Okuma-Futaba Incineration & Storage Facility

Official storage of contaminated soil begins in Fukushima

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Contaminated soil produced during cleanup in communities affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is carried on belt-conveyers covered with plastic sheets at an interim storage site in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 28.
OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture–Hailed by the government as a major step to rebuilding, radioactive soil from the cleanup of municipalities impacted by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster began arriving at an interim storage site here on Oct. 28.
However, officials and residents with the towns of Okuma and Futaba fear the repository may end up being permanent as finding a final resting place outside Fukushima Prefecture is expected to be extremely difficult.
Still, local governments welcomed the start since rebuilding has been hampered by the countless number of bags containing polluted soil that have been kept in backyards.
“We are hoping to remove as many bags of contaminated soil as possible from people’s living spaces,” said Tadahiko Ito, vice environment minister who inspected the site on Oct. 28.
All the soil there is supposed to be taken out of the prefecture by March 2045 for final disposal under the law.
The repository began operating at the site, where soil from low-level pollution will be kept after being brought in via a belt-conveyor system. Bulldozers will afterward flatten the surface.
After a certain amount of soil is brought in, the ground will be covered with uncontaminated soil. The site can hold about 50,000 cubic meters of soil, according to the Environment Ministry, which oversees the project.
The ministry began building the interim storage facility about a year ago. As of the end of September, contracts had been signed for about 40 percent of the 1,600 hectares of land needed for storage in Okuma and Futaba, which co-host the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
A total of seven facilities will be built to keep polluted soil.
The ministry also plans to complete two facilities to store more radioactive waste in fiscal 2019.
Overall construction costs are estimated at 1.1 trillion yen ($9.67 billion) for all the interim storage facilities.
They can store up to 22 million cubic meters of soil and other waste.
According to the ministry, about 15.2 million cubic meters of contaminated soil from decontamination work are piled up or buried at about 150,000 location in Fukushima Prefecture, including plots near houses and schoolyards.
The ministry envisages moving 12.5 million cubic meters of the total to the interim sites by the end of March 2021.

Sprawling radioactive waste storage facility opens for business in Fukushima

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A new facility in the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, starts storing radioactive waste generated by the 2011 nuclear crisis on Saturday.
The government’s new radioactive waste storage facility in Fukushima Prefecture kicked into full gear on Saturday after completing a roughly four-month trial run.
While the facility near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex is designed to store soil and other tainted waste collected during decontamination work for up to 30 years, it remains only half complete six years after the triple core meltdown struck in March 2011.
An estimated 22 million cu. meters of contaminated waste exists in Fukushima, but the facility does not yet have enough capacity to store it all, and residents fear it will sit there permanently in the absence of a final disposal site.
The government has been able to buy only 40 percent of the land so far but eventually plans to secure 1,600 hectares for the facility, which is expected to generate ¥1.6 trillion ($14.1 billion) in construction and related costs.
The storage facility is urgently needed to consolidate the 13 million cu. meters of radioactive waste scattered around the prefecture. The prolonged disposal work, among other concerns, is said to be keeping residents away from their hometowns even when the evacuation orders are lifted.
Also on Saturday, the government began full operation of a facility where waste intended for incineration, such as trees and plants, is separated from the rest.
Contaminated soil is sorted into different categories depending on cesium level before storage.

Work to store tainted soil at Fukushima facility begins

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Tainted soil is brought into an interim storage facility for radioactive waste in Fukushima Prefecture on Saturday.
FUKUSHIMA (Jiji Press) — The Environment Ministry started Saturday bringing tainted soil to one of its interim storage facilities for radioactive waste in Fukushima Prefecture.
Soil generated from work to decontaminate areas hit by fallout from the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.’s disaster-damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has temporarily been piled up in about 1,100 places within the prefecture.
Shifting the soil and other radioactive waste to the storage facilities, to be finally built on a 1,600-hectare site straddling the towns of Okuma and Futaba, is expected to make it smoother to reconstruct areas devastated by the nuclear accident as well as the massive earthquake and tsunami that triggered the accident.
On Sunday, 36 cubic meters of contaminated soil arrived at the facility from a temporary storage in Okuma.
“I hope all tainted soil and other waste will be removed from living spheres in the prefecture as soon as possible,” State Environment Minister Tadahiko Ito told reporters after watching the work.
But over 60 percent of the overall construction site remained to be acquired as of the end of September, and facilities to burn plant waste and store ashes with high cesium levels have yet to be built.
Please read also these related articles :
Issues of Incineration Disposal of Agricultural and Forestry Radioactive Wastes in Fukushima Prefecture by Toshikazu Fujiwara
How long shall we accept Japan to pollute our skies with incineration of radioactive materials?
About the Incineration of Fukushima Decontaminated Soil and Debris
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TEPCO to scrap all 1,010 vehicles contaminated in nuclear disaster

