Voices from FUKUSHIMA Vol.4 Mr. Yuichiro SATO

14:46, Friday March 11, 2011:  Massive Earthquake
15:36, Saturday March 12, 2011: Hydrogen explosion at the First Reactor
11:01, Monday March 14, 2011: Hydrogen Explosion at the Third reactor

Reflections by Mr. Yuichiro Sato from Namie Town
(President of residents’ association at Miyashiro Temporary Housing Area, Fukushima City)
22 June 2012
I’m Sato from Miyashiro Temporary Housing Area.  It’s already been a year since the massive earthquake of March 11, 2011, followed by explosion of the nuclear power plant, nuclear fallout, and involuntary evacuation.  If this had  just been a natural disaster, I think we would have been back in Namie, our home town. It makes me really angry every time when I think; only if there were no nuclear power plants, if only there were no nuclear fallouts.  It’s unbearable to wonder how long, how many years  would we have to wait until  we would be able to return, or would we be able to return at all? We have the responsibility to preserve our hometown and pass it on to our descendants. We cannot destroy our village, our town, our prefecture and also the Japanese people with the nuclear power plants we built.  It’s up to the people who live in the villages, towns and prefectures where nuclear plants are located to stop or restart nuclear power plants.

The Great East Japan Earthquake:  March 11, 2011
Deaths: 15,777
Missing:  3,465
Total:    19,242
In Namie
Deaths: 149
Missing: 35
Total: 184

On March 11, 2011, I woke up as usual and went to work.  I was a shuttle bus driver.  That day I had a three-hour shift in the morning and a three-hour shift in the evening, with a long lunch break in between. I always went home during the break. I thought I was going to end my day with my evening shift.  During the lunch break, I was at home watching television and suddenly at 14:46, an Earthquake Early Warning flashed on the TV screen.  I quickly turned off the kerosene stove and the TV. Just as I started to go down the stairs, the quake struck. My body was swaying left to right, hitting the walls and I couldn’t keep my feet on the steps. It was impossible to walk downstairs.  I fell on my back but I manage to reach the first floor.  When I went to the 8-mat tatami room where my ninety-year-old mother- in-law was resting, I found her in a frenzy to escape. She looked like she was doing the Awa Dance, with her body swaying back to forth, left to right, and her arms waving.  I caught her hands, lifted her on my back and tried to go outdoors, but it was difficult. It  was shaking so hard; with cabinets and cupboards falling over and onto the floor.  As we exited the house, the roof beam and roof tiles came falling down.  Concrete block walls were crumbling.  It was very dangerous.  I looked around and saw roads breaking up, houses collapsing, it was just like hell.  Once the quake subsided, I pulled the car out from the garage and took my mother-in-law to a safe place.  I returned and called on the elderly in the neighborhood.  Fortunately, everybody was safe.