19 Février 2016
February 18, 2016
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
KORIYAMA, Fukushima Prefecture--To a central government committee meeting here on Feb. 17, hotel operator Shoko Yamazaki aired out her frustrations at the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan.
“Nuclear power plants in the nation were restarted with very little thought when the nuclear crisis in Fukushima has not even been settled," said Yamazaki, whose hotel is in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture. "Have we learned nothing from Fukushima?”
Yamazaki was one of the invited speakers who spoke of their concerns for a region still feeling the devastation caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of March 2011 in the hearing held by the Lower House Budget Committee.
The prefecture was chosen for the second time since the catastrophe for the special regional hearing as “March 11 will be the fifth anniversary (of the disaster), a landmark year,” said Wataru Takeshita, former reconstruction minister and head of the committee.
The opinions of four speakers recommended by both the ruling and opposition parties were heard at the hearing, which was held as part of the committee's budget deliberation for the upcoming fiscal year.
Hiromi Watanabe, one of the public speakers, said it was urgent that the region rid itself of bad publicity from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant crisis that unfolded in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.
“It continues to haunt not just agriculture and tourism, but various industries as well,” said Watanabe, the head of the Fukushima Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He also urged the central government to put a stop to population decline and improve transportation in the region.
Meanwhile, Hajimu Yamana, the chairman of the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., said, “Findings on the cause of the nuclear accident and studies on its effects on population migration can be considered research for the reconstruction of Fukushima. It will become valuable information for the entire world.”
Yoshiharu Saito, a senior member of the disaster victim support group Fukushima Fukko Kyodo Center (Fukushima reconstruction communal center), talked about the central government’s plan to lift the evacuation orders on all regions except “difficult-to-return zones” by March 2017.
“The wishes of residents who want to return home should be granted, but at the same time we hope for the central government to assist those who are unable to do so,” Saito said.