Ground Zero - Japan Speaking Tour Series No. 2



In our second installation of the Japan Speaking Tour Series, Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen visits Fukushima Prefecture (Japan state) and shares his sobering observations with the Fairewinds Crew. Currently in Japan presenting to groups and organizations throughout the country, Arnie visited the modern ghost towns, abandoned houses, and far stretching roads lined with plastic bags of radioactive garbage that have replaced the once bustling neighborhoods and cities of Fukushima. Formerly home to thousands, the massive release of radiation due to the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi has forced residents to evacuate and destroyed their beautiful homeland. Join the Fairewinds Crew and ask yourself this: With 100 operating atomic power reactors generating electricity in the U.S., what’s so different about your home, your town, your state that what happened to Fukushima couldn’t happen to you and your family? 


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Featured Book:

Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out
Edited by Leah Stenson and Asao Sarukawa Aroldi

Review by Maggie Gundersen

Special thanks to editor Leah Stenson for sending this book to Fairewinds Energy Education. To quote Ms. Stenson, “The fifty poets whose work is presented here speak for the thousands, millions, whose voices have not been heard, and they speak with eloquence, passion, and courage.”

Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out was awarded as a 2015 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS finalist in the Social Change category on November 16, 2015.

This beautiful book of poetry opens with an explanation about the use of atomic power and the unfolding disaster of the triple meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi. It is an amazing collection of 50 poems in English followed by a separate section with the poems in the original Japanese. These are rich evocative poems, which is why we decided to feature this book now while Fairewinds chief engineer Arnie Gundersen is in Japan and traveling in the Prefecture (State) of Fukushima. Ms. Stenson’s experience of traveling through the exclusion zone with her husband and the poet Masayki Nemoto, who is now a nuclear refugee, echoes what Arnie is now witnessing first-hand in Fukushima Prefecture.  

“Visiting the deserted towns and countryside around Daiichi Nuclear Plant served to give me a clearer understanding of the situation in the exclusion zone… The so-called ghost towns, which included areas undamaged by the earthquake or tsunami, were like movie sets after all the actors had left and gone home. The complete absence of human activity in the context of shops, homes, and streets was eerie beyond description.” (Leah Stenson, Preface, Page xiv)

Imagine being forced to abandon the town and home you love so dearly. Read My Home, Namiemachi, by poet Masayki Nemoto (Page 72).

I was really touched by Hatsuko Hara’s poem, The Day My Professional Career Ended. Ms Hara was in charge of personnel at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

For me, Ms Hara’s evocative poetry was a painful reminder of my feelings regarding my work in nuclear public relations, when I told people living near these plants that atomic power is safe. Her poem brings home the tragedy of the post-meltdown cleanup work at Daiichi.

“But the temporary workers were outside my scope of responsibility.

When the radiation leaked, it was their job.

They were the ones who did the dangerous work.

They cannot work more than two days a week,

since they are constantly exposed to radiation.

Their work history is erased when they retire

because the company would get in trouble

if these records could be used to establish the cause of their illness.

Their life

is not the life of the Tokyo Electric Power Company.”

In The Pollution Of Our Ancestral Land, Tsutomu Sakai poignantly introduces us to the pain the mountains and forests are feeling for the devastation of their world.

And finally, as a mother and grandmother, I was very touched by Jun Nakamura’s poem, To The New Generations, beginning with:

“To the new generations

We have to apologize to you

for having deprived you of

the ground where you would have been able to walk barefoot,

the snowy fields…

the shallow brooks you could have splashed through,

… crops safe and full of energy from the earth.

…We have to apologize to you

for your damaged genes,

for the cesium detected in your body,

for your swollen thyroid gland…”


Buy the book. Read it and hear the truth spoken from the hearts and voices of many victims of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi tragedy.

Fairewinds in the News:

Watch Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen talk about the difference between Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Trust Fund versus Slush Fund with CCTV Host Margaret Harrington. Following Arnie’s presentation at Middlebury College, Arnie met with Margaret to explain some of the obstacles that state officials of Vermont are facing while trying to protect the public during the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee, which is one of eleven reactors owned by the limited liability corporation (LLC) Entergy Corp.  As stated on Entergy’s site, “With the purchase of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in 1999, Entergy was the first company in the U.S. to acquire an operating nuclear plant through competitive bidding.” All the atomic power plants currently owned by Entergy are aging reactors including a notorious handful in need of expensive repairs with cited leaks (re: Indian Point, Pilgrim, Palisades, Fitzpatrick). When radiation production is sold to the highest bidder, an LLC no less, the repercussions to the public are financial and potentially catastrophic.

 Japan Tour Itinerary:

Temple_AG.JPG* - indicates open to the public

Saturday, February 13 -
*Presentation at Iwate University (1:30pm/13:30 - 4:30pm/16:30), organized by the Iwate Group For Protecting the Sanriku Sea From Radiation

Sunday, February 14 -
Fukushima City, private meetings with colleagues within Fukushima prefecture

Wednesday, February 17 -
*Peace Event at "Jimmy Carter Civic Center" in Konu-town Miyoshi, Hiroshima (6:30pm/18:30), organized by Peace Platform

Thursday, February 18 - 
*Presentation at Onomichi City, Hiroshima (1:00pm/13:00 - 3:30pm/15:30), organized by Choetsu Kiko Association/Nakakubo-san
*Presentation at Hiroshima City (6:45pm/18:45 - 8:45pm/20:45), organized by Choetsu Kiko Association/Nakakubo-san

Friday, February 19 -
YMCA Event at Okayama City (afternoon,TBA)
*YMCA Event at Okayama City (evening, TBA)

Saturday, February 20 - 

*"Nuclear and Human Beings after Fukushima" Event in Hiroshima City (3:00pm/15:00 - 5:30pm/17:30), organized by Hiroshima YMCA, and Hiroshima Cooperative HANWA (Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition)

Sunday, February 21 -
*Presentation at Kakogawa City (2:00pm/14:00), organized by Kainkakushin Group and Himeji YMCA

Monday, February 22 -
*"Peace Forum" Presentation in Kobe City (10:00am - 12:30pm) organized by YMCA, UNICEF, and Kobe Cooperative

Wednesday, February 24 -
*Presentation at Kagoshima City (6:30pm/18:30), organized by the "Executive Kagoshima 3.11 For Stop Re-Operating" Group

Friday, February 26 -
*Peace Event at Osaka City Temple
(6:30pm/18:30), organized by Jodoshu Peace Association

Saturday, February 27 -
*Osaka Global Environment Forum 2016 in Osaka City (6:00pm/18:00 - 8:35pm/20:35), organized by Choetsu Kiko Association of Osaka and Friends of the Earth

Friday, March 4 -
*Presentation at Kamakura (6:00pm/18:00 - 9:00pm/21:00), organized by YMCA, Hibakusha Association, and others

Click here for Japan Tour Itinerary in Japanese

  • published this page in Newsletters 2016-02-19 15:01:00 -0500


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