Are they even going to sacrifice the children of the world? This makes me more and more angry. United States introduced nuclear power to Japan under a veil of “Atoms for Peace” while covering up the tragedy of the two atomic bombings. Japan is doing exactly the same to other nations as what the US had done, announcing “Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident is over, damages from radiation were small enough and decontaminating the land will make everything fine”. Poor farming communities in Vietnam and Jordan will not be informed about nuclear power, but will believe that nuclear energy will create more jobs, and they will accept it for a handful people who want to establish a business out of nuclear power. And they will definitely follow the same path as we did in Japan, without knowing any truth about nuclear power.

Who is driving our country to the state where such nonsense prevails?
Who is this country for? Is it only human beings who live on the earth?
Human beings cannot exist without nature. One percent of the rich set up nuclear power all over in the world and damaged the nature to this extent. Do the other 99% percent of the people and all other creatures in nature have to bear the damages for the sake of the 1%? No, it is not the case. Nature acts equally upon everyone. And if so, even the one percent will also have to bear the damage caused by nature.

I ask you to please recognize as soon as possible. That monetary value is not the most important. That there is something else you and I need to cherish at the moment. That the earth does not exist only for human beings who are living today.

If we had a time machine, it would be in your imagination. How did the earth look like a hundred years ago, 10 thousand years ago, 100 thousand years ago? What were human beings doing in those times? What do you want to leave to the children of a hundred years later, 10 thousand years later, and 100 thousand years later? Please think with such a time scale. Is it justified to take away invaluable lives just because of the greed of the people who are present today? We were born and are living at this moment because of many lives which had overcome many difficulties and because many lives were tied together. We should not forget to appreciate this fact. Each life is invaluable with its own meaning to exist. There is no single life which can be taken away unnecessarily.

Even after the experiences of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, we failed to stop nuclear power. We should face this history with resentment. All of the activists who were engaged in anti-nuclear movement saw the Fukushima Daiichi accident in regret; “Why were we not able to stop the nuclear power after Chernobyl?” Atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki regretted that their wish to be “the last victims of radiation exposure” had not been realized. Through learning this resentment, the people in Fukushima turned themselves into messengers to reach out to the world and say that the immense sufferings which Fukushima had to experience should never again be experienced by anybody else.

As the word Fukushima says, we used to have many “Fuku (福: happiness in Japanese)” in Fukushima; clean water, air, soil, and food harvested here. We cannot allow nuclear power to keep operating after it has taken away all of these happiness from us.

I believe that this message will be passed onto the rest of the world. And if and only if all nuclear power plants on the planet are stopped, then for the first time Fukushima will be able to settle our anguish, grief and anger. Until that moment comes, we are determined to keep Fukushima from being forgotten. We are going to keep Fukushima alive.

On 11 March we shall commemorate first anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. I appeal to the world to remember Fukushima and to put an end to nuclear power.  

(translated by Kaori Izumi)

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In partnership with the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), World Pulse is collecting personal stories outlining women’s experiences and recommendations on sustainable and equitable development for presentation at the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

All stories submitted on our community platform between now and June 3, 2012 will be presented at the Rio+20 Conference. Additionally, selected entries will be published in World Pulse’s digital magazine and distributed widely to international media partners. Learn how YOUR voice can be included!

Comments

jadefrank's picture

Taking your voice to Rio+20

Dear Sachiko,

This piece is so powerful. In the international news coverage of Fukushima—this is the voice I have been missing. May your strength to speak out encourage others to as well and support a vocal uprising for putting an end to nuclear power.

Thank you for participating in our Rio+20 initiative and courageously sharing your voice. Your story and recommendations are en route to Rio de Janeiro with our partners at WEDO, and will be presented at the conference to ensure grassroots women's perspectives are included at the negotiating table. Our editorial team is working on an E-magazine for publication next Wednesday which you will receive in your inbox, highlighting selected pieces from our Rio+20 initiative. We will keep you updated on the outcomes of the conference and how you can stay involved as a vocal leader for your community on these issues.

I encourage you to read the stories of your fellow PulseWire sisters and engage in conversation to share experiences, ideas, and best practices for addressing sustainable development issues in your communities.
http://www.worldpulse.com/taxonomy/term/17249

In friendship and solidarity,
Jade

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