Fukushima kids give silent officials an earful on crisis

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

Four children from Fukushima Prefecture on Wednesday met with government officials in Tokyo and urged them to do their utmost to help them rebuild their lives following the March 11 disasters and ongoing nuclear crisis.

Ten officials from the nuclear emergency response headquarters and the education ministry attended the meeting, organized by citizens’ groups including the Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation. The kids, aged between 9 and 13, either live in or were evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture.

Kaya Hashimoto, 13, said she evacuated with her family from the town of Miharu in June due to concerns over radiation exposure. The family now lives in Tokyo, and she said she misses her friends in Fukushima and worries about them. “Can you understand the feelings of people who left their hometowns in Fukushima?” she asked the officials.

“I can’t trust a government that insists on describing Fukushima as safe when children there wear masks to go to schools and can’t use swimming pools,” she said.

The officials mostly listened in silence, heads bowed.