NUCLEAR MIGRANTS

By Cécile Asanuma-Brice,
Researcher in urban sociology,
Franco-Japanese Institute Tokyo UMIFRE 19-CNRS /
CLERSE Laboratory, University Lille 1-CNRS
 
Translation Hervé Courtois & Kingsley Osborn
 
The explosion of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on 11 March 2011 caused serious radioactive contamination that forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. Because this proves the impossibility of managing a nuclear accident, the refuge is not desired by the national authorities who opted for a nuclear action, nor by the international authorities. At first the authorities provided aid and shelter, but all aid was interrupted in April 2017 at the same time as the reopening of part of the former evacuation zone in order to force the migrants to return to life in the contaminated territories.
 
Chapter breakdown
– Summary
– A morning like any other
– The effects of resilience
– This new earthquake revives anger
– Despite common sense, the return to the former evacuation zone organized by the authorities takes place
– What is the real situation?
– Progress, and life: what science is entitled to question
 
 
We can not finish counting the years of what we have too quickly called the “after” Fukushima , however we might wish it, as the ‘’after’’ hour has not yet come. The situation has never stopped deteriorating. The insolvable problems are still too numerous on the nuclear plant site for one to evoke an “after” which would suggest a resolved situation allowing a new beginning. While information on the subject is scarce, and attempts to respond to a self-appeasing desire under the approval of the international authorities in charge of the issue by propagating the magic formula of “everything is fine”, in fact this is not the truth. Far from being “under control”, the management of this disaster resulting in the destruction of 40% of the prefecture’s landscape continues its course, showing every day the human inability to contain the nuclear disaster. After so many years, the corium [1] of reactors 1, 2, and 3 have still not been detected. The only information we have is that they are no longer in the tanks. More than 800 tons of highly radioactive material has escaped from its confinement to penetrate the groundwater. The position of the material cannot even be pinpointed precisely because of a high level of radioactivity preventing humans, and even robots, from approaching it. The coriums must be permanently cooled, during all these years, by more than 300 tons of water [2] which daily become contaminated in contact with the radioactive material. This highly contaminated water is in turn stored in tanks around the reactors, nearly one million cubic meters stored at present. Authorities regularly announce dumping some of the water in the sea because of the inability to store all the liquid. No solution has yet been found at this barrel of Danaides, subject to human management and its mistakes. Thus, in December 2016 the injection of cooling water into the reactor 3 was suspended inadvertently…
1.png
Figure 1. Map of the distribution of contamination in Bq / m² (Source: Japanese Ministry of Education and Research, September 2011. Translation and adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice, Géoconfluences, 2017.)
 
 
It is not without surprise that we see the ardor of international organizations, as well as the Japanese government, wanting to force home the people who fled in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 disaster, generating waves of migrations towards the south of the country, most generally towards the urbanized zones. More than six years after the explosion of the plant, and present more than ever on this rural territory, the members of the institutions engaged in the nuclear world [3], engage in “humanitarian work” in defense of peasants at risk, praising the benefits of resilience (Asanuma-Brice, 2015), pointing out the sufferings of becoming refugee and the health consequences of the stress in the face of the disaster, while however at the same time displaying an agnostic attitude to the epidemiological results now showing more than 184 children under 18 as having to be operated on for cancer of the thyroid out of a limited sample of 270,500 people [4]. This point, taboo in political and scientific institutional circles, is nevertheless fundamental, because it is this assessment that determines the protection policies to be implemented, or not, in the event of an accident. If the explosion of a nuclear power plant and the dispersion of the isotopes it contains are not dangerous for health and for life as a whole ,then why? Why leave in the event of an explosion? Why evacuate the populations whose community life destroyed? Why spend so much money decontaminating? Why the need to create specific research centers on radio-protection since it would be useless to protect oneself from it? And finally, why use these same harmless isotopes to achieve the ultimate weapon of destruction that is brandished in the face of the world at every diplomatic tension? In short, we need to restore consistency in our discourse and analysis. If the inhabitants of Fukushima have taken refuge, or have been evacuated (even if the evacuation organized by the administration was very late) it is because there is a real danger which we all know, scientists, military and citizens.
 
Our critical position as an urbanist is to propose in this text an assessment of the migratory situation and measures developed for the control of population movements, especially through housing policies, but also through attempts to revive the local economy in Fukushima six years after the disaster. Our analysis presents the results of studies carried out on the psychological effects of policies compelling residents to return to the territories of the former evacuation zone while the situation is still unstable, and we question the motivations behind the political will to return populations to areas still contaminated.
 
For six years now, we have been going to the scene of the disaster every month to follow as closely as possible not only the protection policies or management implemented by the various administrative bodies, but also by the populations themselves. Follow-up was done by regular queries, in the form of interviews, at the various temporary housing locations, with the associations in charge of the accompaniment to the shelter or to the health follow-up, with the inhabitants, refugees or not, as national and international administrators. This also led us to participate in various workshops and symposia organized by these different actors. They took part in the international conferences that we conducted each year, embracing the most diverse themes related to this disaster.
 
At first, however, we must give back to these analyses the context that is theirs, a land, that of Japan, whose seismic environment remains restless and will continue to be so because the country is a volcanic archipelago, located at the junction between the Eurasian plate, the sub-plate called “Love” to the west, that of Okinawa and that of the Yangze (north / south), the Philippine plate to the south, the Pacific plate to the east, and the Okhotsk plate to the north. Such a location leads us to think that human temerity cannot ignore the cause of earthquakes, which won’t be stopped by political arrogance.
 
 
A morning like any other
November 22, 2016, 6 am, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo. The walls are shaking and the floor is spinning slowly, endless seconds. The commentator responsible for informing about the situation broadcasts in a repeating loop, “A tsunami is coming, run away quickly! Be sure to flee! Remember the March 2011 earthquake! Do not go to see the tides, run away to the mountains, hills or somewhere high enough to shelter yourself, run away! “.
 
With tight throats, glued on TVs that loop images of seashores on which are displayed in red capital letters, “Tsunami! Flee away! ” we become aware of the situation; a magnitude 7.3 earthquake occurred 75 km from the Fukushima shoreline, recording level 5 shocks. The vertical movements of the tectonic plates pose a risk of imminent tsunami. At 8 am, tsunamis of various heights have already reached the Tohoku shores of Chiba, measured up to 1.4 m in the port of Sendai, and 1 m in each of the two nuclear power plants at Fukushima. Because it is there that all eyes are fixed. Not without reason. About an hour after the earthquake, the cooling system of building 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ni power plant breaks down due to strong shocks, according to the authorities. We hold our breath…. An hour and a half later, to the relief of everyone, the system is reset.
 
The effects of resilience
 
[5]During the entire morning of November 22, speakers and televisions constantly order the inhabitants to take refuge, the journalists posted on the places envisaged for this purpose are, to our astonishment, surrounded by only a few people. “All the trauma came back with this earthquake. Most people could not move from home, as if paralyzed, overwhelmed by the despair of all those years when the practice of moving into shelter has remained impossible for most of us. Seniors in temporary housing turned off their television sets and acted as if nothing had happened.” (Mari Suzuki, resident of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture). The resilience advocated by the national and international authorities who participated in the management of the consequences of the 2011 nuclear accident has emerged, despite the will of the victims. The population of areas polluted by radioactivity whose land has not been retained in the evacuation zone, are for the most part in a state of advanced depression, after five years of fighting for recognition of their right to refuge remains unanswered. Additionally, the government announced the reopening of part of the still unstable evacuation zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant as of March 2017,in fact causing the cessation of payment of monthly compensation used by some to relocate elsewhere and the closure of temporary housing. This constraint to return is mentally unbearable for people who have rebuilt their lives in host communities with a more stable environment.
 
This new earthquake revives anger
 
Hiroki Suzuki, a journalist in his forties, came to the gates of the evacuation zone a few hours after the earthquake. He waves his dosimeter which displays 7.09 microsievert / hour [6], while the natural average in the region was 0.04 microsievert / hour before the accident. “Look, we are lied. Still, always lied to …’’ he exclaims, without being able to hide a rage tinged with despair. Yet it was crossing this border of the evacuation zone two days earlier, that Professor Hayano of the University of Tokyo organized an inspection trip of the works at the nuclear power plant and of the evacuation zone, accompanied by thirteen high school students dressed in their simple school uniforms, without any type of protection. The earthquake occurred just after the study trip had generated a wave of discontent among residents, as reflected on social networks. Participant in several public revitalization projects in the region is Professor Hayano, among them is the ETHOS project conducted with the collaboration of IRSN, a project today at term to teach residents to live in a contaminated environment with a view to economic rationalization of the management of the consequences of a nuclear accident. As an adept of resilience, Professor Hayano ignores the consequences of a nuclear accident, ignoring hundreds of epidemiological studies on the issue, believing that fear of radioactivity is not justified. This initiatory trip was therefore intended to show students that they were not struck by radioactivity even though they would go to areas where the irradiation was highest, and that fear should give way to managerial reason. This attitude, considered irresponsible by many colleagues, ignores the most basic knowledge of radiation protection, that radioactivity acts on the human body, not suddenly, but in a process that spans several years.
 
This episode will have marked the people’s minds, because neither the seismic situation, the level of radioactivity nor the operating status of nuclear power plants (the November 22 earthquake proved it again with a new failure of the cooling system) should not allow such political tranquility. By a correlation, since the magnitude 7.8 New Zealand earthquake of November 13, 2016, we expected a new earthquake in Japan. Not by the law of series, but according to the tectonic sequence observed in 2011, when the Japanese earthquake was preceded by the earthquake of Christchurch in New Zealand, of magnitude 6.3. This phenomenon was verified during the Kumamoto earthquake in southern Japan on Kyushu Island, April 20, 2016, also announced by an earthquake in Christchurch February 14, of magnitude 5.8. This combination of earthquakes is the result of the pressures caused by the Pacific plate common to both archipelagos.
 
Thus, if the tsunami warning was suspended on the entire area a few hours after the earthquake, the number of replicates left a heavy concern. In just over a day no less than 90 aftershocks were recorded. The earthquake of November 22, 2016, followed by a strong aftershock on November 24 of magnitude 6.1 was accompanied by a new earthquake in New Zealand of magnitude 6.3 which, according to the director of earthquake information planning, Mr. Kouji Nakamura, would predict a new class 7 earthquake in Japan in the following months.
 
Despite common sense, the return to the former evacuation zone organized by the authorities takes place
 
Mr. Nakamura’s predictions were not long in coming. On February 26, 2017, at 4.49 pm, a new earthquake of magnitude 5 shook the ground of Fukushima but nothing disturbed the decision of programmed return made in 2013, the date when the Japanese government established a large budget, split among all the ministries and intended to develop risk communication in order to influence populations about their return. In April 2017, the Japanese government reopened a part of the evacuation zone around the Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, simultaneously lifting housing aid for the refugee population. Other incentives such as tax exemption for those planning to build new homes in the area are also introduced [7]. Following imperturbably the planning developed several years upstream, which in essence is disconnected from the present situation, and to the astonishment of the international institutions responsible for managing the nuclear issue, committed to setting up a management system that allows the existence of nuclear power, the Japanese government compels the population to return to live on areas still sometimes highly contaminated, by gradually abolitshing the evacuation zone (Figure 2).
2
Figure 2. Prohibited areas and return area in Fukushima Prefecture (Source of maps: METI Translation and adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice, Géoconfluences, 2017.)
 
3
Figure 3. Reopening of the village of Iitate. Authorities greet residents under a meter displaying 0, 21 microsievert / h, with the greeting used when a family member comes home: “Welcome back! (Source of the Image: Kyodo News)
In fact, public investments for reconstruction have often been pharaonic for the construction of oversized buildings for an absent population. Thus, the only municipality of Iitate will receive a budget of 1.7 billion euros for the reconstruction of various public facilities. Only 10 to 20 percent of the population has returned to most villages, despite the constraints they face.
 
A resident of the village of Iitate declared on February 19, 2017, during a conference organized in Fukushima by researchers and former inhabitants of the village: “We are told that there is no problem. Just do not go on the “hot spots”. You can not go to the mountains, nor go near the rivers, do not go to the right or to the left … How do you want us to live here ?! “. A former member of the communal council, testifies: We moved six years ago now. Why should we return to a desert village where the environment does not allow us to live freely and safely? [8].
 
What is the real situation?
 
4
Figure 4. Estimated total of refugees is 39 600 person on February 2017
Source : Official data, published by Fukushima Minpo Journal on March 2017. Translation : Cécile Asanuma-Brice. Realisation : J.-B. Bouron, Géoconfluences, 2017.
 
Since most people did not register in the refugee counting database, it is difficult to establish an accurate mapping of the situation. Nevertheless, the map at the time of the facts allows us to establish trends (Asanuma-Brice, 2014). It reported 160,000 refugees by the time they were highest in May 2012.The inhabitants had mainly taken refuge in the countryside of the surrounding Prefectures (Yamagata, Niigata), as well as in the capital, Tokyo [9].
 
5
Figure 5. Number of refugees in and out of Fukushima Prefecture (Source: according to official data, relayed by Fukushima Minpo newspaper, March 3, 2017. Translation-adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice and Géoconfluences, 2017.)
 
Six years later, the authorities estimate this figure at 80,000 refugees, including 40,000 outside the department, and 40,000 internally displaced persons. However, the distribution has changed somewhat as the majority of refugees outside the Prefecture are now exclusively located in Tokyo and 80% of these people would be relocated to rental apartments in the public or private sector [10]. This figure does not include all persons whose refugee status has changed to that of a migrant, all those who, after six years spent outside their village, have rebuilt their lives elsewhere and have administratively registered their move to another municipality.
 
This leads us to question the relevance of the term “refugee”, because most evacuees “voluntarily” or not, have rebuilt their lives, failing to rebuild their environment, elsewhere. Six years. This corresponds to a complete school cycle, which is why most families with children no longer plan to return to live in the area. They… moved.
 
The situation is harder for the elderly. Some of them have been relocated to the 15,561 temporary housing units built inside the Prefecture. Thus those over 65 years old represent more than 40% of the people relocated in these so-called “temporary” cities. For the most part, these people had to agree to move to collective public housing built for this purpose and are, in fact, no longer included in the figures for refugees. While in July 2012, 33,016 inhabitants lived in these temporary housing, this figure drops to 12,381 in February 2017, reaching the lowest rates after April 2017. As of January 31, 2017, 3,028 public rental units of the 4,890 originally planned were built in 15 municipalities in the Prefecture (Figure 6).
 
6
Figure 6. Map of dwellings built for refugees in Fukushima Prefecture (Data source: Fukushima Minpo, March 3, 2017. Translation-adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice and Géoconfluences, 2017.)
 
 
Another portion of seniors lived, since the happening, in a private rental park. Renting an apartment in the city was often seen as temporary, waiting for the results of the gigantic policy of public decontamination. People have been left in hope for two years, and then the government stopped providing them with housing assistance, pretending that it is possible to return. Some reconnaissance trips to the scene are enough to awaken their conscience. The landscapes have been destroyed by decontamination, scraped soils, torn trees, sacks of contaminated soil extending as far as the eye can see in the fields. The house has deteriorated. Habitat rehabilitation companies are no longer there, nor are there any neighbors. Their children, grandchildren, have started a new life elsewhere and do not want to come back to an environment that still has high levels of contamination. It is, however, impossible for them to maintain their large farm buildings alone; empty, heavy, are these stones, like their spirits drowned in an ultimate hope forever unfulfilled. Those who try to return fall into a depressive spiral that leads to suicide for majority of them.
 
A documentary made by the NHK on January 9, 2017 tries to sound the alarm, but to no avail. Titled “And yet, I tried to live” [11], it bears witness to the end of life of these people, mostly elderly, victims of an isolation that will often be fatal to them. Professor Tsukiji [12], Waseda University, psychologist and director of the Disaster Situations Laboratory published the results of a study proving that the constraints to return on these still unstable territories would generate a consequent wave of suicides. It remains inconsequential on the planning decision-making machine that was put in place four years earlier. These human sacrifices are accepted by all in the silence of a world that continues to be nuclearized.
 
Progress, and life: what science is entitled to question
 
This brings us back to a larger reflection developed by Max Weber a century ago, who himself used the writings of Leo Tolstoy about the meaning of death in our civilized societies. According to him, death for the civilized man (Kulturmensch) cannot make sense in that the life of each individual is constitutive of an infinite process which he seeks: progress. Nobody will ever be able to reach a goal, a climax, since progress is an infinite process. In this the finite time of life is only part of its momentum. Weber connects this reflection with another that I think is fundamental to put in the agora of sciences (human or not): “Does progress “, as such, have a discernible meaning beyond the technique, so that putting oneself to its service would be a meaningful vocation? ” (Weber, 1969). This question, formulated a century ago, remains unansswered; our societies continue to multiply human sacrifices on the altar of innovation for a purpose whose existence is not on a human scale.
 
Cécile ASANUMA-BRICE
Researcher in urban sociology, Franco-Japanese Institute Tokyo UMIFRE 19-CNRS / CLERSE Laboratory, University Lille 1-CNRS
 
Notes :
[1] Corium: Technical term for the core of nuclear reactors.
[2] Data from TEPCO, January 27, 2017.
[3] IAEA: National Agency for Atomic Energy, the CEPN: Center for the Study on the Evaluation of Protection in the Nuclear Field, or the IRSN: Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety.
[4] According to the results of the sanitary committee official returns on February 20, 2017.
[5] On Resilience, refer to our article: C. Asanuma-Brice (23 November 2015) “From Vulnerability to Resilience, Reflections on Protection in the Event of Extreme Disasters”, Public Reason Review.
6] The microsievert / hour is the unit generally used to measure the impact of radioactive radiation on humans.
[7] Minpo Journal, January 18, 2017
[8] Conference on the return of the inhabitants of Iitate (Fukushima) 19.02.2017
[9] Regarding the housing policies set up after the disaster, see our article: C. Asanuma-Brice (2011), “Japanese social housing, when the notion of” public “is right,” Revue Urbanisme, Nov. 2011.
[10] Survey of March 13, 2017, Fukushima Prefecture
[11] NHK, 2017
[12] Takuya Tsujiuchi Waseda Institute of Medical Anthropology on Disaster Reconstruction, “Mental Health Impact of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Post-Traumatic Stress and Psycho-socio-economic Factors”, Fukushima Global Communication Program, working paper series, number 8, December 2015.
 
Bibliography
Scientific articles and publications
Anders Gunther, 2006, La menace nucléaire : considérations radicales sous l’âge atomique, Broché.
Arendt Hannah, 1967, Responsabilité et jugement, Poche.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2017, “Atomic Fission and Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown: When politics prevails over scientific proof”, in Christophe Thouny et Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto (dir.), Planetary Atmospheres and Urban Society After Fukushima, Singapore, Springer Verlag, pp. 95-112.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « À Fukushima, la population est dans une situation inextricable », Le Journal du CNRS.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « La mémoire de l’oubli, une forme de résistance à la résilience », publication des actes du colloque « Après le désastre, réponses commémoratives et culturelles », Université de Tokyo.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2015, « De la vulnérabilité à la résilience, réflexions sur la protection en cas de désastre extrême : le cas de la gestion des conséquences de l’explosion d’une centrale nucléaire à Fukushima », Revue Raison Publique.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2014, “Beyond reality: The management of migratory flows in a nuclear catastrophe by a pro-nuclear State”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, vol. 12-1, November.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2012, « Les politiques publiques du logement face à la catastrophe du 11 mars », Ebisu, n° 47, juin.
Beck Ulrich, 2003, La société du risque, Paris, Flammarion, 521 p.
Brown Kate, 2015, Plutopia : Nuclear Families, Atomic cities, and the great soviet and american plutonium disasters, Oxford University
Bruno Tino, 2016, « Presse et nucléaire au Japon ─ De Hiroshima à Tôkaimura(1945-1957) », Ritsumeikan
Takuya Tsujiuchi, Maya Yamaguchi, Kazutaka Masuda, Marisa Tsuchida, Tadashi Inomata, Hiroaki Kumano, Yasushi Kikuchi, Eugene F. Augusterfer, Richard F. Mollica, 2016, High Prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Relation to Social Factors in Affected Population One Year after the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Hecht Gabrielle, 2004, Le Rayonnement de la France. Énergie nucléaire et identité nationale après la seconde guerre mondiale, Paris, La Découverte.
Jonas Hans, 1979, Le principe de responsabilité, Flammarion, Champs essai.
影浦 峡(2011)3.11後の放射能「安全」報道を読み解く: 社会情報リテラシー実践講座 、岩波科学 — Kageura Kyo, 2011, Déchiffrer les rapports concernant la contamination “fiable”/”sûre” après le 3.11 : cours pratiques d’initiation au décodage de la littérature concernant l’information sociale”, édition scientifiques Iwanami [en japonais]
影浦 峡(2013)信頼の条件―原発事故をめぐることば 、岩波科学 — Kageura Kyo, 2013, Les conditions de la confiance – Les paroles autour du nucléaire, édition scientifiques Iwanami [en japonais]
Pelletier Philippe, 2012 « La guerre de Fukushima », Hérodote, 2012/3 (n° 146-147), p. 277-307.
Ribault Thierry et Ribault Nadine, 2012, Les sancuaires de l’abîme. Édition L’encyclopédie des nuisances.
Riesel René, 2008, « À propos du désastre en cours », in Catastrophisme, administration du désastre, et soumission durable, Édition L’encyclopédie des nuisances.
Semprun Jaime, 1986, La nucléarisation du monde, Ivrea.
Shinobu Goto (2016), “Fairness in Educational Materials on Nuclear Power and Radiation by the Japanese Government for Formal Education”, The International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 12, Issue 2.
Study 2007, (2015), 見捨てられた初期被曝, 岩波科学ライブラリー2015 — Study 2007, Les irradiés abandonnés de la première vague de contamination, Éditions de la Librairie scientifique d’Iwanami [en japonais]
Thébaud-Mony Annie, 2008, Travailler peut nuire gravement à votre santé. Sous-traitance des risques, mise en danger d’autrui, atteinte à la dignité…, La Découverte, 2008. Compte-rendu d’Igor Martinache dans Lectures.
Weber Max, 1963, Le savant et le politique, conférences à l’université de Munich de 1917 à 1919, Paris, Éditions 10-18.
 
Press and public publications of the author
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2017, « Fukushima : une catastrophe sans fin », Sciences et avenir.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « Fukushima, Temps de la fin contre fin des temps », Sciences et avenir, 21 mars 2016.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « Japon : “La centrale nucléaire de Sendai réveille le traumatisme de mars 2011” », Le Monde.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2015, « Fukushima, Bilan d’une situation sanitaire inquiétante », Médiapart, octobre 2015.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2014, « La légende Fukushima », Libération, septembre 2014.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile et Ribault Thierry, 2013, « “Crime d’Etat” à Fukushima : “L’unique solution est la fuite” », Le Nouvel Observateur-Rue 89, juillet 2013.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2011, « La réouverture contestée des écoles irradiées de Fukushima », Le Nouvel Observateur-Rue 89, Mai 2011.
 
Source :
Cécile Asanuma-Brice, « Les migrants du nucléaire », Géoconfluences, octobre 2017.
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Testimony of a mother who evacuated from Tokyo

Listen to her testimony (in English).

She evacuated from Tokyo to Kobe in west Japan to protect her daughter.
The contamination does not stop at the Fukushima department border. Tokyo is also contaminated.

 

Transcription (note 1):
I am standing here to tell you that the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe is not over.
I evacuated to Kansai (note2), three years after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.
Where do you think I evacuated from?
I evacuated from Tokyo!
Do you know that Tokyo has serious radioactive contamination?
Tens of millions of people in east Japan live with radioactive contamination now.
I have a daughter who was 5 years old at the time of the accident.
She became very sick one year after the accident.
In fact, my daughter became so sick that she could not live a normal life at all.
However, when she stayed in a place where there was no radioactive contamination, my daughter became so well. But when we returned to Tokyo, my daughter became sick again.
We did not have the option to stay in Tokyo, we just fled from Tokyo and came here.
Living in east Japan means living with many radioactive materials, and it is not a place where people can live healthily.
We are calling for evacuation to west Japan.
We are evacuees from eastern Japan.
Our existence will not be broadcasted on radio waves or published in newspapers. So, I am telling you about it now.
After the accident, we were told that radiation was not a problem, health damages would not occur.
But it was not true.
Many of us have evacuated from east to west due to various health problems.
Many people are getting sick today in east Japan.
People are dying without noticing that it is due to radiation.
Many Japanese can not face this nuclear catastrophe.
Please try to know what is going on in Japan now.
We are telling the world that the nuclear disaster is far from being over.
Note 1: We thank Ms Yoko Chase for her proofreading of the text prepared by Ms Yoko Shimozawa.
Note 2: The region in west Japan, including large cities such as Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.

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

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

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