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Trickle of residents return to Fukushima's last deserted town

34 Comments
By Kyoko HASEGAWA

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34 Comments
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It’s been a long, hard road back. I wish the returning residents the best and hope all goes well for their community.

23 ( +24 / -1 )

That’s a lot of infrastructure work for 15 people that are trialing an overnight stay. They obviously couldn’t start again and have to go back to where they feel comfortable. Not sure how comfortable living in a ghost town would be. But good luck to them.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

The sad thing is, it doesn’t even look much more ghastly than the average Japanese village/town!

1 ( +18 / -17 )

The scheme "aims to ensure that residents will be able to live without problems, by, for example, checking if the sewers function well and there are facilities to support everyday life", a cabinet office official in charge of supporting Fukushima residents told AFP.

did they check the radiation levels too?

-6 ( +11 / -17 )

The sad thing is, it doesn’t even look much more ghastly than the average Japanese village/town!

With some little mud from tsunami and radiation contamination, that's where difference are.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

This is ridiculous.

The government has undertaken an extensive decontamination programme in the region, literally scraping layers of topsoil, among other methods to remove radiation.

Scrapping topsoil off the ground among other pointless schemes.

I heard they dumped those layers in other nearby prefectures near rivers etc just so everyone gets a fair dose of radiation poisoning.

-8 ( +15 / -23 )

With some little mud from tsunami and radiation contamination, that's where difference are.

Indeed. I meant more like the ugly overhead wires, superfluous signage and barriers, plastic houses with metal windows....

-2 ( +14 / -16 )

Suicide mission.

Though I understand they cannot wait 10,000 years…

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

They probably space the residences perfectly in places where they want to build the seawall to justify it. I really hope there are no children. I would consider moving there if they gave me a bunch of grant money and a perfect 10 with bad teeth or something. I can hear the banjo playing already.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

It's sad that these people were never fully compensated for a 'man-made' disaster that occured due to TEPCO's failure to properly maintain and upgrade the plant. This should never have happened! They were warned and urged to put the back up generators on the roofs of the reactor housings in 2001 and they ignored it. If they had done it the reactors wouldn't have gone into meltdown due to a power failure of the cooling system. TEPCO should be paying these people full compensation and never be allowed to turn a profit again.

11 ( +19 / -8 )

I taught at Fukushima Daini for years and so know this area well. The elite TEPCO employees were rotated in and out of this plant and most all of them complained about the life there bitterly - not much going on. The wives refused to come. But they all got to go home and lead normal lives. It is the local TEPCO employees who have suffered - the sons and daughters of farmers and fishermen who sought better lives for themselves.

24 ( +24 / -0 )

Big mistake, huge.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Why would anyone choose to live in an area where radioactive contamination continues to build up in the environment?

3 ( +12 / -9 )

Can't imagine the feelings of these people returning after so much time but still having radiation as something that will keep them stressed, even if people return life will not be back to normal for much longer time.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

good luck guys.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Would you eat food from Chernobyl area even now? No thanks. I

4 ( +11 / -7 )

Feel sorry for these residents being duped by Jgov. Jgov had to lower the radioactive safety levels to fit their narratives. Now these locals are going to suffer long term consequences. Really sad.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

5,600 inhabitants in Futaba.

15 have applied to come back.

'nuff said. This town is dead, gone, snuffed out of existence. The inhabitants may have tap water, but what about services: postal/medical services or daily needs such as food? Nobody is going to want to come here because, well, Fukushima but also because there is no business to be done here. All this making this:

The scheme "aims to ensure that residents will be able to live without problems, by, for example, checking if the sewers function well and there are facilities to support everyday life", a cabinet office official in charge of supporting Fukushima residents told AFP.

...sound very hollow.

11 years after the disaster everybody who had a family, money, connections/relatives to re-start their lives elsewhere did. These 15 are the other ones or those who are too attached to the area (i.e. the "elder" ones). If these are, as I suspect, elderly people they will after a few year anyway need to move out again for medical reasons...

And as for this:

The government has undertaken an extensive decontamination programme in the region, literally scraping layers of topsoil, among other methods to remove radiation.

...1-2 years ago I saw a piece on TV about that.

