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Let’s Hear Voices from Fukushima: “I feel like a tree in my garden is gone and my roots have been pulled out”

Vol. 41: Talk Session “Let’s Hear Voices from Fukushima! vol.41 Report (Part 2) “I feel like a tree in my garden is gone and my roots have been pulled out” (Kazue Watanabe)

October 26, 2022
Let’s Hear from Fukushima!” In the first part, Fumio Horikawa, who evacuated from the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture to Fuji City in Shizuoka Prefecture, spoke about his life before the disaster in Namie, at the time of 3/11, in the evacuation line and his current life at the evacuation site, intertwining his personal history with his companion Takako’s comments from time to time. In this issue, we would like to report on the second part. A video recording of the demolition of Mr. Horikawa’s house and the cutting down of trees on his property was shown, followed by a discussion between Mr. Horikawa and photographer Jun Nakasuji, who shot and edited the video.

The video was filmed and edited by photographer Jun Nakasuji, who also shot the video.

Fumio Horikawa
 Before you watch the video of the demolition of our house.
 This house was built by my father and mother in 1967. I was in the fifth or sixth grade at the time. Every day after school, I would stop by the building site to help out. My role was to carry two wheelbarrows of gravel from the nearby river to the site where the foundation had been dug. I did this every day without fail. It was also my daily job to polish the materials for the hallway and floor with a bag of rice bran.
 My father traveled around the country with the master carpenter to purchase building materials such as Kiso cypress, Akita cedar, and Aomori hiba (hiba). It was the first house built by my father, who was the third son of a poor farmer, and he and the master carpenter purchased the materials from all over the country.
 For me, too, it was a house that I helped build day in and day out. Therefore, I felt very strong resistance to dismantling the house, but due to the circumstances I have just described (in Part I), I was forced to sign the application for demolition. I then asked Mr. Nakasuji to record the “end-of-life care” of our house on video. I feel a little warmed and healed by the fact that he left this work of art.

Projection of “fine 2-2-A-219
 We watched Jun Nakasuji’s video work projected on the screen installed at the venue

The film was shot by Jun Nakasuji.
 In this video, the stakes that are driven into the cleared land at the end seem to be grave markers. I have been going to Namie-cho once or twice a month since 2013, and it is not often that I go to the same place like that in my life, so it had become a familiar sight to me. Then all of a sudden, the demolition went ahead and there was a row of what looked like grave markers. After six or seven years, new initiatives were slowly emerging, and finally the wave of these initiatives had arrived in Namie. So when Mr. Horikawa asked me to take pictures of the demolition, I said I would be happy to do so.
 Demolition takes about a month, and I thought about what kind of method I should use to film the demolition. Mr. Horikawa kept in touch with people on site and gave me information, which I listened to and made a schedule. Even though I was at the construction site all day, I could not approach the site while work was in progress, so I took pictures of the site while the workers were eating their lunches, and after a while I became friends with the workers. After a while, I became friends with the workers, and they let me plant my camera in various places.
 That’s how I was shooting, but I was originally a still photographer. Still photography is always looking at various places, and my eyes are constantly moving to find new poses, but this time the work was heavy with history, with the Horikawas’ memories of the house, the thoughts of the previous generation, and the wood used for the materials. In order to compress the history into a short work, I decided to use the method of staring at a single point for a long time, so I set up a tape measure and used a slow speed method of staring at a single point for a long time. I could have made a documentary-style film with Mr. Horikawa’s dialogue, but instead I decided to have the god of the house speak silently, and this work was completed.
 It was February. I spent a little over a month traveling back and forth between my home and Namie, sometimes staying overnight in my car, and sometimes drinking until morning with Sumio Konno at a karaoke snack bar in front of Namie station. Thanks to this connection, the owner of the snack bar gave me the key to her apartment, and I was able to take pictures while sleeping under a roof. There was no running water or electricity, but I felt that being in such a place opened a window to my sensibilities.
 Even now, when I go to Namie to shoot, I stay in my car at a cemetery called Ohirayama. People ask me why I stay at a cemetery, but the people who sleep there were the first to experience the pain of the nuclear power plant accident. They were alive, but their search was cut off because of the nuclear accident. I feel as if I am being told to keep proper records while being protected by the spirits of those people. Every time I go there and lay down on the floor to sleep, a police officer comes to question me about my duties. It has become a regular occurrence.
 After filming the demolition of Mr. Horikawa’s house, I was asked by Mr. Konno to film the demolition of his house as well. A year later, I was asked to photograph the demolition of Namie Elementary School, but I thought it was too much for me to do alone. Mr. Horikawa said, “The president of that company is a graduate of my cram school,” and he gave the OK on the same day. Last year, it took about three months to complete the filming. The filming was done in a style I had never done before, in which the viewer gazes at a single point for a long time, and the absurdity of the nuclear accident that is revealed through this process is expressed not through direct human words, but by possessing the unspeakable. This was actually put to good use in the filming of the Horikawa family.
 The Horikawa’s home was the demolition of a house with a garden, but the government’s definition of “demolition” is only for houses, and trees and garden stones are not included. Because of tax issues, in order to dispose of the land, the trees and stones in the garden had to be removed. So Mr. Horikawa finally decided to get rid of the garden trees. There was a large maple tree in the garden that seemed to be the guardian deity of the house, as if it had been the family’s happy place to rest in its shade. The maple tree had to be cut down. So, I made a film about the maple tree. To my delight, fellow artists from the “Moyai Exhibition” (organized by Mr. Nakasuji) painted pictures and a sculptor made wood carvings, creating works related to the maple tree.
 It is difficult to get a sense of something that comes from an unspeakable object unless we are in a state of pure listening and free of any thoughts. However, I believe that sensing such things and expressing them in some way will provide an opportunity for children who have no memory of those days to learn about them in the future, 11 years after the event.

