May, 2012年

Japan is now without nuclear energy!


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On May 5th, the last active nuclear reactor went off line, and for the first time in 42 years, Japan is now without nuclear energy!  Hooray!  On this historic day, I was participating in a hunger strike.


A sit-in protest has been on-going across from METI, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry since September 11th, 2011.  Tents are set up and people gather from all over Japan to join the anti-nuclear protest.  A hunger strike was started on April 17th to protest against the restarting of the reactors in Oi Nuclear Power Plant.  The hunger strike ended late in the evening of May 5th when the last active reactor in the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant went off line.  We were just in time to participate towards the very end of this hunger strike.  We arrived on the 4th and left on the 5th taking part in the hunger strike for 24 hours.

We printed out some flyers to handout at the hunger strike.  Below is the content of the flyer.


We, people with disabilities, need to look back at the predicament we were put in after the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima.  After the accident, people were told to evacuate in a matter of hours.  Some people who could not evacuate by themselves were left in their homes to die from starvation.  In hospitals where doctors and nurses evacuated, patients were left behind.  We found out that although the Self Defense Force went in to rescue these patients from the hospitals, several dozen patients died in the transportation process.  Even if they had survived the evacuation, people were then sent to institutions in faraway places.  Some people died in these institutions from lack of proper communication of information or from not being able to adjust to the new environment.  These facts are being suppressed and people generally do not know about these deaths.  Some people can run away by themselves but there are others that cannot.  The government did not consider for these people.  The reality is that many people with disabilities died because of the nuclear power plant accident and the evacuation.  If the world were to find out about these human rights violation and disrespect for life, I am sure the whole world would be disgusted.

There is a long history of disregard for human rights of people with disabilities in Japan.  From around 1968 during the time of the rapid economic growth period, many children with disabilities were killed by their parents.  The parents conducted these acts out of desperation because they realized that human rights for people with disabilities were nonexistent in this society.  When these murders were picked up by the media, the coverage was tainted with sympathy towards the parents and there were massive petitions for clemency.  The social sentiment was that murder of people with disabilities should not amount to a prison sentence.  In Japan, many people with cerebral palsy are survivors of attempted murders by their parents and other heartbreaking ordeals.  No one else would fight for us.  We had to fight for our own survival.  We stood up to society and shouted out “Why do you think you have the right to kill us?”  When I was one and a half years old, my mother was about to jump from a running train with me in her arms from shock of hearing from the doctors that I have cerebral palsy.  If my grandfather was not there to stop this in time, I would not be here today.

50 some years later, my mother suffered a head injury from a car accident.  She became depressed and also suffered a spinal cord tumor.  When she started to use a wheelchair, I was there to support her in this second stage of her life.  I continued to support her until her death.  My life long experience of establishing myself in the community helped her.  I showed her how to live with pride as a person with disabilities and showed her how to get needed support.  My mother, who despaired about the disability of her daughter, years down the line, enjoyed the latter part of her life as a person with disability.  I lead her out of her despair and showed her how to live.  (2009 APHA 139thAnnual Meeting &Expo:

Let’s return to what is happening today.  Since the nuclear power plant accident, people are increasingly concerned about the effects of internal exposure.  It is said that “in Fukushima Prefecture abortions are increasing beneath the surface” (Mayor of Matsumoto City Akira Sugenoya).  We also hear that young women of Fukushima say that they cannot get married.  Here also, life is being taken away as a result of the nuclear power plant accident.  This is happening because people fear the possibility of having children with disabilities and having to raise them.  They fear because they see that human rights for people with disabilities are not guaranteed in this society.  Eugenics labels certain types of people as inferior to others and tries to eliminate them from society.  Today, eugenics does not have to be actively instigated by governments and medical professionals.  It has tactfully been ingrained into people’s notions so that eugenics is now disguised as people individually making personal choices not to bring these “inferior” beings into society.  Lives of people with disabilities are being eliminated in this way.

In this rapidly aging society, people are bound to live the latter part of their lives with some disability.  There is much the society can learn from people with disabilities.  We are a valuable resource to society.  What we need to do is to build a society where everyone can enjoy an enriched life regardless of disability.  What we need is a society that can support people with disabilities as well as their families.  Not a society that plays on people’s fears to make people choose to take away life.  This should be the learning we gained from the nuclear power plant accident.  This is the discussion we need to have.  Let’s not waste any more time in this useless discussion of bringing back nuclear power.  Let’s eliminate nuclear power all together and focus on making this society a better society for all.

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