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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.
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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.”
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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

Going home after 7 years of the accident Story of Ms Kanno

 

 
February 28, 2018
 
 
Japanese government forcing Fukushima evacuees back into radioactive areas by cutting their compensation. This Greenpeace video provides one story now seven years after the triple catastrophe.
 
Nearly seven years after the start of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, mrs. Kanno returns to her evacuated home, the highly contaminated exclusion zone of Namie, Fukushima prefecture. Includes interviews with Mrs. Kanno and Greenpeace radiation specialist Jan Vande Putte.

March 2, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima decontamination near-complete in evacuated areas, so they claim

When you hear the word “decontamination” think of the word “distribution.” Scrapping some contaminated top soil from here to move it there, and again and again ad infinitum.
 
Full decontamination is just impossible. 80 % of the Fukushima prefecture is forests and woods which are impossible to decontaminate, have therefore not been decontaminated, with loads of accumulated radionuclides there, which carried by the rain and the wind recontaminate any « decontaminated » area.
 
These 2.6 trillion yen ($23.56 billion) spent over the past five years have been spent totally in vain, they should have use that money to relocate properly all the evacuees from the evacuated zones and from other non evacuated hot spot zones, instead to force the evacuees to return to live in a everlasting radioactive environment, imposing them to live with an annual radiation dose up to 20 millisieverts, which is the international annual radiation maximum dose for nuclear plant workers, not for civilians, not women, children and babies.

 

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SIX YEARS AFTER: Fukushima decontamination near-complete in evacuated areas

Decontamination work in areas covered by the evacuation order from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is expected to conclude this month, paving the way for evacuees from the affected communities to return home.

With the project’s completion, the government’s focus will shift to the cleanup of heavily contaminated areas near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and infrastructure building.

The areas covered in the Environment Ministry’s decontamination project constitute those in 11 municipalities, including Okuma and Futaba, the two towns co-hosting the nuclear complex.

The decontamination project got under way there in fiscal 2012 to remove soil, fallen leaves and other materials contaminated by radioactive substances primarily in residential areas, roads, and rice paddies and fields.

But the areas collectively known as the difficult-to-return zone where annual radiation doses were estimated to exceed 50 millisieverts as of the end of 2011 and still estimated at more than 20 millisieverts five years after the disaster were excluded from the decontamination work in those 11 local governments.

The cleanup in nine municipalities has already been completed, while the project in the remaining two is expected to finish this month, according to the government.

The completion of the project comes after the Cabinet approved a policy to finish decontamination by the end of March 2017 at a meeting in March 2016.

The evacuation order for Okuma and Futaba will remain in place even though the cleanup project will soon be over.

But the government expects to lift the order for people from the remaining nine municipalities, except for residents from the difficult-to-return zone, by April 1.

That will make the total area remaining under the evacuation order 30 percent of the size six years ago.

According to the ministry, decontamination operations have been carried out in 99 local governments in and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, costing about 2.6 trillion yen ($23.56 billion) over the past five years.

Although the government initially covers the costs of decontamination, it sends the bill to Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator.

Despite the cleanup project, many evacuees will likely remain anxious about radiation exposure when they return because forests and woods except for those close to residential areas have not been decontaminated.

The government envisages setting up hubs for rebuilding the difficult-to-return zone by carrying out an intensive cleanup to make the areas habitable by 2022.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703270039.html

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima disaster evacuees told to return to abandoned homes

Thousands who fled 2011 disaster must choose between financial hardship or return to homes they believe are unsafe

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An evacuee is checked for radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the March 2011 meltdown.

Thousands of people who fled the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant six years ago will soon lose their housing subsidies, forcing some to consider returning despite lingering concerns over radiation in their former neighbourhoods.

The measure, condemned by campaigners as a violation of the evacuees’ right to live in a safe environment, will affect an estimated 27,000 people who were not living inside the mandatory evacuation zone imposed after Fukushima became the scene of the worst nuclear accident in Japanese history.

The meltdown in three reactors occurred after a magnitude-9 earthquake on 11 March 2011 triggered a powerful tsunami that killed almost 19,000 people along Japan’s north-east coast and knocked out the plant’s backup cooling system.

As a “voluntary” evacuee, Noriko Matsumoto is among those who will have their subsidies withdrawn at the end of this month, forcing them to make a near-impossible choice: move back to homes they believe are unsafe, or face financial hardship as they struggle on living in nuclear limbo.

Many of the other evacuees I know are in the same position,” Matsumoto said at the launch of Unequal Impact, a Greenpeace Japan report on human rights abuses affecting women and children among the 160,000 people who initially fled from areas near the plant. As of last month, almost 80,000 were still displaced.

Matsumoto said: “They would still have to contend with high radiation if they returned, but the government is forcing them to go back by withdrawing housing assistance – that’s tantamount to a crime.”

At the time of the incident, Matsumoto was living with her husband and their two daughters in the city of Koriyama, 43 miles (70km) west of the stricken facility, well outside the area where tens of thousands of people were ordered to leave.

Matsumoto initially stayed put, but three months later, with her youngest daughter, then aged 12, having nosebleeds, stomach ache and diarrhoea, she left her husband behind and took their children to Kanagawa prefecture, more than 150 miles south of Fukushima.

She said: “The government is playing down the effects of radiation exposure … Yet people who don’t return to places like Koriyama after this month will be left to fend for themselves. They will become internally displaced people. We feel like we’ve been abandoned by our government.”

Many of the people who left their homes of their own volition after the triple meltdown were mothers and their young children, who experts say face greater risks to their health from prolonged exposure to relatively low levels of radiation.

The voluntary evacuations have forced families to live apart, while parents struggle to earn enough money to fund their new accommodation and keep up mortgage payments on their abandoned homes.

Kazuko Ito, a lawyer and the secretary general of Tokyo-based NGO Human Rights Now, said: “The government has a responsibility to protect the human rights of evacuees but it doesn’t recognise this obligation. Instead, it downplays the health impact of the accident, especially the dangers associated with long-term radiation exposure.”

In an arrangement repeated among thousands of other Fukushima families, Matsumoto’s husband decided to stay in Koriyama, a city of 330,000 people that was never subject to an evacuation order, and run their restaurant, rather than risk becoming unemployed by joining his wife and children in Kanagawa. The high cost of travel means the family gets together once every two months.

The housing subsidy for households of two or more people from Matsumoto’s neighbourhood is typically 90,000 yen (£640) a month, according to local officials, who say some households will receive smaller sums after the subsidy is withdrawn.

Matsumoto said: “The nuclear accident is to blame for this situation, yet it’s been turned around to make it look like it’s our fault, like we are being selfish.”

Residents who were not living in the mandatory evacuation zone when they fled have been campaigning to retain housing subsidies, in a challenge to the authorities’ attempts to convince more evacuees that some neighbourhoods have been properly decontaminated.

Campaigners have called on the government to declare Fukushima neighbourhoods unfit for human habitation unless atmospheric radiation is brought to below one millisievert (mSv) a year, the maximum public exposure limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

While 1 mSv a year remains the government’s long-term target, it is encouraging people to return to areas where radiation levels are below 20 mSv a year, an annual exposure limit that, internationally, applies to nuclear power plant workers.

Matsumoto said the unprecedented decontamination effort in Fukushima had brought radiation levels in and around her home to below government-set limits, but insisted that children were still at risk from “hotspots” in places such as parks and forests. “Those areas have not been decontaminated,” she said. “It’s true that atmospheric radiation has been lowered, but that’s not the case on the ground and in the soil.”

At the end of this month, evacuation orders will be lifted in four more towns and villages near Fukushima Daiichi, with only those closest to the plant, where radiation is more than 50 mSv a year, still off-limits.

The headline, subheading and first two paragraphs of this article were corrected on 11 March 2017. The evacuees have not been told they must return to their homes if they want to keep their subsidies, as originally suggested. The subsidies are being withdrawn regardless, which will force many to return out of financial necessity.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/10/japan-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-evacuees-forced-return-home-radiation

March 15, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees ‘pressured’ to return to contaminated homes, says Greenpeace

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Even though radiation levels in a village near the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster still exceed international guidelines, its evacuated residents are being coerced to return, according to a Greenpeace report.

Residents from the Japanese ghost village of Iitate will be allowed to return to their former homes at the end of March – the first time since they were forced to flee the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. That’s the date the Japanese government has set to lift evacuation orders.

But according to environmental organization Greenpeace, it’s uncertain whether many will want to. Greenpeace says tests it has carried out on homes in Iitate show that despite decontamination, radiation levels are still dangerously high – but that’s not stopping the Japanese governmenment from pressuring evacuees from returning, under threat of losing financial support.

Those who refuse to go back to their former homes, and are dependent on the Japanese government’s financial help, are faced with a dilemma. After a year from when an area is declared safe again to live in, evacuated residents will see their compensation payments terminated by the government.

Radiation ‘comparable with Chernobyl’

The nuclear disaster led to more than 160,000 people being evacuated and displaced from their homes. Of these, many tens of thousands are still living in temporary accommodation six years on.

The village of Iitate, lying northwest of the destroyed reactors at Fukushima Daiichi power plantand from which 6,000 citizens had to be evacuated, was one of the most heavily contaminated following the nuclear disaster.

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Government employees monitor radiation at a day-care center in Iitate in 2011

Around 75 per cent of Iitate is mountainous forest, an integral part of residents’ lives before the nuclear accident.

But according to Greenpeace’s report, published on Tuesday, radiation levels in these woods are “comparable to the current levels within the Chernobyl 30km exclusion zone – an area that more than 30 years after the accident remains formally closed to habitation.”

Put another way, Greenpeace said that in 2017, there clearly remains a radiological emergency within Iitate – defining emergency thus: “If these radiation levels were measured in a nuclear facility, not Iitate, prompt action would be required by the authorities to mitigate serious adverse consequences for human health and safety, property or the environment.”

The environmental organization says decontamination efforts have primarily focused on the areas immediately around peoples’ homes, in agricultural fields and in 20-meter strips along public roads.

But these efforts ended up generating millions of tons of nuclear waste – these now lie at thousands of locations across the prefecture, but they haven’t reduced the level of radiation in Iitate “to levels that are safe,” says Greenpeace.

‘Normalizing’ nuclear disaster?

