News

Japanese Town Split by Radiation Evacuation Zone

Nearly a year after the meltdown of three nuclear reactors in northeastern Japan, a portion of Fukushima prefecture remains off limits because of high radiation levels.  One temporarily evacuated village is facing a unique dilemma, as it partly sits inside the reduced 20-kilometer no-entry zone. 

It is an extraordinary meeting of the Kawauchi village assembly.  Because of severe damage to the village's municipal hall from the earthquake, the public gathering has been convened at a community center, just inside the restricted zone.

Village leaders explain that next month administrative services will resume in the community.

Displaced Japanese encouraged to return home

Only a few hundred residents have returned, with 110 of them living in the third of the village that is inside the exclusion zone.  Mayor Yuukou Endo is pleading for the remaining 2,600 people who called Kawauchi home to come back. "If the exclusion zone shrinks then we will be free to live anywhere in the village.  But, for now, I realize that many people feel it is difficult to come back and resettle," he said.

Despite test indications that radiation levels in some places inside the zone are lower than outside of the zone, ordinary vehicles are not permitted beyond the barracade at end of the line in the mountain village of Kawauchi.

That has some in the area questioning the logic of the strict 20-kilometer boundary. One of the local skeptics is a former miso-soup shop operator, Minoru Kubota, who has been hired by the prefectural government to log radiation readings.

"Right now the radioactive level here in Kawauchi averages 0.125 microsieverts," he explained. "In some parts of the restricted zone the readings are lower than that.  So what places are off limits should probably be reviewed and reconsidered."

Returnees encounter changes, fear

Yoshiko Watanabe, 69,  spent nine months in an evacuation center, where she says the only problems were petty thefts.  She came back to her home on the very edge of the no-entry zone to care for her dog.  But she finds her old neighborhood a bit too quiet and lonely, because all of the children have left.

"When the school reopens in June, then 30 children should be returning," she stated.

But most of Watanabe's dispersed neighbors, according to a recent village survey, are not planning to come home any time soon, fearing a lack of infrastructure and lingering radiation.

The latter concern is likely to persist as long as there are reminders like this one behind Watanabe's house - an unmanned barrier marking an invisible line beyond which supposedly lies an unacceptable risk from a source no one can see, smell or hear.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: oldfurr
March 27, 2012 10:06 PM
Please Please pay attention and research this on the web for yourself, PEBBLE BED REACTORS litterally can NOT melt down and deliver almost the same usable output as conventional water cooled power generators. They are easier to decommission at the end of their life cycles and deliver whats needed for power in the meantime. Brain damaged morons who don't believe terrorist exist have even suggested using this system without a "hard" containment building.

by: Richardw
March 07, 2012 2:54 PM
Definitely should review the evacuation areas.

As long as the plant is not going to cause more fallout then the evac area should be based on local readings, not a radius from the plant.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs