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Stand in solidarity Defend the human rights of Fukushima survivors

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Disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima remind the world how dangerous nuclear power is. But right now, the nuclear industry is trying to downplay the risks of a nuclear disaster. In Fukushima radiation exposure is still a very real threat despite failed “decontamination”.

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!

Sign now to demand the government provides fair compensation, housing support, and is fully transparent about the radiation risks.

We’ll deliver your signature to the Prime Minister so he hears the global wave of resistance against nuclear!

https://act.greenpeace.org/page/6288/petition/1?_ga=1.23785721.2131293321.1485515415

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February 23, 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

What will happen to the evacuees after March 2017?

First I would like to thank Kurumi Sugita, for her essential work in translating and writing this article (and many others) about the situation that the evacuees are now facing, suffering on location, forced out of their temporary housing to make them return in their evacuated homes to live with radiation, all sacrificed for the sake of the Japanese government propaganda that everything is now back to normal in Fukushima Prefecture, everything is now fine and safe in Japan, to welcome all the future visitors to come for the 2020 Tokyo olympics. It is plainly criminal.

At the end of March, 2017 (except for Tomioka village for which the date will be April 1st), the evacuation order will be lifted from many towns and villages accompanied by the end of  housing aid and mental damage compensation.  The people evacuated by order will become “voluntary evacuees” , those who evacuate even though they are not obliged to.   What will happen to them after March ?

To have an idea of what is likely to happen, we shall have a look of the situation of the people of Kawauchi village, where the mental damage compensation ended in August 2012.

We will start with a Facebook posting of Mme Saki Okawara dated January 16th, 2017, followed by a comment of Mr Atsushi SHIDA, president of residents association of  Kawauchi villagers living in temporary houses in Koriyama city.

***

I brought about 200 knitted items, such as caps, mufflers, vests, knee blankets, to a temporary housing complex of Kawauchi village.  A friend of mine running a knitting café at the Environment Study Information Center in Shinjuku, Tokyo, sent them to me.  She has a project named “Sending the Warmth” which is to send hand-knitted items to disaster victims. She wanted to send them to Fukushima too, and I received 5 boxes.

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The evacuation order was lifted from Kawauchi village following the mayor’s return declaration of January 2012. Consequently, in August 2012, compensation for mental damage came to the end.  The president of the residents association of the temporary housing in Koriyama city issued a call for help on the internet in December 2013, for the residents were lacking such necessities as rice and blankets to get through the winter.  I read the message, brought some materials to help, and since then I visit them from time to time.

When the evacuation order is lifted, people living in the temporary housing or in private / public housing considered as “temporary housing” and thus qualified for housing aid, are regarded as “those who continue to evacuate because they want to do so, whereas they can return”.  Although they were evacuated by order, they have become jishu hinansha “auto-evacuees“, those who evacuate “voluntarily”.  Fukushima prefecture is going to stop the housing aid at the end of March this year.  This applies to these people too.

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Currently, about 150 people from Kawauchi village are living in temporary housing.  Most of them are using the hospitals in Koriyama city because of their frail conditions related to their age or disease.

Since temporary housing belongs to Fukushima prefecture, in September 2016, prefectural employees came to explain about the end of the housing aid.  On January 6th this year, employees of Kawauchi village handed out documents entitled “Necessary procedures to quit temporary housing and the donation of housing items”.  They say that housing items (translator’s note: air conditioner, lighting, curtains, storage units, fire extinguisher) can be given to the inhabitants if so desired, but to do so they have to leave the housing.  Only this page of the document was in yellow.  How shrewd!  Probably 90% of them would believe that they would have to leave, and might return to the village or move to private apartments.  The remaining 10% can’t move, for they are elderly in need of medical care and cannot go anywhere else.

The evacuees are told to return to their homes. But there are only one or two consultations per week at the village medical center. There is no transport service. There are three persons in need of dialysis here. The situation is as follows: at the nearest general hospital at Ono Shinmachi (translator’s note: about 30 minutes by car from Kawauchi village), 27 people are on the waiting list; at the day care of Kawauchi Social Service, the available 30 places are already taken; at the elderly people’s home, 57 households are on the waiting list. How can you go back there? In this situation, if they expel the residents from temporary housing by force, what will happen to people who have nowhere to go? And if Fukushima prefecture forces its way to stop the housing aid, it will likewise affect many more people beyond Kawauchi village.

