Dispatch from Japan – Fukushima Edition

I’m on the Moscow leg of my reporting trip already, but just wanted to post some of my thoughts from Japan, which I failed to put up while I was there. Will try to post more regularly while I am here. 

The next two days of my Japan trip were spent in the Fukushima prefecture. At first, we visited the Hirono town, where the evacuation order was lifted just over a year ago, but few have returned. We visited the mayor’s office, an elementary school and just drove around the town, looking at reconstruction and decontamination work and taking it all in. I still couldn’t really believe that I was actually IN Fukushima, a place I had read about quite a bit, but as U2 once put it – a place that has to be believed to be seen. Things really came into perspective when we drove through the nearby town of Naraha, which is still a no-go zone at night and has an evacuation curfew.

Here’s an excerpt and a link to the story I wrote from Hirono:

http://www.nationaljournal.com/domesticpolicy/20-months-after-nuclear-disaster-japanese-town-struggles-to-rebound-20121116

HIRONO, Japan—It has been more than a year since the evacuation order was lifted in this town near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, site of one of the worst environmental disasters in history, but Hirono Mayor Motohoshi Yamada still longs for the sound of children’s voices.

Hirono is within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant that experienced a triple meltdown in March 2011, triggered by the one-two punch of an earthquake and tsunami.

“From this room, you can see the ocean, and it was all black and it was really scary. I was really scared,” said Yamada, 64, as he recalled that fateful day in his Hirono office, which overlooks the town and the now-blue Pacific Ocean. After the earthquake, Yamada felt it was necessary for the people of Hirono to evacuate to nearby towns in the Japanese prefecture. Read more.

On the second day in the prefecture, we interviewed a farmer in the town on Nihonmatsu, whose business has been affected by rumors about radiation. His family has been living on that farm for something like 300 years – pretty amazing. Oh and I picked a daikon radish! (photo below)

 

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