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New hotel boom in Fukushima capitalizing on reconstruction

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July 13, 2020

Areas close to the site of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster might seem like the least likely prospect for a hotel construction boom, but as the region slowly begins to recover, demand for places to stay is at a premium.

Hotel operators are not expecting to cater to people with a morbid fascination for the facility that went into a triple meltdown following the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, but to accommodate those involved in reconstruction projects, and later, business travelers and other visitors.

Coastal areas of Fukushima Prefecture were the first to experience a rush in new hotel construction, mainly facilities offering 100 or so rooms.

This fall, the wave of hotel openings will even extend to Futaba, a town that hosts the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Over the past nine years since the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, hotels have mostly been occupied by construction workers.

However, hotel operators are expecting a more diverse clientele to develop in the future.

Hotel Futabanomori, located in the town of Namie about nine kilometers north of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, is expected to open on July 15.

The hotel has 95 rooms, most of them singles that cost 6,500 yen ($ 61) a night, including taxes, or 9,000 yen with breakfast and supper thrown in.

It is situated not far from the No. 6 national road that rumbles for much of the day with heavy trucks going to and from construction sites.

An evacuation order was lifted in the central part of the town in March 2017. Currently about 1,400 people live there, which accounts for less than 10 percent of the pre-disaster population.

But new businesses are moving into the town. In March, top-level facilities for research and development of robots and hydrogen production were established in Namie as a part of a national project.

Takashi Shiga, the 47-year-old president of Hotel Futabanomori, said he hopes his hotel will create an opportunity for residents to “get together with relatives and old classmates who left their hometown and moved far away back to return to Namie.”

He also said he wanted the hotel to provide workers involved in reconstruction projects “with a sense of comfort.”

Prior to the disaster, towns near the nuclear power plants used to be dotted with small inns and hotels catering to beachgoers, surfers and workers at nuclear and thermal power plants.

After the disaster, residents within a 20-km radius of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were ordered to evacuate.

Hirono town, located about 20 km south of the facility, offered the main venue for places to stay for workers involved in cleanup, decontamination and reconstruction projects.

I received so many phone calls from workers desperately looking for a place to lie down and get some sleep,” said Minoru Yoshida, 64, who runs an inn called Iwasawaso in Hirono.

Yoshida evacuated to Tokyo temporarily immediately after the disaster. But within two months, he started taking in guests.

Parts of Iwasawaso were damaged by the earthquake, but Yoshida opened his own home, which was adjacent to the inn and emerged unscathed, to let guests stay.

He also turned a banquet room in the inn into a space for workers to spend the night.

In 2016, Yoshida built a business hotel with 102 rooms, Hotel Ocean Iwasawa, nearby.

Prior to the disaster, he managed two buildings with 83 rooms. Now, he manages four buildings with 211 rooms.

An average of 150 to 200 guests stay at his properties each day.

This is my hometown. That’s why I want it to be rebuilt,” Yoshida said. “I wanted to help these people who came here to work for the rebuilding by letting them stay.”

In Futaba town, where the No. 1 nuclear power plant is located, a new business hotel with 134 rooms, “ARM Futaba,” is slated to open this fall.

In March, an evacuation order was lifted for 4.7 percent of the town.

A new museum dedicated to explaining the damage from the March 2011 disaster and the lessons learned from it is also slated to open in the town this fall.

Expectations remain high that former residents will start returning two years from now to live in Futaba.

Arm System, a Hokkaido-based company that manages the new hotel, hopes that evacuees from the town will stay at the property during temporary homecoming visits.

Industrial complexes are also under construction in the area.

We expect strong demand from business travelers and museum visitors and foresee a sustainable business in the future,” a company representative said.

Tomioka town, about 10 km south of the nuclear power plant, along with surrounding areas, has witnessed a rise in new apartment buildings for single people and company dormitories since April 2017, when the evacuation order was lifted.

In October that year, Tomioka Hotel with 69 rooms was opened by eight residents who ran food and clothing stores in the town.

The hotel has maintained an average 70 percent occupancy rate since then. Most of the guests were engineers and businesspeople visiting the town for reconstruction projects from the Tokyo metropolitan area.

But Tsukasa Watanabe, the 61-year-old president of the hotel, admitted to “feeling nervous about the future,” citing the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic that caused visits by business travelers to dry up.

The hotel has relied on a central government subsidy that supports two-thirds of a hotel construction fee, and other initiatives.

But we can’t just continue to rely on such (support),” said Watanabe, who desperately feels the need to come up with a strategy to bolster his hotel’s competitiveness.

Kota Kawasaki, an associate professor of town planning at Fukushima University, noted that the trend of hotel occupancy by construction workers had reached its peak more or less.

