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PEACE BOAT AND GREENPEACE STILL CAMPAIGNING FOR FUKUSHIMA via Metropolis

Metropolis interviews NGO leaders at the forefront of the recovery effort

This past summer, while beaches in Fukushima were re-opening, UN experts were assessing how the nuclear disaster impacted people’s physical and mental health. The ending of government housing provision and living stipends for people from Fukushima in April 2017 greatly reduced the official numbers of disaster evacuees. Whatsmore, by making people from Fukushima invisible it gave the impression that problems were solved. I spoke with several NGO leaders about their work and the issues people from Fukushima face today. Meri Joyce, International Coordinator at Peace Boat, has been working on international programs and campaigns such as nuclear disarmament and Kazue Suzuki is an Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.

The impossible choice of returning to areas too contaminated to safely live or face economic hardship only exacerbates the victimization of the displaced in Fukushima.

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Within days of 3/11, Amsterdam-based Greenpeace International dispatched experts to assist Greenpeace Japan with ocean radiation monitoring from a ship off the coast of Fukushima while other staff assessed terrestrial effects. Concerned that government radiation estimates were too conservative, they shared their radiation readings with governments, media and general public. To keep Fukushima visible, they release annual reports on radiation levels, the nuclear power industry and the socio-economic and health impacts the disaster on communities that depend on the nuclear power industry. Their 2017 report spotlighted rights’ violations — particularly those of women and children. A 2018 study shows that Fukushima radiation risks are expected to last into 2050 in some exclusion zone towns.

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Since 2008 they have invited Hiroshima and Nagasaki hibakusha (people who experienced atomic/nuclear bombings) to join Peace Boat cruises where they share their experiences at ports of call. Students on board learn from these elders while also engaging in dialogue about what should be done to build a nuclear-free future. Since 2011, voyages have included sessions on learning from Fukushima and, in 2014, they launched the Fukushima Youth Ambassadors program. This provides youth the opportunity to leave social pressures behind and learn about struggles people face all over the world, while also discovering more opportunities for their future. Students who joined as junior high students after the disaster are now in university and mentoring younger students.

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The “Lessons from Fukushima” booklet, created by a group of organizations, including Peace Boat, has been translated into 14 languages. Reaching people in countries such as Turkey and Poland where the Japanese government has been promoting nuclear power is part of their global strategy. While the official stance is that Japan can provide the safest power due to the Fukushima experience, the booklet illustrates real experiences and impacts.

Read more at PEACE BOAT AND GREENPEACE STILL CAMPAIGNING FOR FUKUSHIMA 

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