A Suitcase without a Handle
by Jacques Lochard
Dear participants, welcome to this twenty-first dialogue meeting in Fukushima. Thank you for being here today.
I am very happy to be back in Iwaki. The summer is in full swing and despite the strong heat you came once again numerous to listen and to share testimonies of residents who have gone through the experience of the Fukushima accident.
The theme of our meeting today is to discuss the rehabilitation progress in Fukushima with a focus on agriculture and fisheries. The field visit yesterday allowed us to better understand the complexity of the situations the farmers and fishers are facing due to the residual presence of the contamination and the socio-economic transformations induced by the accident. I hope the presentations and discussions that will follow will help to provide additional insights on these situations.
I will not say more about the subject of the meeting because, in fact, my introduction aims to underline how today it is a very special day for the Dialogue and also for me.
Initiated by the ICRP, pursued by a group of people animated by the will to work tirelessly to the rehabilitation of the quality of life in the Prefecture, the continuation of the Dialogue is now in the hands of the newly created NPO Fukushima Dialogue.
As a consequence, after taking charge of the conduct of 20 dialogue meetings as an ICRP member, I will pass in a few minutes the torch to Ryoko Ando, president of the NPO. This is an important turning point in the long history of the Dialogue.
That said, it is also important to emphasize that the Dialogue does not belong to anyone. It is like a suitcase without a handle. This suitcase is full of treasures but no one can grab them. They belong to all of you, here in Iwaki, but also in the Fukushima Prefecture and beyond in Japan and around the world.
As you know, the roots of the Dialogue lie in the contaminated territories of Belarus after the Chernobyl accident. It was in the context of the so-called Ethos Project in the early nineties that the adventure started before continuing here in Fukushima.
It has been a long path strewn with doubts and even obstacles, sometimes with delicate decisions on the direction to take. This path was made by walking to use the words of the Spanish poet Antonio Machado. And what animated those who have travelled this path in its totality, as those who have travelled only a part of it, it is faith in man.
I sincerely believe that what brings us together again today is this faith in humanity, which is indestructible.
My dearest wish is that the Dialogue continues for a long time to travel through the land of Fukushima.
I now leave it to Ryoko Ando to take care of the conduct of the sessions and the discussions.
Thank you for the confidence you have granted me during 8 years.
August 4, 2019
VIce Chair of ICRP