A Woman who resists alone the nuclear power plant

Atsuko Ogasawara at the Asako House in Ohma

A woman fights alone against the “nuclear aggression” entering her homeland and inspires more for the unti-nuke movement in Japan. Atsuko Ogasawara and Keiko Kikukawa hold her land and remain forefront of the protest against the development of the nuclear plants in Ohma and Rokkasho respectively.

Ohma is the fishing town famous for its tuna catch while Rokkasho village has been hosting various energy power facilities including the nuclear fuel cycle complex, the oil stockpiles as well as the gas and wind power facilities. Both are located in Aomori, the northernmost prefecture of the main island of Japan.

Members of the Women for No Nukes  visited their home of resistance in Ohma and Rokkasho and interviewed the two women. Masayo Niwa sent her report of the trip.


Asako House

Atsuko welcomed the visitors at “Asako House”, which Asako, Atsuko’s mother, built and stayed in her last years. Asako held the land tightly against the construction of the Ohma nuclear plant.

While the local fishing cooperatives signed the agreement and the residents were giving in the late 90s, Asako refused to sell her father’s land. She remained persistent and in the end was the only one in the area who resisted the entrance of the nuclear power plant despite the relentless pressure from the company and ostracism in her community. Her resistance led to the change in the construction plan and delayed the commencement of work. The construction has been halted since the East Japan earth quakes in March 2011[1].

“My mother used to say, we, people in Ohma are very rich, we have everything from the sea and the mountains but the nuclear plant would destroy our sea and mountains and leave us poor. I totally feel so, too,” Asako said.

Asako tills the land and generates electricity from the solar panels and wind mils for household use. She hopes to expand her farm, raise chickens and goats and invite many children to play around in a field.

Recently in the area water has been running dry, affecting the vegetables and fruits in her farm. Asako concerns that it is due to the plant construction which might be destroying the water source in that area. She said she was going to request the investigation of the water source.

Asako House is surrounded by the fence of the construction and only a narrow path leads to the main road. Although most of the local people keep silent, more people from other parts of Japan have been visiting her and coming to the anti-nuke rock concert held there annually.

The path leading to the Asako House from the main road.

Overlooked from the hill, the half-built nuclear plant is located in so close vicinity of the residential area. In the sea the warm water released from the plant would increase the temperature and affect the habitat of tunas.

Half built Ohma nuclear power plant

Ohma nuclear power plant, if it is completed, would be equipped to run by MOX (mixed oxides) fuel which would be produced by reprocessing the spent nuclear fuel at the reprocessing plant in Rokkasho nuclear recycle complex. The Rokkasho reprocessing plant has been in test run without the prospect of being completed anytime soon.




Rokkasho nuclear recycle complex includes a uranium enriching and plutonium reprocessing plant; a reprocessing plant; a MOX fuel fabrication facility; and low and high level nuclear waste storage facilities.

The uranium enrichment plant has been in operation since 1992 while the MOX fuel facility is under construction. The reprocessing plant has been in the stage of “final commissioning-test” since 2006 and keeps 3,344 tons of spent fuel in total[2]. There are numerous accidents and troubles since the test run started.[3]

The low level nuclear waste storage keeps total of 242,139 drums of nuclear waste under the ground sent from other nuclear plants in Japan[4].  The high level nuclear waste storage keeps total of 1,414 canisters of the processed waste[5] shipped back from France and UK where Japan sent its nuclear waste for processing. Those have to be kept cool for 30-50 years before buried in the ground for a long time.

The local government of Rokkasho receives 200 million yen a year for hosting the nuclear complex including the compensation for the fisheries, which makes Rokkasho one of the richest villages in Japan. However, the outflow of the population has been increasing.

The Village of Flower and Herb is only around six kilometer away from the nuclear recycle complex. Keiko runs the Village providing the guest house, producing organic rhubarb, strawberry and other vegetables and makes jam from those fruits. She returned to Rokkasho in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear accident and started awareness raising and protest against the nuclear recycle plant coming into the village at the time.  She aims to live self sufficiently by selling her products and generating electricity through the solar panels and wind mills.

Keiko talks to women from Women for No Nukes in her Village of Flower and Herb, Rokkasho.

“Rokkasyo used to be a very poor village without electricity. The nuclear facility brought a lot of money to the village, and the danger, too.  The village should be able to run by itself, developing local industry.  The activities at the Village of Flower and Herb are my small attempt to step forward to it,” Keiko said calmly. She recently incorporated the Village.

Keiko asks us what living in affluence means.

The Rokkasho reprocessing plant has no prospect of proper operation any time soon while spent nuclear fuel keep coming in to Rokkasho, the PR staff of the nuclear company admitted.

“I wanted to continue my Tulip Festival at the Village if I were in better health. I wish people realise and tell others that the nuclear power cannot be our choice before it becomes too late”, said Keiko.

She believes human beings will never be able to reach the perfect technology to handle the nuclear power safely.

The members of the Women for No Nukes promised to tell the world what is going on in the remote villages in Japan. They reaffirmed their commitment to standing together with the women in protest on the ground and leading Japan and the world to give up the nuclear power.


All photos are provided by the Women for No Nukes.

[1] JPOWER, http://www.jpower.co.jp/bs/field/gensiryoku/project/construction/schedule/index.html, accessed 20 August 2012

[2] As of April 30, 2012, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., http://www.jnfl.co.jp/english/operation/, accessed 20 August 2012

[3] Wikipedia, 六ヶ所再処理工場 (In Japanese) http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/六ヶ所再処理工場, accessed 20 August 2012

[4] As of April 30, 2012, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., http://www.jnfl.co.jp/english/operation/, accessed 20 August 2012

[5] Ibid.


Women for No Nukes (in Japanese) http://www.nnpfem.com/index.html

Asako House(Japanese site) http://asakohouse.cocolog-nifty.com/

Village of Flower and Herb (Japanese site), http://hanatoherb.jp/

“From the place with the nuclear power plant” vol. 3, Magine 9 (Japanese site) http://magazine9.jp/genpatsu/120801/

Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. http://www.jnfl.co.jp/

JPower, http://www.jpower.co.jp/

Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/index.html

Wikipedia, Rokkasho, Aomori, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rokkasho,_Aomori

Wikipedia, 六ヶ所再処理工場 (Japanese site) http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/六ヶ所再処理工場

Wikipedia, 六ヶ所高レベル放射性廃棄物貯蔵管理センター (Japanese site) http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/六ヶ所高レベル放射性廃棄物貯蔵管理センター


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