An Appeal at “Nuclear Zero Citizen’s Parade”
Until the Day When our Children’s Smiles Return
5 May 2012 Sapporo
By Touma Watanabe, Sapporo Japan
(A 13-year old evacuee from Fukushima who currently lives in Sapporo)
Today the Tomari Unit 3 will stop and Japan will have no operating nuclear power plants. This in itself is something to celebrate and one could say that we have achieved something. However, I believe that few people will rejoice 100%. Although all nuclear power plants will be out of service, this is just one of numerous challenges. The government and the electric industry are working hard to restart nuclear power plants such as Ooi 3 and 4. There are too many challenges piling up in front of us. Once all nuclear power plants have been stopped, my next goal is to prevent their restart.
If the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident was unanticipated, it is not difficult to imagine that other nuclear power plants could also be affected by earthquakes and tsunamis. Japan is the country with the highest frequency of earthquakes in the world and recently so many experience earthquakes almost every day. How can we possibly agree to restart of nuclear power under such conditions? Japan seems unprepared to manage tsunami threats that could take place anytime.
If the government and the nuclear industry absolutely want to restart nuclear power, they could save power in many different ways、I do not understand why they absolutely insist on restarting nuclear power by all means. To those people who benefit from the nuclear industry, nuclear power is something “convenient” which can effectively generate money. But those of us who live near these plants risk our lives for the sake of power generation. I believe that such an uneven system has torn apart the thoughts and the bonds between the people.
Fukushima city where I used to live is one of such an example.
Our family was worried about the gradually expanding evacuation zone. When we started evacuating, we saw many cars of people who were trying to escape from where they lived. Most likely, many were people from Fukushima prefecture and nearby areas who thought that it was dangerous to stay there. But in the areas that were far away from nuclear power stations, for example in Tokyo, the government made the announcement: “There will be no immediate health impact of radioactivity”. The government increased the radioactivity threshold for evacuation to 20mSV, and only the people who lived in the areas over 20mSV were to evacuate. The government’s response was so ambiguous on this issue.
For those living far from Fukushima, nuclear power and radioactivity was simply somebody else’s business. We who lived in Fukushima believed that the government would help us. We were stunned and in despair. Had the nuclear accident happened in Tokyo, the government response would have been different. There was nobody who questioned this problem of discrimination against remote local communities.
I imagine that the people who lived far away from nuclear plants believed when the government told them that nuclear power was safe, or that the majority was indifferent to the risk it posed. Even today there are so many conflicting opinions about nuclear power. Some say it is safe, others say that it is risky, others are indifferent… opinions are divided.
“Kizuna” (Bonds) was selected to be the word of the year 2011. To me 2011 was the year when our bonds were completely torn to shreds. Our biggest challenge is to prevent the restart of the nuclear plants and the most critical issue is how to put and end to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power accident.
The Fukushima accident is far from over. Water contaminated with radioactive substances continues to be released into the sea. Many areas in the Fukushima prefecture have very high levels of radioactivity. In a normal situation, it is far from safe to keep living in these areas. I want children, at least, to be evacuated, and to create a condition where they could live there. I still think of these things.
Immediately after the accident, the radioactivity level was 24 micro SV/hour in Fukushima. It was at such a high level that nobody should have been allowed to enter into the area. Yet at that moment many children were going to collect water or playing outdoors unaware of the risk. These children were exposed to incredibly high levels of radioactivity. In spite of this, the government continues contributes to these children’s’ exposure to high levels of radioactivity. Children in Fukushima are even forced to attend physical education classes in the schoolyard outside as if nothing has happened.
Prime Minister Noda said that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident is over. But the children in Fukushima are not protected. I want the Fukushima nuclear accident to be over but in a real sense where children are protected.
There are just too many challenges. We may not able to deal with them all during our lifetime. But I want to do what I can do so that children, in the near future, can smile once again.