No other region wants the scrapped earth on their grounds, nobody! The J-gov had been baiting prefectures, regions, cities, villages with tossing around (tax-payers) money to:

1 - accept to hold a town/city-meeting with government official and listen to what they had to say (i.e. your city/village will receive a lot of money, no obligations to continue the process),

2 - (I believe) organize a public vote on whether accepting of not the radioactive stuff (i.e. your city/village will receive a lot of money, no obligation for the vote to turn out positive),

3 - physically take reception of the radioactive stuff (i.e. your city/village will receive a lot of money upon reception).

In short: at every step, your city/village will receive money even if the processes stops.

According to the piece, only one village/city's mayor wanted to process to the first step, faced total opposition from his constituents with one even throwing a molotov cocktail onto the mayor's house in protest(!). Process stopped immediately.

No thinks that somewhere down the road, the J-gov will simply dump the radioactive earth into the sea. Mondai nai-style. My answer: under a similar scheme, just bury the stuff under Nagata-cho, the tossers in parliament already received too much money anyway.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Those who persist in advocating more nuclear power need to reflect upon Fukushima. The massive clean up costs of a disaster, and the associated human misery and relocation, are often not factored into calculations when deciding upon the suitability of building new nuclear plants.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Watching this on nhk last night and couldn't help but feel sorry for those returning folk. Nice people.

Their individual houses looked pretty much "restored", but the area has tragedy written all over it.

And according to the program, almost no one else wants to return. Aside from any lingering radiation / danger doubts, the ex-townsfolk have established new lives - new homes, new jobs, new families, new schools, new friends etc.

As mentioned above there are no services and facilities (except water & power), no shops, banks, clinics, schools etc etc.

I truly understand the wishes and feelings of those few returnees, but this appears as a Big Window Dressing event by J-govt and Tepco to present a "See we're almost back to normal" slide show. Business as usual.

Far from it.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Oh yeah. Addition to what I explained above.

Last time I saw a piece on the radioactive earth which are waiting to find a final storage place (agreed, it was a few years ago, possibly when I saw the above-mentioned piece on TV), "temporary storage" visibly meant put the earth in what looked like strong XXXXLL-sized plastic bags and keep said bags out in the open. Frankly, less "storage" than "picnic" to me, but that's not even the point...

My point is that the above scheme is to find a "storage" place, as in "any place will do" vs an "adequate" (from a security point of view) storage place.

Even if a city/village accepts to store the stuff, will there be a feasibility/technical/science-based and independent(!!!!) assessment to validate the candidate as a "secured" option before proceeding?

I think we already all know the answer to that one, don't we...

Anyway, "Under Control" as they say. "Under Control"...

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Don’t recall the Olympic touch passing through that area? And do they still have representatives?, Mayor, city hall staff. Are taxes the same as a functioning urban area? Is rubbish collected? So many questions.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Would you eat food from Chernobyl area even now? No thanks.

If one of the Korean Olympic athletes can eat stuff from Fukushima, anyone can.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Pretty sure everyone is just waiting for them to open a konbini before they commit to moving back.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I would be happy to return if it were my home. Those who stayed back in the Chernobyl exclusion zone greatly outlived those who evacuated. The risk of radiation tends to be exaggerated. I wouldn't be surprised if we learn 20 years from now that mobile phone usage is a much greater risk than living in Fukushima.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Yep the people moving back are dodging a retirement home for their happy place, no neighbours, no convenience, no support. Expect after 1 night a reconsideration. Tears and regret. Or a lonely death. It’s just so sad. By the way that fence in the photo won’t stop radiation.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

There's a reason its a trial.

Obviously its not truly safe.

What's the incentive for these guinea pigs to return ?

Free health care ?

Perhaps the returnees have preexisting health issues.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

10 years not being allowed to enter your own home is a fairly long time and it is reason enough to settle down permanently somewhere else and looking for another job - especially if you have a family with children.

Why should they really come back near to these damaged nuclear plants while they established a reasonable and safe livelihood somewhere else away from nuclear plants and the sea?

I am not surprised that most people from that area do not consider to come back. I guess those coming back are rather old and poor people still living somewhere in shelter-like condition.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Why?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

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