Fukushima: Human Impacts
As the second year anniversary of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami draws near, many in Japan will be examining how things are developing for the over 300,000 homeless victims.
With a new government settling in place, Prime Minister Abe has vowed to speed up reconstruction of areas ravaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami while at the same time, fully supports the idea of restarting nuclear reactors in the country’s 54 reactors. But at what undisclosed cost? While these are separate, yet related issues, it does give pause to where the loyalties lie with the politicians. In Japan, as elsewhere, triangles exist and although there was a lot of ‘zero nuclear’ rhetoric during the build-up to the election, in efforts to secure votes, the nuclear mura (village -triangle of government, nuclear industry and academia) is alive and well. I will explore this issue deeper in my next article.
300,000 Still Homeless Two Years Later
The majority of Yamada’s tsunami victims are still in kasetsu (temporary) housing. The original two years of free rent allotted the victims, was extended a year to 2014, however, many of the evacuees have little or no funds, no usable land and/or means to support building or moving into a new place. A large percentage of the evacuee population are over 65 and many households have either no family members of working age or their businesses have been washed away. Toshiaki’s Aunt Miya is an anomaly and is fortunate to be able to start building a new home to live in, this spring. More on that later too.
The schools in Yamada are faring well. Kita Yamada elementary school was very grateful to receive our donations and the students have returned to their ‘normal’ lifestyle, even though the view from the school is still a very cleared landscape. The funds donated last summer were used to purchase a tent to guard the children from the sun and equipment needed to participate in the annual area sports event. They had to decline from the event in 2011, but thanks to protective covering were able to return to some normal activities last fall.
Funakoshi elementary school is still in a temporary building however, plans for a new building are moving forward. I will be visiting both schools in late spring to make another donation and will report back on the progress at that time.
We are grateful for the donations that have trickled in since last summer, considering there are always so many other urgent situations in need of donations. Renew Yamada is especially grateful to the generous women who attended the 2013 Women’s Conference held in Izu, Japan. I was asked to conduct a workshop on the ‘Gift of Aging‘, the topic of a manuscript I am presently working on. It was a beautiful weekend and there was a collection taken at the close of the weekend and the funds were donated to Renew Yamada. Those funds will go to directly to the elementary school children in Yamada affected by the tsunami. We are very grateful for that and all the donations we have made on your behalf.
Watch for upcoming posts on:
Japan’s Nuclear development post- 3/11
Aunt Miya’s new home
Late spring donation to Funakoshi elementary