Voluntary evacuees win compensation over Fukushima nuclear disaster

11 oct 2017 court case won.jpg

 

FUKUSHIMA — The Oct. 10 ruling by a district court here, in which Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the Japanese government were ordered to pay plaintiffs in Fukushima and nearby prefectures a total of 500 million yen in damages from the 2011 nuclear disaster, covered those who lived outside evacuation zones, signaling a shift in the compensation system.

Roughly 3,800 plaintiffs brought a suit against the company and the state requesting a total of some 16 billion yen in damages, and of them, the Fukushima District Court ordered payments for some 2,900 people ranging from 10,000 to 360,000 yen per person. The court also recognized the responsibility of the national government in the nuclear disaster, ruling that it jointly pay half of the 500 million yen.

 

The majority of the plaintiffs in the case lived outside of the evacuation zones and voluntarily left the area following the disaster. Others lived outside of Fukushima Prefecture and were not eligible for receiving compensation from the accident. The decision recognized the right of voluntary evacuees and some in neighboring prefectures to compensation, expanding the scope of those eligible to receive payments.

“This opened up the possibility for anyone to be able to claim damages and receive relief,” the legal group representing the plaintiffs in the case commented.

The number of residents who lived in the same areas as the victorious plaintiffs in Fukushima Prefecture alone exceeded 1.5 million. While the odds of the case being appealed are high, if the court maintains its ruling, it will have an enormous impact on the current compensation system.

Concerning the government’s involvement in the accident, the court decision cited a 2002 long-term assessment concluded by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, which predicted that a tsunami caused by a magnitude-8 or higher earthquake was possible along the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. The court pointed out that based on this assessment, the government could have predicted that a 15.7-meter tsunami could hit the power plant just as TEPCO estimated later in 2008, and stated that the government’s inaction to order the utility to prepare tsunami countermeasures by the end of 2002 was “significantly lacking in rationality.”

The standard for the amount of damages to be paid by TEPCO was decided in interim guidelines put in place by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, and a broad distinction in compensation between those living in and nearby evacuation zones and those who chose to evacuate voluntarily was drawn by the end of 2011.

The amount to be paid to those living in the evacuation zones was set at a minimum of 8.5 million yen, but the amount awarded to voluntary evacuees was set at 80,000 yen in principle. Additionally, those living in the Aizu region of Fukushima Prefecture, Ibaraki Prefecture and other areas not directly nearby the reactors were completely excluded from receiving compensation, creating a disparity among evacuees from different regions and leading to numerous litigations.

Because of this, the plaintiffs in the Fukushima case claimed that they, including those living outside the evacuation zones, shared the same worries of having been exposed to radiation. Without claiming individual compensation, the group decided to file the suit for 50,000 yen per month until the radiation levels in the air where each person lived returned to the pre-disaster levels — 0.04 mircosieverts or lower in all cases — regardless of the place of residence of the plaintiff.

Additionally, they divided the regions where the plaintiffs lived in such a way that a total of 35 representatives from each of the areas testified to damages. There are few precedents of this method, such as noise disturbance cases for those living near airports and military bases, but the group decided to adopt the method as it looks to have the state review the conventional compensation system itself.

The Oct. 10 court decision stated that the interim guidelines were merely a yardstick, and that the certification of compensation payments exceeding those guidelines should naturally be allowed, taking one important step forward in restructuring the system.

“Behind those 2,900 plaintiffs who won compensation are all of the victims (of the Fukushima disaster),” said lawyer Yoshio Nagumo, the head of the group’s legal team. He hopes that this case will become an example to lead the reform of the compensation system. However, the amount actually awarded to each person was low.

“The ruling doesn’t accurately reflect the damage suffered,” said Jun Watanabe, another member of the legal team, hinting at the possibility of appealing the ruling. “We’ll fight in order to raise the amount of appropriations even further.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171011/p2a/00m/0na/014000c

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Fukushima District Court finds National Government and Tepco Responsible

The Fukushima District Court ordered the government and Tepco to pay ¥500 million to about 2,900 of the 3,800 plaintiffs, many of whom stayed at their homes in Fukushima Prefecture and elsewhere in the midst of of the world’s worst and ongoing nuclear crises.

