【June 2016 No.388】Tohoku Nuclear Disaster Relief Focuses on Recuperation

The Kyodan Tohoku District Nuclear Disaster ReliefTask Force, “IZUMI,” was formed in October 2013, in accordance with a resolution passed at the 68th Tohoku District Annual Assembly in May of that same year.

 

Presently, this task force is comprised of a director, an adviser, and a steering committee of five members, including the director, who work with four active full-time staff and a number of volunteers. The office is located in the annex of the Tohoku District Center in Sendai. This was previously a two-story missionary residence called “Maggie House,” which was renovated for our use through funding from the Kyodan and Tohoku District. The steering committee meets once a month, and a staff meeting is held every week. At these meetings there are detailed accounts of the work being done, and ample time is taken in planning future steps. This is because engaging with the problems of radioactive contamination calls for a variety of approaches. Our activities focus on health consultation and examinations, recuperative programming, visitation, and listening. From our first month of activity, we developed programs for recuperation. In December 2013, the physician who performed the first thyroid examinations also gave a lecture. This lecture, as well as five others that followed by other lecturers, was about radioactivity. In the beginning, Dr. Yamazaki Tomoyuki came to us from Airin Church in Osaka District to provide health consultation every month. This was very important for the care of families of children attending church-related kindergartens and nurseries in Fukushima Prefecture. It is impossible to talk about the cooperative relationship we have with the Information Center for Radioactivity in Aizu, located in Wakamatsu Sakaemachi Church in Fukushima Prefecture, without mentioning Dr. Yamazaki.

 

The first thyroid examinations were given in December 2013. The 24th series of examinations was held in January of this year. Over 1,000 children have been examined. Recently, examinations are being performed every month without fail. Children under 18 at the time of the disaster in Fukushima, who are now living in Miyagi Prefecture, have been the main focus of the examinations that we have arranged. For a brief period, we rented an echo machine, but with full funding from the Kyodan, we were able to obtain our own echo machine. We are extremely grateful for this. Since obtaining our own equipment, we have been able to take it throughout Miyagi Prefecture as well as to places close to us in southern Fukushima Prefecture, such as Marumorimachi, Kakuda City, and Shiroishi City. We were also able to take it to Kurihara City in the northern part of Fukushima Prefecture, which was said to have a high degree of radioactivity.

 

When visiting areas throughout Japan and reporting on our work, we are asked why we are working only in Miyagi Prefecture and not in Fukushima Prefecture. There has been no decision not to go to Fukushima Prefecture. We have visited the Kawatani Church kindergarten in the southern part of Fukushima Prefecture twice for thyroid examinations. One of the reasons we do so much work in Miyagi Prefecture is that the prefectural government has decided there is no danger of radioactivity and sees no need for thyroid examinations. However, at the local level, there is a different understanding. For example, due to the cooperation of the town of Ogawaramachi, we did thyroid examinations in that community. When a notice of our examinations was posted on the official town site, there was a flood of applications. The same thing happened in Shiraishi. In Ogawaramachi, the local government provided its facilities for the examinations, and the mayor came to observe. In one day, about 100 children received examinations. Normally, about 50 are seen in one day. The challenge of continuing thyroid examinations is finding doctors who will volunteer for only a travel subsidy. This year we were concerned because the doctor who had helped us was transferred, but we are thankful that suitable help has been provided.

 

There are two recuperative programs: one short-term and one long-term. The long-term program is held in Hokkaido during the summer and in Okinawa during the spring. It is a five-night, six-day program, with much cooperation from Hokkaido and Okinawa districts. In March we are planning to have our ninth long-term program at Amami Oshima in Kyushu District. It has been five years since the Great East Japan Disaster. The work of “IZUMI” began as an effort to protect the lives of children who, through God’s creative activity and providential guidance, are living here. This an ethical issue about life. When compared to the enormity of the nuclear disaster, this is a very small effort. However, for me, it is an effort I hope to continue. Please support us with your prayers.(Tr. JS)

From Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times), No. 4835

—Hoshina Takashi, pastor

Fukushima Church, Tohoku District

東北教区放射能問題支援対策室「いずみ」は、2013年5月に行われた第68回教区総会決議に基づき同年十月に発足しました。

現在は、1名の室長と1名の顧問、室長も含めた5名の運営委員と4名の専従スタッフ、さらに何人かのボランティアによって活動しています。事務所は仙台 市の東北教区センターの別棟です。以前は宣教師館だった二階建ての「マギーハウス」を東北教区と教団からの支援金により、大幅に改装 して使わせていただいております。

 

毎月一回の運営委員会と毎週一回のスタッフ・ミーティングがあります。活動の詳細な報告と今後の予定が時 間をかけて話し合われます。放射能汚染の問題に対する取り組みが多岐にわたるからです。活動の柱は、健康相談と検診、保養プログラ ム、訪問と傾聴です。開設した月から保養プログラムが行われました。検診は十二月に甲状腺検査の第一回を行い、担当した医師による講 演会もなされました。放射能を主題にした講演会は、その後何人かの講師により五回行われました。大阪教区から派遣していただいた山崎 知行医師(大阪教区・愛隣教会員)による健康相談会は、福島県を中心にした教会付属の幼稚園や保育園の保護者達のケアとして大切な働きで当 初は毎月来ていただきました。福島県の若松栄町教会にある会津放射能情報センターとの協力関係も、山崎医師の存在を抜きにしては語れません。

甲状腺の第一回の検査は2013年12月で、2016年1月末で第24回になります。すでに1000名を超える子どもたちが検査を受けました。最近は毎月一回の検査が確実に実施されています。福島の原発事 故当初に18歳以下だった子どもの中で現在は宮城県に住んでいる人を中心に検査を実施してきました。しばらくはエコー 検査をする器械を借りてレンタル料を払っていましたが、教団からの全額支援により自前のエコー器械を持てたことは感謝です。それ以後 は宮城県でも福島県に近い南部の地域(丸森町、角田市、白石市など)に出張したり、放射線量が高いといわれる北部の栗原市でも検査を行いました。

日本各地に運営委員が出かけて活動を報告すると「どうして宮城県だけでしているのですか。福島県では行わ ないのですか。と問われます。福島県に出かけないと決めているわけではありません。園長からの希望を受けて、福島県南部にある川谷教会の保育園の子どもたちの甲状腺検査を単独で二回、実施しました。宮城県で行うのは、県の行政は放射能 の心配はないという判断で甲状腺の検査は必要ないと考えていますが、市町村のレベルでは必ずしもそうではないからです。例えば大河原 町では町の協力を得て甲状腺検査を実施しました。「いずみ」の検査案内を町の広報に載せていただくと、申し 込みが殺到しました。白石市でも同様です。大河原町では検査会場に町の施設を貸していただき、町長も見学に来られました。一日の検査 で約100名の子どもが検査を受けました。通常は50名程度が限度です。甲状腺検査の課題は、交通費のみのボランティアで担当してくださる医師の不足です。今 年の4月からはこれまで担当 していただいた医師の転任もあり、案じられましたが、適任者が与えられ感謝です。

 

保養プログラムは、短期、長期の二つです。長期のプログラムは夏は北海道、春は沖縄で五泊六日の日程で行 い、北海教区と沖縄教区の大きな協力を得ています。今年3月の第9回の長期保養プログラムは九州教区の奄美大島で初めて行う予定です。

 

東日本大震災と福島の原発事故から五年を迎えます。「いずみ」の活動は神が創造し、摂理をもって導いてく ださるこの世界に生きる子どもたちの命を守る取り組みとして始まりました。生命倫理的な課題です。原発事故の大きさに比べてあまりに も小さなつながりであり取り組みです。しかし、私は、このような働きを今後も続けていきたいと願っています。祈りを持って支えてくだ さい。保 科隆(福島教会牧師)(教団新報4835号)