I was living in Fukushima City with my parents, second daughter and second son when the nuclear disaster happened. I was so shocked when I found out about the explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. I thought it must be very serious and I became anxious in an uncertain way. But I didn't think we needed to evacuate straight away. On the 12th of March 2011 [Note: the first reactor exploded 12.3.11. Three reactors exploded in total], I was told by my ex-husband and first son who live in Tokyo to “Leave Fukushima immediately. Go somewhere as far away as possible. People are talking on Twitter and the internet that Fukushima is dangerous and the explosion makes it very serious.' Therefore I temporarily evacuated to my oldest daughter's flat in Aisu-wakamatsu city [100km west of the nuclear plant] with my two children.
We returned to Fukushima City two days later, because I was worried about my work and going to my son's high school examination result announcement. The Government repeatedly said on TV that 'Radiation will not affect human health immediately' and 'Radiation is not a problem compared to having an X-ray.' Nevertheless a large amount of radioactive materials were spread in Fukushima City by the wind and through snow falling. What was actually happening? How would our lives be affected? My anxiety hadn't disappeared and there was only unconvincing information.
Before the disaster, the air radiation dose in Fukushima city was 0.04 mSv/year, and officially it reached 24 mSv/year on the 15th March. We went out to see my son's school examination results announcement amidst high radiation on the 16th of March. But I didn't understand the meaning of the radiation dose numbers at the time, so my son didn't use an umbrella in the rain, and didn't wear a mask outside. Many children were the same as him. My father and I went out to get well water, and queued in the supermarket's car park to buy food under the radioactive fallout. We were outside, defenceless against radiation. I don't know how this will affect our bodies in the future. If accurate information had been given to us, we could have prevented our exposure to radiation. It is so regrettable.
The nuclear disaster doesn't seem to have ended. I had to be careful about eating home grown vegetables from contaminated soil and finding safe water every day. I was very tired from worrying about living in Fukushima. I couldn't bear the lifestyle anymore. Finally I evacuated to Kyoto city with my first and second daughters and my second son in August 2011, because I worried about the effects of radiation on my children including problems passed from generation to generation. I would regret staying in Fukushima if something bad happened to my children's health. I also don't want my children to regret it. I have chosen to avoid the danger, as nobody knows the truth. Fortunately I wasn't criticised for our evacuation by people I know. But one of my daughters who was in her last year of high school suffered very much. She wanted to stay in Fukushima until her graduation. However she decided to evacuate after her friend said 'I would evacuate if it was me.'
Even now she still says that 'My feeling for my old school is painfully incomplete. I wish I could have spent all my school days there and finished school with my friends.' Before and after the evacuation, I have been thinking day and night about radiation. I wished again and again that the nuclear disaster didn't happen or it was a just dream.
Fukushima city is outside the official evacuation zone, so that I practically speaking I can return if I want to. But I won't do it, because the nuclear disaster hasn't finished yet. I am worried every time an earthquake happens. Fukushima city is not a safe place to live because of the continuing radioactive pollution. Effects are not only from the air-borne radiation dose. 50 Becquerel/kg of Caesium was detected from dried persimmon fruit, which my mother made in Fukushima in January 2017. Although radiation is invisible, the radioactive materials actually exist, and radioactive contamination is continuing. In August 2013, a char fish [Iwana] from the river where near my parents' house had 220 Becquerel/kg of caesium in it, which exceeded the Japanese standard (100bq/kg). The river water has been used for my parents' rice field. As a result, a small amount of radiation was found in the rice that they grew. My father used to say 'River water makes delicious rice,' but he died in November 2011. People who live in this area had always looked after this clean stream. They cut the grass and released fish larva into the river. They wanted to protect the stream and this natural environment from generation to generation. However the nuclear disaster trampled on their hopes and on the efforts they have made over the years. Also the river was a very familiar place for me, where my father and my children played with the water and fished. I am so sad that the place living in my memory was contaminated by radiation. The place will never be the same as before the disaster.
I collected information and made the decision to evacuate by myself even though I wasn't altogether sure. Wasn't the Government supposed to protect our health and lives? At the time of the disaster, the severity of the situation was hidden, and the truth wasn't told. It is still the same situation now. What are we doing if our children and grandchildren's heath is damaged? Do we keep living in these places? Everybody want to protect children, don't they?
Obviously I can't forgive TEPCO, because they caused the nuclear disaster, destroyed nature and took our hometown away from us. Moreover I can't forgive the Government and the Fukushima Prefectural Government. They didn't take measures to protect our health and lives. I can't feel any relief from guilt since we evacuated when many couldn't. This feeling hasn't disappeared. I always have a feeling of loss, which can't be expressed in words. I hope that the facts of the disaster will be revealed and liability will be established through this trial.
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