3,800 plaintiffs, most of whom were residents of Fukushima Prefecture, sought a total of about 16 billion yen in compensation… Fukushima District Court only awarded 500 million yen ($4.4 million) but their decision puts this on the record: in the ruling, presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa concluded that the government and Tepco are both to blame for failing to take steps to counter the risk of a huge tsunami caused by an earthquake, as they were able to foresee the risk based on an assessment issued in 2002.

Court orders gov’t, Tepco to pay 500 mil. yen over Fukushima crisis

10 oct 2017 Fukushima court 2900 evacuees compensation 4.jpgLawyers hold banners saying “case won” on Oct. 10, 2017, after the Fukushima District Court recognized that the national government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) are responsible for compensation to those who lived in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the nuclear disaster.

 

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyoto) — A district court Tuesday ordered the state and the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to pay damages over the 2011 tsunami-triggered disaster, making it the second ruling of its kind in a series of group lawsuits filed nationwide.

The Fukushima District Court ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay 500 million yen ($4.4 million) to about 2,900 of the 3,800 plaintiffs, many of whom did not evacuate and stayed at their homes in Fukushima and elsewhere in the midst of one of the world’s worst nuclear crises.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa concluded that the government and Tepco are both to blame for failing to take steps to counter huge tsunami caused by an earthquake, as they were able to foresee the risks based on a quake assessment issued in 2002.

“The government’s inaction in exercising its regulatory authority (to order Tepco to take safety measures) was extremely unreasonable,” the judge said.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said it will consult with other government offices on whether to appeal the ruling. Tepco also said in a statement, “We will study the content (of the ruling) and consider our response.”

Among some 30 lawsuits filed nationwide by over 10,000 people, three rulings have been handed down so far and two of them — the latest ruling by the Fukushima court and one handed down by the Maebashi District Court in March — recognized that both the state and Tepco are liable for damages.

Only the Chiba District Court dismissed claims against the state. The plaintiffs in the Chiba and Maebashi cases were evacuees, including those who were subject to government evacuation orders and those who had left their homes at their own discretion.

In the case of the Fukushima court, the ruling said the government and Tepco were able to foresee the possibility that the plant could be hit by up to 15.7-meter-high tsunami based on the 2002 quake assessment.

The assessment, made by the government’s earthquake research promotion unit, predicted a 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8 level tsunami-triggering earthquake occurring along the Japan Trench in the Pacific Ocean within 30 years, including the area off Fukushima.

The court noted that the main responsibility for nuclear power plant safety lies with the operator and secondary responsibility with the state.

The plaintiffs who will receive the payments are Fukushima residents who live both in and outside the evacuation zones and some plaintiffs in Ibaraki Prefecture.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit seeking monthly compensation of 50,000 yen until the radiation level at their residences return to the pre-crisis level.

They also urged that radiation levels be restored to the levels before the accident, or below 0.04 microsievert per hour, but the court rejected the request.

During the trial, the government and Tepco claimed the quake assessment in question was short of being established knowledge and that the tsunami could not have been foreseen. The government also argued that it only obtained powers to force Tepco to take anti-flooding measures after a legislative change following the disaster.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the nuclear power plant. Around 55,000 people remained evacuated both within and outside Fukushima Prefecture as of the end of August.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171010/p2g/00m/0dm/057000c

 

Government, Tepco ordered to pay ¥500 million in damages for Fukushima disaster

10 oct 2017 Fukushima court 2900 evacuees compensation 2A man speaks on Tuesday in the city of Fukushima during a meeting of victims seeking damages from the government and Tepco over the 3/11 nuclear disaster. Later in the day, the court ruled in their favor.

 

FUKUSHIMA – A court on Tuesday ordered the state and the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant to pay a total of about ¥500 million in damages for the 2011 nuclear disaster, the second ruling of its kind in a series of group lawsuits filed nationwide.

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, many of whom stayed at their homes in Fukushima Prefecture and elsewhere in the midst of one of the world’s worst nuclear crises.

In the ruling, presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa concluded that the government and Tepco are both to blame for failing to take steps to counter the risk of a huge tsunami caused by an earthquake, as they were able to foresee the risk based on an assessment issued in 2002.

