Mayors near nuke plant torn between threat, jobs

by Kazuaki Nagata

Mayors of towns and villages around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were torn Tuesday between two facts: the facility has brought economic benefits to their communities but is now posing a threat to the lives of their residents.

Tomioka Mayor Katsuya Endo said it is natural that the four crippled reactors will be decommissioned. He also said deep public discussions will be necessary if Tepco wants to resume operations at the less damaged No. 5 and No. 6 reactors as well as the Fukushima No. 2 plant.

“We have about 10,000 people just from the Futaba area (who live in the 20-km evacuation zone) whose jobs depend on the plant. They all rely on the plant to make a living,” he said in a news conference at the Japan Press Center.

Futaba Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa pointed out that the question of hosting nuclear plants comes down to determining where Japan should get its energy resources.

“It is not something to be decided by just one region,” he said.

The mayors said they hosted the plant only because of promises of safety by the central government, which now says the March 11 disaster was beyond anything it expected.

“We had agreed with the plan to build the plant with a sense that we were contributing to the national policy, and if you ask me what I think about it now, to be honest, it’s difficult to find an answer,” Idogawa said.

In a meeting earlier in the day, the mayors asked Prime Minister Naoto Kan to fully compensate their communities.

They requested that the central government provide support for employment, housing, education and infrastructure reconstruction.

They also asked Kan to make sure the search for missing people and the collection of bodies proceed more quickly.