寄付・募金・ボランティアのセーブ・ザ・チルドレン・ジャパン

Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami Emergency response and recovery program

Children from Fukushima exchange opinions with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction! (Feb. 25, 2013)

Save the Children Japan (SCJ) provides children with opportunities in various ways to speak out and participate. In July 2012 children of Iwate and Miyagi prefectures exchanged opinions with Ms. Margareta Whalström, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction. Following on from that meeting, children from Fukushima also exchanged their opinions with Ms. Whalström on Feb. 17, 2013.

■ Sharing their opinions based on their own experiences with the world! ■
Participating in this exchange of opinions were two junior high school students from Koriyama City, two senior high school students from Iwaki City and one university student from Fukushima Prefecture.

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After self-introductions, the children started the session by giving their presentations. Although they were nervous, each of them successfully conveyed their opinions based on their own experiences, as the following show:

“After the nuclear plant accident, I became afraid of eating school lunches and swimming in the pool. I feel really sad that my younger brothers will grow up without experiencing the joy of playing outdoors in Fukushima.”
“As doctors and nurses have evacuated from the region, we don’t have enough of them. In particular, there is a shortage of doctors in pediatrics and obstetrics, making it difficult for children to live at ease. I want to ask that this issue be solved.”
“In the Japanese Constitution, it says that all people are equal before the law. Still, there are children who can join recreation programs and those who can’t. So I think children are not being treated equally. I think the health of more and more children should be protected and our lives should be treated equally.”
“I want them to make it equally possible for every child to participate in recreational programs. I think these programs should be given at the levels of class, grade, and school throughout Fukushima Prefecture.”
“In order to promote the reconstruction of Fukushima, I want people from other prefectures to also be concerned about Fukushima. I also want to have places in which the children of Fukushima can speak out.”

We also heard some other powerful statements from the children:
“For the reconstruction of Fukushima also, I think it is very important for us to go on with our lives positively and strongly.”
“It is not possible to go back to the Fukushima of before 3.11, but I want to do what I can do to help us children to spend ordinary lives as children.”
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After the presentations, Ms. Whalström and the children posed questions to each other, creating a very active discussion that went 40 minutes overtime! Ms. Whalström said to the children, “Two years have passed since the earthquake now, and it is difficult to get information on what impact there has been in the long term. So I think it would be good if we can disseminate these children’s opinions.”
“I think it is also an idea to talk with those who have similar experiences (such as those children in the United States who have suffered from hurricanes).”
“When we talk about children and young people, I believe your opinions should be valued the most.”

After the session, the children commented, “It was fun!” “It was such a great experience!” and “Ms. Whalström said it would be good for us to talk with those who have similar experiences as we do. We will be so happy if we really could have such an occasion.” At the end of the session, SCJ asked the children whether or not they would join if there was an opportunity for them to share their experiences with people around the world. All the children nodded strongly.

■ Let’s keep speaking out!! ■
SCJ will continue to work with children so that the children of Tohoku can speak out and participate in local reconstruction and disaster prevention (disaster risk reduction) around the world. This year from May 19 to 23, the 4th Global Platform will be held in Geneva. It is said that the outline of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2 (HFA2), which is to be adopted at the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Reduction to be held in Japan in 2015, will be decided at the Global Platform. In order to ask them to reflect the experiences and lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake in the HFA2 as a complex disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant accident), children from Tohoku are also scheduled to participate. Soon we will make an announcement for applications to join the Global Platform so please be sure to check this out.

We ask for your continuous support and cooperation so that children can keep speaking out and participating in various activities!

(Reported by Haruka Nakamura, Sendai Office)