The government’s inaction in exercising its regulatory authority (to order Tepco to take safety measures) was extremely unreasonable,” Kanazawa said.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said it will consult with other government offices on whether to appeal the ruling.

Tepco also said it would study the ruling to consider its response.

The plaintiffs, the largest group among around 30 similar suits, filed lawsuits in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex, which was triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit the Tohoku coastline.

Among the lawsuits, three rulings have been handed down so far, and two of them — the latest by the Fukushima court and one handed down by the Maebashi District Court in March — found that both the state and Tepco are liable for damages.

In the latest case, the plaintiffs claimed the government should be held liable because it was able to foresee the tsunami based on the 2002 assessment.

In the Fukushima ruling, the judge said the government and Tepco should have been able to foresee the possibility that the plant could be hit by up to 15.7-meter-high tsunami based on the 2002 assessment.

The assessment, made by the government’s Earthquake Research Promotion Unit, predicted a 20 percent chance of a magnitude 8 tsunami-triggering earthquake occurring along the Japan Trench in the Pacific Ocean within 30 years, including the area off Fukushima.

The government and Tepco claimed the assessment was not established knowledge and that the tsunami could not have been foreseen. The government also argued that it only obtained powers to force Tepco to take anti-flooding measures after a legislative change following the disaster.

The plaintiffs also urged restoring the radiation levels in residential areas to levels before the accident. They sought a monthly compensation of ¥50,000 until radiation levels return to the pre-crisis level of 0.04 microsieverts per hour.

The magnitude 9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami devastated parts of the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the nuclear power plant.

Around 55,000 evacuees were still scattered inside and outside of Fukushima Prefecture as of the end of August.

More than 10,000 people have joined the roughly 30 suits filed at courts across the country.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/10/national/crime-legal/court-orders-tepco-government-pay-damages-fukushima-disaster

 

Fukushima court orders TEPCO, state to pay compensation

10 oct 2017 Fukushima court 2900 evacuees compensationPlaintiffs celebrate the Fukushima District Court’s ruling against the government and TEPCO on Oct. 10.

 

FUKUSHIMA–A court here on Oct. 10 held the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. responsible for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and ordered them to pay compensation to about 2,900 evacuees.

The Fukushima District Court, in awarding 500 million yen ($4.4 million) in total damages, acknowledged that the two defendants failed in their responsibility to prevent the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that struck in March 2011.

The 3,800 plaintiffs, most of whom were residents of Fukushima Prefecture, had sought a total of about 16 billion yen in compensation, arguing that the nuclear disaster deprived them of their daily lives in their hometowns.

The plaintiffs also demanded TEPCO, operator of the nuclear plant, and the government restore their living environments to pre-disaster levels. The district court turned down that request.

About 30 similar group lawsuits have been filed throughout the country in relation to the nuclear accident.

The Fukushima District Court’s ruling was the third. The Maebashi District Court on March 17 also ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and held both TEPCO and the government responsible.

The Chiba District Court on Sept. 22, however, held only TEPCO accountable for the disaster.

Of the 3,800 plaintiffs in the lawsuit at the Fukushima District Court, about 10 percent were living in areas where government evacuation orders were issued.

Most of the remaining plaintiffs were residents in other parts of Fukushima Prefecture where evacuation orders were not issued. Some of the plaintiffs lived in the neighboring prefectures of Miyagi, Ibaraki and Tochigi.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710100060.html

 

Fukushima residents win $4.5 million payout over nuclear disaster

10 oct 2017 Fukushima court 2900 evacuees compensation 3Lawyers show banners reading “Victory” following the verdict, outside the Fukushima District Court in Fukushima, eastern Japan.

 

TOKYO — A Japanese court on Tuesday ordered the government and the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to pay $4.5 million to thousands of area residents and evacuees who were demanding compensation for their livelihoods lost in the 2011 nuclear crisis.

The Fukushima District Court said the government had failed to order Tokyo Electric Power Co. to improve safety measures despite knowing as early as 2002 of a risk of a massive tsunami in the region.
The 3,800 plaintiffs, who sued in 2015, form the largest group among about 30 similar lawsuits involving 12,000 people pending across Japan.

