Displaced children of Fukushima get special day at Kadena
By CHIYOMI SUMIDA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 24, 2013
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — About 50 sixth-graders who lived near the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant toured Kadena Air Base on Wednesday, meeting servicemembers, American children and military working dogs.
The children lived in Iitate, a village that has been designated as a contaminated zone following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. About 6,300 residents were ordered to evacuate from their homes, and now they are scattered all over Japan, some on Okinawa.
The U.S. military provided humanitarian relief throughout northern Japan following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and subsequent tsunami that led to the nuke plant failure.
“We want to convey our firsthand thank you by sending the children to Okinawa,” said Shinichi Aizawa, chief of the village’s board of education office.
During their half-a-day visit, the kids watched demonstrations by the 31st and 33rd Rescue Squadrons, , the 18th Security Forces Squadron’s K-9 unit and the fire department.
Michiya Sato, 12, was impressed, especially by the working dogs.
“The dogs were so cool,” he said as he munched a hamburger prepared by volunteers at the Kadena Youth Center.
And he had another reason to be happy — the tour provided a rare opportunity to reunite with some of his classmates.
“While I am here, I want to make as many fun memories as possible with my friends,” Sato said.
And maybe some new friends were made, too.
Jacob Baysa, a Kadena High School student, had a message to tell the Japanese children.
“I wanted to let them know that there are people for them,” he said.