Saturday, December 20, 2014

To you, who never forget affected people

We only have a few days left till the end of this year. I have been thinking particularly about time lately, how time is really the accumulation of present moments. Each of them, each moment—each second—is a universal, heavenly gift. Perhaps people who can remain aware of this have a different way of spending time.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your heart-warming support for the victims of Fukushima, which you offered again this year. I am so grateful to each of you who gave kindness to others who were suffering.

Unfortunately, our society-at-large is already forgetting affected people. I’m surprised to find that there are many people who think: “Oh, I thought it was already resolved,” or, “neither the TV nor newspaper mention the affected people in Fukushima any more. So I thought they were fine now,” or, “the prime minister said that he would alleviate this issue, so I thought he already did,” etc. The public trusts the broadcasts and reports of major news outlets, so in order to hope that our culture remains aware of the plight of victims, we must also hope that the mainstream media responsibly covers the truth.

I’ve heard that both the Sennai and Takahama nuclear power plants have been given safety clearance according to new stricter regulations by Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA). On the other hand, volcanic activity has increased in Japan so that earthquakes have been reported on daily basis. “Japan has entered ‘a period of brisk seismic activity’.” (Prof. Satoshi Fujii of Kyoto University, Special Advisor to the Cabinet. Monthly magazine, “Voice,” April 3, 2014). Thus, I am completely puzzled—for the safety of our citizens, in such a period of “brisk seismic activity,” shouldn’t we continue the current “zero” operation status?

Meanwhile, our government is not paying attention to the affected people’s suffering at all. Moreover, they are intimidating and terrorizing those victims. They are not assisting them in leading any kind of normal life. We should spotlight this fact more. I want to hear many voices asking our government to take more appropriate relief measures.

[Voice of affected and now disenfranchised people – Why they were not able to vote]

“The voting rate among us was low. Of course it was low: we were not able to make it, although we wanted to. Those who evacuated outside the prefecture did not receive voting forms in time. It was not easy to obtain voting forms. Each affected person had to correspond with the municipal offices twice or more, which was very cumbersome for some. Many sick and elderly people are living in inconvenient temporary housing units in areas where it snows a lot; for them the roads were too slippery, and voting posts were too far away to reach. Authorities should have designated more convenient voting locations for residents in temporary housing units. The whole experience was very frustrating.”

[Restricted eligibility for recovery apartments]
Affected people report:
“Recovery housing is for those who are 75 years and older. I am still too young to move in.”
“Households with pets, even normal pets such as cats and dogs, are not eligible.”
“Those with loans or unpaid real-estate tax are not eligible.”

Affected people, having already lost their homes and family members to the tsunami, are still in tears and sorrow. The nuclear accident in Fukushima stole their houses, rendering them vacant and uninhabitable. Yet many victims must continue to make mortgage payments on those vacant houses. All while their families are torn apart, unable to live together in one space, living in unbearable, inhumane conditions—humid, cold, and cramped (apartments average four-and-a-half tatami mats in size). I see no rationality in this. Do you?

Japan should protect Fukushima victims under the Public Assistance Act. The government should take as its first priority the support of affected people, so that they can resume normal life. The victims of the nuclear power plant accident have lost their human rights: their right to a sanitary and safe living environment, to property ownership, to the obtaining of a residency card. Without a residency card, it is impossible to get a job. Younger generations of victims have left their homes in search of work, splitting families apart. Some of these young migrants are harassed by neighbors in their new towns. Without proper documents, some are unable to obtain financial backing to launch new businesses. Thus, affected people have been victimized many times over since the disaster. They continue to be victimized.

Resolving these issues must be our nation’s first priority.

I heard that affected families can stay in the temporary housing units until the end of March, 2016, which means that they have a year and three months left. They must decide what to do, where to live, by then. However, their reality is harsh. Some don’t have anywhere to go. Many elderly people here have been left alone, since younger generations live separately. With no savings for moving, inadequate financial support from the government, and insufficient decontamination of their houses, they have absolutely no money or capacity to renovate homes that, since the disaster, have been inhabited by mice and raccoons. Even if residents could return to their homes, it is impossible to live normal life there, in communities without stores, without shops, without medical facilities and staff.

I often hear the same sad news: an elderly person has gone to clean his or her house, and while there, committed suicide. They say, “I want to die in my own home rather than in the temporary housing unit.”

[Please give hope]

Ladies and gentlemen, please lend a hand to these affected people. They should not be left alone. Your continued support may bring them joy in the New Year.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for your support throughout this year. I hope for your good health and wish you a happy New Year.

With deepest appreciation and hope for your happiness.

[My advice for life] (12th)
May you have love instead of hate, forgiveness instead of fighting, truth instead of myth, hope instead of despair, pleasure instead of sorrow. May you have comfort and healing.  When you need love and peace, I am here for you.  

[Please donate!]
It is very cold. Blankets, hand warmers, masks, underpants for the elderly, toilet paper, detergent, water, rice, spices, dry foods, canned foods, snacks, tea, fruits, vegetables, etc., would be very much appreciated. We are also accepting donations.
We can provide more details about the donation process at your request.
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