日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

International Conference Guests Tour East Japan Disaster Zone


Following the International Conference on the East Japan Disaster, held in Sendai from March 11 to 14, overseas guests were invited to participate in an overnight bus tour to Ishinomaki and the surrounding areas. Approximately 50 people, including the Japanese hosts, got on a chartered bus and in a couple of cars that left Sendai following the closing worship service on Friday morning. They proceeded through Ishinomaki to the nearby Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant, located on an isolated inlet of a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean some 80 km to the east of Sendai.Even three years after the tsunami hit, the scars were still everywhere to be seen along the coast. We arrived at the power plant mid-afternoon and were welcomed by the staff there to take a tour of their visitor center displays. Unlike the Fukushima Daichi Plant, the force of the tsunami was deflected somewhat by the layout of the land. Likewise, one outside power line remained operational following the earthquake, which barely allowed it to shut down safely. Evidently, however, it was a close call, and so imagine how much worse things would have been if there had been a meltdown at that facility as well! The tour demonstrating how the plant works and how “safe” it is would have been quite convincing if it were not for the reality of the Fukushima Daichi disaster, and so we listened with polite skepticism, with some members asking tough questions that surely made the staff a bit uncomfortable.Prior to spending the night at a local hotel, we gathered at Yamashirocho Church in Ishinomaki for a presentation of the relief work they have been involved in since the disaster. Being located inland and up a bit of a hill, the waters had stopped a block or so below them, and so the building sustained only minor damage from the shaking.The community below, however, was devastated, so the next day we reverently went to observe the aftermath. Our first stop was Okawa Elementary School, which is located about a kilometer from the ocean along a large river. Directly behind the school is a steep hill that would easily have protected the children and teachers if they had realized such a tsunami was coming. If the kind of tsunami they could have imagined had reached that far inland, the second floor of the school would have kept them safe. But while the teachers were deciding what to do, a towering wall of water ripped through the school killing 74 of the 108 children and 10 of the 11 teachers. As we viewed the destruction, pretty much left as it had been three years ago, we wondered how even those few had managed to survive. Apparently, the fickle flood washed a few to the hillside where they could grab onto something.Participants paying respects at the memorial near the remains of Okawa Elementary School

Mr. Ogata in front of his prefab office in the ruins of his store and home

That was also the case with the few that survived in the Kadowaki section of Ishinomaki, which we visited next. It was a densely populated section of the city nestled between the coast and a cliff about a kilometer inland. If an alarm had been sounded, there would have been enough time for most of the people to make it to higher ground, but the tsunami hit without warning, killing most of the residents.There was only one structure still left standing—the steel frame of a building, the remains of a small restaurant that had been operated by a couple who lived on the second floor. I talked with the owner, Mr. Ogata, who was trying to rebuild a life without his wife. He had somehow managed to grab ahold of floating debris and was washed up to the cliff, where he was able to scramble to safety. We had only a few minutes before the bus was to leave, but he proudly showed me the prefab office he had built and his new mobile restaurant in a truck, as he expressed his gratitude for all of the people who have been helping him to get back on his feet. (You can see it at www.ishinomakiya.com/ajihei/)It was a sobering experience indeed for all of us to see firsthand the enormous destruction of the tsunami and to meet some of the survivors struggling to start their lives anew. It will be a long road to recovery for the area that will be complicated by continuing fears of ongoing nuclear contamination.(See insert, which is the declaration of the international conference, entitled: “Resisting the Myth of Safe Nuclear Energy: The Fundamental Question from Fukushima”)—Tim Boyle, missionaryKwansei Gakuin, Nishinomiya                     Member, KNL Editorial Committee



仙台での国際会議に続いて、海外からの参加者は石巻周辺への一泊バスツアーに招待された。ガイドを含む日本側参加 者数名を加え、およそ50名が貸切バスに乗込み、入りきらない主催者側委員 がさらに2台の車に分乗して金曜日の閉会礼拝後、石巻を過ぎ仙台から東に約80キロ離れた女川町を目指した。太平洋に細長く突き 出たような半島の人里離れた入り江に女川原子力発電所がある。

津波の被害を受けてから3年 が過ぎたにもかかわらず、海沿いのいたるところにその爪痕を見た。正午をしばらく過ぎて原子力発電所に着いた私たちは、出迎えた職員 たちに案内され、見学施設の中を巡った。地形の差によって、女川原子力発電所は福島第一原子力発電所のような津波の被害は受けなかっ た。けれども、地震によって外部に繋がる送電線が、かろうじて一本だけ被害を免れたため、「安全」に原子炉をシャットダウンすること が出来たのだそうである。しかしながら、これは誰がどう見ても危機一髪の出来事であり、福島第一原子力発電所のようにメルトダウンを 起こせば、どのような被害をもたらしたかは想像に難くない。館内ツアーは原発がどのように稼働し、いかに「安全」かをアピールするも のであった。しかし福島第一原子力発電所の事故の悲惨さを知る私たちは、懐疑を笑顔で隠して説明を聞いていたが、メンバーの中には職 員をうろたえさせるような核心を突く質問をする者もいた。

石巻市内のホテルに宿泊する前に、私たちは石巻山城町教会で同行した講師から、震災後の救援活動のレクチャーを受 けた。山城町という名が示す通り、教会は丘の中腹にあったため、津波は1ブロック下で止まり、建物の被害は地震の揺れによる軽微なもので あった。

しかし、その下の平地部分は壊滅的な打撃を受け、翌日、追悼の念を持ちつつ、その地域の一部を視察した。最初に立 ち寄ったのは、海岸から1キロほど離れた、大きな川沿いにある大川小学校であった。学校のす ぐ裏手には急こう配の丘があり、あれほどの規模の津波であっても丘に避難さえ出来ていれば生徒も教師も命を落とさずにすんだ。もしも 彼らがここまで到達するほどの津波の規模を想像し、せめて2階に避難していれば被害はでなかったかも知れない。教師たちが判断に迷っ ているすきに、予想外の高さの波が学校を飲み込み、児童108名中74名が、そして11名 の教師中10名が犠牲となった。校舎は3年前の被害の後をほとんどそのまま留めており、生き延びた人たちも、一体どうやって助かったのだろうとの思いを私 たちに抱かせた。気まぐれな波の嵐は、子供たちがそこで掴むであろう何かも丘の方へと流してしまった。

次に訪れた門脇地区も生存者はわずかであった。門 脇地区は石巻の中でも人口の密集した地区で、海岸と崖の間に位置している。もし警報が発令されていたならば、地区の住民はある程度の 余裕をもって高台に避難できたであろう。しかし発令されなかったため、ほとんどの住民が犠牲になった。当時の姿を残す建物は一つしか 残っていない。鋼鉄の枠組みではあるが、小さなレストランがかつて営まれ、2階部分はオーナー夫妻の住居であった。オーナーの尾形氏に話を聞く 機会を得たが、津波で夫人を失いつつも何とか生活を立て直そうとされていた。彼はどうにかして浮き輪代わりの残骸物にしがみついて、 崖まで流されて命拾いしたそうである。バスの出発まであと数分しかなかったが、尾形氏は、店の再開を支援してくれた人々への感謝の言 葉を口にしながら、新築したプレハブの仕事場と、彼の新しい店、移動販売型のトラックを誇らしげに見せてくれた。(店の様子は、この ウェブサイトでも紹介されている:http://ishinomakiya.com/ajihei/

津波による甚大な被害と、被災された方々が生活を 立て直そうと奮闘する姿をこの目で見て、厳粛な思いを抱かずにいられなかった。現在進行形の原子力汚染への不安も続く中にあって、復 興には長い道のりを経なければならないだろう。


Kyodan News
〒169-0051 東京都新宿区西早稲田2-3-18-31
Copyright (c) 2007-2024
The United Church of Christ in Japan