2014: zwei Berichte aus dem Kyodan

11. März 2011 - 11. März 2014 Fukushima in Nordostjapan

Kyodan Newsletter 376

A Message from General Secretary
Nagasaki Tetsuo

Kyodan Tohoku District Nuclear Disaster Relief Task Force "IZUMI," the office that Tohoku District set up to deal with radiation issues, had its opening ceremony on Nov. 1, 2013. We listened to a lecture about nuclear power generation and how, in the process of producing electricity, poisonous radioactive waste is also produced, for which disposal and treatment methods are still undecided.

The following day, I journeyed south through the Hamadori section of Fukushima to visit the churches. I was guided from the tsunami-stricken area of Arahama to the churches in the radiation contamination zones, all the while thinking how shameful it is that urban areas using electricity have forced this problem onto Fukushima. As I watched the huge dump trucks destined for reconstruction projects lumbering along the damaged roads and saw signs stating "under decontamination" posted in yards, parks, and fields, I was further reminded of the scale of the disaster. Contaminated soil that had been scraped off was put in large black bags and piled up in fields that would have been ripe with harvest and then covered with plastic to keep off the rain. At every church we visited along the way, there were nursery school and kindergarten facilities, and these were to be places of mission and outreach. They were supposed to be places where children and their parents and guardians would be directly exposed to the gospel message. But the effect of radiation from the nuclear accident becomes the focus of attention in places such as these, which concentrate on children, and casts a pall on their future. For instance, in regards to drinking water, divisions between people arise if some parents think it better not to drink tap water while others think it is not dangerous now. Town official want to emphasize that it is now safe, so if the kindergarten provides bottled water, they are not happy about that.

Likewise, some people receive compensation while others do not, and numerous other factors caused by the nuclear accident subvert harmonious relationships in the community. These include divisions between nuclear plant workers and temporary workers coming in now to deal with the situation, people who have been forced to move into temporary housing and other local people. Local governments, industries, educational institutions, medical facilities and society as a whole have all been seriously affected. And standing there beside the confused adults are the anxious children, with their world turned upside down. These children should be our first priority, as they are the ones who have been the most victimized. (Tr. KY)

Nagasaki Tetsuo ist General Secretary des Kyodan (Vereinigte Kirche Christi in Japan)

Fukushima Children Attend First "Little Lambs Camp in Taiwan"
Iijima Makoto

For 22 residents of the region in Fukushima impacted by the Tokyo Electric Power Company's Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster, the year 2014 began with a four day trip to Taiwan for the parent and children's Little Lambs Camp. The program, initiated at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan's Chai Presbytery, was made possible by a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). On Saturday afternoon, Jan. 4, we were warmly greeted at the Tawen International Airport by the melodious voices of Taiwanese children. As the singing began, the welcoming party in the airport lobby exceeded our expectations. Following greetings from the PCT general secretary and moderator, we received hats and floral garlands. From that point on, we continued to be graciously welcomed by the Taiwanese people. To begin with, Meishan Church purchased new mattresses and bedding so we could sleep there. For breakfast they prepared delicious homemade sandwiches, Chinese dumplings, and steamed buns. All the congregations of the Chai Presbytery extended warm friendship with tasty delicacies, and we were truly blessed by the fellowship we experienced with the Taiwanese people.

The following are words of gratitude given by one of the children at the welcome party at the airport.

Hello. My name is Hirakuri Seina, and I am from Fukushima in Japan. Currently, I am in the first year of middle school. Thank you so much for your kind invitation to join you in Taiwan. I do not have enough words to express my gratitude fally for your generous and continuing support of the victims of the March 11 disaster. As most of you know, along with the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant malfunctioned, spreading dangerous levels of radiation throughout a large area. That day was just the beginning of the daily worries and difficulties that the disaster created.

Even during the hottest days of summer, we must wear protective masks and long sleeves and always keep the windows of the house tightly shut. We are severely limited in the amount of time we are allowed to spend outside each day. We cannot drink the water from the faucet and have to worry even about the safety of the food in our school lunches. Besides that, the situation has created difficulties in human relationships. Some friendships are strained by differences of opinions regarding the radiation issue, and other friendships are strained by the fact that so many friends had to move far away to escape the dangerous conditions.

I attended the first camp that was held during the summer vacation after the disaster. There I was able to run and bicycle freely outside and to sit on the ground and feel the grass beneath me, without worrying about my clothing. It had been many months since I was able to live this way. Before the disaster, these kinds of things were all a part of normal everyday life. With the nuclear disaster, that kind of daily life was taken away in an instant.

Out of concern for the children of Fukushima, so many people across Japan and throughout the world have responded generously and given me this opportunity to experience for the past several days a lifestyle that I am unable to enjoy in Fukushima. Although the level of nuclear radiation has been gradually decreasing, the accident will continue to impact our lives for a very long time to come. Retreats like this one will continue to be necessary. I am so thankful for all the many people involved in making this Little Lambs Camp possible. I will continue to be blessed by this experience. Thank you so very much for welcoming us.

Nearly three years have passed since the March 11, 2011 disaster. Throughout this time, the Little Lambs Camp participants have been struggling in their daily lives with the difficulties thrust upon them by the radiation from the damaged nuclear power plant. UMCOR is graciously providing funding for a variety of similar programs aimed at giving support to a large number of the March 11 disaster survivors. Through this generous grant from UMCOR, the Kyodan, in cooperation with the PCT and the YMCA of Japan, will be holding six Little Lambs Camps over the next three years. (Tr. AKO)

Iijima Makoto ist Executive Secretary, veranortlich für Great East Japan Disaster Relief Planning Headquarters

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