JAPAN | Junior-high students from town near Fukushima plant to attend Nagasaki A-bomb ceremony

Posted on August 3, 2011

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JAPAN | MAINICHI | 3 August 2011

Ryoka Endo (Mainichi)

Ryoka Endo (Mainichi)

IWAKI, Fukushima — Students from junior high schools near the radiation-leaking Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant will visit Nagasaki from Aug. 7 to learn how the atomic-bomb hit city dealt with its own radiation threat.

Forty-three student council members from junior high schools in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, will participate in a peace ceremony on Aug. 9, learning from Nagasaki University researchers about radiation, and giving presentations themselves.

Originally, a “summit” of student council leaders from the 44 junior-high schools in Iwaki city was planned, but it was cancelled because of the March 11 disasters. Learning of this, Nagasaki city invited the schools’ students.

Ryoka Endo, 14, treasurer of the student council at Hisanohama Junior High School, researched radiation poisoning together with students from Nagasaki and will present her research during the visit. Her home was spared from the March 11 disasters, but her school, located around 31 kilometers from the Fukushima plant, is holding class in space borrowed from another school rather than using its own building because of the possibility of dangerous radioactive contamination.

“I want to hear the stories of the people of Nagasaki, who overcame the damage of an A-bomb, and use what I learn to help the recovery of Iwaki,” said Ryoka.

Ryo Yagita rehearses his presentation while using a photo of his school's fallen water purification tank. (Mainichi)

Ryo Yagita rehearses his presentation while using a photo of his school’s fallen water purification tank. (Mainichi)

On the day of the earthquake, Ryoka was in a car with her mother Akemi, 41, when the car was overtaken by the tsunami. The car got caught against a tree, and the two made it through the deadly cold night by sharing their body warmth. Akemi, who worries about radiation contamination of the food at her local supermarkets, says she hopes Ryoka will “use the knowledge that she learns.”

Another school sending a student is Yotsukura Junior High, which was hit by the tsunami and rendered unusable. Fourteen-year-old student council leader Ryo Yagita will join the trip and give a presentation on the tsunami damage using photos he took, such as of a fallen water purification tank at his school. For the first semester, the school had its students take class in rooms at nearby junior-high and high schools, but from the second semester the seniors are returning to the building.

Ryo’s mother Akiko, 50, says, “I feel bad for him because the damage from the tsunami was so heavy that many of his friends left and can’t come back. I hope he makes some new friends during the Nagasaki trip.”

Ryo says, “I want the people of Nagasaki to know how badly damaged our region was.”

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