Five years have passed since a killer tsunami knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spewing radiation and forcing 160,000 people to flee their homes. Authorities in Japan want locals to think “nothing happened,” documentary director Jeffrey Jousan told RT.
“The government prints the number of people who died as a result of the 2011 disaster in the newspapers every day. [In some other prefectures], the [death toll] amounts to 300-400 people in each prefecture, but in Fukushima it is over 8,000 people,” Jousan, a US director and producer who has been living and working in Japan since 1990, said.
“It is very telling about the situation in Fukushima. It is hard for everyone who is affected by the tsunami, who lost their homes and lost their families. But [in Fukushima], people are not able to go back home, they are unable to work because people won’t buy food from Fukushima, farmers cannot farm anymore. It is affecting people, and more people are dying because of that.
It is shocking… to see [how] many people have died in Fukushima,” the co-director of the documentary film ‘Alone in the Zone’ told RT.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster, said to be the world’s second worst after the 1986 Chernobyl tragedy, brought about the closure of all of Japan’s 44 working reactors, responsible for producing nearly a third of the national energy output. Naoto Kan, a former Japanese prime minister, recently told the Daily Telegraph that, five years after the disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continues to pose a threat to the ecology and humans around it.
While an area within 12.5 miles (20km) of the plant remains an exclusion zone, it is still unclear how many people have succumbed to or suffer from radiation-caused cancer diseases directly linked to the crippled plant. Almost 10 percent of people still live in temporary housing across Fukushima prefecture.
“What happens now is that some people are slowly leaving, so you have smaller and smaller communities in these temporary housing areas. [Some] people have gotten used to being there and some of the places have developed strong tight communities… and now [they] are starting to be torn apart because little by little people are leaving,” Jousan said, adding that moving into new housing with new neighbors and new environment can also be a change.
“Some of the communities that were in the initial 20km exclusion zone have been opened up for people to live [there] again. In one place, only 6 percent of the original residents moved back into the town. There are no people there, no facilities, the schools are not working, even public officials do not live in the town…”
apanese officials have admitted for the first time that thousands of people evacuated from areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may never be able to return home.
A report by members of the governing Liberal Democratic party [LDP] and its junior coalition partner urges the government to abandon its promise to all 160,000 evacuees that their irradiated homes will be fit to live in again.
The plan instead calls for financial support for displaced residents to move to new homes elsewhere, and for more state funding for the storage of huge quantities of radioactive waste being removed from the 12-mile evacuation zone around the plant.
The parties' admission that some areas closest to the wrecked facility will remain too contaminated for people to make a permanent return is a blow to official assurances that radiation can be brought down to safe levels.
The government has come under pressure to abandon those promises amid evidence that attempts to reduce radiation to its target of 1 millisievert a year are failing.
Decontamination is woefully behind schedule in seven of the 11 selected towns and villages, forcing authorities to concede recently that they will not finish the work by the March 2014 deadline.
The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco], is supposed to pay back government loans to fund the cleanup, but has balked at the huge expense while it focuses on a costly decommissioning operation at Fukushima Daiichi that is expected to last at least 30 years.
The government is prepared to borrow another 3tn yen to compensate evacuees and speed up decontamination of homes, schools and other public buildings in areas where reducing radiation levels is more realistic, reports say.
The new funding will bring Japan's expenditure on the nuclear crisis so far to $80bn (£50bn). That figure does not cover the cost of decommissioning the damaged reactors.
"At some point in time, someone will have to say that this region is uninhabitable, but we will make up for it," the LDP's secretary general, Shigeru Ishiba, said recently.