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2nd Unit : 3rd Conference on "A philosophy of post-Fukushima"

3rd Conference on "A Philosophy of Post-Fukushima" : "Rest or Refuge."

    On Saturday, October 6, 2012, the 2nd unit of the IRCP hosted a the third in the lecture series "A philosophy of post-Fukushima", under the title of "Rest or Refuge: On Actual Situation of Fukushima", at Hosui Kaikan, Hakusan Campus, Toyo University. The unit has been hosting this lecture series in collaboration with famous philosophers and researchers into philosophy within and outside Japan on the question of what kind of "philosophy" is possible in the post-Fukushima situation, that is, the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and following tsunami on March 11, 2011, and the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that resulted. To recognize the necessity of a deeper understanding of the "actual situation of Fukushima", we invited people who were actually engaged with support activities for evacuees and victims of the disaster as speakers, and held a research meeting on the theme of "Rest or Refuge."

      There were three speakers: Mr Yoshino Yoshiyuki, facilitor at the "Fukushima Network to Protect Children from Radioactivity," who stayed in Fukushima in the post-earthquake period to conduct disaster relieft; Ms. Kida Yuko, representative of "Hahako" and "Support net@Miekita", a support network in the city of Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture mother and child evacuees, which helped house disaster victims and evacuees, Ms. Hikita Kasumi, who acted as a bridge between the senders and recipients of aid through the "Project to Safeguard Children's Health and Future" as well as through "Hahako", from Tokyo.

      The speakers introduced the details of their organizations' activities, the kind of challenges they faced and th3rd Conference on eir take on the current situation.

      Mr. Yoshino was engaged with a "rest" project in which children who continued to live in Fukushima were sent outside the prefecture for a period of time. According to him, while legal support for the victims, such as the "Act on Support for Children and Victims of the Nuclear Incident" passed in June 2012, was slowly put into place, high levels of radiation were still being detected in residential areas in Fukushima. Thus, he convincingly spoke on the practical value of the rest project for children in Fukushima, especially for the maintenance of their physical and mental health.

      Ms. Kida's organization was founded in Yokkaichi in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake to co-ordinate the evacuation of mothers and children, co-ordinating between victims looking for a place and those who offered to take them in, across Japan. In her talk, she gave a detailed account of how their work was organised, what kind of problems they faced, and how the situation developed. She considered a number of issues which would have remained hidden without hands-on involvement, including economic problems surrounding the choice of place of evacuation, the problem of mental health care, different responses from receiving authorities, and differences between evacuees, supporters, and3rd Conference on visitors.

      Ms. Hikita was engaged in a wide range of activities form her base in Tokyo, including health counselling, rest counselling, and legal counselling in Fukushima Prefecture as well as the publication of newsletters that offered knowledge on radiation, refuge, evacuation, and rest. In her presentation she focused especially on how these activities could develop further from the viewpoint of "choice by the victim" or "needs," and what kind of difficulties this might entail. Differences in needs and opinions among people waiting for evacuation had emerged in the post-earthquake situation, and it was now sometimes difficult to discuss "rest." Even within the supporters' side, views occasionally conflicted with regard to the scientific, social, and political and economic factors in risk evaluation. Ms. Hikida's talk reconfirmed the importance of continuing dialogue so that victims would receive the support to which they were entitled.

      After these presentations, Prof. Murakami Katsuzo (IRCP), who chaired the session, asked some questions, and there were many questions from the floor. The session lasted for four hours, and included some very lively, meaningful discussion. In reflecting on how to approach this disaster philosophically, it was helpful to hear from those who had been working in Fukushima or were in contact with victims in their support work.