The Nuclear Free California Network hosted this conference on Jan. 24 and 25, 2015, in San Luis Obispo near the Diablo Canyon.
[Note: All text in quotations is directly quoted from the speakers’ translator, Carole Hisasue, who represents Mothers For Peace, and all other text is a paraphrased version of Hisasue’s translation.]
The first speaker, Chieko Shiina from Fukushima and a supporter of the Fukushima Collaborative Clinic, says that radiation “doesn’t discriminate between organisms. It destroys everything.” In Futaba City after the March 2011 triple meltdown, a company that raised ostriches for slaughter released its ostriches into the streets, exposing them to radiation. People were evacuated, but all animals – cows, dogs, cats and pets – remained in highly contaminated areas. Shiina gave three examples of things that are happening in Fukushima.
(1) Already 85 children have had surgeries for thyroid cancer. One hundred and thirteen children are suspected of having cancer. These startling figures are a reality despite the fact that the Professor Yamashita Shunichi, former president of the exploratory committee for Fukushima Prefectural People’s Health Management Survey, said a child has a one in a million chance of getting cancer from exposure to radiation from Fukushima. In reality, that probability is one is 3,000 – an epidemic. Mr. Sugami, head of the National Cancer Research Center, estimated that cancer rates in Fukushima have risen 61 times. And still, the central and Fukushima prefectural governments claim that these rates are not a result of radiation exposure. “How long does the government think that we’ll be silent about this, in light of this epidemic? My anger will never die down. And then to think of the parents of the small children, how worried they must be. That’s one of the reasons why I set up this collaborative clinic in Fukushima. It’s operated solely by donations from people and is completely independent of the government.” The Fukushima adults are also experiencing health problems from radiation exposure – increased rates of thyroid cancer, heart attacks, leukemia, cataracts and many other health problems. It’s up to us to gather and disseminate this information.
(2) The Japanese government has opened a road that runs about nine miles from Fukushima Daiichi. It is considered open but “not for use.” They say that when you do use this road, you must have all the windows rolled up, you can’t use the air conditioning, and there’s no parking allowed on the road. “And of course, no pedestrians, motorbikes or bicycles are allowed.” So why did they even open it? It was just a front to allow the government to continue justifying its agenda: Radiation doesn’t affect Fukushima; It is safe to hold the Olympics in Japan; Restarting other nuclear plants and going to war is fine. “I cannot forgive the government. They are murderers. This is definitely a holocaust.”
(3) “I’m sure you all know about the temporary housing, where the evacuees have had to go and have been there for many years now.” The temporary housing is made up of flimsy shacks separated by plywood. “These are the people that are from the rural areas of Japan. They had lots of land. They were used to living out in the open with tons and tons of space. Now they’ve been living in these cramped quarters separated by flimsy plywood for four years now. They can’t go home. There’s nowhere to go. The radiation is too high. They used to be getting compensation from the government, but that’s been stopped. They used to be getting a transportation allowance, but that’s been stopped too. Now they’re just forgotten people completely cut off.” These people are suffering from psychological damage too, like insomnia. There are also higher rates of suicide. “These are related deaths but not directly related. The government will never seen them as being a direct effect of the radiation. So that’s the reality of a nuclear radiation war because you can’t see the radiation, and there’s no data going around. The media won’t report on it. Everything is just being swept under the rug.”
There are other effects to children’s health. They cannot play outside in sandboxes anymore. The government’s solution was to built indoor sandboxes – a glass pen with sand brought in from a different prefecture. We think it’s best to temporarily evacuate the children to allow them to play outdoors, rest, relax and regain strength in uncontaminated prefectures. But the government is promoting the return of Fukushima evacuees to their hometowns, claiming that it is now safe. As a result of the way the government has been handling the situation, the people can’t even talk about their fears of radiation. They want to take their children out of those areas for the weekend so they can play outdoors, but they don’t talk about it with their neighbors, making up excuses why they are taking short vacations. Speaking about radiation exposure has become taboo. “It’s also divided families, for example, families that are still running farms. The grandparents think that the vegetables they are growing are safe, even growing them organically, and they want their grandchildren to eat the vegetables. But the mother thinks, ‘Oh no. I cannot possibly give these vegetables to my children.’ And she will throw them away, but she cannot even talk about that to her own parents.”
Last March 11, a Japanese news station called “Hodo Station,” aired a program on Fukushima. The director promised to make a follow-up show, telling an interviewee that they would be airing it soon. Instead, the program was never aired, and the director died. The director told one of the interviewees, a mother, that if she hears of his death, she should not believe that it was a suicide, no matter what others are saying. “There is no truth in the media in Japan today. There are all sorts of these mysterious events happening that are still unexplained and not investigated.” According to the Japanese government’s new Secrecy Act, any anti-government activities are prohibited, such as a gathering like this. You cannot voice an anti-government opinion. Soon the government will be stopping more and more meetings like this. The damage caused by the nuclear accident was not just radiation exposure. “There have been damage to our liberties, damage to our future for a peaceful Japan, and I want to let you know that I am so glad to be connected with you and to be able to speak with you today. I believe that nuclear power is just another form of nuclear war and nuclear weapons. And this is a struggle between the one percent and the 99 percent, in which everything is done for the profits of the one percent, and the 99 percent are just not important enough. So I believe that when the 99 percent can get together and gain strength, then we have hope for the future. Our lives are for ourselves. It’s not for the one percent. We should not stand for it. Let’s fight together.”
