Prime Minister Abe,
Will You Continue to
Forcibly Move People Out of Fukushima
as Did the Previous Regime?
It’s been 3 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. People are still living a refugee life in Fukushima where the nuclear disaster occurred, and reconstruction has been stagnant. The government and the media blame it on the high level of radiation, but the radiation level in Fukushima is basically at a safe level. The people from the disaster area are starting to realize that the excessive evacuation enforced by the DPJ regime had actually taken people’s lives and assets. Now is the time for the Abe regime to separate itself from the misrule of the previous regime, and start the process of recovering the homeland of the people affected by the disaster.
Almost 3 years have passed since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
However, there are still over 140,000 people living the refugee life in Fukushima prefecture. And it is not only people whose homes were destroyed by the quake and tsunami that are living this refugee life. Over half have been forced into this condition by the government by reason of escaping the radioactive damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
“The radiation level in Fukushima is not at a level to be concerned about,” says Hiroyuki Onoda (age 39) of Hiranomachi in Fukushima, Chairman of Minamifutaba Junior Chamber, challenging the premise of the forced evacuation. Mr. Onoda, who is involved in the coastal reconstruction works, states the following:
“I too first thought that the nuclear accident in Fukushima was as bad as it can be on a world scale. However, after visiting Ukraine last September where the Chernobyl disaster occurred, I was surprised by how low the radiation level in Fukushima was.”
No data shows danger at 100mSv/yr
The reason there’s a general warning concerning radiation is based on the possibility that it damages human DNA, causing diseases such as cancer.
When the Chernobyl disaster occurred, children’s thyroids were irradiated with a maximum of 50 thousand mSv and 15 died from cancer. Such cases have contributed to the fear of radiation. However, the people of Fukushima had been irradiated with a mere thousandth of that on their thyroids.
Small doses of radiation in fact do not affect health. Other than the possible damage to DNA, the repair function in humans counteracts this.
For instance, the risk of cancer from being irradiated with 500mSv at one time is the same level as a lack of exercise.
Furthermore, the risk of cancer from being irradiated with 100mSv at one time is about the same as someone who is not eating enough vegetables.
The truth is, the risk inside the evacuation zone in Fukushima is not even at this low level. In most areas the “annual radiation level” is below 20mSv. Even in the “difficult-to-return zone,” only a few areas go above 100mSv in “annual radiation level.”
“With radiation levels below 100mSv/yr, its effect on health is overshadowed by other causes of cancer, and it is difficult to prove that radiation has contributed at all to the risk of cancer.”
This was the conclusion reported by none other than the government task force in December of 2011.
Furthermore, the current numbers being reported on the radiation level in Fukushima are being overestimated several times beyond their actual levels.
The numbers released are based on measurements obtained by instruments set up in open air (air dose), but the level of radiation people actually are exposed to (personal dose) is from a fourth to a tenth of the open air dose, if the time spent indoors were subtracted.
Considering that data, even a number so exaggerated is well within safe levels, and it would appear that most areas in Fukushima are safe for return. Obviously “decontamination” will not be necessary either.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the then DPJ regime continued excessive evacuation measures taking away the lives and assets of so many people. The errors of the Kan regime are outlined below.
(1) Setting up of the “exclusive zone,” within a 20km radius
“They just drew some concentric circles right? There’s no real reasoning behind it.” This statement came from the director of the NPO group, “Tsunagape Minamisouma,” which is involved in the local reconstruction, Yoshiki Konno (age 63) (above photo). The Kan regime set up an “exclusive zone ” within a 20km radius from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor, soon after the nuclear accident, and forced the residents out. Within that zone there were some areas that had radiation levels as low as Tokyo, but nevertheless were still declared uninhabitable simply because they chose “within 20km” as the rule.
(2) Setting up of the “planned evacuation area” for above 20mSv/yr
Furthermore, a month after the accident, the Kan regime set up the “planned evacuation area” for sites that might go over 20mSv/yr depending on the wind direction, and forced the residents out of there as well. However, as was explained before, 20mSv/yr does not affect health at all, and there is no need for evacuation.
(3) “Declared 1 milli decontamination target”
The then Environment Minister Goshi Hosono of the Kan regime declared on October of 2011 that, “decontamination is the responsibility of the country. Our target is below 1 milli.” As a result the exaggerated message that “unless it is less than 1mSv/yr, it is dangerous” was circulated.
Mr. Onoda, quoted earlier, stated, “’1 milli’ is an inexplicable number. That declaration sowed fear of radiation into the hearts of the people of Fukushima. It’s holding back the lifting of the evacuation order. Why 1 milli? Mr. Hosono ought to explain himself before the residents.”
The evacuation took 1605 lives
Such useless evacuation measures by the Kan regime continues to claim victims, rather than helping the people of Fukushima. In Fukushima alone, “deaths associated with the earthquake” have claimed the lives of 1605 people due to such factors as fatigue and diseases from living the refugee life, and suicides resultant from stress. That is more than the “direct cause of death” from the earthquake and tsunami in the prefecture (counted at November of 2013). Quake related deaths in 1995′s Great Hanshin earthquake were 919 people; in the Great East Japan earthquake, 428 people in Iwate, 878 people in Miyazaki. In Fukushima the number is far above these. It has been said that many of those deaths were connected to physical and psychological exhaustion due to the hardships of displacement and refugee life.
At the Matsugawa Temporary Housing No. 1 in Fukushima where our correspondent visited for this article, there were many villagers from the Iitate Village living there who were ordered out of the “planned evacuation area”. Despite being a mere 30 minutes drive away from their residences, these villagers have not been able to return home for 3 years now. The experience of seeing them living side-by-side in such inorganic, temporary housing was hard to watch.
The council body’s President Ichiro Kowata (age 77) strongly stated that, “I want to return to the village I had lived in for so long, no matter what,” but seeing no end to his current circumstance, he blurted out, “I can hardly bear this psychological trauma.” According to the people from the affected areas, due to the forced evacuation, their community and bonds between family members that had been forged over many years had been lost. With all kinds of information concerning radiation going around, family members become divided about the evacuation, giving rise to “nuclear divorces,” and some have committed suicide due to their suffering. Mr. Konno, quoted above, stated sadly, “during this long evacuation, the young people become used to the location they have been evacuated to, and they end up not returning. If the evacuation had been lifted within half a year, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.” A man in his 70′s who had worked in agriculture in Futaba district, which is currently listed as a “difficult-to-return zone”, also related that, “I wanted to return to my home, but I don’t see that happening. I gave up last month finally, and changed my residence to the Kanto area.”
Moreover, due to the forced evacuation, many homes and farmlands in the affected areas have been abandoned for so long that they’ve become useless. In Fukushima alone, livestock including some 30,000 cows and pigs, and 44,000 birds have been killed or abandoned, or have died from starvation.
The order to evacuate was a “vicious forced transfer”
“Evacuation,” may sound like it is all for the sake of the safety of the residents. However, the Kan regime forcefully led the people of Fukushima out of their homes through its evacuation orders, and forced them into a stressful refugee life.
As a result, the health, lives, bonds, homes, jobs, assets, and hopes of so many were lost. There are experts who criticize that, “this is none other than a ‘ forced transfer ‘ by a totalitarian government.” Perhaps that is not an exaggeration. Even if it was appropriate when the accident first occurred, after it was found that the radiation level was actually low, within a few months of this discovery, the people should have been allowed to return to their homes. It bears repeating: most areas in Fukushima are safe. Sadly, as if the sole responsibility for the victims of the evacuation lies completely with TEPCO, who manages the nuclear reactors, since the accident, the company has been attacked by the media as if they were criminals..
However, not one person has died from radiation from the nuclear power plant. The responsibility of so many victims in Fukushima can be placed on former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the media who supported him. In a memoir published after the earthquake disaster by Mr. Kan wrote, “eastern Japan was about to be swallowed up by an invisible enemy that was the radiation. (snip) I started to go through a simulation of the worst case scenario where all of the reactors would spin out of control, and tens of millions of people from east Japan including the Tokyo metropolitan area would have to evacuate….”
In other words, the evacuation of the people of Fukushima could be said to be based on Mr. Kan’s obsessed view that all “nuclear power is dangerous”. The chief of Iitate Village, Norio Kanno (photo left page) reflected back on the strange mood when the accident occurred, and told us, “even if it was necessary to evacuate, we should have compared the risk involved in evacuating with the risk faced with radiation. At that time, if the government and the media would just say, ‘It’s dangerous. We must evacuate,’ then nobody would have blamed them. I wish the country would have thought about that too.” He continued, “the media can pull in more viewers and readers if they reported the disaster scenes excessively. There must have also been some scientists who published books that exaggerated the threat of radiation, and made a lot of money. Such people probably never even imagined how their actions have wrought misery and suffering upon so many people.”
The media makes a show of sympathy for the affected areas reporting “damages caused by rumors,” but actually it’s more like “damages caused by reporting.”
The mere mention of “made in Fukushima” causes prices of agricultural products and seafood to turn downward. The tourism industry has also been severely damaged. “People mistakenly think that agricultural products from Fukushima are dangerous, and it’s still difficult to have them circulated in western Japan. As they cannot live by farming, some people have given up on returning home.” (Mr. Onoda). The amount of damage caused by rumors known as the “damages caused by reporting” are estimated at 1.3 trillion yen.
Most Japanese don’t realize the nature of what can only be called the Kan regime’s “crime against humanity”. Historically we must not allow this to be forgotten.
The refugees are waiting for the lifting of the evacuation, as they envision the reconstruction of their homes and lives
The people of Fukushima have courageously envisioned a reconstructed future. In the aforementioned Iitate Village, they have initiated a strategy for the future, and have begun investments in education for the children of the village, among other progressive plans. Mr. Onoda, Chairman of Minamifutaba Junior Chamber, spoke of his vision of, “creating a Special Economic Zone and giving tax exemptions for corporate and property tax to attract businesses and bring growth back to this area.” Mr. Onoda had visited Slavutich in Ukuraina, in September of 2013, where it had been affected by the Chernobyl accident. With the concept of a “Dreamy City,” a new town was built within 2 years of the disaster., Many kindergartens were built so children could grow up with no worries. Glass decorations and embroidery factories were erected. It has become one of the most attractive cities in the country. Mr. Onoda says, “I want to create a city like Slavutich, where not only the residents would return, but it will be internationally attractive.” The people of Fukushima want to return home as soon as they can. They dream of a great reconstruction.
The LDP Abe regime decided on cabinet approved guidelines last December to speed up Fukushima’s reconstruction. However as a condition for the residents of Fukushima to return, the standard of “below 20mSv/yr” set by the DPJ was followed. It should be the decision of the residents of Fukushima as to whether or not they return to their homes, not the Abe administration. Those who are afraid of radiation should not be forced to return home, but for those who do want to return, they should not be forced to evacuate. If the evacuation does not begin to be lifted 3 years post-disaster, Fukushima’s reconstruction may enter a desperate stage. Fukushima people’s hopes of returning to their home must be realized now. The Abe regime ought to reveal the errors made during the DPJ regime, and lift the evacuation. Only then can Fukushima’s reconstruction truly begin.