KORIYAMA, Fukushima — Heads of multiple prefectural municipalities affected by the ongoing nuclear crisis urged the government to submit a clear and concrete reparation plan as soon as possible during a panel discussion a government committee held here on Jan. 27.
Present at the meeting, organized by Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, were heads of 12 municipalities around the crippled plant, including Iitate, Minamisoma, Namie and Hirono, which are to be affected by the government’s realignment of evacuation advisories.
The head of each municipality urged the government to speed up preparations for a post-realignment reparation policy and warned of the possibility that even if evacuated residents were able to return to their homes, lack of employment opportunities and farming restrictions may result in a need for further financial compensations.
“The government should provide reparations to residents until they return to conditions almost similar to where they were before the March 11 crisis. Everyone wants to return to their hometowns,” said Hirono Mayor Motohoshi Yamada, expressing a wish that compensation plans be extended for as long as residents need to fully restart their lives.
Norio Kanno, mayor of Iitate, which falls within the emergency evacuation preparation zones, meanwhile, warned the government that if Iitate were to be restructured by radiation doses, municipalities would become segmented.
“We are trying our best to move forward in the same direction, and government policy is headed in the opposite direction,” he said, adding that he is concerned over the possibility that difference in financial compensations provided by the government after its realignment of evacuation zones may arouse a sense of injustice among residents.
A number of municipal officials also advocated a decrease in taxes and an increase of financial support to local governments.
“At the moment we spend about 70 million yen in postal expenses to deliver information to evacuated residents. In regular years, we spend no more than 30 million yen,” said Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba.
Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai supported Baba’s appeal by saying that an increasing number of nursing employees are forced out of work as a result of the nuclear crisis.
“Since there are no operating caretaking facilities, people are resorting to home-nursing. In the one-year period ending this coming March, a total of 110 people will have faced early retirement. Frankly, we (the local government) are experiencing a meltdown here,” Sakurai said.
“I realized what should be prioritized. The panel will incorporate (the opinions heard today) in the plan’s guideline and further deliberations,” Yoshihisa Nomi, the head of the government panel, commented after the meeting.
Meanwhile, while the panel was open to the general public, with 400 seats secured at the venue, only about 50 people attended. Reservations for those who wished to attend were to be made via e-mails or fax.
“Many disaster survivors don’t have fax machines or computers. I wonder if the government is not aware of this,” said a 53-year-old farmer who sat in the gallery.
The man, who evacuated to Yamagata Prefecture from Minamisoma, where he used to run an asparagus farm, said he is at a loss of what to do in his future.
“My future will be decided based on whether government reparations will allow me to restart my farming business at a different location or not. A trial (demanding compensation) can take years and unfortunately I don’t have many left,” he said, adding that he wishes the government will advance reparation plans as soon as possible.
(Mainichi Japan) January 28, 2012