The Rage of Exile: In the Wake of Fukushima via Japan Focus

Shoji Masahiko; translated and introduced by Tom Gill A Statement by one of those who lost their homeland to the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Shoji Masahiko, 2013.3.10 (Sunday) All of a sudden two years have passed since that once-in-a-thousand-years calamity, the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the explosions that followed at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant – and nothing has changed. All that has happened is that our houses are crumbling, our fields are running to weeds, and our village is drifting back to a primitive state. Today I am thinking, I am worrying, and I am starting to feel resentment. “For us, in this reality, in this situation, what really matters? The village we were living in? To defend, to inherit, and to pass on to generations the home-place we were living in, the land our forefathers built upon, our property? Ah, but now what really matters is human health. That’s where it all starts” – with such words I question myself, then question once again. The national government and the village mayor insist now as ever that they will decontaminate the village, that they will enable us to go home, to return to the village as soon as humanly possible, that their plans will be executed swiftly, that the living environment will be getting the top priority as they open up the road to recovery, and no-one wants to abandon their homeland. But why, when human life and health should be the top priority, should that be reason to choose return, return to the village, as a higher priority than the people’s health, our children’s health, our grandchildren’s health? – That is something I cannot fathom. For my part I have actually started to think that we are being used as the world’s first human guinea-pigs, in an experiment to demonstrate to the world that “here in Japan, in the prefecture of Fukushima, in the village of Iitate, in an area of particularly high radiation, the people have come home, the village has been repopulated, and we have succeeded in restoring life as it was before the Great East Japan Disaster, and before the nuclear accident.” The youngsters, the young couples bringing up children, have been forced into activities and a living environment of extremely exaggerated caution, in which information on radiation and on health is zealously collected and shared. I think that is only natural for parents, for mothers. As such, these young people, these households with children, will not contemplate going home, they think not of returning to the village, nor will they until the radiation level is below world standards, and it is possible to live safely, with a sense of security, living off the fruits of the land – until that happens, I think it is only natural to stay away from the village, and as a parent of children myself that is the best I can hope for. To avoid having to shut up our children and grandchildren indoors. That seems to be something that the officials, cabinet ministers and bureaucrats in the capital cannot apprehend.

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