News / Asia

Ordeal Continues for Japan's Nuclear Evacuees

An elder woman wipes her eyes in long lines for food at an evacuation shelter in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, April 2, 2011
An elder woman wipes her eyes in long lines for food at an evacuation shelter in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, April 2, 2011

Multimedia

Henry Ridgwell

In a televised address to the nation, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said the evacuation of residents from around the stricken Fukushima power plant will be long term.  An estimated 70,000 people have been moved from settlements near the plant. Much of the population of Futaba town were evacuated to a huge stadium on the outskirts of the capital, Tokyo. They are now being moved on to yet another shelter.

Evacuating the population of an entire town is no simple task. For 1,200 residents of Futaba town - next to the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant - the Saitama Super Arena has been home for the past two weeks.

It is a cavernous concrete stadium. Freight locomotives and bullet trains sweep past every minute of the day. On the arena floor - normally occupied by pop bands and screaming fans - the residents have constructed cardboard walls and laid out their blankets on their small patches of ground.



The facility could hardly be described as homey.  For Futaba’s evacuees, like Teiji Idogawa and his family, the uncertainty is starting to tell.

He says, "It has been tough. But we’ve been well taken care of by everyone. We’re really grateful.”  But he adds, “I don’t know when we can go home… I hope we can go very soon.  Going home is all I’ve been thinking about."

No one knows when Futaba’s people will return to what’s left of their homes. High radiation levels are still being detected even beyond the 20 kilometer evacuation zone.

Japan evacuation zone

The full impact of the radiation leaks on the local environment is not yet known. But some analysts fear the area around the Fukushima plant could remain dangerous for months if not years.

Volunteers arrived at Saitama Super Arena in their thousands.  Donations of food and blankets are stockpiled.  Young people especially - with free time during the spring holidays - have turned out to help the evacuees, like 14-year-old Futaba Nagata. She says, "I came here to do whatever I could. I felt I really needed to help."

In a corner of the arena Yoshige Tadashii plays his ukelele to a small crowd.  He’s one of a number of entertainers - including circus acts and musicians - who have been trying to keep children and adults distracted. He says "I feel really sorry for these people. I want to cheer them up. To make them smile."

But the evacuees’ ordeal continues. Managers at the arena want the facility back for upcoming concerts and shows. So the residents must move on again. They are being transported to a disused school an hour away to the north. For many of Futaba’s people, this is the third time they have been forced to change shelters.

For 12-year-old Aya Nakai it is yet another strain. "I’m very sad,” she says. “I have made friends with the volunteers here in Saitama. I have to leave again. I just really want to go home."

Aya and her family then board one of the buses that will take them and the thousands of others on to the next shelter.

The volunteers turn out for a final send-off. Their banners announce simple messages - "We love Fukushima" and "Our friends from Futaba, take care."

For all involved it is an emotional goodbye. Futaba’s residents depart to another unknown part of Japan, and an even more uncertain future.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid