Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fukushima Today

It has been 4+ months I have written my blog.  Things were quite hectic, but I have to report something today.   

But first I would like to share with you that I recently composed and premiered a new work for Soprano, piano and electronics, entitled "My Life in Fukusima".  The text was written by a Japanese (half Dutch) mother of a 6-years old daughter, Marika Yoshida.  Marika works as a mental health therapist and manager at a clinic in Fukushima.  I found her text in her Facebook "Note", contacted her and asked if I could set a music to it.  It was done very fast and I might need to do some revisions, but an occasion presented itself that I could present it, so I did.  It was performed by Japanese artists Kyoko OGAWA, soprano and Yumi SUEHIRO, piano at "Japan Perspectives: Composer's Voice Series" concert, organized by composer Douglas DaSilva at Jan Hus Church, NYC. on April 8th.

Today, Marika shared an entry by her friend named Akira Tamagawa, who just visited Fukushima site today.  He wrote this note in Japanese, but I had to translate this to share with my English speaking friends.  (please excuse my non-professional translation)  I couldn't post this in my Facebook page (too long) so I am happy to share with you here.  This is the most frightening, but realistic situation today in Japan. 

"Status update" from Mr. Akira Tamagawa's Facebook page, from Fukushima:

Today, I entered into the Fukushima Dai-ichi (no.1) nuclear plant. I am restricted not to give certain information, but I write what I can. We received the explanation at the "[Important] Vibration Prevention Ridge", and I got to see closely the No.3 and 4 reactors which is all but left with the skeletal iron frame works [from the explosions].   The highest radiation value today was 1,000sv/h. It is the world of unimaginable dimension. 

My honest impression is that [the work] is progressing, and also not progressing.  Inside the  "Important Vibration Exempt Ridge", the dosage is lower, but if you go one step outside, the radiation dosage is high.   In such an environment, it encouraged me enormously the fact that there are people at the forefront, such as Osamu [writer's friend], who are desperately trying to contain the situation doing their best as if that is their normal duty.  

I can say with certainty, that if it weren't for the work and support [of the people of the Fukushima nuclear site], the eastern Japan would have been blown away without a doubt. There are still over 1000 Fuel Rods exposed in the fuel pool, and it is more dangerous than the "containment vessel".  

The good news is this explosion only happened on the "surface". If the fuel itself reacted and dispersed, us, the team from Hachioji-shi [city of western Tokyo] would have become the immediately affected "party".  

And it is important not to misunderstand, that this was not the worst accident.  If the  "[Important] Vibration Prevention Ridge" was not completed just in time 6 months before [MK: I am not sure if he means 6 mo. before the accident, or 6 mo. ago from today], it would have been impossible for the Fukushima nuclear site to be able to cope, and there is no doubt that today's Japan did not exist.  It is important to realize and share the horrific fact, more than we do now, that we were fortunate to be able to escape the absolute worst case scenario.

I am telling you, that it was really close, “paper-thin line” [to the worst catastrophe]. Current situation is that we are discussing how to address each issue from now on, but we are able to get to this point because the worst was prevented with a “paper-thin” line.  Sumida, Hachioji, Hitachi, the entire Tokyo, and possibly western Japan would have been at a “paper-thin” line.  And if we don’t address this issue properly, it will continue to be a “paper-thin” line.

It is not the Fukushima’s issue; that is a very clear error.  It is very clearly the all of Japan’s issue, although I could guess that it is hard to fully realize it.  I might sound harsh, but I know that all of you must share this realization.  Please remember the gravity [of the situation] in your heart.

Then, I would like all of you, affected parties [that is the entire Japan] to get involved, not as an outside supporter, and to re-examine your work and lifestyles.  There is no choice but to re-think our lifestyle that depends on nuclear energy, consuming energy for work and lifestyle.

I painfully realized again, looking at the skeletal iron frames, the gravity of the situation.  It is so different from looking at it on the TV.   And there are people who are working there with nothing but their bodies; some workers are victims of the disaster themselves.

I realized that it is a mistake to “support” Fukushima.  It is Fukushima which is supporting our “now”, today’s Japan.  That is why, you all are the affected parties in this problem.  You can’t understand this if you live in Tokyo. You can’t understand this if you live in the city of Fukushima.  That is why, one must imagine the situation, rather than not understanding it. 

Inside the No.1 reactor compound, I fatefully passed a crane truck of “Da-te Heavy Machinaries”, [the company] of Osamu.  There are people who can’t escape. Because of these people, we are able to live a normal life. This fact hasn’t changed today.

Everyone, the Fukushima nuclear disaster is not solved, that is the fact.  And let’s firmly co-own the fact that this is not Fukushima’s problem.   Again I feel painfully that it is a mistake to think this is Fukushima’s problem.

This is my report today.
The original Japanese post is below.
I couldn't sleep after reading this note, and just stayed up all night and finished translating it.





... そのような中で前司くんをはじめ、最前線でこの事故を押さえていこうと、尽力している方々がいること、当然のこととして仕事をしている方々がいることが、自身にとって大きな励みになりました。