SAITAMA (Kyodo) Around 1,300 people who evacuated Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, amid the disaster at the nearby nuclear power plant started moving from their temporary shelter at Saitama Super Arena to a school building in Kazo, Saitama Prefecture, on Wednesday.
They were to be bused to the school building, which is not currently in use, in five groups before the shelter at the large event hall is closed Thursday.
Futaba Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa and the municipal office will also move to the new evacuation space, which includes the school building, a hostel and two gymnasiums, to enable the evacuees to stay on a long-term basis because there is no end in sight to the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Futaba is located within the 20-km exclusion zone around the nuclear plant, which was crippled by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami and is leaking radioactive substances.
Their prolonged life as evacuees will inevitably raise various issues, including employment and school attendance.
Among the evacuees is Rei Hiwatashi, 15, who had just graduated from a junior high school when the disaster hit. The transfer to Kazo is the fifth move for her family since then.
She sometimes thinks she would not have faced such hardships had it not been for the nuclear plant, but noted it was a source of jobs for high-school graduates. “People are still working hard (at the plant) under dangerous conditions,” she said. “I don’t intend to say something about it.”
After moving to Kazo temporarily, she will soon move to a high school dormitory in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, while her 19-year-old sister will go to a college in Sendai in May.
Her 51-year-old father said he would “have to find a job in Kazo eventually.”
Hiromi Itakura, 44, who evacuated with her four family members, has determined to get into line with other Futaba residents so her children can stay with their friends. “I feel uneasy as I’m uncertain about our future,” she said.
While resuming life in Futaba may be a faraway dream, she hopes she can temporarily return home to pick up family mementos, saying, “I don’t have anything at hand.”
“I need to go forward,” she added. “I want to start working by depending on my license as a beautician once the situation is settled.”
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