1,010 only? Meaning to say that out of a 2 millions population in Fukushima prefecture, on March 2011 no other vehicle was contaminated, only 1,010 vehicles at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were contaminated…..What about the other cars, those contaminated outside of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, I mean those which were not sold and exported to Russia and to some other countries as second hand cars by some very honest Japanese businessmen?
I remember that the Russian Customs spotted and blocked entry to quite a few of those unaccounted contaminated cars in 2011, 2012, 2013…..That those cars were approved for export by the Japanese government authorities is beyond my understanding, no wonder that all those people’s contaminated vehicles were conveniently ignored and unaccounted for..…
It seems like a fairly large number for cars used on-site, and I wonder if TEPCO bought out some of those tainted cars from the owners (and then continued using them?) or if they were company cars from the start…?
Those 1,010 vehicles will be scrapped and sent where? Sold to some scrap dealer who will sell them to yakuza who will sell to….?
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The red sticker shows that this vehicle was contaminated during the Fukushima nuclear disaster. It is designated for use only on the site of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
All 1,010 vehicles contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster that are currently designated for use at the crippled plant will be scrapped by the end of fiscal 2020, the plant operator said.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials said it is now undesirable for automobiles tainted with radioactive substances to continue operating at the site of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which is becoming cleaner thanks to decontamination and other efforts.
The officials said Oct. 12 that all contaminated vehicles will be replaced with clean automobiles.
The decision was announced when members of the Fukushima prefectural government’s panel on occupational safety and health measures inspected facilities at the plant, including one for dismantling contaminated vehicles.
The panel includes experts in nuclear power technology and local government officials.
TEPCO officials said about 1,100 vehicles for business use and 600 automobiles of workers were at the plant site when the disaster unfolded.
Currently, 1,010 contaminated automobiles have red stickers showing that they were contaminated in the disaster.
However, 181 of them have fallen into disuse and others have long remained idle. That has caused problems, including a shortage of parking spaces.

