Katsutaka Idogawa, mayor of Futaba Town, answers a few questions in the interview conducted by OurPlanet-TV after the announcement of his resignation on January 23.
Idogawa was the mayor of Futaba Town, hosting 5th and 6th Units of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The town is 3 Km away from the nuclear accident site. He was the only mayor in Fukushima prefecture who decided to officially relocate his town's population and the administrative functions outside the prefecture in his authority. He also spoke at an information meeting at the UN Geneva headquarters in October 2012 and begged the international authorities to help evacuate the residence of Fukushima. Since December 2012, he had been demanded by the pro-nuclear politicians to resign from his post.
The following is the letter written for the people of Futaba Town. Katsutaka posted it on the official website of Town on the day he announced his resignation.
Forever Futaba (message from the mayor)
23 January 2013
Katsutaka Idogawa, the mayor of Futabamachi
We are faced with the unprecedented harsh conditions as evacuees. However, we cannot keep drifting from place to place forever. I have kept asking the government to provide us with a place to settle in for the reconstruction of the community. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to achieve it.
Today I submitted my resignation as the mayor of Futaba, hoping that we will be reunited somewhere to lead a peaceful and radioactive-free life. I would like to take this opportunity to express my personal views as below based on my approach and experiences to date.
1. Fight over the accident
You lose your fight over the nuclear accident if you allow things to remain as they are now. I don’t want the people of Futaba to surrender. I hope that you will win the fight and strive to survive. We are split apart at the moment, but let's get together again once the risk of radiation is gone when the decommissioning of the reactors is completed and the cohabitation with nature becomes possible.
To our children- never forget the feelings of disappointment you have had and live strong at any price to reconstruct Futaba. To achieve this goal, don't stop learning and be a respectful person. I wish you would lead the world.
(1) Keep the following things in mind to win the fight
- The government demanded the evacuation from Futaba
- TEPCO and the government assured us that no accident would ever occur
- There is a safety agreement among Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture and TEPCO
- We are not responsible for the accident
- There is no official apology and compensation (nothing tangible)
- Nobody but you can exercise your own rights
- We were irradiated
- We will be forced to clean up the radioactivity
- The authorities have revised the admissible radiation dose up to 20mSv/year (the admissible radiation dose for the general public is less than 1mSv/year) (i)
(2) Things to do for the victory
- Identify the people responsible for the accident
- Make a list of all the damages we have suffered
- Quantify the accumulated damages
- Demand the recovery of loss
- Demand the maximum possible recovery of loss and the alternatives for loss (a tentative relocation of the town)
- Insist that Futaba Town and its people have no responsibility for the accident
- Be aware of what is happening
- Take the lessons from the victims of the Minamata disease (ii)
- Go and talk with the people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- Always be grateful to the people who have supported us in refuge
- Try to protect your health and DNA by protecting yourself from radiation
- Be aware of the consequences of Chernobyl and never repeat the same mistake
(3) Mobilise (in the defence of our fundamental rights)
1. Share the roles and form the groups for the research into the following issues to resolve factors detrimental to for the residents in Futaba:
- Contamination survey
- Health care
- Construction of interim storage facilities for nuclear waste
2. Creation of an accident investigation board
In the official accident reporting, there is no mentioning of the reality of the residents who were forced to evacuate from the contaminated zones. We are responsible for keeping the accurate record by ourselves to avoid the misinformation or falsification of data by the third parties.
2. Insist on the right to claim
Organise the collectives of supporters, legal experts, academics, volunteers and victims of irradiation to win over the sovereignty rights of the people and the restoration of the human rights of the victims.
3. Cherish the teachings of our great ancestors
(1) Discover new things by taking lessons from the past
We can take lessons from the past for new ideas. The history can give you an insight into the problem you are facing. Long time ago, the Shineha clan, our ancestors, were decimated by the Soma clan. Then the Choshu clan defeated the Aizu clan. In spite of all those defeats in the past, our ancestors did not perish and we are here now. We owe our life to our ancestors and are responsible for passing down our town to the next generations. We have undergone an unprecedented accident. Now we should focus on protecting our children from the genetic damage caused by the radiation. Come hell or high water, let's keep going on for the reconstruction of Futaba.
(2) Five plans in life
This maxim of life advocated by Zhu Xing Zhong, an officer of ancient China during the Song Dynasty, contains much wisdom about life. It comprises five plans for life: life plan, body plan, family plan, aging plan and death plan.
(3) Noble Eightfold Path
It is believed that the Buddha preached the Noble Eightfold Path as a new way of spiritual seeking.
