Our statement of purpose
The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants (FDNPP) following the March 11th, 2011 Eastern Japan Great Earthquake forced residents living near the nuclear plants to evacuate. Even for those residents who escaped the evacuation, many are concerned with the long term effects of radiation on their health, especially on those children and pregnant women who are more sensitive to radiation exposure. Furthermore, farmers in the Fukushima region who have been striving to ensure the safety of their produce are facing the unbearable predicament of radioactive contamination on their farm lands, which have been passed down to them through generations. Although the Japanese and Fukushima Prefectural governments have been conducting radiation measurements and have made the results public, the number of measuring spots is as yet insufficient. Thus, a more detailed map showing the extension of the radiation spread is urgently needed. On the other hand, as the information about the accident at FDNPP unfolds and the high probability of a magnitude-8-class aftershock in the near future exists, a real time radiation monitoring system desperately needs to be established.
In the meantime, the released radioactivity have tainted not only the beautiful farming villages in Fukushima, but also have blemished the hearts of Japanese citizens. Their lack of knowledge and the lack of full disclosure of information about the radioactivity have resulted in unfounded fears and have fostered discrimination towards those people and products from Fukushima prefecture. This trend has become epidemic worldwide and has negatively affected the Japanese economy.
The Miharu Misho Project (MMP) is a grassroots movement designed to help people overcome this unprecedented crisis of national and historical magnitude. It derives its underlying concept from the Japanese word Misho, which refers to plants raised in a certain spot from a seed, not from a transplanted young tree. A sakura (cherry tree) woodsman living in the town of Miharu, Fukushima (population 20,000), located 45 kilometers west of the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, works to grow cherry trees that should continue to bloom far into the future, even up to one thousand years from now. Miharu town is nationally acclaimed for its tradition of growing and caring for a well-known thousand-year-old cherry tree. Generations of Miharu sakura woodsmen have discovered that sakura trees thrive much better and for a longer period when their seeds are sown directly and sprout live (misho) than those which are transplanted in the same place as a young tree, which is the most common practice. Compared to the method of transplanting a young tree, the Misho method takes more time for the trees to bloom, producing late bloomers.
We recognize that the radiation problem that Fukushima is facing will be solved locally, with a long-term commitment of the people who are indigenous to the area. Naturally Misho (indigenous roots) is our approach. MMP provides a field (the community) for the actions (the various activities) to sprout and grow. Active and direct participation by the people of Fukushima and Japan, along with the contribution of international volunteers, “sow the seeds on this field” as a ‘means’ to overcome their difficulties; these ‘means’ serve as ‘ends’ in themselves. The ‘means’ and ‘the end’ is for the community to foster self-reliance and self-sufficiency in protecting their life and lands. The community vision is to be self-governed with the scientific integrity to maintain its neutrality, fairness and openness beyond various boundaries posed by such institutions controlling bureaucratic, political, economic, as well as dogmatic, religious and national interests.
The people of Miharu have proudly chosen to run the MMP themselves, effectively taking it into their own hands. The monitoring of radiation levels for children and pregnant women has become the highest priority. For students younger than high school age, long-term monitoring of their exposure to radiation will be carried out throughout their compulsory school years. Wearing an “Optically Stimulated Luminescence” (OSL) badge will be systematically encouraged during school hours. Individual data will be managed and kept by the Miharu Municipal Government. This program will be implemented as soon as mid-July, 2011.
As its inaugural activity, the project will conduct radiation measurements of all contaminated school grounds in the town and farm lands at the request of farmers. The measurements taken by Tohoku University researchers have until now revealed that the radioactivity in the soil fluctuates greatly even within a 5-meter-radius area. These findings, therefore, call for further necessary measurements to be taken in each household in the affected area. To this end, the project will at its commencement procure 10 radiation survey counters. It will also establish a system where Miharu residents themselves can measure radiation levels in the air on demand with the help of municipal staff. In addition, a web portal will be established, to which the measurements can be reported as desired and be viewed publicly. Its usefulness will be evaluated for a large scale operation beginning with a pilot program. On top of this, pocket dosimeters will be distributed to volunteer adults (high school age or older) so that the accumulated radiation exposure will be updated on the same portal on a weekly basis. The final stage of this project aims to disseminate the monitoring scheme and system to other municipalities based on the experiences gained through this Miharu pilot project. At the same time, this project will seek support from the Fukushima Prefectural and National Government to conduct these grassroots activities, while transmitting our progress to the world. Volunteer scientists from Tohoku University will closely cooperate with Miharu by providing scientific and technical advice, in particular, pertaining to radiation safety.
It is said that Japan has experienced a once in a thousand year disaster. People in Miharu and volunteers at Tohoku University recognize this historical emergency. We, members of MMP, who have survived all of the victims of the disaster, hereby affirm and declare that our mission is to sow the seeds for another thousand years to come in the spirit of the Miharu Sakura woodsmen, right here and right now.
Optically Stimulated Luminescence