Global Feature: 3/11 Japanese Tsunami/Photographs & Poetry
3/11 Japanese Tsunami
Photos: Courtesy of Asahi.com & The Sankei Shimbum
Poetry by TAKI Yuriko
Japanese poet, TAKI Yuriko – a new contributor to Syndic Literary Journal – lives in Ibaraki Japan, 40 miles (60 km) from the incredible devastation wrought by the 3/11 Japanese Tsunami.
Ms Taki suggested I create this chapter (1) to provide Syndic readers with an on-the-scene view using local press photographs she has compiled to show the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami; and (2) to include two of her most recent poems written about the event. – LeRoy Chatfield/Publisher
by TAKI Yuriko
Translation by Deborah and John Saxon
For the first time since 3/11
The owner reopened his minshuku.*
It’s just beyond the mandatory evacuation zone,
22 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Most people are still gone.
The 700 remaining plant workers
Employed by various businesses and subcontractors
Have been managing the crisis.
They have no beds or showers.
They nap on breaks from their all-day shifts,
Dozing on the floor or in chairs.
Meals – cold, emergency rations – are eaten only twice daily.
So the owner has returned to help them.
He knew that obtaining safe food and water would be difficult.
The water and electricity were off.
“But the propane left in my tank
Can heat up well water
To make a hot bath.”
“Wow! Hot baths! This is paradise!”
These 700 combatants
Swapped their battle with the unseen foe
For a brief rest and the hot bath they have missed for so long.
“I’ll prepare some curry rice. It’ll be just a minute,”
Said the owner.
At the table, small talk begins.
No one mentions the crisis.
In radiation, there is no smell,
No color, and no pain.
Silence the interminable Geiger counter, and one sees
A blade of grass, a blooming daffodil
In the restricted area.
Houses and roads the tsunami did not reach
Remain unchanged from two months before.
Escaped cattle and dogs now without masters
Walk and run free
In the sudden ghost town.
For these former captives,
It’s a fleeting slice of paradise.
Some sick and elderly could not leave.
With no radiation suits, much less running water or electricity,
They live on as usual,
Eating vegetables, fish, and eggs
From the contamination zone.
Although it is now two months since 3/11,
Top engineers and experts from around the world
Cannot find a way to halt the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The danger of nuclear power station accidents
As with Hydrogen bombings,
Tomorrow might be the day.
Accidents like the four at Fukushima
Could happen again, anywhere.
* Minshuku = Japanese style budget inn
Never Blame the Earthquake and Tsunami!
By TAKI Yuriko
Translation by Deborah and John Saxon
It has been two months since 3/11,
Yet aftershocks are still reported daily.
Homes and watercraft borne by the waters block the streets.
Many boats are stranded on land.
One building stands among the rubble,
A boat on its roof.
A thousand-ton tuna fishing vessel,
The size of 20 bullet train cars,
Lies in the town center.
The tsunami carried it
50 km upriver.
The dead and missing
Will likely total 25,000.
Those who were saved
Make do in evacuation shelters
With only the clothes on their backs.
This author declares,
“Never blame the Fukushima nuclear accident
On the earthquake and tsunami.”
Each day since 3/11
The contamination zone and the enforced evacuation zone have expanded.
The government, which had pushed Fukushima into nuclear power,
The Tokyo Electric Power Company,
Tokyo residents consuming the power without a second thought,
The Fukushima prefectural officials, who courted the nuclear power plants
To help offset tough financial times,
Workers with careers in nuclear power,
And we who have tacitly consented,
All have shifted their share of the responsibility
To the flesh and blood
Of 1,300workers who labor without rest to keep the crisis from spreading.
These workers had wanted to know
How they would be compensated,
And whether they would retain employment,
If struck with radiation poisoning.
The company never responded.
Changed the maximum allowable radiation exposure for these workers
From 100 millisieverts yearly to 100 millisieverts every three months.
But by March 15th, nearly every worker had surpassed this value.
So a new limit was set at 250 millisieverts every three months.
Now, a higher limit of 500 millisieverts every three months
Is being considered.
After all, there aren’t any replacement workers,
And apparently it will take at the very least 9-10 months
To halt the radiation emissions
If a way can even be found.
Now they labor just to prevent explosions.
When these four nuclear power plants,
Fraught with the ever-present danger of meltdown,
Become four nuclear accidents,
The “status quo at all costs” mindset
Will appease no one.
Wherever, whenever the next nuclear accident occurs,
That it shall occur is a scientific inevitability.
Humans cannot coexist with
The destructive particles released by nuclear accidents.
So this scientific issue must not become
A mere political and ideological debate.
And it must not be sidestepped for short-term economic gain.
Never blame the Fukushima accident on the earthquake or the tsunami.
Starting today, we must live like we mean it.
Note: As of 2011/05/11, the enforced evacuation zone has grown to 30 km, with 50 km in some areas. Furthermore, areas of higher risk of contaminated drinking water, milk, vegetables, fish, etc. are up to 260 km away. Finally, the Tokyo Electric Power Company has officially recognized that a meltdown occurred in Fukushima’s nuclear plant #1.