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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

Govt to aid disaster-hit areas in Olympic exchanges to publicize their reconstruction

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Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the government plans to create a “reconstruction host town” program to promote exchanges between countries and territories participating in the Olympics and Paralympics and areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, it has been learned.

According to informed sources, the government aims to register all 127 municipalities in the three disaster-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima as reconstruction host towns. The new program aims to boost efforts to involve disaster-hit areas in the Games and spread information on disaster reconstruction to the world, the sources said. It is also expected to enhance the image of the “reconstruction Olympics,” as the concept currently lacks concrete measures.

Registration for host towns for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics began in January last year. The government will also create a separate “reconstruction host town program.” Under the new program, all applying municipalities will be registered as reconstruction host towns, in principle, according to the sources. Additionally, the government will dispatch officials from the Cabinet Secretariat and other bodies as needed. The officials will fully support cooperation between municipalities and government ministries, agencies and the Olympic organizing committee, while connecting the municipalities with countries participating in the Olympics and Paralympics. The government might also invite Olympic and Paralympic athletes to tour disaster-hit areas after the Games, with the hope that they will spread information about the areas’ current circumstances.

The current host town program provides financial support to municipalities so they can organize exchange activities with participating countries and territories. The program is modeled on the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics’s One School, One Country program, in which a country or a territory participating in the Games was paired with a school that would cheer on the country or the territory during events. As of Sept. 14, 252 municipalities across the country are registered as host towns and have launched exchanges with 74 countries and territories in total.

In the three disaster-hit prefectures, Morioka has registered as a host town for Canada, inviting the country to hold Olympic training camps for sport climbing and other events. Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, a host town for Samoa, plans to hold a dance festival featuring Pacific nations. However, municipalities affected by the disaster have prioritized reconstruction projects, so only 10 municipalities from disaster-hit prefectures have registered as host towns.

Municipalities registered as host towns can implement sports and cultural exchange programs with partner countries and territories for the duration of the Games, with half of the project costs covered by special tax grants from the government. Municipalities can host training camps by becoming host towns, and can receive government subsidies for renovating athletic facilities.

We are considering additional preferential measures for them,” a senior government official said of the new reconstruction host towns.

In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was cohosted by Japan and South Korea, Nakatsue village (now Hita city), Oita Prefecture, hosted the base camp for the Cameroonian national team. The village became famous for its hospitality, which resulted in a massive influx of tourists. Exchanges between the people and Cameroon continue to this day, raising expectations for the host town program to yield similar success.

Reconstruction has been touted as the theme for the upcoming Tokyo Games. However, questions have arisen over how the theme will factor into the Games, with only Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures hosting event venues. Miyagi Prefecture will host preliminary soccer round matches and Fukushima Prefecture will host preliminary softball round matches.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003945623

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 3 Comments

High School Girls Used to Promote a Beach in Fukushima

They used high school girls to promote a beach in Fukushima. The same way that they were using highschool kids to pick up trash along the Joban Expressway….

 

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“Photo Journal: Long-awaited laughter”

High school students in the garb of Hawaiian hula dancers play in the waves at the Usuiso seaside resort in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, after the beach opened for the first time in seven years on July 15, 2017. The resort was heavily hit by the 2011 tsunami, which took the lives of 115 residents and destroyed close to 90 percent of homes in the district. However, the resort finally reopened its stretches of white sands to families on Saturday, with lively hula performances by local high school girls. (Mainichi) https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170715/p2a/00m/0na/014000c

 

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Even as Evacuation Orders are Lifted, Recovery Remains Distant Prospect for Many Fukushima Residents

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Six years after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the government has lifted evacuation orders on four municipalities around the plant, allowing residents to return home for the first time since the meltdowns. The author, who has been involved in reconstruction planning since the evacuation orders were first given, calls for a multiple-track plan to meet the complicated needs of those who return and evacuees who continue to live elsewhere as evacuees.

The Beginning of the End, or the Prelude to New Heartache?

