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Kenichi Hasegawa, former dairy farmer who continued to tell the truth about the nuclear accident in Fukushima, passes away.

Immediately after the accident, I pressed the village mayor to disclose information.
He also shared the voice of a dairy farmer friend who committed suicide.

 Mr. Kenichi Hasegawa, a former dairy farmer who continued to appeal about the current situation in Iitate Village contaminated by radiation after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in 2011, died of thyroid cancer on October 22, 2011 at the age of 68. He was 68 years old. He was the co-chairman of Hidanren, a group of victims of the nuclear power plant accident, and the head of the group of Iitate villagers who filed for alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Since 2005, he has been focusing on growing buckwheat noodles in the village, while criticizing what the government and administration call “reconstruction projects” and “reconstruction Olympics. In February and March of this year, he was diagnosed with cancer and fell ill. Many people are saddened by the death of Mr. Hasegawa, who continued to communicate the issues of the nuclear accident both inside and outside Japan.

Mr. Hasegawa at the time, when he was the head of the community association of temporary housing.

 On January 13, 2012, prior to the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World held in Yokohama, NGO officials and journalists from overseas visited Fukushima and Mr. Hasegawa conveyed the current situation of the Iitate villagers. He said, “I wish there were no nuclear power plants. He said, “I wish we didn’t have nuclear power plants, and I hope the remaining dairy farmers will do their best not to be defeated by nuclear power plants. He left a message that said, ‘I have lost the will to work.

Our government has been promoting nuclear power plants as a national policy, so I thought they would take proper measures when an accident occurred. But the government did not take any action. I may return to my village, but I can’t bring my grandchildren back. If we go back and end our lives, that will be the end of the village.

 Paul Saoke, a Kenyan public health specialist and then secretary general of the Kenya chapter of the International Council for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recorded Hasegawa’s lecture on his iPad. Mr. Saoke said, “In Kenya, the Fukushima nuclear accident is almost unknown. When I return to Japan, I would like to have the media watch the video of my lecture and let them know what kind of damage is being done by the residents. Mr. Hasegawa’s appeal was posted on the Internet and quickly spread around the world.

In 2012, he gave a speech at the European Parliament.
The film “My Legacy: If Only There Were No Nuclear Power Plants

In 2012, Mr. Hasegawa gave a lecture at the European Parliament in Belgium on the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident. Mr. Hasegawa visited Europe with his wife Hanako, and together with Eisaku Sato, former Governor of Fukushima Prefecture, conveyed the current situation in Fukushima.

Kenichi Hasegawa (center) attended the symposium held at the EU headquarters in Belgium. Kenichi Hasegawa (center) attended a symposium at the EU headquarters in Belgium with his wife Hanako (left) and former Fukushima Governor Eisaku Sato (second from right) (March 2012)

Our Iitate village was a beautiful village,” said Mr. Hasegawa. “Our Iitate village was a beautiful village,” Mr. Hasegawa began. While explaining how the government experts who came to the village kept saying that the village was safe, he said, “The villagers were exposed to radiation while the mayor and the people in the village administration clung to the village. We dairy farmers were told not to raise cows in the planned evacuation zone, and with no follow-up from the government, prefecture, or village, we made the decision to quit dairy farming on our own. Finally, I conveyed the regret of my friend who committed suicide, leaving behind a note saying, “If only there were no nuclear power plants.

A view of a pasture in Iitate Village (2011).
Photo: Hideaki Takamatsu

 In 2002, Naomi Toyoda’s film “The Last Will and Testament: If Only There Were No Nuclear Power Plants” was completed, and Mr. Hasegawa’s words and the events of his friend who committed suicide were further disseminated to society. Yasuhiro Abe, manager of the Forum Fukushima movie theater, said, “At the time, various debates were boiling in the local community, and despite the length of the film, it was fully booked for three days. Mr. Hasegawa’s words about Iitate were very human, and he had a different level of strength that no one else had.

Through his activities in Japan and abroad, Mr. Hasegawa has connected and interacted with a wide range of people.

Mr. Toshiyuki Takeuchi, the president of Fukushima Global Citizen’s Information Center (FUKUDEN), who has been informing people in Japan and abroad about Mr. Hasegawa’s activities, said, “Mr. Hasegawa is a person who has been affected by pollution. Mr. Hasegawa has been active as an anti-nuclear and anti-radiation activist, criticizing the government, the administration (village authorities), and TEPCO for failing to take appropriate measures that put the health of the residents of the contaminated area first. At the same time, he has a strong attachment to the Maeda area and his life there, and has returned to the area to start making soba noodles and rebuild his life. The complexity of his feelings (“irrationality”) was sometimes difficult to convey to people overseas.

 As I listened to Mr. Hasegawa’s story, there were many moments when I felt that “everything was there in Iitate Village and Maeda area before the earthquake, and it was the center of the world and life. “Complex irrationality” is probably a cross-section of the tragedy of everything being taken away on its own.

