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Fukushima fallout: Resentment of evacuees grows in nearby city

32 Comments
By Mari Saito and Antoni Slodkowski

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32 Comments
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“feel envious of their compensation.” That is a new low! These people lost everything because of a power plant ran by execs from Tokyo, some few hundreds kilometers away. Sure to host all these newcomers is no easy job but a lot of people are making the best of it. Shops and restaurant workers are not complaining!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

According to this article, Japanese seem to dislike or fear almost everyone who was not born within a 50 km radius of themselves. This just goes to show how petty and unsympathetic these people are. They have no idea of the suffering and the pain these evacuees have suffered, they only see that they are getting a little bit of money and they are jealous. This article, and the one about the seeing eye dog getting stabbed, really make me question humanity these days!

26 ( +28 / -3 )

But that solidarity and sense of shared purpose has frayed

Silly me for thinking bond had a mere deep and lasting meaning. I guess we see the word 'kizuna' was only a fad word of the year. Yes, it sounds like the newcomers aren't forming connections, but I am sure they feel deep pain for loosing their home and everything they know, and they know outsiders are not easily welcomed. Did the locals even think about how gambling for example is probably an escape from the harsh reality of their lives?

9 ( +10 / -2 )

O-mo-te-na-shi...

15 ( +16 / -1 )

Human nature. People don't like outsiders. Which is no excuse, just an explanation.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Evacuees Go Home

Right. Makes perfect sense. They are outsiders, therefore undesirable. They've created change and friction in a social order that defaults to comfort and keeping everything the same. An evacuee is little more than a gaijin with a Japanese face (who speaks Japanese and uses chopsticks very well).

This is one of the deepest flaws in this society. On the one hand so much beguiling culture and centuries of venerable history and tradition; on the other an equal history and tradition of discrimination and suspicion. If Japan does not survive as a powerful nation into the future, this will be one of factors in its fall.

18 ( +21 / -4 )

Well, the compensation the evacuees are receiving is in exchange for whatever probably-much-nicer situation they had built for themselves before they nuclear plant spouted over everything, and is probably not nearly enough.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

What a bunch of selfish bastards! I'm wondering how they would feel if it was Iwaki that was evacuated and they were the ones that had to relocate.

15 ( +15 / -1 )

Appreciate the article.

Why are so many allowing TEPCO do so little all affected?

Where are the contributions from TEPCOs board, elite executive, shareholders and financiers who were responsible for Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe with continuing contamination infinitum?

Where is the long term planning from those now overseeing the integration displaced people?

Because projecting blame for the tension onto the displaced in either region is just evidence of poor leadership and responsibility by the government / TEPCO. No one could possibly surprised at the issues raised, they would happen in any community of humans.

But that is the keypoint of this well written piece...

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"This society" "These people"? There is nothing in the article to suggest that this is not generally the case when large numbers of people are evacuated. If you Google "friction/tension between evacuees" or "toward evacuees," you will see that sadly, as Luca says, this is a side of human nature.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

But long-time residents have also come to resent evacuees

And as paul Richards says, the J-government and TEPCO just sit on their hands as the continued fallout from the disaster and a horribly managed recovery plan tears apart the fabric of Japanese society in the Fukushima area. Sure, you can call the locals, cold-hearted, and there would be some truth to that. But the one who is most cold-hearted is PM Abe who stood up in front of the IOC and spoke with a straight face about the miracle of the recovery and how the 2020 Olymics would be a celebration of this Japanese spirit. Truly sad.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

As a long-term Fukushima resident , I have also heard the negative comments about the evacuees, and the clean-up men.There is a popular image among some that the evacuees are living the life of Riley: constantly drinking and playing pachinko. However whenever I ride past their miserable "temporary" shelters, I just see (mostly elderly ) folk who have been let down by Japan and failed by the current and previous governments. Similarly, rumours fly around about the blokes doing the dirty cleanup work : "Be careful to lock your doors... I hear they're from Kyushu", "Their accents are weird" , and so on.

Fortunately the majority of people here seem welcoming and respectful - but "unfounded rumours" about outsiders have no doubt done some damage.