The organization has accused the Japanese government of trying “to normalize a nuclear disaster, creating the myth that just years after the widespread radioactive contamination caused by the nuclear accident of 11 March 2011, people’s lives and communities can be restored and reclaimed.

“By doing so, it hopes, over time, to overcome public resistance to nuclear power.”

Greenpeace also lambasted the government for leaving unanswered what it calls a critical question for those trying to decide whether to return or not: what radiation dose will they be subjected to, not just in one year but over decades or a lifetime?

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Greenpeace says Japan’s government wants to restore public confidence in nuclear power at the cost of harming residents

“Until now the Japanese government has exclusively focused on annual radiation exposure and not the potential radiation dose rates returning citizens could potentially face over their entire lifetime,” says Greenpeace.

Greenpeace, which has been monitoring Iitate since 2011, carried out its latest survey in November 2016

It found that the average radiation dose range for Iitate beginning from March 2017 over a 70-year lifetime was between 39 millisieverts (mSv) and 183mSv – and that’s not including natural radiation exposure expected over a lifetime, or the exposure received in the days, weeks and months following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

That exceeds yearly guidelines set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) when added up over a 70-year period – it puts the maximum recommended radiation exposure at 1mSv annually.

Greenpeace says: “The highly complex radiological emergency situation in Iitate, and with a high degree of uncertainty and unknown risks, means that there is no return to normal in Iitate, Fukushima prefecture.”

It has called on the Japanese government to cease its return policy, and to provide full financial support to evacuees, and “allow citizens to decide whether to return or relocate free from duress and financial coercion.”

According to Greenpeace, “for the more than 6,000 citizens of Iitate, this is a time of uncertainty and anxiety.”

Heinz Smital, nuclear physicist and radiation expert at Greenpeace Germany, and part of the team taking measurements at Iitate, told DW the residents were faced with a very difficult situation.

“If you decide to live elsewhere [and not return to Iitate], then you don’t have money, you’re sometimes not welcomed in another area so you are forced to leave, because people say, ‘you’re not going back but you could go back,'” he said. “But for people who go back, they have contaminated land, so how can they use the fields for agriculture?”

He urged the Japanese government to more involve those affected in the decision-making process and not try to give an impression that things are “going back to normal.”

“It’s a violation of human rights to force people into such a situation because they haven’t done anything wrong, it’s the operator of the power plant responsible for the damage it caused,” said Smital.

“It’s very clear that there’s very serious damage to the property and the lifestyle of the people but the government doesn’t care about this.”

http://m.dw.com/en/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-evacuees-pressured-to-return-to-contaminated-homes-says-greenpeace/a-37639353

March 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

They want you to think the Fukushima nuclear disaster is over. But it’s still with us.

Six years ago, over 15,000 people perished and tens of thousands of people’s lives changed forever. Northeastern Japan was hit by a massive earthquake, followed by an enormous tsunami that wiped out coastal towns one after another. Then, in the days that followed came the horrifying news: the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors went into meltdown.

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A satellite image shows damage at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant

The disaster is still with us.

Nuclear survivors continue to live with fear for their families’ health and with uncertainty about their future. Women are bearing the greatest brunt. They continue to grapple with unanswered questions, unable to relieve a deeply held sense of anger and injustice.

Over the past six years, starting just two weeks after the beginning of this nuclear disaster, Greenpeace conducted radiation surveys in the contaminated region. The latest survey gathered data in and around selected houses in Iitate village, located 30-50 km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant [1]. In some homes, residents would receive a radiation dose equivalent to getting a chest x-ray every week. And that’s assuming they stay in the limited decontaminated areas, as 76% of the total area of Iitate has not been touched and remains highly contaminated

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Greenpeace documentation of radioactive decontamination work in Iitate district, Japan.

Despite this, the government, headed by Shinzo Abe, intends to lift evacuation orders from the village and other areas in March and April 2017; and one year later terminate compensation for families from those areas. It will also cancel housing support for those who evacuated outside designated zones. For those dependent on this support, it could mean being forced to return.

Women and children are the hardest hit by the nuclear disaster. They are physically more vulnerable to impacts of the disaster and radiation exposure. Evacuation broke up communities and families, depriving women and children of social networks and sources of support and protection. Together with a yawning wage gap (Japan has the third highest gender income disparity in the most recent OECD ranking), female evacuees – especially single mothers with dependent children – face far higher poverty risk than men.

Despite, or because of the adversity, women are the greatest hope for transformative change. Though women are politically and economically marginalised, they have been at the forefront of demanding change from the government and the nuclear industry.

Mothers from Fukushima and elsewhere are standing up against the paternalistic government policies and decisions, to protect their children and to secure a nuclear-free future for the next generations. They are leading anti-nuclear movements by organising sit-ins in front of the government offices, spearheading legal challenges and testifying in court, and joining together to fight for  their rights.

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A mother of three, Akiyo Suzuki and her family evacuated to Hokkaido for a month following the 11 March disaster. The family lives in Watari, a district in Fukushima City. When the nuclear disaster occurred she found it hard to find clear information about the dangers from the accident, and discovered great differences on the internet compared with newspapers and television.

Let’s stand up with women at the forefront of anti-nuclear struggle. Let’s fight for their rights and future together.

