"Since the triple accidents of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants in March, 2011, Momoko Fukuoka has been reporting the reality of those who were affected and are still living in temporary housings. She is also taking the initiative in collecting donations and support goods for them."
*This blog is operated and managed by Kenichiro Maeno （email@example.com) on consignment from Momoko Fukuoka.
Translation is done by volunteers of Momoko Fukuoka's global friends.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Testimony of the lead plaintiffs suing for compensation
What I saw while watching TV on April 4th
was so devastating that I froze in place; it was a boat full of packed refugees
who had barely escaped with their lives just arriving in Greece from Turkey,
only to be turned away and sent back. I could not help but feel sadness and I
cried, “Oh God, what a world we are in!” I clasped my hands and raised them up,
asking God, “My Lord, you must be observing with sorrow what is going on now.
Your thoughtfulness, does it really touch the hearts of others?”
Try to put yourself in those refugees’
shoes. How do you feel?Their hometowns
were destroyed by war and they have nowhere to go. This world has many issues
to resolve and solving them will be no easy task. This planet requires not one
unilateral approach by a single nation, but rather multilateral global
solutions that hold human life in high esteem and pay attention to, and learn
from, various nations’ differing systems. I strongly believe that this is what
we should do as modern citizens of the world. Of course it is important to
secure your own nation’s rights and to increase its economic gain. That being
said, I must question anyone who dares to do this at the expense of the lives
of other people, regardless of whether they are people inside or outside of
their own country. In the case of Japan, I really want people to realize that
our government is not working seriously to protect the lives of our citizens.
[Miyakoji Class Action Suit: The lead plaintiff’s oral
I would like to share with you [a
translated version of] the original text that the lead plaintiff read to the
court. His group is called the “Society to Protect Disaster-Affected People”
and is suing the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company
(TEPCO) for unpaid compensation to the affected people in Fukushima. It took
place at the Civil Affairs Division of the Koriyama Branch of the Fukushima
The first session was held on the 22nd of
February and the next one will be on April 22nd.
Here is the layout of how people were
sitting at the court: five TEPCO representatives on the right and 30 plaintiffs
from Miyakoji on the left. There were five judges. First the chief judge said,
“Court is now in session. Please refrain from using cameras or from video
recording.” Then the attorneys presented their cases, after which the lead
plaintiff read his prepared document. That was it. There was no time allowed
for the other affected people to express their opinions. The chief judge simply
announced, “The next session will be on April 22nd..Court is now adjourned for
the day.”The whole thing was done in a
mere 30 minutes. The lead plaintiff was left hoping to receive some reply on
The following is the document read to the
court by Mr. Nobuyuki Imaizumi, the lead plaintiff representing “The Society to
Protect Disaster-Affected People.” (I received approval from Mr. Imaizumi for
using his full name on my blog.)
Statement of Opinion by Mr. Nobuyuki Imaizumi, lead
plaintiff of the Miyakoji Class Action Suit, first oral argument
1. Life before the accident
I have lived in Miyakoji since I was
born. At the time of the accident, I was living with my mother, wife, eldest
son and his wife, and two grand-children, as a household of seven all together.
Located in the Hamadori region of
Fukushima, Miyakoji used to be a village until about 10 years ago when it
merged into a single township together with Tokiwa, Ohgoshi, Takine, and
Funabiki. Close to the beach and surrounded by big mountains and rivers, the
abundance of nature used to provide us with mountain vegetables and mushrooms,
and we could fish in the rivers for cherry salmon and mountain trout.
With our pristine water and air,
Miyakoji’s fresh fruits and vegetables used to be regarded as high-quality
produce, and buyers came from places as distant as Tokyo to purchase items from
our village’s two produce stands..
Although we were not professional farmers,
we used to growscallions, cabbages,
eggplants, cucumbers, tomatoes, and rice at home; we were almost completely
self-sufficient, only needing to purchase meat and seafood and growing all the
rest.We would commonly exchange our
home-grown produce and rice among our neighbors and families.
Miyakoji people are very cheerful. We
enjoyed many local events: cherry blossom parties in April and May, a lantern
festival in August, cultural and athletic festivals in October, and the fall
harvest festival in November. Each area had its own children’s society, and
these would plan sleep-over trips and such.
My hometown Miyakoji used to be a cheerful town, full of the happy
laughing voices, both young and old.
2. Our Life After the Accident
Everyone insisted that the nuclear power
plant was absolutely safe. So we had believed that and lived near the plant for
several decades, until one day there was an explosion there and we received an
During the night of March 12, 2011, we the
residents of Miyakoji evacuated the village together, assaulted by both the
severe cold and a pervasive feeling of fear.Suddenly finding ourselves caught up in this catastrophic and
irreversible situation, we were struck by a strong feeling of despair. After
the evacuation, we lived in an emergency evacuation shelter for about 4 months.
My aged mother, however, was not able to cope with the severe life at the
temporary shelter and had to join an intensive-care old people's home called “Tokiwa-so.”
after 2 months.
