These are all links from the March 2013 Current Status update from the Reconstruction Agency.
The entire presentation can be downloaded here: http://www.reconstruction.go.jp/english/130328_CurrentStatus_PathToward_FINAL.pdf
[English webpages] Current Status and Path Toward Reconstruction http://www.reconstruction.go.jp/english/20130308_CurrentStatus_PathToward_FINAL.pdf Outline of the Special Zones for Reconstruction (focused on tax breaks) http://www.reconstruction.go.jp/english/topics/2012/09/120919_2.html Outline of the Special Zones for Reconstruction http://www.reconstruction.go.jp/english/topics/20120921_outline_special_zone.pdf Framework of the Law for Special Zone for Reconstruction http://www.reconstruction.go.jp/english/topics/20120921_framework_special_zone.pdf [Japanese webpages] < Special Zones for Reconstruction >
Details of the Special Zones for Reconstruction ※Comprehensive document detailing a wide range of issues such as deregulation and tax breaks http://www.reconstruction.go.jp/topics/hukkoutokkuseidosetumeishiryou.pdf
Exhaustive list of approved plans for special zones for reconstruction http://www.reconstruction.go.jp/topics/20121012_suishin.pdf
Grants for Reconstruction>
Outline of each Core Project (40 consolidated projects to be conducted by municipalities )
First distribution (including a list of funded projects for each municipality)
Second distribution (including a list of funded projects for each municipality)
Third distribution (including a list of funded projects for each municipality)
Fourth distribution (including a list of funded projects for each municipality)
Fifth distribution (including a list of funded projects for each municipality)
Namie, Fukushima Pref., May 9 (Jiji Press)–A makeshift clinic opened Thursday in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, becoming the first medical facility to resume service in the former no-go zones within 20 kilometers of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s <9501> crippled nuclear power plant in the northeastern prefecture.
The clinic, set up at Namie’s town hall, will take care of residents making temporary visits to their homes.
Since the realignment of evacuation zones with the no-go zone designation lifted for Namie last month, evacuees from the town’s coastal area, where 80 pct of its population totaling 20,000 lived before the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011, have been allowed to visit their homes only during daytime.
”Though infrastructure restoration is important, town residents cannot return home without anxieties unless a medical institution is back,” Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba said in an opening ceremony for the clinic. “I’m very happy to see the opening of the makeshift clinic.”
A doctor and a nurse will be at the clinic every Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to treat mainly acute diseases such as heat stroke as well as injuries incurred during debris removal work.
FUKUSHIMA–Takashi Sato arrives at Onami Elementary School around 7:30 a.m., changes his navy uniform for a sky blue sweat suit, and starts his daily routine surrounded by empty classrooms and vacant hallways.
His constant smile and cheerful demeanor betray any sense of loneliness he may feel.
The 11-year-old is the only pupil at the school.
Forty-one children used to play in the yard at Onami Elementary School. But on March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan, leading to meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, 57 kilometers southeast of the school.
As fears of radiation spread, the number of elementary school pupils in Fukushima Prefecture fell below 100,000, down nearly 19,000 from before the nuclear accident.
Onami Elementary School and another elementary school in the prefecture now have only one pupil.
Takashi’s school day usually starts outside, where he is greeted by his teacher, Kei Omuro, 41, and the vice principal, Kazuaki Sato, 50. The boy gleefully replies, “Good morning.”
Before his first class starts, Takashi does some exercise, such as running and skipping, on the soft new soil brought in after accumulated radioactive substances were removed.
The mountainous area where the school is located had relatively high radiation levels in Fukushima city. A schoolyard dosimeter now shows 0.3 microsievert per hour, slightly lower than in central parts of the city.
A photo of 10 smiling children, who attended the school until the 2012 academic year ended in March, hangs on the back of Takashi’s classroom.
Seven sixth-graders went on to junior high school. Two younger pupils transferred to a nearby elementary school because of the dwindling population at Onami Elementary School.
Takashi, now a sixth-grader, is the only one in the photo who remained.
