I’m one of an international group of activists who met in Japan three days ago to climb Mt. Fuji, as a way to remember the nuclear disaster that happened in Fukushima last year.
The goal of the climb was to show support for the people who were affected by the disaster and to bring awareness to the danger of nuclear energy. We had messages of solemn remembrance, support and hope for the Japanese people from around the world to carry to the summit.
My personal reason for being involved in this project is because last year’s disaster especially hit home for me. I was born and raised in Kobe, Japan and still have many family and friends living in Japan. Also, in the current city that I live in (Toronto, Canada) there are nuclear reactors just outside the city. A Fukushima-type of disaster could easily happen anywhere, this isn’t just Japan’s problem. Nuclear energy is a problem that affects the whole world and needs to stop now.
Meet the climbers >>
There were 11 of us in the team, from 10 countries, and we rolled out of bed at 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning at a traditional Japanese cabin located on Mt. Fuji, stepped out into the dark at 4, and began our attempt to summit the mountain. Although this mountain is climbed by over 5,000 people a day during the summer season, it is only attempted by a few in the winter.
To tell you the truth I was a little terrified of doing this climb and was unsure if I would even be able to reach the top. I had also read too many articles of people being blown off the mountain before my trip to Japan. But I was still pretty determined; especially since I was the only woman on the team.
During our ascent, we climbed high past the clouds, watched the sun rise and eventually arrived to exposed slopes of snow and ice scattered with volcanic rocks. Looking down meant a long way to cities, the ocean in the distance and even the Japanese Alps somewhere in the background. Below us, a second team of Greenpeace activists had set up a huge banner reading “No Nuclear” and “Nuclear Free Tomorrow” at the edge of Lake Yamanakako, with Mt Fuji in the distance behind them.
We got lucky and had beautiful weather for most of the day, until my fear of strong winds came true. I was pretty sure I was going to get blown off to the point that I was almost ready to turn back around. But my teammates wouldn’t let me give up so easily and kept pushing me on. Towards the end I was having a hard time breathing from the altitude but eventually we finally arrived on the summit. But let me tell you, the wind on the summit was a whole other story. There were very strong gusts of wind which made it impossible for me to even take a step, but the rest of the team continued to wrestle with the banners of people’s messages in the wind, holding on to each other for support.
Our ascent took eight hours but our descent took only a fraction of that time and for most of it we were able to slide down. Now we are all back in the cabin relaxing, with the whole team in one piece!
The Japanese government is thinking about restarting nuclear reactors. Most of them have been shut down since Fukushima and the country is getting along without them. Restarting reactors would show the government has learned nothing from the disaster.
If Japan can do without reactors, so can Canada. Near where I live in Toronto, there are reactors less than 30 km away and more a bit further away. Like Japan, the government is pushing ahead with nuclear without thinking through the risks properly. What happened in Fukushima can happen anywhere. This is a problem that affects all of the world, not just Japan, and we need to stop nukes now.