I moved from Koriyama City to Fujinomiya City in Shizuoka Prefecture in August last year. In Koriyama, I held a managing director job at a firm that provided elder care services from its foundation. I was also a head of the Parent and Teacher Association at my son's kindergarten. “Even if I were looked at as someone who deserted the colleagues and communities and betrayed their trust, I would not abandon my child, no matter what”. It was based on this belief that my wife and I made a heart-to-heart united decision.
Honestly speaking, it was not the case that we had a lot of savings, and our anxiety about starting a life in an unfamiliar place was not small. But more than anything, the pain of having to leave the place where I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life was unbearable. On one summery day, the three of us left, very quietly, but with courage in our heart. I cannot forget that morning.
Shortly after our arrival in Shizuoka in November, my wife, pregnant with our second child, was hospitalized due to a risk of premature birth. My days were spent packing my son's lunch, transporting him to and from the kindergarten, visiting my wife at the hospital, and working as a daily laborer in construction. At the same time, I was busy trying to start up a business as a day service provider for the elderly. In February this year, my wife gave a birth to our first daughter. In the delivery room, I remember both of us were anxious to see if she had normal feet, hands, fingers …. And on June 1 this year, I was finally able to open a day service facility, though a small one.
When we left Koriyama, “voluntary evacuation” was still an unfamiliar term. When we went to the municipal offices in Shizuoka, they asked us with a wondering look why we moved here, as Koriyama was not part of the government designated evacuation areas. This happened at many other places we went to, and it became very troublesome to explain our fate to the others, who did not understand. We faced very challenging situations at times, but my resolve to survive even on muddy water, if I have to, got stronger, and helped me keep going and bring my plan to fruition.
It has been a year and eight months since the nuclear accident. This past November, I represented the Shizuoka Office for the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Plaintiffs and returned to Fukushima to submit the letters of complaint to the Fukushima District Prosecutor's Office. When I left Fukushima last year, I said to myself, “I am not abandoning Fukushima, but rather I am withdrawing from Fukushima”. In whatever ways I can, I intend to keep Fukushima close to my heart as long as I live. We still struggle economically. But to know what is really important in life, and to be able to live with true pride is a prerequisite for happiness. We are reminded of that.
"We will not give up. Fukushima will not give up."
Katsumi Hasegawa, Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture
"Tangara", magazine of Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation