To: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori
My name is Akiko Morimatsu. I have been living a life of “boshi hinan,” or “mother-child evacuation” with my two children in Osaka ever since we evacuated Fukushima four years ago.
I believe that the right to enjoy a healthy life in a radiation-free area is one of the most important human rights concerning human life and health. The right should be respected equally among all people.
It is only natural for human beings to wish to avoid radiation exposure as much as possible. This wish should be granted equally to all people.
It is also natural for parental psychology to want their children with future to grow up with as little health risk as possible. All parents want their children’s healthy growth. There should be absolutely no shadow of radiation fear nor heath risks.
Would it be reasonable if only some lucky people could flee from radioactive areas because they happened to have relatives or supporters in other areas? Would it be appropriate for a civilized society if only wealthy or lucky people could leave the radiation-contaminated areas?
It seems you announce one appalling new policy after another. Take, for example, the new policy of cutting housing support for Fukushima evacuees, while giving generous support exclusively to Fukushima returnees. Were you aware of the extreme suffering of those parents whose only choice was now to unwillingly return to the contaminated areas even though they strongly hope to stay away for the sake of their little children? Would you call this a truly fair policy? Would you be able to call this right? I wonder, to begin with, if both the central government and Fukushima government have made policies for the last four years with the proper understanding that many households simply have not been able to evacuate the contaminated areas even when they wanted because there were no appropriate, supportive public policies for them to choose evacuation to continue their life in a safe environment.
If you have not been aware of such people’s struggles, I must question your ability as political leaders to hear the silent voices of the common people living their common lives. I don’t mean to sound impudent, but I cannot help wondering if this failure is as grave as the incompetence of our past political leadership.
Please reflect upon the fact that the “Nuclear Accident Child Victim Support Law” was made in 2014 but has been shopworn. The law has not been activated nor have the victimized children been helped by it at all. What do you think of this fact?
I have never thought harshly of those people who have been obliged to remain in Fukushima or those who have chosen to live with radiation contamination. I deeply care about them and feel strongly empathic with them for their difficult situation as parents raising young children.
However, we evacuees are also the same Fukushima people. Even though we have evacuated to far away places with children, we sincerely wish to be able to return to Fukushima if only Fukushima returns to the uncontaminated state as before 3.11 without any health risks or anxieties of losing health. If only Fukushima could get rid of all the radiation contamination as before 3.11, we would be very happy to return with all of our family members. We have wished this for four years now.
I sent a letter to the former Fukushima Governor, Yuhei Sato and also a copy of my book entitled Evacuating Fukushima with my Children: Mental Locus to Reach the Family Decision to File a Law Suit to plead evacuee support. I, however, wonder if he heard the silent voices of Fukushima evacuees. I also would like to plead to the current Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori also not to abandon those who chose to evacuate Fukushima; they are Fukushima people after all. Please, respect the basic human rights of the people regarding to their life and health protection. Also, please give generous support and keep practicing concrete, compassionate support policies for evacuees.
I am afraid, more than anything else, of the possible easing the way for infringing numerous human rights in the future if the governmental responses so far after the nuclear accident have become established as common devious methods to do away with problems.
Can there be anything more precious than human life and good health? Japanese people and Fukushima people as well, have, all equally, the right to protect their own lives and enjoy good health.
I implore you, hereby, to give the minimum legally guaranteed protection to the people who have chosen to take the fundamentally human action to protect precious lives and health.
Unfortunately, we have had nuclear accidents. I would like to, therefore, take action which we can hand on for posterity with pride in the future as citizens working together with the Fukushima Prefecture government. The same position and hope can be referred to our national government, as well.
Therefore, please listen not only to those partial groups of people interested merely in economic gain, but also to this sincere mother, a hard-working life supporter, a loving prefectural citizen, and a true Japanese citizen.
Thank you for reading my humble letter written as a Fukushima citizen, wishing the recovery of Fukushima and as a Japanese citizen also wishing for the true reconstruction of the entire East Japan from the earthquake and tsunami disasters.
May 26, 2015
Akiko Morimatsu, Author of: ‘Evacuating Fukushima with my Children: Mental Locus to Reach the Family Decision to File a Law Suit’
(translated into English by Yoko Chase, Ph.D.)
Akiko Morimatsu studied Law in college. Prior to 3.11 she lived in Koriyama City, Fukushima prefecture, with her doctor husband and two small children. When their home was destroyed by the earthquake and radioactive contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the family stayed in an evacuation centre for a month.
After this time she made the painfully difficult decision to evacuate with her children to Osaka in the Kansai region so that she could raise them in an area free from radioactive contamination.
Her husband remained in Fukushima where his work was. On his days off he drives more than 700km to Osaka to see his family but has to head back within 24 hours.
As Koriyama City is 60km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant it lies outside the official exclusion zone, Akiko’s evacuation is classed as voluntary, so she receives no compensation from the Japanese government whatsoever.
Akiko is the leader of the Plaintiffs living in the Kansai region of Japan who filed a lawsuit in 2013 against TEPCO for compensation ‘for psychological stress suffered due to the nuclear accident and for the upending of their daily lives’: