Living here in Azusagawa it is really easy to go about life without thinking about the earthquake, the tsunami and even to some extent the radiation threat. We grow our own veggies, the water we use comes from the mountain behind us, the local testing station puts our radiation readings at minimal, life just goes on as it always has.
But that's not true for everyone.
And that's something we can't forget.
Even K's parents who are lucky enough to be living in their own house which is structurally sound have to queue if they want to buy vegetables from outside the prefecture. That's if there are any available that day. We are still sending them rice and some winter veggies and, while they live with the uncertainty of not knowing what their environment is doing to them they are typically fatalistic and say they are too old to need to worry about it and similarly too old to want to start a new life somewhere else.
The Mayor of Matsumoto, Akira Sugenoya, is a leading researcher on Thyroid cancer and spent five years in Belarus treating children after the fallout from Chernobyl. He has been really busy doing talks and media work explaining the risks and the situation. He has been to Fukushima to do talks there, addressed parliament and done public addresses all around the prefecture including right here in Azusagawa. As well as being very knowledgable he has a very reassuring and calming way of talking that I really appreciate and makes me think I would have liked to have him as a doctor when he was still doing that!
If anything good has come out of this tragedy I really think it is the raising of consciousness of so many citizens. I have often felt that the average Japanese person is staggeringly politically apathetic. The frequent change of Prime Minister, inbrededness of the political parties and lack of much real difference between the two main parties don't help for sure but it always amazes me how many people don't vote and aren't interested in the issues.
Since 3/11 though there are a plethora of new grass roots organisations and movements that are making noise and drawing attention to their cause and demanding action from their government.
And even at very local, neighbourhood level, people are banding together to improve their lot rather than just wait for the government to help them.
Like the people in this video from Ishinomaki. It's sad to see how much there is that still needs to be done but encouraging to see people moving forward and thinking of a future while still surrounded by the evidence of so much loss and devastation.