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Mayor blasts nuclear power to students visiting from Taiwan


Minami-Soma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai discusses the city’s experiences after the Fukushima nuclear disaster before Taiwanese students and teachers in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 17

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–The mayor here has lamented to visiting Taiwanese students how the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe tore his city apart, with 27,000 residents still unable to return to their homes.

Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai went on to blast nuclear energy in an impassioned speech to the 30 visiting students and their teachers on May 17.

“Putting money ahead of people’s lives is totally unacceptable,” he said.

“I was moved by his speech because he is very concerned about the welfare of children,” a 16-year-old girl said, adding that she is worried about nuclear power plants in Taiwan.

Other students said they were able to grasp the enormity of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the city’s efforts to rebuild after Sakurai’s ardent talk.

Sakurai told the students, who are on a school trip from Dali High School in Taipei, that even five years on “27,000 residents including many children are still displaced” and that some elderly citizens died while being evacuated.

The mayor said that the terrible damage was not simply limited to the leakage of radioactive material, and emphasized that nuclear disasters had great potential for driving families apart and destroying local communities.

“Many local leaders tend to refrain from saying this, but I am making a strong plea to the central government, the business circles and the world that nuclear power plants are not needed because (if there is an accident) it can totally ruin people’s lives,” he said.

In replying to a question about the city’s radiation levels, Sakurai reassured the student that readings are now “low enough.” He went on to discuss efforts to decontaminate the local communities and the substantial effort required to rebuild them.

But he added that the municipal government is still monitoring radioactivity in tapping water and food products.

“The fact that we need to conduct such checks even today is unusual,” he said.

Asked about Minami-Soma residents’ reactions to restarting nuclear plants in Japan despite the Fukushima disaster, the mayor said, “An overwhelming majority are against the move to resume the operation of nuclear facilities.”

Minami-Soma is situated between 10 and 40 kilometers from the crippled plant, which stands to the city’s south.

The southern part of the city was designated part of the 20-km “no-entry” zone after the nuclear accident, forcing its residents to evacuate.

At one time, the city, whose population stood at 72,000 before the nuclear accident, had only 10,000 people left because of the evacuation order and voluntary evacation by the residents.


May 18, 2016 - Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | ,

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