Sakurai updates on Fukushima – Slow Recovery!

Mayor of Minamisoma, Mr. Katsunobu Sakurai - 1034

For a journalism class I’m taking at my university, I get the opportunity to attend certain press conferences held at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Japan. This time’s speaker was Mayor Sakurai of Fukushima‘s Minamisoma. I was told to write about his update in a news writing style for class but I really wanted what he was saying to be known world wide too…There were many journalists attending the press conference, but when I google searched, not many articles comes up about his speech and the one that did was by Mainich (毎日) or referred back to Mainichi’s post!

This was somewhat disturbing to me because isn’t journalism all about telling the truth, and letting the world know about what’s going on? With the advancement of the internet it should be easier for everyone to know what’s actually going on…What I see however is many journalists or actually to tell the truth many news papers and other mass media platforms are REFUSING to publish stories that might not draw profits.

This is of course how they manage to survive so I don’t 100% blame them because it doesn’t make sense for me when I think about the running costs and all the other things involved in actually getting a news paper or media company running… so I understand to some extent WHY they have to bow down to large co-operations and politicians… and thereby restrict certain stories from coming out…

But is it RIGHT?

I dont think so!

If we – the public don’t get news like this that matter… how can we react to help those who’s voices need to be heard? For us to take action – we need to KNOW! When I was young why I wanted to be a journalist for a while was BECAUSE I wanted to let the world know what’s going on… let people know about the unheard voices so that SOMETHING can be done for them! However right now, I think using this blog or social media is more effective in doing this than becoming a journalist and writing news that will go to the bin just because the paper cannot stand up by itself due to economical and political restrictions!

Anyway, this is the news article I wrote for class. I’m copying it word to word – and its true! I’m not driven by any gain – because seriously, I’m not getting paid to write this – i’m just a normal college student who really want to do something to help Fukushima’s voices be heard… and I was just lucky enough to be at that conference room with all those journalists… listening to Mayor Sakurai’s plea… but unlike many of them (more accurately their newspapers) – I can’t say all because Mainichi actually published an article about it online, I decided to let his voice be heard in the smallest way I can!

So Read it and Share if you can in your blogs, twitter, facebook and just let others know that Fukushima is not recovered, and that without the government reorganising priorities, and people everywhere in Japan being willing to share their burden (contaminated soil etc), the people in that area are just not gonna have hope to continue… and that area is just not gonna recover! They will be isolated just like the mayor fears! So please get this news out – it won’t take you even a minute really to just copy and paste the link to this blog post in your FB/Twitter/Blog

Thank you!

2012 November 8

Report in News Writing Style

‘Have we been completely forgotten?’ – Mayor fights to bring Fukushima back in focus

YouTube hero mayor Katsunobu Sakurai, 56, states on Thursday, November 1st that amidst Japanese government and mass media cover-up, Fukushima is slow in recovery. Addressing at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, the mayor who rose up in fame through a YouTube video requesting international aid during March 11 twin natural and nuclear disasters, once again requests attention from the international media to reopen a wound that the Japanese government and nuclear village seems to be desperately trying to close. According to the mayor, the Japanese government and mass media are claiming a close to the nuclear disaster, toning down the issues in Fukushima and are currently focused on bringing back the nuclear industry. “Have we been completely forgotten?” mayor Sakurai states the questions raised by residents of Minami-soma, the city he governs. He pleads international and local attention to the condition of citizens in Fukushima area, urging Japan and the rest of the world to learn a lesson from the tribulations they faced.

Some of the issues Fukushima is currently facing according to the mayor include missing residents and the death of many who required hospital treatment during the evacuation process as well as the halting of city administration due to poorly organized evacuation procedures. According to mayor Sakurai, the districts that followed government evacuation instructions are faced with a greater population decline (Futaba district with originally 76,000 people is now reduced to 2000) than his own, which has a 65% population return. The reason he states is due to evacuation done by local municipality initiative as opposed to following national government instructions. “We didn’t receive government instructions because of a communication break down” explains Sakurai as the reason for the evacuation of people in Minami Soma but not city services allowing continuous running of these services contrary to the service halting due to evacuation faced by other municipalities. Another pressing issue according to Sakurai is decontamination. He relates that there is no permanent solution discussed and that temporary storage places for contaminated soil cannot be securely stored. The mayor also addressed some of the psychological issues the citizens are facing due to loss of family, jobs, living conditions that separate extended families and the feeling of isolation from the rest of Japan. “They feel contaminated by living so close to radiation from the nuclear power plant” Sakurai says while criticizing the Japanese mass media for not reporting on these emotional issues of Fukushima citizens. The mayor continues expressing his disappointment with the Japanese mass media by relating information on the early evacuation of Japanese mass media from the 12km area once the Fukushima power plant disaster occurred without communicating to or reporting about the people who were still living in the 12km radius. He praised the international media and community for their swift reaction upon seeing his YouTube video but was dissatisfied with the local media due to their late response.

