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Fukushima voters tell politicians to get real

Kyodo

Voters in Fukushima Prefecture, where about 150,000 people still can’t return to their homes because of the nuclear crisis, urged politicians Thursday to face the reality of the catastrophe as official campaigning for the July 21 Upper House election got under way.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized to voters during a speech in the city of Fukushima, saying his Liberal Democratic Party “must reflect deeply” on its past policy of promoting nuclear power without thoroughly considering reactor safety.

“Japan cannot be revived unless Fukushima recovers,” Abe said.

But he made no reference to efforts to end the crisis, to restart reactors in other parts of the country or to export nuclear technology.

Yasuo Yoshida, a 46-year-old fisherman in Iwaki on the Pacific coast, said politicians should visit the areas affected by the nuclear disaster more often and listen to local people.

“Now we face a moment of truth in trying to rebuild Fukushima’s fishing industry and I want politicians to ensure that the central government will take responsibility” for the revival, Yoshida said.

Fukushima fishermen have refrained from catching fish except for trial operations out of fear of radiation.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has recently suggested that groundwater collected at the Fukushima No. 1 plant be discharged into the sea to reduce the overall amount of contaminated water at the crippled facility. Tepco, however, has also revealed that groundwater samples it has taken have high levels of radiation.

Talks between the utility and local fishermen remain bogged down.

“Even if the groundwater is clean, discharging it into the sea would ruin our recovery efforts due to the reputation (of the area),” Yoshida said.

He said he doesn’t know whether the regional economy has recovered, since he has no work.

Keiko Fujinami, a 42-year-old housewife from Naraha, said she doesn’t expect any change after the Upper House election.

“Nobody will stick to their election pledges,” said Fujinami, who has evacuated to Iwaki with her family.

The central government has said it will start research July 12 on the district in Naraha where her house is located to check whether it would be suitable to accommodate a temporary storage facility for contaminated soil and other waste.

The government is hoping to start transporting soil and waste to a new site by January 2015, but none of the municipalities approached so far has agreed to accept such a facility.

Fujinami said the government has promised to take measures to ensure safety if the facility is built in Naraha, but she doesn’t think she would be able to return to her home if it is constructed there.

“None of the Diet members or central government officials lives here,” she said. “Those people must be thinking that it’s OK as long as the facility is located far away from Tokyo.”

  • Starviking

    Poor reporting like this:

    “Tokyo Electric Power Co. has recently suggested that groundwater collected at the Fukushima No. 1 plant be discharged into the sea to reduce the overall amount of contaminated water at the crippled facility. Tepco, however, has also revealed that groundwater samples it has taken have high levels of radiation.”

    …which fails to mention that the TEPCO plan is for diverting groundwater before it gets contaminated…only makes countering opinions like this harder:

    “Even if the groundwater is clean, discharging it into the sea would ruin our recovery efforts due to the reputation (of the area)”

    …only makes countering opinions like this harder.
    And as for the last opinion, the fisherman interviewed seems to want more contaminated water at Fukushima, not less. Just shows how the obsessively focus on society’s opinion in Japan leads to ridiculous ideas.

    • Starstink

      Yes, Starviking. Your consistent commenting on these articles really make me think you must be be a pro-nuclear industry PR-man. Old man, did I ask you sponsored by whom?

      • Rockne O’Bannon

        Ah yes. Ad hominem. It runs rampant on these boards. Starviking could not possibly just be stating an opinion that seems reasonable. Anybody who does not toe the Greenpeace line must be a shill, right?

        Seriously, did you really type “sponsored by whom?” As though you really believe that Starviking was contacted by someone working for TEPCO giving him an envelope of money to “just make positive comments” sporadically on a news comments section. Come on. What is the going rate for that kind of thing? Any number you would possibly suggest would be ridiculous.

        Anyway, Starviking makes a good point that the more hysteria one attaches to FUKUSHIMA the more hysterical people get about FUKUSHIMA. Those residents will never get back to normal until we stop stigmatizing them with irrational fear. I want to eat fish caught off Fukushima and I want to eat their produce. We need to acknowledge it is safe and get on with it.

      • Starviking

        My views are sponsored by degrees in science and engineering. If you want to debate the substance of my posts, feel free. As for the other commenting option that you have taken, Rockne has given a good response on that that you should take to heart.