Allow me to introduce some of the stories of the mothers who come to our Center. Mrs. A lives with her husband and son in the city of Fukushima. The family had just moved into their new house six months prior to the disaster. They had received financial help from her husband’s parents to build a large house, hoping that her mother would also be able to live there with them in her old age. However, their neighborhood was covered with very high levels of radiation. Because Fukushima prefecture did not designate her neighborhood as an evacuation zone, it was left to each member of the community whether they would evacuate or not.
Stories from the Mothers Who Come to the Aizu Radiation Information Center
Three years have passed since the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant accident. The Aizu Radiation Information Center, which opened in July 2011, provides education, radiation testing, trauma support, and other activities to community members who continue to suffer from the Fukushima disaster. The goal is to remain flexible in providing programs that meet the needs of the people. Thank you to Global Ministries for supporting the activities of the Aizu Radiation Information Center a commitment to accompanying the communities.
Allow me to introduce some of the stories of the mothers who come to the Aizu Center.
Aiko lives with her husband and son in the city of Fukushima. The family had just moved into their new house six months prior to the disaster. They had received financial help from her husband’s parents to build a large house, hoping that her mother would also be able to live there with them in her old age. However, their area was covered with very high levels of radiation. Because Fukushima prefecture or jurisdiction did not designate her neighborhood as an evacuation zone, it was left to each member of the community whether they would evacuate or not. Aiko was anxious to leave in order to protect the life of her small child, yet, neither her husband nor her husband’s parents shared her sense of urgency. She became very anxious as she thought about the future of her child, and even thought of committing suicide. However, one day she thought to herself; “Who is responsible for this accident? Are the people who are responsible actively taking responsibility for their actions?” On the one hand, she repented not being aware of the dangers of nuclear energy, and yet on the other hand she realized that neither the government nor TEPCO was taking responsibility. This realization led her to convince her husband to allow her to move to Aizu Wakamatsu city with her son. Her original home was contaminated by radiation. Because the local government has no other place to put the contaminated soil, many bags full of contaminated soil were buried in her back yard. Even if the day comes when she can return to her home, she knows that she will never experience the joy of seeing her son play in the yard, not will she ever feel like gardening there.
Another mother, Daichi, who initially did not question the government’s “safety campaign,” used to live in the city of Koriyama. She took her two sons to line up for water right after the disaster harboring no suspicion that there might be radiation in the rain and snow that day. Only later did she learn that there were high levels of radiation in the rain and snow, and this convinced her to go to Aizu Wakamatsu. Even today she is self-critical about the fact that she may have exposed her children to unnecessary levels of radiation. In case her children contract cancer in the future, Daichi has enrolled her children in cancer insurance. She has also saved her children’s teeth, hair and nails where large amounts of radiation are known to accumulate. Mothers like Daichi not only look forward to seeing their children reach maturity, but have to carry with them a sense of concern for the future of their children. Soon the prefecture will start testing for the accumulation of strontium in the teeth of the children. This examination was made possible by the requests from the local people. The prefecture has projected that the teeth will show no signs of the radioactive accumulation, and they say that this will be an opportunity for the public to know more clearly that they are not to worry.
Isamu, who lives in Aizu Wakamatsu, lost her husband when her three daughters were small. This year her second oldest daughter will graduate from university. The daughter would like to return to the Aizu area to find work, but Isamu has discouraged her saying that even though the levels may be low, the whole area is covered with radiation and the nuclear disaster is by no means over. Nobody knows how dangerous the present situation is, so Isamu convinced her daughter to find work elsewhere. There is nothing that she would like to do more than to live with her daughter, and yet, as she thinks of her daughter’s future health she could not allow her to come home to live.
Following the disaster, Mio continued to live at home with her infant child knowing that the area had been contaminated by radiation. However, one month after the disaster she decided to relocate to Yamagata prefecture. At the time of her move, Mio learned that she was pregnant. After agonizing over what to do she decided to have an abortion. Later on when Mio shared her experience at a gathering, she was surprised to find many other mothers in the audience who also said “I had an abortion too!” Last year Mio found that she was pregnant again, and this time gave birth to her child. She and her husband had been looking forward to raising a family in the beautiful natural surroundings of Fukushima, but now they will soon relocate to the northern island of Hokkaido. She tells me that her husband has not yet agreed to the move. Mio is prepared to file for a divorce if they do not come to a common understanding.
The right to the pursuit of happiness is assured for all citizens in the Japanese constitution. It is clear from these few stories above that the Fukushima nuclear disaster has robbed these women and their families of their rights, and that the present situation is nothing short of unconstitutional. Yet, neither the government nor the Tokyo Electric Company has taken responsibility for the disaster, and for their role in exposing the public to unnecessary exposure to radiation. Instead of taking responsibility, they are moving ahead to close out the Fukushima nuclear plants without an on-spot inspection. The cause of the nuclear disaster will be covered up, never to be known to the public.
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