"Fukushima Voluntary Evacuees on Verge of Losing Homes"
Language: Speech and Q&A will be in Japanese with English interpretation.
In March, six years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, over 28,000 so-called "voluntary evacuees" are scheduled to lose their housing support and could be forced to return to areas they believe are still unsafe.
"Voluntary evacuees" did not live in exclusion areas subject to mandatory evacuation but close enough that they were concerned their homes had also been contaminated. And private citizens who measured the radiation at 2,500 sites in areas that many of these evacuees fled found levels as high as the evacuation zones around Chernobyl.
Since 2011, the Fukushima Prefectural Government has been providing housing assistance to refugees, whether they were required to evacuate or did so voluntarily, under the Disaster Relief Law. But the prefecture announced last June that it would end assistance for voluntary evacuees in March, even though many of them had filed urgent requests to extend their stays. Refugee advocates say the Fukushima Prefectural Government never reported those requests to the central government, and if it had, the central government might not have terminated the housing support.
Now, many of these refugees say they face the choice of returning to areas that may still be unsafe or falling into poverty.
Chia Yoshida is a Freelance Journalist and Author of "Mother and Child Evacuation". Noriko Matsumoto is an Evacuee who will has been told she will lose government assistance in March. Hidetake Ishimaru, is the Director of "Minna no Data Site".
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Professional Activities Committee
Noriko Matsumoto Hidetake Ishimaru Chia Yoshida