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

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora