A Letter From A Fukushima Mother

williambanzai7's picture



Letter from a Fukushima mother

When Tomoko-san, a mother of two in Fukushima City, heard from an NGO worker that I was going to be in Fukushima to report on a story about radiation levels at local schools, she was kind enough to volunteer her time to speak to me – and handed me this letter. I promised to translate it and share it with you. So here it is:

To people in the United States and around the world,

I am so sorry for the uranium and plutonium that Japan has released into the environment. The fallout from Fukushima has already circled the world many times, reaching Hawaii, Alaska, and even New York.

We live 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the plant and our homes have been contaminated beyond levels seen at Chernobyl. The cesium-137 they are finding in the soil will be here for 30 years. But the government will not help us. They tell us to stay put. They tell our kids to put on masks and hats and keep going to school.

This summer, our children won’t be able to go swimming. They won’t be able to play outside. They can’t eat Fukushima’s delicious peaches. They can’t even eat the rice that the Fukushima farmers are making. They can’t go visit Fukushima’s beautiful rivers, mountains and lakes. This makes me sad. This fills me with so much regret.

Instead, our children will spend the summer in their classrooms, with no air conditioning, sweating as they try to concentrate on their lessons. We don’t even know how much radiation they’ve already been exposed to.

I was eight years old when the Fukushima Daiichi plant opened. If I had understood what they were building, I would have fought against it. I didn’t realize that it contained dangers that would threaten my children, my children’s children and their children.

I am grateful for all the aid all the world has sent us.

Now, what we ask is for you to speak out against the Japanese government. Pressure them into taking action. Tell them to make protecting children their top priority.

Thank you so much,

Tomoko Hatsuzawa

Fukushima City

May 25, 2011

[Translated by Hiroko Tabuchi]


WB7: It's time to rock and roll people!

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Tsukato's picture

Nonsense! I lived for 8 years in Nagoya, Aichi-ken, and I can tell you, if need be, Japan is a super easy place to uproot, and go find affordable housing. I read people on here writing about arrable plains and other bullshit, and I wonder what planet a lot of you are from. Everywhere in Japan, from Hokkaido to Kagoshima, is littered with villages with available housing from dirt cheap, to even free. They may not all have a Familymart on every corner with a vast array of ero-hon, but they are definately livable, and the old folks in these villages, are usually the kind of Japs you expect in the West- very kind for the most part. The only real problem with the Japanese, like the one that wrote this letter, is sheer weakness. Look, I take no joy in their pain whatsoever, but what we are witnessing here is Darwinism in full bloom. Bushido, is long dead and buried,(aside for those poor souls-the 50 kamikazes working at the plant). Today's Japanese take pride is their weaknesses, and their trivial nonsensical lives. The writer mentioned peaches which is totally typical of a modern Japanese woman. These idiots can camp out with their friends for hours, and discuss which peaches are the most oiishi, or which pop star is the most kawaii, or which keitai is the most kakoui. Japan is jam packed full of hyper consumerist, vacant minded, retards. Fuck em if they cant even find the motivation to save their kodomos. Can't say I'm overly suprised though. 

williambanzai7's picture

With all the disasters the world is seeing, hurricanes, flooding, typhoons, tsunamis, earthquakes, nuclear meltdowns.  I guess you are expressing the new empathy.

"Shit just let em all pick up and move."

It is hard for anyone to do that. More so for some woman living in an insular culture like Japan's. You lived there. You know very well the idea of picking from a small town to go to another small or big town town is not so easy there. 

destiny's picture

Thanks for sharing this.

Actually the CRIIRAD team has left a week ago for a 10 day trip to Japan.  They will do measures and all, inform the people, talk to officials, etc.. and will report therafter on the situation.  CRIIRAD was founded after Chernobyl and pursues its goal so that the Chernobyl lie does not repeat itself...

CRIIRAD is an INDEPEDENT institute doing research and informing on radioactivity. 

Fiat2Zero's picture

I'd strongly suggest realizing there are two issues:

1. What to do about the current Japanese crisis (at all levels - government, social, personal).

2. What to do about nuclear power.

Jumping to too many conclusions about 2. I'd argue is just as dangerous as nuclear power itself (remember global warming)? There are arguments to make concerning the state of nuclear power based on the revulsion the public has had to it.

The fact is we use it and it's probably not going away. If we pretend we can get along without it, we might just ignore the old reactors as they continue to degrade, and produce more incidents.

I'm assuming Fukushima will dwarf Chernobyl.

Even so, I don't believe that good choices are made based on emotions. They often bring about unintended consequences.

Felix-be's picture

THANKS William!

If you can still contact her, tell her that Felix from Belgium has said she is a very courageous woman.

Recommended reading on "sumimasen" http://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.com/2011/05/sumimasen-what-to-do-in...


TruthInSunshine's picture

This should be a highlighted, front page article, on Zero Hedge, and on many, many other sites.

I just sent it to Jason Kelly and will send it to more.

Thanks, William.


yipcarl's picture

This is sad if it's true.  The fact is we don't know shit.  We don't know how bad it is, we know nothing.  We are calling for an end of Nuclear Power, the most efficent power we know of because of emotional rants.  Facts, just the facts mam.  It seems this is being blown way out of proportion.  What the bankers are doing to the US and World is ALOT more real. 

Kobe Beef's picture

TEPCO is one of the largest shareholdings among Japanese corporate groups. The Japanese financial elite sit on its board. TEPCO is conducting public relations & hiding vital information to protect shareholder value. All corporations do this. Any corporation would. Ask BP. None of this should be surprising to any student of corporate behavior.

The Kan government appears eager to protect TEPCO, buy time, & ignore the plight of his people. Corporate power has representation in the Capitol. The public does not. None of this should be surprising to any student of contemporary politics. Ask Barack O'Bama how he serves "the public interest".

The bureaucracy appears eager to assign blame, but afraid of taking any action to relieve the people's suffering, nor to take command of the Fukushima situation. Wow. Imagine a bureacracy which cannot adapt to changing conditions. Once again, is any of this surprising?

In retrospect, it seems that using the most toxic chemicals known to man to boil water for electricity is not a good idea. I've never been pro-, or anti-nuke, but the more I think about this problem, that seems a reasonable conclusion to me.

Trusting disfunctional, sociopathic hierarchies to manage anything in "the public interest" appears to be another fatal error.

As for Fukushima, evacuate all those within 100km who wish to leave immediately. Encase the entire complex in the most radiation-resistant concrete available, then push it into the sea. The reactors are an open-air fission reaction & must be dealt with as such.

Admitted recently, TEPCO's disaster management was focusing on how to save the reactors. You know, preserving shareholder value.

Sadly, Mrs. Hatsuzawa's suffering mirrors many others. She has been betrayed by her government. She is not alone.


williambanzai7's picture

I got a message from someone who said it's like suffocating. You are surrounded or trapped in an economy that is so dependent on these things. Then you realize how dangerous it is, but changing your whole economic model upside following 20 years of stagnation that depended on the cheap energy provided by these things is also very frightening.

Meanwhile everyone is suffering through the energy cuts.

Matxeu's picture


We have a lot of empty homes in the US and people that need them in Japan- manifest destiny.  I realise that it is not an easy move, but I see this as a calling for ZH, namely your talented self, to promote.



Loose Caboose's picture

Now, what we ask is for you to speak out against the Japanese government. Pressure them into taking action.

The only language governments understand is that spoken by corporations and elite.  They don't care about the people - anywhere. The only pressure they will feel and respond to is, again, from the corporations and elite.  The voices of the people - anywhere - mean nothing and can accomplish nothing. 

As a mother, my heart goes out to her.  She is truly stuck in the midst of a nightmare she cannot wake from. I honestly do not know what I would do.  We are next to powerless in this day and age against governments in their disregard for human rights, remote-controlled greed and clueless fuck-ups. 

We, in North America, are not even able to stand up to our own governments so while our intentions are good, our resolve is lacking.  One person can rise up but they need a community, an army of voices, rising with them. 

Governments, everywhere, need to go.  While it frightens me to say it, complete revolution and dissolution of the status quo is the only way to true change and a new chance for humanity.  But there has to be something or someone to fill the void;  and without leaders committed to the cause and willing to be held responsible to the people, we could end up in a dictatorship or military state as a result.  Until that leader shows themselves, revolution is premature. 

If this woman has anyone in her circle that is located away from Fukushima City, she should make arrangements to have, at the very least, her children, relocated.  Children are more vulnerable to the radiation.  Perhaps, her own countrymen could organize a relocation program - similar to UK in WWII - to get the children away from danger zones until things can be safer for them to return or for the family to relocate permanently and reunite in a safer area.  I'm sorry to presume to give advice as I'm ignorant of her options and the cultural barriers that she faces.  It's so easy from where I'm sitting.  I'm just trying to think of anything that could be done to relieve her worry and suffering. 