Newspaper changes an “annoying” photo: Facts are disappearing from the media

It has been a constant practice in the past 6 years for the Japanese media to change the wording of an already released article or its title or its illustrating photo if it annoys the authorities, sometimes the whole article becoming suppressed. That permanent tight censorship has been very effective in minimizing the facts about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in the mind of the general Japanese population.
I cannot count the number of times that I have copied an article on a word document for safekeeping, so as to repost it on my blog later, to later find that it had been altered or that it had been removed.
Facts are disappearing from the media
When we are outside of Fukushima, or of Japan, it is difficult for us to realize to what extent it has become difficult to speak of radio-contamination and the risk of exposure.
To illustrate this, we are reporting on the case of a photo replacement in the Mainichi Shimbun. This took place only in the Japanese edition. The original photo seems to have remained in the English edition.
On October 21, the Mainichi Shimbun reported the reopening of a part of the JR East line under the title: “JR East partially reopens line halted since 2011 nuclear disaster“. In this article, the Mainichi published a photo of a train leaving the newly opened Tomioka station. (If it is impossible to open the article, here is the web archive).
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Above is the original picture (used also in the Japanese 1st version) with the caption : “A train leaves Tomioka Station in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, after services on the JR Joban Line were resumed between Tomioka and Tatsuta on Oct. 21, 2017. (Mainichi)”.
As you can see, the picture cleary tries to attract the attention of the readers to the black bags containing contaminated waste. In fact, the Japanese caption mentions also: “In the foreground, a temporary storage site of bags containing decontamination waste”. You can see other pictures here by the same photographer.
The photo above received a large number of complaints and protests. People basically complained: “why stain the joyful event with such a picture?”.
Here is the link to the togetter (in Japanese) through which you can see in what kind of language these people protesting against the first picture express themselves. They are pointing out crudely “the malicious intention” of the Mainichi Shimbun to devalue the event and the reconstruction of Fukushima.
The result is that the Mainichi Newspaper replaced the original photo with the one below.
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You can see the Japanese article with the replaced picture here. (If it is impossible to open the article, here is the web archive).
A resident of Fukushima prefecture commented as below in his Facebook:
“In Fukushima, private protests (translator’s note: especially on the Internet), forced a TV programme to change the title of a documentary. The same people made the Mainichi Newspaper change the article (translator’s note : change the photo). The original photo was exposed to the pressure of the  pro- “reconstruction/rehabilitation of Fukushima” people, saying “don’t hinder the delightful event (with such a picture)”. This seems to indicate the end of the journalism.
The two pictures both represent the same reality. Even a picture cannot be spared of interference or censorship.
I wanted to let you know the fact. The most important function of journalism — to find facts, even painful for certain people, and to use them to solve problems — is disappearing. We are going through such an era. 
These people (exercising the pressure) are the same as those who are upset and angry because “the media are only reporting on the voluntary evacuees and not on Fukushima residents”.
On August 2, 2017, the Mainichi Shimbun reported the incident of the modification of a TV documentary title (in Japanese) to which the author above is referring. The title of the documentary, “The reality after 63 years of the Bikini accident: the expected future of Fukushima” which was supposed to go on air, was exposed to criticism saying that the sub-title suggests that the same kinds of health hazards are expected to occur in Fukushima prefecture.  Succumbing to pressure TV Asahi decided to eliminate the subtitle, “the expected future of Fukushima,” (translator’s note: to erase the implied connection to the health problems of the Bikini nuclear test). (If the link is broken, please see this web archive).
What is worrying here is that these censorship pressures are not from governmental authorities, but from citizens. Now, the majority of people living in or outside of Fukushima don’t believe in the reality of radiation-related health hazards.  They react aggressively against anything which reminds them of such health risks.  Imagine that when you speak up or when you write about radiation risks you become the object of bullying. You have to have an iron nerve to continue, especially if you have your own family members to protect from social bullying.  The fact that the authorities don’t recognize such health risks favors this antagonism.
This phenomenon is not particular to Japan. It is NOT to be explained by cultural characteristics. It happens everywhere in the world. We saw it happen in Tchernobyl, in the US and in France. People deny the radiation effects or comparisons with those of Bikini Atoll or Marshall Islands because it makes the place or people feel or look bad and speaking of it becomes taboo, even though there is a factual base behind it. (It is probably worse now because of social media — comments are extremely emotional, violent and destructive toward others).
As we can see from the above incidents, facts are disappearing from all kinds of media. The media and government are censoring the facts and the public are censoring themselves and each other.  Lets be aware of it.
If you appreciate the photo in the English edition and the first Japanese edition of the Mainichi Shimbun with black bags in the foreground, please write encouraging comments to the Mainichi Shimbun.
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Incineration, Processing and Interim Storage at Okuma-Futaba Facility

As you may see the Mainichi’s article below does mention the incineration which will take place at this facility. The Asahi ‘s article below on the other hand completely omits to talk about the incineration, lying by omission.
The radioactive debris will be first incinerated to reduce their volume to 1/50 of their initial volume, then processed and stored there. The amount of contaminated soil and other waste reaching  up to 22 million cubic meters (metric tons).
However it is important to point out that whatever the type of screening filters used during the incineration they will not retain all the radioactive nanoparticles, that some radioactive nanoparticles will still be released into the air during that incineration.
Thus “storage facility” is a misnomer, as it is actually a processing facility before to be a storage facility.
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An intermediate storage facility under construction in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in February, with the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the background
 

