Junior Writers Reporting

Hiroshima group provides short-term stays to people from Fukushima

A group called “Children, Future, Hiroshima,” established in December 2011 and based in Nishi Ward, Hiroshima, offers short-term stays to people affected by the accident that took place at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant. Because the members of the group live in the A-bombed city of Hiroshima, they wanted to do something for the people of Fukushima Prefecture. They also lend support those moving from the Fukushima area.

The short-term stays are provided to families who are worried about the effects on their health due to radiation exposure, particularly if there are children or the mother is pregnant. The group extends their invitation via a website.

The length of a short-term stay ranges from about one to three weeks during summer or winter vacation. The families from Fukushima are able to visit the island of Miyajima, a World Heritage site, and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and children can enjoy activities outdoors without fears of radiation exposure. In all, six short-term stays have taken place to date, involving 14 families. Five of the 14 families have then moved to Hiroshima or Okayama.

Currently, there are six members in the group, a university professor and university students. When a short-term stay takes place, other students will also join in the volunteer effort, making preparations and caring for the families. Hotel rooms or available apartments are furnished free of charge.

After taking part in the first short-term stay, Yukimi Niizuma, 38, moved from Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture to Asaminami Ward, Hiroshima with her three children. “The people of Hiroshima know a lot about radiation, and my children haven’t suffered any bullying,” she said. “Lately, I’m able to focus on other things in my life, too, like fashion.”

The leader of the group, Kyoko Kanasugi, 65, a professor at Hiroshima Shudo University, said, “Junior high and high school students in Hiroshima can help support people affected by the nuclear accident, too.” She hopes many young people will come to know about their work, and join them in this effort. (Miyu Sakata, 17)

(Originally published on April 16, 2013)