Fukushima evacuees resist return as Reconstruction Olympics near

  • Saturday 09, March 2019 05:21 PM
Sharjah24 – AFP: With Japan keen to flaunt Tokyo 2020 as the "Reconstruction Olympics", people who fled the Fukushima nuclear disaster are being urged to return home but not everyone is eager to go.
Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plan to use the global spotlight from the Games to showcase the recovery of the region devastated by the 2011 nuclear disaster and the tsunami that triggered it, killing 18,000 people.

But Kazuko Nihei, who fled her home in Fukushima city with her two daughters in 2011, insists she won't return, even though government subsidies she once received have now ended.

"I'm not wavering at all," she told AFP in Tokyo, where she relocated with her daughters, now 11 and nine, after the disaster.

Japan ordered more than 140,000 people to evacuate when the Fukushima Daiichi reactors went into meltdown, but many others living outside the evacuation zones also opted to leave, including Nihei.

Her husband and in-laws stayed in Fukushima city, and living apart has come with emotional and financial costs.

"I have to work with every ounce of energy," said Nihei, who works seven days a week to help keep the family afloat.

For six years, she and her daughters lived in free accommodation supported by government subsidies, but support for "voluntary" evacuees ended in March 2017.

She moved and now struggles to pay the 130,000 yen ($1,200) monthly rent.

But she insists she is not ready to return to Fukushima city, despite government assurances the area is safe.