More than five years have passed since the earthquake and tsunami devastated much of eastern Japan in March 2011. Looking back on the past half-decade, we are sharing some stories and recollections from those we have been “walking together” with since the devastation, one by one.
Given below is a story from the thirteenth speaker in this series, Mr. Chuichi Hino, from Aichi St. Luke’s Church, located in Aichi Prefecture in the middle of Honshu Island. Mr. Hino has participated in many of the “Driving Tours to Keep Us Aware of Fukushima,” held by Mr. Masayuki Ogawa of the Tokyo Diocese. These frequent tours visit the areas hit hard by the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown.
Ever since the March 2011 earthquake disaster, Mr. Hino has been “walking together” with Fukushima’s people and has seen with his own eyes what the meltdown has done to them. After more than five years, he is still walking together with them. His determined “walk” has been a great encouragement to those of us living in Fukushima.
“So, what are we going to do in the years to come?”
Mr. Chuichi Hino, from Aichi St. Luke’s Church, Aichi
The English below written and arranged by Heeday, based on the original Japanese
The English edited by Rev. Dr. Henry French, ELCA
Tokyo Diocese’s Mr. Ogawa has been holding many “Driving Tours to Keep Us Aware of Fukushima,” each of which is a two-day drive of some 500 miles between Tokyo and Fukushima. So far, I and some friends of mine from the Chubu Diocese have participated in thirteen of the driving tours.
In those tours, we have visited many places and people in Fukushima to learn more about what is actually going on there. Our visits and activities so far include fellowship with the residents of the Gangoya Temporary Housing, where Mr. Hiroshi Matsumoto, a staffer of the Koriyama Office, of the “No Nuke Project” (formerly the Project on Nuclear Power and Radiation), lives. We have also visited “Kibo no Bokujo” (Stock Ranch of Hope), where Mr. Masami Yoshizawa has been protecting the lives of more than 300 cattle against the law that prohibits the raising of animals. We also visited the ruins of St. John’s Church, Isoyama, which was washed away by the tsunami, as well as “Fuji Kindergarten,” where some were killed by the tsunami. We even went into the area within 6 miles of Fukushima Daiichi to measure radiation levels there. Thanks to these visits and activities, we have seen how cruel the victims’ situations are five and a half years after the 2011 disaster.
Having seen what is actually happening in Fukushima, I have come to think Japan’s government is trying to create the false impression that the meltdown is no longer serious, so that people will give up on any attempts to reform the nation’s nuclear policies
Every time I leave Fukushima, I feel powerless in that I feel that I have not been much help to the people there. Still, many residents at Gangoya say to me, “Don’t forget about us,” and “Please come again.” Their kind words are a great relief to me.
I am aware that I too am being tested—what are we going to do with respect to both Fukushima and nuclear power in the years to come?