(Translation by Kaori Izumi)
Trusting You and I
Who Speak Out and Fight for Change
Kai Nergaard Izumi (14 years), Sapporo Japan
Good afternoon, I’m not a Fukushima survivor, I have not walked through the paths of radiation and I am not someone who has to endure the pain. I’m just a student in Japan. My name is Kai, I’m 14, a regular student, born in Norway, half Japanese, but I’m not here to talk about myself, but the people, the believers in the great country with rich traditions and dedicated people, faced with a serious challenge. Ever since 3.11, I just couldn't believe what had been going on, and then I opened my eyes. I saw what the world was like, and honestly, it disturbed me. Knowing the danger, I knew Japan needed help so I wrote to Barrack Obama on 26 September because I thought he could help out Japan from this disaster. In the letter I said:
“I know that this might sound very strange for a young man from a foreign country to write this but the words have to be said. My mother has recently visit New York to participate in the Nuclear Power Plant protest. Now on to the reason I am writing this. I am not good with my words so please bare with me. If the world keeps using nuclear power as the main resource for energy then when the next huge earthquake happens, then the power plants will releases the radiation, then half of the globe will be contaminated again, the water, air, every living form will be contaminated. For humans the DNA will be cut off and as a result, causes cancer, and the children who are born will have physical disabilities. Please listen from someone who has friends from Fukushima and have had to evacuate because of what happened. What happens if this happens in America? How would you solve it, cause it will never go away, it will stay here forever. You'll drink the radiation, you'll eat it, and you'll breath it. There is no denying that the fact is that the nuclear radiation will kill us all if it isn't controlled. I know this is weird for me to write but I just had to say it. Sorry that this letter takes up your time, enjoy your life while you can, may God bless you and your family.”
But today I learned that President Obama is indeed promoting nuclear power. What I initially thought about Obama was wrong, but what I wrote to him was ALL facts.
And I still haven’t received a reply. Everything I wrote to him had just happened. And you know what, the world is just a bunch of bullshit wrapped up with a pinch of death. BUT, I still had hope. I still believed that Japan was great; I still believed a change could be brought, and I still stay true to it. But my faith is not placed in the government. I place it in our people, those who are trying to make a difference and those who speak for what they are fighting for and know what is right.
Why Should We Give Nuclear Another Chance Whilst Risking Our Own Lives?
All Nuclear Power Should Be Stopped Forever from Today
A week or so ago, my friend Kai, (who just talked or who will talk), asked me to do this speech at an anti-nuclear movement that was happening on 5/5 in Odori Park in Sapporo. I was very interested in the topic from before, probably because of my parents who are absolutely against nuclear power. Because of that, I was able to gain more knowledge about the system. Therefore, I had not only the information that are presented by the governments or the common media, but also some other international and various resources provided by mainly. If I was not given this information, I don’t think I would be here making this speech. And it’s not always only the parents who will influence the children; the environment, the education and so many other things.
For the children, these environments are crucial however, after 3/11 or even before, this country has been in a way, destroyed by the nuclear power. The population, at some time, could not think of a life without nuclear. Now, after the accident, we are left with heavily polluted zones, where people still do live and the government will not provide enough information to help them decide whether they should move or not. There are so many children who have to stay and live in the highly radioactive parts of the country. Do they have a choice? No. Will they ever know how dangerous it might be to keep living their lives in these places? No. The effects will not show up until they grow up, and start having their own life. By then, will it be the same people in charge of the government? No. As being part of the upcoming generation, I do not want to blame the entire group of adults and I should not because many are fighting against it and are trying to better their children’s lives. However, later on, we are left with the burden of the radioactivity in the country.
And that burden is not something that we truly wish. In the future we want the choice in the usage of power resources when we will be the one paying for it. Do we really need nuclear power? No. And in fact, we are over-using it especially in the cities. Overweight is unhealthy for human beings and so it is for energy usage. Therefore we need to go on a diet and become healthier in our consumption of electricity.
We have been relying too much on nuclear power but is there any other alternative energy resources? Yes. Solar or wind power, or even from tides or thermal. Some pro-nuclear people think that these power productions are unstable and that it will cause some negative environmental effects. However, we are able to improve these points with the technology and the intelligence that we have. And that is actually easier than trying to control and manage the nuclear power plants.
But that change cannot be easily made without the cooperation of the entire Japan. 3/11 is the chance for us to renew our old ways. Today, all the nuclear power in Japan are stopped and it must remain so forever. It proved itself wrong and harmful, why do we have to give it another chance whilst risking our own lives?