Voices for Fukushima: 5:45 Live Commemorative Special

5:45 Live’s 3/8/13 episode (available on brattleborotv.org‘s homepage and facebook page) includes this special on the commemorative events happening in our community this weekend.

 WATCH THE VIDEO: Voices for Fukushima: 5:45 Live Commemorative Special

Summary: Centered on the events of the same name 5:45 Live’s “Voices for Fukushima” special traces the Safe & Green campaigns work with eyewitness reporter Chiho Kaneko as they examine the similarities between the towns surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, and our own towns neighboring Vermont Yankee.

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  • Voices for Fukushima in Brattleboro

    Voices for Fukushima will honor the town of Namie, Japan from 11-1 in Pliny Park today. Like Brattleboro, Namie, Japan is five miles northwest of a Mark 1 boiling water reactor, circa 1970s. Namie cataloged their old trees, suffered from fires, and loved parades. Namie even had an annual literary festival, as we do. Surrounding Namie were farms, orchards, and cattle ranches. Mountains are to the west, the ocean to the east, and two rivers run through town. Namie is now a ghost town, its 22,000 residents spread across Japan.

    Namie’s evacuation story is tragic. On March 11, 2011 Namie was spared most of the damage from the tsunami and earthquake, which happened further north up the coast. It was not until the next day that Namie’s mayor learned that the reactors were in trouble, when he heard the Prime Minister on the radio tell everyone within 20 miles of the reactors to evacuate. Mayor Tomatsu Baba led the evacuation to Tsushima, 12 miles away. Usually a 30 minute drive, it took over three hours; people crept bumper to bumper and abandoned their cars when they ran out of gas. “It was Armageddon,” said one refugee. “It didn’t feel like reality.”

    At 3:30pm, a reactor exploded, sending a radioactive cloud into the wind. What the mayor and evacuees did not learn until three months later was that the plume headed directly to Tsushima, where Namie’s residents were sheltered. The contamination in Tsushima is still the worst in the country, and those en route to Tsushima received the highest doses of radiation, according to government health surveys.

    Within three days, the shelter in Tsushima was overwhelmed and short on food. Mayor Baba moved his people again. Namie’s refugees were taken in by the city of Nihonmatsu, even though 2,000 of its residents were made homeless by the tsunami and earthquake. Mayor Baba still lives there, and has set up an office in Nihonmatsu, keeping track of his former citizens and advocating for their rights.

    Namie’s families have moved four to seven times in the past two years. Many lived for six months or more in temporary shelters such as sports arenas, and then moved into trailers or one room housing units built by the government, then to wherever they could find better housing. The community of Namie is now scattered across the country, many still in ‘temporary’ government housing. 1,200 live in one Tokyo skyscraper. Some of the elderly are still in ‘temporary’ shelters.

    Neither the governments of Japan nor the US want us to hear these stories. Japan was once ranked in the top 15 for freedom of the press. Due to suppression of information about radiation and public health, it is now ranked #55.

    In Japan, Namie is called “the forgotten town.” The evacuation plan did not work. They were never notified to evacuate and the Mayor only learned about the evacuation on TV. Let the community of Namie know that they will not be forgotten again.

  • Still remembering Fukushima

    Thank you for this attention.
    I keep the people affected by the Fukushima tragedy and the planet at large in my thoughts and prayers every day. Daily since the earthquake, I have followed news reports related to the tragedy, and my heart breaks particularly over the circumstances of the region’s seniors and parents of young children.

    Fairewinds Energy Education here in Vermont is doing a good job of staying on top of nuclear-related developments:

    I also appreciate the reporting efforts of a blogger in Japan:

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