Residents reluctant to return to Iitate despite progress in lifting evacuation zone

Mainichi Daily News, Japan.

FUKUSHIMA — The central government has reorganized the status of the nuclear disaster-hit village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, from a planned evacuation zone into three areas based on radiation levels, paving the way for many districts to accept the return of residents in several years.

Effective as of July 17, the village was reorganized into three zones — an area preparing for the lifting of evacuation orders, where residents will seek an early return; an area with restricted residency, where residents will have to wait for several years before they can come back to their homes; and a hard-to-return area, where residents are banned from returning for at least five years.

Despite the village’s change of status, however, it is still hard for many residents to plan for their future amid prolonged lives as evacuees in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, with no sign of significant progress in the government’s decontamination efforts.

Masanori Aoyama, a 26-year-old electrician from the Kusano district of Iitate, has been living in a leased residence in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Kawamata for 13 months after he and his family evacuated from Iitate on the heels of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Although Aoyama was living with his wife, his grandparents, mother and brother, they were dispersed to three different places due to the evacuation.

“Normally around this time of year, we would have been sleeping listening to a chorus of frogs,” lamented Aoyama, looking at his 9-month-old son, Taito. Because Taito was born in October last year while the family was evacuated, he does not know the fresh and cool air of Iitate nestled among the forests.

On July 17, the Kusano district was reorganized into a restricted residency zone with yearly radiation exposure doses of 20 to 50 millisieverts, and seeks to have residents back in several years. However, with a baby susceptible to the impact of radiation, Aoyama is hesitant to take his family back to his hometown.

In a recent questionnaire covering residents of Iitate, 57.5 percent of respondents said they “want to return” to the village, but when it came to the child-rearing generations in the 40s or younger, 54 percent said they “have no intention to return” to the village. While the Iitate Municipal Government is planning to build restoration housing complexes for child-rearing generations outside the village, “the question is when such housing will be completed. If the village is lagging behind, I’d rather build my own house somewhere else at an early date,” said Aoyama. The village had once advocated the return of residents to their hometowns in two years, but decontamination work in the village has been largely delayed.

Although an extended family of 10 or more used to be a common sight in Iitate, the nuclear disaster has pushed many in the younger generations to leased residences close to their workplaces or their children’s schools while the elderly have moved to temporary housing units. Due to the breakdown in families, the number of households jumped 1.8 times from some 1,700 prior to the nuclear disaster to 3,094 as of June 1 this year.

Aoyama’s 57-year-old mother and 28-year-old brother moved to a leased residence in Kawamata because of their work, while his 81-year-old grandfather, Shigeru, and 79-year-old grandmother, Aiko, were evacuated to employment promotion housing in the city of Fukushima, where many fellow residents from the Kusano district are also evacuated. For Shigeru, whose dementia deteriorated during his life as an evacuee, “it is better to live close to old neighbors,” according to Aoyama. Shigeru, however, has few chances to see Taito, his first great-grandson.

Immediately after their evacuation, visions of his hometown came to Aoyama’s mind every single day. However, after his close friend — whom he evacuated with — died in March this year, he became quite depressed.

“Everyone went back to the village only after they were reduced to bones. Recently, I rarely think I want to return there,” said Aoyama.

July 17, 2012(Mainichi Japan)
end quote.

One of the biggest information control and information suppression and nuclear authority lies of the Fukushima disaster centres upon Iitate village.

First, the government with held data which showed the Fukushima radio-chemical fallout impacting on the village. The people hwoever thought they were safe, but remained unknowingly in the high fallout region. Second, as a result of this cruel government decision to suppress informaiton and tell lies, evacuees fleeing the melting and broken reactors fled to the village of Iitate – into the path of the fallout!!

Farms around Iitate have been permanently ruined by the disaster. This will not change.

People’s lives are overturned, and in the best circumstance live within a heightened level of reactor pollution. Noone has yet mentioned how many tons of reactor fuel and products were displaced from the reactor cores. The government says 20 mSv is acceptable. Acceptable only in the sense that in court the government can wheel out its legalese.

In March 2011 Greenpeace first raised the alarming level of radiation being emitted by radio-chemical fallout in Iitate. The Japanese government scoffed. It took another month for reality to seep into the nuclear afflicted government and for evacuation to be ordered.

Nuclear industry would prefer it if the people were kept ignorant about the actual radio-chemical emissions from the reactors.
(See previous article)

In the meantime, the government has re-opened beaches 40 miles from the reactors.

“Fukushima beach reopens to the public
As locals enjoy splashing in the sea for the first time since the tsunami and nuclear disaster, thousands protest in Tokyo
• Justin McCurry in Tokyo
•, Tuesday 17 July 2012 12.50 BST
“Holidaymakers have descended on a beach near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, the first time they have been allowed to swim in the area since last year’s triple meltdown.
Local authorities decided to open Nakoso beach, located just 65km (40 miles) south of the stricken plant, after declaring the water safe. Radiation doses in the air were also low, at up to 0.07 microsieverts an hour, far below those considered a threat to health.”
The cameras show the happy reality of some normal activity.
What the cameras don’t show is the burden of a man-made disaster the bodies of people will carry for the rest of their lives. Many of those lives affected by the past months living as refugees in temporary
Shelter, denied their normal income and way of life by reactors known to be vulnerable even prior to
Being built.

One Response to “Residents reluctant to return to Iitate despite progress in lifting evacuation zone”

  1. CaptD Says:

    Remember “Radiation OK” signs have no effect on lingering radiation; they are just signs…

    Far better to be safe than sorry when it come to radiation!

    Liked and Tweeted…

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