Background of its Foundation
On March 11th, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake triggered the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster. Two months later, in May, a monthly magazine, DAYS JAPAN, initiated a ‘fund-raising campaign to help provide radiation measurement instruments’ to the effected areas, and together with the Fukushima Children’s Fund, that was established by the volunteers from the Chernobyl Children’s Fund, we delivered a number of food radiation monitors and whole-body counters to citizen’s groups in Fukushima Prefecture. This resulted in the establishment of at least six citizen’s radioactivity measuring stations.
Subsequently, in October, DAYS JAPAN set up the Days Japan Support Fund for the Children of Fukushima and initiated a recuperation project for the child victims of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. Its activities included support for food radioactivity monitoring stations and assisting in the establishment of recuperation centers, utilizing the experience gained through its work with the victims of the Chernobyl Disaster.
Our efforts to find a venue for the center received support from numerous people and were finally rewarded when the former governor of Okinawa, OTA Masahide, introduced us Kume Island. Kume Island is situated approximately 100 kilometers west of Okinawa’s main island and takes three and a half hours by ferry or less than thirty minutes by aircraft to reach from there.
The site is a former pottery studio (799 Yamagusuku, Oaza, Kumejimacho) and contains four buildings: Main Building, Annex, Gallery and Pyramid (former climbing kiln).
The view from here includes Eef Beach, which has been selected as one of Japan’s One Hundred Most Beautiful Beaches, and Hate-no-hama, a sand beach on a coral reef that is the longest in the orient, while from verandah the sun can be seen rising from the ocean.
On a sunny day Tonaki Island, Kerama Islands and Zamami Island can be seen.
A press conference was held in March 2012 to announce the foundation of a recuperation project for Fukushima children that was attended by the mayor of Kume Island and artist/musician ISHII Tatsuya. Work began immediately to refurbish the buildings and on July 5th when the center opened, receiving the first group of fifty-one, consisting of Fukushima children and their guardians.
The number of children and guardians we have accommodated up until November 2012 is as follows (with estimate for the 17th group):
|1st||Jul 5-20 ’12||32||19||51|
We tried to establish a recuperation facility based on the model of ‘Hope 21’ immediately following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster, but faced with various difficulties, we were only able to invite elementary and junior high school students during school holidays and children of preschool age and younger with their mothers during school terms. However, we will finally be able to start the ‘study camp’ from the next school term and with this, we plan to expand the capacity of the accommodation facility from 50 to almost 100.Furthermore, we plan to hold a type of ‘study camp’ for Fukushima schoolchildren from April 2013. This ‘study camp’ will adopt the pattern developed by the ‘Hope 21’ recuperation center that was established in Belarus for children afflicted by the Chernobyl Disaster, and which we have supported for more than twenty years. Classes from schools in the radiation-contaminated areas will spend three weeks at this camp together with their teachers.It is completely free for the children and after the second group guardians only have to pay for their own airfare.