March 25, 2017

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Three Anti Nuclear Energy Activists Held Press Conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan

Three anti nuclear energy activists addressed the dire situations that evacuees are facing at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on March 9th.  The three are Miyako Kumamoto from Liaison Committee for Organizations of Victims of Nuclear Disaster, Hiromu Murakami from The Liaison Committee for Litigation Plaintiffs of Nuclear Disaster Victims, and Nakate Seiichi from Japan Nuclear Evacuee Association for Comprehensive Rights. They are evacuees themselves and addressed various issues on behalf of all evacuees.

Kumamoto reported that 80,0000 people are still living in evacuation even after almost six years have passed.  Approximately 32000 out of 80,0000 evacuees are voluntary evacuees, who have evacuated despite being outside of the evacuation zones designated by the government. She also reported that the free provision housings for approximately 32000 of the voluntary evacuees will be terminated at the end of March, and that this forces them to make difficult decisions between going back to Fukushima or living in poverty. She went on to say that this treatment is causing significant damage especially to evacuees who are a part of single parent households.

Murakami stated that the government is striving to give off an impression to the international community that the victims affected by the nuclear power plant’s accidents are diminishing, as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approach. He went on to say that the biggest tragedy for the victims is that the governor of the Fukushima prefecture, who should be taking the side of victims, is doing the same thing with more aggressive eagerness.

Nakate criticized the government’s stance stating they are trivializing the severity of the accidents. He stated that the government is eagerly trying to spread propaganda that the accidents are about to be resolved, and evacuees are about to disappear, despite this being contradictory to the facts

The youtube of the press conference is titled Kumamoto, Murata & Nakate: “Fukushima Evacuees Face New Hardship Six Years On”.

Below is the transcript of the press conference.

Moderator: Thank you very much and good afternoon. We have one hour press conference. Yes. The speakers today are …we start with Mr. Miyako Kumamoto, Liaison Committee for Organizations of Victims of the Nuclear Disaster. This group was formed in 2016 February. Then we have Mr. Murata. Hiromi Murata.  The Liaison Committee for Litigation Plaintiffs of Nuclear Disaster Victims. This was started in 2015 May. And then we have Mr. Seiichi Nakate. Japan Nuclear Evacuee Association for Comprehensive Rights. Ms. Murata is next to me. She will talk about the current situation for people living in Fukushima. The litigation is about two things. One is putting forward the fact that the government is going to stop funding Fukushima victims, nuclear victims and what’s going to happen from now on. And the other very important issue Mr. Murata explains is that, who is responsible what really happened during this accident? This has not been made clear yet. Yeah. So, we will have the floor open to four o’clock, and we start with Mr. Kumamoto. Yes. Sorry. With Ms. Kumamoto. Sorry.

Kumamoto: Good day everyone. My name is Miyako Kumamoto. I’m from the Liaison Committee for Organizations of Victims of Nuclear Disaster. I would like to talk about the position nuclear power plant victims are in.

Today there are around 80,000 people who are still living in evacuation.

At present, these people are facing  a very difficult situation. One is in these times compensation which is being paid to them will be withdrawn, and at the end of this month, the end of March, the free provision of the housing will also end.

Of these 80,000 people, 32,300 people will be affected by cessation of free provision of housing at the end of this month.

The majority of these people would be mothers and children who, fearing health effects of radiation have left the prefecture and also old people who are relying upon the kindness of friends and relatives to stay away from their homes.

The Japanese government calls many of these people voluntary evacuees, because they do not come from areas that are covered by evacuation orders issued by the government, and so they are not eligible for a great deal of compensation from the authorities. And also their only lifeline to this point really has been the free housing subsidy and having them withdrawn from them means they face a choice between either returning home or poverty.

The evacuees who are scattered all around this country. Some of them are living in public housing provided by the government. And the provision of these houses are actually something administered by local authorities where they are living, but the decision about whether they will not continue to be able to be living in these houses are something that is decided by Fukushima prefectural government, something that was decided April of 2013.

On the 15th of June 2015, the governor of Fukushima made an announcement that at the end of March 2017, this year, that the people who are living outside of the area would have their housing assistance cut.

The number of people who are affected by this is 12436, and there was a letter sent to these people in January of 2016 asked them what their plans were after the end of March this year. Of the 12436 people who received this letter, 7067 replied 33XX outside of the prefecture and 77.7 % of the respondents had said that they had no plans or no idea what they will do after the first of April 2017.

As a representative of one of the evacuees organizations we have been continual the negotiation with the government of the prefecture to ensure that provision of free housing continues into the future and that there is nobody who fold between the crowd but unfortunately they have nothing come to fruition to this point.

As a policy for the protection of people who are in support of evacuees, the position of especially mothers and their children are in a very dire position because of this decision.

The reasons that the mothers left the prefecture is because they were worried that their children would have the adverse health effects because of the radiation. So, none of these people really want to go home. Because of the housing policy decisions of the government, they are in a very difficult position. Of many of them are living in a housing called the employment promotion housing which is provided to people who are looking for work, but they have been told in many different ways in more words or less to basically get out of there and they have been treated in a very unconscionable manner. One way which they have been treated is this form that I am showing to you now.  It is a questionnaire to ask people what they want to do after the funding for their houses end. They have a question here that says here or would you like to continue on as a paying residents or would you like to not?

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The evacuees have no fault of their own it being forced to leave their homes and to try to protect their children from this threat of radiation, and unfortunately the wishes, desires of these evacuees are not something reflected in the policy making process. I still don’t have an answer to why do we have to put into this position.

Murata: Let me add a few words.

Murata: As Ms. Kumamoto just said the evacuees from the nuclear disaster is in a very dire position.

Murata: In effect, these people have been internally displaced people for the past six years and now they face a situation of being is hounded from their homes. It is extremely unusual.

Next, I would like to talk to you about why this is the case.

In short, the reason they place them in the situation is because of the policy of the Japanese government.

As you know there will be the Olympics in 2020 and paralympics as well, and when Prime Minister Abe made a speech calling for the games to be held in Tokyo. He made a comment that Fukushima was under control and presented no problem for the games in Tokyo.

The government continues this line ever since.

It seems that the central government’s goal is to be able to say at the point of the Olympics 2020 that Fukushima disaster was completely dealt with two years prior to that as in 2018.

But of course this poses large problems for the victims.

So, the policy is going to cut the support for the victims in order to achieve this goal.

The problems that I see is the governor of Fukushima prefecture should be the last bastion fighting for lives of Fukushima residents.

But unfortunately the current reality of the prefecture is that the governor of Fukushima prefecture is that he is in some ways ahead of the central government’s policies.

In emblematic of this position by the prefectural governor is that groups such as our own have been asking for talks with the governor for the past year, but he has almost intentionally denying our requests.

The rest will be posted soon.

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