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Yoshinobu Segawa of Koriyama City, who voluntarily evacuated his wife and children to Saitama City, says the accident “has not been resolved

Mr. Yoshinobu Segawa, who has voluntarily evacuated his wife and child to Saitama City, talks about his desire to continue the evacuation in an online interview.

April 17, 2022
Residents who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to Saitama and other prefectures following the March 2011 accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have filed a lawsuit against the government and TEPCO, claiming a total of 100 million yen in damages. On April 20, the Saitama District Court will hand down a verdict in a class action lawsuit seeking a total of 100 million yen in damages from the government and TEPCO. The lawsuit was filed in March 2002, seeking compensation for the mental anguish of being separated from their familiar land, as well as compensation for their homes and land lost in the accident. After three additional lawsuits, the number of plaintiffs has grown to 96. How has the nuclear accident changed their daily lives? Before the verdict, we asked two of the plaintiffs about their thoughts.
 Yoshinobu Segawa, 60, an art teacher at a junior high school in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, evacuated his wife and children to Saitama City in June 2012. He has been leading a double life, visiting his wife and children on weekends. The physical, mental, and financial burdens are heavy, but he has no plans for his family to return to Fukushima because he cannot shake off his anxiety about the ongoing decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. He complains, “I feel that the public is losing interest in the nuclear accident, but it has not yet been resolved at all.”
 Although no evacuation order was issued for Koriyama City after the nuclear accident in March 2011, he decided to voluntarily evacuate his wife and children for fear of exposure to radiation, as there were hot spots in the city with locally high radiation levels. He decided to evacuate to Saitama City, where his wife’s (47) friend lives nearby. Currently, his wife and four sons in elementary and junior high school are living in a national public employee housing complex.
 After work on Friday night, he drives to Saitama City, spends time with his family, does his daily chores, and returns to Koriyama City on Sunday night. For Segawa, who suffers from heart disease, the burden of traveling three hours each way every week is not small.
 Ten years have passed since he began his double life, and his savings have visibly dwindled. Although she received some money from her retirement in April of this year, she says, “I am not sure how much I can spare for my children’s future school expenses. In addition, since the spread of the new coronavirus, he has had fewer opportunities to see his family, and his wife, who has a designated intractable disease of the nervous system, has been burdened with housework and childcare.
 Recently, when he talks to his colleagues about his family, they are sometimes surprised to hear that he is still evacuating, and even within Fukushima Prefecture, “I feel that the nuclear accident is fading fast. According to TEPCO’s roadmap, the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant will be completed in 41 to 51 years. In February of last year and March of this year, Fukushima Prefecture was hit by earthquakes measuring 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, and Segawa said, “It is scary to have a dangerous nuclear reactor on the verge of collapse so close to the plant. Segawa said, “I am afraid that a dangerous nuclear reactor that is on the verge of breaking down is nearby.” He plans to continue the voluntary evacuation of his family, saying, “A similar radiation accident may occur again.
 In the trial, the plaintiffs pointed out that the government had failed to regulate nuclear power plants before the accident, and that TEPCO had failed to take countermeasures against a serious accident that could have caused core damage. Mr. Segawa joined the case in an additional lawsuit filed in August 2003. He wanted to make the case an opportunity to examine what happened during the nuclear accident and what should have been done to prevent it, so that he would not be embarrassed when his children ask him in the future, “What did your father do when the nuclear accident happened?
 However, he is distrustful of the way the government and TEPCO handled the case in court. I feel that both the government and TEPCO dodged our questions and failed to provide us with any answers. I don’t think they are thinking about our lives.
 Although it was not a life they wanted to lead, their sons are now blessed with many friends. He is waiting for the verdict, hoping that at least the financial burden will be lightened. “I hope that my wife and son will be able to live in the city until my fourth son (7 years old), who was born in Saitama City, graduates from high school, even if it is only modestly,” he said. (Yusuke Sugihara)
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/172257?rct=metropolitan&fbclid=IwAR1GG4htKi3WUsKARqjlNJBdf8Fi_8JJSF2_-4fJrNT0Ep8kkaAb2TAWV5M

April 23, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

8 towns and villages near Fukushima nuclear power plant 1,514 earthquake-related deaths 70% relocated 3 times or more

TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Unit 2 in the center, Unit 3 on the left, and Unit 1 on the right, from the head office helicopter on February 9.

March 6, 2022
In eight towns and villages in Futaba County, Fukushima Prefecture, where evacuation orders were issued after the March 2011 accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and nearly all residents evacuated in and out of the prefecture, 1,514 people were certified as earthquake-related deaths, and at least 1,025 were found to have moved to new evacuation sites three or more times, according to a new report. Of the 1,514, 136 died after 2004, indicating that the prolonged evacuation has pushed the victims to the edge.

 The Mainichi Shimbun requested local governments in Fukushima Prefecture to disclose documents submitted by the bereaved families over the certification of earthquake-related deaths. The documents include a written history leading up to the deaths, and we analyzed their contents. The number of people certified as earthquake-related deaths in the prefecture as a whole was 2,331, about 1.5 times the number of direct deaths (1,605).

A survey of 1,514 people certified as earthquake-related deaths in eight towns and villages in Futaba County (six towns: Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka, Naraha, and Hirono; two villages: Katsurao and Kawauchi) showed that at least 1,025 people had moved their evacuation sites three or more times before their death. Of these, 248 had moved three times, 267 four times, 211 five times, and 299 six or more times.

 A total of 2,034 people, 1,514 in eight towns and villages in Futaba County and 520 in Minamisoma City, which was ordered to evacuate within a 20-kilometer radius of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, were identified as having died as earthquake-related deaths, and 70% of them were in their 80s or older. Those with a history of illness accounted for 80% of the deaths, with pneumonia and heart disease being the most common causes of death. A number of people suffered from depression or worsening dementia as a result of the long-term evacuation.

According to the Reconstruction Agency, more than 90% of those who were certified as earthquake-related deaths in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake died within one year of the disaster. In contrast, in the eight towns and villages in Futaba County and Minamisoma City, almost half of all deaths from related causes occurred after one year had passed.

 Applications for earthquake-related deaths from bereaved families are still being filed. However, the passage of time has made it difficult to determine the causal relationship between the deaths, and the certification rate is declining. In Tomioka Town, where 454 people, the largest number in Futaba County, were certified, the rate dropped from 94% in FY12 (83 certified out of 88 applications) to 38% from FY19 to FY21 (17 certified out of 45 total). Rokka Teramachi, Shuji Ozaki
Earthquake-related deaths

 Deaths are not directly caused by collapsed buildings or tsunamis resulting from earthquakes, but by worsening physical condition due to evacuation after the disaster. Based on the disaster condolence payment system, a review board consisting of doctors and lawyers receives applications from bereaved families, examines them, and certifies them by the local government. If certified, the bereaved family will receive up to 5 million yen. According to the Reconstruction Agency, as of the end of September 2021, 3,784 people in 10 prefectures had been certified for the Great East Japan Earthquake.
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20220306/k00/00m/040/122000c?fbclid=IwAR0BSmgj0bjLlJJH9MgGN_5wTJz4KpSeTaa4x5acUPqnRrB1WMIZXZgMQ7U

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

I just wanted to live a normal life – Akiko Morimatsu

February 15, 2022

It will soon be 11 years since the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
It is estimated that 27,000 people have evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture and 39,000 people have evacuated to 915 cities, towns, and villages in 47 prefectures across Japan (all figures as of January 12, 2022, compiled by the Reconstruction Agency). (As of January 12, 2022, according to the Reconstruction Agency.) However, the exact number of evacuees is still unknown due to discrepancies between the totals of Fukushima Prefecture and those of municipalities, as well as cases where the government has mistakenly deleted evacuee registrations.

