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2014年10月 6日 (月)

原発避難解除 帰還者をしっかりと支えよう

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shore up returnees’ lives after Kawauchi evacuation advisory lifting
原発避難解除 帰還者をしっかりと支えよう

An evacuation advisory issued in the wake of the March 2011 crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was lifted this month for the eastern part of the village of Kawauchi, Fukushima Prefecture.

The lifting of the advisory applies to an area in which 139 households registered their residences. Although those who have actually returned to Kawauchi currently account for only a portion of the registered residents, there are rising expectations that the lifting of the evacuation advisory will serve as an incentive to expedite moves to resuscitate the village community. Both the central government and the Fukushima prefectural government must help in the task the returnees face in rebuilding their livelihoods.

The area is within a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled nuclear plant. Immediately after the outbreak of the nuclear crisis, all of the community’s residents were forced to evacuate.

Subsequently, through such efforts as radiation decontamination, radioactivity levels in the village have been lowered to those similar in the city of Fukushima. Kawauchi’s infrastructure systems, such as its electricity and gas supplies, which are essential to daily life, have been restored. Progress has also been made in rebuilding stores dealing in daily necessities and medical institutions in the community.

The foundation for rebuilding the livelihoods of village residents can now be said to be in place.

Three businesses, including a manufacturer, have moved into the area in response to requests by the village government. The number of students enrolled at primary and middle schools in the village has increased after related facilities were improved.

In April, an evacuation advisory was lifted for the eastern area of the Miyakoji district of Tamura, a city neighboring Kawauchi on the north. The overall number of households in Tamura has recovered to a little more than 70 percent of that before the accident. As a number of families with children have returned, the city has reportedly begun to regain its vitality.

The resumption of the livelihoods of as many registered returnees as possible is certain to lay the foundation for the restoration of disaster-affected areas.

‘Fukushima Vision’ promising

To facilitate the evacuees’ return, it is imperative to review the current arrangements for compensation payments to these people. Under the current system, monthly compensation payouts by TEPCO cease only one year after an evacuation advisory is lifted. Because of the uncertainty of their future livelihoods, evacuees have difficulty in accepting the lifting of the advisory.

The government should consider the advisability of creating a new framework, such as making TEPCO provide evacuees with lump-sum payments to allow them to secure sufficient funds to rebuild their lives.

Before the crisis, the region’s major industries were the nuclear plant and related businesses. Building a new industrial base to ensure job opportunities is another important task that must be undertaken in the area.

Research and development related to the decommissioning of the nuclear reactors, which is expected to take at least 40 years, can become a potent industry that can help reinvigorate the region’s economy.

A blueprint for rehabilitation of the area is already in place, since a report titled “Fukushima Innovation Coast Vision,” also referred to as the “Fukushima International Industry City Vision,” was worked out in June with the collaboration of such entities as the central and Fukushima prefectural governments and city, town and village municipalities around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In order to push forward with the decommissioning work smoothly, it is essential to conduct analyses of the actual conditions of the crippled reactors and develop technologies for making robots capable of working in places that humans cannot access because of high radiation hazards. The Fukushima Vision report was designed to aid the development of such R&D facilities in municipalities in the plant’s vicinity. The report can be safely described as practical in light of the area’s realities.

Work to construct facilities for carrying out analyses and R&D programs envisaged in the Fukushima Vision report has already started. Further efforts should be made to accelerate the undertakings.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 5, 2014)Speech


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