Sunday, October 1, 2017

My last message

Everywhere you look around the world today, mother nature is behaving strangely, peace is vanishing and kindness is fading from people's hearts. We live in a time where it seems like just about anything could happen and it wouldn’t surprise us anymore. Why have things come to this? It really is sad, isn’t it, dear readers? Do you think it will be possible for us to ever go back to living like we did in more peaceful times? Whose fault is this? The wealth gap continues to grow and people show no regard for the lives of others. People are losing their empathy and choosing to look out only for themselves. Public resources and land that were meant to be shared by all citizens are increasingly being monopolized by just a few. Love has vanished; the world has become as cold as ice. There are some people who say we have entered a time of purification, a time of battle between our good angels and our bad angels. This may be the case. If this is so, we must be very careful not to let ourselves be dragged down by the bad ones.  


Today, dear readers, I must tell you something that may surprise you. For six-and-a-half years now, I have been absorbed in activities to provide support to the disaster-affected people of Fukushima. During this time, I have received lots of assistance and cooperation from countless individuals. It breaks my heart to have to say this, but I am no longer able to continue these activities, due to my health. I have begun to sense that the end of my life is near.


Each of us only have a limited number of days to spend on this Earth. Since I have felt that my time is coming to an end soon, besides thanking all of you, I would also like to take this opportunity to ask you all to please carry on my legacy.  


I think you all probably already know this, but the people of the Fukushima disaster-affected areas have been abandoned by the government. The affected areas have still not been adequately decontaminated, and there are still areas with high levels of radiation. The disaster-affected areas that have lain untouched for six-and-a-half years have become wild and overgrown. The houses are crumbling and the weeds have grown up around them like forests. The buildings have become the dwelling-places of wild boars, raccoons and other animals. There are neither stores nor hospitals; there is nothing there. At night the neighborhoods become pitch black and are a perfect target for thieves, making it less safe to live there.


One would have thought that it would only be common sense for the government to wait until after they had created a safe, habitable environment for people to return home to before lifting the evacuation order. But instead, the government set the issuance of the declaration itself as their goal, and made it their aim to send people home after just one or two decontamination sweeps. They didn’t come up with any funding or plans to provide for town-building expenses. They haven’t cut down the bushes and wild grasses that have grown up and haven’t made any plans for taking care of animal infestations. This hasn’t been included in town budgets. The reality of the matter is that the elderly people of the disaster-affected areas (many of whom are somewhere in their 70’s to 90’s) have all just been told to “Please take care of it all yourself”. They have essentially been abandoned. And because there are no stores, it isn’t even possible to buy food out there. This is what one of the disaster-affected people said about the situation: “I can manage to grow some of my own vegetables, but I’d really like to eat some meat and fish!”.  


Dear readers, this is the reality of the areas affected by the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.


One individual from out there said the following: “It was the government’s plan to abandon us nuclear disaster victims from the very beginning. They wanted to hurry up and declare it safe to return home, have only the elderly go back to their homes and eventually die out, and thus turn Futaba County into a county of abandoned towns that would soon vanish from people’s memories. In this way people would forget about the incident and it would be as if it never happened. The government wants its citizens to forget about the nuclear accident. That was their plan from the start. They were afraid that news about our situation would get out, so they have kept us separated and isolated from each other and kept us shut off from information. We have prepared ourselves for the fact that we may never be able to go back to our homes because of the radiation.  We thought we’d be told by the government ‘move here and think of this as your second home’ and we would be able to go ahead and make a new town and community. We thought we would be able to make a new community together with the same families, town hall, schools, stores and hospitals, without having to break them up. We never imagined that so many families would be separated, nor that the evacuation would last this long, nor that we would be abandoned.”


Dear readers, isn’t this just too cruel? Whenever you gaze up at the bright electric city lights and neon signs, I would like you all to pause for a moment and remember the disaster-affected people of Fukushima who are still weeping in the shadows.


The temporary housing for Fukushima disaster-affected people ends next year, which means that the structures will be demolished. They’ve already demolished most of the temporary housing this year, but there are still many people without anywhere else to go. This is especially true of elderly people who live by themselves and don’t have any relatives.