With emotions rising, mayor Sakurai pleads the Tokyo politicians and bureaucrats to open their eyes and take actions in order to resolve the issues all of Fukushima faces and to care about the citizens who need hope to continue living. He asserts that the media and politicians should show the reality, thinking about what should be done to change rather than going back to opening nuclear power plants. The mayor emphasizes that rather than infighting to gain power, Fukushima and its citizens need actual help and action. “The political system needs to change,” states mayor Sakurai as he stresses more on why the government should listen to people than to large co-operations such as the nuclear village to gain profits. He reveals a case of politicians with self serving political agendas by talking about LDP president Abe who promised mayor Sakurai that he will support and work closely with him and people in Fukushima to rebuild Fukushima but before long was seen to support a business plan to bring back nuclear power plants which shows disregard to the feelings of those affected.

As bureaucrats and politicians in Japan are refusing to look at the dangers of nuclear energy, Germany has learned and decided to move away from nuclear to renewable energy. According to mayor Sakurai, many Japanese people do not want to live with the danger of nuclear power plants near their homes after looking at the areas affected by the Fukushima disaster; the government officials and those in the energy industry therefore should not be looking to go back to the past but move to a future without the dangers of nuclear energy. “Minami-Soba will not co-exist anymore with nuclear power. We’re heading to renewable energy sources,” Sakurai declares while talking about how the tsunami affected unusable agricultural lands can be used for solar energy.

Mayor Sakurai insists that politicians should help people overcome their trials and inspire them to rebuild their lives, “Mayors have a responsibility to protect its citizens regardless of who (which government party) supported them because it was the citizens who elected them to protect and represent them.”

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NOTE:

Something I forgot to include in this paper was something about Potassium Iodide. Apparently they did not know how to use it, when to use it in the case of radiation emergencies… so basically mayor Sakurai is requesting evacuation/emergency procedures to be re-examined nationwide and just better training given to local government officials so they can be better prepared in the case of future emergencies. Regarding the problem with sealing up radiation contaminated soil is that no one really wants to have it brought down from Fukushima and stored in their own prefecture. Everyone wants something done about it but when it comes to action – they don’t want it in their doorstep.

This was taken from http://factsanddetails.com/japan.php?itemid=1856&catid=26&subcatid=162 

In November 2011 the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “The number of local governments that agreed to accept debris created by the Great East Japan Earthquake in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures has fallen to less than 10 percent of the number released in April, according to a survey released by the Environment Ministry. The plunge is apparently due to radiation fears. Fifty-four municipalities and federations of cities and villages that perform selective functions such as waste disposal and firefighting said they would accept debris, the ministry said. [Source: japan-afterthebigearthquake.blogspot.com Yomiuri Shimbun, November 3, 2011]

When a similar survey was conducted in April, 572 municipalities and federations agreed to accept rubble. If the 20 million tons of debris from both prefectures cannot be disposed of, reconstruction plans for the disaster-hit areas are likely to be adversely affected, observers said.

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I understand that having radioactive soil sealed up but close to me does have the possibility of health risks to me… but when I think of the people in Fukushima who has no choice but to live with LARGER amounts of it – especially if I don’t agree to let the much smaller quantities be near me… it’s just as much as saying… as long as me and my family are ok… even if they may eventually die of cancer or other health problem – its okay! Its not a happy choice to make but this why in the first place we should look for renewable energy sources rather than relying on nuclear energy – so we don’t have to make choices like this in the future too!

In my opinion it’s really selfish of us if we let Fukushima carry their burden alone! As for me, if I had a say to this (which I doubt I do since I’m a “Gaijin” ) I will definitely say YES – please use this area near me – even if it means someday in the future I might have more chance of being sick… because by doing so- I’m giving hope and maybe a few more years to live to someone out there in Fukushima. After all, I was ready to make decisions like this when everyone outside of Japan warned me of coming to TOKYO because of radiation fears when I first came here 5 months after the disaster!

Its really funny how us humans most often only look at our own problems most of the time… we want change… we blame others for not doing anything… but we don’t want to be the ones who have to go through some discomfort in-order for these changes to occur… quite hypocritical really…

This rubbish lot used to be a school. According to the person who guided me and my parents when I was going around this area, there used to be a big school building here… but now, the school building is no where to be seen. The only thing remaining was the cement of the ground… and some other building barely standing its ground!

Everywhere… all I saw was rubbish piles like this… It was Summer 2012 when I took this photo in Fukushima… a little more than a year after the disaster… but miles from the coast… it was still this!

Anyways… I don’t know whether anything will change just because I write this post or not… but at least I tried to do something without keeping quiet about what I know and feel about this issue. :)

I really do hope years from now if I get to go to Fukushima again… the broken houses I saw will be fixed… the miles and miles of wood debris and barrenness… the black sea… will be cleared again… and I’d see smiling people… not desolate land… I really do hope for this!

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