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Fukushima victims’ lives still uprooted, 10 years on

EVANSTON, Ill. — The Japanese town of Namie has now been reduced to less than 8% of its original population as residents remain evacuated following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident and have yet to be back, said Mayor Kazuhiro Yoshida, during his address on Tuesday to a global audience of nuclear experts, hosted by Northwestern University.

Northwestern professor Hirokazu Miyazaki published a report detailing the failure of various compensation schemes to remedy the plight of those victims. He can be reached by contacting Mohamed Abdelfattah at mohamed@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Miyazaki:
“We’re often inclined to think that nuclear disasters don’t happen very often, but that doesn’t take into view the damaging impact these disasters have in the long run on people, agriculture and anyone in the path of the nuclear fallout, sometimes beyond national borders.”

Annelise Riles, professor of law and executive director of the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, highlighted the inequitable burden borne by ordinary citizens. She can be reached by contacting Mohamed Abdelfattah at mohamed@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Riles:
“In the case of Fukushima, a large amount of money has been paid out to victims, but remains inadequate. Many who suffered tremendous losses, but reside outside of the mandatory evacuation zone, have not been compensated. We need new, and much more inclusive, nuclear disaster preparation processes involving careful deliberation over who deserves to be compensated in the wake of a nuclear disaster, and who should bear the costs.”

Kazuhiro Yoshida is mayor of the town of Namie in Fukushima.

Statement from Mr. Yoshida:
"For 10 years, we have continuously sought to advance our efforts for reconstruction and recovery from the Great East Japan earthquake and nuclear accident. The evacuation order was lifted for part of the town four years ago, and the current population of the town is approximately 1,600, less than 8 percent of the population before the accident...the nuclear power plant accident robbed us of our livelihood and lifestyle. We lost our land, homes, occupations, jobs, friends and acquaintances and even our families were dispersed. Many residents have suffered both mentally and physically from their prolonged evacuation. The local government of Namie has done everything it can to support the reconstruction of the livelihoods of residents, but there are many unresolved issues surrounding compensation, even after 10 years."

Hidenori Konno is leader of the plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits representing the residents of Namie against the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

Statement from Mr. Konno:
"Ten years have passed since the accident, but our homeland remains highly contaminated with radiation. Life in evacuation continues, and we do not know when we will be able to go home. We do not know if we will ever be able to go home. The Japanese government and TEPCO robbed us of our lives, our pride as local residents and our dignity as humans. We only have one homeland, which is priceless and irreplaceable. It cannot possibly be exchanged for money. We will never be satisfied with whatever monetary payment we are given as compensation for the loss...our empty homeland is not properly maintained and has become a wasteland."