June 16: Masayo’s Diary

2011-06-16

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June 16: Masayo’s Diary

June 16, 2011              by MASAYO FURUI

Many countries such as Italy are stopping their nuclear power plants or are starting a discussion to do so.  Even from these actions, we see how seriously the world is taking the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)’s accident.

 

Japanese law does not treat internal exposure as radiation exposure.

 

This is a tragic consequence of being the only country to suffer an atomic attack.  The atomic bombs created so many victims of radiation exposure that internal exposure was neglected.  This was because internal exposure tended to take more time for the effects to surface and was more difficult to prove the relationship of cause and effect.  Radiation victim aid was set up by excluding internal exposure and limiting the number of recipients.  Even for the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, only a limited few who won individual lawsuits for internal exposure had a chance to get their stories heard.  Everyone else was silenced.  Worst of all, anyone heard to have a family member who suffered from internal exposure was ostracized as being “a carrier” and “tainted”.  This discrimination caused by the wrong of eugenic ideology forced victims of internal exposure to keep it carefully hidden.

 

The statue of the Children of the Atomic Bombing at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial is a memorial to all the children who died from the effects of the atomic bomb.  It is a statue of Sadako of Hiroshima or the Girl of the Folded Cranes who died from leukemia caused by internal exposure.  We must expose the fact that internal exposure will inevitably increase the number of deaths, illnesses, and people with disabilities, something the government is trying to conceal.  We must plan and prepare for these increases.  However, it also crucial to point out that we must not treat the increase in the number of people with disabilities as being tragic.  To see this as a tragedy is to feel that having a disability is tragic.  In our fight to exposing the reality, people with disabilities must also face the eugenic thoughts that have been internalized within us.  Our fight is not just about exposing the unsaid truths but is also a fight against eugenics.

 

Based on this understanding, we must try to imagine the situation people with disabilities were facing at the time of the tsunami and the nuclear power plant explosion.  We all saw the shocking images of the tsunami.  It is easy for us to imagine that many people who could not run away in time were swallowed in the tsunami.

 

(photo)

Nursing home where bedridden elderly were washed away

 

When we visited Minami-Soma City, we heard of a very brutal and graphic reality.  Just at the borderline of the tsunami, there was a nursing home for the elderly.  Here, people actually saw bedridden elderly floating on mattresses being washed away one by one.  People who had climbed onto roofs witnessed this.  There was nothing they could do to help.  Among the witnesses, there must have been staff at the nursing home.  There may have even been, among the witnesses, elderly at the nursing home who could walk just enough to get to safety.  It is believed that most of the people with disabilities who could not walk died in the tsunami unable to escape.  People who saw it happen, however much they tell themselves that there was nothing they could do, will feel that they let people die before their very eyes and did nothing about it, causing them great guilt and pain.  It is possible for such guilt and pain to turn people to eugenic ideologies because it will be easier to bare the guilt and pain if they believed that it was justifiable that they survived while others didn’t.

 

The grave reality is that the radioactive contamination from the nuclear power plant created an even more appalling case of leaving people to die.  The mandatory evacuation zone is set up in a 20 kilometer radius from the nuclear power plant.  This means it covers 40 kilometers of the coastline, i.e. the diameter of the mandatory evacuation zone.  The tsunami reached about 4 to 5 kilometers inland.  I would like you to imagine what happened in this area, an area where helicopters didn’t fly over and where the Self-Defense Force didn’t enter.  Is it plausible to believe that no one was stranded in this forgotten 40 kilometers of coastline that neither the media nor the people who lived there ever entered again?  Many people in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures were rescued from the tsunami area, but in this strip of coastline, 40 kilometers long and 4 to 5 kilometers wide, no one went in.  Most likely there were just as many survivors here waiting to be rescued as in Miyagi and Iwate, but there was no rescue, and they’ve been left there ever since, for 3 months now.  We left them to die out.  People with disabilities, children, and the elderly all waited for rescue that never came.  They hung on believing that “someone will come”, stranded, looking above into the sky for signs of people coming to help them.  We must accept and face this gruesome fact.  People with disabilities in the tsunami area of the mandatory evacuation zone where left to die in this way.

 

People with disabilities who were not harmed by the tsunami but had to evacuate were taken out of the regular evacuation shelters, without explanation or consent, as if detained, and sent away to institutions in other prefectures.  This was government policy.  People with disabilities who have, with great effort, managed to figure out ways to live in the community were now being shipped off and forced into overcrowded institutions in far way places.  All in the name of saving lives.  What is it like in these institutions?  For us who have witnessed the history of confinement of people with disabilities “for their own good” can easily imagine what it is like.

 

The institutions use the mantra “this is for your own good” and exploit the deep-seated sense of inferiority to make people with disabilities institutionalized there to believe that they can be excluded from society in this way.  They are made to complete to be “less of a burden” and to try to “do things like an able-body.”  The people with disabilities in institutions are made to rank themselves by how able they are, creating a strict hierarchy among themselves that governs everything in the institution.  They are conditioned to accept this structure so that the institution can run with the least amount of resource and manage even though they are constantly understaffed.  People from Fukushima Prefecture have been packed into these institutions over and above their capacity.  And because these people are from Fukushima, they are of course not welcome there (see May 30: Masayo’s Diary Part 2 for why people from Fukushima are ostracized as being tainted with radiation).

 

In fact, an evacuee with autism who was transferred to an institution in Chiba Prefecture ran away and drowned to death.  Such a gut-wrenching incident happened because this girl was all of a sudden taken to an unfamiliar place and forced into a stressful and isolated environment in addition to all the anxiety from the disaster and the aftermath.  It is not at all surprising that she fell into a state of panic.

 

The cruelty of eugenics is in operation in all of these situations deceiving us into believing that all of this was inevitable.

 

The cover up of the true state of contamination, leaving people to die and acting like it never happened, and inciting a social climate that tolerates the belief that “life is over if you lose your ability to move” are all happening.  And, even though it may not be apparent on the surface, the eugenic ideology is eating away at our society.  Eugenics is what is preventing us from realizing a society that is accessible, affordable, and sustainable for all.

 

この投稿文は次の言語で読めます: Japanese

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