The accident is still ongoing.
We would like to share with you some of the stories we have heard from the evacuees.
This time, we would like to introduce Ms. Akiko Morimatsu, who gave a speech with Greenpeace at the UN Human Rights Council on the current situation of the victims.
(All information in this article is current as of 2018)

Akiko Morimatsu’s eldest daughter, who was a newborn infant at the time of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, is now in elementary school. In the seven years since she left Fukushima Prefecture, she has never lived with her father.
Her eldest son, who was three years old, is a father’s child. Whenever his father came to see his evacuated family once a month, he would return to Fukushima Prefecture, and I could not tell you how many times I wet my pillow with tears of loneliness and sadness.

In March of this year, Ms. Morimatsu made up her mind to stand on the stage of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ms. Morimatsu is a so-called “voluntary evacuee. Housing support, which was the only support for “voluntary evacuees” from outside the evacuation zone, has been cut off, and now there are even eviction lawsuits against “voluntary evacuees” who cannot pay their rent.

In the fall of 2017, Greenpeace, together with the victims of the nuclear accident, appealed to the member countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council about these human rights violations that the victims continue to suffer. Many people who supported us with signatures and donations supported this project.

Subsequently, recommendations for correction were issued by Germany, Austria, Portugal, and Mexico. Greenpeace is calling on the Japanese government to accept these recommendations.
We hope that as many people as possible will know why Mr. Morimatsu decided to speak directly with Greenpeace about the current situation in front of the representatives of each country at the time when the decision to accept the recommendations will be announced.

A nursery school in Fukushima Prefecture in 2011

In the midst of impatience, anxiety, and unpredictable fear

It was during the Golden Week holidays, two months after the disaster, that Ms. Morimatsu decided to evacuate.
Until then, she had been trying to rebuild her life in Fukushima Prefecture.

However, even though no evacuation order had been issued for the area called Nakadori, where he was living at the time, the kindergarten distributed disposable masks to all the children and instructed them to wear long sleeves and long pants. Elementary and junior high school students in the neighborhood drive their own cars to school, even if it is within walking distance. They are not allowed to go outside without permission, and of course they are not allowed to play outside either at the kindergarten or around their homes.

On weekends, the whole family travels to Yamagata and Niigata prefectures on the highway to take the children out to play. Radioactive materials have been detected in tap water and fresh food. We could not hang our laundry or futons outdoors.

No matter what we did, we had to first think about the possible effects of radiation on our children and pay close attention to everything.

No one can tell us what is the right thing to do.

I don’t even know if I should continue to live here. I feel impatient, anxious, and unpredictable.

One by one, families in the neighborhood and kindergartens were leaving Fukushima Prefecture, and it was the fathers of the children who first suggested to Ms. Morimatsu that she take the children to the Kansai region, where she had spent her school days, as they were planning to use the holidays to reorganize their living environment.

What she saw there was a media report about the danger of radioactive contamination, which had not been reported at all in Fukushima Prefecture.

What can we do to protect the future of children who are highly sensitive to radiation?

Only I, as a parent, could protect them.

It was time to make a decision.

Greenpeace radiation survey at a kindergarten in Fukushima Prefecture, 2011.

I separated the children from their father.

With the encouragement of relatives and friends in the Kansai region, and with the agreement of her husband, who continues to work in Fukushima Prefecture, Morimatsu decided to evacuate with her children.

No evacuation order was issued for the area where the Morimatsu family was living. They had to pay separate rents and utility bills for the rental house they rented to replace their house that was damaged in the earthquake, and for the house they rented to house their mother and child in Osaka (*Housing support for voluntary evacuees ended in March 2017. Because Ms. Morimatsu had left public housing early, which had a short move-in period, she was not provided with housing after that and is not counted in the number of evacuees, forcing her to continue living as an evacuee completely on her own).

Even for fathers to come to see their young children, the high cost of transportation is prohibitive.

What kind of impact will not being able to see their fathers most of the time have on the children’s mental development?

How do fathers feel when they can’t watch their adorable children grow up?

Was the evacuation really the right thing to do, forcing families to live apart?

Mr. Morimatsu was in agony, but he decided to find a job in the evacuation area so that he could see his father and children as often as possible.

However, there was no way to take care of her oldest daughter, who was only one year old at the time, at the evacuation site.

Because of the risk of not receiving information from the local government regarding public support and health surveys for children, victims who are voluntarily evacuating cannot inadvertently report their departure. As a result, they were not able to receive services such as day-care centers smoothly in their evacuation areas.
As a result, although she was able to be placed on a waiting list for childcare, her childcare fees were also determined based on her household income, so her own income, which she had begun to work to supplement her double life, was added to her household income, which was quite high. Since she is not a widow, she is not eligible to receive subsidies for single-mother households.

Empty playground of local day nursing school called “Soramame” in Fukushima city. Before Nuclear crisis, this school was taking care of 24 kids. However, since most of them have evacuated to other places with their families, now only 7 kids left. A director of the school, Sadako Monma 48 says “After March 11th, kids are not playing on the playground and instead they are playing inside the school all the time due to nuclear issues”. Since many kids left the school, Monma is thinking about closing the school which has been running for the past 15 years due to financial situation. Fukushima prefecture.

The Best Choice in the Worst Situation

The number of people like Ms. Morimatsu who evacuated from areas where evacuation orders were not issued is a small minority compared to the total number of victims of the nuclear accident. She said that she felt guilty and conflicted about evacuating from a place where even temporary housing could be built for victims from areas where evacuation orders had been issued.

But no one would willingly abandon their current life to evacuate.

Ms. Morimatsu’s husband chose to continue working in Fukushima Prefecture even if it meant leaving his family.

Whether to evacuate or not, each victim’s decision should be respected as the best choice under the worst circumstances.

Voicing one’s anxiety or pointing out what one feels is wrong should not be denied.

But we are practically forced to close our eyes, keep our mouths shut, and pretend to forget about it.

The biggest victims are “children”.

Seven years have passed since the accident, and yet the “right to health” of children, who are the most vulnerable to radiation exposure, has not been given equally to everyone’s children?

I just want to live a normal life together with my child.

I want my children to live a long and healthy life, even if it’s just for a minute or a second.

It is a natural wish for parents to long for this.

The current situation is such that even this desire is being ignored.

Akiko Morimatsu (photo taken in 2021) ©️ Greenpeace / Kosuke Okahara

Protecting the Human Rights of Victims of the Nuclear Accident

The right to avoid radiation exposure and protect one’s health continues to be violated regardless of whether one evacuates or not.

Is the right to avoid radiation exposure, in other words, the right to evacuate, equally recognized for those who want to evacuate?

The policy of not recognizing the right to evacuate, discontinuing the provision of housing without medical support or information, and effectively forcing victims to return home through economic pressure is a violation of human rights for the Morimatsu family and other victims of the nuclear accident.

If the same thing happened to you, what would you protect?

What would you value the most?

The right to life and health is a fundamental human right given to every individual, from the newborn baby to the elderly person whose life will end tomorrow.

Mr. Morimatsu is still evacuating with his children.

Greenpeace’s activities are based on scientific evidence derived from the results of radiation surveys conducted in the area immediately after the accident.
We will continue our research activities and human rights protection activities for the people affected by the accident.