Projection of “KODAMA
 A video work by Jun Nakasuji that vividly depicts the way the wind crosses the maple trees, Fumio and Takako’s one-day visit to the maple trees, the maple trees being cut down, and works by artists Kimbara, Suzuki, and Ando that depict the maple trees.

Mr. Horikawa
 I can only express my gratitude to Mr. Nakasuji for the many days and hours he spent filming. Also, the painters Hisahiro Kanehara and Kunihiro Suzuki, who are here today, took the trouble to come to our house in Namie and paint the maples in our garden. Sculptor Eisaku Ando, who evacuated to Kyoto, also made a sculpture from a maple tree that had been cut down and left behind. We are very happy that so many people have done this for us, and we are filled with gratitude that both our house and the maple tree can now be put to rest.

Mr. Nakasuji
 Like the maple tree, in the cleared areas of Namie, a garden tree stands as if it were a guardian deity of the house. That is the strange scenery after the demolition. I felt as if the trees in the garden were playing the role of connecting the hearts of the owners who had evacuated and were far away from their homes. They have been there, rooted to the ground, watching the city without a single day’s rest since 3/11.
 Just recently, I visited the site of Mr. Horikawa’s house, which has been completely cleared, and was left with a very empty feeling.

Mr. Horikawa
 When the maple trees were cut down and the yard was cleared, I felt even more empty than when the house was demolished. When I saw the cleared land in my neighborhood, I thought that everyone must be feeling the same way.

 The most impressive thing I heard from various people was, “When the house was still there, I thought I was a Namie resident because of the house, even though I had evacuated far away, but when the house was demolished but the garden trees remained, I thought I was still a Namie resident because of the garden trees. However, when the garden trees were cut down and the last of the trees disappeared, it was as if this was the deciding factor as to what would really happen.

Mr. Horikawa.
 That’s right. I feel like my roots have been pulled out.

Mr. Nakasuji
 Until the nuclear power plant accident and reconstruction work began in earnest, I was able to express the unreasonableness of the nuclear accident through the scenes of towns that were uninhabited and falling into disrepair, but as the towns were being cleared and nothing was left, it became difficult to find a theme for my work from the standpoint of someone who had been shooting

 reality. Conversely, thanks to the fact that I have been watching and photographing during that period of time, I can see that the nuclear accident exists in the form of a vacant lot with nothing in it. At such a time, Kaede seemed to call out to me, “The subject is still there. Take a picture of me.” I felt as if Kaede was calling out to me. I was sure that Kaede was calling everyone. I am sure that Kaede called everyone, including Mr. Kanehara, Mr. Suzuki, and Mr. Ando.

Mr. Horikawa
 I am on the board of directors of the school governing council of the integrated elementary and junior high school in the community where I live now. That is how I got over my depression, and the local people recommended me, saying, “Since you have worked so hard in Namie, we want you to do the same here. That cleared me of a strange wet dream (the trouble with the neighbors I talked about in the first part).
 Now I need a little income, so I kept the junior high school section of the cram school and eliminated the elementary school section. And as a place for children to stay, I have set up “Matsuno Tanoshiso” from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. I also volunteer once a week as a coordinator for other learning support programs for elementary school children.
 (In response to Watanabe’s question, “What was it like living in Namie with its abundant nature?)
 Namie was a town rich in nature. My friends and I bought a boat with 15 people, and I and one other person were the pilots, and we would go out fishing three times a week, communicating with each other like, “We’ll go tomorrow. We never bought any fish, except for the fall swordfish. I caught everything myself. I would eat them alive and slaughtered them. In the mountains, I would pick wild vegetables and mushrooms, and when the season came, I would go out to pick them, saying, “I’m going to pick some more.
 He had many friends. Many of them were graduates of the cram school. But now they are all gone. The nuclear accident took away everything. In the case of a natural disaster, it doesn’t disappear. In the case of a natural disaster, people would try to somehow build the town back together again, but that is not possible in the case of a nuclear accident. Everything is gone.