“Competition among hotels will increase from now on,” he said. “Each hotel will have to devise more strategic management skills to stay in business.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13541099

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

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

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March 2, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNDER CONTROL”

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

BACK BURNER”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tokyo ‘Recovery Olympics’ offer scant solace to displaced victims of Fukushima nuclear disaster

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An abandoned elementary school classroom remains cluttered Dec. 3 with school bags and other belongings left by students as they rushed out after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the nearby Fukushima nuclear power plant in Futaba.
December 18, 2019
FUTABA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Nine years after an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster devastated wide areas of the prefecture, the torch relay for the 2020 Summer Games will kick off in Fukushima.
Some baseball and softball games will also be held in the prefecture, allowing Tokyo organizers and the government to label these games the “Recovery Olympics.” The symbolism recalls the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which showcased Japan’s re-emergence just 19 years after World War II.
But tens of thousands still haven’t recovered in Fukushima, displaced by nuclear radiation and unable to return to deserted places like Futaba.
Time stopped in the town of 7,100 when disaster stuck on March 11, 2011.
Laundry still hangs from the second floor of one house. Vermin gnaw away at once intimate family spaces, exposed through shattered windows and mangled doors. The desolation is deepened by Japanese tidiness, with shoes waiting in doorways for absent owners.
“This recovery Olympics is in name only,” Toshihide Yoshida said. He was forced to abandon Futaba and ended up living near Tokyo. “The amount of money spent on the Olympics should have been used for real reconstruction.”
Japan is spending about ¥2.8 trillion ($25 billion) to organize the Olympics. Most is public money, though exactly what are Olympic expenses — and what are not — is always disputed.
The government has spent ¥34.6 trillion for reconstruction projects for the disaster-hit northern prefectures, and the Fukushima plant decommissioning is expected to cost ¥8 trillion.
The Olympic torch relay will start in March at J-Village, a soccer venue used as an emergency response hub for Fukushima plant workers. The relay goes to 11 towns hit by the disaster, but bypasses Futaba, a part of Fukushima that Olympic visitors will never see.
“I would like the Olympic torch to pass Futaba to show the rest of the world the reality of our hometown,” Yoshida said. “Futaba is far from recovery.”
The radiation that spewed from the plant at one point displaced more than 160,000 people. Futaba is the only one of 12 radiation-hit towns that remains a virtual no-go zone. Only daytime visits are allowed for decontamination and reconstruction work, or for former residents to check their abandoned homes.
The town has been largely decontaminated and visitors can go almost anywhere without putting on hazmat suits, though they must carry personal dosimeters to measure radiation absorbed by the body and surgical masks are recommended. The main train station is set to reopen in March, but residents won’t be allowed to return until 2022.
A main-street shopping arcade in Futaba is lined by collapsing store fronts and sits about 4 km (2.5 miles) from the nuclear plant, and 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo. One shop missing its front doors advertises Shiseido beauty products with price tags still hanging on merchandise. Gift packages litter the ground.
Futaba Minami Elementary School, where no one died in the evacuation, has nonetheless been untouched for almost nine years and has the feel of a mausoleum. School bags, textbooks and notebooks sit as they were when nearly 200 children rushed out.
Kids were never allowed to return, and “Friday, March 11,” is still written on classroom blackboards along with due dates for the next homework assignment.
On the first floor of the vacant town hall, a human-size daruma good-luck figure stands in dim evening light at a reception area. A piece of paper that fell on the floor says the doors must be closed to protect from radiation.
It warns: “Please don’t go outside.”
The words are underlined in red.
“Let us know if you start feeling unwell,” Muneshige Osumi, a former town spokesman, told visitors, apologizing for the musty smell and the presence of rats.
About 20,000 people in Tohoku died in the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Waves that reached 16-meters-high killed 21 people around Futaba, shredding a seaside pine forest popular for picnics and swimming.
A clock is frozen at 3:37 p.m. atop a white beach house that survived.
Nobody perished from the immediate impact of radiation in Fukushima, but more than 40 elderly patients died after they were forced to travel long hours on buses to out-of-town evacuation centers. Their representatives filed criminal complaints and eventually sent former Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. executives to court. They were acquitted.
When Tokyo was awarded the Olympics in 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured International Olympic Committee members that the nuclear disaster was “under control.” However, critics say the government’s approach to recovery has divided and silenced many people in the disaster-hit zones.
Under a development plan, Futaba hopes to have 2,000 people — including former residents and newcomers such as construction workers and researchers — eventually living in a 550-hectare site.
Yoshida is unsure if he’ll return. But he wants to keep ties to Futaba, where his son inherited a filling station on the main highway connecting Tokyo and Tohoku.
Osumi, the town spokesman, said many former residents have found new homes and jobs and the majority say they won’t return. He has his own mixed feelings about going back to his mountainside home in Futaba. The number of residents registered at the town has decreased by more than 1,000 since the disaster struck, indicating they are unlikely to return.
“It was so sad to see the town destroyed and my hometown lost,” he said, holding back tears. He reflected on family life, the autumn leaves, and the comforting hot baths.
“My heart ached when I had to leave this town behind,” he added.
Standing outside Futaba Station, Mayor Shiro Izawa described plans to rebuild a new town. It will be friendly to the elderly, and a place that might become a major hub for research in decommissioning and renewable energy. The hope is that those who come to help in Fukushima’s reconstruction may stay and be part of a new Futaba.
“The word Fukushima has become globally known, but regrettably the situation in Futaba or (neighboring) Okuma is hardly known,” Izawa said, noting Futaba’s recovery won’t be ready by the Olympics.
“But we can still show that a town that was so badly hit has come this far,” he added.
To showcase the recovery, government officials say J-Village and the Azuma baseball stadium were decontaminated and cleaned. However, problems keep popping up at J-Village with radiation “hot spots” being reported, raising questions about safety heading into the Olympics.
The radioactive waste from decontamination surrounding the plant, and from across Fukushima, is kept in thousands of storage bags stacked up in temporary areas in Futaba and Okuma.
They are to be sorted — some burned and compacted — and buried at a medium-term storage facility for the next 30 years. For now they fill vast fields that used to be rice paddies or vegetable farms. One large mound sits next to a graveyard, almost brushing the stone monuments.
This year, 4 million tons of those industrial container bags were to be brought into Futaba, and another million tons to Okuma, where part of the Fukushima plant stands.
Yoshida said the medium-term waste storage sites and the uncertainty over whether they will stay in Futaba — or be moved — is discouraging residents and newcomers.
“Who wants to come to live in a place like that? Would senior officials in Kasumigaseki go and live there?” he asked, referring to the high-end area in Tokyo that houses many government ministries.
“I don’t think they would,” Yoshida added. “But we have ancestral graves, and we love Futaba, and we don’t want Futaba to be lost. The good old Futaba that we remember will be lost forever, but we’ll cope.”

