Voices from FUKUSHIMA Vol.2 Rev. Tokuun TANAKA

Take a good look at the ground. Abnormal traits of grasses and flowers will surely catch your eyes. Three or four dandelion flowers are twisted on one stem. Some have about ten of them tangled up. This is the problem I want the Ministry of the Environment to know. Some say it is due to excess usage of fertilizer, but there are white clovers of a golf-ball size and deformed tadpoles.

Today, we reflect deeply what is important. That is nothing but our normal daily life — families living together, saying “Hi, there!” to each other like you always do every day, seeing familiar faces around you, and living together with your neighbors. For two years and a half, I have been feeling deeply how much these mean to me.

What had happened is happened. There’s nothing we can do with this fact. I think we need to keep moving forward for the sake of our children and their future, say of five or ten years from now. I do not want to leave a negative legacy to the future generations. But, before moving on, we need to think about our past. Including you, we all are victims.

I measured around the levels of radiation. Not only did I measure in this area, but also in Tokyo as well. No matter where I measured, there were not significant differences among the radiation levels. Fukushima’s was certainly high; it was 800 Bq per 1 kg of soil on my temple premises and 100,000 Bq underneath the rain gutter. It measured 1,000 Bq at some places in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. There were places with a reading of 300-400 Bq in Tokyo, and last year (2012) even at Tokyo Station, the radiation levels were very high at certain spots with rainwater. It shows no matter where we live, we all are victims. There is no safe place for raising our children.

However, we cannot deny that we also are offenders, as we have pursued and enjoyed a convenient and comfortable life. How should we move on from now? With this awareness in mind, we should stop being content with our present lifestyle, review and change our way of life.

There has been abnormal climate change observed here and there in recent years, for example, tornadoes, downpour with a rainfall of over 100 mm/h which we named as “guerrilla downpour.” This is due to excessive consumption of fossil fuel, our underground resources. The Earth is indeed loaded too much to suffer. We should know that her sufferings are our responsibility and think seriously of making good use of our resources on the surface.

The Earth is a beautiful blue planet. If you observe the Earth from the space, you can see no borders. During the Edo period, none of the feudal lords and their samurais thought that Japan would be united as a nation. But now, Japan is a nation. We are the Japanese, but at the same time, we want to be the global citizen, the people of the Earth. Our children are aware of all these. The next generations to come, I am sure, can overcome these adversities.

On October 6, 2013 in Minamisoma City, there will be a tree-planting ceremony wishing for repose of souls of the victims and for reconstruction of the devastated towns and cities. The aim is to build a seawall made not of concrete but of trees. The concept itself is not new. In the past, Japanese red pines and black pines were planted in the disaster prevention woods. But, they did not function as we expected and most of them were swept away by the tsunami. Although the Miyagi Prefectural Assembly was unanimous for the disaster prevention woods, the National Government came up with the law and ordered to stop the plan: the law prohibits to burn industrial waste, hence the embankments are to be made of concrete.

A tree-planting campaign had been introduced at an early stage: “Gather together on the heaps of debris and plant trees which must be broadleaved” for future generations. We shall realize this campaign in Minamisoma City, inviting Mr. Morihiro Hosokawa, former Prime Minister as president of the campaign. (On that day, around 3,000 citizens and volunteers gathered and planted 20,000 trees.) I want the Japanese Government to carry out this kind of project.