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

Fukushima Reaches a Turning Point

by Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center · September 30, 2022

By Yamaguchi Yukio (CNIC Co-Director)

After the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima in March 2011, the town of Futaba, located in Hamadori (the Fukushima coastline), became the only municipality in Fukushima Prefecture to decide to move its administration out of the prefecture. After changing evacuation sites several times, gradually moving further and further away from Futaba, the town’s government offices and many of its residents settled in a disused school in Kazo City, Saitama Prefecture, at the end of March 2011. It seemed as if the nuclear power plant town, where Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS) reactors Units 5 and 6 are located, had “drifted” 250 kilometers away from home. The evacuation was ordered based on the Special Act on Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response, and it was a difficult evacuation, the people evacuating “with nothing but the clothes on their back.”

The evacuation order for Futaba Town was lifted on August 30 this year, eleven-and-a-half years after it was imposed. However, there are very few who are willing to return to their hometown. As of March 2022, 19 households (26 people), or 0.4% of the pre-disaster level, had applied for “Preparation of Accommodation.”* The rich natural environment that was once part of the area no longer exists, and there is no prospect for the revival of community life.

The decommissioning of the plant at FDNPS is not expected to be completed anytime soon, as nothing like this has been experienced before and the radiation is likely to cause unexpected issues. That is not a problem when fission is used as a nuclear weapon, because the objective is to annihilate the opponent. However, that is not the case for “commercial use.” International organizations promoting nuclear power have set “standards” (radiation dose limits), but they are not reliable. It is impossible to properly evaluate the effects of low-dose exposure with current scientific knowledge alone. It is also a trans-scientific issue (a question that can be asked by science but cannot be answered by science).

The government decided on a plan to treat the radioactive water from FDNPS with ALPS, reduce its radioactivity level, and then discharge it into the ocean. The plan is to be implemented from 2023. The government and those who support the plan claim that there is no safety problem because the concentration will be much lower than the standard, even though the “standard” itself is questionable. However, that cannot be proven. It is only possible to prove it by repeating experiments under exactly the same conditions (including in the natural environment) as exist in reality and obtain results with a sufficiently high degree of confidence in the effects on humans as well as on ecosystems. It may be possible to do so, but it would probably take hundreds of years. The experiments might also lead to irreversible disasters. This kind of “experiment” is not feasible because it would take a long time and be too costly. In addition, simulations are also unlikely to allow us to draw solid conclusions.

There are many who are opposed to the oceanic release plan by the government and TEPCO, and who have presented reasons for their opposition. One thing I would like to add about “harmful rumors” is that this expression has the connotation of “irresponsible rumors that make something which is actually harmless appear to be harmful.” I do not agree with this connotation.

The government and nuclear energy proponents pushed forward the nuclear power plants without regard for the opinions of citizens and residents. This caused a nuclear catastrophe, the government has adopted an evacuee return policy without taking responsibility, and it is now about to discharge contaminated water into the ocean. The reason why such an absurdity has occurred is that the government has become extremely powerful. The separation of legislative, administrative, and judicial powers is said to be the basis of democracy, but the equilibrium of these three powers has been seriously disturbed. Nevertheless, the Mito District Court decision (Tokai Daini NPP Lawsuit, 18 March 2021) , the Sapporo District Court decision (Tomari NPP Lawsuit, 31 May 2022), the Supreme Court’s opinion by Justice Miura (17 June 2022), and the Tokyo District Court judgement (TEPCO Shareholder Lawsuit, 13 July 2022) remind us that the judiciary still exists.

Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) once advocated the idea of a “five-power constitution” on the grounds that the three powers alone were not sufficient. Considering the current situation in Japan, I suggest the right to vote alone is powerless to curb the tyranny of the government. We need more powerful civic rights so that ordinary citizens can get together and be as powerful as the other three institutions.

Although the existence of “experts” is crucial in today’s world of science and technology, there are still many problems that cannot be answered by “experts” alone. Eleven-and-a-half years after March 11, METI committees, acting as if Fukushima is now history, often use expressions such as “innovative reactors” and insist that “nuclear power is the key to decarbonization.” I believe citizen power is needed more than ever before.

*”Preparation of Accommodation”: A system that allows disaster victims to stay overnight in their homes, which is prohibited in the evacuation zone, in order to facilitate preparations for a smooth resumption of life in their hometowns after the evacuation order is lifted.


October 1, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Number of evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture due to the nuclear power plant accident

Mr. Seiichi Nakate (right) handed a written request to the Reconstruction Agency at the House of Representatives building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on March 23.

