“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
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.
Monday, Jan. 30, 2012
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.