Sep 18, 2012

Excerpts from the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial gathering held in Tokyo on September 14, 2012

Around 3 minutes into the video:

Question about any medical issues in Koriyama-city:

A man’s comment

“I am here from Yokohama.  I was diagnosed with arrhythmia one year ago at a check-up.  This spring I was told my EKG was abnormal.  Also my red blood cell and white blood cell count was abnormal, but the doctor told me it was no big deal and I was working too much.  I actually don’t work.  Also my right little fingernail split in half recently.  Something like this has never happened to me before, and I don’t feel good about it at all.  One more thing is that my tooth cracked when eating something hard.  I realize I can’t blame everything on radiation, but I don’t feel comfortable with any of these (symptoms).  How is it in Koriyama?  Are there abnormalities such as arrhythmia?”

Koriyama-city woman’s response

“Thank you for being here, everyone.  I would like to talk about what has been happening around me.  Last May, an aunt of my daughter’s friend, a woman in her early 40’s, was found dead of heart failure while waiting in a car for about 15 minutes when her husband went into a store to pick up something for their restaurant business located in front of the station:  They had gone to the neighboring Ibaraki Prefecture for an errand.

Last May or June, a woman in her early 40’s, an evacuee from Tomioka-machi living in a temporary housing in Koriyama-city, dropped dead when she touched a door.  She was taken to Southern General Tohoku Hospital in Koriyama-city, but she died.

Also you might have heard that two to three Fukushima high school students have died.  The one that died in July is a friend of a son of my acquaintance.  They went to the same elementary school, but they are in different high schools.  When the mother went to wake up the child, the child was already dead.

There is a place called Shinobuyama (in Fukushima-city) where an ambient radiation level is very high. (Note: 1.484 μSv/h on September 18, 2012)  Fukushima high school students go there to do sports without wearing masks and also commute to schools on bicycles without wearing masks.

Also it might be from aging process, but my acquaintance’s huband died last May, which I didn’t know until the end of the year.  I went to the altar shop near my house to buy incense sticks and candles.  The old man at the shop came out and said, “I just went to a funeral and I am totally astonished.  A 48-year-old son of the greengrocers across the street suddenly died of heart failure.”  Also it might be the aging process or the stress, but since the earthquake up to the end of last year, seven people died on this particular shopping street.  This May my acquaintance’s husband died at age 74.  That’s all that happened around me.”

Question regarding temporary convalescence outside Fukushima:

A man’s comment

“I am active in hosting Fukushima children for at least during a summer break for convalescence in clean air.  We only had several children come.  As a whole how many Koriyama children actually took part in such convalescence, and what were people’s feelings about it?  Some families wanted to spend the summer break convalescing as families.  It was difficult to find appropriate accommodation for small children.  I am curious how many people actually participated in temporary evacuation and how they might have managed it.  For instance, junior high school students might have sports and club activities so they may not be able to leave Koriyama.  Some families might have work commitment so they may not be able to leave Koriyama.  In addition, I believe that local municipalities and schools in Fukushima should be more active in making this happen.  Our group talked to the city and the prefecture to accommodate these children in our city during the summer break.  Perhaps that sort of thing should also be done in Koriyama-city.”

Koriyama-city woman’s response

“When it comes to evacuation, a Koriyama city councilor, Yukiko Komazaki, is the mediator for the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial.  We have heard there are municipalities outside Fukushima which have offered to accept evacuation of children by schools, and Koriyama-city has had some offers.  Yet Koriyama-city itself does not seem interested.  Koriyama schools also have had such offers.   As far as I know, those who have temporarily evacuated have done so through programs by citizens groups and other prefectures which they found on their own.  I heard about someone’s grandchild who did a temporary evacuation to Hokkaido for four weeks during last summer but the child didn’t want to go to live with strangers again despite being fearful of radiation.  I think the best thing is for the entire school to go so that all the kids are together, accompanied by teachers and some parents who can help out. This will be more comforting to them.  Some children are afraid of being bullied.

Last summer Fukushima Prefecture put in their budget 2.8 billion yen ($36 million) towards convalescence expenses.  I heard about this from travel agents.  However, this money can only be used for convalescence within Fukushima Prefecture, such as Aizu area (where the radiation level is relatively low).  So those who want to send their children outside Fukushima Prefecture cannot take advantage of it.”

Question about bashing of people who are trying to do the right thing:

A man’s question

I am tired of how people criticize and bash those who are trying to do the right thing, by simply exerting their rights.  What did people around you say about your involvement in this trial?

Koriyama-city woman’s response

“I began my participation in this trial as a supporter from part of the way, so I don’t know what sort of reactions the organizers might have encountered.  What I can say is that Koriyama-city itself is divided on the issue.  Even families are split.  A husband might think it’s safe while the wife might be worried about it, or it could be the other way around.  Or in some cases grandparents and mothers-in-law might may object to evacuation.  I think some people think Koriyama-city is safe.  This is kind of a small thing, but I heard of some people receiving sarcastic remarks such as, “It must be nice to be wealthy enough to buy bottled water.” while carrying their bottled water, which is rather big and obvious, up to their floor in the apartment building elevator.  I also evacuated in the beginning, after the accident, and when I returned home and went to greet my nextdoor neighbor, I got sneered at.  They said, “It’s all a matter of how you think about it.”  Now, with the passage of time,  it’s like we can’t openly talk about it with anyone.  You have to pick whom you talk to about your honest feelings about radiation.  Parents are sending their children out of Fukushima on the pretext of reasons other than radiation.”


A man from the defense counsel for the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial explains:

“All the plaintiffs are anonymous.  If they identify themselves, they will obviously be bashed.  To put it simply, the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial is a stumbling block to those who want to revive Fukushima.  They think the Trial is the biggest reason hindering their effort for revival.  We are simply asking for our rights.  We are not saying we want to abandon Koriyama:  We simply want to let our children escape the danger (of radiation) and we will return once the city becomes safe for children.  But they say that thinking alone is the hindrance to revival of the city.  Those of us who should be helping with the revival lack confidence in accomplishing it while protecting our health and lives.  They think the city will die if people leave.  People who are leading the revival of the city are unmotivated, uninterested and apathetic:  They don’t seem interested in protecting residents’ health and lives.  Also in some cases threatened job security pulled some plaintiffs out of the Trial.  One single mother was told to withdraw from the Trial or she would be fired.  She had to quit the Trial so that she can go on making living.

Locally in Koriyama this Trial encounters various obstacles.  Despite all that pressure, we continue on in order to protect our children.  Because of the difficulty encountered in Koriyama, I think it is important for outside people from places like Tokyo to support them.”

64,478 Koriyama-city children are scheduled to undergo their first thyroid ultrasound examination beginning in early October 2012 through the end of March 2013.

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