Voices from FUKUSHIMA Vol.4 Mr. Yuichiro SATO

We received a rice ball the size of a baby’s fist for dinner.  Most of us at the evacuation shelter hadn’t eaten since the evening of March 11.  We couldn’t. People inside the shelter were made to go outside and wait in line for a small rice ball.  As we waited outside, I suppose radiation kept falling on us. It was invisible, we didn’t feel anything, and we had no fear or worry. We would never know how much radiation we were exposed to at that time.  The area around Tsushima High School was still covered with snow.  It was cold in the evening.  We had no clothes to change, and there were only a few stoves to keep warm.  To keep out the cold, people wrapped themselves up with newspapers or spread out sheets of cardboard on the floor.  Still the cold inside the gymnasium was intense.  It was freezing.

I barely slept when the morning came. The gymnasium had been packed when I went to sleep but now, there were open spaces. I learned the reason why once I went out the door; the newspapers had been delivered. And, the lead story on that newspaper was the hydrogen explosion at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 12.  At last, I grasped what was going on.  The power plant had exploded, and the radioactive plume was spreading towards Tsushima, where more than half of Namie’s residents had gathered, and towards Iitate.  Anxiety spread among the evacuees on March 13, but still there was no accurate information.  We didn’t know what to do, nobody told us what to do.


Gradually evacuees, started to leave on their own accord and headed towards Fukushima City. For those of us who remained, no accurate information, no advice was given.  People still had to go outside to receive meals, and to relieve themselves because lavatories were out of order.  We were almost out of fuel.  On March 14, there was a hydrogen explosion at the Unit 3 reactor of the Nuclear Plant. Newspapers were now delivered to the gymnasium, and most of us devoured the news. Little by little, we learned what was happening, but we still thought we were safe because the power plant was more than 10 km away.  The number of evacuees kept dwindling.