Right view: the right way of looking at things
Right intention: Correct understanding of right view
Right speech: speech without false words
Right action: right conduct
Right livelihood: right occupation
Right effort: right diligence
Right mindfulness: right attention
Right concentration: right meditation
We are in no state of mind of assuming these teachings. I wish you could keep these words in mind to make TEPCO and the government realise their responsibilities for the accident. They are neglecting and underestimating the fundamental human rights of the victims of the accident. I also hope that these teachings will serve as life guidance for the children of Futaba.
We have taken many lessons from the accident in Fukushima- among other things the disdain for human life. The government ordered us to evacuate from the town. I consider this to be a declaration of war against us. How can we fight against the authorities without arms, means and authorisations?
There is a memorial museum of Auschwitz concentration camp in Shirakawa City (in Fukushima). It is well known that Nazis massacred millions of Jews with poisonous gas. When it comes to Fukushima, the health and genetic structures (DNA) of the population there are being damaged by poisonous radioactivity. What an irony! We cannot guarantee the safety of health without evacuating the population immediately. Decontamination should be conducted later over a long period of time.
There are not a sufficient number of credible studies that prove the safety standard of man-made radioactivity. Some say that the radiation does not cause any impact on our health even in a living condition of radioactive dosage of 20mSv/year. If they dare to say so, let them live in such a place with their families to prove the safety. It is not until then that the people can finally return to Fukushima. They are using the people in Fukushima as guinea pigs. It is essentially identical to the situation in which a tyrant is launching missiles against his own people.
The motto "no revitalisation of Japan without the reconstruction of Fukushima" is orchestrated though not a few people believe that the reconstruction of Fukushima in the true sense will never be possible when the number of children is decreasing and their lives are in danger. Futabamachi was made uninhabitable though the town was requested to set up the nuclear power plant. We left behind everything funded by the subsidies granted for the nuclear power plant.
We could not have accepted to build the nuclear power plant in the town without major intervention of Fukushima Prefecture. People say that we do not deserve to play the victim as we accepted the construction of nuclear power plants. We feel like we have nowhere to go. We are striving to survive in distress. I begged the former premier Mr. Kan to save the children, the elders and the parents in agony. Nothing has changed. I then appealed to Mr. Noda to treat us as legitimate members of the country. In reality, our tolerance has reached its threshold. I did my best to appeal for attention to our plight in the media while receiving criticism from the townspeople.
I also appealed for attention to our plight to the prefectural authorities. I recently raised the issues with them. They did not give me any concrete answer to my request and I was depressed. The governor (Mr. Sato) of Fukushima Prefecture insisted on the construction of the interim storage facilities of nuclear waste in Futaba in view of the reconstruction of the prefecture. In return, I asked him about the reconstruction of Futaba. No answer. I then asked him to give us a new town. No answer. How can we discuss with each other?
I asked the chief of the Ministry of Environment the reason for deciding to build two interim storage facilities in Futaba. He said he had no idea. I then asked him to show me the relevant meeting minutes. He replied to me saying that there was no such document. They said that they would only conduct the geographical research (of the sites) and that they had no intention to build the interim storage facilities. How can I believe them?
We have history and assets inherited from our ancestors. Anyone who is ignorant of our history has no right to insist on the construction of the interim storage facilities in our town. I hope that you will make a decision on this issue after adequate discussion. I prefer that the young people will make the final decision.
Please keep it in mind that you will lose your property if you receive the full reimbursement for the compensation. This means that you will lose your hometown. You have to be well aware of this fact if you wish to go back to Futaba in the future.
Last but not very least, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the people of Futaba, the residents of local communities in and around Futaba County and Fukushima, the government and Fukushima Prefecture, the people in all over Japan for their aid and support in evacuation after the accident, the members of the Diet, the members of local governments all over Japan, the people of Saitama Prefecture and the members of prefectural assembly, the citizens of Kazo City and its local government members, the citizens of Sakura City, the medical professionals, the welfare workers, the people who have provided us with precious information and the people all over the world who have supported us. We owe it to your support. I leave this message to you by expressing my gratitude to you.
I am thankful to you for your long-term support.
i) The intention of the government in its return policy for evacuees is to encourage people to return to the areas with a maximum dose of 20mSv/year, which is 20 times more than the admissible annual dose for the general public.
ii) Minamata disease, a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning, was discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture in Japan in 1956. The chemical company Chisso have paid 86 million for compensation for more than 10,000 victims so far and the numbers who seek compensation are still rising after 50 years.