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"For us, every day is March 11"

August 9, 2014

Fukushima Pref. students collect anti-nuke signatures in Nagasaki




NAGASAKI -- As Nagasaki marked the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city on Aug. 9, two Fukushima Prefecture students chosen as high school peace ambassadors joined other students in the city to collect signatures for a petition against nuclear weapons to be sent to the United Nations.

One of them was 16-year-old Rin Ishii, of Odaka Technical High School in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture. Ishii lives in temporary housing, as her family's home is only around 15 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, in a zone where overnight stays are not allowed. She was still in junior-high when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011, triggering a nuclear disaster.

After the meltdowns at the plant, Ishii and her family evacuated to the village of Nishigo near the border with Tochigi Prefecture, where they lived for around eight months before moving into temporary housing.

Ishii enrolled in her current school in April last year. A temporary building for the school was constructed on a soccer field, and although the temporary school building is not well equipped, Ishii continues to work hard at her studies.

On Aug. 6 she visited Nagasaki for the first time, where she heard the story of 79-year-old atomic bomb survivor Sakue Shimohira. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Shimohira was around 800 meters from the hypocenter, and she lost family. Ishii realized the importance of keeping such stories alive.

"Keeping them from fading from people's minds is important. Likewise, I want to pass on stories of Fukushima," she said.

Also chosen as a peace ambassador was Ayumi Honda, 17, of Fukushima National College of Technology in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. Her family's home lies around 47 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, and even now, she and her family are careful about radiation -- they don't hang clothes outside to dry, and they drink store-bought water.

When Honda was a junior high school student, she went on a tour of a facility advertising the Fukushima plant. The guide there talked about how well-protected, safe and clean it was as a source of energy, so Honda was all the more shocked when the nuclear disaster occurred. For around three weeks, she lived as an evacuee with relatives in Yokohama before returning to Iwaki, where rows of temporary houses still stand near her home.

"For people outside the disaster-hit areas, March 11 comes only once a year, but for us, every day is March 11," she says.

After the disaster, Honda learned about the issues surrounding nuclear plants, such as nuclear waste disposal and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. She participated in a gathering held by high school students in Nagasaki, where she asked them, "In Fukushima Prefecture, many people live in fear of harmful effects to their health (from radiation). Nuclear plants and nuclear bombs share the same root, don't you think?"

August 09, 2014(Mainichi Japan)


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