The court cases that disaster-affected people from Fukushima have brought forward are progressing slowly and nothing is being accomplished. So, I ask you, dear readers, won’t you please lend a helping hand to these disaster-affected individuals who are receiving no compensation and continue to suffer? Won’t you please make a contribution?


I remember March 11th, 2011, very well. At the time, all the citizens of Japan, as well as people from all over the world, joined together as one to pray for the lives of those in the disaster-affected areas. The whole country and all of us did everything we could. We rose up out of concern for the well-being and happiness of those affected by the disaster. At the time, I had a bad leg and couldn’t leave my house. I thought: “What can I do for those suffering from the disaster? Well, I’ve still got a mouth, haven’t I? I can talk. I’ve still got my hands, haven’t I? And, I’ve got a telephone in my home. I’ll use my mouth and my hands to do whatever I can to contribute.”  


I started out by looking at a column in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. I decided to help out with the disaster aid, so I phoned the Fukushima Prefectural Office and asked about evacuation shelters. In this way, I was able to provide aid to disaster-affected people from the town of Okuma. I found out that disaster-affected people from Okuma had been evacuated to a hotel in Ura-bandai. I asked a friend to deliver the donated articles for me. The articles were able to be conveyed by volunteers from places as far as Hokkaido and Kyushu all the way to 5 different Okuma town evacuation centers, and this was all done by word of mouth. After that, we delivered aid donations to 19 different temporary housing locations where people from Okuma were living.


I gathered together information about the disaster-affected areas, then sent out hand-written faxes to the aid volunteers to let them know about the situation. Upon hearing that there were places in Fukushima that were not receiving aid because of fears of radiation, I reached out to the Prime Minister, each cabinet member, the leaders of every party, the management of most religious associations, and various other organizations I assumed would be involved in giving out support and aid. I wrote letters, made phone calls, sent out faxes, and used every available method of communication possible to send out the information. I went to my local supermarket and found out the names of companies that distribute and produce daily necessities such as food, underwear and such, then I wrote letters to the heads of those companies. I wrote to the chief editors of various newspapers, including: Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, Nikkei, and the Tokyo Shimbun. I also wrote to the heads of various television stations, including: NHK, Nihon TV, TV Asahi, TBS TV, TV Tokyo and Fuji TV. I told them that there were many people who had not receiving any aid and were still suffering and asked for their cooperation. I either received no response, or if I did it, it was something cold like: “We have already decided who we are sending aid to. We don’t intend to send anything to Fukushima.” To which I could only wonder: “Why?”


The only positive response I received was from Hirokazu Numata, company president of a food distributor in Kobe (a supermarket with company headquarters in the Kako District of Hyogo prefecture). He donated 300-million-yen worth of food to disaster-affected people in the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima. Thanks to Mr. Numata, I was able to help send food products to temporary housing, various facilities and schools throughout all of Futaba County and get in contact with many disaster-affected people as well as various Town Offices. That effort is continuing even now.


It’s impossible to say just how much support I received from those who provided aid and volunteered for our cause. I am truly thankful. Because of this experience we were no longer strangers; we became comrades, like members of a big family. Both volunteers and disaster-affected people were brought together by the will of God. We became a family that shared one heart with the Lord. The values that we upheld were the same ones that God wants us all to follow: to love one another, hope for the happiness of others and to protect each other’s lives.


I am so happy I had the chance to meet and work with all of you.

I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.

Thank you so much.   


My only worry is about the future of the disaster-affected people. I ask you to please continue supporting them however possible. And to those of you who have helped us, thank you so much.  


Please take care of yourselves. And please forgive me for my many deficiencies. If you wish to, please pray for me. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.   


For my remaining days, I have decided to switch to Twitter to share my experiences. My twitter account (Japanese only) can be viewed here:  Feel free to view it, it would make me very happy.


     Have a thankful heart!

     Keep giving thanks to God. To Him be the Glory!


                                                                                                                      Momoko Fukuoka



Translation: Karen Carina Rogers

Editing: Rachel Clark

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