***

Mr. Shida, President of the residents association of temporary houses, commented to us about the residents and their situation.

Even after the lifting of the evacuation order, many people living in temporary housing or in housing “considered as temporary”,  cannot go back home and will remain evacuated for reasons such as follows: to have access to medical or long-term care, to keep the children in the same schools, or for employment related reasons.

90% of the residents are hoping to continue living in the temporary housing, because there already exists a community here. The residents support each other and check to see if everybody is all right. If you fall ill, somebody will call an ambulance to go to a hospital and get in touch with the family. You feel secure here. However, the end of March (translator’s note: with the end of housing aid) might be the moment of separation. People will try to rebuild their lives. There will be those who return to the village, others will go join their children elsewhere, the younger generations will remain evacuated because of the low-dose radiation related health hazards.

The residents association of the South Temporary Housing Units required an extension of the temporary housing in the 2015 fiscal year, reflecting the needs of the majority of the residents.  However, we did not require an extension this year. The reason is that many of the residents are elderly, in their 80s and 90s.  Many of them are suffering from cognitive problems and aggravation of health conditions.  If they continue their lives in temporary housing, with the weakening of their physical conditions, it will become more difficult to rebuild their lives elsewhere. Starting from April this year, it is very probable that administrative services will be minimalized.  This is like living in an elderly people’s home without helpers.  As an association, we have reached the conclusion that living in such conditions represents too much risk, and we decided not to require the extension.

Nevertheless, the elderly persons living here had to change places (translator’s note: shelters, etc.) several times and have gone through lots of struggles before finally settling down here.  Six years’ life in temporary housing!  However, when you live somewhere for 6 years, it is more than temporary life.  How many more years can they live?  Isn’t it normal that they hope to spend the rest of their lives here?  Many people would like to let them have this choice.

Nevertheless, as an association, at the occasion of the termination of housing aid in March 2017, we are appealing for the following:

  • let each person decide if they leave the temporary housing or remain;
  • let us have a supplementary delay of 2 or 3 years;
  • allocate more than 50,000 yen per household, as this amount proposed to cover the moving fee seems insufficient from a practical point of view.

We, the inhabitants of areas affected by the nuclear power station accident, have learned over past six years that the evacuation can last for a long period and that the environmental contamination will remain over several decades or even several centuries.

Currently, there are about 100,000 nuclear accident evacuees dispersed all over Japan. People have different perceptions. For some, the number of 100,000 evacuees is just a simple figure you find in newspapers. For others it represents 100,000 individual lives.

Damages suffered by inhabitants from the current nuclear accident include: the violation of environmental rights by environmental contamination; the violation of moral rights by the disparity and inequality of compensation in the areas of 20 to 30km of distance from the crippled nuclear power station; the violation of the right to have a happy family life by the separation of the family because of the low-dose radiation related health hazards.

We are especially worried about the possibility of rebuilding the lives of 46,000 people from the Futaba district at a distance of 30km, and of 11,000 households (more than 30,000 souls) of so-called “voluntary” evacuees from either inside or outside of Fukushima prefecture.  Many have not been supported by financial compensation.

We have also been worried for some time about childless households, old couple’s households, single elderly person’s households, and those people who have chronic disease, or who are having financial difficulties.

It has been six years since the nuclear accident. It is really from now on that the damaged areas need support. It is my strong desire to transmit this message.

