As shown in the objective in the program, this time we aimed to share views on each situation under such circumstances that there are distinct differences in the recovery process after six years and four months from the disaster, even in each area within Fukushima prefecture. Even out of past Dialogues, We think this time we have the most divergent participants from different areas; i.e. the area where the evacuation order was never issued, where years were passed after the lift of the order, where the order is just lifted, and where the order is still effective. Thus far, many were frantic to deal with their own situation, having hardly any room in their minds to see the situation of other areas. So I had felt that it had been difficult to sit at the same table to share views on each widely different situation among people from different areas. As time passes by, the difference becomes more significant, however, this time participants could listen to the different situation of the each other. This also impressed us the aspect of the passage of time.
As we have continued holding the Dialogue Seminar, we have found that the number of participants is growing, along with the series of the Dialogues, who states the need and significance of the common ground to share the information and situations. 'Listening to the other people's story, I felt that I also can do my best', 'I'm glad I could convey our situation to other people', 'It is good to know the situation in the other areas' ... It is getting more frequent to hear such comments from the participants as continues the Dialogues.
In the first-day dialogue session, many stories were told that extend over from just after the disaster to the present and the future. This reflects changes from the passage of time. As time passes, the situation develops and the confronting problems change. On the other hand, sometimes a totally new problem may occur, or a problem may reappear in another shape that one thought it had been once solved. These burdens are accepted by each in a different manner. It is still far from that the events following the disaster are well digested, though, I think it is getting clearer that the point is focusing to how to rebuild one's current and future life atop on the history built over the time of their each own. Furthermore, it is becoming the common understanding that it is important to talk together to share the situation since both the local living conditions and radiological problems are invisible, and that 'joy' should be valued instead of fear to continue the long-running rehabilitation process. Concurrently, it was also often told the importance of ties and connections to other areas to help each other.
'What do we need for our future' were all invisible values, which told by participants in the first-day dialogue session. No one desired money or public buildings. Confronting the rehabilitation, I thought, the importance was told here that to find, or to create, one's own value and the value which could be shared with other people in other areas.
On the second day, we invited Ms Anastasia Fiadosenka from Belarus and listened to her experience of the Chernobyl accident. Her hometown was located in the no-entry zone in Belarus, and she was living in a village on the edge of the no-entry zone at the time of the accident. She is one of the 'liquidator', said to be affected by the accident. She told her experience that just after the accident she was picking flowers very near to the NPP, knowing nothing about what is happening, and she brought the flower to her friend's home and then arranged it on a table at her home. To rehabilitate the daily life which had been drastically changed by the accident, she has continued her effort to rebuild new lifestyle after the accident through continuous measurements. Her effort is still ongoing; she told that she has a confidence in the lifestyle at her community.
The hometown of Anastasia, who is now 75 years old, had been buried by the government and there is no trace of the village today. Entry permission is issued once a year, and families and relatives visit graves. She told about the prohibited her hometown that 'even how it has been changed, it is my homeland; it is my precious place with memories'. She told about her sister, over 90 years old, says she wants to be buried in the grave in the hometown after her death. Currently, some trials have also begun to reuse the land in the no-entry zone in Belarus, e.g. test growing of crops.
This is the second time to invite Anastasia to Fukushima following to the sixth ICRP Dialogue Seminar held in 2013. Compared to that time, participants were highly interested in the stories of Belarus experiences and there were a lot of thoughts and questions from the venue. This also impressed the passage of time.
As a reflection for the presentation about children's play at Tsukitate Elementary School in the morning, Ms Hangai from Futaba Town commented; 'I had tears wishing that my grandchildren could graduate the elementary school in Futaba'. We would like you to also see the record of the mini-panel discussion which the spirit for their homeland has been told, of whom from Futaba and Ohkuma. There were contradictory thoughts; one is a desire to return, and at the same time, another is a concern about that they would really be able to return or not. However, at the same time, the solid thought was told that even if it is not able to return the homeland is still invaluable, as same as the thought of Anastasia in Belarus. I think it is the most important thing that these thoughts were told and shared in the participants.
Through the entire discussions held on the second day, I felt that the process for the rehabilitation is still ongoing in Soso region (around Futaba and Soma area) where the influence from the disaster is still being felt, and many people are still moving for the rehabilitation, or to protect one's own homeland which has not yet established its pathway for the rehabilitation. In the context of the discussion on the future of the evacuation-ordered area, many easily lead to focus on the issue 'to return or not', however, the movement of the people is not such a simple in reality. Some work for the rehabilitation of the hometown commuting from his/her refuge. Some visit to support the rehabilitation from in-prefecture, outside from the evacuation-ordered area. Some visit to see how is his/her hometown which is not able to be returned. On the other hand, some told they have exhausted to the continuous movement along with the lengthening rehabilitation. It is my personal impression that the rehabilitation is not a straightforward thing but is a dynamic process involving such a long-term and complex movement of the people, and we would need a structure to support this dynamic process.
In the dialogue sessions through these two days, there was also discussions actively from the participants about the role of the Dialogue Seminar should play in the rehabilitation. Still, there are not a few affected areas where has only an unclear future roadmap, so more than one voice called more active role to share and transmit the information in Fukushima prefecture. One told that the actions held in various places in Fukushima prefecture are seen as 'points', isolated;
they should be connected as lines, and eventually as surfaces, for the realization of true rehabilitation. Responding to such proposals, we are currently working on the publication of email newsletters on the Dialogue Seminar and related issues. As things progress, details will be provided on our website.
Almost all of this Dialogue Seminar has been video recorded and available on our website. Please visit the archive.
As always, Mayor Nishida and every staff of Date City Office offered the venue and a lot of help. We sincerely appreciate continued patronage of Nippon Foundation and the participation and help of many people from both domestic and international.
Responsible for the article: Ryoko Ando