Hello everyone. My name is Michiyo Yoshida. I’d like to talk about Fukushima today. I came back from Fukushima the day before yesterday. It was my third visit there.
Fukushima is well-known to the world because of the Nuclear Power Plants accident. Now nearly one year has passed since the accident, and people don’t talk much about it. Are they in a stable condition and has the life of people in Fukushima gotten back to normal? The Government is trying to make us believe that, but I just heard that people in Fukushima still have many worries and lead stressful lives.
I am the Chair of a small group called ‘Neighbors’ and our closest neighbors now are the people of Fukushima. The biggest work we have been doing since last April is filming the ordinary people by interviewing them and collecting information from the eyes of the citizens. My husband is a documentary cameraman and I visited Fukushima twice with him last spring and fallLast week I showed the edited version of our 90-minute film to the people whom we had interviewed. They sometimes came to tears when they remembered the hardest times, but most of them agreed that showing the film is important so that we don’t forget about Fukushima.
We’re showing the film on March 28th in Sapporo and will go anywhere if we are asked.
Today I’d like to share with you a very short version from the film. ‘Ordinary Life’ (showing for about 6 minutes with some captions) I hope you have got some idea or inspiration from this short version.
Please come and watch the full documentary on March 28th at L-plaza.
I would particularly like to emphasize two things: information and children. Most of the Japanese people didn’t get informed how serious the accident was until the 2nd week of May. In the film Ms. Shuto, who works for a childcare center, says that she wanted reliable information to decide how to act from an early stage.
On March 15, the crisis levels at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants were rapidly on the rise. Hydrogen explosions, cracks and fires were found. But the Government announced, “there is no immediate danger”. In that week, because of the earthquake, water wasn’t available at homes in Fukushima. People including children lined up outside with pails in their hands before water supplying trucks. They were exposed to high radiation. If only the proper information had been given to them, parents wouldn’t have let children go out to get exposed.
As the head of the kindergarten said in the film, children have the right to play outside for the sound development of their body and mind. Even now the time to play outside is limited for children, and quite many families take them out to distant places with lower radiation on the weekends.
The best way is to move out of Fukushima. About 80,000 people left Fukushima out of its two million person population, but still now there are many children exposed to low but long term radiation.
The people of Fukushima are rather conservative and their property has been handed down from generation to generation. Ties in neighborhoods are very strong. Naturally people love their homeland.
I interviewed one mother with two small children living with her husband’s parents. She decided to stay in Fukushima after a long discussion with her husband. She confessed that her five-year-old boy asked – “ How many years can I live? I will be sick later, right?” – to that question she couldn’t answer properly and cried alone at night.
A twelve year old girl was also telling us that she doesn’t want to be discriminated against only because she is from Fukushima when she grows up.
I think that the people of Fukushima need to make up their mind with strong determination no matter where they go or they decide to stay. We must understand their pain and listen to their cry.
On the back screen you can see some slides. Those were taken last April in Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures. I drove a welfare van with a lift to Sendai. The van was supposed to be donated to Indonesia, but I saw on TV how many vans were damaged, so I decided to donate it to an NGO working to help the suffering people. Then one of my husband’s friends in Fukushima called and asked my husband if he could come and take the video, because he was stressed out and wanted to give vent to his frustration. That’s how my husband started making the video.
You can see the tragic sites damaged by tsunami and the earthquake. The scenes are terrifying. But can you see radiation? No, but it surely exists.
We should share the burdens of the people in Fukushima.We will try to update our website with what we get to know. Please share this information with your families and your friends. Please take an action.
I bought a book called ‘Kids’ Voices of Fukushima’ the other day. I will read one message written by a nine year old boy from the book.
‘ To the Prime Minister,
I want to be a soccer player and play for Japan in the future. But I cannot practice enough now in Fukushima. When will radiation disappear? Can I become an adult? I’d like to play outside. I don’t want to be separated from my family or friends. Please help us. ‘