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Health care for displaced persons in Fukushima to be phased out

November 10, 2021

According to Asahi, the Reconstruction Agency wants to phase out medical care for people displaced by the nuclear disaster and has started discussions with local authorities, as acknowledged by the minister in charge.

Currently, residents of 13 municipalities in Fukushima who had to evacuate either compulsorily or by recommendation receive a full or partial reduction of their health or nursing care costs. The number of evacuees from these municipalities amounted to 150,000 in August 2011. This assistance is expected to be phased out starting in 2023 for people in areas where evacuation orders were lifted before April 2017. It would still be maintained for the 22,000 people from the so-called difficult return areas.

In some communes, such as Minami-Sôma or Tamura, the only beneficiaries are the people who had to evacuate. The “voluntary evacuees”, who left on their own, do not benefit.

The end of aid worries some people who have seen their health conditions worsen following the evacuation. It should be better targeted to those who need it, regardless of their original status.

A house is torn down after it was left vacant by its occupants in Futaba, a town co-hosting the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, in July 2021.

The agency spearheading rebuilding efforts stemming from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is now in talks with local authorities about phasing out assistance programs to help evacuees meet their medical and nursing care costs.

Kosaburo Nishime, the minister in charge of rebuilding, acknowledged Nov. 9 that the Reconstruction Agency is engaged in discussions to assess what local governments want in the planned overhaul of the program.

Under the current program, residents of 13 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture who were ordered or advised to evacuate in the aftermath of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in 2011 have had full or partial reductions of their health or nursing care costs. The number of evacuees from those municipalities totaled 150,000 as of August 2011.

The agency plans to begin scaling back the size of the aid as early as in fiscal 2023, according to a senior agency official.

The target that will come under the review concerns residents of 11 municipalities where the evacuation orders had been lifted by April 2017.

The agency plans to phase out the assistance over several years after notifying the appropriate authorities a year in advance of the end of the aid program.

But about 22,000 evacuees, including those from Okuma and Futaba, the towns co-hosting the crippled nuclear plant, as well as those who are not allowed to return due to continuing high levels of radiation, will not come under the planned review, according to agency officials.

The agency will consider that situation at a later date.

The move toward a full-scale review was prompted by concerns raised within the agency about the fairness of extending the assistance program when many residents in the same municipality had no access to such benefits.

For instance, Tamura and Minami-Soma have two types of evacuees, depending on where affected communities are located in their cities: residents ordered to evacuate and those who evacuated voluntarily. The latter are not eligible to receive any reduction in their health and nursing care costs.

This has given rise to a growing sense of resentment among those without access to the assistance in light of the fact the aid program has now been in place for many years.

On the other hand, plans to review the program have already met with fierce opposition from local officials.

“It is totally unacceptable,” said Ikuo Yamamoto, the mayor of Tomioka.

Evacuation orders were lifted in April 2017 for most parts of the town. But some areas are still off-limits.

“We are still in the middle of rebuilding,” Yamamoto complained. “I strongly request that the central government keeps the current program going as it is.”

Yuichi Harada, who is 72 years old and lives as an evacuee in Nihonmatsu after he fled Namie, both in the prefecture, said a blanket review of the program was the wrong approach.

“Some evacuees have to pay a lot more in medical fees than before as their health started to deteriorate” due to the evacuation, he said. “The government should fine-tune the program to reach out to people who badly need assistance.”

The central government sets aside about 25 billion yen ($221 million) annually for health and nursing care assistance to evacuees.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14478893

February 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima resident still can’t return home 10 years after nuclear disaster

Yasuko Sasaki is seen at her house in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 1, 2021.

March 3, 2021

FUKUSHIMA — Yasuko Sasaki’s house lies just 30 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, where a meltdown took place following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. On Feb. 1, Sasaki temporarily returned to clean up leaves that had fallen on the grave at the back of the property.

Once a month, the 66-year-old visits her house in the Tsushima district in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Namie from the prefectural village of Otama — 50 kilometers away — where she is currently evacuated to. It has been almost 10 years since she became unable to live at her own residence.

Due to high radiation levels, Tsushima was designated a “difficult to return” zone, where restrictions for entering are in place, and people are barred from living there. Homes without their owners living in them have been ransacked by wild animals. While Sasaki has been away, wild animals chewed up stuffed turtle and bird specimens kept at her house. She continues to clean her house so that she “can return at any time.”

In the grave are the bones of her husband Kenji, who died of illness at age 57 in February 2011, just before the disaster struck the area, her youngest son Shinji, who passed away at 21 due to cancer in August the same year, and her parents-in-law. Sasaki was born in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, and married her husband and moved to the Tsushima district when she was 33. The couple raised their two children in the house, using mountain stream water in everyday life and boiling the bath with firewood.

“The memories that I have of spending time together with my family are here and only here. I want to come home while I can move my body,” Sasaki explained. A calendar at her house still shows March 2011, when the earthquake and tsunami hit.

The Reconstruction Design Council in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, an advisory panel to the prime minister, deemed that “recovery from the devastating disaster will not be completed until Fukushima soil recovers.” The government has set up Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Bases within difficult-to-return zones and is carrying out decontamination work and developing infrastructure so that people can reside in the area once again. It aims to lift evacuation orders for the bases in between 2022 and 2023.

However, the areas designated as reconstruction bases are limited. In the Tsushima district, a 153-hectare space surrounding the town hall’s Tsushima branch is designated — just 1.6% of the whole district. Of the 532 households in the district at the time of the disaster, 80% including Sasaki’s house are not included in the reconstruction base area, and there are no prospects for these people to be able to return to their homes.

Sasaki said, “Everything’s still the same, even 10 years after the (nuclear) disaster. I wonder for how many more years I’ll have to continue cleaning (my house).”

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210302/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Ex-classmates reunite at school abandoned after Fukushima disaster

Old friends Nozomi Kaminagakura (L) and Mari Yamamoto hug each other in a schoolyard before parting on Jan. 9, 2021

Jan 24, 2021

Namie – “Take care. Let’s meet again,” Nozomi Kaminagakura and Mari Yamamoto said repeatedly as they hugged in a corner of a weed-strewn schoolyard in the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture that is still partly under an evacuation order.

The friends were neighbors until they were forced to leave their hometown when they were in the fourth grade because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

They smiled for most of the day when they visited Namie in January but became tearful as they were about to part. Wearing kimono, they had attended a coming-of-age ceremony in the town earlier in the day.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, seats at the ceremony were spaced apart and the participants only took off their face masks for the commemorative photograph. There was no reunion party afterward.

Former classmates visit Karino Elementary School

Eleven former classmates along with their families visited the abandoned building of Karino Elementary School, which is set to be demolished.

In contrast to the bleak schoolyard, the young adults were cheerful as they shared stories of their school days and took photos.

Their parents also looked delighted to see them enjoying their reunion.

“Where do you live now?” they asked one another. One even asked, “Do you really remember me?”

It was their first return to the school together since the disaster forced all the residents of the town to evacuate.

“We were separated without any time to prepare,” one of them said.

Former classmates take a photo in the schoolyard. As many as 11 of them gathered for the first time in almost a decade

Kaminagakura, now a university student in Sendai in adjacent Miyagi Prefecture, said the area where she and Yamamoto used to lived remains basically off limits because radiation levels are still high.

Affectionately calling each other “Non-chan” and “Mari-chan,” they played almost every day back then, at a nearby river in the summer and sledding on a hill in the winter.

“I never thought we’d be unable to see each other,” Kaminagakura said, adding she had expected to return to the town after a short time.

“It’s not the Namie I knew,” she said.

At the school, however, she was able to freely converse with her former classmates, even after such a long time. “I was glad they haven’t changed.”

Minori Yoshida, who attends a technical school in Yokohama, near Tokyo, was forced to evacuate in the midst of moving to her new home in the town. The house remains vacant.

“I feel at ease whenever I come to Namie,” said Yoshida, who was visiting for the first time in three years with her family, who now live in the city of Fukushima.

When asked why she feels so, Yoshida said, “Because it is in the countryside? I have mixed feelings though, looking at the scenery now.”

About her friends from Namie, she said, “They are special to me.”

The 11 young adults stand side-by-side for a group photo in front of a school building to be demolished.

It might be the last time the former classmates could gather at the school before its demolition. They took a group photo in front of the school building.

A banner placed on the three-story building’s balcony read, “Forever in the hearts of Karino pupils. Thank you, Karino Elementary School.”

The 11 former classmates were slow to leave, even though the sun was setting, and kept repeating, “Take care. Let’s meet again.”

Nozomi Kaminagakura (L) and Mari Yamamoto in kimono pose in the schoolyard.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/01/adea7d939fd4-feature-ex-classmates-reunite-at-school-abandoned-after-fukushima-disaster.html?fbclid=IwAR25P5T1dY0WWM4XnJR9rnflDH_IoukuUKArhqP_B2vsvbBARgdMyvabeu8

January 30, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

In Fukushima, Olympic torch relay faces cool welcome from nuclear evacuees

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March 2, 2020

FUTABA, Japan (Reuters) – Dressed in protective plastic coveralls and white booties, Yuji Onuma stood in front of the row of derelict buildings that included his house, and sighed as he surveyed his old neighborhood.

On the once-bustling main street, reddish weeds poked out of cracked pavements in front of abandoned shops with caved-in walls and crumbling roofs. Nearby, thousands of black plastic bags filled with irradiated soil were stacked in a former rice field.

It’s like visiting a graveyard,” he said.

Onuma, 43, was back in his hometown of Futaba to check on his house, less than 4 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which suffered a triple meltdown in 2011 following an earthquake and tsunami, leaking radiation across the region.

The authorities say it will be two more years before evacuees can live here again, an eternity for people who have been in temporary housing for nine years. But given the lingering radiation here, Onuma says he has decided not to move back with his wife and two young sons.

Most of his neighbors have moved on, abandoning their houses and renting smaller apartments in nearby cities or settling elsewhere in Japan.

Given the problems Futaba still faces, many evacuees are chafing over the government’s efforts to showcase the town as a shining example of Fukushima’s reconstruction for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

While there has been speculation that the global spread of the coronavirus that emerged in China last month might force the cancellation of the Olympics, Japanese officials have said they are confident the Games will go ahead.

The Olympic torch relay will take place in Fukushima in late March – although possibly in shortened form as a result of the coronavirus, Olympic organizers say – and will pass through Futaba. In preparation, construction crews have been hard at work repairing streets and decontaminating the center of town.

I wish they wouldn’t hold the relay here,” said Onuma. He pointed to workers repaving the road outside the train station, where the torch runners are likely to pass. “Their number one aim is to show people how much we’ve recovered.”

He said he hoped that the torch relay would also pass through the overgrown and ghostly parts of the town, to convey everything that the 7,100 residents uprooted of Futaba lost as a result of the accident.

I don’t think people will understand anything by just seeing cleaned-up tracts of land.”

UNDER CONTROL”

In 2013, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was pitching Tokyo as the host of the 2020 Games to International Olympic Committee members, he declared that the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant was “under control”.

The Games have been billed as the “Reconstruction Olympics” – an opportunity to laud Japan’s massive effort to rebuild the country’s northeastern region, ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami, as well as the meltdowns at the nuclear plant owned by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

After the disaster, the government created a new ministry to handle reconstruction efforts and pledged 32 trillion yen ($286.8 billion) in funding to rebuild affected areas.

 

kkmùùYuji Onuma, an evacuee from Futaba Town near tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, walks next to a collapsed shop on the street in Futaba Town, inside the exclusion zone around the plant, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan February 20, 2020.

 

Signs of the reconstruction efforts are everywhere near the plant: new roads have been built, apartment blocks for evacuee families have sprouted up, and an imposing tsunami wall now runs along the coastline. An army of workers commutes to the wrecked plant every day to decommission the reactors.

In March, just days before the Olympic relay is scheduled to be held across Fukushima, Japan will partially ease a restriction order for Futaba, the last town that remains off-limits for residents to return.

This means that residents like Onuma will be able to freely come and go from the town without passing through security or changing into protective clothing. Evacuees will still not be able to stay in their homes overnight.

After a few years bouncing between relatives’ homes and temporary apartments, Onuma decided to build a new house in Ibaraki, a nearby prefecture. His two sons are already enrolled in kindergarten and primary school there.

You feel a sense of despair,” said Onuma. “Our whole life was here and we were just about to start our new life with our children.”

When Onuma was 12, he won a local competition to come up with a catchphrase promoting atomic energy. His words, “Nuclear Energy for a Brighter Future” was painted on an arch that welcomed visitors to Futaba.

After the nuclear meltdowns, the sign was removed against Onuma’s objections.

It feels like they’re whitewashing the history of this town,” said Onuma, who now installs solar panels for a living.

The organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

 

BACK BURNER”

Other residents and community leaders in nearby towns say the Olympics may have actually hindered the region’s recovery.

Yasushi Niitsuma, a 60-year-old restaurant owner in Namie, said the Olympics stalled local reconstruction projects because of surging demand and costs to secure workers and materials ahead of the games in Tokyo.

We need to wait two years, three years to have a house built because of the lack of craftsmen,” said Niitsuma. “We are being put on the back burner.”

Fukushima’s agriculture and fisheries industries have also been devastated.

I was astonished by the “under control” comment made in a pitch to win the Olympic Games,” said Takayuki Yanai, who directs a fisheries co-op in Iwaki, 50 kilometers south of the nuclear plant, referring to Abe’s statement.

People in Fukushima have the impression that reconstruction was used as a bait to win the Olympic Games.”

A government panel recently recommended discharging contaminated water held at the Fukushima plant to the sea, which Yanai expects to further hurt what remains of the area’s fisheries industry.

At a recent news conference, Reconstruction Minister Kazunori Tanaka responded to a question from Reuters about criticism from Fukushima evacuees.

We will work together with relevant prefectures, municipalities and various organizations so that people in the region can take a positive view,” he said, referring to the Olympics.

Local officials also say they are making progress for the return of residents to Futaba.

Unlike Chernobyl, we are aiming to go back and live there,” Futaba Mayor Shirou Izawa said in an interview, calling the partial lifting of the evacuation order a sign of “major progress”.

There were a lot of misunderstandings about the radiation levels in the town, including the safety of produce and fish from Fukushima, Izawa said.

It would be great if such misunderstanding is dispelled even a little bit,” he said.

Radiation readings in the air taken in February near Futaba’s train station were around 0.28 microsieverts per hour, still approximately eight times the measurement taken on the same day in central Tokyo.

Another area in Futaba had a reading of 4.64 microsieverts per hour on the same day, meaning a person would reach the annual exposure upper limit of 1 millisievert, recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, in just nine days.

Despite the official assurances, it’s hard to miss the signs of devastation and decay around town.

The block where Takahisa Ogawa’s house once stood is now just a row of overgrown lots, littered with concrete debris. A small statue of a stone frog is all that remains of his garden, which is also scattered with wild boar droppings.

