Fukushima, lets not forget!

Tsunami in 2011Tsunami in 2011

"Let's not forget and let's not lose ground!" That was the motto of the general assembly of Tokyo on the second anniversary of the seismic catastrophe, the tsunami and the terrifying explosions at the nuclear plants. Nobody knows how to regulate them, nor what to do, and until when...We know now that there were more than 20,000 deaths and that 2,668 people are not accounted for. There are 315,196 refugees, half of them from Fukushima. The Church, made the decision to continue supporting the disaster areas for another ten years through eight "Caritas Japan" centres. There is real collaboration between the dioceses, men and women religious, lay persons and other organisations.

We heard that solidarity, of a very different kind, was shown throughout the whole world. Even Palestinian children showed their compassion for our children by flying kites. We are very grateful!!

Magdalena Michiyo took part in a conference organised by the Church on the topic "Listening carefully to Fukushima", in a place close to the "No Entry" zones, which are off limits because of radio-active contamination. That place, too, was contaminated. The group had to go through two mountain passes by bus to get there because the roads of the coastal regions can no longer be used. There is no way of cleaning up the radioactive rubbish, and maybe it will never be done. While passing several villages or small towns, we noticed how few people live there and one village seemed totally abandoned. When we arrived at the place, we saw one "street blocked off” with policemen on guard around the clock. Even former inhabitants are not allowed in to fetch things they couldn't take with them when they were evacuated. So now, if someone tries to enter that area, there is a penalty. A "border" has appeared there!!

In that meeting, two lay people, a woman and a man, and a priest shared with us what they experienced and what they saw and heard. When the nuclear reactors exploded, many people, including children, got contaminated because of lack of information. And there were even people who took refuge in places more polluted than where they lived before. Many parents are deeply saddened by the fact of having exposed their children to radioactivity without knowing it when waiting with them for water, food and fuel. And farmers had to kill or let thousands of cattle die. Now there is discrimination of a different kind against the people of Fukushima. For a long time now, this region North-East of Tokyo has been the breadbasket of Tokyo, supplying both food and labour. Finally, through its nuclear plants, Fukushima also became the supplier of electricity to the metropolitan area where we live.

These two lay people also shared their "spiritual" experiences. They returned to the country after the disaster and they made the choice to remain there. According to them, a person can find himself or herself in a very profound darkness, and if they remain there, they can slowly see a small light appearing. Living here, they said, we could feel as if we were living in hell. But by remaining here, we manage, little by little, to become aware of a call to enter into the depths of the soul. From then on you begin to learn to look at things differently. The priest shared that looking at the history and the concrete way the government treats this region, one realises that it is crushed by discrimination. He, personally, at a time when he was quite taken by helping immigrants, heard a voice which really came as a shock to his life: "Come back to the Gospel, come back to God's Word!!" Since then, he felt called to live here and he now feels he received a new vocation.

What is very painful now, they say, is that people are divided and separated from one another by the selections made by the government in their organizing of compensation for damages. Communities of various villages and boroughs risk getting separated.

The government launches one policy after another that gives us cold shivers and provokes our well-founded fury. The Prime Minister wants, at all costs, to repair and reopen the nuclear reactors shut down for over a year now. Unfortunately, one of them has been restarted already. We heard that, behind it all, there is the intention of establishing atomic centres for the future. He is also plotting to change the Defence Force into an Army, and to do so he plans to change the Constitution in order to bring about an adverse review of Article N°9 of the Constitution, i.e. the one concerning "Renunciation of war". Pray for us that we do not remain passive and irresponsible, but that each of us finds a way to assume her responsibility in changing our way of living each day. And that we also let ourselves be guided by the Spirit of Him who creates "small doors" in daily life and who does not want us to be caught napping, but wants us to receive the "Kingdom of God" as little and poor ones.

We want to sing and to trust in Him who gave his life for us so that we may know what LOVE is!!