News / Asia

Some Japanese Evacuees Brave Radiation Fears to Briefly Return Home

A Greenpeace radiation expert monitors the radiation near Namie village, 40 kms from the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, April 8, 2011
A Greenpeace radiation expert monitors the radiation near Namie village, 40 kms from the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, April 8, 2011

Some residents forced to flee their homes a month ago, when radiation began spewing from a damaged Japanese nuclear power plant, are making furtive trips back into the so-called hot zone. 

In Namie - about 15 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant - a dog crossing the main intersection is initially the only sign of life.  The traffic lights still cycle between red and green.  But, within the space of an hour, only a few cars pass through the intersection, paying no heed to the signal.

The virtual silence is only broken when a powerful aftershock rattles the already damaged downtown buildings and the pavement rumbles. Elsewhere in Fukushima prefecture, the tremor knocks out power to thousands of homes and temporarily forces a halt to repair work at the damaged reactors.


The quake compels three members of the Yamagata family to come out into the street from the interior of their pharmacy, where they had returned to retrieve some medicine.

Chieko Yamagata says being exposed to potentially higher levels of radiation for a few hours does not concern her.

Yamagata says she had been frustrated being away for a month and that was not going to put her off making a brief return.

But she and her family have no illusions about resuming their lives here.

She says it will be absolutely impossible to ever live here again. She proclaims the town of 22,000 is now history.

At one point during March, the radiation level in Namie registered 1,600 times the normal level.  Radiation levels have drastically fallen here since then, but the town is still considered a relative hot spot.

Parts of the town, which lie beyond the 20-kilometer exclusion zone, where residents previously were told to stay inside, are coming under a wider evacuation order.

Passing through Namie on Tuesday is a man who only identifies himself as a 48-year-old air conditioning specialist at Reactor 1 of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.  He says he felt compelled to return home to retrieve his personal seal, required to stamp legal documents.

The Namie resident says police at a roadblock tried to convince him not to return home, even for a short time.  But he says he knew today might be his last chance before the off-limits notice becomes legally enforceable.  He predicts that is inevitable, now that the nuclear disaster has been deemed a Level Seven on the international nuclear
incident scale.

Japanese officials say the provisional change from Level Five was made based on the amount of radiation emitted into the air in the past month from the Fukushima plant.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid