Boo-hoo-hoo Fukushima Diary, Part 15

Lingering anxiety

We’ve been using an 8-mat room at my parents’ home in the city of Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture, where we evacuated to. There are two desks and a bunk bed in the room. On the days when I’m there, after we lay out futons for my wife and me you can hardly see the floor.

We use the adjoining living room for our meals. It’s as if we’ve hijacked my parents’ living room.

Every day we prepare our meals separately from my parents because they’re not concerned about contamination of food, and they cook their food quite differently. We share the refrigerator, the gas stove and the sink. After eating we put all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher together and wash them.

Some people refer to my level of concern about radioactive contamination and internal exposure to radiation as “radiation neurosis.” My wife and my children, who had to move to my parents’ house on account of it, have had a lot of stress. And I’m sure it must have been very stressful for my parents to have me and my family suddenly move in with them.

Now I’m planning to bring this lifestyle to an end. We decided to rent an apartment near my parents’ home. That way my daughters won’t have to go through the stress of changing schools again, and we can avoid the stress of all of us living together.

But I’ll continue to make the 80-km trip to work in the city of Fukushima. And we’ll continue to have to pay rent in both Fukushima and Aizu. There are a lot of other problems that we haven’t solved.

Two years have passed since the disaster. I still don’t feel like thinking back on what has happened since then because the problem of the accident at the nuclear power plant hardly seems settled and because I feel like we’re on a boat with a hole in the bottom, and my anxiety won’t go away.

Being given this opportunity to have my essays and cartoons published 15 times since January of last year has been an unexpected stroke of good luck. I wonder how the people of Hiroshima, which experienced an atomic bombing, have reacted to my essays. I’m splashing about, floundering in Fukushima again today.

This is the final installment in this series.

(Originally published on March 12, 2013)