Study Tour: Nuclear Power and Local Communities in Fukushima

The multiple nuclear incidents that occurred at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima #1 nuclear complex after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2012 were not simply the result of the natural disaster (as TEPCO claimed at first) or of technical and administrative failures (as it later admitted). The incident and the ongoing crisis reflect the larger problem of Japan’s economic development paradigm since it opened to the West in the mid 1800s and more directly since World War II. Like so many other Asian countries, a policy of rapid urbanization and industrialization led to the destruction of sustainable (both economically and environmentally) rural communities. The development of the nuclear industry in Japan has been to support and benefit those in charge of the modern industrial process and to mask to destruction of these communities by replacing their traditional economies with one based on total reliance to the nuclear power industry. This study tour will examine this wide range of issues and the relationship of Buddhist temples and priests to it. (Read more about these issues in this article by Prof. Jun Nishikawa)

Reports:

Tour Leaders & Staff:

  • Rev. Hidehito Okochi (Jodo Pure Land sect, Tokyo)
  • Rev. Kobo Inoue (Jodo Pure Land sect, Utsunomiya City)
  • Rev. Nakashita Daiki (Jodo Shin Pure Land sect, Tokyo)
  • Mr. Yuki Kitano (Volunteer for the Interfaith Forum for the Review of National Nuclear Policy)
  • Prof. Hisashi Nakamura (Ryukoku University, Kyoto)

SCHEDULE

November 5th:

Arrival and overnight at Kenju-in Temple in downtown Tokyo. The temple of JNEB member and long time anti-nuclear activist Rev. Hidehito Okochi.

November 6th:

7:00 short simple breakfast

7:30 departure in two vans

10:00 arrival at Ginga-no-Hotori, a natural foods restaurant in Sukagawa city in Fukushima and interaction with its owner Ms. Katsuko Arima who will report on the situation of the people in Fukushima from the perspective of mothers with young children and food producers and organic famers. Followed by lunch.

13:00 arrival at Nihonmatsu City to meet with: 1) Team Nihonmatsu which was established to inspect and insure food security; 2) the Doho Kindergarten run by Rev. Michinori Sasaki and his wife of the Jodo Shin Pure Land sect. They have been dealing with the situation of children and nuclear contamination issues, highlighting the issue of “surviving with internal nuclear contamination”.

15:00 arrival at Fukushima City and tour of its situation

17:00 arrival at Senrin-ji, a Soto Zen temple under the abbotship Rev. Shoki Matsuda in Da-te City about 55 kms from the Fukushima #1 Nuclear Complex

18:00 dinner, conversation, and meeting with locals

November 7th:

7:00 breakfast

8:00 departure to the town of Minami-Soma, 17 kms from the Fukushima #1 nuclear complex

10:00 arrival at the Odaka area of Minami-Soma located less than 2 kilometers from the coast to see the effects of the tsunami and speak with locals, including Rev. Toku-un Tanaka, a young Soto Zen priest and abbot of two local temples.

12:00 lunch

19:00 arrival back at Kodo-san temple in Yokohama

Attention

  • Participants will be exposed to a certain amount of radiation, especially on the second day in the town of Minami-Soma. For those over 40-50 years old, this is of little concern. For the younger in the group, you should consider this issue, though many of our young priests go work in these areas often. Please inquire further if you have questions or concerns.
  • In order to help create space in our vehicles for travelling to Fukushima, we request you carry a smaller, over-night bag and leave your main bag behind at Kenju-in. Your main bag will be brought to Kodo-san temple in Yokohama and be available on your arrival back from the study tour.
  • It is cooling down here in Tokyo but still very pleasant, high of 20 during the day and low of around 12, but Fukushima will be colder like high of 15 and low of 7. The weather forecast for Fukushima on the 6th and 7th is actually rain and high of 18 and low of 8. You can always buy some extra warm things like socks and mufflers here in Japan after arrival. Hope it won’t rain as it will be very beautiful in Fukushima with the peak of Fall colors, which still are just beginning here in Tokyo.

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