13 ( +13 / -1 )

They must be extremely angry not pretending to be caring and thoughtful citizen like they usually do when in public.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Misunderstanding breeds anger breeds resentment breeds animosity...surely not in Japan will it hit the extreme. But perhaps all those Japanese tourists to the gun ranges in Hawaii can explain their rationale for wanting to shoot weapons that were invented solely to kill people.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A sad outcome...it's sad the thing that seems to bother them most is that the evacuees "dress and eat different" I bet these same folks, if they had to evacuate and get government support, would be belly-aching that it wasn't enough.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This the Japanese government's fault, and I don't blame the local residents for getting a bit tired of all these "guests" after more than 2 years.

How many more years will the cleanup take? I'd be surprised if it was under 5 years, and it'll probably be a decade or more. One cannot expect people to sit around in temporary housing for 5 years waiting.

The government should have looked at the refugee situation more closely, identified people with family in other prefectures and paid relocation expenses, examined where there are old-age homes with space for those without family, and generally have exercised a little common sense in finding these people new homes, and not just stuck them in an holding pattern for years.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"evacuees go home" Is that not a contradiction in terms?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

These people in Iwaki complaining are perfect examples of what lurks just below the surface in Japan nationwide, a bunch cold, petty people, just looking for any excuse to rant & rave.

Its unbelievable that evacuee's are GAIJIN in their own country, doesn't get colder than that!

The shear lunacy we are all witnessing wrt to the Fukushima nukes whether its evacuee's, contaminated soil etc, the plants themselves, "plans" for the future......................NOTHING seems to be headed in the right direction.

The disaster(s) continue with no end in sight & many smaller local disasters will continue to sprout, how sad!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

this is not the first time... a lot of my friends from Fukushima say they try to avoid public places when in Tokyo or suburbs. People who know they are from Fukushima just try to avoid getting near them or murmur something and leave !

If Japan does not survive as a powerful nation into the future, this will be one of factors in its fall.

Completely agree with philly1. I can understand such treatment to a foreigner (though it is not justified at all...but unfortunately that is human nature). But these are Japanese people...their own !!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Seems like Frunky has all the answers you don't know unless you lived it. Money is the root of this problem any way you look at it. The people in Iwaki are jealous and selfish their thinking is typical everyone is suppose to look the same and be the same. The problem is the people of Iwaki are envious they aren't getting government funds these displaced people have suffered enough they have lost homes and family members and if they could have their homes and families members back that they lost I can bet they wouldn't want to live in Iwaki. Frungy don't hate the players hate the game this is a game where the government set the rules players are only getting what the government gives them that's all. I read in the article where one person said they dress different well if you probably lost everything except the clothes on your back you too would buy yourself something nice especially if the money comes from the government pocket again don't hate the player hate the game life goes on!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I am not sure if this is accurate info, but according to other medias, an evacuee has got 23 million yen on average so far and they have been fully compensated for their income before the disaster. If it is a family of four, the family has got 92 million yen so far on average. This is just "on average" but we can easily imagine how much amout of money they've got. Adding to that, they do not need to pay for their inhabitant tax and get free medical care.

So,it seems many pepole have become more rich than before the disaster even though they do not work (in fact, it would be hard to find a new job)

Once they start working and earn their livings themselves, compensations will be cut and they would have to pay taxes and lose their other benefits. So, they are hanging around all day drikining, doing pacinko and a few evacuees use their money to buy Mercedes Benz, BMW and Lexus cars. (I think most of the evacuees are modest, but a few are not)

And it seems that these people, who are hanging around all day without working, cause some deteriorating condition of public safety in Iwaki city.

So, I think this is not "People don't like outsiders" issue.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a complicated issue and I think that the article is not presenting all the reasons for the sentiments of the locals. Compensation is necessary for the evacuees to survive until they are able to relocate or return home. However, even displaced persons can help the communities they move to by engaging in communal work or finding jobs there difficult though it might be. While elderly people should not be expected to do so, there are many evacuees in active age who receive compensation in the form of monthly allowance amounting to more or less 100, 000 per person. Many 3-, 4-, 5-member families actually survive on this allowance and do not need to work and therefore do not look for work even 3.5 years after the disaster.

government payouts to the newcomers have been frittered away on luxury cars and villas, locally dubbed “disaster relief mansions.”

Yet, some build villas and buy luxury cars. In this case, I can understand the current sentiment in Iwaki. While evacuees do need compensation to survive until they are ready to get back on their feet, as the monthly allowances continue to be paid to people in active age who are not even looking for a job, the government creates a culture of dependence among the evacuees which may continue to exist for quite some time and which will not help overcome the frictions between the evacuees and local communities.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It's very naive to think that practically moving half a city into another city, which possibly even had some light regional / historic rivalry between them, would be painless. To say that you expect it be smooth because Japan is a polite society is even farther out. You can compare it to a exchange student having mild culture shocks, then scale that up to an entire region and add in huge quantities of trauma and various sums of money. Additionally this was a mining society which hasn't been particularly booming for decades, which makes this a wonderful social experiment that would have lead to civil wars in many societies.

About the suspicion to cleanup workers, you can probably safely assume the type of person willing to clean up radioactive waste for a living would tend to be of a certain stock, or at the very least suppose that they would like to blow off steam on evenings.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

kaimycahlSep. 01, 2014 - 12:49PM JST Seems like Frunky has all the answers you don't know unless you lived it.

Yes, I have the answers because I've been involved in relocating people before and it is a ton of hard work, but it is absolutely necessary.

Nobody feels "settled" in a relocation camp. Kids need stable environments, adults need to work and elderly people often need specialised facilities.

Yet, some build villas and buy luxury cars. In this case, I can understand the current sentiment in Iwaki.

You see this sort of "welfare blaming" in a lot of countries. My experience of it was in the UK. When you get your feet on the ground you'll find that it is actually a tiny percentage of people who did stuff like this, and they mostly used their own savings.

Every single time sociologists have examined this phenomenon the results have been the same, it is nothing more than victim blaming.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

K thee people who gladly took the "Japanese are stoic" compliments, and more importantly themselves sought shelter in the aftermath of the disaster before returning home and ask them how they felt when being eyed as outsiders, or radioactive threats, or what have you. Granted, they eventually went home whereas those from other areas setting up shop permanently in Iwaki have not, but they CAN'T! If they want to be petty, angry, an resentful, target it at the correct people: TEPCO and the government!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Iwaki is changing - and not for the good,” said Inokoshi, 55, who echoes a sentiment widely heard in this town of almost 300,000 where the economic boom that followed the nuclear accident has brought its own disruption.

If this is a "town" with a population of almost 300,000 people maybe they could invest some money into the infrastructure and make it a "city".

This is just another example of one side of the hypocritical nature of many Japanese people. To the world they want to be seen as being hospitable and giving, only as long as it's in someone else's backyard!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I have passed through Iwaki once or twice. It looks like a right dump and I pity any evacuees who have to live there.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The Iwaki people have a point if the refugees are driving up prices. Iwaki-ites didn't get subsidies to compete with out-of-town refugee's compensation money, did they?

Although prices are going up everywhere, to satisfy corporate greed, so maybe they just think they have a point.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I am not surprized in the slightest. When government handles things they screw up every time. The folk in Iwaki are probably wanting their town back and feel the guests have over stayed their welcome. I do not agree with their fellings but it is understandable.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

you'll find that it is actually a tiny percentage of people who did stuff like this, and they mostly used their own savings.

Fair enough. Yet a quick look at other media outlets will give you some nuances to this picture as sure it is not only black and white and there are many factors which should be considered. Many of the evacuees in active age feel secure enough to not look for jobs now because once they find a job they will have to start paying taxes and eventually their income may decrease compared to what they get now. You might hate me for what I will say but it has been three and a half years and even victims have to make efforts to get back on their feet. So it is not "victim blaming." I think that victims should be encouraged to go back to work because as nasty as it sounds, compassion lasts only this long. Many people are not willing to pay (the monthly allowances come from taxes) for somebody who can but does not want to work. And especially in small towns of blue collar workers where every yen is earned the hard way, the lack of willingness to even look for work is not accepted well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"This society" "These people"? There is nothing in the article to suggest that this is not generally the case when large numbers of people are evacuated. If you Google "friction/tension between evacuees" or "toward evacuees," you will see that sadly, as Luca says, this is a side of human nature.

Yeah, maybe it's a side of human nature. But repeatedly and proudly proclaiming exclusive rights to something called "kizuna" most certainly is not.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Where are they supposed to go if nobody likes "outsiders"? What a hopeless attitude

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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