Who’s Who: Yamanaka Sachiko

By Nitta Hitomi (Co-Director, Group of Plaintiffs in the Lawsuit Opposing the Operation of Chugoku Electric Power Shimane Nuclear Power Station Unit 3)

 

I became acquainted with Yamanaka Sachiko in 2012. We were on the same bus headed for a rally site in the Chugoku area. The rally was to mark the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear power accident. Since then we have committed ourselves to anti-nuclear action in the Chugoku area, including San’in, where Tottori Prefecture is located.

Ms. Yamanaka is a Tottori City resident who moved in from outside the prefecture. Let me introduce how she became involved in anti-nuke action as enthusiastically as she is today, in reference to the March 17, 2012 entry of Enemira-Tottori (“Future of Energy Tottori”) (previously introduced in NIT No.182 Group Introduction: Enemira-Tottori (Future of Energy) ~Passing on the feelings of our ancestors to the future) weblog.

“I was driving my car at the moment when Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 exploded due to a hydrogen explosion. Listening to the news on the radio, I was shocked that such an event had really happened. As the evacuation order areas were gradually expanded, I thought: “This may result in Chernobyl-scale damage.” All I could do was to pray that things in Fukushima would not get any worse.

Back to the time when I was a college student in Tokyo, I would read books about nuclear power plants and feel concerned. But I thought that Japan would be okay anyway. I had unconsciously become a believer in the safety myth. I felt guilty that I had not done anything up to that time and was angry with myself. I thought I would be one of the perpetrators if I remained as uncommitted as I had been and if another accident occurred.

I wondered what I could do, however. I wanted to learn about nuclear power plants, but there were actually no learning opportunities in Tottori. I went to Tokyo and Saitama to see documentary films about NPPs and radioactivity. In May, I participated in an anti-nuke walk rally in Kobe. I was floundering around by myself.

In the summer, I participated in a film-screening event in Yonago City and started to go to lectures held by with other Tottori City residents. After exchanging opinions, we named the group Enemira, which stands for our intention to think about the future of energy.”

Currently Ms. Yamanaka leads many groups: she is co-director of Enemira-Tottori (Tottori Group Thinking about the Future of Energy), director of Prefectural Population Thinking about the Prevention of Nuclear Accidents, and Secretary to the Group of Plaintiffs in the Lawsuit . She also cooperates with other anti-nuke organizations.

Ms. Yamanaka has been energetically committed to many activities, including the annual submission of proposals to Chugoku Electric Power; anti-nuke lunchtime rallies in front of the operator’s Tottori branch; submission of written proposals and oral statements to the municipalities concerned, such as Tottori Prefecture, Yanago City and Sakaiminato City; visits to evacuation drills; and hearings at the municipalities scheduled to admit evacuees in the evacuation program. She also commits herself to activities for spreading information about nuclear power plants by organizing NPP-related film show events and lectures.

In November 2023, entitled “History of Aoya by High-school Students,” a meeting was held to listen to the students of Tottori Keiai High School, who researched and examined the history of the Aoya movement, which stopped the Aoya NPP project. Part of the area in Aoya where the NPP was formerly planned was made available as common land by the anti-NPP movement. Since 2012, the Aoya Anti-NPP Common Ground Group cultivates sweet potatoes on this land together with children, with Enemira Tottori also participating in this activity.

In 2022, Ms. Yamanaka started a voluntary stable iodine tablet distribution project. To enable those who are outside the 30-kilometer radius from the plant to receive the tablets, she invited the physician Ushiyama Motomi as a lecturer. The voluntary stable iodine tablet distribution meeting is organized every year. We also plan to stage this event in Yonago City and Tottori City in 2024.

On March 2023, four residents of Shimane and Tottori prefectures (plaintiffs in the lawsuit opposing the operation of Shimane NPS Units 1 and 2) demanded the Hiroshima High Court Matsue Branch issue a provisional injunction to prevent Chugoku Electric Power from restarting Shimane Unit 2. On February 19, 2024, the final court hearing for the injunction demand was completed. Wondering if there was anything that could be done up until the delivery of the decision, Ms. Yamanaka established the “Group Supporting the Provisional Injunction Demand to Stop Shimane NPS Unit 2 Restarting,” and launched a signature campaign to appeal to those involved in the Shimane NPS lawsuit: “Urgent Signature Form: Concerning the demand for a provisional injunction to keep Shimane NPS Unit 2 shut down, please make a decision that will prioritize our peaceful lives.” The signatures were collected not only on paper sheets but also through the Internet and gathered from around the nation.

For these 12 years, Ms. Yamanaka has carefully observed the circumstances of the time, promptly decided what to do, and initiated action. She has been leading anti-nuke movements while gaining sympathy from many people.

To realize a nuclear-free society, Ms. Yamanaka will continue to work actively as a leader in the anti-nuke movement.


 

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