Akiko Morimatsu’s speech at the UN Disaster Prevention Convention in Sendai City, Japan, March 15, 2015
translated by Yoko Chase, Ph.D.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to express my personal gratitude for the worldwide support given to us on this occasion.
1. East Japan suffered catastrophic damage by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the consequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant owned by Tokyo Electric Company on March 11, 2011. Immediately after the disasters occurred, people all over the world sent kind messages as well as necessary commodities for survival, thus helping us both mentally and materially. I thank you all sincerely for the kindness.
2. However, the Japanese government has never been able to put the nuclear power plants under control since the 3 11 accident. The plants have contaminated the ocean, the air, and lands which are, without boundaries, connected throughout the world. The TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident has never been put under control and I personally think we must apologize for this fact to the people of the world. The contaminated water has kept leaking and polluting the ocean for four years and no Japanese citizens think Fukushima is under control. It is a shame that we have not apologized to the world for the fact. I, therefore, would like to apologize personally now to all the people in the world on this occasion. I am very sorry that Japan has kept contaminating the beautiful earth.
3. Now in Japan, many people have evacuated the contaminated areas to avoid radiation exposure. The number of registered evacuees in June 2012 reached 347,000 according to the government’s Reconstruction Agency. Moreover, many people have stayed in the contaminated areas due to the lack of the government’s financial support. Most evacuees are families with little children who are vulnerable to radiation. My own case is one of them.
Our two children were a three-year-old infant and a five-month-old baby at the time of the disaster. Since the nuclear accident, my husband who is the father of the children, has stayed in Fukushima but our children and I fled to Osaka. We are dislocated and forced to live in 2 separate locations. Such dislocation to protect children is called, boshi hinan, or “mother and child(ren) evacuees” and there are still many of us.
4. We need to protect ourselves from the radiation contamination which has leaked from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Evacuation is a natural human act to flee from radiation and to enjoy healthy living. I regard the nuclear evacuees like ourselves as people of “Internal Displacement” referred to in the Guiding Principle on Internal Displacement in the 1998 UN Human Right Commission Report.
The second article of the above principle states: “Certain internally displaced persons, such as children, especially unaccompanied minors, expectant mothers, mothers with young children, female heads of household, persons with disabilities and elderly persons, shall be entitled to protection and assistance required by their condition and to treatment which takes into account their special needs.” The Japanese government, however, has not put this principle into action its policies for the internally displaced people due to the nuclear accidents. The Japanese government has not learned lessons of the social protection of victims from Chernobyl nuclear accident.
5 Moreover, the Japanese government has objected and rejected the UN Special Rapporteur Anand Grover’s advice given in 2013.
6. In other words, rights pertaining to human life and health have been continuously violated by the Japanese government since 3.11. Human beings have had the historical experience of the nuclear accident in Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union and have had many witnesses from Chernobyl mothers. The Japanese government, however, has not learned the lessons from “the social protection of victims” in the Chernobyl nuclear accident. By the government ignoring the lessons, many people in Fukushima and other contaminated areas in Japan are still forced to have unnecessary radiation exposure today.
7. I would like to protect life, health, and the future of the children living in Japan. Without evacuating from nuclear contaminated areas or ensured regular recuperation opportunities, we cannot follow the 24th article of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which Japan has ratified, “the right to enjoy the highest level of health reachable.” We need help from the world community.
8. The Preamble of the Japanese Constitution declares “the right to live free form fear and deprivation and to live in peace” (right to peaceful life).
9 The right to live free from the fear of radiation exposure and to live in peace should be given equally to all people. We cannot make any more “hibakushas” if we have learned the lessons from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima.
10. To be free from radiation exposure and to enjoy health is a basic human reaction to protect life. It is a human right directly concerning to human life and health. It is the most important and universal human right. Can you think of anything else which is more precious than human life?
11. We need help from the world community to help all the victims and evacuees of nuclear accident disasters. Please take action and tell the Japanese government to act in compliance with international laws, and respect the guiding principles and recommendations of the United Nations.
Please help us protect the people, especially the children, in Fukushima and East Japan from radiation exposure.
Thank you very much.
Thanks & Dream, The Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster Evacuees Association http://sandori2014.blog.fc2.com/
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