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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 March 10 - 16  > An 18-year-old Fukushima evacuee speaks his mind
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2021 March 10 - 16 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

An 18-year-old Fukushima evacuee speaks his mind

March 10, 2021
Ten years have passed since the 3.11 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami followed by the resultant nuclear meltdowns occurred. There are still more than 36,000 nuclear disaster evacuees, according to the Fukushima prefectural government.

Kamoshita Matsuki, 18, evacuated to Tokyo from outside the "zones under evacuation orders" in Fukuhisma. He says he is still suffering from discrimination and division caused by the nuclear meltdown accident. He, in an Akahata interview on March 10, talked about what is on his mind on the 10th anniversary of the disaster:

For many people, the memory of the disaster is fading as the Tokyo Olympics is set to be a symbol of recovery, giving the impression that the nuclear accident itself had never happened. So, I feel very frustrated.

The holding of the Olympics was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the radioactive damage continues even now. We should not sweep the nuclear accident under the rug in the name of "reconstruction".

On the other hand, only four out of Japan's 57 reactors are in operation now. This is a result of efforts made by many people who realized the risk of nuclear power through watching the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP ten years ago. They began standing up against the resumption of operations of offline nuclear reactors and supporting lawsuits related to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown accident.

After being evacuated, I was discriminated against and bullied so much that I felt like committing suicide. After graduating from elementary school, I began keeping my past a secret, but I can no longer pretend like nothing happened. So, at the age of 16, I wrote a letter to the Pope about my pain.

When the Pope came to Japan in 2019, he visited not only Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also Tokyo. In Tokyo, he met with a gathering of evacuees who had experienced the triple disaster of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns. I was there as well and I talked about the damage caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident and called for a future without division and without radiation exposure.

However, soon after this meeting, an angry man said to me, "What do you mean you are lucky because you were able to evacuate. I still live in Fukushima!" I could not respond to this man. I came down with a fever and a sharp pain in my stomach that night.

Evacuees from outside the evacuation order zones are often bombarded with such kind of language. We are suffering from the aftermath of the nuclear accident but are exhausted from hurting each other. I want to understand and stand in solidarity with other victims. This is also one of the sufferings I have experienced as a result of the nuclear accident triggered by the negligence of the government and TEPCO.

The UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons came into force, but the Japanese government has no intent to join the treaty which has become a big controversy. I really regret this. The treaty's Articles 6 and 7 stipulate support for nuclear victims and recovery of the environment from nuclear disasters. I think that because of these articles, the Japanese government is not willing to participate in the treaty. Hiroshima A-bomb survivors won in the so-called "black rain" lawsuit, but the government still does not recognize the plaintiffs as Hibakusha. The structure in which the government tries to avoid taking responsibility is exactly the same as in the Fukushima nuclear case.

Nuclear damage does not end with the 10-year anniversary. The half-lives of Cesium 137, for example, is 30 years. To flee from exposure to radiation, continue evacuation life, and live as a nuclear victim will go on and on.

If there is an anniversary year for the nuclear disaster, it will be the day when the government admits its failure, provides adequate compensation to all victims, and abandons its pro-nuclear energy policy.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t appeals A-bomb ‘black rain’ court ruling [August 13, 2020]
> Hibakusha welcome Pope’s speech on nuclear-free world [November 25, 2019]
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