Ryota Sono and Yoko Shimosawa
August 7, 2019
(Translated and edited by Etsuji Watanabe and Nozomi Isizu)
In Japanese : https://www.gowest-comewest.net/2019/08/06/2019-08-09hiroshima/
Friends, evacuees and supporters! This is Ryota Sono.
We are very pleased to inform you that we successfully completed the August 6 Hiroshima Action for Appeal without any serious trouble with the police and extreme rightwing activists. Our ten members were able to get a lot of participants from daytime meetings, with even refreshments gifted by them, and handed out all the leaflets that we had brought in. Special thanks to the participants from distant places in exhausting schedules and scorching weather!
The below is a report on our evening action including the first-stage interference by the security firm supposedly coordinated with the authorities. Part 1 is written by me, Part 2 by Yoko Shimosawa.
It would be greatly appreciated if you could spread this document to your friends and acquaintances.
———— Part1 ————
Again this year, we, Go West and Come West Japan, an organization of nuclear evacuees from Tohoku and Kanto regions (including Fukushima and Tokyo areas) and their supporters, organized an action in Hiroshima on August 6, the 74th anniversary of the United States atomic bombing.
The action was named “NO to A-bomb/nuke-power/radiation! NO to covering-up health damage for nukes! 3.11 refugees and friends’ Hiroshima Appeal on Motoyasu bridge in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park”.
The purpose was to convey the following messages to those who gathered in the park on “the night” of August 6, when largest number of people were expected to gather from inside and outside the country. Specifically:
(1) Stop the Japanese government covering up the radiation exposure damage of both Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bombings and the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, as well as sacrificing the victims, especially returnees to highly contaminated areas in Fukushima, which is tantamount to secret radiological mass murder organized by the Japanese government.
(2) Convey the danger that the Tokyo Olympics entails with the authorities entirely disregarding radiation exposure risks, and demand the government cancel it.
(3) Stop the U.S. government preparing new nuclear war with ‘usable’ nuclear weapons. The cover-up of radiation exposure in Japan has reached a critical stage where we cannot help suspecting that the aim of the cover-up has something to do with the now-preparing United States use of small-sized nuclear weapons.
We distributed the handouts: “Tokyo as well as Fukushima Is NOT Radiologically Safe. “The Government of Japan is Making Tokyo Olympics Radiating Fields of Athletes and Visitors” : http://ur0.work/Yuih
This flier included the appeal for an international unified action on September 29, 2019, against new nuclear arms race and new nuclear war preparations, as well as against Fukushima radiation damage cover-ups :
Last year, we experienced an upsurge of our action with so many visitors from overseas and second generation atomic bomb survivors attending our impromptu meeting and sharing the hidden health damage of nuclear disasters. In the end of the action, however, the Hiroshima Prefectural Police unlawfully arrested one of our members, supposedly because of this upsurge.
But this crackdown has determined us never to succumb to such a threat! So we have made it this year on the same Motoyasu bridge! By increasing the numbers of activists and shooting cameras we had prepared for an unexpected situation.
On 5-6th in August in the Peace Park, many civic meetings, demonstrations, panel displays are performed freely by many groups coming from the whole country. On the morning of 6th of this year nothing unlike last year was witnessed on the bridge at all. But late afternoon suddenly the sidewalk and road were divided by corns and poles (see the photographs below) though it is a vehicle-free promenade. And the signs were posted displaying “Loudspeaker campaign without permission prohibited” and ”Don’t stop walking”. A large number of security guards and the police officers were stationed there.
The bridge was blocked by a security firm
Wasn’t this the regulation exclusively targeting our appeal? Just like last year, we were the only group which held demonstration on this bridge, although last year ours was a very small action by only four people.
It was clear their intention to crack down was targeted at the content of our action － “speaking openly in 8.6 Hiroshima to those from all over Japan and the world about the risks and real health damage caused by the Fukushima-disaster-induced internal radiation exposure, which the Japanese government is systematically covering up.” If so, we, the nuclear refugees and friends cannot and will not give it up.
These days, freedom of expression is in danger and the government’s interference is becoming more and more intense. Therefore, first of all, I would like to write down a memorandum so that our experience can be useful for negotiations in such cases.
At first we entered into negotiation with the security firm. We held many cameras, thinking that this could more effectively prevent the police from intervening than a small number of people without recording the situation. With that in mind:
(1)First confirming the situation.
We asked one of the guards “who was regulating what?”
His answer was that a security firm obtained permission to use the road on the whole bridge because it was expected to be crowded with people seeing the Toro-Nagashi, floating of lanterns (photograph below), and their purpose was to secure smooth traffic and prevent troubles.” That was a stock phrase used by the police for the road regulation.
