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Beginning of the European Action Weeks “For a Future after Chernobyl and Fukushima” in Dortmund – Call for a Worldwide Turnaround in Energy Policy

1000 cranes symbolise the hope for a world without nuclear energy

Dortmund. 8. March 2014. “We were confident that everything would go well for a long time. But after the nuclear accident in Fukushima we realised that nobody is here to protect us.” Yukimi Hagiwara, housewife and mother from Fukushima, described the current situation of the people from Fukushima on Friday, 7th of March during the opening of the European Action Weeks “For a Future after Chernobyl and Fukushima” at the town hall of Dortmund. “We are establishing a bridge to foster exchange and are asking the people how they are”, states Peter Junge-Wentrup, Managing Director of the IBB Dortmund – the coordinating organisation of the European Action Weeks. “Through this, it quickly becomes clear that we urgently need an energy transition.”

“Imagine that this would happen to you – then you know how we are feeling.” With these words the Japanese speaker immediately aroused sympathy among the over 120 listeners. She talked about the difficult decision to leave her husband, her relatives, the graves of her ancestors and her previous life behind, told the audience about her fears, the feeling of being a stranger and that her children feel deeply insecure.

Toshiya Morita, journalist, blogger and writer, confirmed that this is an exemplary fate: Many mothers have moved to non-contaminated areas with their children while their men keep their jobs to secure the livelihoods of their families. Mothers like Yukimi Hagiwara also arouse sympathy in their new surroundings – and give a strong impetus for a new political movement. “At first, there were few who met on Fridays to demonstrate together but now more and more people are coming”, describes Toshiya Morito.

According to Dr. Isuma Takamatsu there are enough reasons for concern: While the Government and the operating company Tepco play down the risks, the paediatrician from Osaka, who regularly offers consultation hours in the region of Fukushima, observes alarming signals: Significantly more cases of childhood thyroid cancer only few years after the accident nourish the fear that the consequences are far worse than after Chernobyl.

Prof. Dr. Steffi Richter, Japanologist at the University of Leipzig, gave a talk on the far reaching consequences for the Japanese society. The founder of “Textinitiative Fukushima” is particularly observing cultural and political changes. The scientific journalist Thomas Dersee of the Society for Radiation Protection has actively observed and assessed the consequences of Chernobyl since 1986 and provided insights on what the world can learn for the future from the nuclear accident in the Ukraine. Yoko Schlütermann of the German-Japanese Society Dortmund presented an aid project for children in the affected region in Fukushima.

In a message to the participants of the conference Birgit Jörder, Mayor of the City of Dortmund and patron of the event in Dortmund, stated that “the European Action Weeks are a ray of hope and a proof of the will for change”.

As a sign of hope and solidarity with Japan the over 100 visitors of the event received small Origami cranes. These white lucky charms, folded by the German Origami Society, have become a symbol of the worldwide peace and anti-nuclear movement ever since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. “The story of the 1000 white cranes teaches us two things”, states Peter Junge-Wentrup: ”There is no difference between good nuclear energy and nuclear weapons that destroy people. Nuclear energy is also dangerous and destroys human lives. And: We need solidarity to develop renewable energies as an alternative.”

At the core of the European Action Weeks in approx. 150 cities in nine countries are discussions on topics related to energy and talks with eyewitnesses that are facilitated by the Association for International Education and Exchange Dortmund (IBB Dortmund).

Events are planned in the following cities in Germany:

Bad Sassendorf, Bochum, Braunschweig, Döbeln, Dortmund, Fürth, Gelsenkirchen, Goslar, Hagen, Herzogenaurach, Ibbenbüren, Kiel, Lippstadt, Munster, Nuremberg, in several cities of the River Oder- region, Oelde, SchwerteSoest, Wittmar and Wolfenbüttel

More events are planned in the following countries:

In Belarus, United Kingdom, Austria, Poland, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey and the Ukraine.

Conference materials (are available in German, soon we prepare English version of presentations) :

The opening address by Peter Young .Wentrup you can find here . 

The film about the charity project of German-Japanese Society Dortmund can be found here .

The lecture by Yukimi Hagiwara here . 

The lecture by Toshiya Morita here .

The lecture by Dr. Isamu Takamatsu here . 

The PowerPoint file for presentation by Thomas Dersee you can find  here .

The contribution of Prof. Dr. Steffi Richter can be found here and the PowerPoint file for presentation  here .

About the European Action Weeks “For a Future after Chernobyl and Fukushima”

The European Action Weeks “For a Future after Chernobyl and Fukushima” are a project of the Association for International Education and Exchange Dortmund (IBB Dortmund) and numerous partners from the Chernobyl and environmental movement in Europe and Turkey. At the core are talks with  eyewitnesses from the Ukraine, Belarus, and Japan. In commemoration of the anniversaries of the nuclear accidents in Fukushima (11. March 2011) and Chernobyl (26. April 1986) organisations set up talks with contemporary eyewitnesses, information events and candlelight vigils in order to remember all people affected by nuclear contamination. Among others, the European Action Weeks receive support by the Protestant Church of Westphalia and several other partners. For further information please address Action Weeks.

About the IBB Dortmund:

Overcoming boundaries; has been the motto of the Association for International Education and Exchange Dortmund since its foundation in 1986. It not only aims to overcome borders between countries, but also frontiers that remain in our own knowledge and understanding.Learning from the past for a common future in Europe is at the core of more than 100 study trips, trainings and youth exchange programmes each year. A special focus is put on Belarus. Together with partners from Belarus the IBB Dortmund established the international meeting place for education and exchange “Johannes Rau” in Minsk which hosts approx. 100 events every year. Further information is available at www.ibb-d.de.