Fukushima oggi. La vita dopo il disastro nucleare e lo tsunami

“The more the water, the higher the boat” When meeting calamities or difficult situations it is not enough to simply say that one is not at all flustered When meeting difficult situations one should dash forward bravely and with joy It is the crossing of a single barrier and is like the saying “the more the water, the higher the boat”. from Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunemoto That day I was out and was going back home I was working here when it happened I had a work meeting I was at the second floor of the factory, just above here 11 March 2011
Japan, east coast The Tōhoku earthquake hits at 14:46 Its magnitude is of 9.1 It causes aftershocks that are still being felt to this day After an hour the first wave of the tsunami hits Maximum height reached: 40.5 metres 561 kilometres of land are inundated 15,891 people are killed 2,584 are still missing 12 March, 05:00 A nuclear emergency is declared at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant 3 explosions and the melting of the cores of 3 out of 6 reactors follow The disaster is rated 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, the highest possible level We visited Fukushima Prefecture six years from the disaster. To talk to those who came back and those who never left. These are their stories. Kazue Morizono – Activist I was with my husband in that moment he couldn’t move Shigeru Yamasawa – Owner of Urashima Sushi We all came out onto the square in front of the restaurant the houses around us had all collapsed At first it didn’t seem like we needed to escape but after the explosion even the police started running away Every day there were new tremors and I was very worried I didn’t know when the next tremor would come and I always kept myself ready to leave, at any moment Even after we heard about the nuclear disaster we didn’t know what the problem was no one thought they had to leave Only after the police told us how dangerous it was did we understand the gravity of what had happened but we still thought we’d be able to come back after three or four days Fukushima seems like any other place, now but the consequences of the disaster are still vivid in the memories of those who experienced it. There was no immediate health alarm so I would go out to collect water every day The sixth day I went and was told that the water was contaminated with iodine so I couldn’t get any Tatsuhiro and Miwako Ono – Rice farmers The problems emerged later as we didn’t know whether we could continue working the fields Shigeru Ide – Chef at Soba Shubo Tenzan The other big problem was that there was no one left to continue working I was on my own, it was hard Nario Kadono – President Fukushima SOSO Reconstruction Corporation Some would like to come back to Fukushima but most people who lived here won’t Our company has a 76-year history and before the shinsai we’d never run at a loss [Shinsai means earthquake disaster. From shin, earthquake and sai, disaster] I knew something was wrong I think it was the 15th of March I saw the sleet in my garden and thought “now Kooriyama, my city, is finished” The 28th of April suddenly I felt ill my nose was bleeding, my head and eyes hurt, I felt fatigued, I had bruises all over my body in a moment, everything became worse Life changed drastically until then not a day had gone by without there being work to do before, we would take no more than a week’s holiday in a year Then I had to stop for 5 years People are working hard to build something new out of the ashes of the disaster with dignity, determination and ingenuity Yuko Hirohata – Founder of the Odaka Platform newspaper It’s wrong to speak of people who come back home or move back to everyone this means starting from scratch so who moves here doesn’t “return” but comes because they’ve chosen to live in this city Why is it that whilst radiation continues to be released whilst we inhabitants continue to suffer someone wants to start producing nuclear power again Kiyoshige Sugiuchi – President Canola Flower Project After the shinsai the entire area became radioactive so everything that I’d cultivated up to then couldn’t be sold but I reasoned that I couldn’t let these fields go to ruin so I started growing canola Canola absorbs a lot from the soil including radioactive molecules so the first advantage is that the soil is cleaned out also, when canola is made into oil it loses traces of caesium Shiitake mushrooms absorb caesium directly from trees so we couldn’t continue growing them we decided to try with rice instead Here there are valleys and hills so it’s hard to practice intensive agriculture there are many small-scale farmers and I saw the opportunity of working together to practice subsistence organic agriculture small in scale but high in quality We don’t use GMOs, chemical fertilisers or pesticides in the fields we follow the soil’s natural cycle which influences the impact that today’s farming will have on tomorrow’s After the accident the market for buckwheat was at a low and it was impossible to work here in Kawauchimura so we thought how we could make the most out of this grain creating two types of beer in one we put buckwheat flour directly into the bottle for a second fermentation which makes it tasty and aromatic Masatoshi Muto – Secretary General of agricultural support NGO Yuukino Sato Towa We gave farmers a set of guidelines first, check the soil’s values second, half the use of pesticides third, half the use of fertilisers too fourth, make products traceable fifth, cut nitrogen use sixth, check radioactivity levels People have said to me: “Now Fukushima has a bad reputation but in a few years’ time there will be the Tokyo Olympics and in 50 or 70 years thanks to our efforts the infamous Fukushima will have another reputation and will become famous for being the city of hope” There are still some steps to take towards safety but if this is the direction everyone has chosen I think Fukushima will go back to being the brilliant and prosperous region it was before the shinsai I don’t know if all the people who left will come back but if we’re brave we’ll pick ourselves up again from now on, helping each other as we’ve always done if there’s trust and people support each other I’ll be here to serve even a single customer In our collective imagination Fukushima is synonymous with tragedy but for its inhabitants it must withhold the promise of a better future because beyond anger and fear, there are people brave individuals, families and communities who have planted the seed of renewal so that Fukushima continues to be their home where they can blossom and flourish a home to be proud of. As they begin to rise again
Chrysanthemums faintly smell,
After the flooding rain

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