(Translation Courtesy: Caitlin Stronnel)

Excerpts from interview with:

Suzuki Kinue 鈴木絹江さん

Head of “Fukushi no machizukuri no kai” 福祉のまちづくりの会
Community based welfare organization in Tamura City, Fukushima, supporting independent living of people with disabilities

※ The entire interview, along with other interviews of leaders and users of community-based organizations supporting people with disabilities in Fukushima, is available for screening. Please contact Caitlin 9910 767 952

Look at the state of Japan. Everything is concentrated in Tokyo and Osaka. Only the big cities are developed and small rural towns are left behind. It’s a deliberate strategy to create the so called “under-populated places” and leave them in poverty. Only when they want to build a nuclear plant, they come in, all high and mighty, slapping your face with a bundle of money, demanding that you obey. They expect you to be thankful for the jobs and money being generated. This was the way of our nuclear policy. It’s unforgivable. But who am I to say these things as I didn’t act against such reality. It all comes back to myself.

It’s clear that the only way to get through this crisis is to change the way we live. But I can’t bring myself there yet, for now. It’s like when I try to get my life together, I can feel that I’m not standing on my two feet. I’m drowning in water, but I haven’t reached the bottom yet. Perhaps it’s a sense of helplessness. The reality of the nuclear plant, this society, it’s just too enormous that I myself cannot do anything. It’s overwhelming and I feel I cannot change it for the better. I feel powerless. I’ve come to this. I’m forced with this reality. In order to hang in there, I need to be able to see the future. But what’s future at this point?

Ultimately, money is not an issue.

It’s beyond monetary compensation.

People have built their own living spaces and things around it in their own ways. The kind of places they like, making their comfort spaces. It could be about the atmosphere, surrounding yourself with your favorite things, owning a cat, or wanting to live with loved ones. The livelihood that was built over time in that place, and now that place has become the most dangerous place. To lose this, to be robbed of our life there, it’s unbearably sad. Our lives can’t be bought or replaced. I feel this very strongly.