Voice From Fukushima; Chikako
June 6, 2013
Food for Thought Books, Amherst
Translated by Chieko Yamazaki
Transcribed by Vanessa Lynch
Hello everybody, I came from Kawauchi, a town neighboring Fukushima Daichi Prefecture.
My town Kawauchi did not have a direct effect from the earthquake that took place on March 11, 2011, so we were appointed to an evacuated town of Tomioka which has a nuclear power plant.
The next day, March 12th the Government announced that since there was not a direct experience from the earthquake and tsunami, Kawauchi did not have any effect from the disasters.
The first time we heard we were in danger from the nuclear plant was March 15th, four days later when the central government said we had to stay inside the house to avoid potential exposure to radiation.
The town government decided to evacuate themselves voluntarily. No other town would accept us as the evacuation place. Some people evacuated themselves voluntarily. On the 16th the town decided they found another found in Fukushima prefecture – Koriyama City – where the remaining town government and the villagers could evacuate.
This is my town, Kawauchi
This is Koriyama where they evacuated us.
This is the Daiichi site (power plant site).
I have a son who was in Sendai which felt more direct effects from the earthquake. He went there from Fukushima to help. We still had power but no cell phone access at all and we could not stay in touch so I went to Sendai to make sure my son was alright; the rest of the villagers went on to Koriyama.
After two days and two nights waiting for gas at the gas station I drove from Sendai to Koriyama to join the town council.
As you can see in this slide, Kawauchi is less radioactive and actually where we evacuated (Koriyama) had a higher level of radiation.
As soon as I found out this area was contaminated with higher levels of radiation I insisted the entire village had to evacuate out of the Fukushima prefecture but nobody believed me.
This is where we stayed, similar to a big football stadium. Each family had a small stall.
This is a better situation than immediately after the evacuation because initially we had a smaller space separated by only a knee high cardboard box. After one month we moved and these screens were set up for privacy.
TEPCO kept telling us, “We are in the process of cold shutdown. We have been working hard.” That’s all they said, there were no other answers or explanations.
Not only TEPCO but the local government was telling people, “We are in the process of decontaminating.”
Several months later the town mayor decided to go back to the place of their ancestors village, but all they were saying was, “It’s going to be safe. It will be alright to return home.” There was no further explanation.
January 31st, 2012 the town mayor claimed we could go back to the village – it was less than 12 months after the disaster. I knew that number 3 and 4 reactors were still leaking and still in danger, and I kept telling the villagers that it was not safe for them to return.
Nobody mentioned health issues and I felt strongly that I had to warn the people. Next January there was a town election so I ran for Mayor.
This was my campaign sign, it reads: “We have to evacuate to keep our children and grandchildren safe.”
One person alone does not have enough power to make significant changes – nobody listened to me so I lost the election.*
In April 2012 they opened the school in our village and the children went back. It was still contaminated.
This is also Kawauchi village. You can see there are piles of contaminated scraps and rubble piling up nearby. This is a residential neighborhood not far from the school.
Can you see? This kind of black smudge — it is a kind of moss. It came out of a nuclear mutation.
They found it in Tomioka where the nuclear power plant was located. Now you can find it in Tokyo and the suburbs of Tokyo.
This is my neighbor’s house. This is the evening primrose. Normally it grows to about knee high but by the summer of 2010 some kind of mutation happened and it grew much higher than the roof.
August 10, 2012, a nearby town also declared it was okay to return to their home village, but they returned at midnight so no one could see, other than the media, who were invited to be used as propaganda to say to the people, ‘this town is safe’. As you can see in this photo they are still wearing masks.
About a year ago there were three people diagnosed with possible cancer, but later on the doctors said there was no need to re examine the people – they were fine.
This is very recent news: I was told 15 minors, less than 18, were diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is directly related to radiation exposure, but the local medical school and authorities said there was no correlation.
In public there is data for how much cesium or radiation is there, but there is no data released on the amount of strontium or uranium and no link between cause and effect.
It is true that lots of people have died of heart disorders or stroke, but again there is no cause and effect – there are so many numbers but the data is still hidden from the public.
Within my own family 5 or 6 people were diagnosed and have since passed away from radiation related disease.
This is the 2013 publication circulated among the Fukushima school and residents – It says Fukushima is aiming for number one longevity prefecture. Is this some kind of joke?
Within this booklet they are talking about how to take care of your stress and chronic diseases, diabetes but nothing related to how to protect yourself from nuclear exposure.
The whole entire country or media says, “Fukushima is safe, go back to your own home, no problems or health issues”, that is what the Government is trying to make people believe.
I recently had an interview with Arnie Gunderson in Vermont and he told me that if there is another earthquake the number 3 or 4 reactors will face the same danger as in 2011.
I have been speaking around the US with nuclear power plants, meeting with protestors and organizers and I understood your situation is not much different from mine.
I was surprised to hear that in America there is the same design by GE Electric and they told people you can still operate the nuclear plant for 20 more years.
The whole structure of the nuclear power plant is leading to Nuclear Weapons. I believe that we are all victims and that nuclear war is not going to stop as long as nuclear power plants continue to operate.
I very strongly believe that as long as we have nuclear power plants operating the same risky situation might happen.
After visiting many activists and organizers around the United States who are working to end this entire nuclear industry I realize that the challenges we face are the same. This is not a Fukushima problem it is a universal problem.
This trip has been extremely important to me as a chance to network with anti-nuclear activists all around the world. I do not have much faith in the Japanese government, but I do have faith in the people.
I am looking to network with as many people as possible, especially Doctors who may be able to bring more scientific evidence of the correlation between radiation exposure and cancer.
We can network and work for one world. I believe that we are all connected, our lives are all connected.
I really wish to connect with all of you, and hope that we can work together.
One World. No More War. No More Fukushima.
Thank you for listening.
*translator’s note: Since she lost race for Mayor now a major Japanese TV station is filming her for a year.