It is six years from the catastrophic earthquake of March 11. Abandoning nuclear power generation is the major voice in the world stage, and over 50% of people here are against it. The Abe government, however, commits in re-operation, lifting the evacuation orders for those residents affected by the nuclear disaster. Re-operation is made an accomplished fact and voices of witnesses are shut down. Thus, the nuclear disaster will be made to disappear from people’s mind.
LET’S STRUGGLE SO THAT DIASTER MAY BE REMEMBERED!
Situations at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Power Plant are serious. Life of local people is harsh. The facts symbolize a starting point of struggles to abandon nuclear power generation.
Another tremor shook the Fukushima area at the end of last year, 2016, with the seismic intensity 5 of the Japanese scale. This upset people; they checked gas for their cars and phoned anxiously with family members to ensure safety. The automatic cooling system stopped in the nuclear fuel pool at the No.3 Reactor. Everyone well knows that radiation calamity might be more devastating than that an explosion if the cooling system downs to chill 2,544 reserved fuel rods.
It is reported that the tremor prevented for a while the transport system from sending contaminated water to reservoir tanks and water leaked at the No.2, No.3 and No.4 Reactors. Six years ago a far-away village from the disaster area, Iidate-mura, was hit by high-level radiation because of directions of wind. Residential areas where a lot of evacuees stay may be affected this time by the wind.
Evacuees face discrimination, too
A nuclear power plant is dangerous even if it stops operation. The Fukushima Dai-ichi Plant is more dangerous. Recently, finally, a robot entered inside the No.2 Reactor, and it has proven a radiation level there is high enough to kill a human being in two minutes. The robot, which cost over one billion Yen, got out of order during the second round of check due to high radiation. A reserved robot is absent and a checking job has been given up.
Some government officials propose a measure to cover reactors with cement walls as in the case of Chernobyl plant, but it is not employed. Maybe that will hinder decisions of the government to return evacuees home and host the Olympic Games in 2020.
The government has a policy to urge refugees to back home, except for some areas of Futaba-machi and Namie-machi. As for Chernobyl plant, the government there allows evacuees to select whether they may stay or come back and compensates for both preferences. Meanwhile, the Japanese government will stop compensation payments for voluntary refugees in March 2017 for their housing and in March 2018 for mental pains though the sum is small. The government has decided to stop compensation payments for all the evacuees (estimated over 100 thousand people) in 2018 with an exception of certain zones.
The Japanese government requests evacuees to return home through a starvation policy. That is far from a humanitarian measure. Evacuees are vulnerable to discrimination. They are exposed to bullying even at the moment. A junior high school student who moved to Yokohama City from Fukushima was bullied at school. He told he would live through in the sufferings. Responses made by the city’s Board of Education were inadequate. Bullying is repeated as a product of grown-up people.
Evacuees want to come home, but …
‘I do not tell where I come from, because people look at me curiously if I talk about my hometown’.
‘I have removed from the newly-built house, because someone scribbled, ‘a palace built with compensation money’, on the wall.’
‘I have changed the number of my car, because someone harms on it.’
These are comments of evacuees. They are annoyed. They want to come home, but radiation is high there, which is beyond the level set for an X-ray laboratory (less than 5 m-Sv) per annum.
For residents of Minami-Soma City the evacuation order was lifted in July last year, but only 13.7% of them returned. Those who will return home represent 18% for Namie-machi and 33% for Iidate-mura, for which the orders are scheduled to be lifted in late March and early April. The government’s policy to ‘back home’ will force residents to live in harsher circumstances.
It is six years from the earthquake 3.11. We must struggle. Let’s act in solidarity with evacuees and victims in the litigations and stage mass movements against government’s decision to stop compensation payments. Simultaneously we must engage in mass movements against re-operation to abandon nuclear power generation.
March 7, 2017