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Evacuated Fukushima town begins efforts to have produce restrictions lifted

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People are seen planting produce during a cultivation test in the Morotake district of the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, on Sept. 2, 2019, in this photo provided by the Futaba Municipal Government.
September 9, 2019
FUTABA, Fukushima — Vegetable cultivation trials began in September in this town, which has been completely evacuated since Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station melted down following the earthquakes and tsunami in March 2011.
The prefectural government has been putting on the trials with cooperation from the town office as well as farmers who were based in the town in northeastern Japan.
At a full staff meeting of the town assembly on Sept. 5, it was explained that if the crops can be confirmed to be safe, then the aim will be to have shipping restrictions removed on a part of the town whose evacuation orders are expected to be lifted next spring. It is thought that doing so will help revive farming in the area.
According to the town office, seeds and saplings for five produce items, including broccoli, cabbage and spinach, were planted at three locations in the Morotake district on Sept. 2. The district is currently classed as an area preparing for the lifting of an evacuation order, from which orders may soon be lifted.
It is the first planting in the town to produce food since the onset of the nuclear disaster in March 2011. Harvesting is expected to take place from late October to mid-November, but because the aim is to confirm data, all of the crop will be disposed of and not distributed.
If the inspection can confirm that the radiation dosage is lower than the national standard of 100 becquerels per 1 kilogram, then the prefectural government will make a request to the national government to have the shipment restrictions on the area removed.
Shipment restrictions are aimed at leafy and non-leafy headed types of vegetables, as well as mustards such as broccoli, and turnips. Immediately after the start of the nuclear disaster, these items all across the prefecture were under restrictions, but as areas have each confirmed the safety of their crops, they have been lifted.
Excluding areas deemed “difficult-to-return” zones, only the parts of Futaba that are classed as preparing for the lifting of evacuation orders remain as areas yet to have the restrictions removed.
(Japanese original by Tatsushi Inui, Iwaki Local Bureau)

September 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese government to send staff to disaster-hit Fukushima towns to help restart farming production

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Yoshiyuki Takahashi(left), the head of an agriculture promotion association in Fukuoka Prefecture, examines vegetables produced in the prefecture at a grocery in Tokyo’s Minato Ward in March
Sep 3, 2019
The agriculture ministry said Tuesday it will send officials to 12 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture that were hit by the 2011 nuclear disaster to help farmers there resume agricultural production.
From April 2020, one official will be stationed in each of the 12 municipalities near Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, including the facility’s two host towns.
The ministry officials will create teams with prefectural government and local agricultural cooperatives officials.
The teams will hold discussions with local farmland owners and farmers hoping to expand their operations in order to devise and implement farming resumption plans.
The ministry hopes to consolidate abandoned parcels of farmland in cooperation with local agriculture-related organizations and start large-scale farming there using advanced equipment.
Due to the nuclear disaster, farming had been stopped on a total of 17,298 hectares of land in the 12 municipalities. As of the end of March 2018, farming had resumed on 4,345 hectares, only a fourth of the total.

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

Supermarket opens in Fukushima’s Namie town

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July 14, 2019
A supermarket has opened in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, which was devastated by the nuclear disaster in 2011. It is the first supermarket to operate in the town since the accident. Evacuation orders were partially lifted two years ago.
Major supermarket chain Aeon opened the new outlet in Namie Town on Sunday, drawing many shoppers.
The town now has just over 1,000 residents. That is about five percent of the population before the disaster.
The store stocked items including sake produced by a brewer who was forced to relocate because of the disaster, as well as seafood hauled in at a port nearby.
One shopper said she used to have to travel more than 30 minutes for shopping, and if she bought ice cream it melted on the way home.
Store manager Shunsuke Nihongi said he hopes to support those who have returned to the town and will choose the stock according to their requests.

