Donald Dewar Statue, Buchanan St, Glasgow, 10 – 11 am, Friday 11 March.

Five years ago, on 11th March 2011 there was a major nuclear accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. There were explosions in 3 of the reactors. Radiation was scattered across a vast area. 160,000 people were told to leave their homes

Akiko wants the the world to understand something of what the disaster has meant for her, her family and many others in the same situation.

“It is regretable, but my country didn’t consider it a priority to protect its people.”

Would ours?

At the end of last year, I visited Japan as the guest Yuki Fujime at Osaka University Peace and Gender Studies department. We attended the World Nuclear Victims Forum at the Hiroshima International Conference Centre, where I learned of the work of Akiko Morimatsu, a Fukushima evacuee mother and one of the most active leaders of the anti-nuclear movement in Japan.

Speaking to the UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015, she states that the Japanese Government has been unable to recover control over the nuclear power plants since the disaster and should apologise for the ongoing contamination of air seas and land. The number of registered evacuees reached 347,000 by the year 2012. The majority are families with little children, which is her situation, and many others are forced to remain in contaminated areas due to lack of financial support. Evacuation involves double payment of rent and utilities with no fixed term, as well as emotional anguish.

“Was it right that we separated our son who loves his father very much from him? My husband could come only once a month..”

and complete domestic responsibility of the mother. The evacuees are dislocated from the men in the family, and she sees them as ‘internally displaced’ according to Human Rights criteria, a principle not put into practice by the Japanese Government who, she says, have also ignored the lessons of Chernobyl and unnecessarily put people at risk of radiation poisoning in efforts to minimise the impact of the ongoing effects of the disaster on the world stage.

I heard of how the clean-up had started and stopped, with contaminated topsoil being scraped from field and then left in exposed piles, areas where the removal of top sol had been abandoned uncompleted, and how the financial support for evacuees being stopped, leaving women and children the impossible choice between remaining away without means or returning to risk radiation contamination.

“They are wasting resources and money on decontamination that looks unscientific.”

In Osaka, where many of the Fukushima women are presently living, they have been described as ‘damaged goods’ to be avoided as wives because of the risk of birth defects, and the tensions and arguments within families are recognised in the expression ‘atomic divorce’.

10 March 2016