FUKUSHIMA--A poet who has waged a war of words against nuclear power for 40 years is a "plaintiff" in a "people's court" seeking to identify those responsible for last year's accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Jotaro Wakamatsu was a plaintiff in the people's court held on May 20 in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, seeking to determine responsibility for the nuclear accident.
A team of "prosecutors" will pursue various charges against the defendants including suspicion of professional negligence resulting in bodily injury and death. A team of judges, made up of university professors, will hand down a verdict.
The people's court was planned by ordinary citizens, and the defendants include executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant's operator, at the time of the accident.
"Not a single individual has been indicted," Wakamatsu said. "Individuals who should have really taken responsibility have failed to do so. That being the case, it is impossible to talk about resuming operations at nuclear plants."
Wakamatsu, 76, lived in the Haramachi district of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, about 25 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Among Wakamatsu's poems that raise alarms about nuclear energy are some that can even be considered prophetic of what has actually come to pass over the past year.
After graduating from Fukushima University, Wakamatsu taught Japanese language at senior high schools in the prefecture while also writing poems.
He has warned about the dangers of nuclear energy since the 1970s when radiation leaked from the nuclear-powered ship Mutsu.
In 1994, Wakamatsu visited the Chernobyl nuclear plant and put his observations into a poem entitled "Kamikakushi sareta machi" (The town that was spirited away). The poem is placed in Pripyat of the Ukraine. The city was considered too dangerous to live in because of the nuclear accident. About 150,000 people were forced to evacuate from an area within a 30-kilometer radius from Chernobyl.
Wakamatsu transferred what happened in Pripyat onto Fukushima and wrote a poem that goes:
"Placing TEPCO's Fukushima nuclear power plant at the center/
Will cover Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka/
Naraha, Namie, Hirono/
Kawauchi, Miyakoji, Katsurao/
Odaka, northern Iwaki/
As well as Haramachi where I live/
That area also has a total population of about 150,000 residents.
"We also may be spirited away from today/
I feel as though I can hear the voices of children behind me/
But, when I turn around there is no one there/
Something sends shivers up my back/
I stand alone in a square."
A no-entry zone was established in an area within a 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Even today, about 150,000 residents lead lives as evacuees.
"It was no prophecy," Wakamatsu said of his poetry. "Someone living 300 kilometers away from the nuclear plant may not feel anything, but anyone living within 25 kilometers of it will feel something ominous."
He decided to become involved in the people's court because he feels what is most necessary is to determine who should be held responsible for the nuclear accident.
Reflecting his own sense of history, Wakamatsu said, "Japanese politics were distorted because responsibility for World War II was not thoroughly pursued."
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