3.Collaboration with a Scientist
The Project had officially kicked off at a time when the radiation level in Fukushima City was high, at approximately 1.5μSv/h in the city center. Meanwhile, there was still a great deal of turmoil and confusion surrounding the situation. Iitate Village, located between Fukushima City and the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was designated as a Planned Evacuation Zone, even though it was outside of the 20km evacuation radius, due to its high radiation dosage. The Ministry of Education announced that radiation levels of up to 20mSv/y were acceptable for schools in Fukushima, prompting outcries of dismay and confusion.
Right about that time, one television program provided a beacon of hope for Otomo and the project members. The program was titled “A Network to Develop a Radiation Contamination Map,” and aired on NHK ETV on May 15. A documentary, the program followed a young radiation hygiene researcher, Dr. Shinzo Kimura in his efforts to traverse more than 2000 km within Fukushima Prefecture, tracking the radiation, and working with a network of researchers around the country to develop a detailed and precise contamination map. Seeing the harsh reality of the radiation contamination was painful, but for Otomo, this was the first piece of information that seemed truly credible, which he described was like seeing a candle in the dark. Otomo met Dr. Kimura through an introduction from the program staff, and expressed his appreciation along with a request for his support to the project. Dr. Kimura readily agreed, saying that there was bound to be a way to come up with the right measures to make the festival happen. I will never forget the tears that Otomo showed in that meeting. Since announcing the plan to host the festival, Otomo had been bombarded with criticism. Some ferociously accused him of genocide, by trying to bring people to Fukushima. If the festival was held, there was bound to be some amount of risk of radiation exposure. Cancelling the festival would basically be tantamount to him as a musician telling the local community that their land was no longer habitable. Either way, he stood to lose, grappling blindly with the weight of the unbelievable pressure. For Otomo, the endorsement from Dr. Kimura, a scientist, meant more than anything. It felt as if the project was finally moving forward, at this stage, thanks to the addition of a reputable scientist.