community, daily life, health, kids, mainichi shinbun, psychosocial

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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About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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