He finally demolished his house last year after he failed to convince his wife and two sons to return to live in Futaba.

Ogawa doubts any of his childhood friends and neighbors would ever return to the town.

I’ve passed the stage where I’m angry and I’m resigned,” he said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2020-futaba-insight/in-fukushima-olympic-torch-relay-faces-cool-welcome-from-nuclear-evacuees-idUSKBN20P03M?fbclid=IwAR0G7Exv5bLjdYCHCdmV5PA7L15qoZ3KpCScZIa8F8_TU9AAzNBvSW9aKvE

March 5, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima to sue non-rent-paying evacuees from nuclear disaster

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Lawyer Kiyoshi Morikawa, center, who represents evacuees in Tokyo from Fukushima Prefecture, speaks at a news conference in Tokyo on Oct. 3.
October 4, 2019
Fukushima Prefecture will take legal action to evict five households living in public housing in Tokyo who voluntarily evacuated from the prefecture following the 2011 nuclear accident.
The prefectural assembly on Oct. 3 approved in a majority vote plans to file a lawsuit against the evacuees, who are residing in the housing for government employees without signing a contract or paying rent.
The suit will also demand that the households pay a total of about 6 million yen ($56,190), which is between 500,000 yen and 2 million yen per household, equivalent to two years of rent.
All factions except for the Japanese Communist Party voted in favor, while an assembly member belonging to the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan left before the vote. The prefecture plans to file the lawsuit within this year.
Rent-free housing for evacuees who left their homes located outside the government-designated evacuation zones ended at the end of March 2017. The prefecture allowed them to continue living in the accommodations through the end of March 2019 if they paid rent.
However, the five households have not signed contracts to remain in the housing and have not paid rent or parking fees.
Lawyer Kiyoshi Morikawa, who represents three of the five households and is a co-representative of a lawyers group for the Fukushima nuclear disaster victims in areas around Tokyo, and other members held a news conference in Tokyo on Oct. 3.
Morikawa read out a statement from a female evacuee in her 30s who said, “I have spent every day living in fear. Although being evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, I am scared as I feel like the prefecture is going to take everything from me.”
Morikawa also read out a complaint made by a group of plaintiffs in a Fukushima nuclear disaster lawsuit in Tokyo and its lawyers group that said, “What the prefecture is going to do is to take housing by force at the evacuation sites. It is extremely unacceptable.”
According to Morikawa, the three households are unable to pay the rents as their incomes dropped due to being forced to evacuate from the prefecture following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

October 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Abe pushing idea that Fukushima nuclear disaster is ‘under control’

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inspects the premises of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on April 14. Its No. 3 and No. 4 reactors, from left, are seen behind in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.
June 11, 2019
Without special protection against radiation, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stood on elevated ground about 100 meters from the three melted-down reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“I was finally able to see the view just wearing a normal suit without having to wear protective clothing and a mask (for radiation),” he said on April 14 after hearing explanations from Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials. “The decommissioning work has been making progress in earnest.”
An act of bravado, perhaps. But it was more likely one of the ways Abe and his government want to show that the Fukushima disaster is, as he famously said, “under control.”
Progress has been made, albeit slowly, for the monumental task of decommissioning TEPCO’s crippled nuclear plant.
But radiation levels in certain areas of the plant are still lethal with extended exposure. The problem of storing water contaminated in the reactors continues.
And only recently was TEPCO able to make contact with melted nuclear fuel in the reactors through a robot. The means to extract the fuel has yet to be decided.
However, the government keeps touting progress in the reconstruction effort, using evacuee statistics, which critics say are misleading, to underscore its message.
Abe’s previous visit to the nuclear plant was in September 2013.
“When I conducted an inspection five years ago, I was completely covered in protective gear,” he said at a meeting with decommissioning workers in April. “This time I was able to inspect wearing a normal suit.”
Officials in Abe’s circle acknowledged that they wanted to “appeal the progress of reconstruction” by letting the media cover the prime minister’s “unprotected” visit to the site.
The inspection ground where Abe stood, 35 meters above sea level, and the insides of buses are the only places in the area where protective clothing and masks are not required.
His visit in a business suit was possible largely because the ground was covered in mortar and other materials that prevent the spread of radioactive substances, not because decommissioning work has lowered radiation levels as a whole.
The radiation level at the elevated inspection ground still exceeds 100 microsieverts per hour, making it dangerous for people who remain there for extended periods.
Abe’s inspection ended in six minutes.
The prime minister raised eyebrows, particularly in Fukushima Prefecture, in 2013 when he gave a speech to promote Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Concerning the Fukushima nuclear plant, he told International Olympic Committee members, “Let me assure you, the situation is under control.”
An hour before he inspected the plant in April, Abe attended the opening ceremony of the new government building of Okuma, one of the two towns that host the nuclear plant.
The ceremony followed the lifting of an evacuation order for part of the town on April 10.
“We were able to take a step forward in reconstruction,” Abe said.
The central government uses the number of evacuees to show the degree of progress in reconstruction work.
In April 2018, Abe said in the Diet that the lifting of evacuation orders has reduced the number of evacuees to one-third of the peak.
According to the Reconstruction Agency, the number of people who evacuated in and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, including those who were under no orders to leave, peaked at about 160,000. But the initial evacuation orders for 11 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have been gradually lifted, and the agency now puts the total number at about 40,000.
About 71,000 people were officially registered as residents of areas that were ordered to evacuate. Now, only about 11,000 people live in those zones.
This means that about 60,000 people have not returned to the homes where they were living before the nuclear accident unfolded in March 2011.
The gap of 20,000 can be attributed to how the agency classifies or declassifies evacuees.
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NOT COUNTED AS EVACUEES
The Reconstruction Agency sent a notice in August 2014 to all prefectures that have counted the number of evacuees.
It defined “evacuees” as people who moved to different places because of the nuclear disaster and have the “will” to return to their original homes.
The notice also said that if it is difficult to perceive their “will,” they can be regarded as people who have ended their evacuation if they bought new homes or made arrangements for new accommodations.
Based on the notice, people in Fukushima Prefecture who have bought new homes during their evacuation or settled down in public restoration housing or disaster public housing are regarded as living “stable” lives and are not counted as evacuees.
“It is not a problem because we continue supporting them even if they are removed from the evacuee statistics,” a prefectural government official said.
An official of the Reconstruction Agency said, “The judgment is made by each prefecture, so we are not in a position to say much.”
However, the prefecture has not confirmed all evacuees’ will to return to their homes. In addition, those who are removed from the list of evacuees are not informed of their new status.
Many people bought homes in new locations during their prolonged evacuations although they still hope to return to their hometowns in the disaster area.
Yumiko Yamazaki, 52, has a house in Okuma in a “difficult-to-return” zone.
But because she moved to public restoration housing outside of the town, she is not considered an evacuee by the agency and the prefecture.
“I had to leave my town although I didn’t want to,” Yamazaki said. “It is so obvious that the government wants to make the surface appearance look good by reducing the number of evacuees.”
“I can’t allow them to try to pretend the evacuation never happened,” Yamazaki said.
Critics say the central government’s emphasis of positive aspects and the downplaying of inconvenient truths in the evacuee statistics have much in common with its response to the suspected nepotism scandals involving school operator Moritomo Gakuen and the Kake Educational Institution.
“This is an act to socially hide the real number of evacuees, which could lead to a cover-up of the seriousness of the incident,” said Akira Imai, chief researcher of the Japan Research Institute for Local Government who has conducted surveys among evacuees. “The evacuee number is an index that is used to consider measures to support evacuees. The current situation should be reflected properly in the numbers.”
But the central government continues to appeal “reconstruction” to the public.
On the night of May 10, Abe had dinner with all-male idol group Tokio at a pizza restaurant in Tokyo.
The four-member group has been promoting products from Fukushima Prefecture, which are still struggling to overcome public fears and false rumors about radiation.
Two days after the dinner, Abe posted a picture of him with Tokio on Twitter and commented, “They have been making efforts to reconstruct Fukushima Prefecture.”

