"To my beloved city Tokyo: Thank you and Good-bye" (Vol.1): A former ghostwriter made his fleeing experience from radiation public
Genpatsu Hikkoshi (English title is "Fleeing from Fukushima"), literarily translated as "Nuclear Power Plant Moving", was published in April 2012, one year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The book is about a journey of an ordinary family of parents and two young children, who had chosen to leave radiation affected Tokyo after 3.11. What was less ordinary was that the author, Shou Kamihara, is a former ghostwriter who has written numerous books with and for artists, singers and other public figures. As a ghostwriter, Kamihara had previously always spent his professional life in the shadow of someone else, but the 3.11 nuclear accident profoundly changed his life. Kamihara and his wife decided to move away from Setagaya, Tokyo, where they had worked and raised their family, in order to protect their children from radiation. He also decided to make his experience public in novel form, which means that he – for the very first time in his life – published a book under his own name only. Kamihara has currently been working on collecting stories of families who have fled from radiation-contaminated areas in Kanto and Tohoku, just like himself, in order to shed light on those families, who otherwise may be just ignored despite their extraordinary decision.
Kamihara wrote the following message (English translation by Graig White) to raise the people’s awareness of the consequences of nuclear disaster. It is Kamihara’s hope that as many people as possible around the world will hear the voices of the evacuees and “Genpatsu emigrees”. With this goal, he made the first chapter of his book available for free download, so that many people will be able to get a good grasp of his story. An English version is also available for free downloading. WNSCR now introduces a part of this chapter and we have also translated his short writing about the lives of “Genpatsu emigrees”, extracted from a small pamphlet with collections of interviews with the families, as conducted and edited by Kamihara after the accident.
Vol.1 Kamihara’s message to readers around the world
Vol.3 Short writing about the lives of the emigrees (both in English and Japanese)
Message from Kamihara
To the People of the World:
My name is Shou Kamihara. I'm a ghost writer in Japan. Or should I say, I used to be one. Like the kind Ewan McGregor portrayed in the 2010 movie "Ghost Writer." Essentially I write books for academics, famous authors, actors and actresses and so on, all the while hiding in the shadows as a "ghost." But ever since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, I felt I couldn't be just a ghost anymore. That's because when I tried to put the events of 3.11 into a book, especially the accident that occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, I couldn't get anyone to give me their cooperation. For a long time - 30 or 40 years - the electric companies have given out large donations and provided sponsorships. This has created an environment in which academics, authors, and entertainers who received money or want to receive money can't say anything against those companies.
Still, I felt there was a need to write about what happened in Japan, at Fukushima, and the panic that gripped Tokyo. If nobody else is going to write about it, it's up to me. I can't be a ghost. I decided to show myself and publish this book.
I began writing this book in September of the same year as the nuclear accident, 2011, and finally put my pen down in March 2012. Then I immediately put it out for publication at my own expense. I was getting pretty far along in talks with some major domestic publishers. The editing departments supported my efforts and seemed willing to publish. But the people in sales were the exact opposite.
"We can't publish a book like you wrote, about someone who fled Tokyo because they were afraid of the radiation. If we put a book like that out, it would anger our sponsors, and we might lose our income from them. The risk for loss from our sponsors leaving is greater than the possible profits we could make off of the book. We can't publish a book about this sort of thing."
The sponsors they mentioned were mainly those places like real estate agencies, travel agencies, hotels, rail companies, and Disneyland, which have their main bases of operation in the Tokyo area. Of course, all of these companies are in business with their chips on Tokyo, so naturally they'd want to avoid writing a book about Tokyo's nuclear contamination.
I was turned down in the same way by a number of different publishing companies. I was on friendly terms with all of these places, having done business with all of them for more than 10 years. Their decisions caused me to become depressed. But I truly felt that a book needed to be published about the disaster on 3.11 and the Fukushima accident, a book that told the truth without twisting anything. The Japanese mass media - television as well as newspapers - hadn't told the people anything.
"There is no need for immediate evacuation." "There is no immediate threat to human health." "There is no risk to one's health from eating vegetables or meat contaminated by radiation." "We need to send the contaminated rubble from the disaster site to (garbage) incinerators all over the country to be burned. This is the kizuna, the bond, of the Japanese people."
This response of defending the electric companies and dismissing the issue of their responsibility, underestimating the health risks of nuclear radiation, and not caring about whether the citizenry is exposed to radiation or not - in other words, doing nothing to protect the people - has continued in Japan to this day a year and a half later. The elderly, infants, pregnant women and so on are being thrown under the bus so that the electric companies can survive and the politicians can gather votes. As proof that this is the prevailing attitude, despite the fact that in these 18 months four or five workers cleaning up the Fukushima plant have suddenly died, they insist that there is no connection to radiation and there hasn't even been a police investigation.
Precisely because Japan is in this state, I couldn't afford to give up on publishing this book.
Therefore, this book was published at my own expense, meaning I covered all the charges and fees associated with getting it out. This way no one would be able to complain about anything. But the financial burden was considerable, and I can't afford to hold promotions to sell this book to the world like that which a typical author or publisher would. So I advertised over Twitter and spread news about it through word of mouth.
So somehow I finally got this book published, but there are still those in Japanese society who brand those worried about radiation contamination as "abnormal" or "crazy." Aside from those people who use the Internet to get their information from specialists overseas or inspect data from the Chernobyl disaster, most people have no source of information apart from Japanese TV and newspapers. Affected by the psychological drive to rely on "safe, secure" information more than a desire for the truth, they are unable to make the right decisions for their lives and their health. This is remarkable for Tokyo, the central hub of Japan's economy. Contamination there is severe - soil contamination has been measured at between 10,000 and 100,000 becquerels - and contamination is routinely detected in school yards and in front of homes and train stations.
Below: Mother and children under a cherry tree in Spring
(Photo by Shou Kamihara)
I want to ask the people all around the world who read this book to raise your voices to Japan. Please tell Japan that you want them to protect the elderly, children, and pregnant mothers. As long as there no movement from outside Japan, Japanese people will almost certainly continue to pretend they don't notice the radiation and go on with their lives. Please tell the people of Japan that you wish they'd move west of Tokyo, or even overseas if possible.
I'm thinking that I'd like to make the first part of this book (the prologue) open to the public for free. It's perfectly fine if you'd like to post the entire chapter on your blog, or use quotes to introduce the book over the Internet. Anyway, I'd like for what's happening in Japan, in Tokyo, to be as widely known as possible. I would be happy to see the newspapers, the TV and radio stations, and the publishing companies of the world take notice of this book, and I hope this information spreads all over the globe. Maybe that will lead to a change of heart in the Japanese administration, and they'll begin to place priority on protecting the lives and health of the citizenry. I would be overjoyed if all those people without power or voice who are worried about radiation exposure could move to a place where they don't have to worry anymore.
I don't speak anything but Japanese, so I had this book translated by Mr. White, who was introduced to me by a mutual friend. Though we didn't know anything about each other, he was able to sympathize with the contents of the book and the work moved along smoothly. I'm very thankful for that.
September 13, 2012
On the veranda of our new home in Kure, Hiroshima
Note from Kamiyama
We are looking for media-related persons who will help us introduce this book to the rest of the world.
We look forward to hearing from anyone who might be interested in introducing the first part of this book ( the prologue) or selected parts of it to their readers/viewers/subscribers, or to the general public as a whole. Any TV, radio, magazines, or newspapers would be most welcome.
We are also looking for a publisher that would be interested in publishing this book overseas.
Please contact us at the following e-mail address:
Here as well is our official website:
You can read the massage also at Kamiyama's blog
Above: Neighborfood in Setagaya district in Tokyo (Photo by Shou Kamihara)
Below: Flowers by the railroad (Photo by Shou Kamihara)