To everyone around the world (Message from Ruiko Muto)
It has been nine years since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster of the 11th of March 2011. I would like to thank you all for your continuous support to Fukushima and for your tireless anti-nuclear activity.
Recently, there has been a lot talked about the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay. This has been used as a means to take arbitrary measures or cover up issues and difficulties caused by the nuclear disaster in 2011.
Even in the areas designated as “difficult-to-return-to” due to high radiation levels, the evacuation order has partially been lifted and people are allowed to return. The Joban railway line, part of which is in the highly contaminated exclusion zones, will also be fully reopened.
The starting point of the torch relay, the J-Village football training facility, is only about 20 km away from the wrecked nuclear power plant. Nevertheless, many people, including children, visit this facility to enjoy playing football. On the torch relay route, spots of worryingly high radiation levels, such as 0.46μSv/h or even 0.77μSv/h, were found during a survey conducted by Fukushima prefecture.
The number of route sections where radiation levels exceeded 0.23μSv/h, the threshold above which decontamination procedures become mandatory, amounted to at least 13. I am worried that the health of individual torch runners and spectators will be exposed to harmful radiation. Although the Tokyo 2020 games are dubbed as “Reconstruction Olympics”, I wonder what reconstruction has been brought to the victims of Fukushima.
It was shameful that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lied to the world by declaring “the situation (in Fukushima) is under control” in order to host the Tokyo 2020 games. More than 1.2 million tons of “ALPS-treated water” (the Advanced Liquid Processing System failed to show sufficient effectiveness and the water is still highly contaminated) is currently stocked on the premises of the disaster-struck power plant.
Officials in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry hastily put forward plans to release the contaminated water into the ocean and/or vaporise it, claiming that these measures should be in the best interest of local people. Discussions over different options to keep storing it on the ground, or possible re-treatment of the water that contains tritium and other radioactive nuclides, have not been sufficient. The local fishing industry and residents are opposed to dumping it into the ocean. It contravenes the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the London Convention. Now, we need your voices from all over the world. Please help us stop further contamination of the ocean.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) started dismantling an exhaust tower in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last year. The whole procedure was mired in troubles. All the operations were supposed to be remotely controlled, but it eventually turned out that workers had to be lifted up to the tower and manually use a grinding saw to cut it. The rate of incidents among nuclear plant workers is high. According to a blog posted by the writer Satoshi Haruhashi, TEPCO admitted that 20 workers died, 24 were in a serious condition, 29 lost consciousness, 222 were injured and 101 had heat stroke by the end of June 2019.
In September 2019, the Tokyo District Court ruled that all three prosecuted former executives of TEPCO were not guilty of professional negligence in the 2011 disaster. The verdict was not what I expected at all. It seemed largely unreasonable to many people in Fukushima and others who have been affected by the disaster, causing them further distress and disappointment. The prosecutors declared that it was “a verdict that is meant to give favour to the government’s commitment to the nuclear industry”. Many proofs and testimonies given over the course of 37 hearings were not reflected by the verdict. The court cherrypicked the proofs that favour TEPCO. Damages and suffering caused by the disaster were not mentioned in specific terms.
The judges also completely denied the credibility of an official long-term forecast of earthquakes and tsunamis provided by the latest scientific finding in 2002 regarding the necessary safety level of nuclear power plants. They claimed that “social conventions” that are reflected in the relevant regulations do not mandate the industry to ensure the “absolute level of safety”. This is a setback from the Supreme Court decision on the Ikata nuclear power plant in 1992 that required the nuclear industry to make efforts to remove even the slightest possibility of an accident.
The court gave a wrong decision this time. I feel devastated because the former TEPCO executives were found not guilty despite such an abundant amount of proofs and testimonies. An appeal has been filed with the Tokyo High Court. I continue to hope that the court is still a source of justice and truly independent of other authorities. I will also keep my spirits high during the coming court proceedings in the hope of restoring our dignity. Let’s hold our hands together to end the history of nuclear tragedies in this world as quickly as possible.
Chair of the Complainants for the Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Member of Fukushima Women Against Nuclear Power
(Translated from Japanese by JAN UK)