Sunday 25 March 2012

New Zones

There's a major reorganisation taking place regarding contamination and the zones which will determine whether residents can go back home. This is a picture I took of a map in the local paper. The picture's not brilliant but I thought it might be easier to explain than a link.
Names of towns (white on black lozenges): top left IITATE, top right MINAMI SOMA,
centre NAMIE
First, look at the two half-circles, the 20 km exclusion zone and the 20-30 km zone put in place last year after the disaster.
Now, look at where the radioactive particles actually landed. The colours are the results of government surveys.
The area in red  has annual cumulative external radiation exposure of over 50 mSv/year (unihabitable) and is to be re-named the 'Difficult to Return Zone' (帰還困難区域 kikan konnan kuiki )
The area in yellow, 20 to 50 mSv/year, will be known as the 'Restricted Residence Zone' (居住制限区域 kyoju seigen kuiki )
The area in blue, under 20 mSv/year, will be the 'Preparatory Zone for Lifting the Evacuation Order' ( 避難指示解除準備区域 hinan shiji kaijo junbi kuiki )
The government has said it plans to clean up the yellow and blue areas in two years (by March 2014) starting with the least contaminated areas. There are no plans yet for cleaning up the red zone.

Maps like this began to appear last summer but everyone's been hanging on waiting for details of compensation and for plans from the various councils affected. Mr Sakurai (famous for his worldwide appeal on Youtube last March) is appealing for people to come back to Minami Soma and is reopening schools and assuring people that returning won't affect their compensation (though some people seem to be hedging their bets by staying away).

Iitate, whose mayor Mr Kanno had successfully re-branded the area as 'slow life' and who pledged when they left they would be back in two years,  is planning to reorganise and start getting people back.

But look at Namie. Its mayor, Mr Baba, has worked so hard to keep the people together but it's all red. The harsh reality is that they have to relocate. But Baba is not giving in and is still pressing for reconstruction of his area.

Kawauchi council (the area next to the legend, half white, half blue) which had evacuated to Koriyama has gone back and is working on repairing infrastructure and getting on with the clean up. The mayor there says people have to make up their own minds as to whether to return. He wants to respect people's decisions and let them know they belong to the village even if they don't come back rightaway. He's trying to stop any kind of stigma developing. These people are working so hard to keep their communities together.

The TV shows lots of public meetings and many people seem confused. Is it safe for children? How long will the clean up take? Will it go according to plan? Would going back affect compensation? So many things to think about. It must be really hard.
Well, that's all for now.
Good night,

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