Group Intro: Sayonara Nukes Yonezawa

CNIC’s Sawai Masako speaking about radioactive waste management in Japan and Germany at Sayonara Nukes Yonezawa’s 36th Gathering on 30 July 2016

by Ban Hideyuki, CNIC Co-Director

Yonezawa is in Yamagata Prefecture, which was the destination for a large number of Fukushima evacuees. Sayonara Nukes Yonezawa was born on 27 April 2013 when a movie screening and talk by a Fukushima evacuee was held. The speaker, Shiga Keiko, had lived in Minami Soma, and narrowly escaped being swallowed by the tsunami. She spoke about her harrowing experience, deeply impressing the audience.

Before this, planning meetings to set up the group were held three times from the end of 2012. It was decided that the group would not be influenced by any political party or other organizations and would appeal to members of the general public, focusing on ending nuclear power generation as a matter of preserving life and, instead of making political criticisms, would think about the nuclear power issue in terms of human lifestyles.  Takahashi Hiroshi, professor emeritus at Yamagata University, became the group’s leader. Group members include people from a wide variety of backgrounds, for example, people who used to work in the nuclear industry and organic farmers. There are about 30 members in total but they do not pay membership fees, instead volunteering their time. It is the pro-active way in which members happily engage in activities that has kept the group going.

A gathering has been held every month except December since the group was established, a total of 64 times up to September 2019. The themes of the gatherings each month are decided at planning meetings. Many of the gatherings address issues related to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, including the truth about how the accident happened and people’s lives after the disaster, as well as the problems, for example children exposed to radiation, faced by evacuees. Other issues related to nuclear energy are also addressed, for example renewable energy, with talks by the presidents of community electricity companies in Iitate and Aizu (both in Fukushima), as well as technical issues, opposition arguments, and even Constitutional violations. Not just speeches, but movie-screenings are also held, with movies from anti-nuke directors such as Kawai Hiroyuki and Kamanaka Hitomi. Actor Nakamura Atsuo has also performed his solo reading plays “The Dosimeter Beeps” and another play which depicts the conflict a family faces before they evacuate. Sayonara Nukes Yonezawa has also organized outdoor excursions, parades and concerts as well as a study trip to Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant. During elections, they send open letters to all candidates asking their position on nuclear power.

There is a different speaker for each gathering, so audiences have been able to hear lots of different opinions over the years. The one exception of a repeat speaker is Sawai Masako from CNIC! We have also received lots of support from Sayonara Nukes Yonezawa.

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