This article includes a speech by Muto Ruiko, given at the Atomic Age II: Fukushima symposium on May 5 at the University of Chicago.
Tomomi YAMAGUCHI and Muto Ruiko
Translation by Norma Field
Muto Ruiko is a long-time antinuclear activist based in Fukushima. She is also one of 1,324 Fukushima residents who filed a criminal complaint in June 2012 pressing charges against Tepco executives and government officials.
This article introduces Muto’s activism on nuclear energy, her life before and after the Fukushima Dai’ichi disaster, and her recent effort to mobilize citizens for the criminal complaint. An English translation of Muto’s speech at the University of Chicago on May 5, 2012, follows.
….. While engaging in multiple antinuclear actions—organizing gatherings and participating in sit-ins, and giving speeches around the country—Muto’s most recent commitment is to a movement seeking to file criminal charges against the officials of Tepco and the government. She is one of 1,324 Fukushima residents (including some who have evacuated) who filed a criminal complaint with the Fukushima Public Prosecutors office on June 11, 2012, demanding that charges be brought against thirty-three Tepco executives and government officials. Muto played a central role in organizing this movement and is the leader of the group of complainants.
Muto Ruiko’s speech on May 5 at the Atomic Age II: Fukushima Symposium at the University of Chicago was delivered in the midst of efforts to meet the goal of securing 1,000 Fukushima complainants. By way of introduction to her speech, I will give the background to Muto’s activism on nuclear energy and her effort to mobilize citizens for the criminal complaint. I will also introduce her personal life before and after the Fukushima Dai’ichi accident, which in itself has profound political meaning.
5 May 2012, Chicago
(Translated by Norma Field)
More than one year has passed since the nuclear disaster that accompanied the earthquake and tsunami. At the time, I was running a small café in the mountains about forty-five kilometers from the Fukushima reactors. The disaster transformed my life. I would like to share with you some of the things that happened when the accident occurred.
On March 11, following the assault of the earthquake and the tsunami, there was a radio announcement stating that control rods had been inserted and the reactors had shut down. But that evening, news came that all power for cooling the reactors had been lost. I had some knowledge about the likely consequences of such a situation, and feeling the urgency, I went around the neighborhood, encouraging friends to evacuate. We ourselves got in our car to leave. At this point there had been no instructions from the government. That night, those within three kilometers of the plant began to evacuate. The next day, there was an explosion at Reactor Number One, and the evacuation zone was extended to twenty kilometers. There were some victims of the tsunami who were still alive, but rescue squads had no choice but to evacuate and were therefore unable to save these people. Livestock and pets—many living things—were left behind in the evacuation zone. Many elderly people died on the road. Seniors and people with disabilities faced severe difficulties in the course of the evacuation itself as well as in the shelters.
◇Slide show accompanying Muto’s presentation