As we approach the second anniversary there seems to be more and more good news.
First, the news that evacuees should be able to file for compensation for their houses and land at the end of March. There have been so many delays, first it was because local authorities wouldn't release personal details, then it was because there's land that's not registered in the name of the current occupiers (inheritance etc.). This latter problem hasn't been totally resolved and for those concerned will take some time but it's been decided to go ahead with the rest of the applications. Altogether 60,000 households are eligible. It means the evacuees will get their money and can start afresh. Good news for them and good news for the local economy.
In December I talked about the high level IAEA conference held in Koriyama. Well, in yesterday's paper it was announced that the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi is to be an international project. This means that Fukushima will get the benefit of international expertise and the experiences of Fukushima will be spread worldwide. Welcome indeed.
A few months ago I lamented the fact that there were so many empty plots in Koriyama. Changing Landscape One photo in that post (top of Sakuradoori) was particularly awful but the plot is to be developed with an upmarket apartment block. No prices yet but the selling point is the view of the park and the fact that it's earthquake-proof. The Japanese word is 免震 menshin. A search tells me that the English technical term is 'base isolation'. The building sits on a rubber base and when there's an earthquake, the whole building moves so you don't get that swaying in the upper storeys that you get when the bottom of the building is fixed (here that form of construction is called 耐震 taishin, 'able to withstand earthquakes'). I know of one building in Koriyama that's menshin. An acquaintance who lived there told me that in the earthquake nothing fell off his shelves. I was amazed as in my apartment the fridge fell over and all my crockery fell out of the cupboards and smashed.
So things are looking up. After a year of chaos, a year of planning, at last things are beginning to happen. Hopefully in the next year we'll get a real sense of a recovery.
It's Sunday afternoon, a typical Koriyama winters day - snow blowing horizontally in the wind. How we long for an end to the snow and the cold.