Pat Hynes, director of Traprock Peace Center in Greenfield, Mass. has published an excellent essay, Remembering and Learning from Fukushima.
Japan and the US are expanding nuclear power. Democracy Now! February 2014. Amy Goodman spent a week in Japan in January; you can read transcripts, listen to audio or watch video on the Democracy Now! website, beginning here.
Japanese officials finally admited that Fukushima evacuees will never return home, to between 7 and 11 towns. From The Guardian.
2020: NPR photo essay “Fukushima: The Ghost Towns”
Although Kawauchi has been re-opened, few are returning.(Japan Times, January 2014).
A beautifully written piece by a Buddhist priest, father of five, on daily life in Nihonmatsu, the sister city to Hanover, New Hampshire. Exposing the Hidden Dukkha.
May-October 2013: Inspired by Greenfield’s adoption of Kawauchi, Chikako Nishiyama came to meet and speak to nuclear communities in the Northeast, including Greenfield, Brattleboro and Montpelier. She was on the Kawauchi town council during the disaster and is now an anti-nuclear activist. Read more about her and her journey here.
Quick Links to Voices of Fukushima photos and video: YouTube video Facebook page for Town photos Facebook for Vigil Photos
On March 11, 2013 Safe and Green brought the voices of Fukushima’s ghost towns to our home towns and to the gate of Vermont Yankee. We “adopted” towns for the day similar in distance from Vermont Yankee as our sister towns in Japan are from the Fukushima reactors. Leading up March 11, we learned about “our” town, and educated our neighbors about them in local newspapers, on radio talk shows and on community access television. Then we held vigils in each of seven towns.
In Greenfield, “the vigil itself was very moving, I thought — particularly the reading aloud of personal statements from various Japanese people in the Fukushima area and our sending our own personal messages to the people of Kawauchi, which is 15 miles south of the Fukushima reactors, like Greenfield from Vermont Yankee.” From Wendell: “It was a powerful time of reading, singing and standing in silence out in front of the Wendell food pantry. ” In Putney, “Perhaps it is a tiny act, but I want to be a part of this because I love Fukushima very much. It is close to my home town in Japan. The situation in Japan is more than desperate. It is a human disaster.
A month ago, Chiho Kaneko spoke about her recent visit to Fukushima. Through her stories and photos it was easy to connect with the lives of the people she met. You can watch her informative and inspiring presentation here.
Particularly moving was the story of a woman who had left a teaching job to start a sustainable community in a town 30 miles from the reactor. Her home, pictured here, could have been mine. She looked out her windows, surrounded by nature … but after March 11, 2011 she could not hang her clothes outside. She could no longer grow her own food. She could not even burn wood in her wood stove, for fear of releasing radiation.
It has been two years since the tragedy in Fukushima began on to unleash radiation on Japan and the world. We must not forget the people of Fukushima. Their lives could be our lives. Vermont Yankee is the same make, model and just one year difference in age to the Fukushima reactors. What would it be like to leave your home, your community, and your land behind – forever?
A Fukushima home in the snow… could this be Windham County or the Pioneer Valley?
VIGIL: SAGE Alliance hosted a silent vigil at the gates of Vermont Yankee on Sunday, March 10 at 11 am.
VOICES OF FUKUSHIMA: Towns around Vermont Yankee are “adopting” a Fukushima evacuation town for the day. Affinity groups are organizing events in the towns for either Saturday, Sunday, or Monday March 9, 10 or 11. SAGE will provide flyers about Fukushima, and coordinate press. Some groups will simply stand on a busy street corner with banners and hand out the SAGE flyers. Others plan to create refugee camps on their town green, wear face masks, and create posters with photos of their own town, and their adopted town in Fukushima.
The map shows distances from Fukushima towns to their reactors and a list of our towns their distances to Vermont Yankee. You can click on the map and enlarge it.
Brattleboro adopted Namie, a town of 22,000 people, for the day. Namie is 5 miles north of the Fukushima reactors, similar to Brattleboro’s distance from Yankee. We walked through our local farmers market silently, wearing face masks, carrying radiation detectors, with Nuclear Refugee signs on our backs. We made posters with quotes from articles and with photographs of Namie we found on the internet. We handed out flyers with facts and stories. We hoped will bring home the reality of life as nuclear refugees in 2011 and 2013.
“After the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, winds blew radioactive contamination directly towards Namie for three days, exposing its citizens to high levels of radiation. No one was warned.” [Greenpeace]. “… Mayor Baba had to organize the evacuation himself, and no one warned him or his citizens that their evacuation route would prove identical to the direction the radioactive cloud would take as it spread. The citizens of Namie fled — and the radiation followed. For four days in March, they found themselves precisely at the spot where the most radioactive fallout landed. Namie’s residents now live scattered across 44 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. ” [Speigel]. Families from Namie have relocated four to seven times since March 2011.