One victim of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster has been quoted as saying: “Our present anti-nuclear movement is similar to the one for democracy that our ancestors waged during the Meiji Era. While their dream for democracy didn’t come true, their will has been handed down to us.”
During the war of the Meiji Restoration, some clans in Fukushima had to fight on the side of the Tokugawa shogun. As a result, they were treated cruelly by the new government. Afterward, in the 1880s, Fukushima became the cradle of democracy movements in eastern Japan. One reason was that, in 1882, the Fukushima governor ordered people to construct a road without pay. They worked under hard conditions from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.
When they organized disobedience movements, the administration was merciless. Those who could not work had to pay money; if they didn’t, their possessions were put up for auction. Even as every protest was put down, people kept fighting against the governor for two years. In 1884, they finally stopped fighting, and seven of them were given the death penalty.
As for Fukushima’s nuclear disaster, another resident was feeding 350 cows for food markets. After March 2011, the government ordered people like him to kill their cows. He refused. The area has been closed off, but he has been feeding more than 300 cows under economic and physical hardships for the purpose of having the cows tested for radiation effects at a medical facility in the future.
The politician Shozo Tanaka (1841-1913), a pioneer of Japan’s ecology movement who struggled against the environmental disaster known as the Ashio Copper Mine Incident in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, wrote: “True civilization neither ruins mountains, pollutes rivers, destroys villages, nor kills people.”
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.