11 hot-zone holdouts refuse to leave Fukushima homes

Holdouts within 20-km radius have various reasons to stay

Kyodo

Eleven people are still ignoring radiation hazards in the 20-km exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and refuse to budge.

The 11 — six males and five females ranging in age from their 50s to their 90s — comprise six households in the municipalities of Tamura, Tomioka, Naraha and Kawauchi, all in Fukushima Prefecture, the local governments said Sunday.

As of April 22, the government had banned 78,000 residents from staying in the 20-km hot zone, which fully or partially encroaches on nine municipalities, including the four with the holdouts. The remaining five — Minamisoma, Futaba, Okuma, Namie and Katsurao — are completely deserted.

The 11 people said they have decided to stay behind because they are reluctant to abandon their homes, need to care for acquaintances in poor health and also want to care for their pets. The four municipalities said they have tried to persuade them to evacuate but decided not to force out anyone who wants to stay.

Those who violate the evacuation order face a ¥100,000 fine or detention, but those penalties have not yet been applied to anyone in the no-go zone. “We believe (their staying) is not malicious,” a senior Fukushima Prefectural Police official said.

A man in his 50s in the city of Tamura fled right after the nuclear crisis began but returned before the hot zone was designated, officials said. He now lives with three others. “Two (of the three at his home) are in poor health, so it would be riskier to try moving them,” the man was quoted as saying by a Tamura official.

Another man in his 50s who has lived alone in the town of Tomioka posted a message on YouTube saying electricity and tap water were no longer available at his residence. He also told an acquaintance that although he fears the radiation, he would rather live in his hometown for a shorter time than in an unfamiliar place for decades, an official said.

Responsibility denied

Tokyo Electric Power Co., in a document sent to its shareholders, denies that any current or former board members hold responsibility for the Fukushima disaster triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The denial came in the form of a Tepco auditor’s notice and was sent to shareholders who have asked the utility to sue current and former board members, said a lawyer for the shareholders, Hiroyuki Kawai.

After examining reasons listed in the notice for advising against such a suit, the Tepco shareholders may file a suit with the Tokyo District Court later this month urging current and some former board members to pay ¥5.5 trillion in damages to the company for the disaster.

“The board members had appropriately considered and implemented antitsunami measures based on government instructions and approvals,” the notice says. “The accident is attributable to the tsunami waves that were far higher than assumed for the measures.”

It also said the current board members promptly organized a task force in response to the disaster and implemented appropriate decisions to deal with it under a difficult situation.