When asked if he feels lonely without a classmate, he says, “I probably got used to it in about a week.”
Takashi said he makes it a rule not to say he is lonely.
“I keep it in here,” he says, holding his chest with both hands.
Takashi’s first class on April 23 is arithmetic. He and Omuro bow to each other when the class begins at 8:30 a.m.
The 60-square-meter classroom has only two desks–one for the pupil and one for the teacher–where they solve problems together. Takashi is good at arithmetic.
When Takashi appears drowsy, Omuro tells him to go to the restroom to wash his face.
“I could fall into a rut because we are alone,” Omuro says after Takashi leaves. “I make it a point not to.”
The fourth class is English, where Takashi learns how to introduce himself to a stranger.
“Hello, my name is Sato Takashi,” he says in a tense, cracking voice. “Uh. … What’s your name?”
The lesson brings out Omura’s sympathy for his young student.
“Usually, pupils practice conversations with their classmates on the same level, but Takashi has to partner with an adult,” the teacher says. “I feel sorry for him.”
Takashi’s lunch companions are also adults–Omuro, Sato and two school employees. He plays catch with Sato at lunch break.
The boy’s routine at school can take a strange turn.
At 1:30 p.m., he goes to a broadcasting booth, and speaks into a microphone to tell his nonexistent schoolmates: “Let’s start cleaning.”
He plays music and returns to his classroom to wash the floor.
He returns to the booth after 15 minutes to announce the end of the cleaning task. “Thanks for a job well done,” he tells the school.
Omuro never asks Takashi if he feels lonely.
He says he cannot forget when Takashi learned he would be the only pupil from the new academic year during the last school lunch in March.
“Takashi was visibly upset,” Omuro says, with tears in his eyes.
Masaaki Abe, 54, principal of the Onami Elementary School, says he wants Takashi to get in touch with as many people as possible at the elementary school to nurture his social development.
He meets Takashi at the school entrance at 7:30 a.m. Around the same time, Yoshinobu Sakuma, 60, a school janitor, cleans around the entrance to greet the school’s only pupil.
Local residents have played a big part in Takashi’s school life.
The Onami district solicited contributions in March and donated 300,000 yen ($3,000) to the elementary school to spend on Takashi’s education.
Yoshitsugu Yamaki, 54, who heads the local athletic association, says he plans to liven up the May annual sports festival organized by residents and Onami Elementary School.
“We will ask for help from the women’s division of the agricultural cooperative association and serve rice balls and miso soup with pork and vegetables,” Yamaki says.
This year, Takashi may take part as a member of a school team that includes teachers and school employees.
Despite the enthusiasm for local events, residents who evacuated from the Onami district are not expected to return anytime soon.
“We have to keep up our efforts to encourage them to gradually return to their hometown, starting with attending events such as the sports festival and the summer festival,” Yamaki says.
As a sixth-grader, Takashi will move on to a junior high school next year.
Yamaki says he hopes the elementary school will not be closed after Takashi graduates.
Fukushima, April 20 (Jiji Press)–Progress toward postdisaster reconstruction has been patchy in areas tainted with radioactive substances from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s
One year has passed since Japan began work to realign the evacuation zones set around the plant in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima shortly after the nuclear accident into three types of new zones depending on the levels of contamination, including one where estimated annual radiation doses are under 20 millisieverts and preparations can be started so that residents can resume their lives there after the evacuation orders are lifted in the near future.
One of the other two is an area where annual doses are between above 20 millisieverts and 50 millisieverts and residents need to wait some years to resume their lives, and the remaining one is an area where annual doses are above 50 millisieverts and residents cannot return home at least for five years.
The evacuation zone realignment has already been completed for nine of the 11 Fukushima municipalities concerned and is seen to finish by summer this year for the two others.
Moves toward reconstruction have progressed steadily in places where the realignment finished early. But in other places, buildings and infrastructure are turning into ruins, making reconstruction even more difficult.
by Yumiko Iida
KESENNUMA, MIYAGI PREF. – Just two months after the tsunami on March 11, 2011, devastated the city of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, Emi Satomi and a group of nursery teachers whose jobs were eliminated by the catastrophe began a makeshift day care center in a warehouse up on a hill.