July 16, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

‘Reconstruction Olympics’ theme said not to have gathered momentum

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Azuma Stadium in the city of Fukushima in March 2017, will host the baseball and softball competitions during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Feb 27, 2019
AOMORI – Half of 42 municipalities in northeastern Japan hit by a massive earthquake in 2011 said the public is not fully aware of the government’s efforts to showcase the region’s recovery from the disaster through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a Kyodo News survey showed Wednesday.
The heads of 21 local governments in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures said in the survey that the “reconstruction Olympics” theme has yet to fully catch on among the public.
Asked whether the slogan has gained public attention, two mayors said “it has not” while 19 mayors said “it mostly has not.” Eighteen said “it has a little” and two said “it has.” The remaining municipality — the Fukushima city of Soma — did not answer.
“The phrase ‘reconstruction Olympics’ was thought up but no substantial progress has been made and the affected areas feel left behind,” said an official of the town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture. “We have limited manpower and cannot spare personnel for Olympic events.”
“The sporting event will be held under the banner of the ‘reconstruction Olympics’ but venues are centered on Tokyo,” said an official of Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture.
Asked what they expect from the Tokyo Games in a multiple-choice question, the biggest group, of 36 mayors, picked “promoting our progress toward recovery,” while 20 mayors, mainly from Fukushima, chose “overcoming reputational damage.”
“We want to use the Olympics as a chance to regain sales channels for our farm products,” said an official of the Fukushima town of Namie.
Read more:

March 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tohoku disaster reconstruction to miss ’20 deadline for completion

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A resident in the Yuriage district of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, returns to her home after shopping. The housing complex was built after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
 
December 19, 2018
Reconstruction of areas devastated by the 2011 triple disaster will not be completed by fiscal 2020 as initially scheduled, and Fukushima Prefecture residents could be hit hardest by the delay, the Reconstruction Agency said.
Agency officials said Dec. 18 that further measures would be needed after fiscal 2020 to help areas affected by the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, as well as municipalities heavily damaged by the tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.
The government had set a 10-year reconstruction period as its basic policy, with the first five years described as an “intensive reconstruction period” and the second five years labeled as the “reconstruction and revitalization period.”
The Reconstruction Agency will also be eliminated at the end of March 2021, meaning the government will need new legislation to designate an agency that will handle the reconstruction effort in the Tohoku region from fiscal 2021.
Reconstruction Agency officials conducted studies in the five prefectures of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki during the current fiscal year to determine the extent of progress as well as what support measures should be continued beyond fiscal 2020.
The officials said some public works projects were taking longer than expected because of delays in buying land for those projects and revisions in reconstruction plans.
Although no specific project names or locations were revealed, the officials said all of those public works projects would not be completed by the end of fiscal 2020.
Under the government’s plan, the need for temporary prefabricated homes will no longer exist at the end of fiscal 2020.
However, elderly people who move out of such housing will still require care and supervision especially if they live alone and are suffering from psychological damage stemming from the natural disaster.
The situation looks especially dire in the locales most seriously affected by the nuclear accident.
Mountains of decontaminated soil will be moved outside of Fukushima Prefecture, but the relocation is not expected to happen for another 20 years. That means support measures for evacuees as well as Fukushima farmers and fishermen still dealing with negative publicity about their harvests will have to continue well beyond fiscal 2021.
A total of 32 trillion yen ($285 billion) has been set aside for the reconstruction effort. Whatever is left can be carried over after fiscal 2021 for still-incomplete projects.
At the end of fiscal 2017, 4.6 trillion yen had still not been spent. Reconstruction Agency officials did not say if additional budgetary measures would be needed.

December 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Total Denial of the Existing Fukushima Radioactive Contamination for Reconstruction’s Sake

 Fukushima tops national sake competition for record-setting sixth year
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Officials and brewers from Fukushima Prefecture, including Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori (second from right), hold bottles of sake during a photo session Thursday at the prefectural government building in Fukushima City. Fukushima sake brands won the largest number of prizes at the Annual Japan Sake Awards
FUKUSHIMA – Fukushima Prefecture is home to the largest number of award-winning sake brands for the sixth year in a row, marking a record in an annual competition, the National Research Institute of Brewing said Thursday.
Nineteen brands from the prefecture won the Gold Prize at the Annual Japan Sake Awards, matching Hyogo Prefecture for the year’s top spot. Judges, including technical officers from the National Tax Agency and master brewers, chose 232 brands as Gold Prize winners out of 850 brands submitted from across the country.
“We achieved the sixth straight year of victory despite a severe situation due to rumors (about radiation contamination),” Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori told a ceremony held in the prefectural government’s head office in the city of Fukushima, referring to the fallout from the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“I hope to promote the excellent sake produced in Fukushima both in and outside Japan,” he added.
Among Fukushima breweries, Kokken Brewery Co.’s Kokken won the top prize for the 11th year in a row. Higashinihonshuzo Productivity Improvement Cooperative’s Okunomatsu and Nagurayama Sake Brewery Co.’s Nagurayama won for the 10th year.
Aspiring brewer taps Fukushima town’s hops in bid to boost sagging farming industry
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Hop Japan Inc. President Makoto Honma (right) gives advice to a hop producer on how to plant a seedling in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture.
“I can’t wait to drink delicious beer made from homegrown hops,” Makoto Honma, the president of Hop Japan Inc., told farmers with a smile in April when he visited them in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture.
While his company was originally intended to focus on the production and sale of homegrown hops, Honma is now planning to build a craft beer brewery in the city amid the recent surge in popularity of locally produced beer and unique brewing methods.
Currently, most domestic hops are grown based on contracts with major breweries, but the production outlook is dim due to a dwindling number of farmers in Japan and falling consumption of big brand beers.
The 52-year-old also believes the realization of his dream would help solve problems related to the abandonment of local farms and revitalize rural tourism.
His brewery dream originates from his experience in the United States a decade ago.
While working as a spokesman for Tohoku Electric Power Co. in 2008, the Yamagata Prefecture native decided to take a two-year leave to study English in Seattle. During his stay, Honma developed a fascination with local craft beer and the brewery business.
In 2014, one of his friends asked him to help in negotiations with producers of Tohoku-grown hops, further piquing his interest in the industry.
Honma said the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, and subsequent tsunami and nuclear crisis, had a major impact on his life.
“I want to make hop production sustainable in Tohoku. I would do whatever I can do as we can only live once,” he said, recalling his new outlook on life.
Honma decided to quit his job and launched Hop Japan in Sendai in 2015.
He later learned that Fukushima Bank offers financial aid for startups, leading him to move his company to the city of Fukushima in order to receive the funding.
Honma was later tapped by the Reconstruction Agency to grow hops in Tamura, where farmers sought alternative crops because of the falling production of tobacco leaves.
Tamura officials later asked him to build a brewery in addition to farming hops.
Prompted by the local passion, Honma decided to follow through with the plan, and is set to move to the city by the end of the year, taking further steps toward fulfilling his dream. “By promoting the brewery business, I’d like to realize a society where economic activities from producing and processing to selling, work together in unison,” he said.
This section features topics and issues from Fukushima covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in the prefecture. The original article was published on May 1.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Only 30% of businesses have reopened in Fukushima nuclear disaster-hit areas: survey

