The "Shintono Tomo" (The Believer's Friend) Magazine is familiar all over Japan for Kyodan related church folk. The reader can find news about what is going on all around Japan in our churches. It also introduces new books, has pictures of new churches being built, and includes essays and Bible studies by some of the leading Japanese Christians. For the last five issues I have been following a series of essays on Fukushima.
In the latest February issue there is an artcile by a farmer from the Aizu area in Fukushima. Her name is not mentioned, but she writes of the personal struggles which continue for her family as they try to cope with the new realities brought about by the nuclear fallout.
First, the struggle to keep her own family safe. Second, the effort to educate themselves about the dangers of radiation. Third, the commitment to buy special expensive equipment to measure all vegetables to insure that their costomers are safe. Fourth, the hard work of making decisions. Her husband at one Agricultural Cooperative gathering stood up and insisted that all farmers in the area ought to commit to the most stringent tests to discern levels of cesium in food items. "The government standards are still too high," he said. Later, this family received many angry phone calls blaming them for "giving Fukushima a bad name." Farmers in the area are deeply divided as to how to face the reality of nuclear poisoning.
One day her husband disappears. They look all over for him, and he is not to be found. Late that night he returns home. The wife asks; "Where have you been?" He answers, "I went to the river and sat there until evening. The sky, the trees, the mountains, the soil. All of this beauty that I have loved all my life is affected by radiation. I don't know what to do." The husband just had to sit there and take it all in.
Her family is still committed to farming in Fukushima. She concludes her article saying "Please know that there are people like us who stand on the front lines fighting with radiation poisoning. I will continue to disseminate information. I am blessed to have my friends at the Aizu Radiation Information Center with whom I can cry, laugh and ponder together. We continue to encourage each other."
Find out more information on the Aizu Radiation Information Center.
Jeffrey Mensendiek, a member of First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Berkeley, California serves with Kwansei Gakuin University in Kobe, Japan as Chaplain for the Center for Religious Activities. His placement is supported by your gifts to Disciples' Mission Fund, Our Church's Wider Mission, and your special gifts.