Statement: “There is no place for the Olympics in Fukushima”

Piles of contaminated materials on a field in Fukushima, July 2019. Photo by Justin Gaar

This statement was originally published in Japanese on on February 13, 2020. Translators: Angel Castillo and Tsukuru Fors.

On the afternoon of February 13, the Nuclear Accident Victims’ Association and the Denuclearize Fukushima Network held a press conference in the Fukushima Prefectural Hall Press Room releasing a statement expressing such sentiments as “There is no place for the Olympics in Fukushima” and “Is this O.K.? The nuclear accident and the Recovery Olympics.”

Joint Statement – Before the Olympic Torch Relay – “There is no place for the Olympics in Fukushima.”

The torch relay leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is about to begin. However, we, in the middle of all this unquantifiable nuclear damage, can’t help but declare, “This is no place for the Olympics!” Who among the victims of the nuclear accident are actually welcoming the so-called “Recovery Olympics?”

We will never forget that in his bid speech in Buenos Aires in September 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the situation “under control,” saying that “the contamination of water is completely contained to within 0.3 square kilometers of the port,” and “there are no health issues, so far, now, or in the future.”

It’s been six years since then. What about the reality that is now right before our eyes?

The location of the nuclear fuel from the meltdown has not even been confirmed. Every day, hundreds of tons of groundwater flow into the broken reactor building, and contaminated water treated with ALPS continues to accumulate. The plan is to release it into the ocean against the wishes of fishermen and residents. The proposed plan to decommission the reactor site over the next 40 to 50 years does not look encouraging. Much of the 14 million tons of decontaminated soil remains in the open at 760 temporary storage sites across the Fukushima Prefecture. The state is trying to spread contaminated soil nationwide in the name of “recycling.”

237 children have been officially reported to have thyroid cancer. There are reports that myocardial infarction and perinatal mortality are increasing. Health issues have threatened many people, “so far, now, and in the future.”

Immediately after the decision to put in a bid for the Olympics, the national government announced the “Fukushima Reconstruction Acceleration Guidelines” and ordered “reconstruction by 2020” as the highest priority.  The Fukushima Prefectural government proclaimed “Zero Evacuees by 2020” in the “Vision Statement for Recovery.” In response, evacuation orders have been lifted one after another, compensation for evacuees has been discontinued, and the housing subsidies for evacuees from difficult-to-return areas is about to be terminated at the end of March. In addition, since April of last year, the Fukushima Prefectural government has been sending monthly notices to the evacuees remaining in Federal Employee Apartments asking them to either leave or pay double their rent. Five separate households have been threatened with lawsuits in order to get the evacuees to move out. This is the reality of Fukushima.

It has been nine years since the accident. All of the more than 48,000 people who are forced to remain evacuated and all those who choose to remain in the prefecture to live — to make a living and to work hard to revitalize the region — wish that a true “recovery” will come as soon as possible, one that respects their human right to a decent life. We refuse to recognize this “fake recovery” that conceals the real damage and ignores the victims who are still suffering.

Furthermore, we cannot accept these “Recovery Olympics,” which use sports as a tool to deceive the world’s athletes. The national government and Fukushima Prefecture should not invest money or effort in the “Recovery Olympics,” but instead focus on addressing the reality of Fukushima and work towards “recovery for the victims.”

Nuclear Accident Victims’ Association

Denuclearize Fukushima Network