June 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Most evacuees under 50 from three Fukushima towns near nuclear disaster have no plan to return

n-survey-a-20190310-870x580.jpgRepresentatives from East Japan Railway Co. give an update on the recovery of the Joban Line in the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, on Thursday.

 

Mar 9, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – A majority of people under age 50 who had lived in three towns close to the site of the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster have no plans to return, an official survey showed Saturday.
Many former residents of Futaba, Namie and Tomioka say they have established new lives elsewhere and that their adopted hometowns are more convenient.
The three towns were subject to government evacuation orders in the wake of the crisis at the plant, which was triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
The orders for Namie and Tomioka were partially lifted in 2017. But more than 60 percent of evacuees from the two towns in their 20s and 30s and more than 50 percent in their 40s said they would not return, with other major reasons cited including concerns over the lack of medical and commercial facilities.
Regardless of age group, 49.9 percent of former Namie residents and 48.1 percent of former Tomioka residents said they would not return.
As for Futaba, which hosts part of the crippled nuclear plant and remains off limits for residents, similar proportions of those in the 20s, 30s and 40s said they would not return, and the overall figure, regardless of age group, stood at 61.5 percent.

Read more:

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/09/national/evacuees-50-three-fukushima-towns-near-nuclear-disaster-no-plan-return/?fbclid=IwAR1OU5pD6QtCn9a2cgIdo2xe9aBXWUQVKnFp5nYOCuPzUVg06Vcc-AZadyE

March 18, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

The State of Nuclear Emergency Declared after the Fukushima Meltdown is Still On Today!!!

medical situation
1. Radioactive contaminated water still keeps accumulating:
2. High-level radiation from Fukushima plant is still being emitted daily.
3. Unfairness of forcing Fukushima residents to live with radiation up to 20 mSv/year.
4.Termination of housing allowance for “voluntary” evacuees from Fukushima, a serious violation of human rights.
5. The number of children with thyroid cancer is increasing although the government refuses to recognize the accident as its cause.
6.Recommendations from the UN Human Rights Council to the Japanese government (UNHRC, Oct. 2018)
The government is obliged:
6.1. to prevent and minimize, as much as possible, children from being exposed to radiation;
6.2. to change back from “20 mSv” to “1 mSv” per year standard before retracting evacuation orders, especially for children and women of childbearing age;
6.3. to not pressurize families to return to Fukushima by terminating housing allowance. (United Nations Human Rights Council, October 2018)
Source: The Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial

February 11, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima Residents Return Despite Radiation

Evacuees now fear Abe’s determination to put the Daiichi accident behind the nation is jeopardizing public health, especially among children, who are more susceptible. Lifting most evacuations has also ended subsidies for evacuees, forcing many to return despite lingering questions.
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Hiroshi Ueki moved far from the damaged Fukushima power plant and vowed to never return. He now grows grapes in a different region of Japan.
 
Japanese government presses resettlement of Fukushima evacuees back into areas still too radioactive with largest health risks falling on infants, young children and pregnant women.
 
When the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant began spewing radioactive particles after it was clobbered by a tsunami in March 2011Kaori Sakuma fled. She bundled her infant and toddler into a car and left her husband and family in Koriyama, 44 miles west of the ruptured facility. “The truth is, I ran away,” she says. Confronting gas shortages and snarled roads, she transported her children 560 miles away to Hokkaido, about as far as she could get.
 
Radiation from the fuming plant spread over tile-roofed towns and rice paddies across an area the size of Connecticut. The meltdown 150 miles north of Tokyo drove more than 200,000 people out of the region. Most believed they were fleeing for their lives. Now, almost eight years after the accident, the government has lifted most evacuation orders. Nearly 122,000 people have been allowed to return to communities where weeds have overtaken parking lots. Most are elderly, relieved to be resuming their lives. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is determined to end all evacuations by 2020, when Japan will host the Olympic Summer Games. The events will include baseball and softball competitions in Fukushima City, a mere 55 miles from the ruined reactors.
 
Around 35,000 other citizens still wait to return, but they and many others throughout northeastern Japan worry all of this is too soon. Radiation, which is generally linked to cancer, in some places continues to measure at least 5 millisieverts (mSv) a year beyond natural background radiation, five times the added level Japan had recommended for the general public prior to the incident. In certain spots radioactivity is as high as 20 mSv, the maximum exposure recommended by international safety experts for nuclear power workers.
 
In its haste to address the emergency, two months after the accident the Japanese government raised the allowable exposure from 1 mSv annually, an international benchmark, to 20 mSv. Evacuees now fear Abe’s determination to put the Daiichi accident behind the nation is jeopardizing public health, especially among children, who are more susceptible. Lifting most evacuations has also ended subsidies for evacuees, forcing many to return despite lingering questions.
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Kaori Sakuma, from Koriyama, evacuated her two young sons more than 500 miles from the Fukushima accident. She reluctantly brought them back after the government raised the allowable radiation limits for communities, but she does not trust the government’s radiation readings.
 
As more people inside and outside the country absorb the radiation data, Japanese officials are confronting a collapse of public confidence. Before the accident residents in Japan (and the U.S.) were living with background radiation that averaged 3.1 mSv a year,most of it emanating naturally from the ground and space. In Japan and the U.S. many residents experience an additional 3.1 mSv annually, due mostly to medical testing. But the anxiety of Fukushima residents facing even higher levels is palpable. If the government is going to fully restore lives and livelihoods, it needs to regain their trust, says nuclear engineer Tatsujiro Suzuki, a professor at Nagasaki University and former vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission. That, he says, should include respecting international safety standards for radiation and lowering the allowable level at least to 5 mSv, although he acknowledges “even 5 mSv is too high for children.”
Running Away from Radioactivity
 
The tsunami that followed the magnitude 9.0 offshore Tohoku earthquake slammed a 40-foot wall of seawater onto Japan’s northeastern coast. The whole event killed more than 15,000 people. The water surge at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Daiichi plant led to meltdowns at three reactors.
 
Government officials ordered evacuations in areas called “difficult to return” zones, where radiation was above 50 mSv, enough to cause skin cancer. They quickly added areas between 20 and 50 mSv, then those below 20 mSv. Evacuations continued for months as Japan struggled to find housing for a large population exposed to radioactive iodine 131, cesium 134 and cesium 137. In May 2012 officials reported relocating 164,865 people. Another 26,600 people living outside the evacuation zones left voluntarily, according to Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, a Tokyo-based organization opposed to the nuclear industry.
 
The evacuations did not go well. Evacuees, many elderly and frail, were moved repeatedly without any plans in place, says Jan Beyea, a physicist with Consulting in the Public Interest who worked on a 2014 U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report about the accident. Disrupted medical care and the trauma of moving were fatal to nearly 2,000 people, according to the World Nuclear Association. Many of those who survived reportedly suffer from alcoholism and clinical depression.
 
