Big gap between Fukushima locals and experts/politicians
TV Asahi’s long running and widely regarded TV show, 'Asa made Nama TV (All NIght Long Live Discussion)' was aired on October 25. The theme of the day was 'Contaminated water hasn't been stopped. What do we do with Nuclear Power Plants?.' A Fukushima woman was invited to the show to talk about challenges and problems Fukushima has been facing. Nine other guests were LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) politicians, journalists, economists, writer/philosophers and environmental specialists.
They tackled the issues such as the 1 millisievert limit, the right to (and not to) evacuate and decontamination. They also discussed compensation for the victims and unwisely spent recovery funds.
This show reveals that there is a serious divergence between Fukushima locals and the so-called 'experts', versus the politicians. They talk about different pathways and different futures. The gap between them seemed gravely deep, but it depicts how confused Japan is over on-going Fukushima issues in a profoundly symbolic way.
The female guest was Ms. Kazue Morizono from Koriyama city, Fukushima. She is a member of the “WOMAN AGAINST NUKES” and has been actively involved in civil actions against TEPCO and the government since the accident.
Morizono presented Fukushima residents’ point of view.
A female evacuee from Okuma-town, the location of Fukushima Daiichi power plant, also joined the discussion and shared her experience and hardship.
Ikeda (Agora Incorporated):
“The government says that the decontamination target is 1 millisievert/yr, because, otherwise, the evacuees won’t come back home.”
“But the people are not returning home as long as the 1 millisievert/yr is the target. I don’t believe such target can ever be achieved in Fukushima.”
“No. You are right. It would cost roughly $500 billion.”
“Asahi Newspaper quoted a comment by Mr. Tanaka, head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. He said, it is generally accepted as a world standard that up to 20 millisievert/yr should be allowed in the aftermath of a nuclear accident.
People would have hard time adjusting themselves if they moved to a new place.
What do you think?”
(A Fukushima woman) “Are you sure that’s accepted by the international community? Even ICRP says that the allowable limit for the public is 1 millisievert/yr, don’t they? The Japanese constitution stipulates the 1 millisievert/yr limit, doesn’t it?”
“I get your point. But if you try to abide by the limit strictly, there is a good possibility that about 160,000 evacuees will not ever be able to return home. And it would cost $500 billion. It’s impossible. What do you say about this?”
“Life cannot be put in monetary terms.”
“So you mean the government should pay $500 billion?”
“What we are saying is that the right to choose – to evacuate or not to evacuate – must be legally guaranteed.”
“Why should it be your choice?”
“Because they are the victims.”
“We cannot afford such a huge mount of money as $500 billion.”
Hasegawa (Tokyo Newspaper):
“I think it is critical that the victims themselves may choose to stay or not, and both choices shall be supported by the government programs, as Morizono-san mentioned.”
“But the victims themselves won’t be able to know which standard is valid. Since the people insist on 1 millisievert/yr, everyone gets the impression that anything over that is dangerous.”
“A father of a toddler has asked me to convey that there are still many people who want to evacuate from Fukushima and neighboring regions, in order to protect their children. Because we know the accident is not under control and that radiation is still being released, the parents with the small children are the most concerned and sensitive to these issues. How can we call Japan a developed country, when these voices are totally being ignored? The legislation to assist the victims and the children was shelved for more than a year. Finally, the government recently announced the underlining principles that will guide the programming under this legislation. The mother and fathers who fled to other parts of Japan in their desperate attempt to save their children are facing insurmountable challenges every day. They are demanding that this legislation should stick to this 1 millisievert limit….”
people won’t be able to return home. What should be done?”
“ We are saying each one of us must be given the choice. The government sponsored assistance should be provided to support both choices.”
“Where do you suggest $500 billion can come from?”
“The IAEA report said the Japanese government should explain to the evacuees that the 1 millisievert target cannot be achieved through the decontamination in the short term.”
“I want people to give some serious thought to the effect of radiation on our heath. We already have people diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In my circle of friends, there are two …..”
“No way. It cannot be true. It has only been two years. Those are not related to radiation from the plant.
“Please do not deny this. You cannot be sure of something that is not yet known.”
“It takes 25 years on average before cancers will start to emerge.”
“Such a yardstick is useless. We do not know. “
“It’s true that there are different viewpoints on this issue.
Please listen to what this lady from Okuma Town has to say. Her home is in one of the most contaminated areas.”
A lady, a former Resident of Okuma Town:
Okuma has the worst contamination (being the location of Fukushima Daiichi), as you know. I have heard that almost $1.5 million was poured into an experimental decontamination project in Okuma. I do not want to see such a huge amount of money being wasted. You have been talking about money. Why do we need to bother to decontaminate areas with extremely high radiation readings, and still call it an experiment? Do you want to throw away $1.5 million in an experiment? If money is the issue, there is no reason to decontaminate those areas. Others say the same. Stop spending money to clean up areas which are impossible to clean up, but use that money to support us in rebuilding our lives elsewhere. We want the construction of new housing units for the evacuees so that we can all start living in a different place again. You know, in the temporary housing I am in, you can hear your neighbors easily. You have to keep your TV volume as low as possible. I have only two small rooms (each room with 4.5 tatami mats). I don’t have space to chop veggies in my kitchen. I put a cutting board on a bowl in the sink. There is no way I can clean a fish like that.
Older people around me say, I want to die, I want to die. So I respond, there is no use in dying now. You can’t fight this if you die. Nobody will do anything about this once you die. You can’t sue anyone, if you are dead. There will be no chance of happiness for you. Just today, I got a phone call from another one who shared the desire to die as a reaction to these same stresses.
The $1.5 million can be used for new housing or restitution payments, rather than being wasted on experimenting with decontamination in our home town. For instance, I own a total of about 8 acres of land, with three houses. The compensation paid to us was $7,000 for each house, including the land. What can you rebuild with $7,000? We need higher reimbursements. If there are new housing units made available for the evacuees, there is no need to go back to our home town. Then we can work and pay taxes again. It’s better for the government’s coffers. It would make much more sense economically, if you are talking economics. Stop wasting tax money. Almost every evacuee from my town agrees on this. There’s no need to decontaminate the places with the highest readings in the evacuation zone, but focus on the places where the people actually live. We do realize it is just moving radioactive waste from one location to another. We are not actually eliminating it.
You say repeatedly that it costs so much, but who started the whole thing anyway? Who promoted the nuclear power plants? We didn’t want them as far as I understand
it is totally ridiculous! We are the victims. Do they forget that?
I did not move in Okuma because of Fukushima Daiichi. We moved there to farm.
Please do not waste any more money trying to clean up the most contaminated areas. Take care of the areas where the people are. I cannot impress this upon you enough.
Help those parents who want to send their kids to retreat camps and programs to get away from radiation.
For parents to have, raise and nurture children. Isn’t that what serves the country? Nobody wants a society where we can’t have children and raise them safely. That would take our hope away. That would make our people want to die.”
(Transcription by Masa, Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation/ English translation by WNSCR team)