___
Useful links about Mr. Shida’s 2013 appeal :

President Shida’s appeal for help on Internet in December 2013 (in Japanese)
http://blog.goo.ne.jp/donationship/e/40401a56a28f74529bfa3bcc09f2f77d
With video image (in Japanese)
http://www.ourplanet-tv.org/?q=node/1710

Source : Kurumi Sugita’s blog « Fukushima 311 Voices »

https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/what-will-happen-to-the-evacuees-after-march-2017/

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

The “Voluntary Evacuees” of Fukushima

By Ian Thomas ash

I was honoured to be asked by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ website HERE) to MC today’s press conference “Fukushima Voluntary Evacuees on Verge of Losing Homes” (press release HERE).  Noriko Matsumoto, Hidetake Ishimaru and Chia Yoshida spoke about what is referred to as the “March 2017 Problem”, when the government will end support to people they deem to have “voluntarily evacuated” from contaminated areas of Fukushima; this would in effect force those who can not afford to remain evacuated on their own to return to areas many feel are unsafe.

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The press conference was live-streamed (and will be posted to the FCCJ YouTube channel HERE tomorrow).  As I have done in the past (and as I did when Timothy Mousseau, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, gave a press conference entitled “Fukushima Catastrophe and its Effects on Wildlife HERE).

Hidetake Ishimaru, director of “Minna no Data Site”, a citizen’s radiation measuring station, presented documents comparing the government policies regarding Fukushima and Chernobyl radiation levels.  After his speech, I wanted to make sure that a very central point was not being lost on those in attendance, and I felt the need to bring it up before the Q&A: the phrase “voluntary evacuee”, which has the connotation that people have chosen to evacuate unnecessarily and with the added implication that they are simply “worrying too much” is being used to describe people who have decided they must evacuate their children from contaminated areas on their own because they live outside the official evacuation zone.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the government arbitrarily created the evacuation zones, I believe making them as small as possible in an effort to pay compensation to as few people as possible.  The government then deemed anyone living outside of these zones who evacuated on their own as having “voluntarily evacuated”.  This is despite the fact it has been proven that the radiation did not (and does not) spread in neat, concentric circles stopping at government-determined zones.  Proof of this lies in the fact that there have been countless incidents where radiation levels many times higher than those inside the evacuation zone have been found outside of it.  Using the word “voluntary”, implying that they somehow have a choice, to refer to evacuees from these contaminated areas is nothing short of secondary victimization.

During the Q&A, a journalist in attendance carried this discussion further, asking if there was not some way other than “voluntary evacuee” to refer to this group of people.  Author Chia Yoshida, one of the panelists, stated that one official way they can be referred to is as “people from outside the official evacuation zone who have evacuated”, but that such phrasing is awkward and long.

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With problems as deep and complex as are happening in Fukushima, issues of language and translation often occur.  Part way through the presser, I realized there were some problems with the English interpretation.  During the Q&A, some important words in an answer from Mrs. Noriko Matsumoto, an evacuee from Fukushima, had been omitted in the interpretation, lessening the impact of her statement.  Wanting to make sure that Mrs. Matsumoto’s courage in sharing her story was not missed by the non-Japanese-speaking attendees, I broke decorum and corrected the translator.   Mrs. Matsumoto had given a very emotional account of Fukushima children being bullied at their new school.  When parents complained to administrators, they were told “you made the choice to evacuate- if your children are being bullied, that’s your fault” (the unlined/ bold words had been inadvertently omitted by the translator).   Mrs. Matsumoto’s account showed that it is not only children being bullied, but adults as well; in addition to the physical threat of exposure to radiation, evacuees are also facing emotional and psychological trauma as well.

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Following the press conference, I had the opportunity to speak with documentary directors Kamanaka Hitomi (with whom I published THIS VIDEO and article for the Japan Times in 2015) and Atsushi Funahashi (whom I had first met at Cultural Typhoon in 2013 HERE).  Both of these filmmakers have filmed extensively in Fukushima and were supporting today’s panelists.

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http://ianthomasash.blogspot.fr/2017/01/the-voluntary-evacuees-of-fukushima.html

January 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima ‘voluntary’ evacuees to Face Hardship losing housing support

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The 2011 accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant drove more than 160,000 people from their homes, some by evacuation order and others by choice

Fukushima Evacuees Face Hardship As Japan To Slash Subsidies

Tokyo:  Nearly six years after Noriko Matsumoto and her children fled Japan’s Fukushima region, fearing for their health after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, they confront a new potential hardship – the slashing of vital housing subsidies.

