7. Summary and the Future of Project FUKUSHIMA!Looking back at the time when the project first began last spring, when nothing concrete about the impact of the nuclear accident was known, it feels as if the core team members, including myself, were in a state of panic, although this may sound like an exaggeration. The situation being what it was, the message of "culture has a role" that Otomo shared in his special lecture at Tokyo University of the Arts solicited a great deal of empathy, and became a post-quake guiding principle of sorts for people in the culture and arts community. Even while huddling close to the people of Fukushima, there is a way to portray a positive future vision for FUKUSHIMA, and transform the now notorious name of FUKUSHIMA. That is the role that culture serves, that neither science nor politics can achieve alone. Numerous people were inspired by Otomo's message to raise their hands as volunteers. The Project FUKUSHIMA! message, which was translated immediately into English, was transmitted globally, prompting an NGO based in Chernobyl to contact the organizers, and other reactions from around the world, indicating that the project was off to a good start.
The fact that Project FUKUSHIMA! achieved a level of what could be called success, despite the challenging circumstances, has a lot to do with how the core members were independent musicians. Unlike the government, administration, and corporations suffering from functional failure that can only be called systematic fatigue, unable to cope with the confusion following the earthquake, these indies musicians, namely Otomo and Endo, and other core members including an independent music label owner, were all accustomed to and skilled at acting out their intentions as individuals and networking with others. Even though they were bewildered by the deepening crisis in Fukushima, they probably found it relatively easy to take action in a way that worked with the situation. In that sense, Dr. Shinzo Kimura, who left his post at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Japan, a research institute under the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Labor, to carry out his investigation in Fukushima immediately after the power plant accident, can be called an indies researcher. This commonality is really what brought people from so many diverse fields together under the name of FUKUSHIMA!
It is also important to note that after the NHK program, "ETV Special - Sending Hope from the Land of Fukushima - Project FUKUSHIMA!'s Campaign" was aired on October 9, many opinions were expressed, mostly on Twitter. The festival had been held following the aforementioned steps of publishing the venue radiation levels, and using the Big Furoshiki, but the broadcast triggered another wave of criticism against the very act of hosting the festival in Fukushima, for the reason that it increased unwarranted exposure to radiation.
On the project side, the issue of radiation and unnecessary exposure had been debated multiple times. The information posted on the website, mitigation with the Big Furoshiki, the School FUKUSHIMA! programs such as the "Citizen Scientist Training Program," and "Children's Radiation Class," the dozens of hours of dialogue during DOMMUNE FUKUSHIMA! all came down to our thoughts about how to live FUKUSHIMA, to find wisdom and to have discussions. The festival itself was a part of that endless dialogue, and furthermore, in my mind, is the very act of living. Although it is not possible to respond to each and every one of the criticisms that were raised, I accept them all with sincerity, and plan on putting them to use in our future activities.
I personally feel that the word ふくしま Fukushima when voiced by the three co-founders each had a slightly different nuance in meaning. Ryoichi Wago is very much rooted in his local community, choosing to live in Fukushima even after winning one of contemporary poetry's most prestigious awards. Michiro Endo, despite being over sixty years of age, is constantly on the road, giving more than 100 live performances every year in every corner of Japan. Otomo Yoshihide's global music activities have taken him to hundreds of countries and regions in the last decade. If I were to write it out, Wago's was "福島 (in kanji)," Endo used "フクシマ (in katakana)" and Otomo employed "FUKUSHIMA (in English)." As it were, even though I was a part of the project, this subtle gap felt a bit out of place to me until around the time of the festival. When one says "Fukushima" in Fukushima, it can mean Fukushima City, or Fukushima Prefecture, depending on the context. The fact that ASA-CHANG, a musician from Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, created Project FUKUSHIMA! IWAKI!!, a movement that parallels Project FUKUSHIMA! but pays tribute to his hometown of Iwaki demonstrates how the meaning of the word Fukushima is different depending on the region within Fukushima Prefecture. And then, from a global perspective, the word Japan, in some cases, is likely to be considered synonymous with FUKUSHIMA, which since the nuclear accident, has become world-famous. This difference in meaning exists for all who share "Fukushima" with infinite degrees of varying gradation in between.
Can it be said then, perhaps, that all of us who live in this wretched world after the nuclear accident and the spewing of radiation across this small country and the surrounding oceans, actually share this "Fukushima Zone" with Japan, and the entire world. The boundaries of the Fukushima Zone are not like the administrative borders, and are most likely different from one individual to the next. How do we grasp the "new daily reality" that Otomo speaks about, amid the complex gradation of the Fukushima Zone? To be safe or dangerous, decontaminate or evacuate, pro or anti-nuclear... This is a simplistic dichotomy that we must not fall prey to, since the major challenge that we face, as we live through this new reality, is to have the ability to persist in debating, and continue to contemplate.
As we mark one year from the quake, I actually feel that each person's Fukushima, and the respective meanings that form the gradation, are actually the strength of Project FUKUSHIMA! How can different beings coexist, and create a positive future together? While facing the harsh reality in Fukushima, we must also, to use Wago's words, "not put a lid on Fukushima," but connect the inside and the outside of Fukushima, even hold festivals at times, learn, exchange opinions, and disseminate, in order to paint a new future, as that is exactly the aim of Project FUKUSHIMA!
Project FUKUSHIMA! will go into its second year, even as the situation in Fukushima continues to change, forcing us to continuously think, since we cannot afford to rest. The first goal is to be recognized as an NPO legal entity, by the end of the year, for which the procedure has been started. A festival is being planned for the summertime again, but will not be the same offering nor at the same venue. For now, the plan is to extend the duration to 12 days, with a diverse content menu and scale in multiple locations, although there is not much that can be shared at this point. Please stay tuned for our future activities. And please also think from your own perspective about the various problems that FUKUSHIMA has brought to light.
A new future is trying to begin in FUKUSHIMA.
Project FUKUSHIMA! Executive Committee
Project FUKUSHIMA! Executive Committee