Solidarity with the Nuclear Weapons Abolition Movement
Bringing together people from all walks of life

 In 2007, after the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, ICAN Co-Chairman Tilman Ruff (Australia) and ICAN International Steering Committee member and Peace Boat Co-Chairman Satoshi Kawasaki visited Mr. Hasegawa’s house in Iitate Village with medals.

Mr Hasegawa with ICAN Co-Chairman Tillman Ruff, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate

 Mr. Ruff said. He refused to be cowed or silenced, and continued to speak the truth about the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, stressing the need for rights, dignity, health, and recognition of the people and land that the government and TEPCO unreasonably put in harm’s way. I am honored to have known Kenichi and to have been able to work for a common cause.”
 Mr. Kawasaki also mourns his death. Mr. Kawasaki also mourned his passing. “We were together on many occasions, including the European Parliament in Belgium in 2012, the round trip to Australia in 2013, and the Peace Boat trip. I remember the way he spoke straight from the bottom of his heart about the damage he had suffered as a dairy farmer and the anger and frustration of the people of Fukushima, strongly conveying his message to people even though they spoke different languages. I believe that Ms. Hanako, who has always accompanied us and talked about the damage caused by nuclear power plants from her own perspective, will continue to play a role as a sender.
 Ms. Riko Mutoh (Funehiki), who is also a co-chair of Hidanren, said, “Ms. Hasegawa was a big presence. His words were powerful and persuasive. After returning to Iitate Village, she was busy with local activities. He was a person who brought people together, both inside and outside of the village, within and outside of the prefecture, those who had evacuated and those who were living there.
(Text and photo by Hiroko Aihara)


February 13, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

ICAN chief: Japan sabotaging nuclear disarmament

M6fI3wGBLc7triMaUtGF8YlOZvNuPWNQJ9Bt0hmPBeatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, spoke to NHK about the possible game changers in the drive to get rid of the weapons of mass destruction.

Aug. 15, 2020

Hiroshima and Nagasaki in southwestern Japan are the only two cities to have suffered attacks using nuclear weapons. For people around the country, the anniversary month of August is a time to remember the tens of thousands of lives erased in the twin flashes in 1945, as well as the countless others affected by the subsequent radiation.

Fihn’s organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its efforts to bring people to the negotiating table to pledge to work toward nuclear disarmament. The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations was a step forward, in which ICAN played a major role.

Fihn says the next few months are crucial, as her team has given itself until the end of the year to get enough signatures to put the treaty into effect. Just this month, Ireland, Nigeria, Niue, and Saint Kitts and Nevis have signed up, bringing the total number on board to 44.

“We always aimed that we would be getting 50 in 2020.” She says. “And obviously COVID-19 has slowed down some processes, but we still think that there’s a really good chance that we can get the 50 ratifications needed this year. So we’re working very very hard on this.”

What about Japan?

But Japan remains one of the countries that’s yet to sign the treaty. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has said every year at the memorial ceremonies that it’s Japan’s mission to, “realize a world without nuclear weapons.”

But Fihn wonders why the commitment hasn’t been backed up by action. “There is no leadership right now on nuclear disarmament from Japan’s side — rather the opposite,” she says. “Japan is going backwards as well and undermining its own resolutions that it’s supported for a long time ago, weakening language and documents.”


21DgN2TQlptWtiQF4GfWGphxXYKPNF2Tey4tbtpRJapanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo made another pledge this year that the country would commit to achieving a world without nuclear weapons.


“That’s very serious. And I think that’s an insult to the survivors — to the hibakusha,” Fihn says. “We really know the Japanese people want the government to sign the treaty.”

“It’s very often that we look at nuclear armed states as the problem, but we have to recognize that the nuclear-allied states, like Japan for example, are protecting them. They are standing in a circle around them and protecting nuclear weapons. Until those countries stop doing that, it’s going to be very hard to convince the nuclear armed states.”

“How am I going to convince North Korea, the United States and Russia to disarm, if Japan cannot say that nuclear weapons should be illegal?”

Nuclear war ‘like the coronavirus’

Fihn says the coronavirus pandemic is proof that a global emergency could happen anytime. “Health experts have warned about this, and they have been preparing, thinking about it,” she says. “Yet people have been surprised that it happened. It’s the same thing with nuclear weapons. We don’t know when, we don’t know how exactly, but experts say it’s going to happen.”

She warns that nuclear weapons will be far more lethal than the coronavirus. “What we have to do with nuclear weapons — there’s no mitigating it once it happens.” she says. “When we feel the consequences, when the bombs are starting to fall on cities again, then it’s going to be too late to prevent it.”

Nuclear weapons don’t protect us

Fihn says the ongoing pandemic further highlights why governments should be investing in people, not weapons. “This pandemic has shown us where the threats to our security are and how we can’t absorb these things with nuclear weapons,” she says. “Nuclear armed states spend 73 billion dollars on nuclear weapons. Just imagine how many ventilators, doctors, nurses ICU, beds we can have… how many vaccinations we could develop.”

Listen to the hibakusha

She credits atomic bomb survivors for helping spread the message of a nuclear-free world. But she says their time is running out: “Given that it’s probably one of the last milestones where we will still have survivors who are able to speak about it in the first person. I really do think that it’s up to us to use this moment as much as possible to share their stories.”

For the first time, ICAN organized online tours of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb museums this year.

Fihn ended our interview with a message for the hibakusha. “Thank you for doing the incredibly difficult work of sharing your very traumatic experiences so that we can survive, and we can prevent it from happening again,” she says. “ICAN and the millions of people that support us are pledging to take action. We are going to honor the hibakusha, not through words, but through action to eliminate nuclear weapons.”

September 1, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Abe snubs head of Nobel-winning no-nukes group

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and Akira Kawasaki, a member of the group’s international steering committee, place a wreath at the Cenotaph for A-bomb Victims in Hiroshima on Monday.
HIROSHIMA – The leader of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, has been denied a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the nongovernmental organization Peace Boat said Monday.
ICAN has asked the Japanese government twice since late December to arrange a meeting between Abe and Executive Director Beatrice Fihn during her visit to Japan, but the Foreign Ministry declined the requests, citing scheduling conflicts, according to Peace Boat, a major steering group member of the Geneva-based organization.
Expressing disappointment over failing to meet Abe on her first visit to Japan, Fihn said in Hiroshima that she wanted to talk with him about how the world can avoid devastation of the type inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Fihn said she hopes to meet with the prime minister at the next opportunity.
Atomic-bomb survivors also expressed disappointment.
“Does Prime Minister Abe understand the significance of ICAN winning the Noble Peace Prize? It is very regrettable to feel this difference of attitudes between the government and atomic-bomb survivors,” said Hiroko Kishida, a 77-year-old hibakusha in Hiroshima.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo that ICAN’s requests were declined “due to a conflict of schedule. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Fihn arrived in Japan on Friday. After visiting Nagasaki through Sunday, she moved on to Hiroshima and was scheduled to hold discussions with Diet members in Tokyo on Tuesday before leaving Japan on Thursday.
Abe departed Japan on Friday for a six-nation European tour and is scheduled to return home Wednesday.
ICAN, founded in 2007, is a coalition of NGOs that involves about 470 groups from more than 100 countries.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

ICAN chief calls on Japan to join treaty banning nuclear weapons

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NAGASAKI (Kyodo) — The leader of the antinuclear group International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, on Saturday called on Japan to take part in the treaty banning nuclear weapons.
In a keynote speech at a symposium in Nagasaki, one of two atomic-bombed cities, ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn criticized the Japanese government for not joining the treaty banning nuclear weapons, adopted by 122 U.N. members in July.
“The Japanese government should know better than any other nation the consequences of nuclear weapons, yet Tokyo is happy to live under the umbrella of U.S. nuclear protection, and has not joined the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons,” Fihn said. “Is your government okay with repeating the evil that was done to Nagasaki and Hiroshima to other cities?”
Japan sat out the treaty negotiations, as did the world’s nuclear-armed countries and others relying on the deterrence of the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
Japan remains the only country to have sustained wartime atomic bombings, over 72 years after the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later.
Fihn said as long as the Japanese government believes in the effect of deterrence from the U.S. nuclear umbrella, it means encouraging nuclear proliferation and along with other nations living under the protection of nuclear alliances, it is moving the world closer toward the eventual use of nuclear weapons.
“It is unacceptable to be a willing participant in this nuclear umbrella,” she said.
The executive director of the international group campaigning for a total ban on nuclear weapons, meanwhile, applauded atomic bomb survivors, or hibakusha, for their efforts to speak out not to repeat the tragedy.
“The nuclear ban treaty would not exist without the hibakusha,” she said.
At a panel discussion held after the speech, Nobuharu Imanishi, director of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Arms Control and Disarmament Division, said Japan is facing a “severe security environment” given North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.
“Joining the treaty would damage the legitimacy of nuclear deterrence provided by the United States,” he said.
In responding to his remarks, Fihn called on symposium visitors to put more pressure on politicians through grassroots activities to have them change the nuclear policy.
She has requested that the Japanese government set up a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during her stay in Japan.
Asked at a press conference about what she would like to tell the prime minister if she can meet him, Fihn said she wants to ask Abe to show leadership in the movement for nuclear disarmament as the leader of the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.
Abe is currently on a six-nation European tour through Wednesday.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

ICAN requesting meeting with Abe

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The chief of the organization that won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will visit Japan next month. She is seeking a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, also known as ICAN, will visit Japan for 7 days from January 12th.
She plans to give lectures in the atomic bombed cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
ICAN is now requesting the Japanese government to allow the meeting. The group is also calling for a debate session with officials from political parties.
The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted this year, and ICAN played a key role.
Japan objects to the treaty, arguing it is not effective for nuclear disarmament because the world’s nuclear powers did not join it.
Fihn plans to offer Abe and others various ways to study the positive and negative effects of Japan joining the treaty.
Akira Kawasaki, a key Japanese member of ICAN, said they are calling for concrete discussions with non-participating nations. He said the countries may be arguing against the treaty because they are guaranteed protection by a country with nuclear weapons.

December 29, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment