Research

#037

TRAVELLING THROUGH CONTAMINATED LANDS (3)

I’ve been visiting a loving family in Hakodate. The mother was our participant. She has three boys full of energy and after living apart for a while, her husband joined them in Hokkaido one year ago. When I arrived at the tram station, she came to get me with the youngest. He was really shy at the beginning and didn’t try to talk to me. When we arrived at their house, the middle one was already home, playing on his own. The two boys started watching TV while playing around. I was conducting the interview with the mother and I realized how amazing moms can be. I mean, she was literally talking to me, pealing apples and kakis while keeping an eye on the boys. At some points, I thought she was too busy to answer, but she would tell me to ask her a question because she was still listening. She was a very energetic person and she had very… well… interesting ideas when it comes to education (“I let them fight until one of them wins”), but I could feel her love for her boys overflowing. She was worried about their health (they tend to be sick easier and develop skin diseases) and told me she was still happy to have come to Hakodate, where her kids can play outside as much as they want. When I think that she will have to make sure their healthy at all time, I can’t help but feel really sorry. Even the kids are aware that something is wrong. When she was saying that her kids were having skin problems, the eldest son came to the table and said “that’s all because of the food we get at school”. It was so odd to have such a young kid saying something so serious. Somehow, the disaster made them grow quickly. They had to understand why they had to move away from their home, had to understand why they have to be careful about everything when they visit their family, had to understand why their household sometimes encounters financial difficulties.

This accident happened because of a tsunami and now no one is taking any responsibility towards the ones who suffer from its consequences. The government is asking people to go back to their original places of living because it’s “safe” to do so. It will stop all aids starting in 2017 and “voluntary” refugees will have to find a way to survive without that support. I just heard the story about a woman who fled contamination with her husband and became pregnant away from Fukushima. But they already had little money to live, so she did all she could to have a “natural” abortion (bumping into walls, falling from stairs, etc.). How can the state not provide any help for those people? I’m not even asking TEPCO to provide financial aid, because I know most of it would come from the aid the company receives from the state, meaning residents’ taxes. The state could just give it directly to people, it would cost less… Starting 2017, people will certainly start going back to Fukushima prefecture, either they want it or not, because they won’t be able to live away (for the moment, the state pays their rents). They will live in fear and it is very possible that their relationships to neighbors won’t be that great, as they will be labeled “voluntary refugees”. Well, I guess that would be a very interesting PhD thesis theme: “relationships between the so-called voluntary refugees and their original neighbors”. No one will be ready to speak up, but suffering will come up from there, and the state won’t acknowledge it, as it hasn’t been acknowledging much for the past 4 years.

When visiting that family in Hokkaido, I had a weird feeling. I watched those kids fight, scream and whine, and I should have been annoyed at it. But I just thought how great it would be to have such energetic children. I wanted to grab the youngest son’s cheeks and tell him how cute he is, even though he was shoving natō maki into his mouth. I guess it is lovely to have children and to look after them even though it’s tough. They will show you their love with a thousand different ways. The youngest ran to the bathroom when his dad started preparing himself to take a bath in order to bath with him. Even though it was a bit awkward (please tell your children to avoid opening the bathroom door when your husband is in there and you have guests around + tell your kid to wear clothes when he/she comes out of it), I felt that it was really nice being able to spend quality times with your close family. I think this encounter definitely made me progress with my “fearofkids” problem.

***

Listening to: VIXX – 사슬 (Chained Up)

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