‘A Journey’, by M.K., a mother who evacuated with her child from Fukushima City


M.K.’s son looking for a sign of spring in the garden – before the 3.11 disaster


M.K.’s son watching the Shinkansen (bullet train) – his favorite pastime


The carps they put up for their son (a Japanese tradition to pray for boys’ healthy growth) the year before the disaster. It turned out to be the only year they could do this.


the flowers in the garden they used to have


more of the flowers in the garden they used to have


the white and pink peach trees they planted to commemorate their son’s birth


Their house before the 3.11 disaster with big trees


The trees were chopped down for the decontamination work (photo taken on 3rd January, 2015)


The chopped up trees left abandoned (nowhere to go) in the corner (3 Jan., 2015)


Fukushima’s famous one-thousand-year-old cherry tree called “Takizakura” (waterfall cherry tree).


The 1000-year-old cherry tree had to witness the stupid human disaster.


The dosimeter showing the radiation level (photo taken in their garden on 4th January, 2014).


The empty lot shown here used to be her grandmother’s vegetable garden (6th May, 2015).

all photos by M.K.

A Journey

by M.K.

(Written and published originally in Japanese in 2013)

It’s been about two years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. This memoir is to record our life of “boshi hinan” (mother-child evacuation) since the double disaster of the earthquake and nuclear accidents, how I finally made the decision to evacuate with my then one-year-old son and how I have felt for the last two years. My son is now three years old and we are still living a life of “boshi hinan.”

 The Emergency Earthquake Alarm

I will never be able to forget this date: March 11, 2011. I remember it was cold and snowy that day. For the first time in my life I experienced a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. An unfamiliar sound from my cell phone was an urgent earthquake warning. I was getting panicky, wondering what to do, “Earthquake? What shall I do?” When I managed to put a coat on my son, the quaking started. At first it was small, but increased intensity so much that we could neither keep standing nor sit still. Holding my one-year-old son in my right arm and clinging to something with my left hand, I held on so that my body wouldn’t be carried away by some force and waited for the quake to stop. I held on desperately, and the long shaking seemed to last forever. My son and I were in the bedroom upstairs, listening to the terrible noise from the living room downstairs: the sounds of dishes falling from shelves and breaking, bang! crash! I was afraid of our house being destroyed and the thought of our possible, approaching end of our lives filled me with terror.

When the main shaking was finally over, I headed for the door to get out of the house and found that the piano had turned 90 degrees and was blocking our way out to the living room. I climbed over the piano holding my son in my arm, stepping carefully on the living room floor with heaps of scattered broken objects and headed for the front door. All the inside doors had broken loose from their door frames and had left the traces of their movement on ceilings and floors. The kitchen unit which had been attached to the wall was also broken off from the wall. Who could have imagined that the whole, heavy kitchen unit could separate from the wall and be moved in an instant like that! Our regenerative room heaters in our living room and bedroom had also been stripped off the wall and fallen down a few meters away from their original places. I found out later that each generative room heater weighed 200 kilograms. While I was enduring the terrible quake in the bedroom holding my son, the regenerative heater fell off the wall and moved, coming near us. When the quake stopped, it turned over a few centimeters away from us. I shudder at the thought that it could have reached us and turned over upon us.

When I finally reached the front hall of our house, I couldn’t find a matching pair of shoes. All the shoes and other objects were scattered all over. I put on the first shoes I could grab, though mismatched, and got out of the house.

It was very cold and snowing. Without sufficient warm clothes, I was holding my barefoot son tightly. The aftershocks with magnitude 7~9 repeatedly came. My house and the electric pole by it were also violently shaking. Being afraid that they might fall down, I tried to stay away at a safe distance. Soon my father-in-law, who had been working in the area not far away, came running to our place. He had lost his car on the way, for its wheels got half-buried in the ground by the earthquake. The stone graves in the neighborhood were miserably overturned and scattered. Most of the roofs and roof tiles of our neighbors’ houses were also broken down. The nearby water reservoir for agriculture ruptured, and a landslide swallowed some houses burying some people.

The evening came and darkness fell. Though it was extremely difficult to contact my husband and other family members, I could finally reach my parents who lived only about 20 kilometers away from us. They hadn’t suffered as much damage as I had. Only some little things had fallen off. I decided to flee to my parents’ house with my son at that time.

My parents’ house actually was only about 40 kilometers away from Fukushima nuclear power plants. But I decided to seek temporary shelter there because I couldn’t have envisioned that there would be nuclear explosions.

I could not go to sleep that night, hearing the ceaseless rumbling sounds of the earth due to aftershocks. My son cried all night until his voice became hoarse, unable to have a good night sleep.

We could meet up with my husband finally three days later.

The Worst Situation

A new day came. It was the day when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants exploded despite the common belief, “safety assured.” Electricity was working at my parents’ house and so we could watch TV news. The official warnings changed from “Take indoor shelter” to “evacuation” orders and we couldn’t contain our increasing perplexity. As Mr. Edano, the then Secretary General of the Cabinet, only repeated “No immediate effect on health,” our anxiety nevertheless became intensified. We were only 40 kilometers, just a stone’s throw, from the nuclear reactors. It was only a matter of time, I thought, until we would hear some kind of concrete direction about what to do. My parents’ town had already accepted 2,000 evacuees from a town within 20 kilometers from the reactors and was under strict caution. The evacuees came with their town officials and gave the latest news of their situation to our town. Soon we started to hear the public disaster alarm through the wireless announcements. The guidance was given to all citizens to stay indoors, to turn off heaters no matter how cold it was, and to seal up windows and doors.

We learned that potassium iodide tablets were going to be distributed among all the residents under 40 years of age. I learned about “potassium iodide” for the first time in my life. An explanation read that taking potassium iodide right before or right after a large dose of radiation exposure can protect people from serious radiation poisoning, though its effect would last only for 24 hours. The news of distribution of the emergency medicine, which we would not have to take in our ordinary daily lives, shook me with a sense of its extraordinary seriousness. My hands started trembling. “We must get out of here quickly,” I thought while waiting for the tablets to arrive.

We, however, never received any tablets because neither my son nor myself were registered as residents in my parents’ town. They hadn’t prepared any extra tablets for outsiders. I repeatedly begged some for my son only, but to no avail. Desperately I called one office after another and begged. I tried the health center, the prefectural government, and radiation research center, etc. But none could respond my desperation as a mother wanting to protect her little boy.

I understood that they couldn’t help me because we were not registered citizens there. But it was agonizing for me not being able to give my son the preventive medicine from possible radiation poisoning. What else can I say? The frustration, sadness, resentment, all these emotions I had to go through while looking at my little son, unable to protect him from radiation, vividly come back sometimes and disturb my sleep even today like a nightmare. Never do I seem to be able to forgive myself for the inability to help my own son.

After all, fleeing as far as possible from the nuclear power plants seemed the only way to take now that there were no protective tablets available for us. I decided to go back to my house, which was not in any habitable condition and was 65 kilometers away. The area would be less contaminated than my parents’ town, I assumed. However, I did not know that I was going to regret my amateur assumption later. A few days later, I found out that my city, 65 kilometers away from the nuclear power plants, had a several times higher radiation level than that of my parents’ town, 40 kilometer away. Unable to obtain proper information, I had evacuated into the area with higher dosages of radiation. Nobody gave us proper information as for where to evacuate or where we could have avoided radiation exposure. On the contrary, the central and the prefectural governments suppressed information from us while they had information through the SPEEDI (System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information).

I blamed the central government and TEPCO, thinking, “I would never have gone to a higher dosage area if only they had given us information. They could have reduced our radiation exposure a great deal.” I remonstrated, over and over again, the man-made nuclear power plants for causing the man-made disaster and then again, humans for even multiplying the damages.

However, for the first time I admitted to myself that I had been ignorant of and even not interested enough in nuclear power and radiation effects while living in this country with so many nuclear power plants. It was too late to regret: Radiation exposure cannot be undone. Time in the past cannot be recaptured.

I heard later that many of the evacuees from the off-limit zones had carried potassium iodide tablets with them. However, I also heard that they failed to take them effectively, right before or immediately after the nuclear fall out, due to the absence of proper instruction from their governments. They suffered, as a result, from radiation exposure which they could have avoided.

Decision Making

In a few days since the disaster, my stress was extremely high due to the worst fear that I had ever experienced in my life. My only desire was to get away from radiation and to protect my son. Without information I could rely on, I couldn’t trust anything nor depend on anyone. I couldn’t imagine myself living on in that terrible state of fear. The earthquake disaster was bad enough, and how would I be able to endure the worse fear of radiation harm, which is unidentifiable and indefinable. There was only one thing I could do, i.e., to leave Fukushima. I made up my mind to evacuate.

However, I immediately encountered the realistic problem of not having means to move out. Neither Shinkansen trains nor highway buses were running. I made a reservation for a flight out of Fukushima Airport, but could only be on a waiting list for possible cancellations, which seemed almost unlikely to happen. Gasoline was not available anywhere in town, either. But my only thought was that I had to get my son out of the situation here.

Luckily I heard from someone that farmers in the neighborhood had had extra gasoline in their big tanks for their green house maintenance. I called one farmer after another and begged to share some of their gasoline. When I could finally collect 20 litters of gasoline, I was almost crying, for our evacuation seemed possible at last.

The following day, I put the minimum necessary clothes for my son in a suitcase and made ready to evacuate Fukushima with him. At that time, food and diaper supplies were far from sufficient not only in Fukushima but also in the whole east Japan area. I put all the diapers, baby food and as much water as I could carry in the suitcase without putting any of my own clothes. I literally had only myself. My husband put the gasoline we managed to get in our car and drove us to a city in the next prefecture where Shinkansen trains were running. The traffic was heavy and it took much longer than usual to get there. I found out later that the level of radiation in the car was not much different from that in the outdoors. Looking back, I realize that we got irradiated a lot in our evacuation process.

When we came near the first Shinkansen station from where trains were starting, we saw many abandoned cars. I could empathize with the owners of the cars who had also come here earlier to evacuate and fled for their lives. After a long time, we finally reached the station. My husband came to the platform to see us off. A train had been waiting for its departure time. We had 15 minutes. My husband came on board the train and enjoyed sharing the short, precious time together with his son, enduring the hard time to be separated.

My husband said he could not go with us because he had a job and the house to be rebuilt. I was, however, worried about his safety. There was no life guarantee back home. The worst fear was that indefinable radiation and its effect on my husband… and on my parents. But we couldn’t help ourselves. I couldn’t stop my tears flowing down my cheeks, thinking this may be the last moment to be together. How I wished I could stop my husband from going back and we could evacuate together! But my wish didn’t seem to reach my husband. He got off the train just before its departure and saw us off from the platform.

If the disaster had been only a natural earthquake disaster, we would not have to evacuate. We used to have a happy family life, but had to choose to become separated due to the nuclear accidents and the huge amount of radiation discharge. We could have endured hardship no matter how our house had been destroyed or even if we had to work hard to repay a debt to rebuild our house. I was full of remorse, but controlling my sadness, headed for Tokyo with my son. My son was one year and one month old then. He was simply enjoying his first bullet train ride, understanding neither the evacuation nor the separation from his own papa. Watching such an innocent baby boy, I couldn’t contain my tears.

The Beginning of Our Evacuation Life

We arrived at Tokyo Station in about an hour. I got off the Shinkansen train and found my younger brother, who lived in Tokyo, waiting for us on the platform. I was really grateful for his help because I was exhausted, having traveled with a one-year-old son, carrying a baby car and a suitcase.

As we went through the gate to exit, I saw crowds talking and walking past us just as usual and as if nothing serious had ever happened. It took me a while to accept the gap between the condition in Fukushima and that in Tokyo and to get over the shock and confusion. I was asking myself, “Was it a bad dream or something?” After the few days of survival struggles, I finally had gotten to Tokyo and found everything just as normal as it can be. People were living normal daily lives. Trains and buses were running. Understanding the normal situation, I was so relieved that I felt as if I had lost my legs.

My brother let us stay in his one-room apartment until we could find somewhere to settle. He was the only relation whom I could depend on in Tokyo. He was a businessman and often traveled abroad. We have hardly seen each other since then.

A few days later, I found a newspaper article telling that the government was offering free housing to Fukushima evacuees. I decided to apply for it, because I had lived in Tokyo when I was a student and knew its whereabouts. Tokyo is not too far away from Fukushima and I didn’t want to go farther away from my family in Fukushima. I did not have any more energy to travel further. I decided to stay a while in Tokyo and see how things would go. We did feel aftershocks frequently in Tokyo, too. TV programs and my mobile phone would often show or sound urgent earthquake alarms. But we did not know how bad the radiation contamination was in Tokyo yet.

I started off to go to apply for free housing by taking trains, though both my son and myself were beginning to feel sick. First my son started vomiting, having diarrhea like water and then a fever. After a while, I started having the same symptoms. Suffering from the diarrhea and nausea, I desperately got on a train with only one desire to get a housing arrangement for our future. We had to change trains, too. At one station, I couldn’t stop vomiting and finally squatted down. A station officer came and offered help. I was almost fainting, but I regained my consciousness and left the station. I couldn’t give up. I was determined to apply for our housing no matter what.

Somehow I managed to arrive at the housing office, could finish the application procedure and went to a hospital I found on our way back. They said we were both afflicted by Norovirus. They told me I had to get hospitalized by myself without my son because the hospital didn’t have hospitalization conditions in the pediatrics department. How could I alone be hospitalized! I begged them to allow us both to be hospitalized together, but they refused.

When the intravenous medication they administered was over and we stepped out, it was already dark. Other hospitals had already been closed. I had no more energy, physically or mentally, to visit another hospital, so decided to go back to my younger brother’s apartment. I had to squat down to vomit along roadsides quite often. Tears streamed down for this trying difficulty. I kept walking along a road beside a national highway, holding my son’s hand, desperately thinking, “I will never, ever let go of this hand,” until at last we arrived the empty apartment.

Sickness didn’t go away for a while but I had to wash my son’s vomit-stained clothes, gave him water to drink, and take care of him. I could not even rest no matter how sick I felt. It was a very hard time. I cannot forget the time I was caring my son while crying myself.

Such difficult days were overwhelming. I had never experienced that hard life before. But here we were since I decided to evacuate with my son from radiation contamination. “Had it not been for radiation! If only they hadn’t had the nuclear power plants!” The thoughts crossed my mind repeatedly. I also wished my husband had been with us many times. However, the transportation system had not recovered yet and he would not be able to come right away to help us.

After a few days, I received the notice that we were accepted into the free housing that I desperately wanted to have. It was a great relief. I was going to be able to settle at least for a while.

My life of “boshi hinan” (mother-child evacuation) began. The apartment had basic commodities such as a refrigerator, TV, air conditioner, gas stove, and bedding. How I appreciated them and the people who had prepared them for us! After having our house destroyed by the earthquake, evacuating voluntarily from nuclear fallouts, and keeping double households, our financial situation was really severe.

People in Fukushima lost everything in one moment by the nuclear accident caused by the Tokyo Electric Power Company. But actually, Fukushima people had never benefitted from TEPCO, which sends the electric power generated in Fukushima to Tokyo. We, people in Fukushima, use electricity generated by Tohoku Electric Power Company. However, some Fukushima evacuee children in Tokyo and its vicinity were bullied at new schools. Being avoided like contagious diseases, some children said they preferred to suffer from radiation in Fukushima than being bullied in Tokyo. Not a few of them actually returned to Fukushima for that reason. Not only adults but also children were suffering so much that their little hearts were almost ruptured by sadness. They had to face the cruel reality and make a difficult decision to go back.

I gradually found out how serious nuclear fallout contamination in Tokyo was. As I had survived the information blackout in Fukushima, I didn’t rely on the government nor TEPCO for information. Trusting my intuition only, I didn’t use the city water from the faucet for cooking and drinking, bought foods carefully choosing the production sites, always wore a mask and a hat whenever we went out, and tried especially to protect my son from rain. When my son needed a lot of physical exercise, we went to a nearby shopping mall so he could run around indoors. However, once in a while I took him outside for a limited duration of time, worrying about radiation, because I felt pity for my active little son to be confined indoors all the time. He had just started to walk. But every time we went outdoors, I suffered from regrets, worrying that he might have gotten irradiated, and detested myself. I was torn inside every day.

Two reasons kept us in Tokyo despite my increasing radiation concerns. First, it was not too far away for my husband to come visit us, especially to see our son who had just been one year old. By taking a highway bus, he could come to Tokyo from Fukushima in four hours two to three times a month. It was economically possible, too.

The second reason was that I had no confidence in my health condition. I had had asthma and used to carry an oxygen inhaler with me. The coughing fits had been suppressed but had restarted after the earthquake, though I can’t determine whether it was due to the mental stress or radiation contamination. Also, sometimes I fainted due to Meniere’s disease. When its symptoms attack, I lose balance, get dizzy and become immovable. I wondered how I could take care of my son when such an attack came. My husband would be able to rush to rescue us. If he drove on the highway, he could come to Tokyo in about two and a half hours. For these reasons I decided to stay in Tokyo for a while despite some problems that were arising. I suddenly realized I had lost 10 kilograms. A friend of mine, seeing me after a long time, pointed that out and for the first time I realized my weight loss. The blue jeans I used to wear before the earthquake became so loose that I could easily put my fist between my pants and my stomach. That was only after a few months since our evacuation to Tokyo.

Soon I began to feel like evacuating from Tokyo. I tried to persuade myself to stay but it became unbearable to live in the fear of getting irradiated. I saw people changing the sand in sandboxes at parks and kindergartens because the radiation levels were too high –higher than the officially set standard of limitation. Unfortunately, the apartment we were accepted to live in was located in the area which had the highest radiation level in Tokyo. Worse still, we had an incinerator of a certain clean-up company right in front of us. Why an incinerator of all bad things! I lamented this bad luck. Tokyo had just started to incinerate the debris from Fukushima.

 My Second Evacuation Decision              

Having lived in Tokyo for about a year, I decided to move to Osaka in March 2012. As expected, my husband and in-laws strongly objected. But I was determined. A few days later, we moved to Osaka and I could finally feel refreshed. The frequent earthquake alarms that I heard in Tokyo no longer bothered me and I could sleep better.

However, my husband couldn’t come to see us as many times now as before. Although it takes only one hour to fly from Fukushima Airport to Itami Airport, the cost of a round trip, 60,000 yen, made it difficult. I couldn’t ask for his help or any other family member’s help, even if I got sick because I had moved to Osaka in spite of their opposition. I started to feel a lot of stress, living in an alien city without any close relatives. However, I have lived here in Osaka with my son only to stay away from radiation.

I have often questioned myself whether my decision was right and, regretting it, I felt disgusted about myself. I thought, “If I had endured living in Tokyo, my son would be able to see his beloved papa more often. Did I tear them apart?”

To be honest, I don’t know what is the best way for my son. Does it make him happier if we could live together even if he gets ill in the future due to the harm from long-term radiation exposure? Or should I keep him safe from radiation even if he misses his father? No matter how hard I try, I cannot come to a conclusion. I wish someone would answer my questions. Who can answer my questions? How long do we have to continue our split, double life? Will we ever recover a happy family life like before when we lived together enjoying safety in a pollution-free land?

As I take in the laundry from hangers outside, I look up at the setting sun and think of the sky of Fukushima 600 kilometers away. I wonder if my husband far away is also looking at the same sky. I wonder what is going on in our homeland that has abundant green nature.

Even now after some time since we evacuated from the disaster, tears flow uncontrollably whenever I look up at the sky. I start thinking and worrying, “if my son wants to get married, in the future, to someone from outside Fukushima, I wonder what her parents will say to him? Will they ask him if he can give her a healthy child, if he can stay healthy, and if he can protect his family?” Since we were in Fukushima when the nuclear accident occurred, we may have to endure discrimination. Therefore, we have to continue our evacuee life to defend our health and not to deprive my son of his future.

What Has Been Revealed So Far…

It’s almost a year now since we migrated to Osaka. We are still mother-and-child evacuees and my husband comes to visit us once a month. Nothing has changed so far for us living with anxiety and fear. For example, we are nervous about our daily food. When I shop for food, I always check where they were produced. Our government makes us even more nervous by pushing nuclear power plant restarts in this earthquake prone country. And our health concerns have been doubled or tripled by their incineration of Fukushima debris. Health hazards in broader areas beyond Fukushima has been revealed.

The grave condition of the nuclear accident is still going on far from being “under control” and requires attention of emergency. Our future is unknown due to the large amount of daily radiation discharge. Holding on to a dream that someday we may be able to go back to Fukushima, I get frustrated for not being able to do anything much about it.

I read a newspaper article once reporting the numerous cases of deaths that could have been saved right after the tsunami disaster. Due to the high radiation dosages, the rescue search of the tsunami victims had to halt. They had to abandon many who were getting weaker but could have been saved. The victims perhaps were waiting for rescue to come for a few days, trying to endure the pain and trying to survive. But nobody came and they died. Had it not been for the nuclear explosion, rescue operations could have saved many more lives.

The other day, we had a radiation dosage test of our garden soil in Fukushima. The result was Cs134+Cs137=12510Bq/Kg. What does this mean? Some people have objected making a simple comparison with Chernobyl, but this amount in Chernobyl forces evacuation or compensation for evacuation. However, in Fukushima many people are still living their “normal” daily lives there.

We have been accused of being too nervous or labeled as “homeland deserters.” However, it is not normal to have the high dosage numbers from a corner of a house garden. Had it not been for the nuclear accident, we would never have had such high level of contamination.

Fukushima has become a split community between “deserters” and those who have stayed. One group evacuated for health concerns, the other has decided to remain and to live with contamination. Both sides have their merits and demerits. We cannot simply determine that one side is correct and the other, wrong. We must respect either decision made by people who sincerely and seriously worried and considered about the future of their younger family members. Others cannot criticize them. The final decision making as responsible parents, I think, depends on individual judgment.

I made a decision to evacuate even though our family had to be separated. I had been troubled, unable to judge if that was the right decision or not. However, recently I could finally be convinced that it was right. Soon after we moved to Osaka, my son had a health check-up and they found several “abnormal” problems. I was shocked and cried every night after he went to sleep in another room. However, a recent health examination found that everything is back to normal and he is in good health! I could finally feel relieved, finding out that it had been right to steadily follow the decision for the last two years despite a lot of difficulties.

What Has Been Lost and What Has Been Gained

Due to the double disaster of the earthquake and the nuclear accidents, we lost a lot of precious things. We lost precious time that we were going to spend together as a family; my husband lost daily opportunities to see our son growing up day by day; and we lost uncontaminated land and clean air. We can never recover them.

However, we have also gained some things. At first, right after the disaster, I was full of remorse and sadness, asking, “Why Fukushima?” and “why us?” But I had a profound realization that the happy and luxurious family life we had enjoyed before, which I had taken for granted, couldn’t return. In this sense, this has been an important learning experience.

For the first time in my life, I had to face a risk of death in the midst of the fearful sounds of the rumbling earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale. Nowadays, what I see every morning when I wake up is my son’s peacefully sleeping face. I think, “We are alive today, too!” looking at him beside me. Every morning I feel grateful for the fact we are living. I also found many people and many things for which I am thankful.

Now I often think of the meanings of what I have. Right after the earthquake, we had no extra clothes to change into nor hot baths in which to relax. Now, we can change into clean clothes, wash dirty clothes, make a hot bath anytime, put food on the table anytime and sleep in futons when tired. I remember I used to make a “thank-you prayer” for the blessings of various things every day when I was a kindergartener. I had forgotten that since I grew up. Now I recovered “the beginner’s mind.”

I have received a lot of help since we moved to Osaka. Actually, we had moved to four different cities before Osaka. I had never been to Osaka before. I had not planned to come to Osaka, but happened to come to Osaka without having any acquaintances. I was alien to Osaka dialect and culture, but it is miraculous to think how I have met these friends in Osaka. I thank every one of them and want to live appreciating each connection.

Now let me tell you about one thing I have held in my mind… what I have come to realize about life. After experiencing the great disaster, which I could not have even imagined before, I feel it didn’t happen simply accidentally but came in an inevitable course of events. In other words, everything, including both good and bad, has a meaning as what happened to myself.

We have lost a great deal due to this nuclear accident. But now standing at a turning point of life and realizing the meanings of things, and reflecting upon the way how I should live my life from now on, I have come to see myself as a survivor. It is a great victory to have discovered the way of living thanking every single day as a precious meaningful time.

Now it is almost two years since the disaster. We hardly hear about what is actually happening in Fukushima or what concrete health problems have risen. Probably most Japanese live without knowing much truth about them, because they never surface. So now, what can we do to protect our own family members, the most precious people in our lives?

I have learned the following through my own experiences. It is necessary to be always on the lookout for information, to develop ability to see through truth out of a lot of misinformation, and not to be confused or easily affected by it. Then to have the following three abilities is necessary and not any one of them should be lacking: the ability to make a right judgment, the ability to make a right decision and the ability to take action.

It is regrettable, but my country didn’t consider it a priority to protect its people. Perhaps it won’t change. We just have to protect ourselves as long as we have chosen to stay in this country. I would like to live on with smiles without wasting time for negative thoughts in this evacuation life which seems to last endlessly.

I would like my son to acquire the strength and wisdom to defeat any adversity. I may not be able to leave him a lot of money or property, but I hope, I can leave him the art of surviving and living independently. I think this is the duty of my life now.

(Translated by Yoko Chase, Ph.D.)

The original Japanese version:

震災から2年が経とうとしている今、震災~原発事故により当時1歳になったばかりの 息子を連れ、母子避難を決意してからの私たちの生活、そしてこれまでの思いを この手記に綴りたいと思います。 震災当時1歳だった息子は現在3歳となり、今も変わらず母子避難生活を送っています。

♦♦緊急地震速報♦♦ 忘れもしない2011年3月11日。

外は雪が吹雪いていて寒い日だったと記憶しています。 私は生まれて初めて震度6強の地震を体験しました。聞き慣れない携帯電話からの警告音。 緊急地震速報でした。

地震が来る、どうしよう…と少しパニックになりかけたものの、なんとか息子に上着を着せなければと思い ちょうど着せ終えた時に揺れが始まりました。

最初は小さな揺れでしたが、次第に強くなり立っても座ってもいられない状況でした。 当時 1 才 1 ヶ月だった息子を右手に抱え、左手で部屋のどこかにしがみついて

身体が持っていかれないよう必死に長い揺れがおさまるのを待ちました。 しばらくの間必死に耐えていましたが、大きな揺れはなかなかおさまりませんでした。 当時、私と息子は2階にあるベッドルームにいました。 リビングから聞こえる食器が落ちる音や、バターン、ドーンという大きな音で 家が崩れるかもしれない・・・私たちはもう終わりかもしれない・・・ という恐怖感でいっぱいでした。

そしてとても長く感じた本震がおさまった隙に外へ逃げなくてはと思い ベッドルームを出ようとドアの方へ向かうと、リビングに置いてあったピアノが 90 度回転しているのが見え

私達がいたベッドルームの出口をふさぎかけていることに気づきました。 私は息子を抱えてピアノをよじ登り、瓦礫の山と化したリビングの瓦礫を踏み分けながら 1階の玄関を目指しました。 途中、あちこちのドアというドアのほとんどが外れ落ち、数メートル先に倒れていました。 そのドアが歩いたであろう跡が天井や床にくっきりと残っていました。 また壁に付いていたはずのキッチンが壁から丸ごと外れて移動していました。 あんなに重いキッチンが壁からスポーンと外れて移動するなど想像もできませんでした。

そしてベッドルームやリビングに設置してあった蓄熱式暖房機も壁から剥がれて 数メートル先に倒れていました。

あとから分かったことですが、蓄暖の重さは約 200 キロ。 ベッドルームで揺れに耐えていた時、その蓄暖が壁から外れて私達の方へ迫ってきていましたが

私は動くことができず、揺れがおさまった時に私達の数センチ前で止まって倒れました。 今思うと、もしその下敷きになっていたら…と考えただけでもぞっとします。

靴の在り処が分かりませんでした。 とりあえず左右違っていたものの最初につかんだ靴を履いて外に逃げました。 外は雪が吹雪いていてとても寒く、私はたいした防寒着も着ぬまま、裸足の息子を 必死で抱き締めていました。 ひっきりなしに襲ってくる余震。震度5~6はあったのではないかと思う揺れでした。 外から見る我が家も電柱も左右に激しく揺れ、倒れてくるのではないかと不安になり安全な場所を探しました。 それからしばらくして近くで仕事をしていた義父が駆け付けてきました。 義父の乗った車は道路に埋もれて動かなくなってしまい、途中から走ってきました。 家のすぐ近くのお墓の墓石も無残に崩れ落ちていました。 また近所のほとんどの家の瓦や屋根が崩れ落ち、近くの農業用ダムが決壊し 土石流となって民家を飲み込み生き埋めになった人たちもたくさんいました。

やがて外が暗くなりはじめました。 家族ともなかなか連絡が取れない状況の中、運良く私の実家と連絡が取れました。 私の実家は被災した自宅からわずか20キロほどしか離れていませんが、多少物が落ちた程度で 被害が少なかったので、とりあえず息子を連れて私は実家に避難することにしました。

ところが、実家は原発からわずか 40 キロしか離れていません。

しかし震災当日の時点ではまさか原発が爆発するなどとは思ってもいなかったので、 地震の被害が少なかった実家へしばらくの間身を寄せることにしました。 その夜は度重なる大きな余震で地響きがなり止まず、なかなか寝付けない息子は 声がかれるほど一晩中泣いていました。



日が変わって…「安全安心!!」と言われていた福島第1原発が ついに爆発する日を迎えることになってしまいました。

私の実家では幸い電気が通っていたのでテレビを見ることができました。 屋内待避から避難指示へと切り替わり、ことの重大さに戸惑いを隠せませんでした。 3キロ圏内から、10キロ、20キロ・・・と範囲が広がるのと同時に、 当時の官房長官である枝野氏が「ただちに健康に影響はない・・・」 という言葉をひたすら繰り返し、私達の不安はますます募るばかりでした。 私の実家は原発からわずか40キロしか離れていません。40キロなんて目と鼻の先。 なんらかの指示が出るのも時間の問題だと思いました。

その頃、警戒区域からの多くの避難者を、私の実家のある町で受け入れていました。 その避難してこられた町の役場の方たちも一緒でしたので、警戒区域の様子や避難の様子などの情報が 入ってきていたようでした。 しばらくして私達の町でも警戒を呼び掛ける町の防災無線が鳴りはじめました。 放射能が大量に飛んでくる恐れがあるので、全町民は屋内待避をするようにとのアナウンスが聞こえ、 寒くても暖房を止めてドアや窓を目張りするよう指示がありました。

そして 40 才未満の全町民に安定ヨウ素剤が配布されることになりました。 その時初めて「安定ヨウ素剤」というものを知りました。

説明の書かれた文書には、大量に被曝する直前か直後に飲むことで被曝を防げるというものでした。 しかし効果は 24 時間だけ。日頃の私達の生活において、まず飲むことのない薬の配布が始まり

「これはただ事ではない!!」という思いから手が震えました。 早くここを出なくては・・・と思いながら、薬の配布を待っていました。 しかし私と息子の住民票はこの街には無く、被災した自宅のある市にあったので、 「人数分の薬しか用意していない」とのことで薬を受け取ることができませんでした。 なんとか息子の分だけでも手に入れなくては・・・と何度もお願いしましたが、 やはり受け取ることはできず、必死の想いであちこちに電話をかけました。 たらいまわしにされながら、保健所や県、放医研などに電話をかけ交渉を続けました。 しかし、なんとしても息子を守りたいと思う親の気持ちとは反対に、薬は手に入れられず どうすることもできませんでした。 住民票がここに無いのだから仕方がない・・・と分かってはいても、 幼い息子が被曝するかもしれないという状況の中で薬をもらえないのは 親としては本当に辛かった、としか言いようがありません。 被曝していく息子を目の前に、何もしてやれない悔しさ・・悲しさ・・憤り・・ 今でもその時の光景が鮮明によみがえってきて、夜中にうなされたり寝付けなかったり することがあります。私は親なのに我が子を守ってやることができなかった、という 不甲斐なさが今でも頭から離れません。

そして薬を手に入れることができなかった私は、少しでも遠くへ逃げるしかないだろうと判断し とても住めるような状態ではなかった被災した自宅へ一旦戻ることにしました。

自宅は原発から 65 キロほどの距離だったので、40 キロの実家よりは少しは放射線量が低いだろう

と思い自宅へ向かいました。 しかしその時の素人の考えが、後々後悔することになってしまいました。

数日経って分かったことですが、40 キロの実家より 65 キロ離れた自宅の方が

数倍も放射線量が高かったのです。 当時私たちは何の情報も無かったので、より線量の高い方へ逃げてしまいました。 どこへ避難すれば安全だったのか、少しは被曝を避けられたのか、誰も教えてはくれませんでした。 それどころか、国や県はスピーディーの情報を持ち合わせていながら 私達には何も公表せず隠してきたのです。 もっと早く情報を公開してくれていたら、より線量が高い方へ逃げることは絶対にしなかった・・・ いくらでも被曝を減らすことはできたはず・・・ 人が作り出した原発によって、さらには人の手でその被害を拡大させたこと、 私は国や東電を何度も何度も恨みました。 と同時に、私はこれまでこれほどたくさんの原発をかかえる国に住みながら、 原発や放射能に関心を持たぬまま生きてきたことや知識の無さに
このとき初めて気付き後悔しました。 どんなに後悔してももう遅い、被曝してしまったものは無かったことにはなりません。 時間を戻すこともできません。 警戒区域から避難してきた人の中には安定ヨウ素剤を携帯していた人も多いと聞きました。 しかし国からの適切な指示は無く、被曝の直前か直後に飲まなければ意味の無いこの薬を 被曝から守るために効果的に飲むことができず、こうしてたくさんの人達が無駄な被曝をしてしまいました。


震災からわずか数日間で、これまでに体験したことのない恐怖に見舞われ、私のストレスも極度の状態でした。 とにかく放射能から逃れたい、息子を守りたい、という思いしかありませんでした。 何の情報も無い、何も信じられない、こんな恐ろしいところで怯えながら過ごすなんて これ以上考えられない。地震で被災しただけでも怖い思いをしているのに、 なぜそれ以上に得体の知れない放射能という恐怖に怯えて過ごさなければいけないのか・・・ そして、福島を出よう・・・出るしかない・・・と決心しました。 しかしそのすぐ後に、移動手段が無い現実に突き当たりました。 当然ながら新幹線も高速バスも通っておらず、福島空港からの飛行機をキャンセル待ちするも 一向に順番が回ってくる気配も無く、更にはガソリンも底を尽きどこにも売っていない状況でした。 それでもなんとしてもこの場から息子を連れ出さなくては・・・という思いしかありませんでした。 そんな時、私の自宅の周りの農家で、日頃からビニールハウスの燃料をタンクで買って 家に置いてあるという情報を手に入れました。 そこで、なんとか少しだけでも譲ってもらえないかと農家のあちこち電話をかけお願いすることにしました。

そしてなんとか 20 リットル集めることができ「これでやっと逃げられる」という思いから泣けてきました。

その翌日、スーツケースに息子の最低限の荷物だけを入れ、 私は息子と共に福島を出ることにしました。 その当時、福島だけでなく東日本全域において食料品やオムツなどの品薄状態が続いており、 私は家にあるだけのオムツやベビーフード、持てるだけの水をスーツケースに入れ 自分の着替えは1枚すら持つことができず、身一つで避難することにしました。 なんとか手に入れたハウス用の燃料を車に入れ、新幹線の通っている隣の県まで 夫に送ってもらいました。途中渋滞が多く、通常よりかなり時間がかかりました。 車内の放射線量は外とあまり変わり無いとあとから知って、 今思えば避難するだけでも相当な被曝をしたのだと思います。

しばらくして新幹線の最寄り駅に差し掛かった頃、駅のあちこちにたくさんの車が乗り捨ててありました。 この車の所有者たちも皆必死に逃げたい思いでここまで来たのだろうと思いました。 時間はかかりましたがなんとか駅に着き、見送りのため夫がホームまで一緒に来てくれました。 地震の被害により当時そこは始発駅になっていたので、新幹線がすでに到着し発車時刻まで待っていました。 発車するまでの15分間、わずかでしたが夫も新幹線の中に入り別れを惜しんで息子と一緒に過ごしました。 夫は仕事や全壊した家のこともあるので、私たちと一緒に行くことはできない・・・と言いました。 しかし自宅に戻ったら無事でいられるのか命の保障はありません。 何より放射能という得体の知れないものを相手に夫は・・両親は・・大丈夫なのだろうかと 心配でなりませんでした。しかし私達はどうすることもできず・・・ もしかしたら今この瞬間が夫と会う最後になるかもしれない、という思いで 悲しみがこらえきれず涙が止まりませんでした。 できることならこのまま夫を引き止め一緒に連れていきたい、と何度も思いました。

しかしそんな私の想いも届かず、夫は新幹線を降りホームから私たちを見送りました。 地震だけなら避難などする必要はなかったはず。 原発事故が起き大量の放射能が放出されてしまったために それまで幸せに暮らしていた私たちは離れ離れの生活を選択することに。 地震だけならたとえ家が全壊しようとも借金を抱えようともどうにでもなったはず、 と思うと悔しさでいっぱいでしたが、私は悲しみをこらえ息子と共に東京へ向かいました。

当時 1 才 1 ヶ月の息子は、避難をするために新幹線に乗っていることも パパとの別れも何一つ理解しておらず、初めて乗る新幹線にただただ無邪気に喜んでいました。



それから 1 時間ほどして東京駅に着きました。 新幹線を降りると、そこには都内に住む私の弟が待っていてくれました。

1才になったばかりの息子を連れ、ベビーカーとスーツケースを持ち 疲れ切った私には大変ありがたく思いました。 改札を出ると、何事も無かったかのように行きかう人々が普通に話をしながら歩いていました。 その時私は「これまで何か悪い夢でも見ていたのだろうか」という思いに駆られ、 福島と東京とのあまりの差に混乱してしまい、現実を受け入れるのに少し時間がかかりました。 生きるか死ぬかという状況の中で過ごしてきた数日間。 東京へ来たら皆普通に生活をしている。電車もバスも動いている・・・ 状況を理解するとホッとして腰が抜けそうになりました。

とりあえずどこか住める場所が見つかるまでの間、6 畳1間の弟のワンルームマンションに

住まわせてもらうことにしました。 東京で頼れる親族は弟だけしかいませんでしたが、仕事で海外へ行くことが多かった弟とは それ以降ほとんど会うことはありませんでした。

数日して、新聞で被災者向けに無償で住宅を提供するという記事を見つけました。 その頃、東京でもしばしば余震が続いており、携帯電話やテレビでの緊急地震速報が 頻繁に鳴っていましたが、その時はまだ放射能による東京の汚染度合は分かっておらず、 東京は私が学生時代に住んでいたこともあり土地勘があったので、 その無償住宅に応募することに決めました。 なにより福島からそんなに遠くはないので、福島に残してきた家族のことを考えると それ以上遠くへ行こうという気にもなれず余力も残っておらず、 しばらくこの土地で様子を見ることにしました。

住宅の申し込みへは電車を乗り継いで行かなければなりませんでした。 しかしその時すでに私と息子の体には異変が出始めていました。 最初に息子が激しい嘔吐と水下痢、発熱。しばらくして私も同じ症状に。 激しい下痢と嘔吐に見舞われながらも、今後の住居のためになんとか申し込みをしなければ・・・ と必死で電車に飛び乗りました。 しかし途中の駅でどうにも嘔吐が止まらず、力尽きて座り込んでしまいました。 意識朦朧とするなか駅員さんに声をかけられましたが、 こんなところで申し込みを断念するわけにはいかず何が何でも行かなければ・・・ という思いでその場を後にしました。

そしてなんとか申し込みの場まで辿り着き、やっとの思いで手続きを済ませ 帰る途中に見つけた病院で診察を受けました。 どうやら私も息子もノロウィルスにかかっているようでした。 私たちは共に苦しんでいましたが、その病院での小児科の入院環境が整っていないことを理由に、 息子の方は入院できないが、とりあえず私だけ入院するよう言われました。 しかし幼い息子を一人残して私だけ入院するわけにもいかず、

なんとか息子も一緒に入院させてもらえないか、とお願いしましたが 受け入れてもらうことはできませんでした。 点滴を終えた頃にはすっかり夜になってしまい、他の病院の診療時間も過ぎており 移動できるだけの体力も気力ももう残っておらず、仕方なく弟のいないマンションへ帰ることにしました。 途中、何度も何度も道端に吐いては座り込んでしまい、辛さのあまり涙が止まりませんでした。 国道に面した道を歩きながら、絶対に息子の手だけは離すまいと必至で歩き続けました。 そしてやっとの思いで、誰もいない部屋へ辿り着きました。 その後もしばらくは具合の悪さが続きましたが、嘔吐で汚れてしまった息子の洋服を洗濯したり 水を飲ませたり、私が世話をしないわけにはいかなかったので、どんなにしんどくても休むことさえできず、 とても辛くて自分でもどうしたらよいのか分かりませんでした。 ただただ泣きながら世話をしたことは今でも決して忘れることができません。 放射能から逃れるために母子避難を決意し、今までに経験することのなかった辛い毎日。 放射能さえ無ければ・・・原発さえなければ・・・という思いが再び私の頭をよぎりました。

こんな時に夫がそばにいてくれたら…と何度も思いました。 しかし交通機関が完全に復旧しておらず、すぐに助けを呼ぶこともできませんでした。

それから数日が経ち、必死の思いで申し込みをした住宅に当選することができ、 しばらくは住む家の心配も無く避難生活が送れる、とやっとホッとすることができました。 それから息子と2人の母子避難生活が始まりました。 提供してもらった住宅には、冷蔵庫やテレビ、エアコン、ガスレンジ、寝具が用意されていました。 震災で家が全壊しそれだけでも大変な中、更にのしかかる自主避難という二重生活での多額の出費で 厳しい金銭状況の中にいる私たちにとって、それらの用意されたものは大変有り難いことでした。 私たち福島県民は東北電力を使っているので東京電力は使用していません。 その私達が東京電力の起こした事故のためにそれまでの生活を一瞬にして失ってしまいました。 福島から首都圏をはじめ他県へ避難した子供達が、放射能がうつると言われ学校でいじめに遭い、 いじめられるくらいなら被曝する方がまだマシだと言い、 せっかく避難しても泣く泣く福島へ戻る子供は少なくありませんでした。 大人だけでなく、子供たちもその小さな胸が破裂しそうなほど心を痛めているのです。 子供ながらにそんな選択をしなければならないなんて、あまりにも残酷ではありませんか。

しばらくして東京も汚染の状況が深刻だということが徐々に分かり始めてきました。 福島ではなんの情報も得られなかった現実をすでに私は経験していたので、 東京へ来てからも決して国や東電を信用せず自分の勘だけを頼りに生活していました。 水道水は使わず食材にも気をつけ、外出時にはマスクや帽子は欠かさず 決して雨に濡れないように注意していました。 おもいっきり息子を走らせたい時には、近くのショッピングモールまで行き その中で走らせるなどしていました。 けれども歩き始めの活発な息子を毎日のように室内に閉じ込めておくのは可哀そう・・・ と思うこともあり、放射能を気にしながらも時間を決めて外に出すこともありました。

外に出す度に、幼いわが子を被曝させてしまったのではないか・・・ と自己嫌悪に陥る自分と、部屋に閉じ込めておくのは可哀そう・・・ という思いが入り混じり毎日葛藤の日々でした。

なぜこんなにも放射能を気にしながら東京で過ごしてきたのか、理由は2つ。 まだ 1 才になったばかりの息子を少しでも父親に会わせてあげたかったこと。

東京なら月に2~3回は父親が会いに来ることができます。 なんとかやりくりすれば時々会える距離だからです。

夫は福島から高速バスで 4 時間かけて息子に会いに来ていました。

そしてもう1つの理由は、私が健康でいられる自信が無かったこと。 もともと喘息持ちで以前は吸入器を持ち歩いていました。 ここしばらくは発作が落ち着いていたので安心していましたが、 震災での心労のせいか放射能に汚染された空気を吸い込んだせいか分かりませんが、 久しぶりに発作が出てくるようになりました。メニエール病などのめまいで倒れることもよくありました。 めまいが起きると平衡感覚を失い、全く動けなくなります。 もし私が急に具合が悪くなった時、幼い息子を守り切れるのかが何よりも心配でした。 東京なら真夜中でも福島から車で駆け付けられる距離です。

高速道路を飛ばしてくれば 2 時間半ほどで来ることができます。

そして私はいろいろなことと葛藤しながらもしばらく東京で避難生活を送ることに決めました。 その頃、気が付くと私の体重は10キロほど減っていました。 久しぶりに会った友人に指摘され、自分が痩せたということに初めて気付きました。 そういわれてみると、震災前に履いていたジーンズが確かにゆるい。 握りこぶしが余裕で入ってしまうほどでした。


「東京を出たい!」という思いが何度も襲ってきました。 その都度なんとか自分に言い聞かせて東京にとどまっていましたが、 放射能を気にしながらの生活はやはり耐えがたいものがありました。 当時、区内の公園や幼稚園などの砂場の放射線量が、区の設定する基準値よりも 超えている場所が多数あり、砂の入れ替えをするのを目の当たりにしていました。 また、不運にも私たちが入居を許されたアパートは都内でも線量の高いとされる某区。 しかも目の前には某清掃工場の煙突がそびえ立っていました。 よりによって清掃工場の目の前だなんて・・・自分の運の悪さを恨みました。 その頃、東京では瓦礫が燃やされ始めました。

約 1 年を東京で過ごした後、震災の翌年の3月についに大阪府へ再避難することに決めました。

当然、夫や義両親はとても心配し反対しましたが、何を言われようと私の心は決まっていました。 それから数日後、ついに大阪への引っ越しが終わり今度こそやっと息が吸える清々しさを感じました。 頻繁に鳴っていた緊急地震速報の警告音を聞くこともなくなり、以前よりも、夜眠れるようになりました。 しかしこれからは今までのように月に数回も夫が息子に会いに来ることはできません。

福島空港から伊丹空港まで飛行機ならたったの 1 時間ちょっとなのに、 往復 6 万円かかる運賃が私達の再会を妨げていました。

家族の反対を押し切ってまで大阪に来たのだから、具合が悪くなったからと言って すぐに家族を呼ぶことはできません。私は大変なプレッシャーを感じるようになりました。 身寄りも無い土地勘も無いこの大阪の地で、 放射能から逃れるために現在も息子と2人避難生活を送っています。 しかしこれで本当に良かったのだろうか・・・
と引っ越してきた当初は何度も自己嫌悪に陥りました。 私がもう少し東京で頑張っていれば息子は大好きな父親ともっと会えたはず。 私が2人を引き離してしまったのではないか・・・と。 息子にとってどうすることが一番良いのか、正直私には分かりません。 被曝をし続け将来病気になってでも家族が一緒に暮らせる方が幸せなのか、 家族がバラバラになり息子に淋しい思いをさせてでも被曝を避けるべきなのか、 何が一番良いのか、どんなに考えても答えが出ません。 誰か教えて下さい。誰に聞けば答えが出るのですか?
私たちのこの生活はいつまで続くのでしょうか? 家族が安心して汚染の無い土地で、また一緒に暮らせる日は戻って来るのですか? 洗濯物を取り込む時に、沈む夕日をふと見上げながら600キロ離れた福島の空を思い出します。 離れ離れになった夫も同じ空を見ているのだろうか・・・ 自然豊かな私たちの故郷は今どうなっているのだろうか・・・と。 震災からしばらく経った今でも空を見上げると、とめどなく涙が流れてきます。 もし息子が将来結婚をする日がやってきて、その相手が福島以外の人だとしたら 相手の両親は何と言うだろうか。 もしかしたら息子に対して「健康な子供は作れるのか、ずっと健康でいられるのか、家族を守れるのか・・・」 などと言うかもしれない。 原発事故が起きた当時、福島で過ごしていた私達はこれからもずっと偏見の目で見られるかもしれない。

だから私たちは避難生活を続けるしかないのです。そして健康を守るために…。 なんの罪も無い息子の将来を奪わないように。


息子と二人で大阪に住むと決意してからもうすぐ1年が経とうとしています。 生活は相変わらず母子避難のまま、月に一度夫が会いに来るというスタイルも特に変わりありません。 日々、食材の産地を気にしながらの買い物、地震大国での原発再稼働の不安、 そして瓦礫の焼却によるこれから出るであろう健康被害・・・ 福島に限らず広範囲で続々と明らかになってきた健康被害・・・ 不安材料は何一つ減ることなく毎日が過ぎていきます。 今現在も続いているこの原発事故という緊急事態。 収束どころか、日々放出され続けている大量の放射能による先の見えない生活。 いつかは福島に帰れるだろう・・・という半ば夢のような思いを抱きながら 何もできない自分へのもどかしさを感じています。

以前新聞でこのような記事を読みました。 警戒区域では線量が高いために行方不明者の捜索が十分にできていない状況についてです。 それは、津波による溺死ではなく「衰弱死」の話でした。 津波に遭った後、助けが来てくれると信じながら瀕死の状態で数日間待っていた人たちがいました。 しかし線量が高いために近寄ることができず、誰にも助けられずに亡くなっていったのです。 どれほど苦しく怖い思いをしたのだろう・・・ もし震災直後に救助に行っていれば助かった命はたくさんあったはずです。

それから、先日やっと福島の自宅の庭の土壌を測ることができました。 Cs134+Cs137の数値が「12510Bq/Kg」でした。

この数値は何を意味するのでしょうか。 チェルノブイリの事故とは単純に比較することはできませんが、義務的移住区域に相当 または移住に関わる補償を受ける権利が認められている地域であるということ。 しかし、今現在もたくさんの人たちがこの地域でも普通に暮らしているのが現状です。 国が「安全だ」と主張する傍ら、避難するという選択をした私たちは「神経質」「きちがい」「地元を捨て逃げた者」 と呼ばれ続けてこれまで過ごしてきました。 しかし自宅の庭からこのような数値が出るということ自体、私は普通ではないと考えています。 原発事故が起きていなかったら、このような数値が出ることはまず無かったわけですから。

そしてこの福島という土地で暮らす人々、この土地から逃げた人々との間には 分断が起きているのも事実です。 健康被害を懸念して避難した人、汚染と向き合って地元に残ると決めた人、皆それぞれです。 避難すると決めても残ると決めても、それぞれにメリット、デメリットがあり どちらが正しいとか間違っているなどと、ただ単純に決められることではありません。 どちらにしても、親が子を思い、心配し、決めた決断・・・ それこそが正しい選択なのだと思います。


親としての責任をどう果たすべきか、最終的には個人の判断だと私は思います。 私はたとえ家族が離れ離れになっても、避難するということを選択しました。 これが正しい判断だったのか、これまでずっと悩んできました。 しかしつい最近、避難を決意した自分の決断が正しかったと思える出来事がありました。 大阪に引っ越してきたばかりのころ、息子は健康診断を受けました。 その時はいくつかの異常が見られ、大変ショックだった私は 息子が寝た後に別の部屋で毎晩泣いていました。 ところが最近受けた健康診断ではその全てが改善されており、まさに健康そのものでした。 これまで、いろいろ辛い思いをしてきましたが、この2年間自分の決断を貫いてきて 揺らぐことなくここまでこれたことは本当に良かったなぁと、やっと思うことができました。


今回のこの震災そして原発事故により、失ったものがたくさんありました。 家族で過ごすはずだった時間、日々成長している息子の様子を毎日見ることができなかった夫、 汚染の無い土、澄んだ空気・・・もう二度と取り戻せません。 しかし得たものも決して少なくありません。 原発が爆発した時は「よりによってなぜ福島が?」「なぜ私たちが?」 と正直、悔しくて悲しくて仕方ありませんでした。 しかし、こうなってみて初めて当たり前だと思っていたことが当たり前ではなくなり、 これまで自分がいかに贅沢で幸せな生活をしてきたのか、と大きく気付かされました。 そういう意味ではとてもよい機会になりました。 生まれて初めて体験した震度6強の地震で、ものすごい音とともに私は死を覚悟しました。 いま、毎朝目が覚めて最初に見るもの、それは・・・息子の寝顔です。 そして思うことは、寝ている息子を横に「今日も私たち生きている・・・」ということ。 毎朝目覚めとともに生きていることを実感しては、「ありがたいな~」と思います。

そして人や物のありがたみも、嫌というほど分かりました。 物事の意味もよく考えるようになりましたし。 避難直後は着替えも無く、暖かい湯船に浸かることもできず・・・ でも今では、服が汚れたら着替えて洗濯し、浴槽には温かいお湯を張り 目の前には食べ物がいつでも置いてあり、寝るときは布団で寝ることができます。 私が幼稚園児だった頃、毎日いろいろなものに感謝をし 手を合わせてお祈りをしていた時のことを思い出しました。 そういえば、あの頃はひとつひとつに感謝するということを毎日していましたが 大人になった今、いつの日かもうそんなことはすっかり忘れていました。 この震災で初心に戻った気がします。


大阪に辿り付くまでに4回避難しました。その中で大阪は私が生まれて初めて来た土地です。 最初から大阪に住もうと決めて大阪に住むことになったわけではありません。 たまたま行き着ついた先が大阪でした。 言葉も違ければ文化も違いますが、みなさん一人一人に出会えたことはまさに奇跡であり、 これからもひとつひとつの「縁」を大事にしていきたいと思います。

そして私はこれまでずっと思ってきたことがあります。 これまで想像し得なかったほどのとても大きな出来事が自分の身に起きました。 その全ては起こるべくして起こったもの、つまりそれは「偶然」ではなく「必然」であるということ。 良い事も悪いことも全てには意味があり、自分の身に起きたことなのだと思います。 この事故で私たちが失ったものはあまりにも大きいけれど、人生の折り返し地点にいる今 いろいろなことに気づき、改めてこの先どう生きていくかを考え直すことができた私は ある意味人生の勝ち組なのではないかとさえ思います。 1日1日を意味のある時間として過ごしていけることは本当に大きいと気づきました。

震災からもうすぐ2年が経とうとしています。 福島では何が起きていて、どのような健康被害が出ているのかなど、 具体的なことや真実はなかなか表には出てきません。 日本中のほとんどの人たちが真実を知らないまま生活をしているのだと思います。 自分にとって最も大事なもの、それは「家族」です。 家族を守り抜くためには何が必要か私は身を以て学びました。 常にアンテナを張り巡らせておく必要性、数ある情報の中から真実を見抜く力、 真実ではない情報に決して惑わされず流されないこと。 「正しい判断力」、そして「決断力」と「行動力」です。 どれが欠けても守りたいものは守れない、と感じました。 残念ながら、この国では国が国民を守るということはしませんでした。 おそらくこれからも変わらないでしょう。この国で生きていくと決めた以上 自分たちの身は自分たちで守るしかありません。 もっと賢くならなければ・・・と日々反省しながら、いつまで続いくのか分からないこの生活の中で 時間を無駄にすることなく笑顔で過ごしていきたいと思います。 そして、息子にはどんな逆境にも負けない強さと賢さを身に着けさせたいと思います。 お金などの財産は残してあげられないかもしれませんが、一人でも生き抜いていける術を なにか息子に残せたら・・・と、それが今の私の務めだと思っています。

Akiko Morimatsu: a mother’s Letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori

Akiko Morimatsu voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima with her two young children – click here for her evacuation memoir

(Translated by Yoko Chase, Ph.D.)


To: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori

Dear sirs,

My name is Akiko Morimatsu. I have been living a life of “boshi hinan,” or “mother-child evacuation” with my two children in Osaka ever since we evacuated Fukushima four years ago.

I believe that the right to enjoy a healthy life in a radiation-free area is one of the most important human rights concerning human life and health. The right should be respected equally among all people.

It is only natural for human beings to wish to avoid radiation exposure as much as possible. This wish should be granted equally to all people.

It is also natural for parental psychology to want their children with future to grow up with as little health risk as possible. All parents want their children’s healthy growth. There should be absolutely no shadow of radiation fear nor heath risks.

Would it be reasonable if only some lucky people could flee from radioactive areas because they happened to have relatives or supporters in other areas? Would it be appropriate for a civilized society if only wealthy or lucky people could leave the radiation-contaminated areas?

It seems you announce one appalling new policy after another. Take, for example, the new policy of cutting housing support for Fukushima evacuees, while giving generous support exclusively to Fukushima returnees. Were you aware of the extreme suffering of those parents whose only choice was now to unwillingly return to the contaminated areas even though they strongly hope to stay away for the sake of their little children? Would you call this a truly fair policy? Would you be able to call this right?

I wonder, to begin with, if both the central government and Fukushima government have made policies for the last four years with the proper understanding that many households simply have not been able to evacuate the contaminated areas even when they wanted because there were no appropriate, supportive public policies for them to choose evacuation to continue their life in a safe environment.

If you have not been aware of such people’s struggles, I must question your ability as political leaders to hear the silent voices of the common people living their common lives. I don’t mean to sound impudent, but I cannot help wondering if this failure is as grave as the incompetence of our past political leadership.

Please reflect upon the fact that the “Nuclear Accident Child Victim Support Law” was made in 2014 but has been shopworn. The law has not been activated nor have the victimized children been helped by it at all. What do you think of this fact?

I have never thought harshly of those people who have been obliged to remain in Fukushima or those who have chosen to live with radiation contamination. I deeply care about them and feel strongly empathic with them for their difficult situation as parents raising young children.

However, we evacuees are also the same Fukushima people. Even though we have evacuated to far away places with children, we sincerely wish to be able to return to Fukushima if only Fukushima returns to the uncontaminated state as before 3.11 without any health risks or anxieties of losing health. If only Fukushima could get rid of all the radiation contamination as before 3.11, we would be very happy to return with all of our family members. We have wished this for four years now.

I sent a letter to the former Fukushima Governor, Yuhei Sato and also a copy of my book entitled Evacuating Fukushima with my Children: Mental Locus to Reach the Family Decision to File a Law Suit to plead evacuee support. I, however, wonder if he heard the silent voices of Fukushima evacuees. I also would like to plead to the current Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori also not to abandon those who chose to evacuate Fukushima; they are Fukushima people after all. Please, respect the basic human rights of the people regarding to their life and health protection. Also, please give generous support and keep practicing concrete, compassionate support policies for evacuees.

I am afraid, more than anything else, of the possible easing the way for infringing numerous human rights in the future if the governmental responses so far after the nuclear accident have become established as common devious methods to do away with problems.

Can there be anything more precious than human life and good health? Japanese people and Fukushima people as well, have, all equally, the right to protect their own lives and enjoy good health.

I implore you, hereby, to give the minimum legally guaranteed protection to the people who have chosen to take the fundamentally human action to protect precious lives and health.

Unfortunately, we have had nuclear accidents. I would like to, therefore, take action which we can hand on for posterity with pride in the future as citizens working together with the Fukushima Prefecture government. The same position and hope can be referred to our national government, as well.

Therefore, please listen not only to those partial groups of people interested merely in economic gain, but also to this sincere mother, a hard-working life supporter, a loving prefectural citizen, and a true Japanese citizen.

Thank you for reading my humble letter written as a Fukushima citizen, wishing the recovery of Fukushima and as a Japanese citizen also wishing for the true reconstruction of the entire East Japan from the earthquake and tsunami disasters.

May 26, 2015

Akiko Morimatsu, Author of: ‘Evacuating Fukushima with my Children: Mental Locus to Reach the Family Decision to File a Law Suit’

(translated into English by Yoko Chase, Ph.D., the original Japanese version of Akiko’s letter is below)



‘Evacuating Fukushima with my Children: Mental Locus to Reach the Family Decision to File a Law Suit’ a book by Akiko Morimatsu

内閣総理大臣 安倍晋三さま福島県知事 内堀 雅雄さま







A mother’s Letter to Governor of Hyogo Prefecture re housing subsidy ending in December 2015

PINKRHODEDENDRON515titled    Nishinomiya from Fukushima city

Ms M.A.’ evacuated from Fukushima City to Nishinomiya City, Hyogo prefecture with her two children in 2012.

She was welcomed to Hyogo with a three year housing subsidy.

In 2012 she thought that three years would be enough time for her hometown to be decontaminated, but now she understands that it will take far longer than this.

Yet the housing subsidy she receives from Hyogo prefecture comes to an end in December 2015.

She wrote the following letter to the Governor of Hyogo and delivered it to the Prefecture Office on May 12, 2015.

It is now 10 June but she has not yet received a reply.


May 12, 2015

Hyogo Prefecture Governor

Toshizo Ido

Dear sir,

First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the kind policy of Hyogo Prefecture to accept Fukushima evacuee families with its public housing subsidy.

My name is M. A. who moved to Nishinomiya city from Fukushima city in December, 2012.

The reason I am writing this letter to you is that I would like to make a petition for the many victims and evacuees created by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accidents.

I had had no knowledge about the danger of radiation like many other Japanese before the accident. However, I started having suspicion that something truly serious had been going on through the repeatedly presented TV programs and the Internet information about radiation and hibaku issue. But the whole society seems to have been split between two opposing groups of people: one saying that the present condition in Fukushima is safe and the other claiming it is dangerous.

Let me first give you my account of the chaotic situation right after the accident. At first, I tried every possible means to protect my family, especially my two little children from radiation exposure while we were still living in Fukushima. My son wore a mask, a long-sleeve shirt and long pants no matter how hot it was. My daughter’s kindergarten forbade the children to play outside longer than 10 minutes a day. Their favorite past time, such as playing with mud and picking wild flowers and plants were out of question. We were living daily with increasing uncertainty and anxiety without any concrete ways or courage to evacuate.

Four months after the nuclear accidents, my two children and I had an opportunity to participate in a recuperation camp held in Toyooka city. It made me so happy that I was moved to tears to see my children enjoying playing outdoors, which had been taken for granted before the nuclear accidents. I was shocked to be reminded that it was the natural, matter-of-fact daily life which we had forgotten in Fukushima because everyone was enduring a forced, unnatural way of life there. The way of living forced upon us was becoming unbearable. For the first time, I questioned our life under strict control with limited freedom while being told by the officials that staying in Fukushima posed no problems. I started to think that we had overly depended on the authorities for our protection. After all, I came to feel that only parents could save their own children. That was how we started to look into an evacuation option seriously.

We encountered many problems such as economic feasibility, gaining understanding from my extended family members, children’s schooling, etc. But we were especially attracted by the reception policy of Hyogo Prefecture among others due to the following three factors.

1. Only a few prefectures, including Hyogo, were still accepting evacuees from Fukushima as of December, 2012, when we decided to evacuate.

2. The national housing subsidy was limited to 60,000 yen a month, but Hyogo offered to pay the difference if the rent exceeded it.

3. Hyogo offered rental air-conditionings, gas cooking stoves, and lighting apparatus if we needed.

I found out from my friends who evacuated to other prefectures that the above policies were made by Hyogo Prefecture’s own judgment. We were deeply touched by the special thoughtfulness of the prefecture as one that had gone through another great earthquake disaster earlier in 1995. That is why we decided to evacuate to Hyogo.

The housing contract was limited to three years; in our case, until December, 2015. I trusted three years would be long enough for TEPCO to put the nuclear accident under complete control so that people would be able to return without any anxiety. However, what is the reality today? Would it be possible to call it “under control” even as a compliment?

Contaminated and radioactive water from the nuclear power plants has been discharged into the ocean every day. Would you be able to move to Fukushima yourself now if you were in our shoes?

There is one great difference between the earthquakes in Hanshin and Fukushima, i.e., there is the invisible disaster in Fukushima. The visible disaster there has shown remarkable recovery from damages now after more than 4 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster hit the area. However, the situation seems to be getting worse for us evacuees from the invisible radiation contamination. Thyroid abnormality was found in both my daughter and myself. We cannot return to Fukushima now with this reality. I plead you to please listen to the evacuees’ voices one by one. You will be able to see a different reality from the recovery news that the media disseminate.

We don’t mean, however, that we want to become your burdens. Please remember how deeply we have been moved by your acceptance, both physically and mentally. When we found out that there were people who would accept us evacuees lost in the ambiguous apprehension with the unknown future of the radiation contamination, it was beyond description how much we were relieved and felt rescued. We hope you will continue your supportive stance and listen to our voices.

We don’t know what policies the national and Fukushima authorities will come up with for us evacuees from now on. We would like to choose an option that will enable us to live on without regrets, no matter what the authorities decide. If Hyogo Prefecture can continue to stand by us, our appreciation will know no limits. We hope you can continue to offer us your housing support since you are well-known as an earlier, another disaster stricken prefecture and have pioneered and established the well-advanced disaster relief policies.

Thank you for reading my long letter. I appreciate your consideration for our future very, very much.


M. A.

2015年5月12日兵庫県知事 井戸敏三 様

2012 年 12 月より、福島県福島市から西宮市の被災者受け入れ住宅に入居させていただいております M. A. と申します。井戸知事にお願いをしたく、不躾ではありますが、筆をとらせて頂きます。


一日の外遊びが 10 分までと決められながら、娘は幼稚園に通いました。

震災から 4 か月後の夏休み、兵庫県豊岡市で行われていた保養のキャンプに親子で参加しました。


1私が避難してきた 2012 年の 12 月時点、多くの自治体が受け入れを終了しているなか、継続していたのは、兵庫県を含め 3 つほどしかありませんでした。
2国からの家賃補償は 6 万円までなのに、差額を避難者負担にしていませんでした。3入居物件には、希望すればエアコン、ガスコンロ、照明器具を貸与してくれました。


入居当初から住宅延長は最大 3 年という約束でした。私の場合 2015年の 12 月まで、ということになります。
その時は 3 年も経てば原発事故も収束を迎えて、安心して福島に戻れるだろうと信じていました。

東日本大震災から 4 年の歳月が流れ、目に見える被害は、めざましい復興をとげました。しかし放射能汚染を懸念し避難を決めた私達にとっては、ますます状況が悪化しているとしか思えないのです。どうか、兵庫県下に避難している一人一人の声を拾ってください。報道される復興の情報とは全く異なる部分が見えてくると思います。私と私の娘にも、甲状腺に異常が見つかっています。このような状況で福島に戻って下さいと言われても、とても受け入れられません。しかしながら、私達はお世話になっている兵庫県に迷惑をかけたいわけではないのです。受け入れ当初そうであったように、誰にも分からない放射能汚染の将来の懸念を持っている人は逃げてもいいんだと、自分達を受け入れてくれた所があったことに、私達は本当に心も体も救われ感謝しました。是非今後も継続して、私達に寄り添い、声に耳を傾けてほしいのです。これから先、国や福島県が、私達避難者に対してどのような措置をしてくるのか分かりません。どのような決定がでても、最後まで後悔のない選択をしたいのです。




M. A.

‘An Evacuation Memoir’ by Akiko Morimatsu, May 2012


I evacuated from Koriyama city in Fukushima to Osaka after the Golden Week (a holiday period in Japan, from the end of April to the beginning of May) in 2011. I have a family of four: my husband, a four-year-and-four-month-old son, a one-year-and-eight-month-old daughter, and myself. I am here in Osaka with my two children while my husband stays in Fukushima alone to support us.

On March 11, 2011, the day of the earthquake, I was alone with my five-month-old daughter at home in an apartment on the eighth floor of a ten-storied apartment building. My daughter and I were relaxing in the afternoon as usual. My son, who had just turned three, was at the kindergarten that he was supposed to enter in April the following year but had been allowed to go since when he was two. He had got on the bus to the kindergarten at 8:00 in that morning, as usual.

At 2:46 in the afternoon, I felt an intense quake and immediately recognized it was an earthquake. First, I thought of my daughters’ safety and picked her up holding her head to protect it. It was quite different from minor quakes of level 3 or 4. The quake was also increasing its intensity, so I couldn’t keep standing. I felt, for the first time in my life, the danger of my life then. At the same time, I felt the danger of my daughter’s life, as well.

The earthquake of seismic intensity 6 lasted only for a moment, but I lost my composure and was almost panicked by the terrible sounds and intense quakes. Since I couldn’t keep myself steady due to the extremely intense quaking, I laid my daughter under a low table. My daughter who had just become five months old was laughing happily, misunderstanding the quake as something cradling her. It may seem to be simply a funny story now since her life was saved, but it was far from being funny at that time.

It was a pretty long quake. I saw, in the living room, heavy pieces of furniture like a cupboard tipping over from the wall and a sofa jumping up and down like in a slow motion film, coming close to us in the center of the room. It is frightening to recall it even now. To be honest, I thought it was something much more sinister than an earthquake, for it was so intense and terrible. The long quake filled me with so much terror that I thought it might be endless and I might be kept shaking forever.
Fortunately, neither my daughter nor I were injured. I didn’t know when the quake stopped. When I noticed, my house was full of rubble and there was no space to walk. The fear I felt, however, was not over yet. I looked at the door of the living room to find somewhere to escape, only to find water slowly coming in covering the floor like an ameba.

The apartment house was an old-fashioned, completely-electric one. Each apartment unit had a tank that could keep warm water for about two days. The tank seemed to have tipped over or had collapsed by the level-six earthquake, and the distribution pipe was cut and broken. Water streamed out from the living room to other rooms, and after an hour or so, the whole apartment was under water about ten to fifteen centimeters deep.

I took my daughter to the bedroom and laid her down on the futon bedding on the floor. After a while, water started dropping from the ceiling, walls, and beams. In short, the tanks of upper units, the ones on the 9th and 10th floors were also broken. At first, it was like leaking due to rain. Rusty-colored water was dripping in all of the rooms. I was worried about the house’s strength, for aftershocks of level 4 or so had occurred often. There was no dry and safe place where my baby daughter could lie down in the house because of the flooding and dripping water. I didn’t want the cold and dirty water to wet my daughter. Although it was still cold and a little snowy outside, I made up my mind to go out of the house. I carried my daughter on my back for the first time though she was only five months old.

I put on the baby sling, a present from someone celebrating the birth of my second child. The instruction of the baby sling said it was to be used after a baby’s head becomes stable, i.e., six months or so after birth. It was yet brand-new, and had never been used. But I tried it on anyway due to the emergency. The elevator of the apartment house had stopped. And I didn’t know how many steps I would have to go down the stairs between the eighth and first floor. So I judged it was impossible to do it holding my baby in front of me. I took the risk of carrying her on my back, praying that her head was already stable.

Besides, I had to go out to search for my son who, I thought, was at the kindergarten. I had never stopped thinking about my three-year-old son even a moment from the beginning of the quake. “The kindergarten building was newly built in the previous summer… But it was shaken by this intense earthquake… He might not be OK…” I was thinking of worst-case scenarios about him already in the middle of the earthquake. On the other hand, I was praying and trying to convince myself that the kindergarten staff were protecting him. I wasn’t able to go to the kindergarten immediately to see him, because my apartment had dripping water and I had to keep my daughter safe. When I noticed the time, two hours had passed since the earthquake had occurred. It was the time when kindergarten’s bus was usually to arrive at the apartment entrance, but it didn’t.

I didn’t want anything bad to happen to my son, but there was no safe place for him even if he came back. So I was just hesitating without knowing what to do or where to go, carrying my baby girl on my back. Then, a nursing home across the street opened its large room and kindly let people with babies in. I finally got a place to keep my child safely. Now I could go to look for my son. When I started to do so, it was before 7:00 p.m., already after dark. I was lucky enough to see the car sent by the kindergarten taking children home for their parents who couldn’t go to pick them up. At last, I got together with my son in peace. Fortunately, he was safe and sound. When he woke up to the first shock of the level-6 quake, he had been taking a daytime nap. So the quake didn’t seem to become traumatic for him, and he seemed to have no fear for earthquakes even after going through aftershocks. It might have been a blessing in disguise.

My husband had gone to work as usual in the morning, saying “I am going to go on a business trip to Sendai tonight.” It takes an hour or so from Koriyama, where we live, to Sendai by a Shinkansen “bullet train.” When the earthquake occurred, I instantly thought, “It is bad for him, if he is on a Shinkansen train now… for it stops.” I wasn’t informed of his time schedule. I got worried and wondered, “Is he already in Sendai or is he in a Shinkansen train? I wonder if I can meet him today. Above all, is he all right?” I later learned that he had finished his work at the usual time and was on the way to the Shinkansen station when the earthquake occurred. He quickly went back to the office. Fortunately he was not away from Koriyama. After straightening the chaotic office a little, he jumped in the car he had parked at the office, and came back home around at 11:00 p.m.

I wrote “Kids are OK! We are all at the nursing home across the street” on two pieces of paper with a felt pen, and pasted them on the entrance door and the mail box down on the first floor. He saw them and sought us out. Thus, we could get together in peace within the day. We experienced the life in an evacuation center for a month after that.

In this way, we lost our house and all of our household belongings. Radioactive pollution caused by the nuclear power plant accidents just after the earthquake was so serious that it was impossible to rebuild our life in Fukushima. It forced us to choose a double life in Fukushima and away in Osaka. This was in May, last year. Almost one year has passed since we came to Osaka. I still feel as if I were dreaming. I do hope to settle down, but this double life has been a burden for me. I haven’t been able to recover the stability of living ordinary days as we had had before the disaster. Although we decided to take up a double life in order to keep our young son and daughter healthy, the evacuation life has been harder than expected.

Economic weight due to maintaining a double life (double payment of our house rents and utilities) and the travel cost for my husband to come to Osaka to meet his children makes our family finances tight. However, we aren’t receiving any subsidy from the central government or a local government. This is because Koriyama, about 60 km away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, is out of the area designated for evacuation or an evacuation order. So our evacuation was completely “voluntary.”

Nonetheless, the numerical value of the quantity of radioactivity that Geiger counters showed in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture, was so high that I felt like covering my eyes, even in the spots supposedly “thoroughly decontaminated.” In reality, however, playing in the sandbox in playgrounds was out of question. Even letting children go out for shopping or for kindergarten was risky. It wasn’t an environment where you were able to raise your children normally. Such a situation hasn’t changed even after a year. On the contrary, we can’t take our eyes off of the on-going reality, for even the general public carry Geiger counters now. I think things are really serious.

Mandating only expectant women and mothers with infants to evacuate might be better… I don’t remember how many times I thought so. They are wasting human resources and money only on decontamination that looks unscientific even to my amateur eyes, and just dispersing debris nationwide. I don’t think it could be more irrational. I think that taking young people (children who have futures) out of polluted areas, no matter how much money it might require, is much better than taking out debris. I believe so from the bottom of my heart.

My husband could come to see our children once a month this year – at most. Sometimes he couldn’t come for over a month. I am taking care of my children by myself, persuading myself, “This is just like the case of many families who have a father living apart in another city in Japan or abroad for business.” However, there is no such fixed term for us as for families split due to business reasons. When I consider that this situation will probably continue for a pretty long time, I get worried about its influence on our children’s mental peace. I can’t remember how often I wondered if it was good for us to go out of Fukushima this year.

Was it really right that we separated our son who loves his father very much from his father? My daughter, who was five months old at the disaster time, is growing up without knowing much about her father. Doesn’t it create any unnatural distance in the relationship between father and daughter in the future?

Above all, I worry about the mental health of my husband, who stays alone in Fukushima for our sake and can’t even see his children’s sleeping faces every day. Is he really OK? On his days off, he drives his car more than 700 km to Osaka to see them, but he doesn’t (can’t) stay here for 24 hours. He returns the same way without enough rest. Although he came all the way to see them, I yell at our children, “Your daddy is tired with his job and has driven a long way. Let him sleep!” In such a case, I wonder what I am doing.

Ever since the disaster occurred, not one of my family members has enjoyed full rest either mentally or physically. The fear of invisible radioactivity in Fukushima weighs heavily on our minds. Outside Fukushima, we are forced to live an unstable life, apart from my husband. Our ordinary lives as ordinary people living in Fukushima prefecture changed drastically after that day. However, a year after evacuation, I’m gradually trying to move forward, accepting the present state, however gradually it may indeed be.

More than a year after the disaster, while official support programs are being terminated one after another, we, a mother and two children, have managed to survive so far in Kansai. For one thing, it is because I understand that we have to accept the present state. But, above all, it’s because there are many kind people who take supportive action for disaster victims and evacuees always keeping our wellbeing in their minds.

I am really thankful to any kind of support. I am simply grateful. Let me mention the one I feel especially thankful for. My children love playing outdoors very much. However, since I am managing to live day by day, it was impossible for me to take them out somewhere even on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays. In such a situation, volunteer college students, men and women, played with evacuee children. This kind of activity was really great. My children and I are all deeply grateful.

In summer, the students invited children to a campout. Children were very happy to play with “big brothers and big sisters.” Since I have a baby, it is impossible for me to take children out for such things as camping or playing in the river, even living in Osaka unpolluted by radiation. I am truly grateful for the young volunteers.

Although I am the only one who can take care of my children in our daily life, I am too busy managing our day-to-day life itself to provide fun and pleasure to my children. I have consequently been suffering from a guilt feeling. I feel sorry for them. But having a lot of young people play with evacuee children and being helped in various ways, we have been given great mental support and hope. We Fukushima evacuees cannot thank them too much.

In addition, members of the social welfare council helped those without male family members to transport heavy pieces of furniture. While I was unpacking after our move, childcare volunteers in the area kindly took care of my baby. Indeed, various people have helped us in so many different ways. I couldn’t be more thankful for the support given in the Kansai area. I have no words to adequately express my appreciation. I simply thank them very much from the bottom of my heart.

In the magazine for the disaster-affected people that the Osaka social welfare council publishes there was an announcement of an exchange party for the disaster-afflicted people and evacuees. I participated in it, shared common problems and worries, and could gain emotional support. I met people in the same circumstances at the party and learned I was not alone.

I can’t tell how much I am relieved to be able to talk about my problems because I sometimes feel isolated and have no one to ask for advice.

I have managed to get through this difficulty so far, owing to the supportive organization that offered the exchange party with childcare volunteers. Now, I think I have to keep managing and will be able to keep living somehow.

A year ago, I was always spending my evacuation life without confidence, asking myself, “Was evacuation really right?” But now, I think we may have been rather lucky being able to get out of Fukushima, even though the “mother and children only evacuation” has a lot of problems. As many kinds of facts come out, and as I witness the reality that there are so many people who are sometimes called “refugees” or something, my inconsistency over our decision to evacuate has disappeared almost completely. On the contrary, now, I am convinced that our evacuation has been right.

As far as I know, there are no mothers with an infant living in Fukushima who has no worries. They are always looking for a place where they can let children play outdoors. They always seek for some kind of recuperation program during longer holidays. However, some can’t get out of Fukushima even for a short time, for all of their relatives live in Fukushima…There are many such trapped families.

While I was not able to move anywhere in the evacuation center in Fukushima for a month, I contemplated considerably seriously and deeply – the most deeply in my life – about rebuilding our life in Fukushima. I was trying to figure out how we could work it out, keeping the idea of rebuilding our life in Fukushima, despite feelings of anxiety about radioactive pollution in a situation where information about it was much more confusing than now. My conclusion was, however, “If there is a place to evacuate to, and if it is possible for us to evacuate, we should do so. Doing so is the best way for our children.”

Nothing is as stressful as spending a life in indefinable worries and fears, and being regulated in a lot of ways. For example, I used to always dry futon (Japanese-style bedding) outdoors, in order to put it under sunshine. But I had to do it with a futon-drying-machine after the accident. Washed clothes also had to be dried indoors, although my house was not so large.

It is pretty cool in the morning and at night even in summer in Fukushima.
So people were able to live without air conditioners even in summer. They used to open their windows to let in fresh air. But now they have to use their air conditioners in summer after the accident. It might be nothing for those who are used to doing so. But people in Fukushima have to change such small customs one by one, considering the damage that radiation might give to children in the future. The above is nothing but a minor example in their lives. Indeed, literally one by one, each small thing has affected our lives.

Since radioactivity is invisible, it was easy, to be honest, to imagine myself saying, “Take it easy. Forget about radioactive pollution. Take it as something that didn’t happen. Things will be OK.” However, when I considered my children’s health, I couldn’t compromise. At the same time, thinking about it seriously was making me almost neurotic. Thus, I was agonizing every day.

What is most unbearably difficult is that we have to be nervous about small points in our lives in general due to quite ambiguous worries or fears. That is, the officials don’t say that you have to take preventive measures because radiation is certainly harmful to your health. They say, instead, that you’d better do it because it might be harmful. This ambiguity really shatters us and makes us mentally exhausted. I think it is easy for mothers to understand this anxiety. No mother would choose an option that looks harmful to the children if there is only a little bit of health risk.

My son, four years old now, goes out to the playground in front of our house every day. Once he goes out, he is never back until sunset. He was too young to ride a bicycle a year ago. Although I knew that playing outdoors is important for children, the embarrassing fact is, I admit, that I have never thought they love playing outside so much. My son, who is being allowed to play outdoors enough in the kindergarten, goes out again to a nearby playground soon after he is back home. Seeing him do so convinces me every single day that it was right to have come to Osaka.

My one-year-old daughter likes playing in the sand in the playground very much. Only babies can stay inside the house for some months. Once they begin to walk, it’s utterly impossible for them to spend their lives indoors only. Now, my daughter plays in the sand every day, and loves taking walks outdoors, toddling. When she goes to the street, she walks on small side ditches or the roadside, where, in radiated areas, radioactive materials tend to gather to make what is called “hot spots.” While she is walking, she stumbles at least once. Every time she does it, she naturally lands on her hands. Now in Osaka, I only have to worry if she might injure her face or not. I don’t have to worry, as I would in Fukushima, about the potential long-term health hazard caused by radioactivity in such an ordinary, common happening as a one-year-old child stumbling on the road. An “ordinary life” that I speak of is really simple.

Going through the earthquake and the subsequent nuclear power plant accidents has affected and changed my idea about what is natural and what is ordinary. My sense of value, view of life, and evaluation standard on ordinary things have drastically changed. I would like my children to acquire an ability to survive and to live on in the true sense of the term. I would like to educate them so that they can do it. We are now living in such trying times.

Last of all, please let me introduce to you the subtitle of a book I recently read that impressed me. It is “The best crisis management is to use your own mind.” Despite the fact that Japan witnessed serious nuclear power plant accidents, this nation is planning to reboot other nuclear power plants without considering alternative means or countermeasures, nor thoroughly investigating into the causes of the accident. Having noticed that this nation has learned nothing while people in certain areas are still being victimized, I am appalled and deeply disappointed. I am taking it into my heart every day that we have to eventually make our own judgment or decisions, and accept self-responsibility. I have become aware of it through the disaster experience.

Even so, my children and I are able to spend our days supported by the warm kindnesses and thoughtfulness of those who truly care: volunteers and local people in the area. I deeply appreciate them.

I thank you very much sincerely.

Akiko Morimatsu

The Japanese version of the letter is below, underneath Akiko’s bio



Akiko Morimatsu was born in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture in 1973. She and her family, her husband, a 3 year-old son and a five-month old daughter then suffered the Great East Japan Earthquake while living in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture in 2011. After living in a temporary shelter for about a month, Akiko fled to Osaka with her two children in May, 2011. She could get employment through the Osaka City Earthquake Victim Support Employment Promotion and now works as a part-time office worker at the Osaka North District Council of Social Welfare.

Currently, she is representative of the Nuclear Liability Litigation Kansai Group which filed a lawsuit at Osaka District Court claiming the human right to evacuate from nuclear contaminated areas. The plaintiffs claim that the human right to live free from the fear of radiation exposure and to enjoy healthy living must be applied equally to all victims, including evacuees, returnees and those who have remained in the areas afflicted by nuclear accidents. They define their lawsuit as a lawsuit for human right relief and seek permanent disaster relief for victims of any kinds of nuclear disasters. She has been very actively engaged in her social activities to see how our society as a whole can change since 3.11.

東日本大震災避難者の会 Thanks & Dream (Association of the Evacuees from the Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster)
Cooperating with:
原発賠償関西弁護団 (The Kansai lawyers’ group for the nuclear liability litigation)
Working closely with:
原発賠償関西訴訟KANSAIサポーターズ ( the nuclear liability litigation Kansai supporters)
Evacuating Fukushima with My Children: Mental Locus to Reach the Family Decision to File a Lawsuit

手記 森松明希子
この手記は、さらに詳細を加筆し、震災から2年半までを綴った母子避難本と して出版されました。『母子避難、心の軌跡~家族で訴訟を決意するまで~』 (2013年12月・かもがわ出版)
http://www .kamogawa.co.jp/kensaku/syoseki/ha/0676.html

森松明希子 (2012年5月・記)
私は、福島県郡山市から昨年のゴールデンウィーク明けに、 大阪に避難してき ました。 家族は、夫と、現在4歳4ヶ月の息子、1歳8ヶ月になる娘の4人家 族です。 大阪へは母子3人だけで避難して来ており、 夫は今もひとり、福島 に残って私たち妻子の為に働いてくれています。 震災当日の2011年3月1 1日、 私は当時生後5ヶ月の娘と2人きりで自宅マンションにいました。 自宅 マンションは、10階建ての8階の一室でした。 その日の午後もふだんの日常 と何ら変わらず、 娘相手にのんびりと過ごしていました。 当時3歳になったば かりの息子は、 翌月の4月に入園する予定の幼稚園に2歳の頃から通っていた 為、 こちらもふだんと変わらず、 朝8時に迎えに来る幼稚園バスに乗って幼稚 園に行っていて不在でした。 午後2時46分、 とても激しい揺れを感じた私 はすぐに地震だと気づきました。 とりあえず目の前にいる娘の安全を考え、娘 の頭を守るように抱きかかえました。 でも、震度3や4のちょっとした揺れと はまるで違い、 その揺れはどんどん激しくなる一方で、私はその場に立ってい られませんでした。 生まれて初めて、私は自分の命の危険を感じました。 と、 同時に、娘の命の危険ももちろん感じました。 震度6は一瞬冷静さを失うくら い、ほんの一瞬でしたが、パニックに陥りそうでした。 ガーッという凄まじい 音と揺れ、そしてあまりに激しい揺れで立っていられないので、 私は娘を食卓 のローテーブルの下に寝かせたのですが、 当時生後5ヶ月になったばかりの娘 は、 激しい揺れが自分を揺さぶってあやされているものと勘違いして、 キャッ キャ、キャッキャと声を上げて大喜びして笑っていました。 命が助かった今と なれば笑い話ですが、 当時はそれどころではありませんでした。 かなり長い 揺れでしたが、 リビングにいた私が目にしたのは、 食器棚などの重たい家具や ソファーが壁から離れ、 ピョン、ピョン、とまるでスローモーションのように 部屋の中央にいた娘と私の方に迫って来る様で、今思い出してもゾッとします。
正直、地震だと最初に思ったのは間違いで、 何か別のもっとすごい事が起こ っているのかと思ったくらいです。 それと、あまりに長い揺れで『終わりはな いのか?永遠に揺さぶられ続けるのかしら?』と本当に恐怖でいっぱいでした。
幸い、娘も私もケガはありませんでした。 いつ長い揺れが収まったのかは分 かりませんが、気づいた時には家中、 瓦礫の山で足の踏み場もない状態に唖然 としたのを覚えています。 でも私の味わった恐怖はこれで終わりではありませ んでした。 逃げ場を確保しようと、ふとリビングの端、ドアの方に目をやると、
廊下の辺りから水がアメーバのように滲み出ているのです。 自宅は古いタイ プのオール電化のマンションで、 各戸(室内)に2日分くらいの温水を溜めて おける大きな給水タンクが備え付けられているのですが、 そのタンクが震度6 の揺れで傾いたり倒れたりしたらしく、配水管も切断、破壊したことによって、
地震発生から1時間後くらいには、 自宅のリビングから各部屋に水が流れ出し て、 全部屋が水に浸かってしまいました(水深10~15センチくらい)。 娘 は布団を敷いた寝室に避難させていたのですが、 そうこうするうちに今度は天 井からも、 ようするに、9、10 階の上階にある部屋も同様にタンクが倒れて浸 水し、 その水が漏れて壁や梁の隙間から水が降ってきました。 はじめは雨漏 りのような感じで、 赤茶色のおかしな色の水がポタポタと全部屋から落ちて来 て、 まだ震度4くらいの余震も頻繁に起こる中、 私はマンションの強度が心配 になりました。 しかも浸水と上から降ってくる水漏れで、 もう0歳の娘を寝 かせておける乾いた安全な場所が 自宅には何処を探してもありませんでした。
まだ寒い季節で娘を濡らすわけにはいかないので、 外は小雪が舞っていまし たが、 もう家を出るしかないと決意し、 生後5ヶ月にして初めて娘を“おんぶ” しました。 第2子出産のお祝いで頂いていたおんぶヒモは、 「首が据わる生 後6ヶ月頃からの使用可」と書かれており、 頂いたままの新品でまだ着用した ことがありませんでしたが、 私は一か八かで娘を背負ってみました。 何しろエ レベーターの停止したマンションの8階から 何回階段を上り下りする事になる か分からなかったので、 『前抱きのスリングでは無理!』と判断して、 娘の首 がどうか据わってて…と祈るような気持ちでエイヤァっと娘をおぶりました。
それに幼稚園にいるであろう息子を、 自分の足で捜索にも行かなければなりま せんので… 当時3歳になったばかりの息子の事を 地震の揺れの瞬間から一時 も忘れてはいませんでした。 園舎は確か前の夏に新築したばかり… でもこの 揺れだし… ダメならダメかもしれない… 揺れている最中から、息子の生命も覚
悟していました。 幼稚園の先生が守ってくれている(はず)と信じて、 祈るよ うな気持ちでいました。 自宅が水没して下の娘の安全確保やらで、幼稚園へは すぐに向かえずにいました。 気がつけば地震から約2時間が経過し、 午後4時 半の送迎バスの時刻となっていましたが、 ふだんは自宅マンション前までやっ てくる園バスはもちろんやってきませんでした。 息子と行き違いになってはい けないし、 また、息子が帰って来ても自宅に安全な居場所はないしで、 私は余 震が頻繁に起こる中、 娘をおぶってオロオロしていたら、 自宅マンションの前 にあった保育園が広間を開放して下さり、 そこへ「乳幼児を連れている人はお いで」と言っていただけました。 子どもたちにとって安全な場所を確保するこ とが出来たので、 やっと息子を捜しに行ける、探しに行こうとしたのが夜の7 時前で、 辺りは真っ暗になっていました。 幼稚園の先生がお迎えに行けてい ない園児の為に、 1 軒 1 軒園児の自宅まで送り届けて下さる車に運良く遭遇出 来たので、 やっと息子とも無事に再会が果たせました。 息子は幸いにもケガ はなく、 ちょうどお昼寝時間中に震度6の揺れがあったため、 その揺れで目が 覚めたという感じで、 地震の揺れ自体がトラウマになるという事もなく、 むし ろその後の余震を体験し「自分は地震は全然怖くないんだ!」 と思っているよ うで、それは不幸中の幸いだったのかもしれません。 夫はその日「夜は仙台に 出張だから」と言って、 早朝いつもどおり出勤していきました。 私たちの住ん でいた郡山は、仙台まで新幹線で1時間くらいの所にあります。 地震発生時、 瞬間的に『新幹線は止まってしまうだろうから乗ってたらまずいな』と思いま した。 ただ、何時の新幹線で仙台に向かっているのかも聞いていなかったし、 それこそもう仙台にいたり新幹線に乗っている途中だったら、 今日中に夫に会 えるだろうか?そもそも夫は無事なのかしら?と心配しました。 夫は通常勤務 を終えて、 新幹線に乗るために駅に向かって歩いている道路上で地震にあった そうで、 すぐに職場に歩いて戻ったらしく、 幸い郡山市から離れてはいません でした。 被災した職場の片づけをしたあとに、 勤務先に停めていた自分の車 に乗って 夜中の11時頃に自宅マンションに戻って来ました。 自宅の玄関ド アと一階のロビーの郵便ポストのところに、 「子供たちは無事!皆でマンショ ン前の○○保育園にいます」と、マジックで書いた紙を貼り付けておいたので、
それを見て夫は私たちの居場所を何とか探し当て、 私たち家族はかろうじてそ の日のうちに家族四人、 全員無事に再会を果たすことができました。 その日 から約1ヶ月の間、私達家族は避難所暮らしも経験しました。 そんなわけで、
私たちは震災で自宅と家財道具のすべてを失ってしまいました。 そして、震災 直後の原発事故による放射能汚染が深刻で、 福島での生活再建をすることがで きず、やむをえず家族バラバラの福島・大阪の二重生活をする道を選びました。
それが昨年の5月のことです。 大阪に避難してきてちょうど1年が経とうと していますが、 まだ夢の中にいるようで、 早く地に足の着いた生活を送りたい と切に願っているのですが、 やはり、この二重生活が自分の中では様々な負担 となっているようで、 なかなか落ち着いた生活、震災前の普通の日常を取り戻 すには至っていません。 幼い息子と娘の健康を考えて決意した二重生活ですが
想像以上に厳しい避難生活が続いています。 二重世帯の維持(家賃、光熱費 の2重払い)と 夫が幼い子どもたちに会いに来る為の移動交通費がかさんで、 経済的負担が家計を圧迫しています。 ですが原発から60キロメートルほど離 れている郡山市は、 特に避難勧告や避難指示が出されるわけでもなく、 全くの 「自主避難」であるため、 国や自治体からは何の補助も受けていません。 し かし福島県郡山市は、精一杯除染した所でさえも 放射能量測定器の示す値は目 を覆いたくなる数値を示しており、現実は公園での砂場遊びなどもってのほか、
子どもたちを買い物や通園であっても 少しでも外に出すのも恐ろしく、 普通 に子育てを出来る環境とはとても言えません。 一年経ってもその現状は何ら変 わらず、 むしろ個人レベルで測定器を持っているため、 現実から目を背ける事 も出来るはずもなく、 本当に事態は深刻だと思うのです。 いっそ、妊婦さん や乳幼児のいる家庭だけでも 強制的に避難退去命令を出してくれたらいいのに … と、何度思ったか知れません。 素人目にも非科学的だと思われる除染作業 にばかり マンパワーとお金をつぎ込んで、ガレキをせっせと全国にまき散らす など 非合理的なことこの上ないと思うのです。 汚染地帯からはガレキを運 び出すより、 「人」(将来のある子どもたち)を、 それこそいくらお金を積ん でも出すべきだと 切実に思います。 夫はこの1年、 月に一度、子どもたち に会えれば良い方で、 1ヶ月以上会えない時もありました。 『単身赴任や海 外赴任のお父さんを持つご家庭と同じなんだ!』と 自分に言い聞かせて日々の 子育てをしていますが、 「いつまで」という任期があるわけでなく、 おそらく 相当長期に渡ってこの生活が続くと考えると、 子どもの精神面での影響が心配 で、 本当に福島を出て来て良かったのかしら…と この1年、何度悩んだかしれ ません。 お父さんが大好きな息子を引き離してしまったのは本当に正しかった のか? まだ震災当時、生後5ヶ月だった娘はほぼ父親を知らないで育ってしま
って 今後の父娘関係に影響は出ないだろうか? なによりも、 家族の為にたっ たひとりで福島に残って 子どもの寝顔さえ毎日見る事が出来ない生活をしてい る夫の精神状態は本当に大丈夫なのだろうか? 休みがあれば、700キロ以上 離れた大阪まで1人高速道路を車で飛ばして子どもたちに会いに来て、 大阪で は24時間も滞在しない(できない)で、また同じ道をろくに休まずに運転し て戻る… せっかく会いに来てくれた夫ですが、 子どもたちには「お父さんはお 仕事と運転で疲れてるから寝かせてあげて!」と 声を上げる私は母親として何 をやってるんだろう???とか… 震災以降、親子共々、心も身体も休まるとこ ろがありませんでした。
福島に残れば目に見えない放射能の恐怖におびえ、 出たら出たで、不安定な生 活と家族バラバラの日常を強いられる・・・ 普通の福島県民としての暮らしが あの日以来、一変してしまいました。 それでも避難して丸一年が経ち、 本 当に徐々にですが、この現状を受け入れ、 前を向いて歩いていこうとはしてい ます。 震災から一年以上経過し、公的支援もどんどん打ち切られていく中で、
「現状を受け入れるしかない」ということもちろんありますが、 関西に避難し て今まで母子3人で何とかやってこられたのは、 いまだ被災者、避難者の事を 忘れず 心にとどめて下さっている方々がいてくださるおかげです。 どのよう な支援も、本当にありがたく、感謝するばかりなのです。 特にありがたかった ご支援を具体的に申し上げますと、 例えば、 外遊びが大好きな子どもたちです が、 日々の生活がやっとで、 土日や休日でも子どもたちをどこかに連れて行っ てあげるなど 全く出来ませんでした。 そのような中、大学生のボランティア のお兄さんやお姉さんが 子供たちと遊んでくれるという企画などは、親子共々、 心底ありがたかったです。 また、夏にはキャンプなどに子ども達を招待してく ださり、 子どもたちは、大きいお兄さんやお姉さんと遊んでもらえたら 本当に 喜びますし、せっかく放射能汚染のない大阪に来たのにキャンプや川遊びとか、
赤ん坊を抱えてでは、私ひとりではさせてあげられないので、 本当にありがた く思います。 また、普段子どもたちと関わってあげられる大人は私ひとりきり なのに、 日々の生活を回すのが精一杯で、 子どもたちにはあまり構ってあげら れないのが可哀想で、心苦しく思っていたのですが、皆様のお力をお借りして、
また、たくさんの方々に子どもたちとふれあっていただけたら、 それが母子避 難をしている私たち親子にとって、なによりの一番望んでいる支援となります。 本当にありがとうございます。 他にも、 引越しでも男手がなく大きな家具を
運搬することもままならない状況に、 社会福祉協議会の方が手を貸してくださ ったり、 引越し荷物の片付けなどをする間、 赤ちゃんの面倒を地域の保育ボラ ンティアの方が見てくださったり…と、本当に様々な方々に様々な方法で、色々 助けていただきました。 関西で受けたご支援には、本当に感謝してもし足りな いくらいで、 なんとお礼を申し上げて良いかわからないくらいです。 本当にあ りがとうございました。 また、社協の方が届けてくださる被災者向けの情報誌 で、 被災者・避難者の交流会があることも知ってからは、 そちらに参加させて いただき、苦労や悩みを分かち合うことができ、 それが私の心の拠り所、心の 支えとなっています。 交流会で、同じ境遇の被災者、避難者の方たちと出会っ て、 自分だけではないのだということを知り、 ともすれば孤立し、誰にも相談 できない悩みなどを聞いてもらったり、 また話したりすることで、どれだけ救 われているかしれません。 そんな交流会を企画して下さった団体や、その間、 保育のボランティアに協力して下さった方々の存在のおかげで、 私は今まで何 とか乗り切ってこられましたし、 これからも乗り越えて行かなければならない と思っています。 1年前の私は、悩みながら「避難することは本当に正しか ったのか?」と 常にブレながら、悩みながらの避難生活でした。 でも今では、 たとえ母子避難の苦労は大きかったとしても、 それでも福島から出てこられた 私たちはまだラッキーなのかもしれないと思っています。 いろいろな事実が明 るみに出るにしたがって、 そして私を含め、避難民などと呼ばれる人がこれほ ど多くいる現実を目の当たりにして、 避難したことについての迷いは、全くと いっていいほどになくなっていきました。 むしろ「避難は正しかったのだ」と いう確信に、今では変わっています。 私と同じ年頃の乳幼児をもつご家庭のお 母さんで、 福島に住んでいて不安のないお母さんは、 私の知る限りひとりもい ません。 子どもを外遊びさせられるところを日々求めて、 また、長期休暇に はプチ避難(保養)出来る場所を探し求めているも、 ご親戚も全て福島県民と いう方も多く、ほんの少しの間でさえも福島を出られない… そんなご家庭はた くさんあるのです。 私も身動きを取れないでいた避難所にいる間の1ヶ月の間、
なんとか福島県での生活の再建をはかろうと、 相当悩みましたし、人生で最も 多く深く考えた日々でした。 今よりもまだもっと様々な情報が飛び交う中での 放射能汚染についての「不安」感、 福島での生活再建をずっと視野に入れて考 えに考え抜きましたが、 やはり結論は、「逃げられるところがあるなら、 そし て避難できる可能性があるのなら、 避難すべきだし、そうすることが子どもに
とって一番だ」というものでした。 得体のしれない不安感や恐怖の中で、 常 に心配しながら、しかもいろいろなことを制限されて生活することほど ストレ スフルなことはありません。 晴れの日、お布団は必ずお日様に当てるために外 に干していました。 それをすべて布団乾燥機に切り替える。 洗濯物もさほど広 い家でもないのに全部部屋干し。 福島では朝晩は結構涼しいので、 夏でも我 が家はエアコンを作動させることはほぼ皆無でした。 窓を開ければ風が強いの で真夏でも結構涼しく何とかしのげます。 それが、夏も冬も年中エアコン… それが当たり前の人にとってはなんでもない事なのかもしれませんが、 こんな 細かい日々の暮らしを いちいち放射能の子どもに将来あたえるかもしれないと いう影響を考えて 変えて行かなければいけないのです。上記の例はほんの生活 の一部で、それこそ、本当にいちいち、細かいことについていちいちなのです。
正直、放射能は目に見えないので、 「もう忘れて目をつぶって放射能汚染の ことはなかったことにしよう、 大丈夫なんだと思うことにしよう」としてしま う自分が容易に想像できました。 でも、我が子の事を本気で考えたら、やっぱ り妥協はできないし、本気で考えたらノイローゼになりそうだし… 本当に日々 悶々と考え続けていました。 何が嫌かというと「確実に健康被害が出るから予 防的に何か対策をとる」というのではなく、「可能性があるからこうしておいた 方が良い」という、 極めて曖昧な不安感や恐怖感のために、 生活全般の細かい ことについて神経を払うというのが、 本当に疲労困憊を招くし精神的に心底消 耗するのです。 母親だったら容易に理解できると思うのですが、 子どもに少 しでも悪いかもしれない、という選択肢を選択する人はいないと思います。 今、4歳になった息子は、 毎日のように自転車に乗って家の前の公園に出かけ ていき 一度外に出たら帰って来ません。1年前はまだ幼すぎて自転車にも乗れ なかったし、 子どもに外遊びは大切、必要とは頭では分かっているつもりでし たが、 ここまで外遊びが好きな生き物だとは恥ずかしながら考えてもいません でした。 息子が、幼稚園(でも十分外遊びさせていただいてます)から帰って すぐまた、 公園に飛び出していくのを見て、 毎日のように「大阪に来て正解だ った」と思っています。 1歳の娘は、公園で砂浴びをするのが大好きです。 お部屋に閉じこもっていられるのはゼロ歳児のほんの数カ月の間だけです。 歩 き始めたら、屋内のみの生活などおよそ不可能です。 今では毎日砂を浴び、ヨ チヨチ外をお散歩するのが大好きです。 道路はかならず側溝の上(放射性物質 がたまりやすくいわゆるホットスポットとなり易いところ)とかの道の端を歩
きますし、 歩くと必ず1回はコケます。 コケたら当然手をつきます。 今の私 は、コケて顔に怪我でもしやしないか、 それだけを心配すれば良いのです。 1歳の子どもが道路で転ぶ、当たり前の動きに対して、 いちいち放射能による 健康被害のことまで心配しなくて良いのです。 私の言っている普通の生活とは、
そんな本当に些細なことをいうのです。 震災とそれに伴う原発事故を経験し て、 私は「あたりまえ」「ふつう」の概念が変わりました。 価値観も、人生観 も、それから物事に対する評価基準も すっかり変わってしまいました。 自分 の子供たちには本当の意味での「生きる力」「生き延びる力」を つけていってほ しいと考えています。 そう教育していきたいし、今はその試練の時なのだと思 っています。 最後になりましたが、 最近読んだ本のサブタイトルがとても共 感できたのでご紹介します。 「自分の頭で考える事こそ最高の危機管理だ」 というものです。 あれほどの原発事故を引き起こしてしまったのに、 国は何 の手だても、解決策も見出せず、ましてや原因解明すらなされていないままに、
再稼動に舵を切ってしまいました。 一部の地域の国民が犠牲を払いつづけても なお、 国は何も学ばないのだと、驚愕し、心底失望しました。 私は最終的に は、「自己判断」「自己決定」「自己責任」なんだと 日々痛感しています。 被災 を通じてそのことを再認識した次第なのです。 それでも、心ある方々や、ボラ ンティアの方、地域の方々の温かいお気持ちや、 お心遣いに支えられて、日々 私たち親子は暮らしていられることに、 心の底からお礼を申し上げたいです。 本当にありがとうございます。


