Children of the Tsunami was broadcast on BBC2 on 1st March 2012, the programme allowed the children who had been affected by the Tsunami and nuclear disaster that followed, to tell the World how their lives had changed forever. The Tsunami that struck off the coast of Japan on March 11th 2011 just before the end of the schools day destroyed dozens of schools along a two hundred mile stretch of the coastline, all the schools except Okawa primary school were evacuated. Okawa primary school was located 2 miles inland (100 miles south of Fukushima Nuclear Power plant) near the Kitami River and out of all the schools was located furthest inland. In total 74 pupils and 9 teachers died leaving many, especially parents, asking why so many died there.
Naomi is one of these parents she spent 6 months searching for her daughter 12 years old Kohoru, whose headless body was discovered by fishermen. Following the discovery of her daughter’s body Naomi continues to search for the remaining 4 children and 1 teacher that remain unaccounted for.
Soma a boy of 10 told how he was one of seventeen children in his class and only four survived. Soma said “our school was by the river and behind it was a big hill, why didn’t the teachers take us up the hill where it was safe?” Fuka a girl of 10 talked about her best friend Manno she kept saying “it was her birthday” she goes onto say that she can’t understand why nature is so cruel and why it had to take Manno away.
Large numbers of the evacuees are now living in Minamasota close to the edge of the exclusion zone their lives have changed beyond all recognition, the psychological effects linked to the disaster are clear to see with many struggling to deal with the aftermath of the disaster and fear about the future is rife.
Mutsumi lives in emergency housing with her Mum and 2 younger sisters, her mother says Mutsumi is concerned about the future; she’s asked “will I be able to have babies or marry?” Mutsumi say’s “we have to have babies to carry on living” and Ioka who lives in the evacuation zone says her family’s terrified of what the future holds.
David MacNeill reports that although compensation is available for the victims of this disaster those who evacuated voluntarily to reduce their exposure to radiation are excluded from the scheme, however, a one off payment of $1,043 has been offered to some of these. For those that were relocated by TEPCO financial support was made in an initial payment of $13,045 with the promise of further compensation in the future, the application form for compensation was so long and complicated that many haven’t claimed what is rightfully theirs
The real injustice is the fact that nuclear power was allowed to be sold to these people as clean, safe, and the answer to their energy needs, and how the nuclear industry has built up a system where polluters make huge profits, yet when it all went wrong, the responsibility to deal with the aftermath was thrown on the people of the area (MacNeil 2012).
BBC2: The Children of the Tsunami 01/03/2012
MacNeil, D. 2012: The Fight For Compenstation: Tales From The Disaster Zone. In: Lessons From Fukushima. Greenpeace.org available on-line at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/nuclear/2012/Fukushima/Lessons-from-Fukushima.pdf accessed 09/03/2012