Toro-Nagashi, floating of lanterns
(Note: this suggested that all the arrangement might have been instructed by the police. The bridge is located in the site of the Park, therefore outside the direct jurisdiction of the police, so the police, being afraid of raising antipathy of people if they stood out, might use the security firm to come to the fore.
(2) A police officer then interrupted by saying to us “do not make trouble.” → We urged the police to stay away, citing the principle that police stay out of civil disputes → We requested the guard to call their chief”.
(3) The person in charge came.
We said to him, “this is a part of the public park, usable for anyone. Besides, the Peace Park on the very day of August 6. It is the city of Hiroshima that sponsors the floating of lanterns and the city authorities do not interfere in any civic actions. No way, can a private security firm occupy the bridge arbitrarily and hinder free civic actions? Neither, can there be any legal grounds? → The chief responded, “But do you have the permit of the police necessary for street propaganda?”
(4) We replied “Permits of the police are not necessary for street propaganda, which is confirmed by the High Court judgment.” We searched “the Yurakucho judgment” in my smartphone and showed it to him.
“Permission is unnecessary, because we use only a part of the road, we do not cause the traffic interference either.” →The chief said “I did not know that” and began to soften.
(5) We said, “We are going to make an appeal about the damage the radiation exposure causes, which is the best match with this place and date. I believe that you share the same feelings with us. If any trouble happened we could handle it. No problem.” → The person in charge said “Understood. But set the volume modestly.” He withdrew from there, saying “If anything happens let us know.”
After that both the security firm and the police stood by and waited, but they did not interfere at all.
The government and the police are aiming at people spontaneously giving up their rights. A right is what people are to fight and gain specifically. Let’s go out and take action.
———— Part2 ————
No one was arrested this year. What a relief!
We finished our Hiroshima action near the ground zero of the U.S. atomic bombing on the evening of August 6. Afterwards we held a tiny party with beer cans and bentos at the bank of Motoyasu bridge to celebrate our mission completed. (Thank you, the members of Heiwa no Tsudoi (meeting for peace) for giving us good foods and drinks).
Some of our members said, “last year it would have been impossible for us to have such negotiations with the police. Only four of us participated our action last year. But this year the number was 10 thanks to advance notifications. Police won’t look down on us when more of us are present. That’s the lesson we’ve learned.”
We discussed, “After all, it’s surprising that our such small action of last year heightened the alert level of the police so dramatically this year. The key point is topics of our appeal: the tragedy of Hiroshima is connected with Fukushima nuclear disaster, the real picture of radioactive contamination in the eastern Japan, and radiation-induced health damage.”
This year we had more speakers and their speeches were impressive.
Ms Kiyoko Mito, a famous no-nukes activist in Japan, stopped by and gave a moving speech which included all the things I wanted to express.
Ms Mito appealing passionately to passer-by
Nearly half of the people who were reading our handouts, looking at the radio-contamination map of Japan spread on the street, and listening to my English speech were foreign visitors. It was worth the time I had devoted to practicing my speech.
Nuclear weapon burns us alive to death from outside and destroy our body from inside. This is what all nukes are really about.
The true meaning of ongoing Fukushima nuclear accident, or rather a nuclear disaster, lies there. We needed to tell that story to people here in Hiroshima. I was very grateful that we were able to protect ourselves from the police and secure this place for speeches.
The words engraved in the stone at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is “the error shall not be repeated” (direct translation from Japanese). Committed to this oath, we will never overlook lives being deprived or being killed. This is the sole reason that we stood there and I wanted to stand there. I lost words seeing those security guards and police standing in our way. “What are they that we are dealing with?”
We are the same human beings and we are all being exposed by radiation time after time. Among those guards and police many have daughters and sons. It should be natural that parents want to protect their children.
I wish one day all people held each other’s hands, beyond the barrier, in order to ‘protect’ lives. Just like I had an opportunity to make speech there. I feel that the time of 74 years ago is connected straight to the present.
I want all people to be aware that we are forced to march along the same course leading to the same “error.” I hope that we can hold an event like this next year too, wishing more and more people to participate in our action. Now I am on my way home from Hiroshima.
I just remembered a song I sang with pupils for a play at a school festival when I was an elementary school teacher.
The scene was about a town changing rapidly with an autocratic king.
The king’s men sang this song, called ‘Ban’.
His Majesty’s banned it, banned it.
It’s banned (a commander)
It’s banned (all)
Never ever (a commander),
Never ever do that (all)
The song went on like this.
Were the king’s men those police?