Thursday, March 5, 2015

Four years in the devastated areas --- many suffering from depression

It has been four years since the nuclear accident occurred in Fukushima. Babies were born, and many lives were destroyed during this long period of time. People in the disaster-stricken areas have been left behind, forced to live in unsatisfactory health conditions; many are separated from their families. However, no one has taken any responsibility for the accident, or taken any initiative to rebuild their communities. These communities are too radioactive for humans to live in, but the Japanese government is still planning to send those people back to their hometowns. This decision would be “hell on earth” for the returning residents. “I wish there hadn’t been the nuclear plants!” was the outcry of one of Iidate villagers from the NHK TV documentary.

I demand that the Japanese government prioritize the critical situation of the Fukushima residents over the construction of the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. People in Fukushima say that their voices have not been heard by their government representatives, including the prime minister. I beseech everyone to take another look at the current status of Fukushima, and re-ignite the “fire in your heart” and recognize the struggle of these people.


[Phone calls from Fukushima evacuees]

We are now entering  the fifth year since the accident and we have been receiving more phone calls from the people who have been affected by the disaster. Some of them express anger, sadness, and agony. Some are voices of hopelessness and desperation. I would like to share a few of them here. (names and places have been omitted for privacy.)


“Though we have contractors to re-build our new house, there are now many more rules and regulations. Also, during the course of rebuilding our homes, the shortage of construction materials causes many undesirable revisions and changes to the original designs. This causes many delays and we don’t know when we can move in.”


“We requested they build a prefabricated community center for handicapped individuals, which included a bathroom to be part of the construction, but now they are saying that they can’t build it.”


Usually customers come first in a good business relationship, but to my surprise, it’s opposite in Fukushima. How would you feel about this?


“We don’t want to go back to my town because the place is highly radioactive. The government has told us that by the end of March 2016, they will cut the compensation for mental distress  caused by evacuation life. Rice-farming is still prohibited in my town, but they say it’s ok to grow vegetables. How can we eat such things? The younger generation will never move back. How can we live without our future generation—our families? The most painful thing is that we all are separated from our family members.”


“There used to be four schools in Odaka, but they are all closed now. Both my home and my evacuation house have radiation levels  of 0.3 micro Sieverts per hour. They say that the town residents will be able to return to Odaka by April 2016, and that some commercial facility will be built. But I don’t think we can live there. The evacuees that I know refuse to return to Odaka. Simply, it is unsafe for humans to live there. Because of the radiation issue, Odaka town is now under the jurisdiction of the Regional Environment Office. So the town itself doesn’t even have the right to speak on behalf of the community. Some people joke that only wild boars will come to this commercial facility, since no humans can live.”


“Joban-do, highway route 6 is open, but Okuma town is right by the crippled nuclear plants.”


[Depression caused by loneliness and anxiety]

Three to four people living in small one-bedroom apartments, in horrible evacuation compounds. Days pass without hope or any future prospects. Financial hardships, being surrounded by strangers, and living in an unfamiliar place drives people to depression. After spending months and years with the unbearable pains inflicted upon the Fukushima evacuees, it is not hard to imagine that even people with generally positive attitudes will eventually suffer from depression.


I wonder how I can save those depressed people or how I can bring them back to a normal life. As a mere housewife, all I can do is to let the word out, and ask you to be friends of the Fukushima evacuees.


[Supporting each other for indispensable life]

When I was forty three, I was diagnosed with late-stage stomach cancer. The doctors could not predict my remaining life expectancy. I learned the importance of appreciating every minute, and every second of life. It was at this point when I realized how much I cherished every form of life, mine and all others'. It would be a shame for anyone if they could not appreciate this gift—their one and only given life.


I feel like that there are a lot of unreasonable things going on in the world. Everyone is born a desire for success in life, but we also have to learn to control it. I also think that everyone is born with love and compassion for others. Living with this loving heart is the key to happiness in life.


I am a housewife who doesn’t have any authority or influence. If you notice that I have said something inappropriate on my blog, I apologize for it.


[Please donate]

We are asking for donation in order to support Fukushima evacuees. They are still in need of daily necessities such as food and financial support. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I would like to introduce you to the actual evacuation zones. Thank you very much, Momoko Fukuoka.


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