August 23, 2022
On August 23, three groups of evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture requested the Reconstruction Agency not to exclude approximately 6,600 people from the number of evacuees from outside of Fukushima Prefecture due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, because their whereabouts cannot be confirmed. The reduction in the number of evacuees in the statistics may lead to a trivialization of the damage caused by the nuclear power plant accident.
 The Reconstruction Agency compiles the number of evacuees based on the information that evacuees have reported to the municipalities where they have taken refuge. In some cases, such as when evacuees move away without notifying the local government, their whereabouts are lost. As a result of the survey conducted since last September, approximately 2,900 people’s whereabouts are unknown, and approximately 2,480 people have moved without notifying the municipality. In addition, a total of 6,604 people will be excluded from the evacuee statistics, including approximately 1,110 people who answered “will not return” in the survey.
 As of April, the number of out-of-prefecture evacuees was approximately 23,000, a decrease of more than 3,300 from January, as reports continue to follow this policy. The number is expected to continue to decrease as each municipality works to correct the situation.
 The request was made on this day by the National Association of Evacuees for the “Right to Evacuation” and others. Seiichi Nakate, 61, co-chairman of the association and an evacuee from Fukushima City to Sapporo City, said, “Even though I no longer have the intention to return, I am aware that I am an ‘evacuee. I cannot allow myself to be excluded by the government.” He handed the written request to a Reconstruction Agency official. The official explained that the exclusion would be made in order to match the actual situation of the evacuees, but that it would not affect the support measures.
 At the press conference, Nakate said, “Eleven years have passed since the accident, and the number of official support measures at the evacuation sites is decreasing every year. The evacuee statistics are the basis for all support measures, and I am concerned that they may lead to further reductions in support in the future. (Kenta Onozawa)

August 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Compulsory prosecution trial, request for resumption of hearings, request for evidentiary hearing of Supreme Court decision

Victims’ representatives head to the Tokyo High Court on the morning of March 23. to file a motion to reopen the trial

June 23, 2022
On June 23, TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Tsunehisa Katsumata, 82, former chairman of TEPCO, and three other members of the company’s former management team, were acquitted in the first trial after the prosecutors’ panel voted to force them to stand trial on charges of manslaughter and death.

The trial concluded on March 6, and a decision date has been set for next January, but the Supreme Court ruling on the class action lawsuit brought by residents who were evacuated from their homes after the accident is still pending. The court concluded the trial on January 6 and set a decision date for January next year.

 At a press conference held in Tokyo after the filing of the appeal, Yoko Okawa, a lawyer representing the victims, said, “The Supreme Court decision does not deny the reliability of the long-term assessment itself. (I think it will be difficult to maintain the first instance judgment (in the compulsory prosecution trial).

June 26, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Evacuate Evacuees to National Public Service Housing” Support Groups Meet

June 14, 2022

In response to the Fukushima prefectural government’s decision to file a lawsuit demanding compensation from some evacuees who continue to live in the national public employee dormitories in the Tokyo metropolitan area, a support group for the evacuees held a press conference and appealed, “The prefectural government must not evict the evacuees with the help of the judicial system. The Fukushima Prefectural Government and other organizations have stated that the prefectural government should not use the power of the judiciary to evict evacuees.

According to Fukushima Prefecture and other organizations, 26 families who voluntarily evacuated from outside the evacuation zone after the nuclear accident are still living in the national public employee dormitories in the Tokyo metropolitan area, even after the free provision of rooms ended at the end of March 2009. The provision of free housing has been terminated at the end of March 2009.

Of these, 11 households living in national public employee dormitories in Tokyo and Saitama prefectures are suing the prefectural government for approximately 11 million yen in damages for emotional distress caused by being asked to pay twice the rent and being contacted by relatives to move out. They have filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court seeking approximately 11 million yen in damages.

The prefectural government has decided to submit a proposal to the June meeting of the prefectural assembly to demand that 10 of the 11 households suing the tenants vacate their rooms, claiming that it is difficult to settle the matter through negotiation. The prefectural government has decided to submit a proposal to the June regular meeting of the prefectural assembly demanding that 10 of the 11 households who filed the suit vacate their rooms.

In response to this, a support group for the evacuees held a press conference at the prefectural government office on June 14, and reported that many of the evacuees from the national public employee dormitories are elderly singles or part-time workers, and that it is difficult for them to move out, or that they have asked the prefectural government to allow them to stay at the dormitories until they can find a new place to live with the stipulated rent. However, the prefectural government refused and demanded compensation for damages.

He then said, “It is unacceptable for the prefectural government to evict evacuees from their homes with the help of the judiciary,” and appealed to the prefectural assembly to carefully deliberate on the proposal and reach a just conclusion.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

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)

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.

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.

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).”

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.

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

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


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.”


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.



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.

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

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

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’

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.
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.

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