As radiation levels declined, the government began allowing evacuees home—one town at a time. By May 2013, coastal communities such as Minamisoma, 25 miles north of Daiichi, were reopening ramen shops, and trains resumed their scheduled runs despite a dearth of customers.
 
Shuzo Sasaki, 56, was one of the first evacuees to return to neighboring Odaka, a quiet seaside village. The long-time employee of Fukushima Prefecture (prefectures are equivalent to states) directs Real Fukushima, a government-sponsored organization providing tours as communities rebuild. In Odaka, where radiation plumes streamed overhead but dropped relatively few radioactive atoms on the ground, levels have stabilized at 1.26 mSv per year, well within the safe range. Today a few rice paddies are productive, with round bales of rice straw drying in the sun. Most, however, are vacant. The market for Fukushima rice is poor, even from farms where contaminated soil has been removed. Some paddies sport solar panels. Many are no longer farmed, instead covered with some of the 16 million bags of contaminated soil removed from other sites.
 
Less than a quarter of Odaka’s 12,800 residentshave returned. Most are over 60, says Sasaki, who wears a starched white shirt and dark blue suit. Some people have found new lives elsewhere; many are afraid to return. “Young people with families—they don’t believe the government radiation measurements,” he says.
 
Concern about children is one of the most controversial issues. When officials raised the allowable level of radiation to 20 mSv, including in schools, it was under the guise of giving people a measure of normalcy. But the May 2011decision became a flash point for opponents of the government’s handling of the accident. They were furious children would be subjected to the maximum radiation allowed for nuclear workers, spending day after day in buildings that increased their cancer risk to one in 200 people.
 
Sakuma was one of those who returned to Koriyama, from her outpost in Hokkaido. She did not want her young children to touch contaminated soil or water along their walk to school, so she carried them both on her small back. “We all want our kids to play in the dirt and pick flowers but I was afraid. We all were,” says Sakuma, now 46.
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Bags of radioactive soil, scraped from certain rice farms, are stored on other farmland.
 
Lack of Public Trust
 
In the year after the accident Koriyama was one of 12 communities where the ongoing radiation rate measured between 3 and 5 mSv above background, but the town had not been evacuated. Today’s levels have stabilized at 1.5 mSv, but doubts remain. Skeptical of the government’s readings, Shigeru Otake, 49, takes his own. A slim man who wears a Dollar Store rope belt to give him “strength like a samurai,” he says he has measured radiation spikes at 15 mSv in Koriyama, where his family has lived for generations. Sakuma walks her sons, now eight and 10 years old, to school past a government monitoring post that she claims reads six times lower than her own dosimeter does.
 
Misgivings about government assurances of safety drove Hiroshi Ueki, 48, to move his family to Nagano Prefecture, where he is now growing “the best grapes in the world.” His parents stayed behind in Fukushima Prefecture. Ueki says he will never move back. “The prime minister says the accident is over but I won’t ever feel safe until the Daiichi plant itself is finally shut down. That will take 100 years.”
 
In spite of these concerns, Japan has continued to showcase repatriation as a barometer of progress toward recovery. By April 2017, the government had lifted all evacuations except for the most contaminated places closest to Daiichi. That decision also ended rent-free housing provided to people who were forced to leave as well as to some 26,600 people like Ueki who vacated voluntarily. Left without the $1,000 monthly subsidy provided by Tokyo Electric Company, some people have been forced to return home despite their safety concerns.* They have no other economic options, says Hajime Matsukubo, general manager of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center. Some 16,000 people who refuse to return have been financially abandoned, according to the center.
 
It is unclear if such fear is justified. The danger to people chronically exposed to low levels of radiation is the subject of ongoing scientific debate. “It’s not a bright line where we can say this dose rate is going to kill you,” says Kathryn Higley, a nuclear science professor at Oregon State University.
 
Scientists generally agree on a few basics: The risks of getting leukemia or other cancers are higher for children than adults, and the risks for everyone increase significantly with exposure above 100 mSv annually. Various national agencies have set 20 mSv per year as a maximum for occupational exposure. Public exposure should be no more than 1 mSv per year above background levels, according to the International Commission for Radiological Protection. That raises questions about Japan’s 2011 emergency declaration of 20 mSv per year as the allowable exposure. Five years after the 1986 explosions at Chernobyl, Ukrainian officials lowered the allowable level to 5 mSv per year. Japanese officials note there have been no reported deaths from radiation exposure.
 
The public perception is that the Daiichi nuclear accident continues to pose health risks and, significantly, nuclear power is not safe. More than 80 percent of the Japanese public wants to phase it out, according to an October 2018 study by Suzuki, the former Japan Atomic Energy commissioner. He calls the erosion of public trust “the most unfortunate impact of the accident.”
 
Sakuma, the Koriyama mother, is using the Daiichi accident as a lesson in radical civic involvement. She intends to keep her sons in Koriyama despite radiation concerns. “I want them to grow up here so they can learn what the government does. I want them to tell other people about how it is to live with radiation,” she says. “This accident is not over.”
 

January 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Former mayor expresses anger at Tepco in trial over Fukushima crisis

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December 5, 2018
FUKUSHIMA – A former mayor of a city hit by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis told a court on Wednesday that he wants to express his “anger” on behalf of citizens who had to flee their homes due to the disaster and whose lives are still filled with uncertainties.
Katsunobu Sakurai, who was mayor of Minamisoma at the time the crisis erupted, testified before the Fukushima District Court in a lawsuit filed by 151 people seeking ¥3.7 billion ($32.7 million) in damages from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. They say the nuclear accident destroyed their communities due to the evacuations.
 
Sakurai was chosen among U.S. Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 after sharing the city’s predicament and calling for support via YouTube in the wake of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.
Following the accident, part of the city was designated as an evacuation zone where the 151 people, comprising 47 households, used to live. Most of the city is no longer subject to evacuation orders.
Sakurai said the city was forced to arrange evacuation buses on its own amid a lack of information from the central government, and that he “felt bitter and angry” after learning that the government helped arrange transportation for some other municipalities.
He also said the city’s residents are reluctant to return due to the slow progress of decommissioning the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“They think they might have to evacuate again,” Sakurai said.
Sakurai had been the city’s mayor until losing his seat in an election in January.
The Minamisoma residents filed the damages suit in 2015 for their losses and changes to their hometown as a result of the nuclear accident, triggered by a major earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima evacuees forced back into unacceptably high radiation zones

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December 2, 2018
One man is advocating for their protection
By Linda Pentz Gunter
A UN Special Rapporteur who last August joined two colleagues in sounding an urgent alarm about the plight of Fukushima workers, has now roundly criticized the Japanese government for returning citizens to the Fukushima region under exposure levels 20 times higher than considered “acceptable” under international standards.
He urged the Japanese government to “halt the ongoing relocation of evacuees who are children and women of reproductive age to areas of Fukushima where radiation levels remain higher than what was considered safe or healthy before the nuclear disaster seven years ago.”
Baskut Tuncak, (pictured at top) UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes, noted during a October 25, 2018 presentation at the UN in New York, as well at a press conference, that the Japan Government was compelling Fukushima evacuees to return to areas where “the level of acceptable exposure to radiation was raised from 1 to 20 mSv/yr, with potentially grave impacts on the rights of young children returning to or born in contaminated areas.”
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Typical housing for evacuees. 20 m2 prefab cabins, evacuation site, Miharu, Fukushima, 46 km north west of Fukushima-Daichi Nuclear Power Plant. (Photo: Lis Fields.)
 