Satomi, 51, is a niece of the director of a local nursery who died in the tsunami. The nursery school, which had been operating for more than 30 years was swept away. Only its bare foundation remains.
Initially, when she agreed to nurses’ requests in the immediate aftermath of the disaster to help look after their children while they worked, she intended to do so only until the mothers found other day care alternatives. But by summer that year, the number of children at Satomi’s makeshift day care center had reached about 20.
Satomi felt the limits of running the nursery in the warehouse, where there was neither water nor toilets.
But at the same time, she knew there was certainly demand for the service. So she tried to seek assistance from support groups, only to be met with a rather cold response to the idea of temporary day care.
Good news came when a construction company executive in Yamagata Prefecture offered to build a facility for her — on condition that she was “serious” about continuing the nursery.
“I was scared,” Satomi recalled, worrying that demand may not keep up in the long run, given Japan’s low birthrate as well as the hollowing out that was taking place as residents were forced to evacuate or move elsewhere as a result of the disaster. “Would we be able to keep going?”
One thing was certain, however. The city had a shortage of day-care services, especially for babies and toddlers up to around 2 years old. Moved by the executive’s words that “these children will be the ones to revive Kensennuma” in the future, Satomi made up her mind to stay the course.
She named the new nursery, completed last July at a location safe from future tsunami, Kids Room Ohisama, which means “sun.” More than 50 children are enrolled, and the number will rise to 60 when the new school year starts in April. The rest are on a waiting list.
Finances are tight but Satomi is sticking to her decision of not registering the facility as an “approved” nursery because she wants to be able to serve all parents and children in need, regardless of their background and whether they meet the rigid enrollment qualifications for “approved” nurseries.
Operating as an “unapproved” nursery means Kids Room Ohisama receives much less in public subsidies than “approved” nurseries.
Satomi also petitioned on behalf of about 20 of the nursery’s children who are still in temporary housing and finally succeeded in getting aid so their fees can be reduced or exempted.
“It’s tough, but we are fortunate and thankful that even now relief supplies are being sent to us from everywhere,” Satomi said.
“Parents (with small children) can stay here and work in Kesennuma because our nursery is here. We’ll be able to keep going for as long as we are needed.”
According to a tally by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry as of last April 1, 50 day care facilities were destroyed or swept away by the March 2011 tsunami, while another 61 were heavily damaged.
A total of 76 nurseries have closed down in the disaster-hit areas, whether “approved” or “unapproved.”
The government said Thursday that it will build nearly 20,000 public housing units by March 2016 for people affected by the March 2011 megaquake-tsunami disaster in the Tohoku region and consequent nuclear crisis.
The goal was stipulated in a plan for rebuilding homes and towns that the government compiled prior to the second anniversary Monday of the March 11 disaster, in which some 19,000 lives were lost.
The government also reiterated its pledge to accelerate efforts to decommission the four crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex and said it plans to finish revising the current work schedule for the whole process around June. The decommissioning is expected to take decades.
“What is mainly expected after two years is to rebuild homes and make the prospects clear to enable people to return to Fukushima Prefecture,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a meeting to discuss reconstruction projects.
The plan calls for the government to build around 5,100 public housing units in Iwate Prefecture, about 11,200 units in Miyagi Prefecture and around 2,900 units in Fukushima Prefecture by the end of fiscal 2015.
At the Fukushima nuclear plant, the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. plan to start removing fuel assemblies stored in the spent-fuel pool of reactor 4 starting in November.
Under the current work schedule, the whole decommissioning process is expected to take around 40 years, but Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi has ordered ministry staff to consider moving up the schedule.
The village of Iitate in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture was once home to 6,000 people.
Today, however, it is essentially a ghost town, evacuated after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant just 25 miles (40 kilometers) away following the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011.
While former residents can return to Iitate during the day, it’s still an eerie scene — children’s toys lie abandoned in yards, bicycles rust on front porches and only an occasional truck passes through its quiet streets.
