Monday 25 June 2012

Shoots of Recovery?

Not all the news is bad. Fishing's getting going again, although in a small way. Two kinds of octopus and one kind of shellfish caught 50 km off the Soma coast tested clear. The local supermarket chain York Benimaru tested them all over again and put them on sale in two of their supermarkets in Soma. All sold out today by early afternoon. The next catch to go on sale in Tokyo. Not all fish is clear but it's a start. People are beginning to see they might get their livelihoods back after all.

Plans to re-zone Iitate on 1 July going ahead. This is that rural area northwest of the reactor (230 sq km, original population 6,000) where everyone was evacuated in a hurry on 11 April last year. People will be able to return to areas up to 20 mSv/yr (if they're willing to that is) and details of the 'restricted residence zone' (20-50 mSv/yr, no staying overnight) into which most of the village falls, have just been announced. In actual fact, some businesses have  kept going all this time but now they can only stay if levels are 'not much over' 3.8 μSv/hr. Even so workers have to stay indoors and commute by car. Only those businesses essential for the recovery will be allowed: construction, decontamination, banks, petrol stations. No hospitals, schools, restaurants or shops. Workers in areas over 2.5 μSv/hr will be monitored.

Iwaki is doing really well. The grants offered by the government and the prefecture seem to be stimulating new business and there is a shortage (and some competition) for land on industrial estates.

Yesterday the results of the local paper's essay competition. The three prizewinners are to be 'ambassadors for the recovery' and get to go to London to take part in events to do with the Olympics and relay a 'message from Fukushima'. The winner in the Junior High section, a 14 year old girl, writes about how her grandad just carries on and tends his peach fields regardless. The winner in the high school section, a 17 year old girl, had a narrow escape from the tsunami and writes a letter to herself 'when she's grown up', reminding herself to pass on her experiences to the next generation for the sake of all those who didn't get to live. The winner in the adult section is one Koshi Fujita, a young farmer from Koriyama who's been active locally putting information about his produce on the internet at an early stage. He writes passionately about how he's going to stay in Fukushima and make it a place to be proud to farm.

Yours truly has the job of translating the essays into English. Struck by all the winners' love of the place and determination to put it to rights. Though my immediate problem is how to translate フクシマ (Fukushima written in katakana, hints of  Hiroshima, victim of a nuclear accident) and 福島 (Fukushima in characters) which is what it should be.
Unseasonally cold here. Not good for our packing business if the summer fruit and vegetables are held back.
Goodnight to you all.

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