Closely monitored as a measure of government responsibility, Tuesday’s ruling was the second verdict that held the government accountable in the Fukushima meltdowns, increasing hopes for other pending cases.

The court upheld the plaintiffs’ argument that the disaster could have been prevented if the economy and industry ministry had ordered TEPCO to move emergency diesel generators from the basement to higher ground and make the reactor buildings water-tight based on 2002 data that suggested there was a risk of a tsunami as high as 15.7 meters (51 feet).

The court also upheld arguments by the plaintiffs that TEPCO ignored another chance to take safety measures when a government study group warned in 2008 of a major tsunami triggering a power outage at the plant.

The tsunami that swept into the plant on March 11, 2011, knocked out the reactors’ cooling system and destroyed the backup generators that could have kept it running and kept the nuclear fuel stable.

The government and the utility have argued that a tsunami as high as what occurred could not have been anticipated and that the accident was unavoidable.

Nuclear Regulation Authority spokesman Kazuhiro Okuma told reporters that the authority plans to discuss whether to appeal the ruling with other government agencies. He said the regulatory authority is determined to fulfill its duty to strictly examine reactor safety under the new standard based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident.

Investigation reports by the government, parliament and private groups have blamed the disaster on TEPCO’s lack of safety culture, as well as collusion between the utility and government regulators that had allowed lax oversight. After the accident, the more independent regulatory system and a stricter safety standard were established.

Tuesday’s ruling dismissed the plaintiffs’ demand that radiation levels in their former neighborhoods be reduced to pre-disaster levels.

TEPCO is still struggling with the plant’s decommissioning, which is expected to take decades.

The ruling followed a decision in March by the Maebashi District Court, which ordered the government and TEPCO to split the 38 million yen ($336,000) compensation to 62 former Fukushima residents in addition to the compensation TEPCO had already paid them. Another ruling last month, however, said only TEPCO should pay 376 million yen ($3.4 million) to nearly 45 former Fukushima residents.

http://nypost.com/2017/10/10/fukushima-residents-win-4-5-million-payout-over-nuclear-disaster/

22 sept evacuees court victory

Plaintiffs and their lawyers enter the Chiba District Court on Sept. 22 to hear the verdict in the Fukushima nuclear accident compensation case.

 

TEPCO ordered to pay evacuees of Fukushima nuclear disaster

 

CHIBA–A district court here on Sept. 22 ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 376 million yen ($3.3 million) in compensation to evacuees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster but absolved the central government of responsibility.

Forty-five people in 18 households who evacuated to Chiba Prefecture following the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant sought a total of about 2.8 billion yen from TEPCO and the government.

About 30 similar lawsuits involving 12,000 plaintiffs have been filed at district courts around Japan.

The Chiba District Court ruling was the second so far.

In March, the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture found both TEPCO and the government responsible for the nuclear disaster and ordered compensation totaling 38.55 million yen for 62 plaintiffs.

The main point of the lawsuit in the Chiba District Court was whether TEPCO and the government could have foreseen a towering tsunami hitting the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and taken measures to prevent the disaster.

The plaintiffs emphasized a long-term appraisal released by the central government in 2002, which estimated a 20-percent possibility of a magnitude-8 level earthquake occurring between the coast off the Sanriku region in the Tohoku region to the coast off the Boso Peninsula of Chiba Prefecture within the next 30 years.

The plaintiffs argued that this appraisal shows it was possible to forecast a tsunami off the coast from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and that measures could have been taken even as late as 2006 to prevent the disaster.

For the first time in a court case involving compensation related to the Fukushima disaster, a seismologist provided testimony on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Kunihiko Shimazaki, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, once served as a deputy chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. He was also in charge of compiling the 2002 long-term appraisal for the government.

The height of a likely tsunami could have been known if it was calculated based on that appraisal,” Shimazaki said in court. “Even if a specific forecast could not be made, some sort of countermeasure could have been taken.”

The defendants argued that the long-term appraisal did not provide a specific basis for predicting a tsunami and only pointed to the fact that a magnitude-8 level earthquake occurring could not be ruled out.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709220052.html

Tepco again ordered to pay damages in nuclear disaster, but not state

CHIBA, Japan (Kyodo) — A Japanese court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. on Friday to pay damages over the nuclear disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but dismissed claims against the state.

The Chiba District Court ruling follows a Maebashi District Court decision in March that found negligence on the part of both Tepco and the government played a part in the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl and ordered them to pay damages.

Friday’s ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by 45 people who were forced to flee Fukushima Prefecture to Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo as reactors that lost cooling functions caused meltdowns and spewed massive amounts of radioactive materials into the air.

The Chiba court awarded a total of 376 million yen ($3.35 million) to 42 of them, including all four who voluntarily evacuated. In the suit filed in March 2013, the plaintiffs were collectively seeking around 2.8 billion yen in damages from the government and plant operator.

The focal point of the Chiba case was whether the government and Tepco were able to foresee the huge tsunami that hit the seaside plant on March 11, 2011, and take preventive measures beforehand, with conflicting claims made by the parties regarding the government’s long-term earthquake assessment, which was made public in 2002.

The assessment, made by the government’s earthquake research promotion unit, predicted a 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8-level tsunami-triggering earthquake occurring along the Japan Trench in the Pacific Ocean within 30 years, including the area off Fukushima.

Based on the assessment, the plaintiffs argued that, with the plant standing on ground roughly 10 meters above sea level, a tsunami higher than the ground striking the plant could have been predicted.

They then claimed that the disaster was therefore preventable if emergency power generation equipment had been placed on higher ground, and that the government should have made Tepco take such measures by exercising its regulatory powers.

The government and Tepco, for their part, claimed the assessment was not established knowledge, and that even if they had foreseen a tsunami higher than the site of the plant and taken measures against it, they cannot be held liable as the actual tsunami was much higher at around 15.5 meters.

The government also argued that it obtained regulatory powers to force Tepco to take anti-flooding measures only after a legislative change following the disaster.

In Friday’s ruling, the court found the government not liable, saying that while the government indeed has such powers, not exercising them was not too unreasonable.

While ordering Tepco to pay damages, the court determined that the plant operator did not commit serious negligence that would have required a higher compensation amount, saying it did not totally leave anti-tsunami measures unaddressed.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers criticized the ruling as unfair, in that the court did not recognize the state’s liability. But they still positively rated the court’s acknowledgement of the loss of the plaintiffs’ hometown, jobs and personal relationships, and compensation for such a loss.

In March, the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture recognized negligence on the part not just of Tepco but also the government, saying they were able to foresee a tsunami high enough to inundate the plant.

It was the first such ruling issued among around 30 suits of the same kind and the first to rule in favor of plaintiffs.

The Maebashi court acknowledged that the government had regulatory authority over Tepco even before the accident, noting that “failing to exercise it is strikingly irrational and illegal.”

The court awarded to 62 of 137 plaintiffs a total of 38.55 million yen in damages, far less than the 1.5 billion yen sought in total. Many of the plaintiffs have appealed the district court decision.

In the Chiba suit, the 45 plaintiffs, including four who evacuated voluntarily, sought 20 million yen each for compensation for their evacuation and the loss of their hometown, jobs and personal relationships because their lives were uprooted.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the nuclear power plant. Around 55,000 people remained evacuated both within and outside Fukushima Prefecture as of the end of August in the wake of the disaster.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170922/p2g/00m/0dm/081000c

TEPCO ordered to pay damages over nuclear accident

A Japanese court has ordered Tokyo Electric Power Company to pay damages to people who were forced to leave their homes after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Chiba District Court on Friday ordered TEPCO to pay nearly a total of 3.4 million dollars to 42 of the 45 plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against TEPCO and the government.

The complainants say they lost their homes and jobs because of the March 2011 accident. They were seeking 25 million dollars in compensation.

The focus was whether the defendants were able to predict the tsunami that hit the plant and should therefore have taken preventive measures.

Also at issue was whether the amount of compensation TEPCO is currently paying to evacuees is appropriate.

Presiding judge Masaru Sakamoto said TEPCO did not entirely fail to implement measures against the risk of tsunami, and did not commit a grave error.

But Sakamoto said the psychological suffering of the plaintiffs is linked to the accident, and that TEPCO should pay redress.

He did not hold the government liable for the accident. The judge said that although by 2006 officials were able to predict the possibility that a tsunami could hit the plant compound, the introduction of safety measures would not necessarily have prevented the accident.

This is the second ruling in a series of lawsuits filed by about 12,000 people over the nuclear accident.

In March, the Maebashi District Court ruled that both the government and TEPCO were liable for the accident and ordered the government and the plant operator to pay damages.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170922_25/

20170922_25_383678_L.jpg

 

 

Elimination of Fukushima evacuees from list slammed

Screenshot from 2017-09-02 09-25-42.pngThis woman in her 30s lives in Tokyo with her young children after fleeing her home in Fukushima Prefecture following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011. Her husband remains in Fukushima Prefecture for his job.

 

The central government has made a large number of people who voluntarily fled the Fukushima area after the 2011 nuclear disaster disappear by cutting them from official lists of evacuees.

Critics are now condemning the move, which went into effect last April, saying it prevents government officials from fully grasping the picture of all who remain displaced to evaluate their future needs.

Accurate data on Fukushima evacuees is essential in gaining a better understanding of their current circumstances and crafting measures to address their problems,” said Shun Harada, a sociology researcher at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, who contributes as an editor for an information publication for evacuees living in Saitama Prefecture.

When only smaller than the real numbers are made available, difficulties facing evacuees could be underestimated and could result in terminating support programs for them,” he complained.

As of July, 89,751 evacuees were living across Japan after fleeing from the nuclear disaster, down by 29,412 from the March tally.

In April, the central government opted to cut “voluntary” evacuees who fled their homes due to fears of radiation despite being from outside the evacuation zone.

It came after the official program to provide free housing to the voluntary evacuees was stopped at the end of March, which was designed to facilitate a prompt return to their hometowns in Fukushima Prefecture. People from the evacuation zone are still eligible to the free housing program.

The central government’s Reconstruction Agency, set up to oversee rebuilding efforts in Japan’s northeastern region after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, releases the number of evacuees each month, based on figures compiled by local authorities.

The 29,412 drop in the number of official evacuees between March and July includes 15,709 in Fukushima Prefecture, 6,873 in Miyagi Prefecture, 2,798 in Iwate Prefecture, 780 in Tokyo, 772 in Kanagawa Prefecture and 577 in Saitama Prefecture.

Before the change in housing policy, agency statistics showed a monthly decrease in evacuee numbers of between 3,000 and 4,000 in the several months leading up to the end of March.

But the drop in numbers increased dramatically to 9,493 between March and April and 12,412 between April and May.

Kanagawa and Saitama prefectural officials say voluntary evacuees were responsible for most of the declines in their jurisdictions.

A large number of them are believed to be living in the same housing as before but are now paying their own rent.

A 43-year-old woman who has been evacuating in Saitama Prefecture since fleeing from Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, with three other family members said she is angered by the central government’s treatment.

We cannot return to Fukushima Prefecture due to fears of the effects of radiation,” she said. “I feel like I have been abandoned by the state by being denied evacuee status.”

An official with the Tokyo-based Japan Civil Network for Disaster Relief in East Japan, a private entity that functions as a liaison unit for a nationwide network of groups supporting victims of the disaster six years ago stressed the need for local authorities to have an accurate understanding of the circumstances surrounding evacuees.

Of the evacuees, the elderly and single-parent households tend to be left in isolation and many of them are likely to become qualified to receive public assistance in the near future,” the official said. “Local officials need to know they are evacuees (from Fukushima).”

The official added that it will become difficult for support groups to extend their help if voluntary evacuees are taken out of the official tally.

But the Reconstruction Agency said it will not reconsider the definition of evacuees.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201708280053.html

 

An election campaign in an unknown town

31/7/2017 by Mayumi MATSUMURA

Yesterday morning, while I was waiting with my mother-in-law the pickup bus from the Day Care Center for the Elderly, I heard voices approaching. They seemed to say “Good morning” using a loudspeaker attached to an advertising car.

 

However, the voices were weak, considering that they came from a loudspeaker. They also seemed very reserved and embarrassed to disturb people. (Translator’s note: In Japan during the election time, candidates and their teams roam the streets in vehicles shouting their names and asking for support). I listened. The voices said: “Good morning, I am XXXX, candidate for the election of the mayor of Tomioka”.

 

The voices were really reserved, weak …

They made me so sad. Profoundly moved, I opened the kitchen window and waved my hands.

The first car stopped.

The voice said, “Oh, thank you, thank you. ”

 

“Courage and good luck! I’m sorry, I’m not from Tomioka, but … ” I said.

A voice replied, “Thank you, thank you for your words of support.”

 

I waved my hands and shouted words of encouragement to the second and third vehicle where the candidate was seated.

My eyes were filled with tears.

They run an election campaign in an unknown city, without knowing where the residents of Tomioka are, where their voters took refuge.

51215e_f61694f7666f47c48a2dc777383700c8~mv2.jpg

 

If it were their own town, they would campaign with dignity from the electoral car in a loud voice. But they were belittling themselves, roaming through the unknown streets.

 

Tears have troubled the visions.

However, I continued to wave my hands until the vehicles disappeared.

It has been 6 years and 4 months since we left our home.

There will never be a restful end to our journey.

 

___

On July 28, 2017 published on Facebook by Mrs. Mayumi MATSUMURA, evacuee from the town of Namie, Fukushima prefecture.

http://nosvoisins311.wixsite.com/voisins311-france/single-post/2017/07/31/Une-campagne-%C3%A9lectorale-dans-une-ville-inconnue

51215e_a5a44230d0cd4c608a6b4753b2863272

For Tepco’s new president the town of Futaba does not belong to the No-Go Zone

19429887_1344002432344514_6460329144784841372_n.jpg

 

The new president of Tepco, Tomoaki Kobayakawa, did not even know that the city of Futaba is still part of the evacuated No-Go Zone, a forbidden zone to enter, except for a part of the town for short time visits only during the day.


Quite shameful and irresponsible from a man presiding the company which caused the nuclear disater responsible for the still unfortunate present situation of thousands of evacuees.

The Fukushima Evacuees Future

 

End of March 2017 the Japanese government pretends that the Fukushima disaster is over, ending the compensation and housing programs, forcing the evacuees to return to the contaminated towns close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster site.

Masahiro Imamura, the reconstruction minister, while asked multiple questions about the plight of those classified as voluntary evacuees did expose the government opinion about the disaster’s victims, shocking all the journalists by his insensitivity. During that interview the reconstruction minister got angry with a reporter, ordering him to get out and to never come there again.

The government is encountered wide criticism for its handling of evacuees issue. To raise the radiation exposure limits for all people included children to that of nuclear plant workers has been condemned worldwide.

Those classified as voluntary evacuees are the people who evacuated from the regions of Fukushima that were not under official evacuation orders. Plus as more towns are now reopened, their evacuation orders lifted, those people who do not return are now becoming considered voluntary evacuees as well. The government provided housing assistance for voluntary evacuees ended in March. Asked about the government position on evacuees choosing to not return home Imamura sais that if they chose to not return to their home town they should take full responsibility for their own actions.

Japan’s government has done everything possible to remove all possible other options for evacuees, to force the evacuees to return to live in their contaminated towns. Compensation was ended for many. Housing programs have also ended, and temporary housing units are scheduled for closure, while at the same time many of the reopened towns lack sufficient services and many homes are heavily damaged, abandoned as they were since 2011.

Decontamination efforts to reduce radiation levels have not been very successful. With maybe a low radiation level only in the town center, with a radiation monitor set on concrete, but around town still many locations with unsafe levels. Many of those towns close to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant still have no evacuation plan in case of further events.

The nuclear plant site remains a considerable risk. Work to dismantle sections of the damaged reactor buildings can release radioactive dust to the wind. Risks of hydrogen explosions, radiation releases or criticalities will remain as long as the site exists in its current state or has highly radioactive materials on site. To force the people back to live in close proximity to the site just puts them at further risk.

Imamura faced with a petition calling for his resignation tried to apologized in a more nuanced tone but the government policy remains. Prime Minister Abe dismissed calls for Imamura to resign.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/nhknewsline/quotesoftheday/20170405/