9 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and subsequent nuclear power plant disaster. 22,167 people lost their lives as a result of this disaster and its related impacts. Even today, 47,739 people continue to live in evacuation - over 700 of whom are still in pre-fabricated, temporary housing. These numbers also do not reflect the scores of people who have voluntarily left the affected areas, to rebuild their lives in other locations. As the years have passed, the Japanese government is now encouraging people to return to the areas which had once been evacuated - including areas significantly impacted by the contamination of radiation. Although the banner of the "Recovery Olympics" is being flown, the disaster is in many ways still ongoing, and true recovery remains far from the reality on the ground for many.
Just days after the disaster first hit, Peace Boat dispatched an advance team to Tohoku, the northeastern part of Japan. Subsequently, we mobilised close to 15,000 volunteers to support the disaster relief and recovery efforts. This eventually led to the establishment of Peace Boat Disaster Relief (PBV) (formerly the Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center), a specialist organization to focus on the relief and recovery of communities affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami; domestic and international disaster relief; and disaster risk reduction, such as the training, dispatch and coordination of volunteers.
Peace Boat and PBV believe that, above all else, people are the key to reducing disaster risk, building resilience and minimizing impacts of disasters. Please read PBV’s message marking this date here.
In addition, Peace Boat has also continued efforts to support those impacted by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, and efforts to break away from dependence on nuclear power and move to a more sustainable energy future for Japan and the world. We continue to call for more and ongoing support for those impacted by the disaster, including those still forced to live away from their hometowns or apart from their loved ones, especially as the government is encouraging more to return to areas which had been under evacuation orders. We are also deeply concerned by the potential release of contaminated water stored within the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean, which would lead to serious and irreversable damage.
Since its foundation in 2012, Peace Boat continues to serve as the secretariat for the Mayors Network for a Nuclear-Power Free Japan, which now has around 100 members from throughout the country. Peace Boat is also part of the Organizing Committee for the National Movement for the Relief of Nuclear Disaster Victims, which since 2013 conducts various negotiations with the national government for support, and has submitted 96,518 signatures calling for the human rights of those impacted by the disaster to be recognised and implemented, including the right to health and the right to information. And, we continue to support the work of the Fukushima Action Project, a local citizen’s movement which regularly conducts seminars, education initiatives and advocacy in Fukushima.
Even today, as 3288 days have passed, the nuclear disaster is not over. Many of the lessons which must be learned have been collated in the booklet “10 Lessons from Fukushima: Reducing risks and protecting communities from nuclear disasters”. Based upon the experiences and testimony of local people, this booklet outlines the reality of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, ten lessons from this which should be shared for considering future response and prevention. It was created collaboration by many NGOs and researchers working to support those affected by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in various ways, including Peace Boat, and is available online in 14 languages here.
We will continue our work to support those affected by the March 11, 2011 disaster, as well as making all efforts to prevent others from having to experience such a tragedy. Please see here for more about Peace Boat Disaster Relief (PBV). Thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation.