It is 22 years on January 17 this year after the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake which shook the central-western region of Japan. It resulted in 6,434 deaths, missing of three people and the injured of 43,872. Rehabilitation process is perceptible in the City of Kobe, but still people are deeply annoyed by the tragic incident in their daily life. What are problems left behind?
MUNICIPALITY GOVERNMENTS FILED SUIT AGAINST VICTIMS
Over 50% of residents who dwell in the public apartment houses for earthquake-victims are the elderly. The high rate exceeds the nation’s average 25%, which consequently has triggered collapse of local communities. Deaths in a solitary room occur one after another.
Some municipalities allow victims to live on through in the apartments which local authorities rent from private owners, like Takarazuka City and Itami City. But the Kobe City authority, demanding residents to leave apartments by 2020 on account of agreements concluded between the city office and sufferers, filed a suit in February and November last year against seven households in total to move from the houses with a request of damage compensation. In the same way the Nishinomiya City authority, too, presented suits in May against seven of the households.
These are the first cases that municipalities accuse suffering families of earthquakes. Residents are not to be blamed. Lawsuits are too bitter and painstaking. In addition, tax money, not a little amount, will be spent on such lawsuits. Currently some 2 thousand and several hundreds of families live in the local government-rent houses. Many of them want to continue to reside. Another lawsuit is foreseen. Local authorities should not commit in litigations but dialogues.
Health Damage from Asbestos
A health issue related to asbestos emerges. It became evident in 2008 and four workers who worked in the disastrous areas for dissembling buildings are certified for industrial accident. At the moment diseases are reported only from the working sites, but due to a long incubation period, disorders in people’s health will come later. Local authorities should be ready for early detection of disease through a certain health check system.
It will soon see the sixth-year day of the Great Eastern Japan earthquake which hit the north-eastern region, including Fukushima. Last year big earthquakes took place in Kumamoto, Kyushu, and Tottori, western Honshu, which have brought extraordinary hazards. It is not surprising that earthquakes may happen at any place and time, as the entire archipelago has ushered in, reportedly, an active seismic phase.
However, the central government does not take in sincere account of the lessons of recent earthquakes. It eagerly attempts to restart nuclear power plants across the nation.
In the end of last year the government announced an estimated sum for costs of decommissioning, compensations and de-radiation works of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Power Plant accident as 21.5 trillion, which is twice as much as original calculations. It said that the increased amount would be covered by people in general through a hike of electricity rate. The government’s propaganda that ‘nuclear power is cheap’ is now totally collapsed.
Elaboration Needed for Assistance Law
A law, which was enacted through lessons and civic movements in relation to the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, called the Assistance Act for Rehabilitating Livelihood of Earthquake Sufferers, covers people whose houses are completely and almost completely destroyed, but it does not help those whose houses are half-or-less-than-half destroyed. It is not applied to cases with minor destruction. Insufficiencies remain in the law, including sums of benefit money. Many afflicted municipalities of recent natural disasters demand improvements of the law.
Meanwhile, the Abe government forced to enact the unconstitutional law, the so-called war legislation, and ordered the Self Defense Forces of Japan deployed in South Sudan for PKO to fulfill a new task to join armed crashes. What Japan should commit is to create non-military rescue teams to cope with natural disasters to be deployed rapidly even abroad at a time of emergency.
The New Socialist Party is determined to help verification of rehabilitation processes of earthquake damages together with citizens for their benefits.
January 24, 2017