The seed of the idea to tell Kenichi Hasegawa's story was planted in May 2011 when the reporter Shojiro Akashi and the lawyer Yukuo Yasuda visited Iitate for the first time and met Hasegawa and his family, friends and neighbors. By that time - almost two months after the accident - Hasegawa was already quite well known to visitors and reporters as a person always eager to talk to the media. He himself had learned early on that talking to outside visitors was one of the best ways to glean vital information about what was happening at Fukushima Daiichi.
The meeting of these three individuals was thus part of a natural course of events during a very unnatural time. By bringing together their different expertise, experiences, and viewpoints, these men offer a compelling, informed, and nuanced interpretation of the unprecedented events that began at Fukushima Daiichi in March 2011, and examine what can and should be done in response.
The translation that follows (Part 2) is an interview conducted by Shojiro Akashi on May 6, 2011; it is now included in a book he wrote in 2012 entitled A Criminal Complaint Against TEPCO. A fascinating, frightening and yet brilliant piece of reportage, this excerpt describes Akashi's and Yasuda's first meeting with Kenichi Hasegawa. On that day, after measuring radioactivity in the fields of Iitate, they stopped by Hasegawa's house in hopes of talking to him. Although he had not yet arrived home, his wife was there, along with other women from the "Iitate Dairy Farmer Wives Association"; the women were holding their last association meeting before the village's evacuation.
They welcomed the two men in, and talked frankly to them about what life had been like the past two months - about losing their livelihood, being unable to feed and/or relocate their cows, and not knowing where to go or what to do.
After arriving home, Hasegawa joined the conversation and voiced his own concerns. For him, the most horrifying aspect of the whole situation was that everyone he had asked for help had told him to ask someone else.
In response to these fears and concerns, Yasuda had one piece of advice: keep speaking out. Your voices matter, he told them.
Personally, I really love this piece for the way it transmits the authentic voices of the people of Iitate and explains the details of the peculiar and unprecedented difficulties they faced.
Of course, reading this excerpt also reminds me about why this story matters.
When Hasegawa told Yasuda that he was thinking about asking a lawyer for advice, Yasuda pointed out that even the best lawyer would probably not know what to do in a situation like the one he was in. Instead, Yasuda said, it was now up to Hasegawa and the others in Iitate, as people with first-hand experience of the disaster, to see this struggle through to the end. He also advised him not to entrust this work entirely to others. As Yasuda put it, "Leaving things up to the discretion of others is how we will be escorted to hell."
In a very obvious way, Hasegawa's book is the product of this advice. It is also the product of the friendship and mutual respect that developed among Hasegawa, Yasuda and Akashi, as well as their unflagging commitment to tell Hasegawa's story and to fearlessly confront both the institutional issues and personal tragedies that arose following the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
I am very honored to be able to work on this project with people of such tenacity, intelligence, wisdom and humanity. If you haven't already, please consider making a donation to help us complete the important work of translating Hasegawa's book into English. My hope is that together, we can help Hasegawa, Akashi and Yasuda as they work to see this through to the very end.