Interim storage site for Fukushima contaminated soil to begin full operations

An interim storage site in Fukushima Prefecture for soil and waste generated when areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis were decontaminated will be put into full-scale operation on Oct. 28, Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa said.
Contaminated soil temporarily placed on the premises of the facility, which straddles the prefectural towns of Okuma and Futaba, will be brought into an underground storage site on the property.
The storage site will be the first one in the country to be put into full-scale operation to store contaminated soil and other waste.
“There are numerous challenges that must be overcome, but the start of operations at the facility is an important step toward the final disposal of contaminated soil,” Nakagawa told a news conference on Oct. 24.
The Environment Ministry is constructing the interim storage site on an approximately 16-square-kilometer area around the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Operations at a section of the facility located in Okuma will begin on Oct. 28. After contaminated soil is measured for radiation, the soil will be stored separately at the facility depending on levels of radiation.
Waterproof work has been performed at the site to prevent stored soil from contaminating ground water.
At the site, a plant to incinerate weeds, trees and other flammable materials removed from contaminated soil and a facility to manage incinerated ash containing high levels of radioactive cesium will also be built.
The ministry estimates that the amount of soil and other waste removed from decontaminated sites in the prefecture could reach up to some 22 million cubic meters. Decontamination work is still going on in some areas affected by the nuclear disaster, which broke out in March 2011 following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Most of the soil removed from decontaminated areas was put into bags and temporarily stored at various locations in Fukushima Prefecture. Some of the bags have been brought onto the premises for the interim storage site since March 2015.
The central government intends to build a final disposal site outside the prefecture to complete the disposal of contaminated soil by 2045. However, the government has not worked out a specific plan on the final disposal site, such as its location and the timing of its construction.

 

Fukushima debris heading to intermediate storage facility

The Environment Ministry on Oct. 28 will start bringing radiation-contaminated soil to an intermediate storage site in Fukushima Prefecture, despite having acquired less than half of the land needed for the overall project.
The ministry’s announcement on Oct. 24 marks a long-delayed step toward clearing temporary sites that were set up around the prefecture to store countless bags of radioactive debris gathered after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.
The entire intermediate storage project will cover a 16-square-kilometer area spanning the towns of Futaba and Okuma around the nuclear plant. It is designed to hold up to 22 million cubic meters of contaminated debris for a maximum period of 30 years.
However, the ministry is still negotiating with landowners on buying parcels of land within the area. As of the end of September, the ministry had reached acquisition agreements for only about 40 percent of the land for the project.
The soil storage facility that will open on Oct. 28 is located on the Okuma side. It has a capacity of about 50,000 cubic meters.
Bags of contaminated soil stored in Okuma will be transferred to the facility, where the debris will be separated based on radiation dosages.
A similar storage facility is being constructed on the Futaba side.
The ministry initially planned to start full-scale operations of the entire storage facility in January 2015. However, it took longer than expected to gain a consensus from local residents and acquire land at the proposed site.
In March 2015, a portion of the contaminated soil was brought to the Okuma facility for temporary storage.

Fukushima Victims File Appeal, Contesting $1,500 Compensation Court Ruling

ghkl.jpgIn this March 11, 2011 file photo, waves are seen washing over a 10-meter-high breakwater and approaching the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Plaintiffs appeal ruling in Fukushima nuclear disaster damages suit

 
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Lawyers representing approximately 3,800 people suing the state and operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex for damages over the 2011 tsunami-triggered disaster appealed a lower court ruling Monday in hopes of securing greater compensation.
In its Oct. 10 ruling, the Fukushima District Court ordered the state and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay 500 million yen ($4.4 million) to about 2,900 of the 3,800 plaintiffs, an amount less than was sought by the disaster victims.
Also on Monday, the central government and Tepco filed an appeal to the same Sendai High Court arguing they should not be held liable for damages.
Izutaro Managi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the lower court ruling “clearly acknowledged the liability of the state” over the disaster but said that the “level and scope of compensation is insufficient.”
“We will seek compensation that better matches the actual damage” from the disaster, he said.
Managi said that the compensation awarded to the victims in the lower court ruling was far less than the maximum 200,000 yen per person sought by the plaintiffs.
The ruling did not accept claims by some of the plaintiffs, including those in western Fukushima Prefecture, the lawyer added when explaining the reason for the appeal.
The Fukushima District Court ruling was the second of its kind in a series of group lawsuits filed nationwide where the state and Tepco were found liable and ordered to pay damages over the world’s worst nuclear crises since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
The court concluded that the state and Tepco failed to take steps to mitigate the risk of the tsunami damage caused by a powerful earthquake on March 11, 2011, even though they were able to foresee the possibility of such a disaster based on a quake assessment issued in 2002.
 
 

Fukushima victims appeal $1,500 compensation payouts

Hundreds of victims of Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster have appealed a court ruling hoping to secure larger compensation payouts, after being awarded roughly $1,520 each in a class action lawsuit against the Japanese government and the Fukushima plant operator.
On October 10, Fukushima District Court has ordered the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to pay about 500 million yen ($4.44 million) to some 2,900 victims of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
In its ruling on the lawsuit, filed by more than 3,800 plaintiffs, the court said that the authorities had failed to properly control TEPCO, which was found guilty of neglecting to adopt the necessary safety measures despite knowing of the risk of a massive tsunami in the region as early as 2002.
On Monday, all sides in the case – TEPCO, the government and the victims represented in the class-action lawsuit – challenged the court’s ruling.
Victims of the disaster say that the awarded liability costs do not represent the true amount of suffering reflected by the Fukushima survivors. The court failed to award 200,000 yen ($1,765) per person, which was the sum originally sought by the plaintiffs. The legal team furthermore stressed that in the initial ruling the court rejected claims by some of the victims, which mostly came from western Fukushima prefecture.
The Fukushima District Court ruling “clearly acknowledged the liability of the government” over the 2011 Fukushima disaster, but the “level and scope of compensation is insufficient,” Izutaro Managi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Monday after filing an appeal with the Sendai High Court.
“We will seek compensation that better matches the actual damage,” Managi added, as quoted by Japan Times.
Japan’s central government and TEPCO meanwhile also filed an appeal with the Sendai High Court, claiming that they are not liable to pay any damages to the victims, Japan Today reported.
In its appeal, Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency stressed that “it is impossible for the government to accept the court’s judgment as a result of an adjustment by relevant ministries and agencies.”
The October 10 court ruling was the second time a court in Japan has acknowledged the government’s liability for the Fukushima meltdown caused by the quake-triggered tsunami that hit the country in March 2011.
In March this year, Maebashi district court ordered the government and the operator to pay 38.55 million yen ($340,000) in damages to 62 plaintiffs who were evacuated to Gunma Prefecture. About 30 similar lawsuits involving 12,000 people are pending across the country.
 
 

Plaintiffs file appeal to win bigger payout over Fukushima nuclear disaster

Lawyers representing victims of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster hold up victory banners in front of the Fukushima District Court on Oct. 10.
KYODO – Lawyers representing approximately 3,800 people suing the government and Tepco for damages over the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster have appealed a lower court ruling in hopes of securing greater compensation.
Izutaro Managi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Monday after the appeal was filed in the Sendai High Court that the lower court ruling “clearly acknowledged the liability of the government” over the disaster, but the “level and scope of compensation is insufficient.”
“We will seek compensation that better matches the actual damage” from the disaster, he said.
In its Oct. 10 ruling, the Fukushima District Court ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay ¥500 million to about 2,900 of the 3,800 plaintiffs, less than sought by the disaster victims.
The central government and Tepco also filed an appeal with the Sendai High Court arguing they should not be held liable for damages.
Managi said the compensation awarded by the lower court was far less than the maximum ¥200,000 per person sought by the plaintiffs.
The ruling did not accept claims by some of the plaintiffs, including those in western Fukushima Prefecture, he added when explaining the reason for the appeal.
The Fukushima District Court ruling was the second of its kind in a series of group lawsuits filed nationwide in which the government and Tepco were found liable and ordered to pay damages over the nuclear crisis.
The court concluded that the government and Tepco failed to take steps to mitigate the tsunami risk, even though they were able to foresee the possibility of such a disaster based on a quake assessment issued in 2002.

More of Joban line reopens in Fukushima

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TOMIOKA, Fukushima (Jiji Press) — Train operations were resumed Saturday on a Joban Line section in Fukushima Prefecture after a suspension following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, restarted services on the 6.9-kilometer section between Tomioka Station in the town of Tomioka and Tatsuta Station in the town of Naraha.
JR East hopes to reopen the last remaining section by the end of March 2020. The section runs through the towns of Okuma and Futaba, the host municipalities for the power plant, and most of it is inside the heavily contaminated no-entry zone around the plant.
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Campaigns focus on economy and Constitution, but nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima sees other priorities

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Kibo no To candidate Izumi Yoshida campaigns in the coastal area of Ena in Fukushima Prefecture on Tuesday
NIHONMATSU/IWAKI, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – For Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the two biggest election-defining issues of Sunday’s Lower House poll are how to spend the additional revenue from the planned consumption tax hike in 2019 and how to deal with North Korea’s nuclear threat. Leaders from other parties see either proposing or preventing revisions to the Constitution as their main priority.
But for residents of Fukushima Prefecture — many of whom are still recovering from the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster — the focus is on when their lives will return to some semblance of normalcy.
That sentiment is strongest in the Fukushima No. 5 electoral district, site of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which forced many to evacuate from the no-go zone more than six years ago.
Candidates in the constituency have focused their campaigns on reconstruction and decontamination of the area.
However, campaign strategies are split between the two front-runners — reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino, backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and Izumi Yoshida, a former vice reconstruction minister who had recently left the Democratic Party to join Kibo no To (Party of Hope), headed by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.
Yoshino, 69, is taking time to woo voters living in temporary housing and less-populated areas, while Yoshida is campaigning in the more densely populated city of Iwaki.
In pouring rain on Monday, Yoshino’s campaign car appeared at a temporary housing complex in the city of Nihonmatsu, where about 10 residents came out to listen. Although the city is located outside Yoshino’s electoral district, many evacuees from the town of Namie, which is in the district, now reside there.
Evacuation orders for parts of Namie were lifted in March, but only 381 people lived in the town as of the end of last month, while the vast majority of former residents have not returned, according to a town official.
“I’m eager to reconstruct Fukushima. I need your help in order for me to take part in national politics,” Yoshino said in his five-minute speech.
Residents were surprised to see him making the effort to travel out there.
“I don’t think other candidates have come here. I sense that (Yoshino) cares about us,” Jinichiro Tajiri, 76, who lives in nearby reconstruction housing, said after the speech.
Tajiri, who used to live in Namie, has occasionally visited his hometown since March.
“Reconstruction is what I expect the most,” he said.
Tajiri’s wife, Yoshiko, also 76, added, “I want better medical care. A majority of the people here are elderly.”
Yoshino has so far used three days of campaigning to visit evacuees dispersed throughout the prefecture, said Koichi Ito, Yoshino’s election aide.
“While Futaba has 55,000 voters, Iwaki has 370,000. But Yoshino, as a reconstruction minister, has a strong will to continue supporting disaster victims,” Ito said.
Meanwhile, Kibo no To’s Yoshida, 68, who lags behind Yoshino in the media polls, is focusing more on Iwaki.
“Many have already left temporary housing. … Some have built homes in Iwaki. We understand that we must visit (the temporary housing communities), but there aren’t many people living there now,” said Yoshida’s secretary, Toshifumi Sato. “It’s a short battle, so we need to prioritize efficiency.”
On Tuesday, about 300 voters gathered to hear Yoshida’s campaign speech in Ena, the coastal area of Iwaki.
“Revitalization comes from the citizens. We must share our knowledge,” Yoshida said during his speech.
Listening to the speech, Katsuya Kanenari, who heads Ena’s residential group, praised him for his locally focused policies.
“The area used to have a thriving fishing industry, but this was destroyed and ships no longer come. What remains now is the beautiful scenery,” Kanenari said.
“We want public facilities to be built in the area. We want people to visit. Otherwise, the area will remain undeveloped,” he said.
Two other candidates, backed by smaller parties, are also running for the election; Tomo Kumagai, 37, from the Japanese Communist Party and Yoko Endo, 67, backed by the Social Democratic Party.
In line with the parties’ policies, Kumagai and Endo are vowing to eliminate nuclear power plants from Fukushima, unlike Yoshino and Yoshida, who spoke less about that topic.
During a live online debate held Oct. 13 by the Junior Chamber International Japan, Kumagai stressed the need for a government that will rid the prefecture of nuclear power plants.
Endo, on the other hand, said during the same program that the majority of Fukushima residents want the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants decommissioned, adding that all nuclear power plants in Japan should be phased out.
Few would feel stronger about abolishing nuclear power than the residents who directly faced the fears and damage from the triple meltdown in Fukushima.
“Nuclear power is not something humans can control. (The disaster) is unforgivable,” said Kazuo Akama, 70, a long time resident of Iwaki.
“You must be a victim to understand that. (Nuclear power) is no good. It’s no good,” he said.