"The mice will prevail"

Written by  Urs Fitze

Japans voters may elect a government strongly pushing atomic energy. But that does not mean, that there is no anti-nuke-movement.



In Inawasheiro in the north of the Fukushima prefecture, Kaoru Konta, a doctor, has observed a gradual increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer. All the while, posters advertising the region as a tourist resort are pushing for a return to normality. Konta's husband is appalled that a nuclear energy proponent won in the gubernatorial elections. "How can it be that the people voted against their interests?" he wonders.

Eiji Oguma, a professor of historical sociology, regards this as only somewhat contradictory. There is no doubt, even among supporters of the ruling LDP party, about the will to phase out nuclear energy. Sooner or later, even the LDP cannot make this disappear politically. In Tokyo, a colourful, heterogeneous movement is keeping the resistance movement going. They have demonstrated every Friday since 2012, and have also occupied a piece of pavement in front of the administrative building of the powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The Citizens' Nuclear Information Center (CNIC) has been active for over 40 years, and Nuke Info has become the most important source of independent information.

General secretary Hideyuki Ban puts the will to phase-out nuclear energy in perspective: the only thing that was clear is that no nuclear power plants should be built. Everything else was left up in the air. In the port city of Iwaki around 50 kilometres south of the destroyed nuclear reactors, people have to learn to live with radioactivity up to twelve times higher than normal. But while monitoring food sold in stores works well, picking wild berries – much loved among the population – remains a major problem. Measurements conducted by the independent Tarachine radiation measuring centre reveals dramatically higher levels at times.

"It would be primarily up to the authorities to do more," says co-CEO Ayumi Nozaki. Yet here too, as in all of Fukushima prefecture, the motto of a "top-down" normality applies, one that seeks to downplay the consequences of the disaster. Kazumi Watanabe rented a vacation home near Inawashiro and offers convalescent weeks to families from the contaminated areas. She receives state support but only because they are officially deemed English-study weeks.

"Japan doesn't like to create great politicians, but it has an incredibly competent and wise population," says Eiji Obuma. People make themselves highly pragmatic on their way towards a country without nuclear energy. Politicians, bureaucrats and the nuclear industry are being condemned to extinction just as the dinosaurs once were because they cannot adapt to the change. The mice will prevail."

Read more:

Kaoru Konta, Family Physician: "Never give up your dreams."

Setsuka Kuroda, anti-nuclear activist: "Stop it at once and for all."

Oshidori Mako, Comedian and Journalist: I'm being followed."


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