Yuko Yoneda is the Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan

[1] Amounting to a lifetime exposure of between 39 mSv and 183 mSv over 70 years starting from March 2017. This number excludes the very high doses the people of Iitate received in the immediate aftermath of the disaster as a result of an extremely delayed evacuation. Though Greenpeace had called for evacuation of Iitate on 27 March 2011 due to the very high levels our team found there, the evacuation did not begin until 22 April 2011 and extended into June.  

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-still-with-us/blog/58917/#.WMI7r_8X9Ds.facebook

March 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Over 123,000 evacuees 6 years after disaster

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It’s been almost 6 years since the major earthquake and massive tsunami hit northeastern Japan.

The disaster on March 11th, 2011, left more than 18,000 people dead or missing.

According to the Reconstruction Agency, more than 123,000 people are still evacuees, many of them in temporary housing as of mid-February. The number is down about 30 percent from a year ago, but many continue to live with inconvenience and discomfort.

After the 1995 earthquake that killed more than 6,400 people in and around Kobe, western Japan, all evacuees left temporary housing within 5 years.

In the hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, more than 35,000 people still live in prefabricated temporary houses. A factor behind the situation is a delay in building public housing and work to elevate residential land.

In Fukushima Prefecture, no-entry zones remain around the damaged nuclear plant, with radiation levels higher than the safety standard and no clear idea about when residents can return.

The government recognized the deaths of more than 3,500 people as related to stress and fatigue caused by living as evacuees. Ninety-six percent of the deaths occurred within 3 years after the disaster, but the unprecedentedly prolonged evacuation is seriously affecting evacuees’ health.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170308_25/

March 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

SIX YEARS AFTER: Fukushima port welcomes fishing boats back for 1st time since 2011

Kurumi Sugita:

“This is too cruel.
Why play with local people’s strong desire to believe in the back-to-normal dream?
This desire is in the heart of all the people who love their hometown and want to recover the ordinary life before the nuclear accident.
If you mention the contamination, you are regarded almost as an enemy to the back-to-normal reconstruction efforts. This is how you destroy the solidarity, and it has been going on since 6 years. People’s heart bleed in this cruel situation and contradictions.”

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Fishing boats return to Ukedo fishing port in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 25.

NAMIE, Fukushima Prefecture–Fishing boats returned to their home port on Feb. 25 for the first time in six years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant wreaked havoc here.

The Ukedo fishing port, located seven kilometers north of the nuclear plant, was destroyed by the tsunami caused by the powerful earthquake in March 2011. In addition, nearby areas of the sea were contaminated by radioactive substances discharged from the crippled plant.

Since then, the reconstruction of the port has started and the work is ongoing.

On Feb. 25, 26 fishing boats entered the port to prepare for the start of the fishing season of “kounago,” or young fish of “ikanago” (Japanese sand lance), in mid-March. Fishing is scheduled to resume in waters that are more than 10 km from the nuclear plant.

This is the first step to return to my life as a fisherman,” said a smiling Ichiro Takano, 69, a third-generation fisherman.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702260030.html

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees ‘pressured’ to return to contaminated homes, says Greenpeace

Even though radiation levels in a village near the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster still exceed international guidelines, its evacuated residents are being coerced to return, according to a Greenpeace report.

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Residents from the Japanese ghost village of Iitate will be allowed to return to their former homes at the end of March – the first time since they were forced to flee the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. That’s the date the Japanese government has set to lift evacuation orders.

But according to environmental organization Greenpeace, it’s uncertain whether many will want to. Greenpeace says tests it has carried out on homes in Iitate show that despite decontamination, radiation levels are still dangerously high – but that’s not stopping the Japanese governmenment from pressuring evacuees from returning, under threat of losing financial support.

Those who refuse to go back to their former homes, and are dependent on the Japanese government’s financial help, are faced with a dilemma. After a year from when an area is declared safe again to live in, evacuated residents will see their compensation payments terminated by the government.

Radiation ‘comparable with Chernobyl’

The nuclear disaster led to more than 160,000 people being evacuated and displaced from their homes. Of these, many tens of thousands are still living in temporary accommodation six years on.

The village of Iitate, lying northwest of the destroyed reactors at Fukushima Daiichi power plantand from which 6,000 citizens had to be evacuated, was one of the most heavily contaminated following the nuclear disaster.

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Government employees monitor radiation at a day-care center in Iitate in 2011

Around 75 per cent of Iitate is mountainous forest, an integral part of residents’ lives before the nuclear accident.

But according to Greenpeace’s report, published on Tuesday, radiation levels in these woods are “comparable to the current levels within the Chernobyl 30km exclusion zone – an area that more than 30 years after the accident remains formally closed to habitation.”

Put another way, Greenpeace said that in 2017, there clearly remains a radiological emergency within Iitate – defining emergency thus: “If these radiation levels were measured in a nuclear facility, not Iitate, prompt action would be required by the authorities to mitigate serious adverse consequences for human health and safety, property or the environment.”

The environmental organization says decontamination efforts have primarily focused on the areas immediately around peoples’ homes, in agricultural fields and in 20-meter strips along public roads.