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March 21, 2018
FUKUSHIMA — Only some 30 percent of businesses have resumed operations in areas within a 30-kilometer radius of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant or in districts that were previously marked as evacuation zones, a Fukushima Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry survey has found.
 
As for the stagnation in the region’s economic renaissance, a representative from the federation said, “There are few residents, and along with anxiety over whether or not business will be able to turn a profit, it is also hard to secure young workers.”
 
The investigation covered 14 local societies of commerce and industry, recording the business climate as of Feb. 20, 2018. The percentage was particularly low in the four municipalities of Namie, Tomioka, Iitate and Kawamata, for which evacuation orders was partially lifted between March and April 2017.
 
In the town of Namie, of the 597 members of the local society of commerce, 262 operators, or 44 percent, restarted their companies or shops — but only 34, or roughly 6 percent of the total, did so in Namie itself. The remaining 228 businesses all reopened in the locations to which their owners evacuated after the disaster.
 
Meanwhile, in Tomioka, 277 businesses of the 478 society members reopened, but only 60, or 13 percent, did so in the town. The numbers were slightly higher for Iitate, where 130 of the 167 operators restarted their businesses — 51 of whom did so in the same area, for 31 percent.
 
Of 2,804 total members of the prefectural-level federation as a whole, 1,840 companies and shops reopened (66 percent), with 31 percent or 860 businesses returning to open shop in the affected areas. By industry, construction saw the biggest revival rate at 37 percent, followed by manufacturing at 35 percent, stone work and miscellaneous businesses at 32 percent and the service industry at 28 percent, no doubt boosted by reconstruction efforts.
 
The evacuation locations for the residents of Namie are divided into inland areas like Fukushima city and coastal areas, and it is reportedly hard for owners to restart businesses while commuting from these locations. At the end of February 2018, the population of Namie was 17,954 people, but only 516 people actually lived in the town along with reconstruction workers.
 
The operator of a supermarket before the disaster commented, “If people don’t return, then it’s difficult to secure enough employees and impossible to run a business.”
 

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

7 years after 3/11 / Fukushima towns face uncertainty

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March 11, 2018
The reconstruction effort in Fukushima Prefecture, where an accident took place seven years ago at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, is entering a crucial time as municipalities where evacuation orders have been lifted ramp up efforts to encourage residents to return.
 
Yet the essentials of life such as employment, infrastructure and welfare are intertwined in complex ways. Restoring residents’ everyday lives, which were upended by the disaster, requires resolving multiple problems simultaneously.
 
Uncertain new industries
 
The national government is undertaking a project called the Fukushima innovation coast plan, which seeks to concentrate new industries like renewable energy in the prefecture’s coastal areas.
 
One important part of this is the Fukushima Robot Test Field being built in Minamisoma and Namie. The facility aims to develop unmanned vehicles and heavy machinery robots for use in practical situations such as disaster areas, and a part of it is set to open next fiscal year. Total construction costs are estimated at ¥15.5 billion.
 
Numerous large-scale projects aimed at rebuilding industries and creating jobs are under way in the prefecture. However, not everything is going as planned.
 
The Fukushima Medical Device Development Support Center, built with ¥13.4 billion in state funds, opened in Koriyama in November 2016. The center is equipped to handle everything from research and development to safety testing, and to provide support for personnel training and expanding markets.
 
Major makers have had production bases in the prefecture since before the nuclear disaster, so the prefectural government wanted the center to serve as a symbol of recovery.
 
However, in fiscal 2017, the center was only used for 50 projects, less than one-third of what was anticipated. These generated ¥39 million in income, also much less than the ¥300 million that was expected. The center is now ¥600 million in the red, twice what was anticipated.
 
“We want to support it, but honestly, our own facilities are enough,” a representative of a major manufacturer said.
 
An official at the prefecture’s section in charge of industrial creation said, “Maybe we worried too much about drawing up policies that stood out, and were too optimistic in our income and expenditure projections.” Right from the start, the center is having to reexamine its operations.
 
Almost all the industries that are being promoted to aid Fukushima’s recovery are in the field of cutting-edge technology. Coastal residents who made their living farming and fishing remain uncertain whether they could find work if they returned to their hometowns. People need to be shown the benefits of returning.
 
The evacuation orders that were issued in 11 municipalities were lifted in nine municipalities by last spring, apart from sections where returning is considered difficult. As of March 1, the population of the areas where evacuation orders were lifted was about 11,000 people, only 15 percent of the number before the nuclear disaster. Maintaining public services could become untenable.
 
Five towns of eight municipalities that surround the nuclear plant — Hirono, Naraha, Tomioka, Okuma, and Futaba — have formed a water company association. Income from water charges in fiscal 2016 was one-fourth of pre-disaster levels. Compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings was used to make up for the shortfall.
 
“If the compensation payments are cut off, we’ll be forced to raise rates five years later. Will residents accept that?” A person in charge of the matter said.
 
The pace of recovery differs depending on the town.
 
Of these five towns, only Hirono was not issued evacuation orders. “So far, we’ve been right there alongside them. It’s tough to say, ‘That will harm us, so count us out,’” a senior Hirono official said.
 
However, if the five towns’ interests conflict in a serious way, there may be no way to avoid talks on breaking up or reorganizing the water company association.
 

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

7 years after 3/11 / Public servants face massive workload

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Officials of the town government of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, work past 10 p.m. on March 2.
March 10, 2018
The work of local government officials of municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture has significantly changed in the seven years since the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. This is because a large number of residents and officials in the affected municipalities were forced to evacuate.
 
The government officials have struggled with unprecedented types of duties — such as those concerning the return of residents, which has not progressed smoothly — and dealing with other accumulated tasks all at the same time. However, the future of their hometowns remains unclear.
 
In Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, later this month it will be one year since an evacuation order was lifted.
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In the central part of the town, where the evacuation order was lifted, a small number of residents have slowly trickled back. However, the number of residents as of the end of January was only 490. This is 2.3 percent of the town’s population before the nuclear accident, which numbered 21,000.
 
In addition, about 100 of the current residents are local officials who live in apartments rented by the municipal government. Many of them live alone, separated from their families, who have become accustomed to living in the places they evacuated to.
 
The officials live this way partly because they need to be able to quickly respond to emergencies, such as new natural disasters. There is also a huge volume of work, which they cannot handle if they commute to the government offices from outside the town.
 
Five industrial complexes are concurrently being developed in the town. To encourage more residents to return home, it is necessary to create a large number of jobs.
 
This project is a task the officials have never undertaken before, as Namie is a small municipality whose core industries were agriculture and fishing.
 
One of the officials said, “Even one such project would have been a huge task that we might experience only once in a decade or two, [but] we are doing this work in as many as five locations.”
 
Another official said, “This would never have happened before the nuclear plant accident.”
 
The town government officials travel around the nation for purposes such as negotiating with evacuated landowners to purchase their land plots, and asking companies to set up business bases in the town.
 
The officials are also dispatched to eliminate wild boars, the number of which has rapidly increased while residents have been absent. They also need to arrange repairs to damaged roads, public facilities and agricultural water systems.
 
At night, lights are seen only in the windows of the town government office, while most of the town is in darkness.
 
The fiscal condition of the town government is almost totally different from before the nuclear disaster. Its finances rely almost entirely on the central government’s budget.
 
As many of the town’s residents have not been able to sufficiently rebuild their daily lives, measures to reduce or exempt them from residential tax have continued. Therefore, the percentage of the town government’s municipal tax revenues against its total revenue fell drastically, from 25 percent to 1 percent.
 
Administrative work in municipalities where the number of residents continues to be zero also presents a special situation.
 
In the case of Okuma in the prefecture, where an evacuation order remains in place across the whole town, the town government relocated its offices to nearby municipalities. For example, its section in charge of reconstruction policy is in a satellite office in Aizuwakamatsu in the prefecture. Its section for welfare-related work is in a satellite office in Iwaki in the prefecture, as about 4,600 town residents live in Iwaki as evacuees.
 
Town government officials in the satellite office in Iwaki, who are usually busy assisting elderly residents who live in temporary housing units, make 300-kilometer round trips to Aizuwakamatsu every week for meetings with other officials and other work purposes.
 
There are times when officials head to the town of Okuma to observe decontamination work to remove radioactive substances. In these job reports, the officials write “Okuma” as the destination of their business trips. An official in his 50s expressed the sadness he feels when he writes such reports, saying, “I wonder which municipal government I belong to.”
 
There are municipalities where the wounds caused by the tsunami following the Great East Japan Earthquake have still not healed.
 
In Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, 36 town government officials, including experienced public servants working in the personnel section, died or went missing.
 
In addition, the records of government officials’ qualifications, credentials and job evaluations were lost. An official in charge of this issue lamented that “managing the organization [of the town government] became difficult, and it has been adversely affecting the morale of our workplaces.”
 
In Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, the town government lost 39 people to the disaster. They included the mayor and eight senior officials at the section chief level.
 
Though younger town government officials were promoted, they do not have experience in supervising junior staff. Currently, those who joined the town government after the Great East Japan Earthquake account for half of all officials.
 
One of the senior officials said, “If we fail in fostering human resources, it will directly result in delays in reconstruction.” Many other senior officials share the same sense of crisis.
 
Civil engineering and construction work that began in the year of the disaster, such as raising land heights, relocating residential areas to higher ground, and building coastal levees, has progressed in visible ways.
 
However, survivors and local government officials in disaster-hit areas have the feeling that these reconstruction projects are somehow frustrating and lopsided.
 
A labor union conducted a survey of employees of municipal governments that were affected by the nuclear plant accident, with spaces in which respondents were asked to freely write down their feelings.
 
The written replies included, “For the past seven years I have never once felt free from unease,” and “I don’t know when our reconstruction efforts will end.”
 

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Work starts for industrial site in Futaba near Daiichi plant

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Work has begun near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to prepare an area for a new industrial site.
 
A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Sunday in Futaba Town, Fukushima Prefecture, where the disabled plant is located.
 
Speaking at Sunday’s ceremony, Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa said reconstruction work has finally started in the town.
 
He expressed hope that the site would facilitate the town’s recovery and the decommissioning work of the reactors.
 
The town’s first new industrial site since the accident will be built in its northeastern district.
 
‘The district’s relatively low level of radioactive contamination’ is paving the way for the early resettlement of residents and the resumption of business activities.
 
All residents of the town were ordered to evacuate soon after a major earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that destroyed the plant’s nuclear reactors.
 
The municipality has allocated about 50 hectares for the project. The aim is to make the district partially usable later this year.
 
Reconstruction Minister Masayoshi Yoshino said that along with this project, his ministry plans to decontaminate housing sites so that residents can return.
 
The municipal office says it intends to lease part of the industrial site to companies taking part in the decommissioning of the reactors.
 
The officials say they also plan to set up prefectural archives to preserve records of the 2011 disaster and nuclear accidents. They also plan to build an industrial exchange center where workers can hold meetings and have meals.

January 29, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Bike Project to Bring Tourists Back to Fukushima

In case you are interested, don’t forget to bring with you a good protective mask to stop you from inhaling radioactive nano particles….
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Can this bike project bring tourists back to Fukushima?
(CNN) — It’s been over six years since the northeast coast of Japan’s Honshu island was hit by a devastating earthquake, leading to a deadly tsunami and nuclear disaster.
The hardest hit of all the affected prefectures, Fukushima is still fighting to lure tourists back to its beautiful natural landscapes.
Among the locals helping revive the local travel industry is Jun Yamadera, founder of bike share company Fukushima Wheel, based in the prefecture’s capital of the same name.
“In the year of 2011, we have almost no people,” says Yamadera. “It really hurt my feelings. That’s my main motivation to start this project.”
Like other bike share systems, Fukushima Wheel encourages citizens and tourists to explore the city on a shared bicycle. But there’s so much more to the project.
It also serves as a cost-effective way to collect big data from the city through citizen science. An environmental sensor has been mounted on each bike, measuring data such as radiation levels, temperature, air pollution and more.
The wheels are equipped with LED displays that can be customized to show advertisements.
The project also comes with a complementing smartphone app that doubles as a city guide, offering points-of-interest and discounts to the venues around you. It also measures how much you’ve exercised and carbon emissions.
Fukushima Wheel is still in development stage but it has already received enthusiastic praises from media and tech fairs around the world.

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Will Go Down in History As the Biggest Coverup

The cover-up of the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster is disgusting.
To deny the existing dangers to people’s lives in the name of  reconstruction is criminal and not a solution to those real existing dangers. Misinformation is their science. Deception is their art.
They worship at the altar of the Japanese Yen.
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5 more minors in Fukushima Pref. at time of nuclear accident diagnosed with thyroid cancer
FUKUSHIMA — Five more people in Fukushima Prefecture who were 18 and under at the time of the 2011 nuclear accident were diagnosed with thyroid cancer as of the end of September this year, a prefectural investigative commission announced at a Dec. 25 meeting.
Fukushima Prefecture established the commission to examine the health of residents after the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. A total of 159 Fukushima prefectural residents who were aged 18 and under when the meltdowns occurred have now been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
The commission stated on Dec. 25 that “it is difficult to think the cases are related to radiation exposure” from the disaster.
Unify efforts to spread accurate information about Fukushima Pref.
To accelerate the reconstruction of Fukushima Prefecture, where an accident occurred at a nuclear power plant, it is vital to have active, concerted efforts by the government.
The Reconstruction Agency has compiled a strategy of eradicating misconceptions and reinforcing risk-related communication regarding the post-disaster reconstruction of Fukushima. It will serve as a basic policy for the ministries and agencies involved with transmitting information, both at home and abroad, concerning the current state of Fukushima as well as its appeal.
Previously, the ministries and agencies dealt with individual problems through a sort of symptomatic treatment. It is hard to say that the agency, which is supposed to unify assistance to the affected areas, functioned sufficiently in taking measures against the damage wrought by misconceptions. With the ministries and agencies concerned coordinating under the same strategy, it is hoped that tangible results can be achieved.
Three points have been put forth as major pillars of the strategy: get people to know; get people to eat; and get people to come.
The strategy is based on the current situation in which biases and discrimination against Fukushima still remain. It is important for people to accurately understand the current situation on the basis of scientific data.
With regard to “getting people to know” Fukushima, measures will be taken to disseminate a correct understanding about radiation in the prefecture.
Messages to be transmitted via TV and the internet will convey such objective facts as: radiation exists in our daily life; the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant differs from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident; and radiation is not infectious.
Visiting is most effective
It will also be explained that the amount of radiation in the prefecture has declined to a level almost identical to that of other prefectures, except in the vicinity of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Bullying of schoolchildren who evacuated the prefecture also cannot be overlooked.
Through the strategy, revisions will be made to a supplementary reader on radiation for primary, junior high and high school students across the country. Training for teachers and board of education staff will also be increased. To protect children, it is first vital for teachers to correctly understand the effects and characteristics of radiation.
In “getting people to eat” Fukushima products, measures will be taken to tout the safety of agricultural and marine products produced in Fukushima. The current circumstances, in which products reach the market after undergoing strict inspection, will be conveyed to people.
Although nearly seven years have passed since the accident, these products are not priced in line with their quality. The per kilogram price of peaches grown in 2016 was ¥115 lower than the national average. The peaches were a popular product before the nuclear accident, thanks to such factors as Fukushima’s relative proximity to the Tokyo metropolitan area.
Countries such as South Korea still restrict the import of Fukushima products. The government, for its part, should tenaciously appeal to these countries to scrap their restrictions.
“Getting people to come” to Fukushima is also important. The impact on local tourism still remains. While the country’s tourism industry is thriving thanks to a surge in foreign visitors to Japan, the number of tourists to Fukushima hovers at about 90 percent of what it was before the accident.
Through the strategy, efforts will be made to transmit images that convey a positive impression of Fukushima through the internet and other mediums. A large number of people actually visiting Fukushima and understanding what it’s like — that can be considered the most effective measure against the problem of misconceptions.
Fukushima dairy farmers look to large-scale ‘reconstruction farms’ to revive battered industry
Dairy farmers in Fukushima Prefecture plan to build what they call “reconstruction farms” by fiscal 2020 as part of efforts to boost the industry in the areas tainted by the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The Fukushima Dairy Farmers’ Cooperative, their industry body, is eyeing three locations for the new farms — Minamisoma’s Odaka Ward, the town of Kawamata’s Yamakiya district and the village of Iitate — which residents were forced to flee after the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
The envisaged farms would host a combined 1,600 cows for milk production and also host a research and development hub for cutting-edge biotechnology, according to people familiar with the plan.
The introduction of milking robots for mass production is one of the key features of the plan. The dairy farmers will also tie up with Zenrakuren, the industry’s nationwide body, to improve R&D, the people said.
Under the plan, Minamisoma would raise some 1,000 cows, Kawamata would take care of 200 to 300 and Iitate 350. The Minamisoma site would become a mass distribution center with a cold storage facility for produced milk.
Other facilities to be built for the farms include a production center for nutrient-rich cattle feed and a research center for fertilized eggs. They will work toward producing high-quality breeds — not only milk cows but also wagyu.
The people familiar with the plan emphasized the benefits of scale that would result by combining the operations of each dairy farmer and minimizing the running costs. That would help stabilize their business, they said.
Last year, cattle feed production facilities started up in Minamisoma and Kawamata, with another in Iitate soon to follow suit to supply the new farms, they said.
Cooperation with academic circles is also within the scope of the new project. Fukushima University will offer a new course on related studies from April 2019, and the dairy farmers hope that cooperating with the university will help foster a new generation of human resources for the industry.
Minamisoma plans to build lodgings for students and researchers, including those from Fukushima University and other institutions from across the country. Dairy farmers who want to experiment with new business methods would also be welcome.
The cost of building the farms is estimated at around ¥12 billion. The Fukushima Prefectural Government is negotiating with the municipalities involved in the project and plans to make use of a central government subsidy for reconstruction projects.
According to the Fukushima Dairy Farmers’ Cooperative, large-scale farming is seen as the key to the industry’s future as the population grays, leaving farms with a lack of successors.
Within Fukushima, milk producers are aging fast, and slashing production costs is the top priority. Even if there are young dairy farmers with aspirations, there aren’t enough opportunities for them to start up, the cooperative said.
It also hopes that running large-scale farms with cutting-edge R&D functions would give consumers peace of mind about product safety by accurately grasping data related to radiation in milk and pasture grass.
In 2015, the Fukushima cooperative launched the prototype for a large-scale support base for local farmers in the city of Fukushima. But Minoru Munakata, the head of the cooperative, said the business environment remains harsh.
“We hope running mass-scale farms will lead to cutting costs. We will work to make it a success,” he said.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment