Yayoi Hitomi: The Current Situation at Fukushima

Yayoi Hitomi gave the following speech at the Remember Fukushima Parliamentary Public Meeting at Portcullis House, London on 17 March and at the NFLA Beyond Nuclear Special Seminar at Manchester Town Hall on 18 March 2016:

I am Yayoi Hitomi from Fukushima. At the invitation of “Yosomono Net” I am travelling around Europe to have voices from Fukushima heard. (“Yosomono Net” is a network of Japanese people living abroad and sharing concerns about nuclear power, of which JAN UK is a member.)

What I would like you to understand is that the situation after Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster is not “under control” at all, and that Fukushima should not be repeated. These are simple, but most important messages from me.

The Japanese government has begun to encourage people to return to Fukushima in the name of recovery from the disaster. In the areas where five years of “decontamination” works have had a certain effect, people are told to return to where they were. How bizarre it is that people are now encouraged to return because the radiation level is 20mSv/year, whereas they were once told to evacuate because the level was 20mSv/year.

“Decontamination” works have not been effective enough. I live inKoriyama City, 60km away from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. “Decontamination” works of my garden were carried out in Autumn 2013. While the radiation levels have significantly lowered compared with the levels seen immediately after the disaster, they are still seven to eight times higher than pre-disaster levels.

Much of contaminated waste is simply left outside in various places in Fukushima Prefecture. Although my city, Koriyama, was not designated as evacuation zone, even adults have concerns about remaining there under such circumstances.

You might have heard that 166 children in Fukushima Prefecture have been either diagnosed with thyroid cancer or with suspected cases of thyroid cancer. The Japanese government and Fukushima Prefecture repeat experts’ opinion that “radiation effect in these cancers is unlikely.” There was a medical expert who argued in his research paper that it is reasonable to think radiation caused surge in children’s thyroid cancer. While it has been said that only a minority of experts has such an opinion, it was a minority of experts who had warned of danger of nuclear power plants before Fukushima. The majority kept on saying “nuclear power plants are safe” until Fukushima Daiichi NPP exploded. Opinions of those experts who tell us dangers and risks should be highly regarded and children should be protected.

Epidemiological studies on radiation effects need to be carried out properly. Various opinions from a wide range of experts need to be heard. The government should also establish a long-term framework for people to have regular respite opportunities.

Decommission works of Fukushima Daiichi NPP will remain difficult. Even robots failed under such high radiation levels. 7,000 people per day work in the plant while being exposed to severe radiation. Risks of secondary accidents are always there.

There are many law suits against TEPCO and 20,000 people in total are now suing TEPCO. The Complainants for the Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster consists of 15,000 complainants and I am one of them. We think TEPCO should be held criminally responsible for the death and injuries of 44 inpatients in Futaba hospital and 13 officials who fought fire at Fukushima Daiichi NPP. TEPCO had been aware of a possibility that 15.7-meter-high Tsunamis can hit the NPP. They had planned to build embankments, but abandoned the plan due to its excessive cost. They were also negligent in securing back-up power generators. On 29 February 2016, three former

TEPCO executives were criminally charged with negligence. The law suit is supposed to last at least 10 years. I would like to see the guilty verdict with my own eyes. I would like the defendants to live long, too, so that they can properly make up for their crimes.

We can produce energy without nuclear power plants. Japan went on for two years without any nuclear power plant working. I would like to live my modest life with sustainable energy sources.

Many people do not want a nuclear power plant in their backyards. You cannot just put the burden on other people.

I am against restarting any nuclear power plant in Japan. I am against the government’s effort to export nuclear power plants from Japan.

There is an ancient aphorism “Taru wo shiru (to know contentment)”. It means happy is the person who is content with what you already have. There is enough energy if we do not want more than we need. Let us go beyond nuclear power immediately.