The Japanese government on March 31 and April 1 of this year lifted evacuation orders for areas around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station it issued in the wake of the nuclear accident at the plant more than six years ago. The decision finally allowed some 32,000 residents of the four radiation-affected municipalities of Iidate, Kawamata, Namie, and Tomioka to return to their homes. Following the move, the only places still subject to evacuation orders are Futaba and Ōkuma (where the Daiichi plant is located) and parts of five neighboring towns and villages.

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The Japanese media almost universally hailed the decision as a “major milestone” toward residents of affected areas rebuilding their lives. But this supposed milestone can be taken in two quite different ways. In much of the media there was an optimistic sense of a return to normalcy, resulting in the view that the evacuation orders lifting was a long-awaited new beginning in the recovery effort, and that residents would finally be able to start rebuilding their lives and communities. Another, more cynical view, however, is that it merely marked the start of new string of woes. Considering the challenges that face residents, in my opinion this second interpretation is closer to the truth.

The optimistic view is pushed by the national and prefectural authorities in charge of advancing recovery efforts in Fukushima, and is based on the following scenario.

1. Designate evacuation zones across areas affected by radiation, and provide support to evacuees in the form of temporary housing and compensation.

2. Decontaminate the affected areas.

3. Prepare to lift the evacuation orders as radiation levels fall.

4. Rebuild local infrastructure and reestablish local services, rebuilding health, welfare, and retail facilities where necessary.

5. Lift evacuation orders.

6. Evacuees return home.

For the thousands of evacuees forced to live away from their homes over the past six years, however, there is quite a different sense to the orders being lifted. Some people will decide to return home while others will remain where they are. No matter their decision, though, we must face the fact that new challenges await both groups.

Many of those most eager to return home are the elderly, but health and welfare provisions are still far from satisfactory in many areas. There are also lingering doubts for other members of the community, such as the future of the area’s farming, forestry, and fisheries. Local economies have been devastated, raising the question of employment and whether people will even be able to buy daily necessities, let alone support themselves long term.

The situation at the power plant also remains precarious and much work remains to be done. The problem of radioactive water has yet to be solved and a medium-term storage facility must be found for huge amounts of contaminated material. However, there is not even a timetable for when these will be accomplished. Faced with such uncertainty, many people will simply choose to remain where they are rather than risk returning home. However, this decision brings a different set of problems, as many of the support systems put in place to help evacuees will be cut off now that they are no longer prevented from going back.

In surveys carried out between 2014 and 2017 by the Reconstruction Ministry, the Fukushima Prefectural government, and the evacuated municipalities, more than half of residents of Futaba, Namie, Ōkuma, and Tomioka said they did not plan to return to their homes after the evacuation orders were lifted. In other areas where more than a year has already passed since evacuation orders were rescinded, the number of residents who have returned remains at 20% or less everywhere except Tamura. These sobering figures illustrate the steep road awaiting evacuees wishing to go home.

Assessing Conditions in the Affected Areas

The fact that authorities lifted evacuation orders despite so many issues still unresolved demonstrates a disregard for the challenges confronting residents. Now more than ever, we must consider and assess the uncertainties residents face and ascertain future challenges.

In the areas recently deemed fit again for human habitation, flexible containers filled with contaminated materials still lie in heaps at various temporary storage points, where they have been since clean-up operations began. While the plan is to eventually move these to medium-term storage facilities, I wonder if authorities when deciding to lift the evacuation order really understood the anxiety and stress placed on residents who must live their lives surrounded by mountains of contaminated debris.

d00319_ph02-680x451Containers of contaminated soil in temporary storage await safety checks in Minamisōma, Fukushima, on June 11, 2016.

The town of Hirono is situated 22 kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi. Following the disaster, the town’s medical services fell to the sole efforts of the head of the local hospital, Dr. Takano Hideo. However, the future of the hospital was thrown in doubt when Takano died in a fire late last year. Nakayama Yūjiro, a physician in Tokyo, assisted for a time, spending two months earlier this year as the hospital’s resident doctor.

Nakayama wrote a diary based on his experience, which was published in April 2017 by Nikkei Business online as Ishi ga mita Fukushima no riaru (The Reality of Fukushima: A Doctor’s View). In his account, Nakayama describes the ongoing tragedy of the disaster and discusses the numerous people who have died from conditions brought on by the stress of residing in temporary living conditions. He points to three main reasons for these deaths: Separation from family and loss of community; interruption of ongoing medical treatment; and change of environment. Nakayama’s experience illustrates how in indirect ways, the death toll from the disaster continues to rise.

