Magazine / March 2012

Two mothers of Fukushima speak of their pain and indignation

Tatsuko Ogawara at an anti-nuclear rally.

Tatsuko Ogawara at an anti-nuclear rally.

© Michael Loewa / Greenpeace

We bring you two stories of two mothers from Fukushima, Japan who watched in fear the horror unfold. The first story is from 34-year-old mother of two, Kanako Nishikata, who last year attended our anti-nuclear rally in Germany. While the second story, from 57-year-old mother and organic farmer, Tatsuko Ogawara.

More moving stories From Fukushima residents

Witness story: Kanako Nishikata

Kanako Nishikata and children

Image © Robert Knoth / Greenpeace

Hello, everyone. My name is Kanako Nishikata, a single mom with an eleven-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter. Before March 11 our days were happy, even though we didn't have much money. But the Fukushima nuclear accident has deprived us of safety, which is what motivated me to come here to Germany together with my children and attend this rally.

Only now that we've moved to Yonezawa City can we finally open the windows and air our clothes outdoors. We no longer need to wear a gauze mask all day; instead I can see my children smile, and as soon as they come home after school they drop their schoolbags and go on outside again to play. These things are nothing that special, yet we feel immensely grateful.

Fukushima mother at anti-nuclear rally

Image © Michael Loewa / Greenpeace

Recently one of my children said to me, "I don't want to go back to Fukushima. I'll get ill if I stay in Fukushima. And getting ill will make you unhappy, mom, because you'll have to worry about the medical bills!" And I thought to myself, when I was my children's age I never had to deal with such a situation. Now many Fukushima children have worries like this.

Aside from the sorrow in my heart, there is also indignation. It's the recklessness of us adults that has led to these dangers threatening the world, and fostered such worries in the minds of children. For the rest of my life I will carry a sense of guilt in regards to these innocent children.

Human beings and animals all feel an instinctive need to safeguard the next generation. This instinct is more powerful than any other force. Let's not forget this, for the sake of our children. I am going to whole-heartedly continue to fight for a nuclear-free world. Attending this rally is only the beginning of my anti-nuclear efforts. It's going to be a lifelong task of all Fukushima residents.

Witness story: Tatsuko Ogawara

Fukushima organic farmer

Image © Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

I am Mrs. Ogawara from Fukushima. Over the past 26 years, I operated an organic farm together with my family, growing about 50 crops and raising some cows and chickens.

Although it was 25 years ago I still remember the Chernobyl leak. My eldest daughter was only two months old, and radiation was even detected in Japan, 8,000 kilometers away from the accident. This made me, a breastfeeding mother, very anxious. Considering that my home was only 40 kilometers away from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, I thought it was important to learn more about nuclear power, in an effort to prevent my young children from similar suffering. I also began warning my friends of the dangers of nuclear power and gave public speeches here and there.

However, with five children I found myself busy rearing them and working on my farm. So my anti-nuclear passion began to fade away. In recent years farmers have suffered plenty of hardships brought about by unusual weather, so I found myself saying if nuclear power helps prevent global warming, perhaps it's not a bad thing.

On 11 March an unprecedented earthquake occurred in Japan. The mountains were swaying, and the roads cracking right in front of me. After checking that all my family members were safe and sound, a chill suddenly ran down my spine as I looked in the direction of the nuclear power plant. Thinking of the horrors of nuclear leakage, I was struck with guilt because I had already known of the consequence25 years ago but did nothing.

The spread of radioactive substances from Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant continues. As for the measures taken by the country and the Tokyo Electric Power Company to solve this, my expectations are getting smaller and smaller. Not a single drop of pesticide or any chemical fertilizer has ever been used on my farmland, and now it has been contaminated by radioactive dust!

Nevertheless, I will not give up. I plan to continue my participation in the Global Denuclearization Campaign, and do my best to put smiles back on the faces of people in my hometown and Fukushima!