Horses have died, again. Fall 2013, Iitate village, Fukushima

福島県飯館村「また、馬が,死んだ」(プロジェクト震災のあと AFETR3.11)

The original article (Japanese) by Michitaka Kobayashi, Photos by Osamu Nakamura 

Project Shinsai no Ato (AFTER 3.11)


震災のあとAFTER 3.11 「また、馬が、死んだ」(2013年1月5日)日本語記事はこちら

Photo by Osamu Nakamura
Photo by Osamu Nakamura

The beautiful autumn scenery of red and yellow colored mountains surrounds Iitate Village.  Here at Hosokawa farm, Mr. Hosokawa again lost three of his horses this summer.


On this rainy day, decontaminating operations have been carried out in many places in the village, especially in residential homes. A village man, an evacuee from Iitate to Iino town says:


“It has been decided that the village will do decontamination only in residential areas, not in the mountains.  They do it just to be able to say that ‘Iitate Village has carried out decontaminating operations’. If such operations are made in the houses, there’s something for the media to write about.  But if you actually live here, you will go out in the mountains, and streams will run out of the mountains. How can you say that everything will be O.K., when only residential areas are decontaminated? “

On the fields and rice paddies in the village, there were great mounds of soil that stemmed from the decontaminating operations. We saw workers scraping out soil from within the walls of a house, and it definitely gave the impression of a great effort, but at the same time, the carrying out of this endless work looks like an act of desperation.


Hosokawa, who was angrily raising his fist against TEPCO when we met last summer, seemed to have passed his limit of patience.

“Since then, three more horses have died. This village is reaching its end”.


Saying no more, he handed me a second bottle of yogurt drink and lay down on the floor. 

“I don’t feel good”, he said.



The resident who mentioned about the decontaminating project took up Hosokawa’s words. 

“It is just more than he can take. The University of Tohoku dissected the dead horses, but they say that they can’t determine the cause-effect relation of radiation. Still there were apparent abnormal results from the analysis of the blood. There’s no surprise in it for me.  I imagine they need to be preparing for the worst to make such a determination. Three more horses have died here this summer. Hosokawa must be in shock”.


An unchanged situation means we’re going backwards.


“There’s been research on plants and animals in the mountain areas as well. So I have demanded the Ministry of Environment to inform us of the results. But they keep saying, ‘we don’t know anything yet’. If there really is no problem, why can’t they at least publish the results so far? Surely there must be something wrong if they can’t publish”.



I asked the resident about the test farming of rice, which is planned to start in the Naganuma district of this village.


“That is also just for show. It's like, ‘We do it, we are making a rebuilding effort’ “.

“The government says they’ve extended the residents’ stay in temporary housing by a further two years. Can they understand how hard it is to live in a place where you can hear your next door neighbors all the time?  It’s been 2 years and 7 months now, that residents have been living such places. ‘Extending’, they just say so easily”.

Photo by Osamu Nakamura
Photo by Osamu Nakamura

Right after the earthquake, mountains of rubble and debris were seen everywhere in the affected areas after the earthquake and the tsunami. But three years later, many of these have been removed. On the other hand, the bags of soil that have been produced in the process of decontamination have no storage space, they only accumulate infinitely. It is the same as the tiredness of Hosokawa and his friend – it has accumulated as a result of everyday life.  


The next day, we found a little horse walking in the street as we visited the farm. We got out of the car, but we were not sure what to do with the unleashed horse. A car from the other direction also stopped, and two women who seemed local got off.


“It's from Toku’s farm”

“I see. What a pitiful thing being left under the rain”.

“I wonder if he feeds it well”

“The fur is ruined like an old rag"



“It probably escaped out from under the fence”.


The ropes around the fence were completely loose.


“But it’s really a pity to see it left under the rain”

“He used to paint horses and tether them by the farm, for people to see, remember? ”


The women talked of Hosokawa as of a village fool, one who refused the municipal order to evacuate from the village, who keeps his horses as a stunt, a freak show. What a silly effort. That was their tone.


I went up to the Naganuma district, which is classified as an area of the village where return is not allowed. In this Naganuma district, test farming of rice has been conducted.

Going up the steep mountain road, I came upon a dead end with a fence. A police officer was guarding the point and he ordered me to leave.

Are they farming rice at the end of this road? Are they farming rice in a place where nobody even can enter?


I measured the air radiation dose in the area and the counter indicated 4.7 mSv/h.  On the concrete wall beside the mountain road, graffiti saying “Toden (TEPCO) Fuck” blurred in the rain.


(Translation from Japanese to English by WNSCR team)


Read the article of Hosokawa farm: “Something serious is going on”. Horse ranch owner worries alarming conditions of horses in Iitate, Fukushima on WNSCR (May 5, 2013)



Photo by Osamu Nakamura
Photo by Osamu Nakamura

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