GottaBKiddn's picture


Nuke has always been an idiotic idea. Witness the results.

This is not the last of nuclear disasters, only the beginning.

We can run, but we can not hide.

Do we have peace inside?



Fat Ass's picture

The solution here is simply better engineering.

It's just that simple.

It was a garbage, GE design (lol), old, badly designed nuke power plant.

Every nuke plant should be as good as a 2012LexusLS, not a 1970s chevy crapmobile.

It's an utterly catastrophic and horrible story, and it's exactly the same as when a bridge is built in a crap manner and collapses or a tunnel under Boston is built so badly chunks fall down and kill people dead.

it's just not complicated -- crap, worn-out engineering.  That design is, very simply, the WORST of all nuclear plant designs.  Yay, GE.  (Indeed, every single plant of that type world-wide should be completely replaced by the spectacularly different-paradigm modern plants.)

Fiat2Zero's picture

The solution is not better engineering. We already have far better plant designs. The problems with this particular plant were well known. Whistleblowers have been silenced through ridicule and pressure.

Bridges don't collapse these days because of bad design. They were generally designed fairly well for the assumptions, and based on the knowledge at the time.

The problem is simply that we take things for granted. A 50 year old bridge works almost as well as a 51 year old bridge. Until it doesn't.

Nuclear plants could have been improved to prevent _known_ issues pointed out by _good engineers_. They weren't.

The problem is the "kick the can mentality." Investing in infrastructure causes an immediate hit to the current quarters profits, so it isn't done. Warning flags are ignored because it would cause a problem with profits.

The problem is a social and economic one that has been around as long as cycles, people and money have existed. We are simply not that good as a people of looking 1 year into the future (let alone 10).

The 40 year old nuclear plant is as good as the 41 year old one, until it isn't.

Further adding to the issue is the knee jerk response to nuclear energy. Hey, I'd like for it to go away too, but what would or could replace it in any timeframe? Nothing. Do the research and you will find we are absolutely dependent on nuclear. The anti nuclear movement, as well meaning as it is, unfortunately makes it harder to upgrade existing nuclear power plants.

I also do question anyone's ability to effectively manage something that creates a 10,000 year danger.

jm's picture

You really don't get it. 

You can't engineer these problems away because no one can imagine all possible failures. 

Stop thinking about how to make failures less likely and start thinking about the cost when things do fail. 

old naughty's picture

...And start thinking why we would create something that would bring such a monumental and recurring failure that cost human lives.

majia's picture

Ever see Children of Men? We are heading fast and hard in that direction. GM seeds found to cause birth defects and miscarriages. Round-up and nearly all plastics cause endocrine disruptions. Low-levels of ionizing radiation (and some not so low levels) poisoning everywhere.

The plight of the Japanese is our collective responsibility and warning.

Our inability to SEE and RECOGNIZE and ACT ensures our demise.

Scary Stuff.

Fiat2Zero's picture


Thank you for the post. Too often in the maelstrom of disaster news we are bombarded with, we disconnect, and don't remember that there are real life flesh and blood people, just like us, with families, struggling to survive.

While there is much blame one could place, the more pressing question is "what should we do now?"

I think one of the most basic things that each of us can do is to try to promote awareness from the ground up. The MSM is certainly doing its part to keep us anesthetized to the painful truth of the ongoing disintegration of the fragile, time worn, man-made systems we have in place.

If we are to build a "community" on ZH beyond the basic fight club ethos as CD suggested in a previous post, I'd argue there would have to be some central thesis beyond "making a killing on the trade." While I won't suggest what that central idea should be, helping others awaken to the human calamity that is befalling all of us (and adding the human dimension to the fiscal/numerical dimension) is a good start.

Again thanks for showing heart, and thanks for the post.

williambanzai7's picture

This trader/social ethic dichotomy you allude to is very interesting.

While I agree that trading can induce a fast buck mentality, I would go one step further.

It requires very strong mental discipline to trade outside of the box. It also takes that kind of mental awareness to see the social forest from the trees.

That is probably why this unlikely combination seems to flourish here.

The two planes do not overlap perfectly, but they are symbiotic on this site. Which is why I frown on those who spend their time yapping about what should and should not be published here.

