Reconstruction panel tours Fukushima disaster area

Kyodo

Members of the government panel tasked with rebuilding the Tohoku region toured Fukushima Prefecture on Monday to grasp the actual conditions there before drawing up a revival plan.

In a meeting with a team of Reconstruction Design Council members in the city of Fukushima, Gov. Yuhei Sato asked for the panel’s support, saying his prefecture was hit by “quadruple troubles” caused by the March 11 quake and tsunami.

He said the area is suffering not only from the aftermath of the twin disasters and the crisis it triggered at one of its two nuclear power plants, but also from harmful rumors of possible radiation contamination from local produce and seafood.

Makoto Iokibe, president of the National Defense Academy of Japan and head of the panel, told Sato he would try.

“We will devise nationwide measures by taking into consideration the heartfelt wishes of those in disaster-hit areas.”

The heads of nine municipalities near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant also attended the meeting.

The participants in the panel’s first tour of disaster-stricken areas included Takashi Mikuriya, a University of Tokyo professor who is serving as acting chairman of the council.

Later in the day, the panel was expected to tour areas where residents have been asked to prepare to evacuate because of elevated radiation levels, including the city of Minamisoma and the village of Iitate in the prefecture.

The members also plan to visit Miyagi Prefecture on Wednesday and Iwate Prefecture on Saturday to inspect other areas wrecked by the quake and tsunami along the Pacific coast.

The massive tsunami crippled the Fukushima No. 1 plant, causing it to spew radioactive materials into the air and sea. Local residents near the plant have been forced to leave their homes, farms and businesses as efforts continue to get it under control.