Setsuko Kida, 58-year old, is from Tomioka town where the Fukushima Daini NPP is located. Her son works in nuclear plants. Her hometown was designated as caution zone after the accident, so she relocated herself in Mito, Ibaragi. She lost her house and hometown. It was such terrible shock to her, she had confined herself to her room in a new environment. However, about 5 months ago, she went to a lecture and came to believe that she should do something to protest against restarting nuclear plants. Homesick, a conflict and disagreement between her son about the need of nuclear power generation, regrets of not having been informed of the truth… A true local voice stirs us emotionally.
[I edited her statements at “Fukushima Forum” which took place in Iwaki from June 30 to July 1 and her interview]
I lost my house and hometown
I’m from Tomioka town where the Fukushima Daini NPP is located. Being originally from Iwate, 34 years ago, I married and came to Fukushima. At first, we settled in Haramachi (currently in Minamisoma), then moved to Iwaki as my husband got a transfer, and we bought a house in Tomioka 20 years ago. The house I lived for 20 years is now in caution zone.
My husband was transferred to Mito after the accident. My daughter and I came along with him and moved into the company housing last April. My son was evacuated from Tomioka to Kawauchimura, then kept on moving to Miharu, Bandaiatami, and ended up to Kashiwazaki where another NPP is located.
(Emission towers of the Fukushima Daini NPP in Tomioka and Naraha)
In my dream
I was not in Tomioka but in my daughter’s apartment in Tokyo when the earthquake occurred. I lived a normal life after that. I regret that I was in a safe place while my son and husband had to keep on moving to be evacuated.
I guessed that many of my relatives in Kamaishi (Iwate) were killed by a quake and tsunami. My friend from Minamisanriku said he mother was dead after that.
However, I was shocked to go out since the accident, so I couldn’t go back there. I tried to convince myself that I should give up the house as all family members survived at least.
I did everything to encourage myself, like participating with my husband in removing wastes in Miyagi as a volunteer, however, it was hard.. I couldn’t get engaged…
I missed my hometown every night in my bed as I closed my eyes, and had dreams of driving back home.
Tomioka is far from Mito. In my dream, I drove along a freeway up to Iwaki, and then familiar National Route 6. Soon the Yokura port came in my sight, then I drove by Hisanoha beach where our matchmaker live. The place was destroyed by tsunami. Then I saw a catering place on the way to Naraha, and recalled their hospitality. I drove through a tunnel and hills, then arrived at Tomioka. Finally I was in front of my house.
Then I noticed that I had forgot to take a key.
But I came to believe that I could go in. So I could. It was a dream.
I walked around in the house, glanced at my son’s room and wondered where he was. When I opened my eyes, I found myself in the residence in Mito. I couldn’t stop crying, and in such circumstances, I started staying at home all the time.
(Town hall of Tomioka which is now in caution zone. It faces toward south on Route 6)
Regret and reflection on my ignorance
There were too many things I didn’t know. Indeed, the people living in big cities didn’t know about the nuclear power plant either. Though I had lived in Tomioka for 20 years, I didn’t know. I was doing a bus tour guide. I worked for Tepco as well. I tried to please the Tepco staffs on such occasions.
However, I had doubt (about the need of nuclear power generation). I also went to Rokkasyomura as a bus tour guide. I heard that someone in the village sold the land that had been his family’s for generations dirt cheap and used up the money, which broke the family apart at the end. People think that all the villagers of Rokkasyomura are rich, but it’s not really true. As a tour guide, I told this story to the passengers.
However, I never questioned the NPP in my town. I regret and feel sorry about it.
The final straw
During the period that I couldn’t go out, I read many books by (anti-nuke writers such as) Takashi Hirose, Kou Kamata or Hiroaki Koide.
In February this year, It turned out that Tepco intended to restart the Tokai Daini NPP, which is 16 km from Mito.
My daughter encouraged me to go to a lecture of the village mayor of Tokaimura on February 12. He talked about some professor of Fukushima University.
Since then, I started participating in protest holding up a sign with slogan saying “Can you tell your husband and son to work in a nuclear plant? I can’t. I’m a mother of a workman in a plant”. Today, I even make a speech with a microphone in protest meetings in front of the Cabinet Office. I also went to protest in Oi town (where the Oi NPP is located) with other women from Fukushima.
My son works in a Nuclear Plant
My son is 30 years old now. He has worked in nuclear plants since 10 years.
He works in a company that has an office by the Fukushima Daini NPP for 2 years.
He worked in the 4th or 5th subcontractor before that. I saw his salary slip several times. He was paid only 170.000 Yen when he was 28 and had worked for 8 years.
When he quitted the job, the company sent his a certificate of income and withholding tax. He told me that a bonus, which he never got, was registered.
As he changed a job, he is paid more. New company made him a 10.000 bonus payment after 2 month. Maybe he got a pay raise as well.
That was so close
My son told me many things about nuclear plants.
2 years ago, he emailed me saying that he couldn’t come home as a trouble occurred. He came home on the following day, and said “That was so close! But we managed to stop that.” What was close and what was stopped? *
I know that things (such as a tool) sometimes fall into reactors. When my son asked a staff of Tepco if it was OK to leave things in a water pool, the Tepco staff got mad.
It is workers who get down into a pool to pick up these things. I asked my son which kind of clothing they wear when going into a pool.
“Something like diving gears. A helmet of lead, which someone have to help them wear. Also a lead suit that weigh some tens kilograms. They go into high-dose pool like this”.
According to him, the dose is (legally) too high for Japanese to carry this out, so foreigners come to Japan to dive into the reactor pool to earn a few million yen.
[* maybe the drawdown accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP Reactor 2 in June 2010]
(I’ve been keeping diary since February this year. It’s the 4th notebook now)
Control works on the accident scene
After the accident, my son started working in the Fukushima Daiich NPP as a second worker. A second staff of Tepco may sound good, but he has engaged in dangerous operations such as dose measurement in caution zone, presenting screenings or removing wastes from the site..
Tepco asks the affiliated companies to transfer the staffs in order not to let their own staffs to be exposed to radiation. The affiliated companies can’t refuse it or Tepco will stop giving the work to them. Thus My son had no choice but to be transferred temporarily to Tepco.
I want to get back my son
My son was in Mito for a while after the accident. I fed him well, we had beers and had fun together.
However, a struggle started in early January this year. When we talked about the issue of restarting nuclear plants, I said, “Japan never changes. They are going to restart nuclear plants regardless of the accident in Fukushima”. Then he said, “But mom, we need nuclear power generation because Japan has no resource”.
I called him stupid, as I learned a lot about the issue from books since the accident. Because I wanted him to know the truth, I sat down and talked with him about it. I also bought some books for him.
I think he hasn’t read them yet. If he did, he would have understood that politicians, electricity companies or intellectuals are taking advantage of the workmen in plants.
He never tried to learn about the issue. Why? Because he is scared to know the truth.
I still can’t get through to him. Maybe because he doesn’t want to hear that any more, he no longer visits us in Mito.
When nuclear power generation was introduced to Japan 60 years ago, the system was also established to make politicians, scientists and electricity industries profitable.
The problem is the workmen working at the tail end of the industry are exposed to radiation. According to a book, politicians and executives of electricity industries decided to build nuclear plants in provinces, employs local people and make them do the dangerous operations.
My son doesn’t know about it.. He has been working in the plants since 10 years without knowing it. Moreover, the reactors exploded and he had to evacuate home. And he says that we need nuclear power generation… I feel deeply regret about it.
Never give up
My activities (participating in protests or meetings and making statements) was introduced on internet. My son saw it and called my daughter to ask why I was making a speech in front of the Cabinet Office. My daughter told him that it was because he is working in the nuclear plant, and I did such things only to get him back.
Me and my son still haven’t understood each other. We are opposed. I will never give up and continue to talk with him, because I’m protesting against nuclear industries only to get him back. I will never give up until the day he comes back to me.
Leukemia and lymphatic malignancy
My son developed lymphatic malignancy when he was 13. He got treatment in National Cancer Center (Tsukiji, Tokyo) for a year, and healed finally.
“He will be OK after 10 years” a doctor said. “He can have children”.
He got married when he was 25. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a baby.
His wife wanted a baby, so they got divorced finally. I was so sad because I liked her very much, but I agreed to the divorce as I wished she would have a happier life.
In the case of my son, it was lymphatic malignancy. There are other stores.
A friend visited my daughter last winter. I asked her if her brother was fine, then she said “He died of leukemia”. He was about same age as my son.
My daughter works as a volunteer to help the people in temporary compounds with her classmates. A boy in this group is suffering a relapse of leukemia.
About 2 year after my son got out of hospital, a child in the neighborhood (about 50 meters away from our place) developed leukemia.
Then, 3 or 4 years later, some child in the school had heart disease and went abroad to have transplant surgery.
3 cases of child leukemia, 1 case of lymphatic malignancy and heart disease within a area about 3 km radius in Tomioka. What does it mean?
Work on this rest of my life
I feel sorry that I hadn’t realized the dangers of nuclear plants for 57 years until the 3.11 catastrophe. Now that I know, I can’t stay silent.
My daughter supports me, though she says, “Mom, even though you try hard, I know Japan will restart nuclear plants again. Your efforts will never be paid”.
My friends says, “I don’t expect the people living in cities will be interested in the issue. There is no use in appealing. Though Fukushima got fatal damage, some people will remain indifferent”.
“It is the generation elder than 50s who should get rid of nuclear power generation” I say to myself. “I can’t die before this comes true”.
Besides, unless the people from Fukushima send a message about what happened in Fukushima, our sacrifice will remain unrequited.
I believe nuclear power plants will be abandoned eventually, either when the second Fukushima occurs or when the people are awaken.
“Which one will you choose?” I would like to ask this to the staffs of electricity industries, politicians, media representatives, and the people.
It’s still a small movement, but if you agree with me, please come to join us in front of the Cabinet Office every Friday.
Courtesy : Hugbai