[Debate] St. Francis of Fukushima, We haven't learned anything yet!
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Thu Jun 14 12:02:13 BST 2012
St. Francis of Fukushima
We haven't learned anything yet!
3 comments andrea bennett , 12 Jun 2012
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IAN VOGLER / DAILY MIRROR
Naoto Matsumura’s body is completely contaminated with radioactive
cesium. A year after the Tohoku earthquake, and the subsequent nuclear
meltdowns in Fukushima, the 52-year-old farmer is the final holdout in
Japan’s government-mandated 20-kilometre nuclear exclusion zone.
He says he’s full of rage. He says he refuses to let go of hunger and
grief. He says he wants to die in his hometown. Matsumura, and the
surviving animals he tends to, have very little access to water, and no
electricity. He scavenges leftover coal and rations gas for energy; he
survives off tinned food sourced from outside the evacuation zone.
In 2006, the UN marked the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster
with calls of “never again.” International Atomic Energy Agency’s
Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei pledged to remember the Chernobyl
accident by “renew[ing] our determination to ensure that such a tragedy
will not happen again.”
The Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdown is one of only two nuclear accidents
classified as a Level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale –
the 1986 Chernobyl disaster is the other. Since 1950, there have been 99
accidents at nuclear plants around the world; 57 of them occurred after
“It’s my responsibility to stay … and it is my right to be here,”
Matsumura has said, standing in front of the rice paddy that used to be
the source of his livelihood. “We haven’t learned our lesson yet.”
Though staying means that his risk of developing cancer increases
exponentially, Matsumura is determined to remain in Fukushima to take
care of animals that were left behind – pets and livestock alike.
“People get sick when they get old anyway,” Matsumura said in a March
2012 UK Telegraph video, smoking a cigarette and looking on as an
ostrich drank from a bucket on his farm.
So far, Matsumura says, the government has done nothing. (Media footage
shows some contaminated soil under a series of blue tarps; other news
video underscores the police-guarded perimeter around the exclusion
zone.) St. Francis of Fukushima, Matsumura will stay with the cows,
dogs, and ostriches, demanding that the government decontaminates the area.
andrea bennett is an Associate Editor at Adbusters.
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