But these efforts ended up generating millions of tons of nuclear waste – these now lie at thousands of locations across the prefecture, but they haven’t reduced the level of radiation in Iitate “to levels that are safe,” says Greenpeace.

‘Normalizing’ nuclear disaster?

The organization has accused the Japanese government of trying “to normalize a nuclear disaster, creating the myth that just years after the widespread radioactive contamination caused by the nuclear accident of 11 March 2011, people’s lives and communities can be restored and reclaimed.

“By doing so, it hopes, over time, to overcome public resistance to nuclear power.”

Greenpeace also lambasted the government for leaving unanswered what it calls a critical question for those trying to decide whether to return or not: what radiation dose will they be subjected to, not just in one year but over decades or a lifetime?

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Greenpeace says Japan’s government wants to restore public confidence in nuclear power at the cost of harming residents

“Until now the Japanese government has exclusively focused on annual radiation exposure and not the potential radiation dose rates returning citizens could potentially face over their entire lifetime,” says Greenpeace.

Greenpeace, which has been monitoring Iitate since 2011, carried out its latest survey in November 2016

It found that the average radiation dose range for Iitate beginning from March 2017 over a 70-year lifetime was between 39 millisieverts (mSv) and 183mSv – and that’s not including natural radiation exposure expected over a lifetime, or the exposure received in the days, weeks and months following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

That exceeds yearly guidelines set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) when added up over a 70-year period – it puts the maximum recommended radiation exposure at 1mSv annually.

Greenpeace says: “The highly complex radiological emergency situation in Iitate, and with a high degree of uncertainty and unknown risks, means that there is no return to normal in Iitate, Fukushima prefecture.”

It has called on the Japanese government to cease its return policy, and to provide full financial support to evacuees, and “allow citizens to decide whether to return or relocate free from duress and financial coercion.”

According to Greenpeace, “for the more than 6,000 citizens of Iitate, this is a time of uncertainty and anxiety.”

Heinz Smital, nuclear physicist and radiation expert at Greenpeace Germany, and part of the team taking measurements at Iitate, told DW the residents were faced with a very difficult situation.

“If you decide to live elsewhere [and not return to Iitate], then you don’t have money, you’re sometimes not welcomed in another area so you are forced to leave, because people say, ‘you’re not going back but you could go back,'” he said. “But for people who go back, they have contaminated land, so how can they use the fields for agriculture?”

He urged the Japanese government to more involve those affected in the decision-making process and not try to give an impression that things are “going back to normal.”

“It’s a violation of human rights to force people into such a situation because they haven’t done anything wrong, it’s the operator of the power plant responsible for the damage it caused,” said Smital.

“It’s very clear that there’s very serious damage to the property and the lifestyle of the people but the government doesn’t care about this.”

http://www.dw.com/en/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-evacuees-pressured-to-return-to-contaminated-homes-says-greenpeace/a-37639353

February 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

High radiation risks in Fukushima village as government prepares to lift evacuation order – Greenpeace

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Tokyo, 21 February 2017 – The Japanese government will soon lift evacuation orders for 6,000 citizens of iitate village in Fukushima prefecture where radiation levels in nearby forests are comparable to the current levels within the Chernobyl 30km exclusion zone – an area that more than 30 years after the accident remains formally closed to habitation. Seventy-five percent of Iitate is contaminated forested mountains.

A recent Greenpeace Japan led survey team found radiation dose rates at houses in the village of Iitate well above long-term government targets, with annual and lifetime exposure levels posing a long-term risk to citizens who may return. Evacuation orders will be lifted for Iitate no later than 31 March 2017, to be followed one year later by the termination of compensation payments.

“The relatively high radiation values, both inside and outside houses, show an unacceptable radiation risk for citizens if they were to return to Iitate. For citizens returning to their irradiated homes they are at risk of receiving radiation equivalent to one chest X-ray every week. This is not normal or acceptable,” said Ai Kashiwagi, energy campaigner with Greenpeace Japan [1].

As Japan nears the six years from beginning of the nuclear disaster, the Japanese government last week confirmed that it has not yet conducted any assessments of lifetime exposure risks for citizens if they were to return to Iitate.

The Greenpeace Japan survey results are based on thousands of real-time scanning measurements, including of houses spread over the Iitate region. This data was then used to calculate a weighted average around the houses, which were then computed to give annual exposure rates and over a lifetime of 70 years, taking into account radioactive isotope decay. The survey work also included soil sampling with analysis in an independent laboratory in Tokyo, the measurement of radiation hot spots and the recovery of personal dose badges that had been installed in two houses in February 2016.

For lifetime exposure due to external cesium radiation exposure, the dose range has been calculated, at between 39 mSv and 183 mSv, depending on either 8 or 12 hours per day spent outdoors, for citizens living at the houses over a 70 year period beginning in March 2017 [2]. Among the thousands of points Greenpeace Japan measured for each house, nearly all the radiation readings showed that the levels were far higher than the government’s long term decontamination target of 0.23µSv/h, which would give a dose of 1 mSv/yr.

The weighted average levels measured outside the house of Iitate citizen Toru Anzai was 0.7µSv/h, which would equal 2.5 mSv per year; even more concerning in addition, was the dose badges inside the house showed values in the range between 5.1 to 10.4mSv per year raising questions over the reliability of government estimates [3].

