[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in Japan/Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK) has launched the second phase of its Isshoni Aruko (Let Us Walk Together) project, set up after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear fallout of March 2011 that left tens of thousands dead, missing or injured.
Phase I of the project was a response to the immediate needs of affected people following the disaster. NSKK clergy and laity provided relief, rehabilitation and support for vulnerable people such as children, the elderly, those with disabilities, and foreign migrants.
In Phase II of the project, Let Us Walk Together: Honesty and Hope, NSKK not only aims to build on its humanitarian work to date, but also to become a beacon of truth about the real impact of the nuclear fallout.
“Those with a financial interest in keeping Japan nuclear-powered rarely reveal the full facts about the impact of radioactive fallout,” explained Yoshimi Gregory, a Japanese national working at the Anglican Communion Office.
“This is why the Anglican Church in Japan has decided it is going to undertake its own research into the impact of the nuclear fallout and make that information publicly available. This will include the stories of those living with the legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.”
An example of that legacy is the church-run kindergartens which are in supposedly “safe” areas. In fact they need to be cleaned daily of radioactive material inside and out before children can enter. What’s worse is that the youngsters cannot play outside because the playground contains contaminated soil that has been there since the power plant melted down.
Kay Ikezumi, the new director of the Let Us Walk Together: Honesty and Hope project said, “Needless to say the children, families and teachers [in these areas] are stressed. The children need to be able to run and play and discover the world around them. It is not safe to do these things within the radiation-contaminated area.”
Ikezumi said the NSKK project will help families and teachers to travel to camps away from such places, giving them a break from living with nuclear contamination.
NSKK will also continue to provide other humanitarian programs for the thousands of people still living in the temporary accommodation that has been their home since the disaster.
On a recent visit to the country, members of the Church of England were told that some people from affected areas were being treated as second-class citizens. A refugee community spokesperson told them that engagements to be married had been broken off, and jobs had been refused to those suspected of being contaminated by radiation.
To help people understand the truth about the affects of the radioactive fallout, NSKK is going to exchange its research findings with both secular and religious organizations in the country. It also plans to organize symposiums and lectures, and organize study tours to affected areas to allow as many people as possible to learn about the true effects of radioactivity on humans and their environment.
In June 2012 statement, NSKK’s 59th General Synod called for nuclear power to be abolished. “There is no denying that, even without accidents, nuclear power is a real threat to people’s lives in that it imposes sacrifices on socially weakened people throughout the process, from the mining of uranium to the disposal of radioactive waste.”
It concluded, “In solidarity with other denominations and faiths, we call for an immediate abolition of nuclear power plants and a conversion of Japan’s energy policy toward the development of alternative sources of energy.”