Sunday 17 November 2013

U-turn on Repatriation

Hi folks
The mountains surrounding Koriyama are dusted with white after the first snowfall earlier in the week. Minowa ski resort on Mount Bandai has opened for the season - though I think they've had the snow machines on full blast.

In the summer the PM pledged to speed up the recovery and the ruling parties' working group has just produced its recommendations. The government's done a U-turn on policy to repatriate the 140,000 evacuees. Up to now, plans were based on the principle that everyone would be re-housed in 'new communities' and at some stage everyone would return to where they lived before the disaster. Now they're saying people must be told if and when they'll be able to go back and given support if they choose to live elsewhere. At long last the government seems to be looking at things realistically, from the residents' perspective, but it has taken so long.  

Regular surveys have shown that a growing number of people don't want to go back. The continuing reports of the troubles at Fukushima Daiichi haven't helped. And decontamination is proving trickier and far more expensive than first thought. 

Local leaders broadly welcome the report but the devil is in the detail, and no details have been announced yet. Not to put too fine a point on it: a lot depends on the compensation package. The current system doesn't provide enough compensation to buy a house elsewhere. This will change. Local leaders warn that those who decide to go back shouldn't lose out.

I still don't really understand what's going to happen. At Chernobyl the 30 km exclusion zone imposed at the time of the accident is still in force although there are some 'stubborn oldies' who live within the zone but receive proper support. I know the damage here was nothing like as bad and the working party say there is no change in the long term aim -  to have people return eventually. Does that mean people will be able to choose, after a certain period, to go back? What a difficult decision. We wait and see. Details have been promised by the end of the year. 

A while back I told you about the delay in building new housing for evacuees due to escalating prices for construction. When Home's not so Sweet  Well, with much fanfare, there was a ceremony today to mark the start of construction of a block of 40 apartments in Koriyama, the first to be built. It will be completed in October next year. More houses for 3,700 families are planned.
Bye for now

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