“I felt that the government had abandoned us” : A high school girl left her hometown in Ibaraki, for her future after the nuclear disaster
The following text is extracted from Voices of Nuclear Migrants; HOME Vol.2. (edited by Shou Kamihara).
Each volume of Voices of Nuclear Migrants consists of interviews of and messages from people who left their home and homeland because of the on-going nuclear crisis, and Kamihara’s short story based on the stories of the nuclear migrants to whom he connected. Kamihara has published six volumes of Voices of Nuclear migrants so far and they are available for purchasing online here (the boolkets are available in Japanese only).
WNSCR has translated one of the interviews from the booklet (Vol. 2). The interviewee is a high school girl who left her hometown for Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. She moved to Hokkaido for a fresh start as a high school student.
Please read the past articles about Kamihara's work in our website.
以下の文章は、神原将編集の小冊子「移住者の声 HOME 第２号」より抜粋しました。「移住者の声」は原発事故を機に家族移住や母子避難をした人々の声を集め、神原氏の短いエッセイ、移住者の体験に基づいた創作ストーリーとともに小冊子にまとめたものです。2012年より数ヶ月おきに１号ずつ出て、６号まで出ています（日本語のみ）。
Question 1. Basic information (Name, previous and current residence, occupation and family members)
Previous address: Chikusei City, Ibaraki prefecture
Current address: Ebetsu City, Hokkaido
Previous Occupation: Middle school student
Current occupation: High school student
Family members: Father, mother, older brother, older sister, grandfather, grandmother
Current situation of the family: My brother was studying at his university’s Hokkaido campus during the year of the earthquake. My sister is currently studying in Mito-city, Ibaraki pref. The other family members live in Ibaraki, running a family business.
Q2. Why did you move?
My parents understood the danger of radiation.
Q3. Were there any problems or issues for moving?
It took me 1 year because I took the entrance exam to enter a high school in Hokkaido*. Right after the earthquake I fled to Hokkaido with my mother and my siblings and we then stayed there for 1 month.
*In Japan students are admitted to high school by passing an entrance examination prior to April ,the new term of a year in Japan. (* by WNSCR)
Q4. Were there any problems or issues in connection with the move?
I didn’t like my friends asking me, ‘’Why do you go to Hokkaido?”, as if it was a subject for gossip.
Q5. How did you choose the place for your new place to stay? What influenced your choice?
My father has a friend in Hokkaido and he helped us during our first stay in Hokkaido, for one month after the nuclear accident. He is going to help us in the future, too. If the place where we are going to live will accept radioactive debris from Tohoku, we will move on to New Zealand.
Q6. Were there problems and issues that you had to address after moving?
I was concerned that I might have been discriminated against because of my radiation exposure, but people here do not know much about radiation and I made many friends! I feel relieved. I am worried about the food and the air, but I feel much better now, compared to how I felt in Ibaraki.
Q7. What were the negative aspects of your moving?
The moving hasn’t had any negative impact. The advantage is that I feel good and I’ve made new friends.
Q8. Were there any changes in your work/occupation?
I feel as if I just went to school far away, because I moved there at the time when I was admitted to high school.
Q9. What do you think would have happened, if you had remained in Kanto?
After some time, say 5 to 10 years, many people around me would be dead, including myself!
Q10. Please tell me about your prediction about possible outcomes of radiation influence on the health.
According to a German media report, I have heard that 60% of the population in Kanto and Tohoku is going to be dead within 5 years. 40% of the rest of the population will get sick because of radiation. 80% of the children now won’t be able to live until age 40. Among children who are to be born in the future, only 15% will be born healthy.
Q11. How do you feel about the current government/municipal policies and treatment for radiation and earthquake?
I think the people in the government love money more than our lives. They are not human anymore.
Q12. What do you think about people who still live in Kanto?
I don’t know if they are ignorant of the facts, or if they have just given up on their lives, but I think they are going to die. We cannot survive unless we look up information by ourselves.
Q13. How have the 3.11 disaster and the influence of radiation afterward changed your life and your view about life?
I had never thought that Japan could be so insane.
Q14. Do you have any message?
Under the current situation, if we want to live for the future, we have to take action right away. I hope my words can push someone else back and help them to make a decision.
From this spring I shall go to high school in Hokkaido! I had been evacuated for one month since March 15, 2011. My father’s friend hosted us.
During the time I was evacuated, I was living in Ibaraki. There I was attending middle school, where I was playing softball in a school club. Softball was everything for me in my school life, so I was so disappointed that I couldn’t even eat or go out while we were in Hokkaido. I was so sad and was in pain, but I couldn’t cry.
My heart was really broken in pain. The choice to go to a local school was not an option after the nuclear accident. I thought we were going to Hokkaido. It was painful to hear my friends and teachers asking me, “why will you go to Hokkaido?”. But now when I see people’s comments on twitter, I wonder, “why don’t you all flee?”
My dream now is to live longer than my parents, who spent so much money to help me flee away.
What I most want to say is that, after the nuclear accident, my school distributed notes about the origins of the food they used for school lunch and I found on the note that most of the food originated from the Kanto area, sometimes even from Fukushima. I felt that the government had abandoned us. I didn’t want to see my friends eating the food.
(Translation from Japanese to English by WNSCR team)