SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

KIM Eun-hye “IITATE-Village, Overcoming dilemma for resurrection”

1. How to face “Fukushima”, as a researcher of Japan Studies?


It’s the fourth time having “SGRA Fukushima Study Tour”after the disaster which occurred on 11 March 2011 in Fukushima Prefecture.


As a scholarship student of Atsumi International Foundation of the year 2011, I experienced vividly a personal turmoil after what has become universally known as the Great East Japan Earthquake. I will never forget this experience. This time, I have joined “Takidashi(soup kitchen)” (distributing boiled rice) in Ishinomaki-City (Miyagi Prefecture) and my feeling of wanting to help people in the disaster-tricken area (as in Fukushima), was refreshed. I have also worried about how to face “Fukushima Nuclear Accident”, and the word “Resurrection” did not reach my heart at that time because they were still in tense situation for settling the accident.


After obtaining my doctorate degree in Korea, I was searching for “Cities in East Asia which are possible to coexist each other and be sustainable together” at a research team under the theme “Crisis and conversion of cities in East Asia in this globalization time”.  I am also involved now in another research for Japan Studies analyzing countermeasures or recommendations against “Risk-scape” (scene of risks) which arise from nuclear power stations in the countries in North-Eastern Asia (Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea), I am especially concentrating on a research titled “Changes and Gropes of Japanese Civil Societies after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Accident”.



2. Pilot Studies in the winter of 2014


In December, 2014, I visited Iitate-Village for the first time.  I had been reading reports by mass media and other materials, keeping my interest in “countermeasures by Fukushima”.  I was at a loss for words when I saw at sites of the disaster a terrific scene of pyramids of flexible containers with decontaminated soil and leaves inside. Mr. Yoichi TAO, President(Representative) of NPO “Resurrection of Fukushima” explained to us the details from the beginning when he had met with the Iitate people up to the time when he established the NPO.  Mr. Muneo Kanno、one of the disaster victims, talked about his determination toward the resurrection of the Iitate village, starting with getting out of the confusions immediately after the accident.


I was most impressed by the positive attitude of the farmers in the stricken areas, with volunteers and scientists who were conducting corporate works, together with efforts for “recovering the people’s trust in technologies”.


We often use words, such as “Anti-nuclear power stations” or “Abandoning nuclear power”, but it is a reality that the number of groups, together with the village inhabitants, which take a step toward this direction, is very few.  It is absolutely necessary to cooperate with science and technology because radioactivity is invisible. In this point, I think NPO “Resurrection of Fukushima” is the most advanced group of scientists in the world.


At the exchange-of-ideas meetings at night, engineering experts, science researchers of agriculture and forestry and volunteers, had heated discussions about causes or settlements of disputes arising from accidents. I sympathize with the ideas that these experts spread their message to the world about the process and results which they got after their experimentation and discussions. In order to rise from such man-made disasters, people, especially victims of disasters must use such ideas from thwisdom of farmers and various specialists. I was especially impressed by their passion “to resurrect Fukushima using the power of scientific agriculture”. I thought science which would resurrect nature shall be a real science for human beings only. Mrs. Chieko Kanno presented me with warm socks for use in the snow-covered cold morning. In return, I helped with the “works in the vinyl-house” which the department of agriculture of Meiji University has installed. She spoke well of my works saying I have a sense of the science of agriculture. I like to do something to help their experiment for resurrection.



3. I joined again and worked together with the villagers in Autumn, 2015.


I joined this study tour this time, together with colleagues from Atsumi Foundation and others all with different nationalities, professional fields, gender and generation. When I heard news of heavy rainfall two weeks before the tour, I was very anxious about the situation. According to a mail from NPO “Resurrection of Fukushima”, roads surrounding the house of Mr. Kanno, which is the base office of “Resurrection of Fukushima”, was destroyed and everything including the experimental vinyl house and rice fields have been damaged.  When I arrived at the site, one fifth of rice crop had been damaged by rain.  We did our utmost effort to save the rice crop, but we were not fully successful. However, the roads and vinyl houses have been restored.


On the second day, we worked as a group and harvested as much as we could the damaged rice crop and subsequently joined harvest festival.

I met two young guys who were gleaning around me when I was doing unused farm-works. Mr. Sota Sato, who dreams of becoming the Iitate village headman in the future, spoke of his passionate aspiration, with mixed feelings of hope and fear for the resurrection of Iitate. Another guy, who came from Chiba-Pref. as a volunteer and joined the “rice harvest” for the second time, told me that he would pray for the “resurrection of Fukushima” while storing his gleanings in his house.


Frankly speaking,when I joined the tour for the first time last year, I had some doubt about the word “resurrection”.  But, I have a strong feeling now that “resurrection power is a power of human beings”.


During my rice harvesting works in “rice cropping experiment”, I enjoyed cheerful talks, recalling my childhood or Japanese names of such worms as “crickets, earthworms, the Oriental mole crickets and newts which have red belly”. Such living creatures have been living in these rice fields. At this instance, I had a strong feeling of reconfirmation that this would be the first step toward resurrection of the land and fields where living creatures could survive. However, we heard the big noise of weed-removing machines being used in the other side of the fields. The workers who had been dispatched from the government for the decontamination operation involving very hard and dangerous jobs were all young. I wondered if there are no policies that could connect such hard and dangerous jobs to a joy for resurrection.



4. Overcoming severepresent condition,


In order to make good use of “our wishes for resurrection”, I would like to point out several contradictions. Radiological dosage in the disaster area is actually still high. But, there are big differences in degree among places or on conditions of the environment. In order to overcome such situation, it is urgently requested to convert the present system of decontamination to new system which can connect to suitable policies of government.

I watched a tv news in the Shinkansen when I was returning to Tokyo, and saw consumers who are living in cities and are pleased with TPP (Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Agreement) because they can buy foods from overseas at lower prices.


I think it is necessary to discuss not only a compulsory return to Fukushima policy by the government but also a “return policy which is really helpful for the agriculture of Fukushima and the inhabitants there”, or a return policy that takes into account “different regional problem (for example, in cases where only the aged have returned, or there are many required legal actions after returning) and specific return policy of Iitate”.


Lastly, I recall “nuclear power plant in Korea”where the most densely area in the world

in terms of land area and more than three millions of people are living within the range of 30 km. We have to watch out,for the way of resurrection for Iitate; how to make the best use of the results of the scientific and social experimentation which Japan has undertaken in the face of severe realities after nuclear power plant disasters.



(Asia Research Center, Seoul University)



Translatedby Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Mac Maquito


SGRA Kawaraban 472 in Japanese (original)