Fukushima Speaking Series Part 4: Put On A Happy Face


Before speaking to audiences in Sendai, Japan, where restart of atomic power coincided with a volcanic eruption a mere 31-miles away, Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen spoke with the Fairewinds Crew about the current lives of Japanese people affected by the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi. Stories shared include women stigmatized as ‘traitors’ for removing their children from the Fukushima Prefecture, doctors put out of business for diagnosing radiation sickness, and the conflicting pressure by the government for evacuees to reunite with family within the Fukushima Prefecture and make Fukushima a home again. Frightened, homeless, and and oftentimes ill, those displaced by the atomic meltdown are encouraged by the Abe regime to simply smile – as Abe's spokesperson says, “the cure for radiation is a smile”.

Breaking News:A 2.206 petition was submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) seeking action on the part of the NRC to either enforce existing regulations for atomic power plants or shut them down. This petition was submitted by seven electrical engineers employed by the NRC. These brave seven submitted the "put up or shut down" petition as private citizens. In the words David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “If employees of the NRC do not trust the NRC to have acted to protect members of the public and have to petition their employer to protect the public, why should any member of the public trust the NRC to have its back (other than to have its back covered with a target)?”

Complete understanding of public health risks caused by the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi will take decades to emerge. In the immediate wake of the atomic disaster, the Japanese government and Fukushima Daiichi owner TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) made a conscious effort to downplay the critical data that should have prompted quick evacuation of citizens and instead chose to soothe the public’s fear with false assurances. When organized entities such as governments and corporations fail to accurately assess and manage risk, the responsibility of fundamentally necessary and weighty risk assessment falls on private entities like you, and me. This privatization of risk, as Majia Nadesan, a communications professor at Arizona State University, writes will face immense challenges due to the uncertainty of hard to track and measure atmospheric and oceanic emissions, fall out mapping patterns, and bio-accumulation. 


Fukushima: Dispossession or Denuclearization? by Majia Nadesan, Antony Boys, Andrew McKillop and Richard Wilcox

In collaboration with fellow academics, Fukushima: Dispossession or Denuclearization? is a critique of the nuclear energy paradigm. Time and again history has shown that the nuclear power agenda is parasitic to life. From financial burdens to transgenerational mutations, atomic power in all of its forms is a direct threat to human health and happiness. Dispossession of nuclear, or denuclearization through the adoption of alternative, safe and clean technologies are the solution for human survival in the 21st century.

To Note:

Proceeds from the book will be donated to the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial Team, a team of lawyers who are fighting in the courts in northern Japan to have children in Koriyama City, quite badly contaminated with radiation after the March 11, 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, evacuated to safe areas at government expense. 

Please see:

http://www.fukushima-sokai.net/ (English)

The group also has a (Japanese) Facebook page:



 Featured Book:

Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out
Edited by Leah Stenson and Asao Sarukawa Aroldi

Review by Maggie Gundersen

Special thanks to editor Leah Stenson for sending this book to Fairewinds Energy Education. To quote Ms. Stenson, “The fifty poets whose work is presented here speak for the thousands, millions, whose voices have not been heard, and they speak with eloquence, passion, and courage.”

Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out was awarded as a 2015 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS finalist in the Social Change category on November 16, 2015.

This beautiful book of poetry opens with an explanation about the use of atomic power and the unfolding disaster of the triple meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi. It is an amazing collection of 50 poems in English followed by a separate section with the poems in the original Japanese. These are rich evocative poems, which is why we decided to feature this book now while Fairewinds chief engineer Arnie Gundersen is in Japan and traveling in the Prefecture (State) of Fukushima. Ms. Stenson’s experience of traveling through the exclusion zone with her husband and the poet Masayki Nemoto, who is now a nuclear refugee, echoes what Arnie is now witnessing first-hand in Fukushima Prefecture.  

“Visiting the deserted towns and countryside around Daiichi Nuclear Plant served to give me a clearer understanding of the situation in the exclusion zone… The so-called ghost towns, which included areas undamaged by the earthquake or tsunami, were like movie sets after all the actors had left and gone home. The complete absence of human activity in the context of shops, homes, and streets was eerie beyond description.” (Leah Stenson, Preface, Page xiv)

Imagine being forced to abandon the town and home you love so dearly. Read My Home, Namiemachi, by poet Masayki Nemoto (Page 72).

I was really touched by Hatsuko Hara’s poem, The Day My Professional Career Ended. Ms Hara was in charge of personnel at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

For me, Ms Hara’s evocative poetry was a painful reminder of my feelings regarding my work in nuclear public relations, when I told people living near these plants that atomic power is safe. Her poem brings home the tragedy of the post-meltdown cleanup work at Daiichi.

“But the temporary workers were outside my scope of responsibility.

When the radiation leaked, it was their job.

They were the ones who did the dangerous work.

They cannot work more than two days a week,

since they are constantly exposed to radiation.

Their work history is erased when they retire

because the company would get in trouble

if these records could be used to establish the cause of their illness.

Their life

is not the life of the Tokyo Electric Power Company.”

In The Pollution Of Our Ancestral Land, Tsutomu Sakai poignantly introduces us to the pain the mountains and forests are feeling for the devastation of their world. And finally, as a mother and grandmother, I was very touched by Jun Nakamura’s poem, To The New Generations, beginning with:

“To the new generations

We have to apologize to you

for having deprived you of

the ground where you would have been able to walk barefoot,

the snowy fields…

the shallow brooks you could have splashed through,

… crops safe and full of energy from the earth.


…We have to apologize to you

for your damaged genes,

for the cesium detected in your body,

for your swollen thyroid gland…”

Buy the book. Read it and hear the truth spoken from the hearts and voices of many victims of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi tragedy.

 Japan Tour Itinerary:

*Only 1 Event Left! 

Friday, March 4 -

Presentation at Kamakura (6:00pm/18:00 - 9:00pm/21:00), organized by YMCA, Hibakusha Association, and others


Click here for Japan Tour Itinerary in Japanese