On March 11, 2011, a war began.

The disasters brought by the earthquake and tsunami call to mind the aftermath of the Tokyo air raids, and the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant could be likened to the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The end of World War II came on August 15, 1945 at the expense of a great many precious lives. The Great Earthquake of March 11 began our generation’s most egregious war, and countless people continue to suffer in its wake.

Natural disasters, a terrible but undeniable manifestation of Mother Nature, make us painfully aware of how helpless we are as human beings. All we can do is to pray for the victims, offer our support toward a speedy restoration of the affected areas, and try to help the afflicted heal, both physically and mentally.

However, the nuclear accident cannot be blamed on Mother Nature. It was caused by a blind faith in science and the arrogance of mankind. Japanese people pledged never to repeat the same mistakes of WWII and to channel our efforts toward building peace and prosperity. But all of our best intentions have evaporated. Japan, the only country ever to experience the atomic bomb, has dropped one on itself. This is the beginning of a desperate war with no end in sight. In Fukushima, the worst is far from over. This accident has become a declaration of war on the very future of mankind itself.

Radioactivity has robbed many people of their homes. They were forced to evacuate and leave their land. They are war refugees who may never be able to return. Even outside the evacuation areas, people live in fear of invisible airborne poisons. They want to flee but cannot, bound by social and economic factors. Fukushima has become a battlefield where an invisible enemy jeopardizes people’s lives.

The information given to us by the government is full of lies and omissions, just like the announcements made by the Imperial Headquarters during WWII. We have no idea what to believe. Harmful rumors create discrimination. Refugee children are bullied at their new schools, thought to be contaminated. Rice produced in Fukushima will never see the shelves of stores because no one will buy it. Some of this rice was harvested last year before the nuclear accident, but the stigma remains. Farmers can do nothing but stand idle before their fields which they are now prohibited to plow. Those of us born in Fukushima are deeply troubled by this new reality, regardless of where we presently call home.

But think for a moment. If this nuclear accident had happened at another nuclear plant in Fukui, Hamaoka or Aomori instead of Fukushima, those of us from Fukushima might be the ones pointing fingers. Fear of radioactivity has ripped our society in pieces, creating stigma and destroying relationships. Our “prosperous” lives are dependent on nuclear power. It now seems that our inner turmoil has brought us all personally to the verge of a meltdown. That is what this war is all about.

Now we must face not only the Fukushima nuclear plant, but ourselves. Fukushima has ignited a perplexing civil war among the people of Japan and, at the same time, it has sparked an intense internal struggle within us all. A complicated reality has emerged, one that a simple anti-nuclear slogan like “No More Nukes!” cannot solve.

We are holding the “Synchronized Worldwide Festival FUKUSHIMA!” on August 15, the anniversary of the end of WWII. What is the meaning of the peace, prosperity, life and culture we Japanese built upon the scorched earth after the war? Each of us must reflect upon this question. Now that we have created the second Hiroshima by our own hands, it is our duty to do so.

We are swayed by doubts and fears in this war against an invisible enemy. What we need to do now is to send a message from the land of Fukushima, to inform people of the truth we are facing, and to release our pain, anger, frustration, sorrow, fear and resentment. We must band together to protect our children, those most vulnerable among us.

I can’t help but feel depressed when I give thought to the future of Fukushima, a devastated land which has been stripped bare of life. This land and culture we have nurtured throughout the ages; will we ever win it back from the invisible enemy? But the future of Fukushima is the future of Japan, and I believe the future of all mankind. What Fukushima is to Japan is what NIPPON is to the world.

Whether or not our future breaks free from the negative spiral of fear and prejudice all depends on what we do now.

Can Fukusgima be reborn as a land of hope? It may seem ironic that we are starting this new war against invisible enemies through a music festival; perhaps this merely proves our impotence to change this harsh reality. But we need to take a step forward, even if just a small one, by recognizing our sense of helplessness and sharing the truth. If we succeed in cultivating a new culture from Fukusima by facing this reality head on, “FUKUSHIMA!” will be a milestone of hope for the future.

The poet Kotaro Takamura wrote about the sky of Fukushima in The Chieko Poems, saying, “the true sky is the sky above Mt. Adatara.” It is still crystal clear and azure blue, even when contaminated by radiation. This is my home.


Michiro Endo