Peace Boat brings message from Fukushima to Riga: Nuclear Free Now
On May 22 the Peace Boat had a stop in Riga, Latvia, which consisted of a press conference and a discussion onboard. Peace Boat (est.1983) is a Japan-based international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment. Peace Boat carries out its main activities through the organization of educational peace voyages onboard a large passenger ship.
This is their 79th Global Peace Voyage and I would like to say big “THANK YOU!” to Alda Ozola from Latvian Green Movement who made the stop in Riga possible!
Peace Boat came to Latvia to tell about the true scale and impacts of the Fukushima disaster. The first speaker in the press conference was Mr Katsutaka Idogawa, former Mayor of Futaba, the town closest to the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). After the first explosion when radiometers on his office window registered radiation levels that were off the charts he made a decision to relocate his town’s whole population under his authority as there was no information – neither from the power plant, nor the government – on how to proceed. He was the only mayor in Fukushima Prefecture to do so.
In past Mr Idogawa was an active supporter of the government’s nuclear policy but after the Fukushima disaster his beliefs changed. Now he stands up for a nuclear free world and criticizes the government for hiding information regarding the Fukushima disaster. Because of his political activity Mr Idogawa was forced to step down from his position.
The second speaker was Mr Kenta Sato from Iitate, a village about 39 kilometers northwest of Fukushima Daiichi NPP. Before the Fukushima Disaster it had approximately 6200 inhabitants. Its main industries were agriculture, farming and floriculture. Now the village is evacuated and inhabitants are placed in temporary accommodation where they suffer from different psychological problems and are unsure about their future.
Recently Mr Sato together with Mr Idogawa visited Pyhäjoki in Finland where Fennovoima plants to build an NPP. They both stated that they could not believe that this beautiful place will be destroyed.
After the press conference representatives from Latvian Union „Chernobyl” and Occupational and Radiation Medicine Center of Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital joined for a discussion. „Chernobyl” is a nongovernmental organization, which is represented by clean-up workers that have been working in Chernobyl after the accident as well as in other objects of nuclear exposure. Their health is monitored by Occupational and Radiation Medicine Center.
Mr Idogawa, Mr Sato and representatives of „Chernobyl” discussed the disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima and similarities and differences between them. For instance, the availability of information about the scale of the accidents. The Soviet government was hiding information about radioactive pollution. The Japanese government made the annual dose limit 20 times higher after the Fukushima accident - from 1 mSv/year to 20 mSv/year. Now the Japanese government is planning to clean the soil and bring people back in order to stop paying compensations. Mr Idogawa and Mr Sato said that this is a significant difference between the Soviet and the Japanese governments – the Soviet government really took people away, while the Japanese government is willing to bring them back. After the discussion group photos were made and exchange of business cards took place. The whole event lasted for nearly five hours.