Fukushima high school students launch nuclear study group

November 09, 2012

By AYAKO NAKADA/ Staff Writer

Two high school girls from Fukushima Prefecture are to launch a peace discussion forum, inspired by the success of a similar long-running nuclear study group run by students elsewhere in Japan.

Later this month, Sayako Ogata and Saki Nezu, both second-year high school students, plan to invite fellow students to a screening of "Hoshasen o Abita X-nen-go" (X years after radiation exposure), a documentary about fishermen exposed to radiation from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1954.

Ogata and Nezu saw the movie themselves on Oct. 7, when they accepted an invitation to a screening and discussion afterward with the film's director, 52-year-old Hideaki Ito, and 83-year-old Akira Hayasaka, a writer.

Ogata said she felt a personal connection to the movie's subject. "I am worried that I might get sick in the future," she said.

In the aftermath of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, her house was among buildings that were decontaminated.

Nezu evacuated temporarily to Aizu-Wakamatsu, a city in the same prefecture where her father was on a job posting away from his family.

"My parents' and grandparents' generations may be to blame for allowing the nuclear power plants, but both adults and children are responsible for thinking together about the problem," Nezu said.

Ogata and Nezu have been friends since childhood. Even though they now attend different high schools, they belong to the same poetry-reading group.

Inspiration for the study group came from a team of high school students in Kochi Prefecture that calls itself the Hata High School Students Seminar.

The girls met the group last November and spoke of their experiences, on a visit arranged in part by the poetry group's president.

The Kochi group has been in existence for about 30 years. It has been involved in studying the crew of the fishing boats from Kochi Prefecture, which were exposed to radiation from the hydrogen bomb test.

Over the years, students from various high schools have been helping each other to gather information about more than 200 former fishermen and their survivors.

"I can't believe they are the high school students just like us," Ogata recalled thinking when she met the group.

"Victims of the H-bomb test and of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident share a common problem: internal exposure to radiation," she said.

The group's members briefed Ogata and Nezu about their activities, and the pair came away thinking about starting a similar study group in Fukushima.

The students’ first project--screening the H-bomb test movie--is now under way.

The idea for the showing came from a high school teacher who is active in peace education in Fukushima Prefecture, who is a friend of their poetry group's president.

The girls agreed, and two other high school students joined them this summer in preparing to launch the group.

The students said they want to conduct a study on the damage from the Fukushima accident in the future, in cooperation with the Kochi group.

By AYAKO NAKADA/ Staff Writer
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Fukushima high school students Sayako Ogata, left, and Saki Nezu relate their experiences of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster and its aftermath at a movie screening in Tokyo on Oct. 7. (Ayako Nakada)

Fukushima high school students Sayako Ogata, left, and Saki Nezu relate their experiences of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster and its aftermath at a movie screening in Tokyo on Oct. 7. (Ayako Nakada)

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  • Fukushima high school students Sayako Ogata, left, and Saki Nezu relate their experiences of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster and its aftermath at a movie screening in Tokyo on Oct. 7. (Ayako Nakada)

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