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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 March 11 - 17  > 48K still live as refugees due to 2011 disaster
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2020 March 11 - 17 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

48K still live as refugees due to 2011 disaster

March 11, 2020
March 11 marks the ninth year of the major earthquake and resultant tsunami followed by nuclear meltdowns that devastated east Japan. At present, about 48,000 people are still forced to lead lives as refugees, according to the Reconstruction Agency. Affected by the nuclear accident, many residents cannot go back to their hometowns even after the government lifted the evacuation order. The occupancy rate in the zones where evacuation orders have been lifted stays at only 28%.

The National Police Agency says the death toll, as of March 1, is 15,899 with 2,529 people still missing. Including the 2011 disaster-related deaths, the number of deaths will exceed 22,000. There is no end to the number of "solitary deaths" in temporary housing units and post-disaster restoration public housing.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the operator of the disabled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Fukushima Pref.), last year decided to decommission its Fukushima Daini NPP. Eventually, all the ten nuclear reactors in Fukushima are going to be demolished. It is said that the closing down of the Fukushima Daini will take at least 44 years.

Kamiyama Etsuko, the head of the Japanese Communist Party Fukushima prefectural assemblypersons' group, said, "The ongoing decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi is very slow going. So, decommissioning activities are never easy for the Fukushima Daini as well. I think the central government should categorize this work as a national project."

However, what the Abe government considers to a national project is international research and industry development called the "Fukushima Innovation Coast" framework. The Fukushima prefectural government budgets 87.6 billion yen in its FY2020 initial budget draft for this innovation framework. Adding the budget from the national coffers between FY2017 and FY2019, the total reaches about 230 billion yen.

I an opinion poll conducted last summer in Fukushima, 83.3% of respondents said they have not heard of this framework.

A centerpiece of the framework is projects which hitch a ride on "disaster recovery" such as demonstrative operations of hydrogen production equipment and an integrated coal gasification combined cycle (IGCC) thermal power plant.

Kamiyama, however, pointed out, "The disaster recovery the Fukushima people look for is improvement of administrative services related to the environment, medical care, nursing-care, childcare, and education."

Past related article:
> Shii issues statement at 8 year commemoration of massive earthquake and Fukushima nuclear meltdown [March 11, 2019]
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