For me, more than the horrible life at the
shelter, the growing sense of despair and insecurity was unbearable. I think
everyone at the shelter at the time felt the same. A man in his 60’s, who was
deeply respected by the people of Miyakoji, ended his own life less than a
month after the evacuation.
In July, 2011, my wife and I relocated to
a temporary housing unit which, on top of being very small, has almost no
privacy; one can easily hear next-door neighbors’ voices, and this has made
interactions with our neighbors somewhat awkward. Soon after this relocation,
my wife started to avoid seeing people and began visiting doctors for her
At the end of August, 2011, while we were living in this state of
never-ending anxiety, the evacuation order for towns within a 30 kilometer
radius was lifted. Without knowing the level of invisible radiation that
remained, many returned to Miyakoji after this announcement. This ultimately
tore apart the local community; we became split into those from within the 20
kilometer radius and30 kilometer
radius, those who returned and those who remained, those afraid of radiation
and those not, those young and those old. In this way, the close sense of unity
residents of Miyakoji once felt was totally destroyed.
In September 2012,compensation
forresidents within the 30 kilometer
radius was ended. This decisively split the community intwo between those who lost all government
support and those within the 20 kilometer radius zone whose compensation was
still in effect.We were one of the
households within the 30 kilometers radius, and we became troubled by financial
difficulties. Shortly after that, on October 29th, my wife committed suicide.
In order to makeends meet, I had had to
leave her home alone and go out to work. As a result I was unable to be there
when she needed my help. I still feel a strong sense of guilt, but nothing can
change what happened.Currently my
family consists of my 99-years-old mother, my son, his wife, and two grand-children,
but we are all split up and living in different places.
Since first evacuating our home, we have
been unable to go back to our self-sufficient lifestyle. The radiation level in
the mountains and rivers remains high, which prevents us from harvesting
mountain vegetables or mushrooms. No one fishes the cherry salmon or mountain
All of our local events and festivals have
been canceled. In August, 2014, the lantern festival finally resumed, but
3. What we want to appeal to the court
On March 11 2011, we experienced
an earthquake of unprecedented scale and a disaster which affected a wide area.
However, if the disaster had been only the earthquake, if no nuclear accident
had happened, Miyakoji would have recovered much sooner and I believe our lives
would be back to normal by now.
In the reality, however, the ocean, the rivers, and the mountains, which
once supported our daily life, are still contaminated with radiation. The
national government has been insisting that they would put everything back to
normal. However, the difficulties we have had to face have only gotten worse.
Those who returned to Miyakoji are mostly the elderly. Young families with
children are too afraid to come back; Surrounded by mountains, Miyakoji tends
to accumulate high radiation even after the radiation level is temporarily
reduced by decontamination work. I do not think households with children will
ever return to Miyakoji. In several decades our town will be full of only the
elderly, and will eventually disappear completely.
Ever since compensation for the emotional
pain of those who are within the 30 kilometer radius was lifted, the
relationships between residents in the 20 kilometer radius zone and those
within the 30 kilometer radius zone have been completely destroyed. This stems
from the fact that, despite the radiation level remaining about the same in
both areas, one area keep receiving compensation but the other one does not,
even though both areas are in the same village. Unequal treatment for residents
of the same community does not make any sense at all.
I want you to understand what he have one
through as the very first residents in the prefecture whose evacuation order
was liftedunder the national
government’s recovery project. Please listen to our distressed voices and help
us receive compensation for the emotional suffering and pain that we have
[Tomorrow It Could Be Me]
Ladies and gentlemen, were it not for the
radiation from the nuclear accident, the people in Fukushima could have already
returned back to living normal lives these past five years. They would be able
to support themselves, and living together again as families and as
communities, thriving and developing goals together. However, the nuclear
accident has destroyed everything: towns, people, industries, and everything
else. Also, nothing will be able to erase their worries about the future as a
result of their exposure to radiation.It is time for us to think about the fact that their situation could be
ours in the near future. We must think carefully about the issues of reopening
reactors and about nuclear power in general. The first and the most important
issue that Japan has to resolve is to help the affected people rebuild their
lives. It angers and embarrasses me that the Japanese government has had TEPCO
and local administrations undertake this task. I feel that the national
government itself should be accountable for this undertaking. Our government is
planning to have all residents return to their home towns by the end of March
2017, except for a very limited area. Within a year, they plan to tear down all
temporary housing units. Please lend your voice and help us! Please help us
advocate for the affected people in Fukushima!
On January 20th I received a call
from CNN’s Tokyo bureau saying, “CNN TV’s news programs have been broadcasted
in the U.S. and in 200 nations globally. We’ve read your blog both in Japanese
and the English translated version. We thought that you seemed like the one
whom we should contact with the following request. Would you please introduce
us to someone in Fukushima? We would like to report on the reality of the
affected areas in Fukushima.” Thus the following reports were made: