Mother of a teen fled to Northern Japan: "Just think of the future for my daughter, if I think about anything-else, I can't leave"
I have decided I am not going to cry anymore, as my sadness and anger only has a negative impact on me and those closest to me.
Since the nuclear disaster in 2011, according to the government report, more than 310,000 people left Fukushima and other surrounding areas because of the Tsunami damages and fear for radiation. In Hokkaido, official number of evacuees is more than 2600 (http://tasukeaijapan.jp/?page_id=11505), but the number would be more if it includes those who are not registered or are from Kanto areas. Those who left Fukushima and other areas that are not considered as evacuation zones are called "Jisyu-Hinansya" (voluntary evacuees) and they are not usually entitled for any government support.
Junko Honda, a mother of two, is one of the "voluntary" evacuees who fled from Fukushima to Hokkaido and she has been struggling to built her new life with her family in a new place for the last two and a half years. Mrs. Honda recently published her statement on FB, which was read in a public meeting for nuclear disaster lawsuit. A number of groups have filed lawsuit against TEPCO in many areas in Japan and Honda is one of the members of plaintiffs in Hokkaido.
A supporter in Ireland translated Honda's statement into English and WNSCR had the permission to cite the article in our blog.
Read more articles about lawsuit against TEPCO here
A message of Junko Honda from Fukushima, who currently lives in Sapporo
I made this actual statement to a public meeting of the Fukushima Nuclear Complaints and Accusations Group.
This statement was not intended to upset people in Fukushima or the schools in Fukushima.
I just want people to be aware of what we had to go through.
(My Statement begins)
I had lived in Kagamiishi-Machi, Naka Doori, Fukushima, but moved to Sapporo-City, Hokkaido with my family after the Fukushima nuclear incidents.
The reason I decided to leave Fukushima, was that my daughter started having health problems.
After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear incidents in March 2011, my daughter went back to school in April as a third year student in the local junior high school. She started having skin problems on her face that looked like Staphylococcal (scalded skin syndrome), she had never suffered from such a condition before.
I was shocked and brought her to see a doctor and we were told that “it was not Staphylococcal (scalded skin syndrome)”. Then I discovered that many people with sensitive skins in Chernobyl had developed a similar condition.
I called her school to request that they stop using the local ingredients in school meals and cease outdoor activities to prevent exposure to radiation. However, I was given a bureaucratic runaround between the school and the local education board, and eventually, it was explained to me by the school principle that, “according to the Japanese government, there was no problem with the school meals and the outdoor activities.” In the end, I was just about able to convince the school principle not to give my daughter milk, which was provided daily at school as a part of the school meal and also that she not partake in outdoor activities because of her “atopic” skin condition.
I thought that I could not keep my daughter under these circumstances and subsequently, my daughter and my husband left Fukushima without me in June 2011.
I had a number of hair salons to run, so I decided to close my salon at home, and shifted my costumers to another branch for a month and then I followed my family to Sapporo in July.
It was a sudden good bye to my parents, best friends, staff, customers and my salons, which had taken me 15 years to establish and my home town, which I still love.
I just kept telling myself “Just think of the future for my daughter, if I think about anything-else, I can’t leave.”
I was gathering things together at home on my own before leaving, looking at old photos of the happier times with my children when they were younger. I kept thinking about why we had to do this…I felt awfully sad.
The new life in Sapporo, Hokkaido, where we had never lived before, was much harder and much more difficult than we had ever imagined.
My husband got a job after a few months, but his salary was only 100,000 Yen per month, and while I opened a new hair salon, I could not expect to make a profit from the beginning.
A week after I opened the salon,I collapsed with exhaustion and my whole body got very stiff, so much so that I had to stay in bed for a day. As a consequence, I lost my self-confidence.
My son had been studying in a Private Academy, however, we could not continue to pay the fees anymore and he had to quit.
My daughter was due to take the High School entry exams at the end of the school year, but all the changes must have been very difficult for her to deal with.
We were all crying but we hid our tears from each other.
The new life in Sapporo required our family to stay together, however the strain and stress exhausted us mentally and physically.
We left an area that was outside of the Evacuation Zone in Fukushima, therefore we were not entitled to compensation from TEPCO, so we just had to live with the loss of income. Our savings were running out, we had to sell our family car and had to cancel our life insurance. We just had to throw all our life time saving into our new life in order to maintain the basics of life.
After the first year, we had to let go our house in Fukushima, for which we still paying the mortgage. Also, I had to give up my last hair salon branch in Fukushima.
The relationship between my family and our friends and our former neighbors in Fukushima was also beginning to fall apart.
It became difficult to see my own friends and parents in Fukushima because their views on the radiation issue differed greatly from mine.
It was very shocking for me to hear of a rumor among my former neighbors that I had to leave Fukushima because my business was failing.
The situation was so painful that I could not stop myself from calling TEPCO and shouting angrily down the phone but I always regretted this afterwards because of the hurt I caused to the person on the other end of the line.
Despite my situation in Sapporo, I felt that if we didn’t stand up for ourselves, we would be ignored by the Japanese government in order to hush up the Fukushima incidents and the subsequent TEPCO cover up,
I accepted Radio and TV interviews, which I had never done before; I also spoke at events about my experiences with regard to leaving Fukushima. I did everything that I thought I could do. I also attended demonstrations opposing the reopening of nuclear power plants.
I also joined the group currently trying to bring a criminal case against 33 people involved in the nuclear incidents, including the top management people in TEPCO at the time of the incidents, along with some people involved in, what I believe to be, the subsequent cover up. *Fukushima Nuclear Complaints and Accusations Group
We were struggling to survive but I continued to work feverishly and keep myself active.
At the same time, I was so angry and sad that I could not sleep soundly at night thinking of what we had gone through.
I felt I had to laugh in public, otherwise, I was going to collapse, however I was always crying in bottom of my heart.
Two and a half years have passed since we left Fukushima, my life is getting a little easier and I am now able to laugh genuinely. However, I now think that because of my age, it may be not possible to have as secure a life as I previously had in Fukushima.
I still deeply mistrust the Japanese government and TEPCO.
The government funded thyroid examination of Fukushima children has been progressing so slowly that I had to bring my daughter for a private check-up, where I was informed that the number of cysts on her thyroid had increased since the previous year.
The Doctor said that “it is not a problem” but that does not make me feel any better.
Recently, I get the feeling that many people in Sapporo, who initially listened to our stories, may have changed their attitude to us. They appear to be of the opinion that the situation in Fukushima has been resolved, as the matter is rarely covered on national or local broadcasts.
I also get a feeling in the air that most people in Sapporo do not want to listen to us anymore, now that 3 years passed since the incidents.
I am worried that this may be storing up actual problems for the future
Some people had to leave Fukushima and the greater areas without their husbands for different reasons, and I know of at least 4 these couples among my friends who have divorced since the incidents.
Some families were divided in relation to the impact and consequences of the Fukushima incidents and this often led to bitter disputes, some resulting, tragically, in divorce.
However, I have decided I am not going to cry anymore, as my sadness and anger only has a negative impact on me and those closest to me.
Why did I decide to leave Fukushima? I decided to leave Fukushima because I wanted to protect my own children.
I don’t want to cry anymore, instead; I want to act more and laugh more.
I think this experience has made me stronger.
However, I am not able to forgive the Japanese government and TEPCO.
They took away our normal life from us and they still cover up the nuclear incidents and many children are still left exposed to radiation.
The government and TEPCO are going the wrong way and I feel that if we adults do not try to change their attitude and behavior, then who-else will protect our children?