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Japan’s government pressuring Fukushima evacuees to return: govt wants no criticism of nuclear power

The government has declared that the stipends, which range from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000, will end next March, when temporary housing will also begin to be closed. Villagers who move back before then will receive a $9,000 bonus from Tepco, adding to the pressure to return

the evacuees will feel increasing pressure to go back from a government that wants to restore the preaccident status quo as much as possible to limit criticism of the powerful nuclear industry.

flag-japanForced to Flee Radiation, Fearful Japanese Villagers Are Reluctant to Return NYT, By  APRIL 27, 2014 MIYAKOJI, Japan — Ever since they were forced to evacuate during the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant three years ago, Kim Eunja and her husband have refused to return to their hilltop home amid the majestic mountains of this rural village for fear of radiation.

But now they say they may have no choice. After a nearly $250 million radiation cleanup here, the central government this month declared Miyakoji the first community within a 12-mile evacuation zone around the plant to be reopened to residents. The decision will bring an end to the monthly stipends from the plant’s operator that have allowed Ms. Kim to relocate to an apartment in a city an hour away.

“The government and the media say the radiation has been cleaned up, but it’s all lies,” said Ms. Kim, 55, who is from South Korea, and who with her Japanese husband runs a small Korean restaurant outside Miyakoji. “I want to run away, but I cannot. We have no more money.”

She is not the only one. While the central government and national news media have trumpeted the reopening of Miyakoji as a happy milestone in Japan’s recovery from the devastating March 2011 accident, many residents tell a darker story. They insist their homes remain too dangerous or too damaged to inhabit and that they have not received enough financial compensation to allow them to start anew somewhere else…….

many evacuees have been forced to live in a state of limbo since the accident, unable to leave barracks-like temporary housing, or end their dependency on Tepco for monthly stipends to live in apartments outside the village. Tepco pays the stipends under orders from the government.

Now they feel growing pressure to return whether they want to or not. The government has declared that the stipends, which range from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000, will end next March, when temporary housing will also begin to be closed. Villagers who move back before then will receive a $9,000 bonus from Tepco, adding to the pressure to return……..

Experts call Miyakoji a forerunner of the problems that will be faced by the 150,000 people displaced by the accident over all, as additional communities are reopened as a result of a $36 billion government-financed cleanup. They say the evacuees will feel increasing pressure to go back from a government that wants to restore the preaccident status quo as much as possible to limit criticism of the powerful nuclear industry.

“This is inhumane and irresponsible,” said Teruhisa Maruyama, a lawyer who leads the Support Group for Victims of the Nuclear Accident, a Tokyo-based legal organization that helps residents seek increased compensation.

“The national government knows that full compensation could add up to big money, enough to raise public doubts about the wisdom of using nuclear power in Japan.”……

Authorities had hoped that Miyakoji could serve as a model for repopulating the evacuated communities. So far, only about a third of residents have returned, and most of them are older villagers who feel they have less to worry about from the long-term cancer risks of radiation……..

“They want to say that everything is back to normal so they can keep their nuclear plants,” said Mr. Mizuochi, 57, who helps his wife at the restaurant. “Failing to compensate us for our losses is a way of pressuring us to go back.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/28/world/asia/forced-to-flee-radiation-fearful-japanese-villagers-are-reluctant-to-return.html?_r=0

 

April 28, 2014 - Posted by | civil liberties, Fukushima 2014, Japan

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