Giving Up on the Dream of Going Home

The situation is worse still for people whose homes are subject to ongoing evacuation orders. Sasaki Yasuko, who was evacuated from her home in Namie, spent the time since the disaster in temporary housing in the town of Koori. In a 90-page record of her life as an evacuee called Osoroshii hōshanō no sora no shita (Under a Fearsome Radioactive Sky), she writes: “I don’t want to die in temporary housing. That’s all I ask. Everyone is talking about wrapping things up and bringing an end to the disaster—but I don’t want my life to end like this. . . . Since the disaster, there seem to be slogans everywhere I go that are meant to keep our spirits up. But what more can I do than what I’m already doing? I wish someone would tell me what I’m expected to do.”

I met Sasaki for the last time in the spring of 2013. She was still living in temporary housing and was working to complete a model of her home in Namie, desperately trying to recreate from memories a place she thought she would never see again. Around a month after that, I learned that she had been hospitalized and had passed away at the age of 84. I also heard that before entering the hospital, she had taken her model and smashed it to pieces.

d00319_ph03-680x453Sasaki Yasuko toward the end of her life, at work on a model of her abandoned home in Namie.

I had many other opportunities to talk to people whose homes are in areas “closed to habitation indefinitely.” Several of them told me that when they had tried to tidy up one of their short visits home, they found their houses in a state of chaos as a result of intrusions by boars and other wild animals. The residents asked the authorities to do something about it, saying, “Can’t you catch the boars, or at least hire someone to stop them from getting into our houses?” But no business could be persuaded to take the project on as everyone was too afraid of the high radiation levels.

Faced with difficulties and indignities like this, people’s eagerness to return home slowly withered. They say that the radiation tore everything up by the roots—history, culture, community—and they wonder if any amount of compensation can make up for such a loss. Robbed of their local heritage, many residents of affected areas continue to lament the cultural implications of the disaster.

The Need to Support Both Returnees and Evacuees

The authorities imagine a simplistic scenario where lifting the evacuation orders results in everyone returning home and living happily ever after. But life is not so simple, and this storyline does not include solutions for problems like those outlined above. As well as working to restore and rebuild the physical infrastructure in the evacuated towns and villages, the authorities need to work with residents to develop programs that will help them get their lives back on track. These programs need to have realistic outlooks of the future and must consider the hopes of the residents themselves.

From the initial days after the disaster, the message from the national government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the Daiichi plant, has been: “Leave this to us.” This has permeated their attitude in establishing support efforts for evacuees in temporary housing, setting radiation safety standards, cleanup work, compensation negotiations, livelihood support, and reconstruction plans. Everything has been handled in an ad hoc fashion, leading to misunderstanding and anxiety and opening gaps between the authorities and those they are supposedly trying to help. For residents, all these actions are closely connected. There is still no process for building consensus and bridging the gulf that has formed between the authorities and the residents who should be playing a leading role in rebuilding their communities. It is in this context that the evacuation orders were lifted.

The authorities should make it a priority to draw up a less simplistic scenario that better reflects the reality on the ground. There must be a multiple-track plan balancing programs to rebuild communities and support returnees’ lives back home with measures that provide help to evacuees who choose to remain where they are. One idea worth considering would be a program that allowed evacuees to divide their lives between two areas for a bridging period, giving them time to rebuild their hometowns while remaining in temporary housing. One way this could be accomplished is to provide residences where evacuees could live on a part-time basis as they work to rebuild their communities and repair their damaged and neglected homes.

(Originally published in Japanese on May 9, 2017. Banner photo: A photographer snaps photos of somei-yoshino cherries in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, on April 12, 2017. Most of the 2.2-kilometer stretch of cherry trees is barricaded off inside an evacuation area. Since this spring, the first 300 meters of the road have been opened to the public during the daytime. The district is now designated an “area closed to habitation provisionally.” © Jiji.)

http://www.nippon.com/en/currents/d00319/

 

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment