SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Yang Chun-ting The 8th Fukushima Study Tour “Resurrection of Fukushima”
I participated in the Fukushima Study Tour for three days from September 21 to 23, 2019 and I had a really productive time. People just say “earthquake disaster” and “reconstruction” simply. But, I would like to report what actually happened and are being happening in Fukushima. Habitants fled from radiation contamination after the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant Accident in 2011. And, I report what I heard and saw, like decontamination works, utilization of land and return of habitants etc.
At First, we visited the “TEPCO Decommissioning Museum”, which reviews the progress of the nuclear accident and introduces the current status and schedule of decommissioning work. It was a few days after three former TEPCO executives were acquitted by the judicial decision. The commentators of the museum explained and apologized repeatedly saying “TEPCO did not continue to strengthen safety measures by neglecting the risk of severe accidents caused by external events such as natural phenomena “. I was surprised rather at their explanation that TEPCO have not taken any measures by 2011 despite TEPCO have received an information in 2008 that water level would rise to 15.7m by tsunami by the earthquake at Fukushima offshore.
We left the museum and went to Iitate where people have been interrupted from their usual day-to day life because they had to take refuges. On March 31, 2017, six years after the accident, the evacuation order for Iitate, except one district, was released finally.
According to statistics on September, this year, only less than 1,200 villagers out of about 6,500 returned. I saw a lot of flexible container bags for contaminated soil in Iitate, surrounded by beautiful mountains. I could see solar-panels also at the corner of farm-land.
We stayed at “House of Wind and Soil”, built by reused wooden materials for temporary houses for exchange between the people inside and outside of Iitate. We took lectures from Mr. Yoichi Tao, Director of “Resurrection of Fukushima” and Assistant Director, Professor Masaru Mizoguchi, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Science/ Faculty of Agriculture, the University of Tokyo. We learned the present Iitate, where agriculture, forestry and livestock industries have been their livelihood before. But, farmers cultivate Turkish (Chinese) bellflowers (トルコキキョウ) in cultivation houses now, and we could see barns for cows which are controlled by remote monitoring equipment.
We visited “Museum for Matsuzuka Soil” where we learned how to decontaminate radiation “Cesium”, and also visited farms for Japanese lacquer tree (ウルシ) which are being cultivated experimentally as economical products. We experienced planting flowers under the guidance of Mr. Kin-ichi Ookubo who is trying to make flower garden like a paradise of earth by growing various flowers like cherry blossoms and roses.
We have enjoyed dinner party also together with the villagers at the Sasu Public Hall (ex-Sasu Junior High School) where we offered our hand-made fusion cuisine and villagers returned their dance and songs.
In fact, among the people who can be counted as villagers in Iidate, more than 100 migrants who have moved in during the past two years, such as the Tao family, are included. Therefore, some villagers said that, as to their resurrection plan, they feel antipathy against the opinion of new comers from outside of Iitate.
“Resurrection of Fukushima” is now setting their new program. But it may affect Iitate, because we cannot say all the villagers are keeping up pace with the program. Actually, “Resurrection of Fukushima” called an art director, Mr. Fram Kitagawa to draw up a plan “Art Project” discovering local culture and attracting visitors to the area.
*Fram Kitagawa : famous for his works like “International Art Festival in Setonai”, “Art Festival of Daichi (Niigata Pref.)etc., Awarded ‘文化功労賞‘（bunka koro sho – cultural distinguished service) in 2016
Some people may have a doubt why “art” is adopted for the purpose of resurrection of
agricultural villages. However, I, as a student of art, understand think it quite reasonable. Art tends to add unique value to every event, by “visualizing” things that are not normally visible to the public and re-examining established concepts. The viewer is stimulated by the art work and encourages various discoveries and recognition. Due to these characteristics, art projects are already being practiced in many parts of Japan as a means of regional resurrection, with the hope that artists will bring new perspectives to discover and communicate the appeal of the region.
According to Mr. Tao, resurrection of Iitate does not mean returning the village to the original condition. He insisted that the nuclear accident destroyed the relationship between the nature and human beings and spirits of human beings who cut off their relationship were destroyed by the accident. In these meanings, art project may lead to new relations or attractions between human beings and human beings, or between human beings and lands.
Efforts for resurrection of Iitate spread from agriculture and forestry, and stock raising to artistic activities. Regardless of whether it is an “inside person” or not, the many activities being carried out by multi-disciplinary collaborators who have enormous imagination based on the research and research capabilities that have settled on the ground, showcase the rich creativity of citizens.
Yang Chun-ting / 2018 Raccoon
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala