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Byron Shire
June 2, 2023

Byron stretches its hand to Fukushima

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Some of the members of the Bridge to Fukushima project: (l–r) Ralf Plaatsman, MatiJo Beams and Saya Minami with guests Natsumi Sako and Yoko and Mizuki Ohki with flowers being sold to raise funds for the project.

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A fundraising concert on Tuesday, October 30, at Byron Community Centre aims to build a bridge between the communities of Byron Shire and Fukushima province in Japan, which was devastated by last year’s nuclear disaster.

Money raised at the concert will be used to bring a group of children and their carers from the radiation-affected areas of Fukushima to holiday in the Byron Bay area.

The Bridge to Fukushima project is working closely with the Fukushima Mothers Group, a group of women who want to protect their children from further radioactive contamination.

The children are kept mostly indoors as their mothers try to minimise their exposure and protect them from as much contamination as possible.

The project was formed as a follow-up to anti-nuclear activist Dr Helen Caldicott’s recent talk in Byron Bay.

Project spokesperson Ashiya Austin said many people wanted to help after they heard Dr Caldicott’s alarming report on the distressing conditions that people living in the Fukushima fallout area are experiencing.

Ms Austin said a heartfelt plea at that talk by Saya Minami to help her people sparked a meeting of concerned residents where the decision was made to form a bridge between the two communities.

Donating flowers for Fukushima is just one of the ways local businesses are supporting the Bridge To Fukushima project.

Ms Austin said the flowers are contributed each farmers market day by George ‘the flower man’ and are being sold to fundraise. Local musicians also are contributing their time to raise money for the project by busking.

Ms Minami said she expected a lot of mutually beneficial things to evolve from building a bridge between communities.

Ms Austin said a town in the Fukushima area is considering a request to become a sister town to Byron Bay, while another project spinoff was to declare the Byron Bay area nuclear free.

‘Signatures are being collected for such a declaration and, in light of the knowledge that Australian uranium powered the Fukushima nuclear plant, there has been a very enthusiastic response to the idea of a nuclear-free declaration,’ she said.

The Bridge to Fukushima concert, featuring music, dance, film and Japanese food, starts at 6pm and tickets are $20.


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