Matsumoto is among nearly 27,000 people who left areas not designated as mandatory evacuation zones, spooked by high levels of radiation after nuclear meltdowns unleashed by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Now, as the Fukushima local government prepares to slash unconditional housing assistance on March 31, many face the painful choice of returning to areas they still fear are unsafe, or reconciling to financial hardship, especially families scattered across different sites, such as Matsumoto’s.

“Because both the national and the local governments say we evacuated ‘selfishly,’ we’re being abandoned – they say it’s our own responsibility,” Matsumoto, 55, told a news conference, her voice trembling.

“I feel deep anger at their throwing us away.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a local official said that although unconditional subsidies end on March 31, smaller amounts of aid will still be provided, if needed.

At the time of the magnitude 9 quake, Matsumoto lived with her husband and two daughters in Koriyama city, about 55 km (35 miles) west of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Authorities declared a no-go zone around the plant, but Koriyama was outside its 30-km (19-mile) radius.

When her younger daughter, then 12, began suffering nosebleeds and diarrhea, Matusmoto took the children and moved to Kanagawa prefecture, bordering Tokyo.

Her husband, who runs a restaurant, stayed behind to ensure they could pay bills and the mortgage on their home. But high travel costs mean they can only meet every one or two months, and they face social pressure.

“People like us, who have evacuated voluntarily to escape radiation, have been judged by our peers as if we selfishly evacuated for personal reasons,” said Matsumoto.

What she called her “only lifeline” is a housing subsidy the Fukushima prefectural government pays to voluntary evacuees, who numbered 26,601 by October 2016.

The payment is typically 90,000 yen ($795) for a household of two or more in Matsumoto’s area, a Fukushima government official said, adding that full rents are covered until March 31.

“Things here now are safe, but there are people who are still worried about safety and we understand that,” he said.

Subsidies, if needed, will be adjusted to suit individual households, rather than handed out unconditionally, he added.

A city official said radiation levels in Koriyama are now safe, dissipated by time and clean-up efforts.

But “hot spots” remain, say activists, and Matsumoto still worries.

“I’m a parent, and so I’ll protect my daughter,” she said. “Even if I have to go into debt, I’ll keep her safe from radiation.”

http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/fukushima-evacuees-face-hardship-as-japan-to-slash-subsidies-1649775

Fukushima ‘voluntary’ evacuees to lose housing support

Thousands of Japanese evacuees from Fukushima should keep getting free housing, supporters said Tuesday, as the local government readies to yank support offered after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Some 27,000 so-called voluntary evacuees — people who chose to leave their homes in the region after the 2011 accident due to safety concerns — are set to lose the six-year-old housing subsidy at the end of March.

That means leaving state-paid housing in other parts of Japan and possibly returning to homes in the region where a quake-sparked tsunami swamped the nuclear plant, sending some reactors into meltdown and spewing radiation into the environment.

“If we lose this housing support — the only lifeline we have — single-mother evacuees like me will fall into poverty,” Noriko Matsumoto told a press briefing in Tokyo organised by activists.

Matsumoto left her family’s home 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the plant, after her daughter, then 12, began suffering an array of health problems, including nose bleeds and nausea.

Matsumoto, 55, who now lives with her daughter in Kanagawa, about 250 kilometres from the plant, said she also developed serious health disorders after the accident, including hormonal disorders and a non-cancerous tumour in her thyroid.

“I am furious that the central government and Fukushima prefecture stigmatised and now abandoned us,” she told reporters.

A local government spokesman said areas not covered by the original evacuation orders have been deemed safe to live in.

“The environment is safe for leading a normal life and that means we are no longer in a position to provide temporary housing,” he told AFP.

Some evacuees will still be eligible for a small housing subsidy, the spokesman added.

The 2011 accident drove more than 160,000 people from their homes, some by evacuation order and others by choice.

Some have since returned but many stayed away, creating a new life elsewhere amid lingering concerns about radiation.

Japan has lifted most evacuation orders for areas around the plant, with the total number of evacuees now standing at about 84,000, according to local government figures.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/fukushima-voluntary-evacuees-lose-housing-support-100908972.html

 

January 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment