Sachiko Sato From The Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation Speaks At National Rally In Tokyo On November 4, 2012

October was the harvest season in Fukushima. Rice grains turned golden yellow and farmers were busy every day in harvesting and threshing their crops. But this autumn we did not see groups of sparrows usually flying over rice fields to enjoy rice grains. Why? Rice is sparrows’ great favorite. What happened to them? I wonder if even sparrows know the danger in Fukushima. Nowadays we seldom see them in our areas.

October was also the autumn festival season in every district. When I see children gathering around festive food stands, I have a mixed feeling with a sort of depression. If we let children live here in Fukushima, we might regret it later and forever.

Since March 11 last year, outdoor activities have been limited for children. Playing outdoors is far more important than studying in classrooms. Children learn quite a lot playing outdoors—they feel greatness and preciousness of life, gather experiences of natural wonders and are fascinated by natural beauty.

But the children in Fukushima can no longer enjoy natural bounties. And if we let children maintain contact with the nature as before, they would be mercilessly exposed to radiation. The Nuclear Village people (Atom Mafia), including the government and the TEPCO, created such a terrible situation. What do they think about the severity of the problem? A year and eight months have passed since the nuclear plant explosion but the government’s responses have been lacking of sincerity and truthfulness to the affected people. Fukushima people are kept on the verge of despair and in fear of their uncertain future.

This year in Fukushima City, a questionnaire survey was carried out with 5,500 residents. The result of the survey indicates that 30% of the residents thought about evacuating in the past and 30% are still thinking of it. This survey shows that no matter how often the Fukushima city government carries out the decontamination operations, citizens know that Fukushima will never become a safety place again.

However, people cannot easily leave their present life or abandon their jobs. The obvious fact tells us what will happen to them if they evacuate and leave their living places. Those who were ordered forced evacuations are now suffering incredible hardships in their new surroundings. The fishers are unable to live on fishing. The farmers cannot do farm works in the fields. The workers have no workplace to go and work. They can’t easily accept their bitter situations, which they didn’t choose as their own.

Therefore, such unstable and emotional states lead to all sorts of unexpected problems—becoming a reclusive, or demented, or obese, or depression. The number of suicides has been increasing. And then start family breakings. There are some who sink into drinking. Some are engrossed in gambling.

The people criticize them saying “They are just idling around, paid by the government”. What a sad picture it is! Victims of the disaster insult each other, inviting split and division among themselves. Compensation money doesn’t solve the devastating issue caused by the nuclear catastrophe.

The children raise their little voices; “We have a higher risk of getting cancer in the future, haven’t we?” “Can we have a healthy baby?” What a shame of ‘our’ politicians to have the children ask such questions! Isn’t it the politicians’ role to pick up the voices of silent majority?

We are furious also at the Fukushima prefecture officials, who has fabricated after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster a myth of “harmless radioactivity” and propagates that “Residents in Fukushima prefecture are living quite well even after the radioactive catastrophe”. Moreover, Fukushima prefecture willingly accepted the new standard of radioactive safety limit of 100 milli-sieverts/year, which was set up by the “authority concerned”. What are Fukushima Prefecture officials doing for the people in Fukushima?

All the members of the Prefectural Health Management Survey Committee are revealed to be on the side of “radioactive safety limit of 100 milli-sieverts”. There is no need of discussion for them on the committee meeting because the conclusion is decided beforehand behind the scene. What a shameless committee it is!

When cysts or nodules are found by medical check of thyroid cancer, the doctor is expected to repeat, “It must have existed since before, not because of the nuclear plant accident” and it is suggested that reinvestigation be postponed. We know that one patient was found to be suffering from thyroid cancer and still is told it was not caused by the nuclear disaster.

On August 1, a public hearing on the energy problem was held in Fukushima city and overwhelming majority of the participants supported the option of “zero nuclear power” representing the anger of the people in Fukushima prefecture. Also 80 % of the whole Japanese population want “zero nuclear power, according to the recent opinion poll. On every Friday evening, the Office of the Prime Minister is surrounded by nearly 200 thousand demonstrators who raise their voices, demanding “Stop the restart of nuclear plants!” Notwithstanding, the government faithfully obeys the opinion of business circle who stubbornly refuse the urgent request of “zero nuclear power”. Thus public opinion, or the general will of people, is blatantly ignored! Where is democracy?

We can no longer put confidence on the government or on the prefecture authority. They have not the slightest idea of defending the lives of children! Their state of mind is far from understanding that anxiety is acutely growing among parents because of the irresponsibility of the politicians and authority concerned. Such is the current situation of Japan and Fukushima.

We in Fukushima should never be divided or pitted against each other because we have no option but to stay together in Fukushima. It is absolutely necessary to maintain unity of people not only in Fukushima but also across Japan beyond the difference of ideas and traditional bondage for the protection of the lives of children. There is no life to be lost in vain. We as inhabitants of Fukushima are firmly determined to stand at the forefront of the endeavor to change the whole structure of Japan because all the result of the contradictions of the development of Japanese society is focused and concentrated on us, the inhabitants of Fukushima. The core issue is the future of our children.

Let me suggest that we re-examine our current lifestyle. We need no extravagant supply of electricity. No more destruction of nature through excessive demand. Stop hurting each other for selfish reason. Don’t put your friends or colleagues under pressure. The present society is based upon the sacrifice of rural area, or farmers. Towns have been limitlessly expanded and swollen. The law of the jungle flagrantly prevails. The result of these developments is the present alarming and critical situation of the whole society.

What is needed is to change ourselves for the change of the life. Without changing ourselves, the society will not be changed. In other words, if you don’t change yourself, we, you and me, all are destined to perish as human beings. Bearing it deep in mind, let’s change ourselves step by step in everyday life.

Let’s get back Japan and its future into our own hands!