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Children face “discrimination because of Fukushima,” the discovery of thyroid cancer, and bullying

After the nuclear accident, Zensei Kamoshita evacuated from Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, to Tokyo. 11 years later, he is now a university student. Photo by Shuzo Saito

22, 2022 issue

Eleven years will soon have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. Many residents have yet to regain their normal lives. In particular, what have the children who have been at the mercy of the nuclear accident been thinking and how have they survived the past 11 years? What did the unprecedented accident bring about? Through the experiences and words of these three grown-up adults, we will consider these questions now.
Nine-Year-Old Wishes to Go to Heaven

I was glad to hear that (my son) talked about the future. Because a few years ago, that boy couldn’t even think about that.”

 That’s what his mother, Miwa, said as she watched Zensei Kamoshita (Matsuki), 19, walk in front of her. After the nuclear accident, he evacuated to Tokyo, where he was bullied and had a tough childhood.

 His nature-rich life, where he would eat Tsukushi (tsukudani) boiled in soy sauce from vacant lots and help lost Karugamo children, changed drastically on March 11, 2011. The accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant shattered them.

 At the time, Zensei was 8 years old and living in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture. He was about to go out with his mother to learn when the earthquake struck. He was held by his mother in front of their house and waited for the long tremors to subside.

 My mother and I immediately went to pick up my younger brother from daycare, and then went out to look for my grandfather, who had gone to Iwaki Station.

 Expecting that the area in front of the station was in chaos due to the earthquake, my mother left Zenjo and his younger brother in a parking lot a short distance away, telling them that she would be back and that they must never leave the car, and then ran to the station.

 However, no matter how long he waited, his mother did not return. The aftershocks continued. Eventually, my brother asked to use the restroom, and Mr. Zensho broke his promise to my mother and took my brother to the restroom at a nearby gas station.

 After about an hour and a half, when his mother returned, Mr. Zengsheng and his younger brother were wailing.

My brother may have been crying because he was inconsolable, but I was crying because I felt like I had broken my promise,” she said.

 Zensei said. As an 8-year-old at the time, the idea that people would die in an earthquake or tsunami “didn’t really sink in,” he said.

Zensei (right) and his younger brother were 8 years old when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident occurred, and the family’s life changed drastically after 3.11.

The next morning around 5:00 a.m., my parents told me that they were going to evacuate the building and that I could pick out three toys. His younger brother wanted to take four, so Mr. Zensho gave his brother the right to one and got into the car.

 During the trip, I don’t remember when I went to bed and woke up, but I do remember that my mother was concerned about the release of radioactive iodine from the nuclear power plant, and she made me eat a large amount of seaweed. This was to avoid exposure to the thyroid gland. There was no evacuation order from the government; it was a so-called “voluntary evacuation. At that time, many people in Fukushima Prefecture were concerned about the situation at the nuclear power plants, which were exploding one after another, and were evacuating outside the prefecture.

 After 19 and a half hours of evacuation, Mr. Zensho was surprised to find himself at a relative’s house in Yokohama. It was dark outside, but the clock read one o’clock.

One o’clock should have been light!”

 But it was eerie that it was night. He could not stay long at his relative’s house, so he took shelter with another relative for a few days. While moving from one evacuation site to another, Zensho’s school life also began. There, he began to be bullied.

 He was bullied, he says, “I was bullied by my parents, and I was bullied by my parents.

The truth is, if I don’t have to remember, I don’t want to remember.

 It was naturally painful to be graffiti on personal belongings, to be subjected to one-sided violence, and to be treated like a “fungus,” but the most difficult part was not being treated like a human being.

As I was bullied, I was made to believe that it was my fault,” he said.

 I was a very good student,” Zensei recalls.

 The 9-year-old’s wish was “I want to go to heaven.

 He described the structure of the bullying in this way.

In the beginning, there was no bullying. In the beginning, there was no bullying because I was the “poor evacuee. But gradually, as I started to live like the other children, for example, I was receiving relief supplies, and when I was able to live the same way, I felt that I should have been lower in the social ladder.

 At the time, he endured the hardship, but gradually he began to wonder why discrimination and bullying occurred.

 In order to escape the intense bullying, he took the entrance examination for junior high school. After entering junior high school, Mr. Zensei lived his life hiding the fact that he was an evacuee. Since then, he has made many friends and enjoyed his life. That is why it was hard for him to hide it.

 Mr. Zensho said.

Posters and other materials say that bullying should be eliminated with words like “be considerate and get along with others. But that is not true.

 Bullying for any reason is a no-no,” is all we need to say. I think it is necessary to think that any human being, even the worst of us, can be protected. So I think it’s a question of human rights.”


March 11, 2022 - Posted by | Fuk 2022 | ,

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