A voice from Support Center Shinchi; “Listen to the meltdown victims”

Original Japanese written by Hiroshi Matsumoto, staffer
The English below written and arranged by Heeday, based on the original Japanese
The English edited by Rev. Dr. Henry French, ELCA


Located in Shinchi, Soma County, Fukushima Prefecture, Support Center Shinchi has been working on many things since the earthquake and tsunami disaster of March 2011. Today, we do see some progress in the “rebuilding” of hard-hit areas. For instance, we used to have eight temporary housing units around here. Now, they have been combined and into just two facilities. Much of the Joban Line railroad has not been in service since shortly after the March 2011 disaster, and some segments of it run through radiation-affected no-go zones. Now, in some places, railroad service is back. Still, many people affected by the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown are spending their “Year 6” after the disaster here at Gangoya Temporary Housing.

The radioactive contamination here is extremely serious. Radioactive substances must be removed safely and without fail. Sure, we can reduce the levels of radioactivity of trees by cutting off their branches, of the ground by removing the surface soil, of roads by washing them, and of structures by burying them. Yet what about air flows; what about oceanic currents, climatic changes, and the whole, highly complex ecological system of nature? Faced with the complexities and grandeur of nature, what we humans do can never be completely “safe and without failures.” Mother nature—or the eco system—does not follow human-made distinctions of “no-go, restricted, and preparatory” zones. Animals and plants move around, they propagate, give birth and die, and excrete when and where they want to. No human-built barricades or signs can confine them to specified areas.

The national government of Japan (the Ministry of the Environment) and a private association (The Nature Conservation Society of Fukushima) surveyed radiation levels at the same places, and their results differed dramatically. (See the table below.) What we really need is for both reports to be published, so that we can compare the data, discover any hidden facts, and make them known.

What is going on in our society today? The Japanese government (the Nuclear Safety Commission) and power companies have established a system whose motto is when “the new safety standard is met à the nuclear power plant is safe to restart.” Thus, it seems that the government is determined to hold on to the “myth of nuclear safety,” as if the March 2011 disaster had never happened. Against this, many nameless victims are shouting, “Can we let this be?” I hope you hear their cries.


[Table 1] Concentrations of radioactive cesium in the soil of river beds and dam bottoms(Surveyed in 2012)

 By the Nature Conservation Society of Fukushima  By the Ministry of the Environment
Where the soil was taken Date of sampling Cesium concentration (Bq/kg) Date of sampling Cesium concentration (Bq/kg)
Mouth of River Hirose (Sendai, Miyagi) May.4 10,272 Jan. 19 980
Mouth of River Matsu (Fukushima,Fukushima) Feb. 27 5,251 Jan. 20 280
Mouth of River Ose (Koriyama, Fukushima) Jan. 26 16,673 Jan. 7 860
Miharu Dam (Tamura, Fukushima) Jan. 30 21,557 Jan. 20 7,500

(Quoted from the website of the Nature Conservation Society of Fukushima)