For elderly couple Yukio and Masayo Nakano the last 20 months have not been easy. Yukio lived had lived in his home in the village for more than 60 years, moving in just after World War Two.
“I can’t describe it. It’s hard living in the temporary housing, and it’s very stressful mentally,” he says.
The difficult situation has also taken its toll on his wife Masayo.
“I’m lonely. We’re getting old,” she says. “I think every day how long I can survive in this situation.”
Only one building — the town’s nursing home — has permanent residents. Following consultation with their families and the Japanese government, the 80 or so people living there were allowed to stay despite the evacuation order.
Miyoko Sato, a former Iitate resident who left after the nuclear accident, returns to work there each week for a very simple reason.
“These people will stay here for the rest of their life,” she says.
“And I cherish them just like a family member. But I don’t know if our village will be able to come back anytime soon.”
However some are trying to make the village inhabitable for all: crews who have the hazardous task of trying to clean up from one of the worst nuclear accidents the world has ever seen.
They perform repetitive tasks — wiping down buildings with damp cloths, and using high pressure hoses to clean drainage systems along the streets.
Workers are also clearing a layer of top soil in Iitate, as well as the numerous other affected areas of Fukushima prefecture.
But it’s an endless task, as it’s a region that’s roughly the size of greater Tokyo.
So far, it’s not clear what the government intends to do with the countless bags of contaminated dirt. Some critics, including experts on radiation, call the government’s clean-up efforts “meaningless” and say that using high pressure hoses simply spreads the radiation.
Others contend that wiping down a building with a wet rag is pointless, particularly when the wind blows from the nearby forest which is still contaminated.
Iitate’s Mayor, Norio Kanno, has heard those arguments but insists they have to start somewhere.
“We have a responsibility to clean up and decontaminate this land. I can’t accept the idea that we give up. And it’s hard for some people to just start a new life elsewhere,” he says.
Yukio Nakano remains hopeful that he and his wife can return to their home one day.
“But we don’t know when that will happen. It’s hard to predict our future,” he says.s
The Environment Ministry says nearly 6,000 square kilometers of land across Japan have subsided by more than 2 centimeters in the last fiscal year.
The figure is about 1,000 times greater than in the previous fiscal year that ended March last year, and the largest-ever since records began in 1978.
Municipal organizations that extract underground water assess land subsidence on a regular basis.
About half the 30 tested areas in 20 prefectures were recorded as sinking more than 2 centimeters. This level is judged to have a potential impact on buildings’ stability.
The ministry says Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture sank deepest by 73.8 centimeters, followed by Ichikawa in Chiba by 30.9 centimeters. Tsukuba in Ibaraki sank by 15.2 centimeters.
Seven areas subsided by more than 10 centimeters. These lie in Tohoku, and in the Kanto region that includes Tokyo.
The ministry officials say the subsidence is attributable to last year’s March 11th earthquake. They have expressed concerns over the spread of subsidence and further damage to buildings.
Radioactive decontamination following last year’s nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has not been completed at more than 80 percent of homes.
Japan’s environment ministry studied the progress of government-funded removal of radioactive substances being undertaken by 58 cities, towns and villages in 7 prefectures around Fukushima as of the end of August.
It says work had been completed at 69 percent of educational facilities such as schools and childcare centers that were scheduled for decontamination.
51 percent of roads had been treated.
But the ministry found that among nearly 100,000 homes slated for removal of radioactive substances, the process was finished at only about 17,000 or 18 percent of them.
As for parks and sports facilities, 38 percent of them had been decontaminated.
Call for Papers
An NSF Supported Workshop
STS Forum on the 2011 Fukushima / East Japan Disaster
Building a Transnational Research Agenda and Strategy for Engagement through a Social Scientific Understanding of Disasters and the Disaster Sciences
University of California Berkeley
12-14 May 2013
This serves as the call for papers and for participants to the inaugural meeting of the “STS Forum on Fukushima,” an academic forum for discussing the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident and the larger 2011 East Japan disaster.