Sunday 2 March 2014


I had lunch last week with a couple of guys I got to know from the Kasetsu (temporary shelter) in Koriyama for evacuees from Tomioka. I mentioned the article I'd seen in the paper about new homes to be built for occupation next year, 67 houses in Otama village about 10 miles north of Koriyama and 87 in Miharu, a town about 10 miles to the east. (Incidentally these are the first detached houses to be built, as opposed to flats.) 
  'Yeah, but there's nothing like enough' one of them said, 'There are 800 people here.'
  'So when do you think you'll be moving?' I asked.
  'Well, not this year. Next year, maybe?'

  'What's your biggest problem?' I asked.
  'We're tired', he said, 'and stressed. And it's getting worse, if anything. '
He went on to say, that he and his mate, were OK. They get out and about, and join in the activities that are organised. But many people won't go out. A lot of people are isolated and won't join in. He told me there had been some deaths, people dying alone and nobody knowing about it. (There's a word for it in Japanese koritsushi 孤立死.) But he said it caused such a scandal the welfare people were going around every day now so it probably wouldn't happen again.

These two guys seem OK. They try to take life day by day and look on the bright side. But it can't be easy. One of them, who is in his eighties has already paid for his funeral at a nearby funeral parlour in Koriyama. He's resigned to never going back to Tomioka. Though I have to say he looks extremely fit and well and unlikely to kick the bucket soon.

As we approach the third anniversary, the total number of people who have evacuated as a result of the nuclear accident totals 130,000 with 28,500 of these in kasetsu, the barrack style flimsy prefabs. There are plans to build 3,700 homes by March 2016 and a further 1,190 homes thereafter. But the plans are delayed. Soaring costs and a shortage of labour has meant tenders for public works have not been met. Only 576 homes, a tenth of the total planned, will be completed within this fiscal year.
So people sit it out. They should scream and shout some more. But that's not the way people from Fukushima do things ....
Snow almost gone. A grey Sunday morning.

1 comment:

  1. People forget about the huge impact that this catastrophe continues to have on people's lives. I hope your friends enjoyed the meal and the company. It is tragic to hear about the isolated older people. Stoicism is all very well but it is an indictment on Japanese politicians that the recovery is being allowed to wither. Keep up your informative commentary.