Fukushima Dialogue Meeting: Children discuss ‘what do we need for our future?’

Young participants from the project, After Fukushima: Working with Children to Build Community Resilience, were involved in a presentation at the 17th Dialogue Meeting convened by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) in Date City, Fukushima, Japan.

The Fukushima Dialogue Meetings were initiated in autumn 2011 by the ICRP and are held several times a year. The aim, the ICRP states, is to bring together ‘experts, authorities, professionals, NGOs, local communities and representatives of Belarusian, Norwegian and French organisations with direct experience in managing long-term consequences of the Chernobyl accident, to find ways to respond to the challenges of the long term consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.’ The latest Dialogue, ‘What do we need for our future?’ took place in the context of the recent removal of evacuation orders in most of Fukushima Prefecture. The meeting focused on residents’ views of the current situation and their hopes for Fukushima’s long-term recovery.

At the meeting Alison Lloyd Williams presented a short video letter introducing the theatre project, which took place in 2016 with students at Tsukidate Elementary School in Date City. The video highlighted some of the children’s ideas for developing their community and argued for the need for children to be involved in planning for the future. The former school principal also spoke at the meeting, along with one of the students who took part – the youngest person ever to address the Dialogue. Both talked about how the project had helped the students to develop confidence in making and acting on decisions together. As the Summary of the Dialogue notes: central to building the future in Fukushima is the importance of ‘becoming actors instead of victims.’