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

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid