Saturday, August 8, 2015

Many evacuees resist return to Fukushima

The Japanese government is working on a plan to repopulate much of the evacuation zone around Fukushima, by resettling those evacuated in 2011. But they are meeting resistance from many of the evacuees.
While the government has undertaken a vast and costly cleanup to undo the effects of the accident and allow residents to return, many evacuees reject this course, complaining it was chosen without consulting them.
In fact, polls show a majority do not even want to go back. In a telling move in a country where litigation is relatively rare, more than 10,000 have joined some 20 class-action lawsuits to demand more compensation so they can afford to choose for themselves whether to return, or to build new lives elsewhere.
This has become an increasingly pressing issue for the tens of thousands of evacuees whose lives remain on hold, living in temporary housing and making ends meet with monthly stipends of about $800 per adult from the nuclear plant’s operator.
They have endured this situation since being evacuated from their homes after a huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 knocked out vital cooling systems at three of the Fukushima plant’s nuclear reactors, causing multiple meltdowns that spewed radioactive fallout over the surrounding farming villages and coastal towns.
Within months of the accident, Tokyo was already drawing up plans to clean up an entire countryside polluted by invisible contaminants, something even the central planners of the former Soviet Union could not accomplish around Chernobyl, after the disaster there in 1986.
The Abe government’s new timetable, adopted on June 12, calls for accelerating the pace of this cleanup with a “concentrated decontamination effort” over the next two years.
If you were or are an evacuee, would you trust the government? Would you want to return?

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