Fukushima Dialog Seminars, organized by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), have been held in various places in Fukushima Prefecture, and on July 8-9, the 17th Dialogue Seminar was held in Date City, with the theme “What do we need for our future? Continuing the dialogue in cooperation with the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).”
This theme was selected as the evacuation orders have been lifted everywhere except the difficult-to-return zones, as of April this year. In these areas, freedom of residence and life are unrestricted, however social and psychological effects due to the long evacuation orders persist with more seriousness and complexity, so it will require a long time for the social environment to return to normal.
July 8 (Sat)
After the opening remarks by Jacques Lochard of ICRP and the welcome remarks by Mayor Nishida of Date City, three speakers talked on their current situations and challenges to their areas:
Masaya Hayakawa (Fukushima Minpo): Current Situations and Challenges in Hama-dori
Akemi Hirase: Current Situations on Odaka in Minami-Soma
Ai Tomita (NPO Beans Fukushima): Supporting those who had voluntarily evacuated after the returning
Hironori Shitaeda: Katsurao Village
Evacuees want to return to their home town, however social infrastructures such as medical care and shopping sites have not been well developed yet. Therefore, returning has become possible, but in reality, it is difficult. Especially young people are hesitant, concerned for job opportunities, as well as the impact of radiation on children. They hope to change their lives by “connecting dots into lines, then lines into faces.” An NPO representative described its efforts and help to people who have different background concerning evacuation.
Then a mini panel discussion “Resuming Agricultural after the Lifting of Evacuation Orders” was held by four people: Kuni Kanno (chair, Iitate Village), Takeshi Yamada (Iitate Village), Genkatsu Kanno (Yamakiya), and Akihiko Hirono (Yamakiya). They all returned to their home town/village and are currently involved in growing vegetables and flowers, and talked on their current situation and hopes and difficulties they are facing.
The afternoon session consisted of two presentations and dialogue:
Rimiko Nomita (Farmhouse Miyakoji): What has changed in 3 years after the lifting of restrictions
Ryoko Ando (Ethos in Fukushima): Meaning of the Measurement
Rimiko Nomita talked about how life in Miyakoji has gradually improved and how people can live calmly. She also talked about the need to evacuate with pets, and it was first time that pet issues were referred in this seminar. Ryoko Ando talked on attitudinal changes toward the significance of measurements from judging and confirming, to the point where people can now make informed decisions.
Then two rounds of dialogue by 15 panelists, including speakers, was performed, and they offered their ideas/opinions/hopes concerning Fukushima.
At the end of the day, Jean-François Lecomte of ICRP summarized the points of the first day as follows:
- People say they wish to come back, but most of them don’t
- Young people are more reluctant
- Issues of radiations are still at stake
- Situations are complex, and still difficult to understand
- Contamination and doses are generally low
- Information is not well shared
- Issue of children remain a priority
- But other issues also relevant
July 9 (Sun)
The second day started with reflections on the previous day’s dialogue, then proceeded to presentations below.
Shunkichi Nonaka (COOP Fukushima): Initiatives Taken by COOP Fukushima
Shigeru Nakano (Tsukitate Elementary School): Children’s Play at the Tsukitate Elementary School, Video Letter from Alison Royd Williams.
Shunkichi Nonaka talked on the COOP Fukushima’ initiatives to organize tours to Fukushima to encourage people to see the real life as well as to keep people’s attention on Fukushima. Shigeru Nakano was a principal of a Tsukitate Elementary School until recently and talked about activities of theatrical performance coached by Prof. Alison Lloyd Williams of Lancaster University (UK) and showed selected videos. He said not only children but also their parents were able to understand the importance of acting and gain confidence through the performance.
Following the presentations, the mike was passed to Nastassia Fiadosenka from Belarus; she lived in one of the most contaminated villages and was involved in the measurement of radiation in food stuffs there. Her testimony was completed by answering questions from Ryoko Ando, and it could be summarized as follows:
- We are working had to recover our life
- Our work is not finished and we have developed a new life style
- We are proud of to live our places
- We are fully aware of the situation we had to face with
- We are proud of what we have done
- We are now looking forward
After Nastassia Fiadosenka’s testimony, a mini panel discussion, “What We Hope for the Future of Difficult-to-return Zones” was held: Ryoko Ando (chair), Kouji Monma (Okuma Town), Takashi Chigira (Futaba Town), and Yaeko Hangai (Futaba Town) participated. All panelists, who used to live in difficult-to-return zones and now live away from their home towns, told of their lives before and after the accident, and their hopes to return home town, though it will require a long time.
Afternoon session consisted of a presentation and a dialogue.
Masami Sanpei (Iitate Nursing Home): Current Situations on Nursing Facilities in Areas where the Evacuation Orders were Lifted
He has been a manager of a nursing facility in a planned evacuation zone, and talked about the unique situation of the facility (residents of the facility did not evacuate) and difficulties past, current and future.
Then the second day’s dialogue was performed by panelists including speakers and locals. They again exchanged their thoughts and ideas in the same round-robin method as on the first day. Then they added their own impressions after hearing everyone else.
After the dialogue, Thierry Schneider summarized and concluded the second day as followed: “As people from the affected areas, you have the right to a bright future and for happiness”
1. Create a path for your happy future, allowing you to live in a sustainable community:
* Without ignoring the past
* With effective protections
* Without being abandoned
2. Willingness to be heard by the authorities and to share the results of the dialogue with them
On occasion of closing, Dominique Le Guludec of IRSN said she could learn a lot through this seminar, expressed her thanks to the speakers, panelists, and locals for showing their frank ideas/opinions/thoughts, and asked their help in the event of any future nuclear disaster elsewhere; Mayor Nishida of Date City showed his thankfulness for the fruitful dialogue and hoped to have another chance if possible; Finally, Jacques Lochard from ICRP, chair of this seminar, expressed sincere thanks to organizations and individuals supporting this dialog seminar.
Details will be available from the website of Ethos in Fukushima.