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2014年4月 8日 (火)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:今なお苦しむ多くの人 /東京

January 12, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Don't forget those still suffering from 2011 triple disasters
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:今なお苦しむ多くの人 /東京

I went to Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, at the end of last month to hold a seminar for public officials who have been working hard for disaster recovery following the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The seminar is something I have been holding since the disaster to provide psychological care for municipal officials.

Particularly in Fukushima Prefecture where many residents have had to evacuate and municipal offices have had to move in the wake of the nuclear power plant disaster, municipal officials are worn out.

Before the seminar, I visited the prefectural towns of Tomioka and Naraha where many residents are still unable to return. I could only enter areas that are designated as "zones preparing to lift evacuation orders" and "residency restriction zones."

I saw decontamination work being carried out in many places. While some workers were using heavy machines and high pressure washers, most people I saw were collecting leaves and scraping soil with bamboo brooms and deck brushes.

Meanwhile, even at large parks and on wide roads, it looked like only a few people were working on decontamination.

When I saw such a small number of workers, I thought, "They can only get so much done in a day." Workers must also feel exhausted when they see areas that have yet to be decontaminated after working all day and wonder, "When will it ever end?"

Of course, they are not the only ones who are wondering if decontamination work will ever end. Nearly 85,000 evacuees from those zones cannot return home until decontamination work is completed.

Just as I was visiting these evacuation zones, I heard on the car radio that the Ministry of the Environment decided to extend the duration of decontamination work under the direct jurisdiction of the government for a maximum of three years. The ministry had announced in January 2012 that decontamination work would be completed in all 11 municipalities subject to the cleaning plan by the end of fiscal 2013.

There are over 10 municipalities in Japan with areas that people can't enter, let alone live, with many residents forced to stay in evacuation. Such a fact should be treated as the top news story each year.

However, the three-year extension of the decontamination plan was not the top news story on the radio; instead Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine was the main news story.

How Japan functions as part of the world is important, but many people in this country are suffering from domestic problems and feeling hopeless. Some are in the midst of turmoil caused by the triple disasters. I am determined not to forget about these people in this new year.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2014年01月07日 地方版


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