Thursday 10 November 2011

Cold Winds

Hi folks
The weather's turned cold and I've succumbed and put the heating on for the first time. From now on cold westerlies will blast Koriyama until next spring. Like Chicago it's a Windy City. But at least the winds will be blowing away from the plant and out to sea.

The plan for the indoor children's play centre that I mentioned earlier has been officially announced. What I hadn't realised was that the motivation for it was a survey done by paediatrician Kikuchi Shintaro of about 250 children at two kindergartens where he found that children in the year to June this year had only put on one quarter of normal weight gain. He attributes it to two things: hormone imbalance due to stress partly connected with not being able to play outside, and then physically not being hungry so not eating because they're not playing outside. The play centre is to have a huge sandpit, jungle gym and tricycle track and has been made possible through the generous sponsorship of Koriyama based supermarket chain, York Benimaru. It's to open on 23 December (nice Christmas present for the kids) and entrance will be free.

The authorities in Motomiya (just north of Koriyama) have provided two machines for people to go and get their home-grown produce tested. At last! Up until now only produce going through JA (the agricultural cooperative) has been able to be tested. But why has it taken so long? It's the end of the season. Why wasn't this kind of machine available in the summer to test all those lovely tomatoes and cucumbers? It's too little to late.

It's not that the Tokyo bureaucrats or politicians are lazy it's just that everything has to be decided in Tokyo. So local government officials have to go to Tokyo, petition for what they want done, then the Tokyo bureaucrats have to sift through everything (on top of their normal work) and make their decision. This is what devolution is all about - making local decisions local. The bill that's doing the rounds (the government doesn't have a majority so likes to get agreement from the opposition parties first) has provisions for special areas (tokku 特区) which will be exempt from a lot of red tape. All the disaster areas want to be tokku. But getting that decision itself is taking a long time!

Our salesman who lives 34 km from the reactor has no plans yet to return home. His house is surrounded by trees which the city has agreed to cut back. He's hoping that will get some air moving through and improve the situation. Unlike his neighbours 4 km away he is not eligible for compensation.

Good night from a chilly Koriyama,

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