excerpt from ‘Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at Wisconsin Association of Student Councils, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 2, 1960’

‘It is true that the amount of radiation created by bomb tests so far offers no serious threat to the well-being or existence of mankind as a whole. But it is also true that there is no amount of radiation so small that it has no ill effects at all on anybody. There is actually no such thing as a minimum permissible dose. Perhaps we are talking about only a very small number of individual tragedies – the number of atomic age children with cancer, the new victims of leukemia, the damage to skin tissues here and reproductive systems there – perhaps these are too small to measure with statistics. But they nevertheless loom very large indeed in human and moral terms.

Radiation, in its simplest terms – figuratively, literally and chemically – is poison. Nuclear explosions in the atmosphere are slowly but progressively poisoning our air, our earth, our water and our food. And it falls, let us remember, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, on all peoples of all lands, regardless of their political ideology, their way of life, their religion or the color of their skin. Beneath this bombardment of radiation which man has created, all men are indeed equal.

Perhaps the ill effects and the dangers of fall-out from bomb tests can be regarded today, in statistical terms, as minimal. But let us remember that there is still much that we do not know – and that too often in the past we have minimized the perils and shrugged aside these dangers, only to find that our estimates were faulty and that new knowledge inevitably increased our appreciation of these dangers.’


‘7 Seconds’, by Youssou N’Dour featuring Neneh Cherry


The song is trilingual: N’Dour sings in Wolof, a West African language, and French (plus singing chorus in English), and Cherry sings in English.

‘”7 Seconds” tells about first seven seconds in the life of a newborn, arguably unaware of problems in the world.’  Neneh Cherry.



‘Boul ma sene, boul ma guiss madi re nga fokni mane
Khamouma li neka thi sama souf ak thi guinaw
Beugouma kouma khol oaldine yaw li neka si yaw
mo ne si man, li ne si mane moye dilene diapale
Roughneck and rudeness,
We should be using, on the ones who practice wicked charms
For the sword and the stone
Bad to the bone
Battle is not over
Even when it’s won
And when a child is born into this world
It has no concept
Of the tone the skin is living in
It’s not a second
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting X3
J’assume les raisons qui nous poussent de changer tout,
J’aimerais qu’on oublie leur couleur pour qu’ils esperent
Beaucoup de sentiments de race qui font qu’ils desesperent
Je veux les portes grandements ouvertes,
Des amis pour parler de leur peine, de leur joie
Pour qu’ils leur filent des infos qui ne divisent pas
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting X3
And when a child is born into this world
It has no concept
Of the tone the skin is living in
And there’s a million voices
And there’s a million voices

To tell you what she should be thinking
So you better sober up for just a second
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
7 seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting

Songwriters: Cherry, Neneh / Mcvey, Cameron Andrew / N’Dour, Youssou / Sharp, Jonathan Peter / Fahrenkrog-Petersen, Joern-Uwe

7 Seconds lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC



Ukiyoe depicting a Gion, Kyoto, geisha, from between 1800 and 1833

photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2004

With their exquisite mask-like makeup, elaborate hairstyles and elegant kimonos, Geisha are iconic and recognisable to people around the world as quintessentially Japanese.

Geisha have roots in a culture which emerged during the ‘Edo’ or ‘Togugawa’ period which began in 1603 and ended in 1868. This period in Japan’s history is characterised by a predominantly feudal, non-egalitarian society with a great disparity between a wealthy ruling minority and a poor oppressed majority and between the rights and freedoms enjoyed by men and by women. For this reason Geishas are problematic to some, particularly some younger Japanese people, who feel they signify an oppressive elitist patriarchal culture.

Nevertheless Geisha can also be seen as practioner-guardians of a centuries-old performing arts tradition. With their long, expensive training, and the discipline and self-sacrifice required to qualify and succeed professionally, they could be seen as analogous to the classical prima ballerinas of the west.


‘Kyouka walking’ Gion, Kyoto

photo: by Malfet_https://www.flickr.com/photos/malfet/5468723504/