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Fukushima Prefecture hopes to show gratitude for the support it received from across Japan and abroad after the March 2011 natural and nuclear disasters, as well as the current state of reconstruction, through the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the governor of the northeastern prefecture has said.

“The novel coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the circumstances surrounding the Tokyo Games compared with a year ago,” said Gov. Masao Uchibori in a recent interview. “Thorough measures against the epidemic need to be implemented, and we are working to ensure safety against the novel coronavirus ahead of the March 25 start of the Olympic torch relay” in the prefecture, he added.

“It might be difficult for people overseas to visit Japan (for the Tokyo Games), but we’ll show our gratitude for the support and the reconstruction situation to people both at home and abroad, partly through online methods,” the governor said.

Tokyo won its bid in 2013 to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics under the concept of leveraging the games to promote reconstruction in the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan, which was ravaged by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

Also, many areas in Fukushima, which is part of Tohoku, were affected by radiation from Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which sustained serious damage due to the tsunami.

The Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics were postponed to this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Masao Uchibori | KYODO
Masao Uchibori | KYODO

Uchibori stressed that post-disaster reconstruction in Fukushima has progressed steadily, citing the restoration of affected infrastructure, commercial facilities, medical institutions and schools.

Still, many local people are still evacuated due to the nuclear accident, and there are a lot of difficult issues such as decommissioning the crippled nuclear plant plant, dispelling harmful rumors and misinformation about the safety of foods produced in the prefecture and passing on the lessons of the disasters to future generations, he said.

The governor vowed to take measures according to progress in the reconstruction work in order to achieve both post-disaster recovery and local revitalization.

Referring to the issue of reputational damage associated with the nuclear accident, Uchibori said that the prices of some local farm produce, such as peaches and beef, had not risen back to pre-disaster levels.

“Radiation checks on Fukushima foods are being conducted under the world’s strictest standards, and food items with radioactive substances exceeding certain levels will not be distributed,” Uchibori said, adding that there is no “quick remedy” for the reputation issue and that Fukushima needs to patiently continue sending out accurate information.

Also, the governor said that Fukushima was urging the central government to work out concrete measures against harmful rumors and misinformation about the disposal of treated radioactive water from the nuclear plant, which is run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., so that the issue will not damage the industries of forestry and fisheries, agriculture and tourism in the prefecture.

“I want the government to carefully study (to set) a policy on the matter while listening to the prefectural government and others concerned,” he said.

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