‘The Fukushima nuclear disaster is not over,’ were the chilling words of warning uttered by Toshiko Okada, anti-nuclear activist from Japan, speaking at a gathering to mark the seventh anniversary of Fukushima, at the Channon Market on Sunday.
Scores of people – including members of the region’s Japanese community – attended the gathering, despite the wet weather and the chance of the market being cancelled.
Okada is a member of Ctitzen’s Network for Evacuation from Radiation, which has been promoting the cause of Fukushima children and families affected by radiation.
She said, ‘We are having serious radioactive contamination problems not only in Fukushima but also in Eastern Japan, because life threatening radioactive substances are still discharging from the Fukushima nuclear power plant every day.’
Lethal levels of radiation had been detected at Fukushima’s power plant seven years after the tsunami. Apart from the release of volatile, gaseous radionuclides, a recent Manchester University study also noted the presence of micro particles containing uranium, caesium and technetium, several kilometres from Fukushima.
Plus thousands of gallons of radioactive water and waste are being stored above ground with no safe means of disposal.
Govt forced relocation
While experts were warning of a ‘global disaster’ in the making, the Japanese government was busy normalising the situation by marketing food from Fukushima and stopping subsidies for Fukushima evacuees, thus forcing people to relocate to Fukushima. The government had also unilaterally raised the maximum limit of radiation exposure from 1mSv per year to 20 mSv.
Okada and her group are fighting to promote a Japanese version of Chernobyl Law to ‘protect all people in our country, especially future generations from ongoing critical nuclear issues and future nuclear disasters.’
She said, ‘Such law must be applied to all victims of radiation around the world.’
Okada and her citizens’ group hold protest actions at Shinjuku railway station and the Japanese PM’s residence in Tokyo every month. The banner used for this protest action became a rallying cry for Australia’s rainbow region folk, standing in solidarity with the people of Japan.
OK to speak up
Local activist and actress Saya Minami said, ‘It’s important to let all the victims of Fukushima know that it’s ok to be scared, it’s ok to tell the truth, to speak up and say what you really feel. We are here with you in Australia!’
Lismore City Council Deputy Mayor and Greens party member Vanessa Ekins said, ‘It’s the seventh anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown and radioactive water is still pouring into the Pacific Ocean.’
Lismore Council has erected signage at the entrances to Lismore declaring the city a nuclear free peace zone. Ekins said, ‘This may seem tokenistic but it raises awareness. The action we need to take as the federal election looms, is to question Australia’s role in supplying uranium to other countries for nuclear weapons and power.’
Uranium moratorium call
She said, ‘Lismore’s Mayor visited Japan last year to join Mayors For Peace, initiated in 1982 by Hiroshima Mayor, and now 6,800 cities in 161 countries are negotiating to eliminate nuclear weapons. I question their focus on nuclear weapons when the nuclear industry itself is so damaging.’
Ekins added: ‘Australia needs to stop mining and exporting uranium.’
One activist said, ‘ This is an international crisis that requires an international solution. Instead of attending to this, governments are busy promoting crisis-ridden, failed nuclear technologies. French President Macron is in India today to sign a nuclear deal with Indian PM Modi. Corporations and governments are brazen in their support for the uranium industry. And Australia supplies uranium to India, a country that has not signed the nuclear non proliferation treaty. The whole uranium cycle is lethal – from uranium mines, to radioactive dumps, to leaking reactors, to nuclear weapons.’
He said, ‘We stand in solidarity with people everywhere fighting the military industrial complex and their baby – the uranium industry.’
Art & music
Organisers had set up an art show and all through the rain-soaked day punters were treated to a smorgasbord of music: from soulful kirtans by Mico, Shivam and Armando, to young Belle McGreggor singing ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’; from fiery flamenco by Bart Stenhouse, to happy reggae anthems by JT Rastasamurai; from radical songs by Bo Kaan, to Brazilian folk by Priscila Rios and Anna Hamard-Lecoeur. By the time the six-piece Latin band Passando started their set the sun finally decided to come out to play.
Organisers called on the crowd to ‘say no to uranium. Leave it in the ground, like the aboriginal elders have been saying in their Dreamtime stories and the hippies have been singing for years gone by’.
‘And help the children and families of Fukushima by dreaming up a nuclear free world.’