Shiina continues her speech at 39:45 minutes. She explains the growing success of the Fukushima Collaborative Clinic, which has volunteer doctors who test the thyroids of children and adults, including Fukushima Daiichi workers, and is solely funded by donations. By supporting the clinic’s efforts, she feels that she is at war with the Japanese government, which hides the realities of the Fukushima disaster in order to support its pro-nuclear policy. Despite the government’s claim that nuclear power is now safe due to new safety measures and precautions, Shiina questions this logic by the sheer fact that many nuclear power plants in Japan sit on fault lines, and the government has been distributing potassium iodide to populations living near nuclear plants (just in case). She also questions the new safety measures. For example, the government wants to restart a power plant in Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan that has a long winter. Evacuation drills have been conducted in the summertime, but citizens question why they shouldn’t be prepared in the event of a nuclear disaster during the winter.
Shiina advocates for labor unions and worker strikes with citizen support in order to prevent new nuclear power plants to be built and old plants to be restarted. There is a railway that runs close to Fukushima Daiichi, the Joban line. In its effort to revive Fukushima’s economy, the government tried to reopen the line, which is completely contaminated, inside and out. The Doro Mito railway workers refused to work on the line because they didn’t want to work in highly radioactive conditions, and they didn’t want passengers to be exposed to those conditions. “I believe that if the citizens and the workers all join together and work together as one, anything is possible.”
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The second speaker is Chizu Hamada from No Nukes Action. [Her speech begins 33 minutes in.] Hamada explains that only the elderly evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture want to return to their homes. The young people, especially mothers, do not want to return. However, the Japanese government says certain areas are safe to live in and threaten the evacuees to move back by cutting off their compensation one year after their evacuation zone has been lifted, i.e. deemed safe to inhabit. The government simply doesn’t want to continue paying compensation.
Secondly, there have been many mysterious deaths related to radiation exposure that the local government has not recognized. The government counts 1,758 deaths related to Fukushima radiation, but there are actually many more. This misinformation is related to the new Secrecy Act, which makes exposing such information punishable.
Thirdly, Japan’s nuclear front has two good pieces of news. Last year, Kansai Electric Power Co. lost its suit in trying to restart to reactors at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui. The verdict stated, “Human lives are above the profit of industries.” Contributing to this verdict was a lawsuit brought against an electric company by the husband of a Korean cancer victim, claiming that radiation from a nuclear power plant caused his wife’s cancer. This is one of the few instances in Japan were there is an accepted causal relationship between radiation exposure from a nuclear power plant and cancer.
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The third speaker is Isamu “Sam” Kanno of No Nukes Asian Action, an anti-nuclear organization that brought a class action lawsuit, with 3,853 plaintiffs from 39 countries, against GE, Hitachi and Toshiba for damages resulting from the Fukushima disaster. No Nukes Asian Action has gathered 1,290 plaintiffs from Japan, 138 from the United States, 1,000 from Korea and 600 from Taiwan, along other countries such as Germany and Mongolia. “Basically this is an action against the fact that the manufacturers of the nuclear reactors are exempt, by law (the Price-Anderson law, 1957, an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act), from any liability. … ”
” … Eisenhower made the Atoms For Peace speech in 1953, and it was strange because in 1945, two Japanese cities were destroyed by nuclear weapons. We see [Atoms For Peace] as a way to justify holding on to nuclear weapons and nuclear materials. Already the UK and the Soviets had nuclear power since 1955. In the 60 years since then, many countries have gotten nuclear power. What have we gotten from it? Just some steam generation.” The United States persuaded Japan to build nuclear reactors in a country riddled with earthquake faults, but this wasn’t for nuclear power; it was for the potential of nuclear weapons production. In 2012, the United States supported the restart of the Oi nuclear reactors. “There is a slogan going around in Japan saying that nuclear power plants are a nuclear weapon aimed at ourselves. …” The United States has not been creating new nuclear power plants for a long time, but the problem in Asia is that countries like Japan, Korea and Russia are trying to proliferate nuclear power plants and export them to other countries. When a nuclear accident occurs in Japan, the radiation fallout will reach the United States in eight hours, and the radiation in the water will reach the U.S. in about three years. Right now Japan is using the Pacific Ocean as a “giant radioactive sewer.” There’s no way to measure the radioactive debris in Fukushima, some 300 tons [daily], which leaks into the Pacific Ocean through groundwater.
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Toward the end of the video, Carole Hisasue from Mothers For Peace tells her evacuation story from Fukushima and explains that the nuclear power plant in Diablo Canyon, Calif., holds the same risks for a nuclear disaster. Also, Chizu Hamada makes another speech.