Trailer from Women of Fukushima
Setsuko Kida, one of the most impassioned speakers amongst the six persons profiled in the recent award-winning documentary film Women of Fukushima, traveled to Geneva, Switzerland last month to speak at the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Kida, who had to evacuate from her home (located between the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear reactors) following the disaster of March 11, 2011, has remained a tireless campaigner over the past two years for the Japanese government to recognize the rights of Fukushima citizens and give just compensation for their suffering.
Her work includes attending various speaking events and street campaigning in Tokyo (including the ongoing Friday night anti-nuclear demonstrations in front of the Prime Minister's residence) to remind citizens that the ongoing repercussions of the disaster are far from over.
Kida was accompanied on her trip to Geneva by Jeffrey Jousan, producer of the Women of Fukushima film. As she does not speak English, Jeffrey spoke on her behalf in front of the UN Committee. Allotted only three minutes, the brief speech nevertheless poignantly and powerfully delineates the many problems that continue to face Fukushima residents following the crisis. Their presentation is here:
Setsuko Kida and Jeffrey Jousan, United Nations, April 29, 2013
In an e-mail sent to me from Geneva, Kida said the following:
It makes me said that I have to come here and make an appeal regarding facts that the Japanese government is trying to cover up and hide from the rest of the world. I am here to let people here know that Fukushima is still here, but also that the Japanese government is attempting to reinvigorate its nuclear power program in the name of economics--a move that endangers the very existence of civilization itself.I had the opportunity to interview Kida onstage at the Spring Love Harukaze event held at Tokyo's Yoyogi Park on March 30, 2013. Speaking mostly to an assembled crowd of festival-goers who did not have many opportunities to consider the issues continuing to face Fukushima citizens, Kida gave an extremely powerful presentation regarding what it meant to be a nuclear refugee, as well as related social issues such as the connections between the nuclear industry and the military-industrial complex. She urged Japan to save its peace-guaranteeing Constitutional Article 9, and even ended her presentation by breaking into song--and inviting audience members to sing along--regarding the need for ordinary citizens to stand up and act for justice.
The only thing I will be able to do is circulate translated materials, and make a short presentation. I am not sure about the extent to which this kind of lobbying will have an impact upon the committee members, but one thing is sure: continuing to merely protest in front of the Japanese Prime Minister's residence will do nothing to change the politicians in this country. If the same crowd of nearly 200,000 people were to come here and surround the UN buildings in Geneva like they did in Tokyo last year, I have no doubt that the Japanese government would get completely panicked. In any case, the fact that a nuclear refugee such as myself has to come here and make this kind of appeal myself makes me feel very much alone.
Kida's visit to the United Nations follows that of Katsutaka Idogawa, the courageous former mayor of Futaba Town near the nuclear reactors who resigned in protest of the national government's failure to adequately provide for the safety of Fukushima citizens.