Saturday, June 4, 2016


[President Obama’s speech in Hiroshima]

On the evening of May 27, 2016, President Obama was at the Atomic Bomb Museum in Hiroshima. He had his staff bring in two Origami cranes, in white and light pink with plum and cherry blossom patterns. President Obama said that he folded them with a little help and presented them to two school children. (
This event was broadcast on the 9pm news on May 28, 2016. Many were moved to tears by President Obama’s act of giving the paper planes and what this signified in relation to world peace.
President Obama laid a wreath, paused for a moment with his eyes closed, then made his 17-minute speech at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Seventy-one years ago death fell from the sky and the world was changed. Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become. And at each juncture innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time. And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes; an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints. In the span of a few years, some 60 million people died men, women, children no different than us, shot, beaten, marched, bombed, jailed, starved, gassed to death. We are most starkly reminded of humanity's core contradiction; how the very spark that marks us as a species our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our tool-making, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of the atom requires a moral revolution as well. That is why we come to this place. We have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.
Define our nations not by our capacity to destroy, but by what we build.
And perhaps above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another, as members of one human race. We can learn. We can choose. All men are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious. The radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family that is the story that we all must tell.
That is why we come to Hiroshima. So that we might think of the people we love the first smile from our children in the morning; the gentle touch from our spouse over the kitchen table; the comforting embrace of a parent we can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here seventy-one years ago. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life, and not eliminating it.
When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima will be done.
A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening. (Asahi Shimbun May 28, 2016)

After I listened to his speech, I felt like a great mentor of life came from above. I felt like it is our responsibility to manifest President Obama’s message. Our time is limited. With President Obama’s words as our common motivation, we have to work hand in hand to make our country peaceful. We must learn a lesson from the sacrifice of the Hibakushas (Atomic bomb victims) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, instead of wasting it.
A picture of President Obama warmly hugging a Hiroshima survivor, Shigeaki Mori, touched so many Japanese people. There is a saying “Children grow up to see the back of their parents”. I think that compassion, kindness, and sincerity are important human qualities in this modern world. I would like to be someone who can give warmth and peaceful energy to the other people.

[Voices of Fukushima evacuees]

In Katsurao village

• The evacuation advisory was lifted for most of Katsurao village on June 12, 2016.

• “The newspaper said that it is the mayor of Katsurao’s decision, but that is not true. It is the national government’s unilateral decision.  There was no detailed briefing session on this. After they decided the June 12 date there was only a notifying meeting. I tried to ask some questions however, they cut me off because they said that they didn’t have enough time for Q&As.”

• “For the past three years we villagers were never able to obtain the correct information. We rely on the newspapers and the radio. We sometimes find information on the internet, but it gets deleted quickly.”

• “This place is still highly radioactive. I sometimes see measurements that are three times as high as the national report. They are deceiving us.”

• “There are some hotspots with radiation levels of 3.5 microsievert per hour. After I am exposed to this I get so tired. The fatigue persists even if I take a rest on Saturday and Sunday. I had cold-like symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, diarrhoea, and a 98.6°F fever. One time, I had nose bleed and all my body hair fell out. When I went to a public bathhouse with my co-workers they were shocked to see the body hair floating in the bathtub. Literary all of my body hair fell out. The same thing was happening to my co-workers. Some of them had white spots in their skin, too.
• “We don’t want to go back to a highly radioactive place, but the Japanese government will not listen to us.”

  • In Miyakoji village

• “On April 22, 2016, there was the second trial in case of Tokyo Electric Power Company failing to pay compensation to the evacuees. The court judge asked for the actual measured data of radiation, instead of verbal expression of “highly radioactive”. So I teamed up with my lawyers in order to measure radiation level at 200 houses, rice fields, and mountains in Iwaisawa area. The local governing body did not help us. Neither did my friends, since they have to work. I was the only one who could do it. So, I took time off and measured the radiation levels with 3 or 4 lawyers for 16 days. Only on Sundays could my friends help me.

The next trial date is set to be on July 1, 2016, followed by another one two months later. There are more people suing TEPCO in different towns. There have been 10 trials in two years, but things don’t seem to move forward. They say it might take 10 years. I never imagined how hard it would be to file a lawsuit. It costs money and I have to take days off because of it. I am tempted to end this process due to the hardship, but I must continue for the sake of the villagers and our community.”

[Regarding the great earthquake in Kumamoto]

Please don’t allow a repeat of the same suffering as the people in Fukushima felt after the great eastern Japan earthquake.

• I sincerely ask the government to increase the number of workers who visit homes and evacuation houses to create disaster victim certificates.
If private companies are capable of this kind of survey, then why can the government not do the same? I think that it is their obligation, especially when natural disasters happen.

The disaster victims are very tired and in bad health, putting up with an unthinkable level of anxiety, sadness, fear, and sacrifice. Some are very old or handicapped; some may not have money for transportation. Please don’t make these people travel long distances or keep them waiting in hard chairs or standing under the scorching sun. I would like to ask the government officials to think and act as if they were the affected people. Please make things less stressful for the victims. Provide them with the disaster victim vouchers, support materials, evacuation housing, and polling centres when there is election.

• I would like the financial aid and the compensation funds to be based on the evacuees’ needs. Whether their houses are completely damaged or half damaged, I hope they receive support to rebuild their houses where necessary.

[Fukushima evacuees]

• In Fukushima, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is in charge of compensation for the evacuees, not the national government. TEPCO simply certified the nuclear disaster victims within a 13 mile radius of the crippled nuclear power plant, but not based on the actual radiation levels. They also excluded the tsunami and earthquake as a cause of the evacuation.  So, there are many people outside the 13 mile zone who lost their houses to the tsunami, or whose houses are too radioactive to live in. However they are not entitled to receive compensation money. I would like to ask the Japanese government to take the initiative and support these people financially, instead of leaving everything to TEPCO.

• I heard that the evacuation houses are made to last for two years. However, this is the 6th year since some of the evacuees moved in. Those houses were not well built in the first place. Cold air enters through the cracks, and there are humidity and mould issues. After they received the keys to the houses, they only had 10 to 20 days to move in. They even had to pay $6000 for basic amenities such as curtains, lights, air-conditioners, and gas stoves.

• The nuclear disaster evacuees in Fukushima have been instructed to return to their own homes by the end of March in 2017. Those who lost their houses to the tsunami will move in the evacuation houses. The current temporary housing for the evacuees are being dismantled gradually. The voices of the evacuees are not being heard by the government. People are naturally fearful of the radiation, however they are being forced to move back to highly radioactive areas. They will stop receiving compensation money in March of 2018. After that, they will have to pay their medical costs and taxes on their own.

[My recommendation]

• Singer songwriter, Shihei Umehara

• Author, Kosuke Hino

• Author, Yoshimi Kusaba

Momoko Fukuoka
Cell: 080-5547-8675   
Fax: 047-346-8675  
Please call me 11:00 am through 5:30 pm (Japan time).
Thank you.

This English version was translated by “able” volunteer translation team:
Translation: Tony Sahara
Editing: Miles Desforges

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