JAPAN ATOMIC INDUSTRIAL FORUM, INC.

for Japanese

ATOMS in JAPAN

22 February, 2018

We All Live Inside the “Boundary” of Fukushima

Since the disaster in March 2011, Fukushima University has carried out its Fukushima Ambassador Program (FAP) twice yearly, for two weeks each, providing foreign exchange students with opportunities to visit affected areas in Fukushima Prefecture. Through homestays, the students are supposed to see the actual conditions in the area and how people are coping.

Dr. Sae Ochi

Sae Ochi, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
Lecturer, Department of Laboratory Medicine, The Jikei University School of Medicine
Attending Physician, Soma Central Hospital

The first FAP took place in May 2012, a little more than a year after the earthquake, tsunamis and accident happened in March 2011, and a time when even many Japanese were reluctant to enter the region.

“During the first program,” said William McMichael, “a pair of gloves painted red was sent from the U.S. to the university president with the message, ‘Are you trying to kill our students? Their blood will be on your hands.’”

Despite that, McMichael—a Japanese-Canadian who serves as FAP’s sponsor—has never ceased working to act as a “bridge” between other countries and Fukushima, traveling abroad and steadily carrying out publicity campaigns. “My dream is to be the Inazo Nitobe of Canada,” he said (note: Nitobe, who lived from 1862 to 1933, introduced Bushido and many other aspects of Japanese culture to the outside world, writing in English). “When it comes to loving Fukushima, I am second to no one.” As of this month, a total of twelve FAP tours have been conducted, with more than 150 students participating from overseas.

In the twelfth FAP tour, which took place this month, a new dimension was added. After two weeks in Fukushima, the students came to Tokyo to take part in an event intended to challenge unfounded fears and rumors. Their presentations and honest comments were quite impressive.

“What I originally heard about Fukushima came only from the news, and people around me saying it was a scary place. My home is far from there. Now I’m shocked that many people in Tokyo—people so much closer to Fukushima than I am—know even less.”

Fukushima is only 200km (124mi) from Tokyo. The two are closer than the distance between Chernobyl and the southernmost end of Belarus. For the outside world, it might look strange people in Tokyo acting as if Fukushima had nothing to do with them.

Today, there are many “lines” drawn through and around Fukushima. Some are geographical, representing the borders of the prefectures and also the lines demarcating the Tohoku region, as well as the lines marking the Hama-dori and Naka-dori regions within the prefecture. Other lines are descriptive or operational, such as those marking the reach of the tsunami, and those separating compulsory and voluntary evacuation areas. Some lines show where there were families with small children, and another separates those entitled to compensation from those who are not.

Yet another line—more of a stone wall—divides people in their minds, with distinct levels of appreciation of the degree of disaster.

Obviously, that is not made with prejudice or malicious intent. Rather, the Japanese sense of discretion or consideration causes those who have not shared an unfortunate experience not to want to talk about it. It thus seems to have created another borderline.

One person taking part in the event in Tokyo said, “I have not been to Fukushima or been personally involved in any way. I am not qualified to talk about it.” Another person said, “I want to do something, but I don’t want to be insensitive.”

In fact, it may offend people in Fukushima that outsiders, including myself, speak of “bright Fukushima” so casually. The brightness of Fukushima now is not that of overwriting what happened in the past.

A mother in Fukushima muttered, “Whenever there is an event, people say that we sufferers should not laugh, but should rather behave like sufferers.” A high school teacher shouted, “People are still suffering at evacuation sites. Stop all this carefree talk about restoration! Another person commented, with a bitter smile, “There is a limit to what public offices can do, but those of us in Fukushima will still have to live out our lives here.”

We should keep in mind that the current brightness of Fukushima is that of a strong, deep community created by determined people moving toward the future, while living in a severe reality.

Seen from overseas, it might appear strange that despite our all being Japanese, having similar faces and speaking the same language, as well as living in the same land, there are such rifts among us.

It might be said that we all live within the “boundary” of Fukushima. We may yet learn to feel and talk as people inside Fukushima, maintaining propriety and etiquette toward individuals, but without restraint. That will be the key to eliminate unfounded fears and rumors.

Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

SNS facebooktwitter

NPPs Map

Video

Grossi on Fukushima: Marking a Decade Since the Accident

10 March, 2021
Grossi on Fukushima: Marking a Decade Since the Accident04:11

Recent News

15 October, 2021
LDP Adds SMR Development and Nuclear Fusion to NPP Restarts in Its Policy Manifesto
7 October, 2021
Kishida Administration Inaugurated, with New METI Minister Hagiuda Holding Press Conference on Taking Office
6 October, 2021
IAEA Holds 65th General Conference in Vienna, with Japanese Minister of State for Science and Technology Delivering Statement in the General Debate
30 September, 2021
JAEC Releases 2020 White Paper on Nuclear Energy
17 September, 2021
NRA Permits Shimane-2 under New Regulatory Standards
14 September, 2021
IAEA Deputy Director General Evrard Visits Japan in Advance of Safety Review of ALPS-treated Water
1 September, 2021
Evaluation Report Issued by IAEA’s Review Mission to Fukushima Daiichi: First Visit since 2018
24 August, 2021
METI and IAEA Agree on Further Review Missions to Fukushima Daiichi
4 August, 2021
JAEA Restarts High-Temperature Engineering Test Reactor “HTTR”
2 August, 2021
Information about Fukushima Daiichi NPS Water Treatment
28 July, 2021
METI’s Committee Shows Rough Draft of Next Strategic Energy Plan
2 July, 2021
Mihama-3 Restarted After Decade-long Hiatus: First Restart in Japan of a Reactor Operating Beyond 40 Years
28 June, 2021
Mihama-3 Restarts after Decade-long Hiatus
25 June, 2021
New Canada-Japan Partnership Supports Greater Collaboration to Meet Climate Change Objectives and Net-zero Goals
24 June, 2021
METI Issues New Green Growth Strategy Through Achieving Carbon Neutrality
16 June, 2021
ANRE Sticks to “S+3E”
16 June, 2021
Japanese Cabinet Approves Environmental White Paper 2021
16 June, 2021
LDP Parliamentary Association to Reconfirm Position on Utilization of Nuclear Power
16 June, 2021
Fukui Governor Concerned about Deletion of Reference to “Maximum Utilization” of Nuclear Power
14 June, 2021
Working Group on Offshore Release of Treated Water Meets in Miyagi
▲TOP