These levels far exceed the 1 mSv annual maximum limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) [4] , yet the decontamination program is being declared complete for the area that will have its evacuation order lifted next month.

“The government is not basing its policies on science or in the interest of protecting public health. It has failed to provide estimates of lifetime exposure rates for Iitate’s citizens, nor considered how re-contamination from forests will pose a threat for decades to come,” said Jan Vande Putte, radiation specialist with Greenpeace Belgium.

“The Abe government is attempting to create a false reality that six years after the start of the Fukushima Daiichi accident life is returning to normal. In the real world of today, and for decades to come, there is and will be nothing normal about the emergency radiological situation in Iitate,” said Vande Putte.

Greenpeace is demanding that the Japanese government provide full financial support to survivors, so that they are not forced to return for economic reasons. It must take measures to reduce radiation exposure to the absolute minimum to protect public health and allow citizens to decide whether to return or relocate free from duress and financial coercion.

Greenpeace has launched a public petition in solidarity in defense of human rights of Fukushima survivors.

Notes to Editors:

The report can be accessed here: “No Return to Normal”.

Photo and video is available here.

[1] X-ray dose rates range depend on multiple factors, including the equipment used and the patient. A typical dose per chest X-ray would be 0.05mSv, which if given each week would be 2.6 mSv over a year.

[2] These figures do not include natural radiation exposures expected over a lifetime, nor does it include the external and internal doses received during the days and weeks following the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. In the case of many citizens of Iitate, evacuation was both delayed and complex, the early-stage external radiation exposure estimated for the 1,812 villagers where estimations of external radiation dose average 7 mSv, with the highest being 23.5 mSv according to Imanaka. Internal exposure from consumption of contaminated food products is also not included.

[3] The government estimates that levels of radiation inside houses is 60 percent less than outside due to the shielding effect of the building. The Greenpeace results raise the possibility that this is not a reliable basis for estimating dose levels in houses.

[4] ICRP recommendations for the public, sets the maximum recommended dose for areas that are not affected by a nuclear accident at 1 mSv a year. However, the Japanese government set a condition that it is acceptable for the public to receive up to 20 mSv per year in Iitate, as a response to an emergency right after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/2017/Greenpeace-exposes-high-radiation-risks-in-Fukushima-village-as-government-prepares-to-lift-evacuation-order/

February 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima 6 Years After: No Return to Normal

 

The Japanese government is set to lift evacuation orders in heavily contaminated areas around Fukushima. It will cut compensation and housing support to survivors, who are still struggling six years later.

Their basic rights to health, housing, and environment are being violated. The government is desperately trying to minimize the disaster at the expense of survivors in an attempt to revive the dying nuclear industry and suffocate other cleaner energy sources. We must say no!

Greenpeace has just published report on the Fukushima disaster entitled “No return to normal”. They made a study of the potential doses of the inhabitants who would return to the evacuated areas, with a focus on Iitate-mura. http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/NRN_FINweb4.pdf

The report is based on many on-site measurements and makes lifetime dose assessments. It should be noted that the samples were taken by the citizen laboratory Chikurin, founded with the support of the ACRO. http://chikurin.org/

The authorities planned to lift the evacuation order at the end of March in Iitaté-mura, except in areas classified as difficult return zones, as well as in the Yamakiya district of Kawamata. Compensation will stop within one year. This concerns more than 6,000 people in Iitate who are facing a dilemma, as in all the other contaminated territories.

Greenpeace recalls that decontamination concerns only areas close to dwellings and cultivated fields and that forest covers 75% of this mountainous area. Even in areas where decontamination work has been carried out, the doses remain high. Greenpeace carried out measurements of soil contamination and dose in 7 dwellings to estimate the exposure for people who would return. This varies between 39 and 183 mSv over 70 years from March 2017. This may exceed the limit of 1 mSv / year which is the dose limit in normal time and the total dose of 100 mSv from which the Japanese authorities admit that there is an increased risk of cancer. The doses taken at the beginning of the disaster are not taken into account in this calculation.

In its calculations, the government estimates that the dose rate is reduced by 60% in homes due to the screening effect of the walls. But the measurements made by Greenpeace in a house show that the reduction in exposure is not as strong.

Source: http://fukushima.eu.org/fukushima-6-ans-apres-rapport-de-greenpeace/

Translation Hervé Courtois

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Government to cut housing assistance to some Fukushima evacuees

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It’s been nearly six years since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster. Now, the local government is preparing to slash housing assistance for those who fled.
It would require them to choose between returning to places affected by radiation or, to bear the financial burden of remaining in their adopted places of refuge.

The huge earthquake and tsunami crippled a nuclear power plant in Fukushima causing tens of thousands of people to evacuate from their homes

According to Fukushima government, at its peak, about 165,000 people were made to evacuate from the contaminated areas.

Some decided to return to their hometown after evacuation orders were lifted. But decontamination and renovation work took time and money

Some decided to leave their homes permanently, finding jobs and life elsewhere.

Over 81000 people are still displaced.

However, the number is said to be much larger, including those that voluntarily evacuated from areas not designated as mandatory evacuation zones, from fears of high levels of radiation in their homes.