He described exposure to toxic substances in general as “a particularly vicious form of exploitation.”
In August, Tuncak, along with Urmila Bhoola and Dainius Puras, expressed deep concern about the Fukushima “cleanup” workers, who include migrants, asylum seekers and the homeless. They feared “possible exploitation by deception regarding the risks of exposure to radiation, possible coercion into accepting hazardous working conditions because of economic hardships, and the adequacy of training and protective measures.
We are equally concerned about the impact that exposure to radiation may have on their physical and mental health.”
Now, Tuncak is urging Japan to return to the 1 millisievert a year allowable radiation exposure levels in place before the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. 
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2011 map showing wide deposition of radioactive materials from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (Courtesy 20 Millisieverts A Year. https://lisfields.org/20msvyear/)
 
In a revealing response to Tuncak’s presentation at the UN, the delegate from Japan claimed that 20 msv “is in conformity with the recommendation given in 2007 by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.” He also claimed that Tuncak’s press release would cause people in Fukushima to suffer “an inaccurate negative reputation” that was “further aggravating their suffering,” and that the government and people of Japan were “making effort with a view to dissipating this negative reputation and restoring life back to normal.” 
This view is deeply characteristic of the Abe government which is desperately attempting to “normalize” radiation among the population to create a public veneer that everything is as it was. This is motivated at least in part by an effort to dissipate fears about radiation exposure levels that will still be present during the 2020 Summer Olympics there, with events held not only in Tokyo but also in the Fukushima prefecture.
However, Tuncak corrected the delegate’s information, responding that:
“In 2007, the ICRP recommended deployment of “the justification principle. And one of the requests I would make for the Japanese government is to rigorously apply that principle in the case of Fukushima in terms of exposure levels, particularly by children, as well as women of reproductive age to ensure that no unnecessary radiation exposure and accompanying health risk is resulting.” Tuncak said Japan should “expeditiously implement that recommendation.”
He also reminded the delegate that “the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council last year, did issue a recommendation to lower the acceptable level of radiation back down from 20 millisieverts per year to one millisievert per year. And the concerns articulated in the press release today were concerns that the pace at which that recommendation is being implemented is far too slow, and perhaps not at all.”
During the press conference Tuncak noted that Japan is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and that forcing evacuees back into areas contaminated to 20 mSv/yr was against the standards contained in that Convention. “We are quite concerned in particular for the health and well-being of children who may be raised or born in Fukushima,” he said.
namie-evacuees.jpg
The Yamagata family in front of their quake-damaged pharmacy in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan April 12 2011 (VOA – S. L. Herman)
 
Earlier, Japan had sounded tacit agreement to reducing allowable exposure levels back down from 20 mSv/yr to 1 mSv/yr. But few believed they would carry this out given that it is virtually impossible to clean up severely contaminated areas in the Fukushima region back to those levels.
Bruno Chareyron, the director of the CRIIRAD lab (Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendentes sur la RADioactivité), noted in an August 17, 2018 Truthout article that:
“It is important to understand that the Fukushima disaster is actually an ongoing disaster. The radioactive particles deposited on the ground in March 2011 are still there, and in Japan, millions of people are living on territories that received significant contamination.”
Of the cleanup process, Chareyron told Truthout: “The ground and most contaminated tree leaves are removed only in the immediate vicinity of the houses, but a comprehensive decontamination is impossible.” He said in the article that the powerful gamma rays emitted by Cesium 137 could travel dozens of meters in the air. Therefore, the contaminated soil and trees located around the houses, which have not been removed, are still irradiating the inhabitants.
While the UN delegate from Japan claimed that no one was being forced to return and the decision rested with the evacuees alone, Tuncak expressed concern about coercion. “The gradual lifting of evacuation orders has created enormous strains on people whose lives have already been affected by the worst nuclear disaster of this century. Many feel they are being forced to return to areas that are unsafe, including those with radiation levels above what the Government previously considered safe.”
fukus-vs-chernobyl
Recalling his efforts to protect Fukushima workers, Tuncak observed the irony that Japan had admitted that the death of a Fukushima worker from lung cancer was directly related to exposure to radiation at the stricken plant and “quite interestingly, the level of radiation that he was exposed to in the past five years was below the international community’s recommendation for acceptable exposure to radiation by workers.”
Tuncak’s report did not focus solely on Fukushima. It also included exploitation and abuse of Roma people, South Koreans exposed to a toxic commercial product and air pollution in London. During his UN presentation, he observed that “over two million workers die every year from occupational diseases, nearly one million from toxic exposures alone. Approximately 20 workers will have died, prematurely, from such exposures at work by the time I finish my opening remarks to you.”
Before addressing the plight of Fukushima evacuees, he pointed out how “exposure to toxic pollution is now estimated to be the largest source or premature death in the developing world, killing more people than HIV AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.” While noting that this problem exists to a greater or lesser degree the world over, he added that “pediatricians today describe children as born ‘pre-polluted,’ exposed to a cocktail of unquestionably toxic substances many of which have no safe levels of exposure.”
Japan’s decision to ignore pleas to halt repatriation of evacuees into high radiation exposure levels usually deemed unavoidable (but not safe) for nuclear workers, not ordinary citizens, will now tragically contribute to these numbers.
Mr. Baskut Tuncak is Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes. As a Special Rapporteur, he is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. 

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drone footage probably closest evacuees will get to going home

 

gugjh.jpgElementary school pupils in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, watch drone footage of their hometown of Futaba, which they are not permitted to enter due to high levels of radiation, and talk to local officials there via a satellite hookup.

 

hhjl;.jpgChildren living as evacuees are glued to images shot by a drone of their hometown of Futaba during a special presentation at their temporary campus in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 26.

 

jklk.jpgThe children learn about decontamination work under way in Futaba via a satellite hookup during a field trip class held in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, 80 kilometers away from the hometown they were forced to abandon after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

 

November 27, 2018

IWAKI, Fukushima Prefecture–With barely no recollections of growing up in Futaba, a town rendered uninhabitable by the 2011 nuclear disaster, 11 young evacuees had a “homecoming” of sorts on Nov. 26.
The children, fourth- to sixth-graders at two public elementary schools who currently study at a temporary campus in Iwaki, 80 kilometers south of Futaba, attended a special 45-minute presentation in a school gym to watch drone footage of the area where they were born.
A satellite feed allowed the pupils to talk to local officials about efforts to decontaminate the once-bustling community.
Futaba was transformed into a ghost town by the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the earthquake and tsunami disaster. High radiation levels mean that entry still remains restricted.
The children watched aerial footage of scenic spots shot by drones on three 70-inch monitors. Beautiful images of beaches and mountains in fall colors caused them to lean forward and express amazement.
Fifth-grader, Mao Oyano, 11, who has few memories of living in Futaba as she left at the age of 3, expressed surprise at seeing “many more houses than I expected.”
The children fell silent when eerie images appeared of the wrecked nuclear plant.
Ninety-six percent of Futaba, a town that co-hosts the stricken nuclear facility, is located in a difficult-to-return zone because of high radiation levels and remains uninhabited.
Adults must receive permission to enter the area, but children under the age of 15 are not allowed access.
The children were aged between 2 and 4 when they left, and have not set foot in Futaba since then.
Prior to the disaster, Futaba had two elementary schools with 309 pupils. In spring 2014, the town opened a temporary school facility in Iwaki, a coastal city to where many Futaba residents evacuated, but the number of pupils dropped to 31.
The “homecoming” was the school’s first attempt to give the children an opportunity to ponder the tragedy that befell their hometown, according to a school official.
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201811270053.html

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment