The Hairo Action Fukushima 40-year Planning Committee was formed in November 2010 through the participation of like-minded volunteers throughout Fukushima Prefecture. Hairo is the Japanese word for 'reactor decommissioning.'
The members are all highly individualistic people of different generations and backgrounds in activism; people who have lead the movement against the Fukushima nuclear power plants (NPPs) for many years, people who have come from Tokyo seeking a subsistence lifestyle, community-building NPO members, city councilors, teachers, housewives bringing up children, and so on. With a deep wish for the movement to be passed on to the younger generation, the organization is structured so that a young committee chairperson and a young executive officer are backed up by a vice-chairperson and a vice-executive officer with greater experience. Preparations for the 40-year event moved cautiously forward in this way.
Although it has ten nuclear reactors on its coastline, Fukushima is shrouded in an atmosphere where it is impossible to speak freely about NPPs and there is overwhelming indifference to their problems. Our original plan was to initiate a year of activity from March 26, 2011, the day when Unit 1 of Fukushima Daiichi NPP reached the 40-year mark since starting up, and take up the problem of the Fukushima NPPs in a variety of ways, disseminate information and engage in different kinds of actions. We planned to hold a large opening event on March 26 and 27 under the title of "40 Years of the Fukushima NPPs and Our Future."
On March 11, however, we were struck by the great earthquake disaster and the thing that we had feared most of all, a severe nuclear accident, became a reality. We were all suddenly thrown, like it or not, into the harsh "age of decommissioning." The need to decommission because of a huge accident was the one decommissioning scenario that we had most of all wished to avoid. Amid the swirling confusion of the nuclear disaster, and with our bitter disappointment at not having been able to avoid this scenario, the desolation of having our hometowns, our livelihoods and our future totally stolen away from us, as well as the fear of radiation, most of the committee members evacuated to different areas, and the opening event was postponed. I called for everyone to "come together again without fail, but until then for everyone to carry out their own actions for hairo wherever they were."
On March 25, the Fukushima committee members who had scattered to different locations held simultaneous press conferences with collaborators in the places they had evacuated to in ten prefectures across the country. In an emergency statement, we demanded the immediate evacuation of pregnant women and children, an expansion of the evacuation zone, policies for the maximum protection against radiation and full disclosure of information for people in danger zones, for the decommissioning of reactors and a drastic review of the country's nuclear power policy. We also called on the people of the world to look unflinchingly at the ongoing realities of Fukushima and to take any action that they could.
We have lost the hometowns that we had before March 11, and our dear companions have been scattered all over the country. But we will begin again from here. We will reconnect and become a part of a much larger and more complex network of people. Our radiation-polluted hometowns will never return to their former state, but we will stand face to face with the negative heritage of nuclear power and rise again as a region determined to make a definitive break with the atom.
Now is indeed the time for the world to make up its mind to phase out nuclear power. We, the Hairo Action Fukushima, will continue to work hand in hand with the people of the world to prevent any expansion of the current disaster and any repeat of this terrible tragedy.
*Saeko Uno is committee chairperson of Hairo Action
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