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Decade After Fukushima Disaster Survivor Looks Back

The Japanese town of Tomioka ravaged by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is a shell of its former self.

March 5, 2021

The Japanese town of Tomioka ravaged by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is a shell of its former self. In some parts, houses and shops lie abandoned, and bin bags filled with contaminated soil line the streets. For Yuta Hatakeyama, who was 14 when his family had to leave their home, the town evokes bittersweet memories. “I had no idea what was going on back then,” he said. “It has been 10 years since and I have been developing sad feelings.”

A decade after the quake and tsunami, Hatakeyama has returned to the town some 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the now shuttered Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and serves as a community spokesperson. The exclusion zone in the town was lifted in 2017 but around 12% of the town still remains a no-go zone where people can’t enter without an official permit.

Hatakeyama remembers a cherry blossom festival in the town, and a lane brimming with food stalls and people. Now it’s cordoned off and dotted with red safety cones. He said he and his family faced discrimination after leaving Tomioka after the disaster for Iwaki, some 50 km (30 miles) away. “When I moved to a new place and heard people there stigmatising us for being evacuated, my heart really ached.”

The 24-year-old now believes the town must get rid of the bags filled with radioactive waste and make the town more liveable. Tomioka, which used to have 16,000 residents before the disaster, is now home to 1,600 people. The town is planning to lift most of its no-go zones by March 2023. 

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/decade-after-fukushima-disaster-survivor-looks-back.html

March 6, 2021 - Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | ,

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