If it is current and relevant from a financial, economic, political and social perspective, why the hell not.

We already have a giant filter on the MSM. We don't need one here.

Fiat2Zero's picture

Completely agree. "Change is the Universal Constant," and ZH will change as well.

ZH for better or worse is "real news."

It has also attracted a fairly intelligent audience who is already sensitized to two basic failings in the global system:

1. The press has ceased to function in its capacity to act as a check against government and corporate power, and to equip its citizenry for making rational decisions.

2. The financial system has become overly fragile, partly due to 1. (if there are no checks and balances it is easy to get out of whack). This is a complicated topic, and the reasons for the ailings are many.

It will be interesting to see if we can evolve from the passive observer to the active, from the fragmented solo artists to a more cohesive body, from the cynics to the pragmatic activists.

"All that is required for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing."

nuscorb's picture

Agree this is very sad. People need to realize their only hope is to take charge of their own future.

As long as you believe that you are some kind of child who needs "the government" or "the gods" or some other parent figure to make things right for you, you will be exploited. I know it's difficult when you've been put down in this way your whole life, but really there is no alternative.

If you think it's too late for you to change, at least start treating the children in your life as fully responsible human beings, show them as much respect as you would show one of these parent figures, so the next generation doesn't also grow up thinking of themselves as helpless dependent pawns. Look up Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting: Young children are not bad, they don't need to be "educated", they only need our love and support. They are smart unbroken people who already know how to grow into beautiful human beings if only we let them.

earnulf's picture

I live four miles from Joplin, Mo and I've seen the devestation first hand.   What Tomoko and her family are going through is not so different except here we can see the injuries and see the damage.   We can work to clean it up and we can rebuild, secure that the land will allow us to.   

Japanese will struggle through this, put on a brave face and pay a heavy price for it.     It is not pride as we think of it, it is the Japanese way, to suffer untold agony rather than make a sincere apology and change.

Japan was prepared to sacrifice everyone in an American Invasion in 1945.   They pioneered the suicide bomber where the highest ideals were to kill as many of the enemy as they could.     It took the Emperor to end the war, over the objections of army generals who wanted to die rather than suffer the humiliation of surrender.

But this is a turning point for Japan.    They suffered for two decades with a dead economy, limping along while enduring the pain.    Either Japan will undergo the transformation begun when the white ships first entered her waters or it will slowly expire from her own humiliation, unwilling to admit her mistakes or change her ways.

Still, it's the children who suffer.    It's always the children.

williambanzai7's picture

They have been suffering under a surrogate form of feudalism in a sense. We could write books on the subject, but it is there struggle to fight. As much as the bureaucracy there cares little about outside advice, they are very sensitive to outside appearances. The will not like to see this letter publicized.

And, BTW, I don't mean to diminish the suffering going on with the disasters in the US. My favorite question in that regard is why in this day and age is it so difficult to set up an effective system for accounting for survivors?

Rhodin's picture

If this is our new weather pattern it is obvious that we need to build sturdier structures.  Later nuke plants suggest a design.  Concrete dome homes!

nobusiness's picture

The worst Nuclear disaster of all time (not that the media even mentions it) and no one cares.  As long as the stock market is not hurt everything is fine.


Luckily for the residence of Japan, China has 10 Million empty apartments ready for them to move into tomorrow.

Makes me sick what is viewed as important. 40 million people watched American Idol and Dancing with the stars thursday night.  I doubt 10% of them know what is happening in the world.

Confuchius's picture


Some good news: The sea surface temperatures are quite cool around Japan which will put the brakes on the typhoon tomorrow. Passing Honshu it should be rainshowers and some 60 kph wind.

What we're really looking at is a slow motion "Joplin, Mo." lasting for the next 100 years or more.

There was a Russian Nuclear Scientist in Japan the week after the "shake & bake" at Fukushima. He told the Gov't. ministers of "dis & dat" they had a Chernobyl cubed in progress and they must evacuate at least a 100 km radius around the site. He was on TV & on blogs.

His advice was totally ignored. They did not want to know. (If we ignore it all long enough it will all go away.) The problem is partly meltdown & mostly built-in blockheaded cultural & criminal stupidity. Any poor folk depending on a gov't. to look after them (Any gov't., anywhere) are doomed.

williambanzai7's picture

I believe it is the concept of State Failure, which has been known to lead to regime change.

Fiat2Zero's picture

It's beyond state failure. We are looking at world-wide systemic failure. The failure of the global system.

Regime change is often a hollow victory. The result of "well let's throw the bums out". Once the new regime is in place, people often find that the problems remain, and the new group is simply a less capable version of the last group.

I'm not being an apologist for the Japanese Government. However, with the advanced state of Corporatism that currently infests the advanced western countries, it's hard to see the right types of changes coming from _any_ (existing) government.

A central problem to solve, in my opinion, is an involved and educated citizenry. There needs to be a fairly large group of people (not necessarily all people) that are dedicated to keeping the issues out in the open. This used to be the function of the press. However, now, the press is so concentrated in a few hands, that it spouts a single message, and lulls everyone to sleep.

Ask yourself how can this disaster be unfolding but no one is talking about it? Although I don't have evidence, I'd argue there is suppression of the truth at multiple levels throughout society (including the lowest level, ourselves - we have all been well trained not to be "hysterical").

To that end, I think ZH does a great job. I myself have benefited greatly from the articles posted. It's great to see the revival at some level of what we used to call "news". Thanks to all ZH contributors and Tyler for this.

williambanzai7's picture

I agree with what you are saying.

I watch these developments on TV in HK, where I am know for certain they are given more air time than in the US.

But the full scope of the disaster is something that is undergoing another massive information control exercise. The problem is they can't control the reactors. 

Shit is gonna keep happening there for a long time I am afraid.

Rhea's picture

Mr Banzai, may I have your permission to spread the letter of Fukushima for people of my home country?

I understand that Brasil (with "s "), has always been home to many Japanese people who are at least entitled to know it exists

Thank you Sir

williambanzai7's picture

I presumed this letter was for broad dissemination. Please do!

Rhea's picture

Ok, fasten your seatbelts ;)

williambanzai7's picture

Please keep me posted...@williambanzai7 on twitter

Trifecta Man's picture

Thinking inside the box, we have lots of empty homes in America that have not been sold.  The owners of the empty homes (whoever they are) can offer these home to the affected Japanese for free in return for newly printed Fed currency.  We're going to print up that currency anyways.  The spur to our economy would be tremendous from many aspects.

williambanzai7's picture

There are two kinds of social stigma there, leaving and coming back, and accepting charity.

For these reasons, few would ever consider leaving.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Sadly, that has been my exact experience. 

connda's picture

Anyone got the address to the Japanese Government?  Like any Japanese Government official is going to give a rip about what a Gaijin writes if they are already more than willing to sacrifice their own population in order to save face.  "Big, Big Problem...but we ignore so not there!" I can't even fathom the horror those people are going to suffer within the next decade or two.  Unfortunately in this day and age, those responsible no longer have the honor to ritually disembowel themselves -- no less having the honor to go to the nuclear plant and volunteer to put things right. 

Tomoko-san: my heart goes out to you, your children, and those who live within the disaster zone that are being left to slowly die by the Japanese government.  Unfortunately, it is the symptom of the far greater disease of corpocrasy which cares not for humanity. 

JohnKing's picture

Maybe we should give Detroit to Japan. It would be better for everyone if they rebuilt that piece of shit city instead of the waste dump they are on.

Rhodin's picture

Seriously, Detroit has tax sale homes without bids.  Maybe if someone got them to advertise in Japan?

DeltaDawn's picture

Love it!  We would all want to move there within 5 years.

TSA gropee's picture

When our wonderfully impartial media pulled the plugged so abruptly on Fukushima news,and the EPA decided to raise the PAG limits on acceptable exposure limits, my oh-shit-this-is-bad meter went full scale. So I did what any red-blooded American would do and ordered myself a geiger counter and will setup a website with daily results of soil, airborne and fresh produce readings that will cover the Phx, AZ area. I'll post the url once it's up.  

downrodeo's picture

excellent work; i look forward to that website. Thank you for taking into your own hands what the authorities refuse to deal with.

old naughty's picture


Let's start signing a petition here in support of Tomoko-san's call to pressure the Japanese government. 

Here's mine: Vee Wong

Thanks for sharing.

Antarctico's picture

Thanks for grabbing this off Twitter and putting up here.  I'm sure I would have missed seeing it otherwise. :(

aerial view's picture

So very sad

What can they do? Mass protests.

What can we do?

Americans could stop buying their cars until adequate safety measures are enacted and independently verified