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Dear people of Ftabamachi / Idogawa Katsutaka, Futaba town mayer

To the people of Futabamachi:

Your suffering is unmeasurable. I wish I could talk with you every day, but I cannot, and for that I apologize deeply.

My first priority as mayor is to bring back a stable life for the people of Futabamachi as soon as possible. As it is not possible to go back to Futabamachi immediately, we need to prepare places to live temporarily. However, the Japanese government and I have different opinions about the criterion for evacuation. The government has set a radiation dose of 20 mSv/year as the baseline for evacuation, but in areas around Chernobyl people are not permitted to live in places where the radiation dose surpasses 5 mSv/year, as a result of tragic experiences after the Chernobyl accident.

We are the ones who were most heavily exposed to radiation after the 2011 accident. I am demanding that the Japanese government revise the criterion for evacuation in order to protect the health of the people of Futabamachi and their family lineage. This criterion is of crucial importance. Temporary residential areas must be safe. We should not allow children to be exposed to any further radiation; they will end up receiving a large cumulative radiation dose over the course of their lifespan. Twenty-five years after the Chernobyl accident, many Ukrainian children suffer from "burabura syndrome," a disease characterized by unspecific fatigue that makes it impossible for sufferers to work.

What worries me most is that the same thing might happen to the people of Futabamachi. Our town lived alongside the nuclear plants, with the assertion that an accident would never happen. However, the town is now ruined, and the bonds among the people have been destroyed. Nature, our lives in the town, our reasons for living, and our hope have been destroyed. Nevertheless, even though we are suffering so much, we still have not received a satisfactory response to our hardships. I am appealing to the government that the first political priority must be to resolve this situation. 

I realize that you are angry at me for not providing sufficient information. I want to provide you with the necessary information, but I cannot. I am continuing to demand that the Japanese government provide us with the information that we need, but my demands so far have been in vain. I have repeatedly asked the government to negotiate with us without hiding anything. I will never betray the people of Futabamachi. I promise that I will provide as much information as I can.

Going back to the criterion for exposure to radiation, the Japanese government states that it has adopted the ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) recommendations, but these are not necessarily the universal standard. European countries have adopted their own criteria, and the United States has established its own criterion to protect its citizens. Also, a recent ICRP recommendation criticizes the Japanese government, calling on it to adopt a dose range from 1 mSv to 20 mSv. This is a difficult issue, as the definition of the evacuation areas and the rules for compensation will change if the radiation dose criterion changes.

With the situation the way it is, I understand that it may be impossible to ask you to be calm. I have passed on your demands to the government and the party in power, but no progress has been made so far due to the political strife.

I have made efforts to have those who have evacuated to different parts of Fukushima Prefecture relocated to areas outside Fukushima Prefecture, but the relevant organizations and agencies have not provided us with support. Further, the policy of taking evacuees back to Fukushima Prefecture is now in full gear. The Fukushima prefectural government will not provide us with satisfactory explanations. I ask all people of Futabamachi (and Fukushima Prefecture) to strongly express your wishes to the government.

People of Futabamachi, please do not accept losses. There are both tangible and intangible assets, and we need to distinguish between them. Tangible assets consist of things with shape or weight, the value of which can be evaluated immediately. Intangible assets are our future. What I am most concerned about is the health of the people, and the possible health problems caused by irradiation. In Ukraine, the cost of addressing the health problems caused by Chernobyl has been crippling. We cannot allow the same situation to occur in Japan in 25 years' time. If children suffer health problems in the future, it will be an incommensurable damage. I feel frustrated at not being able to express the seriousness of this unobservable, or rather not yet observable, loss. There is a danger that people will dismiss the problem by saying that no symptoms are apparent yet, or, even if they do appear, that the symptoms are not connected to radiation exposure. I do not want the people of Futabamachi to suffer the same experiences as the people of Minamata, who had to spend many long years in court to obtain redress.

Beginning from immediately after the accident last year, I have repeatedly asked the Japanese government, TEPCO and Fukushima Prefecture to investigate the level of radiation exposure of the people of Futabamachi, and have also asked them to take measures to protect the people from further radiation exposure, but have not obtained a satisfactory outcome. We need to refuse to live in the radiation contamination caused by the nuclear plant accident.

So far I have only referred to some of the losses we have suffered. One of the biggest questions is: When will we be able to go back to our hometown? The level 7 accident is still not resolved. No one can say when the removal of melted atomic fuel will be completed. Taking into account various factors, such as the problem of dealing with contaminated water and how and when the final disposal of radioactive materials can be completed, Associate Professor Shinzo Kimura of Dokkyo University said in a recent meeting that it was his personal opinion that it will not be possible for residents to return to Futabamachi for another 165 years. I cannot judge whether this is true or not, but it seems to be a very important opinion. Even if we can go back in half that time, in 80 years' time, the loss is still huge.

It is also necessary to preserve evidence of radiation exposure, to demonstrate the effect of exposure to those who are responsible.

Without properly consulting with us, the national government has said that we should just accept a survey on temporary storage facilities for radioactive waste generated by decontamination activities. It is important to clarify the source of the budget for this project. The Japanese government has said that the facilities will be moved out of Fukushima Prefecture within 30 years' time, but has not yet offered us any guarantees that this will actually take place. Note that nobody can live around these facilities. In Rokkasho village, there are no private houses within 2 km of the nuclear facilities; this means that most of central Futabamachi will become out-of-bounds to residents. We need to first discuss what should be done. Carrying out drilling surveys means the start of work on constructing the temporary storage facilities: funds for surveying are included in the budget for constructing the facilities, under the heading of preparatory work. As an administrative decision, carrying out drilling surveys signals the start of construction. To stop this happening, I have blocked the survey, while fully understanding that I will be criticized for doing so. 

This process should only proceed with the full agreement of the people of Futabamachi, after adequate discussion. It is the first project of this kind in Japan. If the construction goes ahead without proper guarantees, it will become the biggest loss for Futabamachi and will harm the town's children. I will deal with this issue by negotiating slowly and carefully with the new government and obtaining the understanding of the town's children. Please understand that a great damage and loss has been inflicted upon us.

It is becoming colder now. Please take care not to catch cold or lose stamina. I will keep you informed.

December 20, 2012

Katsutaka Idogawa, Futabamachi Mayor

Date of last update:2012-12-22 18:59:50 kyo 2thumbs up   del.icio.usに追加   はてなブックマークに追加   twitterに投稿   facebookでshare
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