Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda send out written requests to municipalities nationwide Friday to join in the disposal of the millions of tons of debris generated by last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region.
Noda is seeking cooperation from municipalities outside the three disaster-stricken prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima to accept and incinerate some of the debris to speed up reconstruction.
The estimated 22 million tons of waste in the area is getting in the way of rebuilding. Most local governments, however, have been reluctant to take the debris out of concern over radiation contamination.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura stressed during a news conference that the waste is from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures and not from Fukushima, site of the nuclear catastrophe.
“There seems to be a misunderstanding. The debris is from Iwate and Miyagi, but some are confusing it with contaminated waste,” Fujimura said. “The debris from Fukushima will not be taken outside (the prefecture).”
Even though a year has passed since the disaster struck, only Tokyo and Aomori and Yamagata prefectures have begun accepting debris. The cities of Niigata and Shimada, Shizuoka Prefecture, have recently stepped up to the plate.
To support municipalities willing to help out, the central government has vowed to pay the full expense of disposing of the debris, including depreciation costs of incinerators.