The Fukushima local government is preparing to slash unconditional housing assistance for these voluntary evacuees on March 31st.

Many have to choose either to return to areas where they still fear of radiation, or bear the financial burden to remain at their place of refuge

It said that over 32,000 people have to make a choice to self-support themselves or return to Fukushima. where recovery work is slow.

Evacuees said the government is trying to end the Fukushima issues before the Tokyo Olympics, to show the world that “Fukushima is under control.”

It is expected that many will choose to return to Fukushima. But majority say they will not feel safe and under constant fear of lingering radiation. Some even expressed their concerns of possible radiation spills during the decontamination process.

It might be decades until the residents in Fukushima feel truly at ease.

http://america.cgtn.com/2017/02/18/government-to-cut-housing-assistance-to-some-fukushima-evacuees

February 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

No Legitimacy, No Principle in Japan’s Nuclear Victim Support Policy

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By Toshinori Shishido

原発事故被害者支援策の、論理的根拠と正当性の欠如(日本語)

In July 2015, the Fukushima prefectural government announced its plan to terminate housing assistance for nuclear evacuees who fled areas outside of the restricted zone at the end of March 2017. It has absolutely no intention to change this policy as of this moment in February 2016.

In addition, by March 2017, the Fukushima Prefectural Office will lift evacuation orders for the entire prefecture, except for the immediate vicinity of the power plant designated the “difficult-to-return zone,” that has “equal to or greater than the external exposure dose of 50mSv/year.” (Insert: “translator’s note: the internationally recognized standard dose limit per year is 1mSv/year.) For residents who may eventually move back to these areas, the Prefectural Office has determined that it will only pay one year’s worth of compensation (1.2 million yen or US$ 10,500) per person and will terminate other special protective measures and financial incentives.

For residents of regions that have been designated as “difficult-to-return areas”, the Office has reportedly finished the payments of reparations in bulk, and is not going to make additional payments.

And for residents outside of Fukushima Prefecture, there has been almost no official support for damages from the nuclear power plant accident in the first place.

While the government has provided extremely limited housing support for very few residents from prefectures adjacent to Fukushima and for evacuees from these prefectures, it has gradually decreased the target population over time and plans to end all financial assistance for them by March 2018.

Although there is room to compensate local industries for damages, even in cases where the “Nuclear Damages Dispute Resolution Center” (or Alternative Dispute Resolution Center, ADR for short), established to bring speedy resolutions, has sought payment from Tokyo Electric Power Company, there are an increasing number of cases in which TEPCO has refused to pay. In addition, even though the ADR Center has repeatedly demanded that the Japanese government instruct TEPCO to comply with the settlements and make payments quickly, the Japanese government has not directed TEPCO to do so.

For sources related to above, please refer to:

Website of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology “About compensation for nuclear damage caused by the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima nuclear power plant accident” (in Japanese)

About the guidance on the determination regarding damages caused by Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear accident (PDF: 169KB, in Japanese)”

Website of Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Nuclear Damages Dispute Resolution Center (in Japanese)

It is clear to us that Japanese officials have neglected to work on compensation, reparation, fact-finding, clarification of causes, and information disclosure from the nuclear accident until now. Not only that, but Japanese government agencies have destroyed some official documents from immediately after the nuclear accident without even notifying the public, on the grounds that there is a “legal obligation to preserve these documents for three years”.

Thanks to the destruction of documents from early stages, it has become extremely difficult to obtain proof that there have been measures that should have been implemented immediately after the nuclear accident, and it has become difficult to investigate and prove government blunders.

On matters besides those related to the nuclear accident, both the Japanese government and the Fukushima prefectural government are promoting and activating economic activities, including capital improvement projects fueled with tax money.

As for the motorways, all of Route 6, the main national highway, has been re-opened, and all of the Joban Expressway opened in 2015, ahead of the original construction schedule, which had been planned prior to the nuclear accident.

As for the railway, Japan Railway East Japan is aiming to reopen its entire Joban Line in the summer of 2020, prior to the Tokyo Olympics.

Click to enlarge (source: wikipedia)

Recovery” can be realized on roads and railroads through ample budgeting, gathering materials, and investing labor. The same is also true for most infrastructure, such as local government offices and electricity. The exception, however, is the water supply – there is no guarantee that radioactive isotopes that have accumulated at the bottom of the lake upstream of the intake will not be mixed into the water supply.

Including the issue of water supply, the fundamental causes of the troubles related to the current “revitalization” programs come from the government and Prefecture’s attitude that ignores the wishes of the residents who are victims. If I may borrow the phrase that has been used over time, there has been no “revitalization of humans.”

In other words, why doesn’t the “revitalization” from the nuclear accident that is promoted by the Japanese national government and the Fukushima prefectural government become the “revitalization” of people? Let us return to the starting point to consider this.

The reasons I propose are two-fold.

First, both the Japanese government and the Fukushima prefectural government continue to avert their eyes from the fact that this is a nuclear disaster. They never told residents about the extremely long timeline and difficulty of managing the aftermath of a nuclear disaster. Most of the media are constantly releasing words straight from the government and Fukushima prefecture without even investigating the contents. Hence, the majority of victims have been unable to face the complexity of the issues.

