General Thoughts

南相馬市にて(Revisit to Fukushima)


Two years have passed since the catastrophe on 11 Mar. 2011. I re-visited Fukushima as a volunteer in last weekend.


The longer the time has passed since a disaster, the broader roles and capabilities of volunteers. I think that not only on-site activities, but also sharing of that experiences and feelings after coming back is getting more important.



Even in Japan, many people are forgetting with time about “What Happened”, the earthquake, the tsunami, the nuclear accident, and all the following chain of events and people’s actions. I was not an exception.


 I believe that to share the experience can be a brake against the memory fading. For them, for us, and for everyone.

早朝の南相馬 道の駅より
(Morning glow of Minami-soma)



This time, I went to Minami-soma city in Fukushima with job-related volunteers of 50-plus members. 


Because of the slow pace of reconstructions, not only Minami-soma city, but many other areas in Fukushima also require a number of volunteers.

ボランテア …違和感ない
Outstanding flag of the volunteer center


What we’ve done is to excavate an about-100m-long side ditch along a rice paddy. Before we start to dig, it was difficult to judge where is the ditch where we’re supposed to excavate, because the ditch was clogged up and covered with mud and small rubble. 
Digging and scooping up little by little, we met up with many dormant frogs. The work itself is fun, but sometimes, appeared goods with live-in feel like clothes or dishes out of mud bring us  mixed emotions.  It takes a full day to scoop up all the mud from the ditch and to make it work as a ditch.


Although I think scooping out mud from a ditch is fairly tough work in a physical way, the amount of effort is steadily transformed into visible results. So, its sense of achievement is great!  

(Fainally, a ditch appears…)




The after-two-years activities in Fukushima was quite fruitful in some ways. And there’s a thing I’d like to share here. It is what I didn’t realize through a previous volunteer activity in May 2011.


When we participate volunteer activities, even if it’s an intangible thing like a word “Thank You!” or a complement from others, something in return from local people is not appropriate as an only  motivation for the participation. 
As reasons, if we can’t satisfy without appreciation from others, it’s difficult to keep the motivation for continuing the activities. Additionally, a kindness for someone who might not see his/her face is of course important and is must-have item. However, it’s not strong enough as a motivation for activities that we spend time, money, wisdom and power into them.


Volunteers including me enjoy team-play of various activities themselves. Then, we feel the joy of contribution for the reconstruction, and joy of the tie made through the activities. I believe that these are the main motivations, and  this is the way volunteers hopefully always be.

(port in Soma city )


— Memo for radiation dose —
The accumulated dose of 30 hours, from going into a 20km radius of the ex-nuclear power plant to going out from there (including one-day activity) was approx. 2μSv. Then, that (same duration) of Tokyo in these days is approx. 1.5μSv. It means it’s true that the value is slightly higher than Tokyo  area. But, if we think of accumulated exposed dose of return flight between Tokyo and New York, which is approx. 190μSv,  the 0.5μSv difference is too small to care about for me personally.