On March 23, a “Fukushima without Nukes! Great Prefectural People’s Gathering” organized by the Gathering’s Planning Committee, was held at the Azuma General Gymnasium in Fukushima City. Seven thousand people participated in the event from both inside and outside the prefecture, and also from overseas. In fact, so many people attended that many had to stand or watch the proceedings on a monitor screen in another room.
Before the gathering began, traditional drum and dance performing arts that have been passed down in Date City, Kitakata City and Naraha Town in Fukushima Prefecture for several hundred years were performed on the stage to deafening roaring applause.
Following the opening greeting from the representative of the organizers and conveners, Satoshi Kamata made a strong appeal to everyone never to forget the terrible sacrifice of Fukushima, never to forget Fukushima and to protect the health and livelihoods of the people of Fukushima. The Prefectural Governor, the Mayor of Fukushima City and the Mayor of Minami Soma City sent messages to the Gathering calling for all nuclear power plants in the prefecture to be decommissioned, the building of a society that does not depend on nuclear power, the restoration of a daily life where everyone can feel safe and secure, and the transformation of Fukushima into a base for renewable energy.
This was followed by appeals from seven people from Fukushima Prefecture representing different walks of life. Representatives from the Futaba JA (Japan Agriculture Cooperatives), the Soma/Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association, the High School Students’ Peace Ambassador, the Prefectural Forestry Cooperative, The Prefectural Inn, Hotel and Environmental Health Cooperative, evacuees in other prefectures, and the Project for the Children of Fukushima all talked about their current situation and their terrible predicament of finding themselves in a tunnel with no apparent end in sight.
Ms. Sakura Takano from Minami Soma City, whose family is now split between Yamagata and Fukushima Prefectures, is due to graduate high school this spring and start at a university in Fukushima Prefecture in April. Ms. Takano said that when she visited Switzerland as the first High School Peace Ambassador in August last year, the people there thought that Fukushima Prefecture had already recovered from the disaster. She also related how she was asked unexpected questions by people in Brazil, such as, “How did the government handle the crisis?” and “What do you think of the government?”
Ms. Takano said that she is now participating in exchanges with Nagasaki Hibakusha (people exposed to radiation from the Nagasaki A-bomb) and that she does not want to forget the abnormal life she is living now because she is afraid that if it is forgotten then the same kind of accident will happen again. She was given thunderous applause when she concluded by saying that she is determined to communicate what has happened in Fukushima to the people of the world.
The gathering approved a final declaration that read: Attracting nuclear power plants to Fukushima was a mistake and it is our mission as a disaster-stricken prefecture to raise our voices to tell the whole country. A Fukushima without nuclear power and a Fukushima where people can live in peace and security is the aspiration of the people of the prefecture.
Yukio Yamaguchi (Co-Director of CNIC)
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