The world is constantly changing. I say that to myself many times every day. 8 months have passed since the great east Japan disaster. Since I grew up in Fukushima, as long as there is no end in sight to the problems at the Daiichi nuclear power plant, I feel as if the disaster is still going on. Because of the disaster, the influence of radio is being reviewed. Instead of watching tsunami video clips over and over again, people were turning to the radio to get the information they wanted. I have never longed for a microphone as much as I did during that time. I wanted to relay accurate information quickly. During that hectic time, the greatest number of faxes and emails from listeners were those saying “We were relieved and reassured because we could hear your voice as usual.” At that time, I felt very deeply just how important maintaining a usual routine is for people.
After the disaster, I took just one day off, and was able to go to Fukushima. There is a Chinese dumpling shop that I know in Fukushima City. The owner of the shop said that a TV crew had come from Tokyo to relay transmissions from nearby. But suddenly, on that same day, with the words “It’s dangerous! It’s dangerous here!” they turned around and went back. Since he wasn’t informed of the details, his uneasiness about what was so dangerous just continued to grow. Then a few days later, when the radiation readings were broadcast on TV, he became very distressed. As long as there were customers coming, they could not close the shop. Seeing this quiet down-to-earth man raising his voice in indignation, I was filled with a mixture of anger and distress. “But…,” he said. “Things that you can’t see are really frightening, aren’t they,” he protested in a small but strong voice. Another man had parents who were living in Iitate village. He had them come to Fukushima City, and bought a small house where they could live together. He asked “Why do I have to ask them, at their age, to leave the place they’ve grown accustomed to and move somewhere else?” I felt helpless. Some things can be recovered by your own efforts, even after you lose them. But when it comes to unseen fears which can eat away at your body, no matter how hard you try, you never know when all of your work might come crumbling down in an instant. How hard should you try? While there is no clear answer, the speed at which we begin moving forward varies from person to person. Many say their outlook on life has changed. Since the disaster, I have a new sense of the importance of words. After several months, the differences in the information that each person can get are becoming apparent. Some people get their news from only television or newspapers, while others get it from other media because it became clear to them that you can’t rely only on one source, and I hear that some people criticize those whose way of thinking is different, leaving others speechless. They say that people become unable to think when faced with something that they can’t deal with on their own, but without words, we can’t understand each other or move forward. Mutual understanding is something that requires effort, but now we need words which allow us to imagine people’s pain.
After the Great Hanshin Earthquake, many senior citizens lived in temporary housing, but many of them didn’t want to go out. Then, volunteer caregivers set up community rooms where people could come together and have tea, and little by little, people began to talk to each other. When that happened, many demands came out. Little by little, by uniting the voices of the silent majority, the senior citizens, a community organization was formed. On their own, people began talking to each other, and became able to move forward. They were thankful for the great efforts of the volunteers, but there was something else which they couldn’t express. That is, although thankful, what they really wanted was work. Even if only a little, they wanted a sense of being helpful to other people. Seeing eye to eye, interpersonal contact, talking with each other, these connections between people are important lifelines. Restoring the heart takes time. I don’t know how long it will take. But I believe that since the world is constantly changing, the day will come when the tears of anger, of mortification, of painful sorrow, even just one drop, will turn into tears of happiness.
Born in Kitakata. Worked as an announcer at TV-U Fukushima and later became a freelance announcer. Currently appears in “Terumi Yoshida’s Soko Daiji na Toko” (radio), “Hiroshi Sekiguchi’s Sunday Morning” (TBS), “Mei’i ni Q” (NHK), and “Hokoku no Bangumi” (TV Tokyo).