Governor of Fukushima: Continue housing support for Fukushima refugees!
I’m a mom who lives in Fukushima, Japan. I have a daughter in middle school and a son with disabilities. When my daughter moved up to high school, my family had planned to move out of Fukushima because we were worried about the effect of radiation on my kids’ health.
Since 3.11, the state government has provided housing support to refugees displaced by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. But the government recently announced that it will end rent assistance to families who move outside of Fukushima - while keeping it for anyone who stays.
On the same day that I learned Fukushima had decided to stop support for people moving away, I received notice that my son’s exam for thyroid cancer had revealed small tumors. (※1) I'm shocked and scared -- and I worry about how the radiation is affecting my kids.
Many families in Fukushima are juggling difficult decisions, made worse by fears about radiation -- whether to keep their kids in a school with classmates they know, or leave behind their homeland of generations and move away. The state’s housing support is what enables many families who couldn’t otherwise afford it, the chance to move away.
In a recent poll conducted by the city of Fukushima, 90% of Fukushima residents said they were “somewhat worried” or “very worried” about the impact of radiation on the health of their family members. And nearly half of families with young kids said that “even now, they would like to move away” due to fears about radiation. (※2)
The law that is the basis for providing this housing assistance was in place for five years after the Hanshin Awaji earthquake in 1995. It has been less than two years since 3.11, and given the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plants, continuing to provide rental support for families who want to move out of the prefecture is critical.
The government attempted to end assistance to families moving out of state last year in December, but reversed its decision following a public outcry. (※4)
With your support, I believe we should be able to reverse their decision again this time.
Thank you so much for your support.
※1 An A2 rating for the thyroid cancer test indicates growths or tumors from 5.0 to 20 mm in size
※2 Results from Fukushima City poll
※3 Increased radiation exposure for kids in Fukushima/Nihonmatsu due to more time spent outside
※4 Fukushima to no longer provide rental support (Yomiuri Shimbun) http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/yamagata/news/20121107-OYT8T01431.htm
※5 Homepage of Fukushima Prefectural Government - Latest thyroid cancer results
The housing support program is critical for families who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the nuclear accident at Fukshima.
Please do not curtail this important program. What is called for now is not a diminishing of support for Fukushima residents, but an expansion.
Even now, in many areas, airborne radiation levels are higher than the publicly acknowledged limit of 1mSv. Citizen groups in Fukushima have conducted radiation tests of the soil, in cities, and along waterways, and there have been reports of radioactive cesium reaching levels higher than 100,000Bq/kg. This is very high levels of contamination (see footnote 2).
A poll conducted by Fukushima City showed that 80% of residents were “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the impact of internal and external radiation poisoning. ⅓ of those polled, and half of those with young children in their families, stated that “even now, they would like to move away” due to fears about radiation.
On June 21st, a law was passed stipulating that in areas where radiation levels are above acceptable limits, the state will support residents’ in their decision about whether to stay or move away from the area. While implementation of this law will still take some time, it is critical that there be no ‘break’ in support for Fukushima families and the housing assistance program continued in its current state for the foreseeable future.
Fukushima Prefecture cited the declining number of families who have been moving out of prefecture as a reason for ending its support. However, there is reason to believe families cannot move because there is inadequate assistance -- not because they do not want to. (Footnote 3) In addition, this declining number is no reason to cut off support for families who still require it.
We call on the Fukushima prefectural government to continue to provide housing support and do everything in your power to provide aassistance to refugees of the Fukushima nuclear accident, as stipulated in the law.
In addition, we would like to thank the Fukushima prefectural government for continuing to provide housing assistance for families who want to move to areas within the prefecture with lower radiation levels. The Labour Ministry should also continue to provide the same assistance to those families not living in evacuation areas out of the National Treasury.
We thank you for your timely response.