Reflection on Two and Half Years in Fukushima

福島での2年半を振り返って

福島県郡山市に赴任してからもうすぐ2年半が過ぎようとしています。まもなく関東の病院へ異動することになりました。医局人事であったものの自ら希望して福島県に来ることができ、様々な経験をさせてもらえて充実した2年半でした。

Almost two and half years have passed since I started working in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture. I will be transferred to a hospital in the Kanto Area soon. I, myself, requested to work in Koriyama as well as my transfer as a medical office member. My two and a half years in Fukushima have been very fulfilling with many precious experiences.

まず福島県に来て最初に驚いたことは、看護師や医療事務などの職場の方々のみならず、患者さんの御家族や町中の人々に至るまで皆穏やかで優しいことでした。首都圏ではどうしても仕事柄、厳しい言葉をかけられることが多かったのですが、この病院に来てからはそのようなことはほとんどありませんでした。そこでの生活では過度に親密な人間関係を求められることもなく、非常に過ごしやすい福島生活でした。

First, I was surprised to find all the people, not only nurses and medical clerks but also patients’ families and people in the city, were gentle and kind. When I was working in the center of Tokyo, people sometimes spoke to me using severe language though this might be hard to avoid in the medical practice. However, it has hardly ever happened in this hospital. I never expected to make very close relationships in my time there; therefore, my Fukushima life has been very comfortable.

次に驚いたことは食が非常に豊かであることです。郡山は内陸であるにもかかわらず新鮮な魚介類を楽しむことができ、桃やぶどうに代表されるような様々な果物を堪能できました。福島牛やうつくしまエゴマ豚に代表されるような肉類や、アスパラガスやさやえんどうなどの野菜も絶妙でした。そして何より米と水が良いので素晴らしい日本酒が数多く存在します。いかにんじん(細切りのスルメと人参を醤油、酒、味醂で味付けした煮物)、こづゆ(干し貝柱の出汁に野菜と豆腐を入れて、醤油と日本酒で味付けた汁物)、喜多方ラーメンなどの郷土料理も全て乙な味でした。

Next, I was surprised that Koriyama is very rich in food. In spite of it being an inland area, I could enjoy fresh seafood as well as fruits such as peaches and grapes. Meat including Fukushima beef and Egoma pork and vegetables including asparagus and snow peas were also delicious. Above all, the rice and water were wonderful; therefore, there were many kinds of excellent sake. Its local dishes have unique and fancy tastes: ika-ninjin (slices of surume. dried squid, and carrot boiled and seasoned with soy sauce, sake and sweet sake), kozuyu (a soup of dried scallops, various vegetables and tofu seasoned with soy sauce and sake), Kitakata ramen (Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a soup made from pork bone and dried fish flavored with soy sauce in Kitakata City, Fukushima Prefecture).

勿論良いことばかりではありませんでした。郡山市に赴任した時点で東日本大震災から4年半経過していましたが、それでも震災の傷跡はまだ残っていました。住んでいる市内は引っ越した頃から放射線量は基準値を大きく下回っていましたが、それでも公園の表層などの除染は行われていました。またTVやラジオでは環境放射線測定値が毎日報じられていました。

Of course, not everything was wonderful. Four and half years had already passed after the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred when I transferred to Koriyama City. However, the city still bore the scars of the earthquake. The radiation level in the city where I lived was below the standard level; nevertheless, the surface of the ground in the park nearby was decontaminated. Moreover, the environmental radiation measured levels are reported on TV or the radio every day.

しかし震災から7年経った今では、当然ながら放射線自体での健康被害もあったかもしれませんが、住んでいた郡山市周辺はむしろ風評や過度な不安や心配による被害の方が圧倒的に大きいという印象でした。原発に近くて助成金が支払われた地域もありましたが、郡山市はその対象外でした。助成金すら払われずこれらの被害に苦しむ地域の方々を見るのは忍びなかったです。

However, 7 years after the earthquake, I got the impression that bad rumors and excessive fear caused much more damage rather than any possible harmful side effects of radiation in and around Koriyama City. Subsidies were provided to the inhabitants near the nuclear power plants, but the whole of Koriyama City was outside of these areas. I felt very sorry to see people suffer from this damage without even getting some kind of subsidy.

震災からの一連の流れを見ていると、被災地支援を訴える活動は度を越すとある種の「呪い」に近いものになりかねないと感じます。「原発事故の被害が甚大だから支援をして下さい」と声高に言えば言うほど、それは福島県に「被災地」のレッテルを貼り続けることになります。除染が必要ない地域でも作物の放射線量測定を行って風評被害を払拭するために日々努力している多くの人々にとっては、このレッテルこそが風評被害に繋がっているのではないでしょうか。もちろん支援を続ける必要性は理解していますが、自分の力で立ち上がろうと懸命に取り組んでいる方々の足を引っ張ることは避けて欲しいと思います。「今の福島はかなり元気になってきているんだよ」と胸を張ってアピールできる日が来て欲しいと願います。

When I watched the recovery process from the disaster, I think that the excessive support for the disaster area could be a sort of “curse”. As supporters say even more, “They need support for the immense damage caused by the accident at the nuclear power plant”, Fukushima Prefecture continues to be labeled as a “disaster area”. Many people try hard to continuously measure the level of radiation from farm products even from the areas which don’t need decontamination so that they can dispel false rumors. It is this labeling that damages those people with harmful rumors. Of course, I understand the necessity of continuing support; however, I also think it is important for supporters to try not to obstruct people who are working hard to rebuild their lives. I hope that they can proudly announce someday, “Fukushima has almost finished our reconstruction now”.

福島県での生活は非常に楽しかったです。皆様に大変お世話になり、感謝してもしきれないほどです。これからまた首都圏での生活に戻りますが、今後も是非恩返しに伺いたいと思います。

I heartily enjoyed myself in Fukushima Prefecture. People around me were very nice and helped me a lot. I cannot thank them enough. I will soon go back to the Kanto Area, but I would like to visit Fukushima again to return their favors.