While it will soon be five years since March 11, 2011, it is hard to say that authorities have correctly communicated to the public how dangerous the situation had become, not only at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini power plants under declaration of a Nuclear Emergency Situation, but also at the nearby Tokai 2 and Onagawa power plants.

Even Diet members and nuclear “scientists” have spoken unabashedly in the Diet and on television that “no problems occurred at [these] state-of-the-art nuclear power plants”, without being prompted to correct themselves. To say nothing of what happened to the ten reactors in Fukushima Prefecture and what is happening to them today, which is not even known.

On December 16, 2012, then-Prime Minister Noda used what had until then been only a scientific term, “cold shutdown,” to declare a “state of cold shutdown” in circumstances where this could not be [scientifically] declared. In other words, it was so necessary for the Japanese government to domestically fabricate the impression that “the nuclear crisis is over” that it used the term in a way not internationally recognized as a scientific concept.

And in regard to Reactors 1 to 4 at Daiichi, the government didn’t even bother making potentially realizable countermeasures an object of debate. They called issues inside the power plant “on-site” issues, implying there was little room for off-site intervention, and no projects after the “cold shutdown” declaration were deemed urgent. Naturally, we are left with no option to even ask beyond what options are available; how long these options will take to be effective or how long they will last.

Assuming this unstable situation at the power plant, it is impossible to discuss how

people’s daily existence around the accident plant [Daiichi] is possible to what distance, in what way.

The problem is not limited to within the facility. As long as we are unable to see distinctly what types of radioactive isotopes and how much they are present, at least within the vicinity of several miles off the plant, the “revitalization” planning would draw direct link from the clean up of the plant.

However, even in the areas within 10km (6.2 miles) radius of the plant where the airborne radioactive levels are relatively lower than its surroundings, the government has already decided to lift evacuation order by March of 2017.

Therefore, to those who will be living in the close proximity to the plant, the fate of the nuclear crisis is a matter of life and death. The government however insist that on-site (within plant facility) and off-site issues are two separate issues, refusing to incorporate clean-up plans into the “revitalization” roadmap.

Even if I give it extra compromise as to say the situation inside fences of the power plant is not related to “revitalization” activities, I must stress that both the government and Fukushima prefecture continue to defend an absurd stance on any potential radiological effects in the future, stating “any potential impact would be would be small enough to be unrecognizable.”

The state-led plans to proceed with human recovery as if the “disaster wasn’t a nuclear disaster” is extremely reckless, considering cases of Chernobyl nuclear accident and nuclear testings at Marshall Islands.However, the Japanese government and the Fukushima prefectural government continue to be reckless, ignoring “the people.”

My second point is that the Japanese government, the Fukushima prefecture as well as many local municipal offices have been deceiving us without a directly facing the human beings as victims and by neglecting the whereabouts of them.Essentially, when disasters and accidents bring damage, state bodies would have to desperately gather information from the first day in order to clarify the extent of the damage.

On the flip side, in regards to the victims and damages caused by the earthquake and tsunami that occurred on March 11, there have been evidences across the country that municipalities and governments put extensive efforts to grasp and understand the extent of damages as much as possible.even in municipalities where almost all of residences and even offices were damaged by the tsunami, there were attempts to understand the scale and circumstances of the damage.In places where the damages was too great for local municipalities to maintain their functions, prefectural governments cooperated trying to figure out actual damage.

However, with respect to the current nuclear accident, the government did not try to figure out scale of the damage or the actual situations of the victims.There is no way to find out the reason why they chose not to, unless you have access to confidential information by the government.

I suppose that the Japanese government and prefectural offices would have been liable for investigating the nuclear accident and not the local municipalities which didn’t have necessary human, organizational and technical resources. Yet there is no evidence of the government or prefectural offices having actively looked into the actual damages and status of evacuations caused by the nuclear contamination.

Rather, even when evacuees themselves demanded for official investigation, the authorities refused to act on their behalf and at times delayed publications of data they obtained.

I am yet to see a single governmental document on how nuclear evacuations took place. Perhaps such documents never even existed.

To my knowledge, in Japan, there has not been any official agencies or staff positions for creating and maintaining historical records of national events. Due to this, there is a serious lack of documentation that could be used as future reference. Nor the involvement of the responsible parties is ever questioned.

In fact, after writing the above paragraph I attempted to summarize evacuation processes as much as I could within my knowledge, only to find such efforts would require vast amount of writings and I would not know when I could finish such a project. Thus for the time being I would like to conclude my thesis here.

In conclusion, I will verify my points in summary.

The so-called “nuclear disaster victim assistance program” orchestrated by the Japanese government and Fukushima prefecture has been fraudulent since its inception. For the goal of their program has never been to protect the livelihood and safety of the victims and it lacked logical foundation.

By ending the inherently fraudulent assistance program, the government and Fukushima prefecture are crying out loud to the world that Fukushima has been recovered. The Fukushima prefectural government continues to actively send delegations overseas solely for the publicity purpose.

I repeat.

Fukushima Prefecture sends the delegations in order to round down the nuclear disaster victims and to disguise to the world the fact that the “reconstruction” they are proposing is ignoring the voices of victims.

https://jfissures.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/japans-nuclear-victim-support-policy/

 

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February 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment