Yuta Sakai, “Otento SUN” Joint Enterprise Cooperative
Towards a Future in Which a Special Case Becomes Universal
Q: What were you doing on 11th March?
That day, I was at the company that I worked for in Iwaki, Fukushima. I had been taking a break with my colleagues and was just returning to work. The ground suddenly shook violently, and everything in the office, even the refrigerator, seemed to fall apart right in front of me. I thought, “Something extraordinary must have happened!” and went outside, only to find the factory looking like a disaster area. I remember that my feet couldn’t stop trembling. The business was shut down until the situation became more promising, and the employees were told to wait at home for instructions.
Then, the nuclear accident happened. My family panicked, and I had no idea what to do. Not knowing what was going to become of us, we had to evacuate our home. We voluntarily sought shelter in Nasu, Tochigi, and stayed there for two weeks or so.
Q: What were your reactions at the time of the nuclear accident?
It was just a momentary thought, but I recalled a social studies lesson back in primary school. The teacher told us that there was a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, and said, “If an explosion ever occurs at the nuclear power plant, it will be a catastrophe for the entire prefecture.” At that time, I remembered that particular lesson and thought, “I can’t believe this! The nuclear power plant really has exploded!” I felt overwhelmed with fear about what was going to happen. But I didn’t really have the slightest idea what to expect.
I had no idea what to do next, and at that time I couldn’t come up with any specific plans.
Anyway, no one in my family was hurt, and my friends were all safe, so I guess that we were quite lucky in that respect.
Q:Now that five years have passed, is there any message that you want to share with the global community?
Well, there’s been reconstruction, and the town has been rebuilt and is coming back to life, which makes me want to make my own contribution.
This is the town where I was born. It is also the town where I will probably be spending most of my life. So I want to make this town an enjoyable place to live in for myself and for everyone else. That is my basic idea.
I thought about the way of life I would enjoy here, and before I knew it I found myself working with cotton. When I started working here at Otento SUN, I was just going with the flow, but now I realize that trying to do a new kind of work one knows very little about can teach one a lot. I realized that learning something you know nothing about opens your mind to the endless possibilities in life. I’m not saying this just because it sounds impressive; that’s really how I feel.
So through our own activities, I think we can give everyone around the world the opportunity to learn about something they didn’t know. Hopefully, this will lead all of us in directions that we might not otherwise have found. And as a result, it’ll be the best that the world and earth to gradually recover how they should be.
Q:Looking ahead, what are your hopes for your community?
That’s a tough question. The future of my community, huh?
In this day and age, things that we used to think were special aren’t seen that way anymore. But the things we do value are still very special to us. I really want those things to become something universal.
I hope that everyone can enjoy their life here. I hope to help build a community or a country in which the things that used to be special can become universal. However, I realize that that’s big talk.