Governors and municipal leaders outside the Tohoku region said Friday they hope to take in some of the March 11 quake and tsunami debris, despite vocal opposition from their citizenry and antinuclear activists, if the refuse is deemed not radioactive.
“I am deeply sorry that the disposal of debris has not really progressed,” said Environment Minister Goshi Hosono after an event in which local-level leaders outside Tohoku said they were willing to accept some of the debris.
There is still more than 20 million tons of debris in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures alone a year since the disaster struck, and only about 5 percent has been disposed of, let alone the debris in nuclear crisis-hit Fukushima.
Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa, Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu and Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi thus said Friday they were willing to accept the debris to aid Tohoku’s reconstruction.
Although they said they would accept only debris within the radiation safety threshold, public opposition remains strong.
The non-Tohoku regional leaders vowed solidarity, but did not commit to specific debris-disposal plans.
Tohoku regional leaders who attended the gathering nonetheless voiced appreciation and lamented that the vast piles of debris have prevented true disaster reconstruction, adding Iwate and Miyagi have too much to dispose of. For example in the Miyagi city of Kesennuma, housing sites, farmland and factory compounds have debris accumulations that prevent any attempt at restoring the properties, Vice Mayor Keita Kato said.
Also, the debris disposal efforts have been tapping the manpower of construction firms needed for the actual rebuilding, Kato said, welcoming the overture by the non-Tohoku regional leaders to accept some debris.