Voices from FUKUSHIMA Vol.1 Ms. Mikako TAKAHASHI

Profile: the representative director, Hokuyousha Co., Ltd.
She took over the laundry from her parents.
Shortly after the earthquake / triple disaster she wrote and posted an appeal on the company’s website describing the present condition of the district. This posting received many responses. Afterwards she issued the newsletter, “Letter from Minamisoma”, and now the 8th letter has been released.
Right after the earthquake disaster and the accident of the nuclear power plant,
I wrote an appeal about the present condition of Haramachi-ku, Minamisoma (city),
through the website of my company, beginning with the sentence, “Please know
this.” Unexpectedly, I received a big response, and I began to give lectures. I think
those who listened to my story or read my appeal understand the reality which we are now facing.

We still live here now. Of course many children live here, too. They cannot play outside freely without anxiety. Every day they are taken to temporary schools by bus. They are often seen wearing masks. Some say that to wear a mask is being too nervous, is an overreaction. But in spite of all who criticize us, we have to protect our children. To protect our children is to protect our lives, and to protect lives is to guarantee the lives of those who work in the district. Therefore, to protect lives means to protect the whole district. By protecting the children, we hope to eventually regain our broken hometown.

However, it is also true that the children are exhausted, and they are more tired than adults. It can be said that the problem of the children is the biggest problem in Minamisoma at present. If we want to provide the children here with the educational opportunities that are commonplace elsewhere, we have to think differently from those in other districts. We cannot change the educational curriculum without the instruction of the Ministry of Education and Science. It is necessary to create special considerations, such as creating a special educational ward, in order to give our children the same possibilities to learn as those in other districts have. At present, regretfully, such needs have yet to be emphasized; possibly they have not even been taken into account. We have been told that those whose homes are within 30 km of the nuclear power plant can either be evacuated to another part of Japan or go on living here. Whether we are single individuals, single corporations, or a small community, we cannot regain the basic human rights which we were robbed of. In the name of “self-responsibility,” we would like to be able to make choices about our own lives. We ardently yearn for decision-makers to consider us and to be in dialogue with us at every level of concern.

What I’ve keenly come to realize is a sense of incongruity: that the bigger the organization is, the farther it is from our daily sense of reality. We strongly realized that the first priority for decision-makers living elsewhere is to defend their organization. They don’t even acknowledge our existence. We respond to this sense of incongruity directly by often saying, “Please come to live here and see for yourself!” We have come to the point that we worry that we will be deserted. Please plan a specific program for the children in Minamisoma. The nation must play a key role in the plan, with each office cooperating, overcoming the hierarchical structure of the organization.