Watari District is one of the most severely polluted areas in Fukushima City. Since high levels of radiation exceeding 2μSv/hour (2 microsievert/hr) are still observed across the District, Watari residents are urging the government to help them evacuate at least children until decontamination is completed. While going forward with the project, we will continue to lobby the government to change its evacuation policy. The government criterion for evacuation, 20millieSv/year, is nearly four times as high as the safe limit in radiation-controlled areas. The evacuation criterion itself needs to be reconsidered.
While the Japanese government defines 20mSv/year as a criterion for designating special evacuation points, NGOs have demanded that the government should establish a broader, “optional evacuation area” to allow people to decide whether or not to evacuate for themselves. Since the Japanese government is unwilling to change its evacuation policy, however, people in Fukushima, especially residents of Watari District (Fukushima City), have suffered enormously.
In the Watari district of Fukushima City which is 60 kilometer from the Fukushima nuclear plant, 16,000 people of 6,700 households are exposed to high levels of radiation exceeding 2μSv/hour. However, given the lack of information from the government and the absence of proper financial compensation for evacuees, many families are not able to move out of the contaminated area for a variety of reasons such as work or school.
The government has delayed evacuation of children and pregnant women with the promise of decontamination. This policy can be said to violate human rights. At this very moment, children in Watari District live, study, and play in the severely polluted environment. Here, it is crucial to facilitate their temporary evacuation until satisfactory decontamination is accomplished.
No groups have launched “POKA-POKA Project for Fukushima Children” in response to the dire situation in Watari District. The project is jointly managed by Save Watari Kids, Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation, Citizens against the Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants, and Friends of the Earth Japan. The project focuses on Watari District as well as Onami, Nankodai, and Oguraji and aims to lower radiation exposure for children of families that have to stay in the polluted areas for a variety of reasons.
The group will organize trips to a location in west part of Fukushima City and 30 minutes by car from Watari district, where recorded radiation rates are much lower. They also try to subsidize costs of travel and accommodation for families in Watari district. This will allow children to spend time away from high levels of radiation as well as support the local communities and help economic recovery. We hope that many families can take part in this project. While doing so, we will continue to lobby the government to change its evacuation policy that puts citizens at risk. This is not only Watari’s problem. The problem is also relevant to Fukushima and, indeed, Japan as a whole.
Contact: Kanna Mitsuta, Eri Watanabe, Akiko Yoshida at Friends of the Earth Japan.
3-30-8-1F Ikebukuro Toshima-ku, Tokyo 171-0014, Japan.
Tel: +81 3 6907 7217