The government has spent ¥32 trillion to rebuild Tohoku, but areas around the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant remain off-limits, worries about radiation linger and decommissioning of the plant will take decades and trillions more yen, Reuters reports.
Reconstruction efforts in Fukushima Prefecture, from supermarkets and transport infrastructure to cutting-edge technology, have yet to entice large numbers of people who evacuated the region to return, leaving some areas around the No. 1 plant resembling ghost towns, Bloomberg reports.
Meanwhile, the final destination for the mountains of radioactive soil and other debris collected across the region after the meltdowns has yet to be decided. Right now, 10.48 million cubic meters of it is being stored near the No. 1 plant, but by law, a final resting place for the waste must eventually be found — outside the prefecture.
The Fukushima disaster convinced some nations, like Germany and Taiwan, that nuclear power’s risks far outweigh its benefits. In Japan, however, many in government are adamant that most of Japan’s fleet of reactors idled after 3/11 must be restarted — particularly if the nation is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
With large tracts of land in Fukushima lying unused, paddy fields and other pristine areas have been martialed for the green-energy cause and blanketed with black solar panels, while mountains have been mined for earth and sand for reconstruction infrastructure projects.
Author Ichie Watanabe says she speaks for many locals when she complains about the way Fukushima’s landscape is being redrawn. “Is it all right to destroy mountains and forests for the sake of renewable energy, just so (we won’t have to) rely on nuclear power?” she asks.