IMAGES: Tohoku 1 month, I year, and 2 years after 3/11. Courtesy of Kyodo press.
Just after the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown of March 11, 2011, support, helpers and prayers flooded in from the international community. The world was shocked by the scale of the destruction.
As the dust settled and the immediate danger and panic subsided, there was talk of a Japanese renaissance. We hoped that Japan would rise from the ashes, as it had done before. There was hope that the different political factions in the government would put aside their squabbles and unite to lead the nation out of its trauma. We hoped that Japan would now turn away from nuclear power, and lead the world in the search for renewable energy resources.
We were wrong.
In Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, as of Feb 22nd 2013, only 41% of the estimated 619,000 tons of tsunami debris has been cleared from the disaster zone. At least 157,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Fukushima because of radioactive contamination. 32,000 are currently living in temporary housing structures in the same prefecture. 59,000 live in subsidized apartments, where the rent if free but the utilities are not. TEPCO is deliberately delaying the final compensation settlements, permanent housing has not yet been built, and the land inside the contaminated zone will be uninhabitable for decades.
In fact, the families from that area are now saying that they will never return; they know that while they wait, the houses will get more and more dilapidated until they decay and collapse, so there will be nothing to return to (but they are still paying mortgages on those houses). Hence, a large number of those evacuees are currently filing lawsuits against TEPCO and the government.
During the last two years, hundreds of thousands of people have attended huge anti-nuclear rallies in Tokyo and other parts of Japan. The government ignored them. Rallies are still held on a weekly basis (every Friday) outside the Diet buildings and Prime Minister's residence in Nagatacho. With the right-wing nationalists now back in power, the government will try to restart the nuclear power program as soon as it can, regardless of safety concerns. The weekly rallies will get smaller and smaller from now on, because the protesters are failing to take the next logical step; walk through the barriers, through the lines of police in riot gear, and into the Prime Minister's residence, and occupy it. There are far more protesters than there are police; it is possible, but not probable. There is still the sense of the self-restraint (jishuku) that the foreign media lauded the Japanese for two years ago when the crisis was at its height.
And so, on the eve of March 11th, please allow us here at Excalibur to once more outline the objectives of "3/11:The Fallout".
1) We support the right of the people of Tohoku in their search for justice, self-sufficiency, and ultimately self-government, breaking away from the Tokyo-based metropolitan policies which are slowing them down.
2) To achieve this aim, Excalibur is trying to raise public awareness in Japan and the rest of the world. Please remember that the only time Japan has gone though major social changes, it was as a result of outside influences - for example, at the end of the Edo period, and at the end of World War II. We need foreign help, foreign volunteers, and foreign investors, because the Japanese government is going to sit here and do nothing until the country withers away and dies.
3) Also to achieve this aim, the Tohoku people need funds. Please, please consider buying a copy of "3/11:The Fallout". The money will go to Kizuna Foundation, Impact Japan, and the Tomodachi Initiative, who will distribute it to where it's needed most. (those charities are affiliated to foreign embassies, NOT the Japanese government).
For news of 3/11 and how it has been interpreted in fiction, go here.
For famed naturalist C.W. Nicol and his take on 3/11, go here.
To buy a copy of "3/11: The Fallout", go here.
Good luck; and please, for our sake, don't ever forget.
This has been Winston Saint reporting, March 10th, 2013.