• Kyodo


The mayor of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, expressed his desire Monday to create an international forum in the city for firms and people from all over the world to contribute their expertise on how to tackle nuclear crises as well as alternative energy development.

“I want my city to become the (global) center of industries that will transcend nuclear power generation,” said Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai.

Sakurai came to prominence after posting a direct appeal for aid on the YouTube video-sharing website, in which he described the plight of residents of the city hit by the March 11 quake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear plant crisis. The video was widely viewed around the world and Sakurai was listed by Time magazine as one of its 100 most influential people of the year.

Noting the difficulty of reconstructing the city, where many local companies are thinking about moving out, Sakurai said, “We are in need of a new mindset that is totally different from the one that merely envisions creating a new city on higher ground.”

The coastal city is also dealing with radiation leaks as its southern part falls within a 20-km radius of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, an area designated as a no-entry zone by the government last week.

While expressing his hope to attract corporations, capital and expertise necessary to clean up areas contaminated with radiation and to develop alternative sources of energy, Sakurai said the country needs to abandon its old mindset, in which the public has been either pronuclear or antinuclear.

The mayor said Japan cannot accomplish all those tasks on its own, calling on “brave people of the world” to contribute their wisdom.

“From now on, I’d like to put forward ideas instead of just sending out an SOS,” said Sakurai.

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