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Niigata nursery school workers set up space for Fukushima parents and children, mainichi, 1/31/12

KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata — Nursery school workers have set up a child welfare facility here for parents displaced by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“I want people to come any time of the year, like a fir tree is green all year round,” says nursery worker Tomoyo Yamada, 28, one of those behind the idea for the “Momo no Ki” (fir tree) facility.

Last fall, Yamada saw a tearful mother from Fukushima Prefecture at a city child welfare support center. Yamada, who moved here from Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture, around three years ago after marrying, felt she understood the mother’s feelings of isolation. She knew that there is no telling when people evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture will be able to return to their homes.

Wanting to help, Yamada used her contacts and was introduced to an unused child welfare facility in the city owned by a 44-year-old man who worked at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant. However, due to the 2007 Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake, among other reasons, six of the seven reactors at the plant are now offline, and the last is scheduled to be suspended for inspection in late March. Furthermore, due to the Fukushima disaster, the Niigata governor is hesitant to restart the reactors. With no work to do at the plant, the man has been away in Chiba Prefecture, and he gave Yamada permission to use the facility, including the toys there.

“I want to make a place where Fukushima mothers can come freely and exchange information,” says Yamada.

Her nursery worker friend, 41-year-old Yoshiko Shinada, who is a native of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, and moved to Kashiwazaki in 1994, is also helping with the project. Her parents moved to temporary housing in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, after the nuclear disaster began in March last year.

“It’s sad that my hometown’s nature was destroyed,” she said. “I want to do what I can for the evacuated mothers.”

(Mainichi Japan) January 31, 2012

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Kawauchi village in Fukushima calls on evacuees to return home, kyodo, 1/31/12

      The mayor of Kawauchi, a village in Fukushima Prefecture whose residents were forced to relocate following the nearby nuclear power plant crisis, called on some 2,600 evacuated villagers Tuesday to return home permanently.
”Let’s return starting with those who are ready,” Yuko Endo said at a press conference in Fukushima city, marking the first declaration among the nine town and village governments in the prefecture which evacuated their offices that it will return to its original location.
”There are matters of concern but there is no reason why we shouldn’t take the first step forward,” Endo added.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a separate press conference that the declaration is an ”important first step toward residents’ returning to their home village,” and added that the central government will ”actively support” the Kawauchi village government’s effort.
Kawauchi had about 2,990 residents before Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was crippled by the earthquake and tsunami disaster of March 11, 2011.
About 75 percent of the villagers currently reside in the prefectural city of Koriyama where the Kawauchi government has relocated its functions because the village was partially designated as a no-entry zone set up by the central government around the
nuclear power plant while the rest was categorized as an emergency evacuation preparation area.
In addition, a total of 542 Kawauchi residents were residing in 26 prefectures other than Fukushima as of Friday, while some 200 have returned to their homes since the central government lifted its evacuation advisory for the emergency preparation area of the village last September.
In November, the village government began decontamination work for schools and other public facilities in the hope of declaring in December that it would return to the village.
But the declaration was delayed for about a month as decontamination work is taking longer than expected. The work is expected to be completed by the end of March, paving the way for resumption of the village government, schools and other operations at the start of fiscal 2012 on April 1.
Most sections of the village are safe as radiation levels are less than 1 microsievert per hour, according to the Kawauchi government.
But the chances of all residents returning to the village are low in view of lingering radiation concerns.

Poster project in progress to help March 2011 disaster-hit areas, kyodo, 1/30/12

      A poster project using photographs of people in 12 municipalities hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami along the
Pacific coast of Iwate Prefecture has been in progress to support reconstruction of the areas in northeastern Japan.
The project titled ”A Beacon of Rebirth” is run by Masahiko Sasaki, a 32-year-old employee of an advertising company in Morioka in the prefecture, and other people, and they are planning to begin domestic and international sales of the posters from March 11 this year, the first anniversary of the disaster.
After the catastrophic event, Sasaki and Ryuichiro Baba, a 36-year-old photographer residing in Tokyo, captured images of people
clearing away debris in four municipalities including Kamaishi and the town of Otsuchi.
Forty-seven types of posters created from the initial photos to go with some encouraging phrases have raised about 10 million yen including sales of the English version.
The previous posters mainly used images of one to five people per frame but for the latest project, which they started shooting
from December, they decided to use larger crowds instead.
In a photo shoot held on Saturday morning near the city hall in Miyako, about 150 residents gathered despite cold weather.
”I wanted to do something at least to help the reconstruction. I hope we could show people that we’re working hard to rebuild our town,” said Chiharu Aoyagi, a 19-year-old junior college student in the city who took part in the shoot.

Poster project in progress to help March 2011 disaster-hit areas, kyodo, 1/30/12

MIYAKO, Japan, Jan. 30, Kyodo

A poster project using photographs of people in 12 municipalities hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami along the Pacific coast of Iwate Prefecture has been in progress to support reconstruction of the areas in northeastern Japan.

The project titled ”A Beacon of Rebirth” is run by Masahiko Sasaki, a 32-year-old employee of an advertising company in Morioka in the prefecture, and other people, and they are planning to begin domestic and international sales of the posters from March 11 this year, the first anniversary of the disaster.

After the catastrophic event, Sasaki and Ryuichiro Baba, a 36-year-old photographer residing in Tokyo, captured images of people clearing away debris in four municipalities including Kamaishi and the town of Otsuchi.

Forty-seven types of posters created from the initial photos to go with some encouraging phrases have raised about 10 million yen including sales of the English version.

The previous posters mainly used images of one to five people per frame but for the latest project, which they started shooting from December, they decided to use larger crowds instead.

In a photo shoot held on Saturday morning near the city hall in Miyako, about 150 residents gathered despite cold weather.

”I wanted to do something at least to help the reconstruction. I hope we could show people that we’re working hard to rebuild our town,” said Chiharu Aoyagi, a 19-year-old junior college student in the city who took part in the shoot.

==Kyodo

Hosono urges towns to aid disposal effort, japan times, 1/30/12

Monday, Jan. 30, 2012

Kyodo

SENDAI — Environment Minister Goshi Hosono said Saturday that the government must do more to persuade cities and prefectures to store tsunami debris so disaster-hit areas can rebuild.

“We are having a tough time implementing the disposal of rubble across a wide area. But we need to make local governments aware of how severely they are suffering in disaster-ravaged areas,” Hosono said in talks with Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai.

Murai handed Hosono a letter asking him to promote debris disposal.

“We will do our utmost to clean up the rubble within the prefecture, but we have to depend on other areas if it is beyond our disposal capability,” Murai said.

After the meeting, Hosono told reporters that while many municipalities and prefectures outside the disaster zone support waste disposal, most do not volunteer to take it.

“I expect local governments (outside the tsunami zone) will become willing to accept the rubble if they become more aware of the serious situation there,” Hosono said.

A number of municipalities across Japan have reported that residents are mainly concerned that they might be contaminated by radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant if their areas are used to store and dispose of tainted debris.

Before he spoke with the Miyagi governor, Hosono visited some temporary waste storage sites in Ishinomaki, where tsunami rubble is piled as high as 25 meters.

He also confirmed that the radiation level of the debris at the site was 0.05 microsievert per hour, or about the same as that in surrounding areas.

The only city that has formally decided to accept tsunami debris is Tokyo.

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