Video: Residents stonewalled by government officials
A video taken at an emotional meeting between Japanese government officials and the citizens of Fukushima City, is threatening to go viral on YouTube. The video, posted on July 23 by pejorativeglut is unusual in that it features a faithful translation of the confrontation in English.
The exchange is brief and shocking, though the uploader points out in his notes that it was edited down from other longer videos that so far have not received subtitles. It culminates with the officials walking out, chased by a desperate member of the public, determined that they take a sample of urine back to Tokyo for testing. Unsurprisingly, the officials decline, saying it is simply not their responsibility.
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Video: 'My husband is ready to die to protect me and our children.'
A reader has alerted us to a second video from the same meeting between government officials and the citizens of Fukushima. In it, a mother of two is overwhelmed by emotion as she relates the difficulties of life in the city over the past four months, and the factors that are preventing people from leaving under their own accord.
We've had a huge response to this post, which will be encouraging news for the people who created the video. We've posted some of the comments we received below. We'd very much like to hear the opinions of our Japanese readers, so feel free to forward what you have to say about this.
An in-depth note from Shaney Crawford, via email: 'This event was organized by Greenpeace and other groups. It was about asking some people from 'the government' to give the residents of Fukushima the 'right to evacuate', which means that they want the government of Japan to designate a wider area for forced evacuation and they want to be compensated for being forced to evacuate.
'Their demands include being compensated to a high enough degree to resume their lifestyle as it was before the accident. They want to be able to preserve their identity as people from Fukushima. They want to set up branch schools outside of Fukushima Prefecture with the express purpose of accepting children from Fukushima.
'All of which might be legitimate demands, depending on your viewpoint, but this meeting was not organized by the government and the panelists in attendance do not necessarily have the power to make any kind of decisions about evacuation zones. It looks to me like this meeting was organized as an ambush on the presenters who may or may not have had any idea about what the meeting was about before they showed up. That might be a legitimate tactic to use to have your voice heard, but it's not really that surprising that the presenters decided to leave. Of course they are going to leave when they are facing a mob. I certainly wouldn't want to stay in a situation like that where people are shouting things like 'take this urine'.
'The name of this meeting was Demanding the Right to Evacuate and the panelists were from the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters (3), the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan (1), the Ministry of Education, and the National Institute for Radiological Sciences (according to the blurb under the
YouTube video - I couldn't find any other sources). However, that is not to say that any of these people have any power to make decisions about evacuating people or testing urine. The guy from the Nuclear Safety Commission is listed as being a member of the 'Liaison Office', which to my ears, does not sound particularly powerful.
'To be clear, I'm not saying that people in Fukushima don't have a right to complain. I am saying that the people in this video are being called 'Japanese authorities' and being made out to represent 'the Japanese government' when they really just seem to be a hodgepodge of bureaucrats who were roped into showing up on the day so that someone could take a video of 'the Japanese government facing the wrath of the people of Fukushima' and post it on YouTube. A clever tactic, perhaps, but it doesn't change the fact that they are asking the wrong people.'
From Mizuho, via email: 'Even in the Kanto area, we are facing difficulties stopping the government from heartless actions. One is Yokohama lunch contamination problem. They are making the kids eat contaminated meat and vegetables at school lunches, insisting it's safe because "they are sold in markets", even though most of the food is not tested and much of it is from the heavily contaminated areas near the Fukushima Nuke plant. I have a 5th grade daughter and I want this nightmare to stop.'
From Blacko Muiri, via our Facebook page: 'This is typical of what's wrong with politicians vis a vis SPIN. The government has taken some measures and can bleat about these "accomplishments" to the whole world. In the meantime, as usual, ordinary people, who aren't being properly cared for are willfully and shamefully ignored. How different would it be if a member of SMAP lived in the same town as these residents? Typical Japan Inc. As long as it "looks like" it's being done it IS being done.'
@Akemi1172: 'I saw the video and I am in shock! my Father's family is from Fukushima my heart goes out to the residents!'
@takekawa: 'I can understand people in Fukushima go insane. Nobody controls, manage and nobody knows. Feel sorry especially for kids.'
From Karene (via email): 'We are all worried sick for their country people [Japan] as well as our own. This is a global disaster and we all know it! It's time for them to be honest so we can all try and protect ourselves and find a solution.'
@TokyoGurlK: 'It should be 'to anyone outside Fukushima'. I'm ashamed of not knowing this.'
@eddie_landsberg: 'What is the role of local govs & hokenjos? I suspect local/central gov are playing volley ball.'
@shilkytouch: 'This crippling inability to make decisions is absolute madness.'
@theduke7: 'This really is completely and utterly outrageous.'
@zenhostel: 'Ignoring the facts will not make them go away'
@TokyoMango: 'This video gave me a renewed sense of sadness for Japan.'