Report of Fukushima Dialogue, 11 February 2018 (2nd day) - to share current situations and the future of Odaka area of Minami-soma City

Day 2

  We held the Dialogue at Minami-soma City Information Exchange Centre on the second day. For the Dialogue, we'd asked to join the people not only who lives in Odaka area but also who attended the 8th ICRPDialogue Seminar that had been held in May 2014 in Minami-soma City, and asked to talk about what has been changed and unchanged from then.

  Many of the attendees from overseas also had attended the 8th Dialogue, so this clearly highlighted the change of the situation then and now.
  In the 8th Dialogue seminar held in May 2014, voices of anger, sorrow and confusion were still strongly remained, and concerns for radioactivity were repeatedly raised.
  However, at this time such concerns were hardly raised in the Dialogue, and instead, it became a major theme that how to rebuild the daily life and area communities from now on, which had been drastically changed from that of before the disaster.
  Compared to before the disaster, the production-age population decreased about 13 000 in whole Minami-soma city. Among rapid population decrease and the ageing society, plus considering gradually settling reconstruction works and decreasing workers engaged in, it is becoming a major issue how to enliven the region.
  Meanwhile, from a viewpoint of people who returned and are living in the area, issues were told about how to establish independence in daily life among loosen local relationships, which once close. Ms Kamata at Ohmachi Kirakira Salon, who engages in community activities at reconstruction public housing, told her story about why she started to promote communication: She felt a sense of crisis against the situation that without an intervention people even cannot give the names of neighbours nor where they live in, since they newly start their lives in reconstruction public housing, gathering from different places they originally had lived. With persisting activities, people recognised the faces of each other bit by bit, and they gradually formed connections that have greetings upon meeting. However, it is also told that there are not that many reconstruction public housing that such autonomous actions are held, so in other than such places the communities in reconstruction public housing are difficult to be organised.

  Furthermore, there was an indication that after the disaster people are becoming 'support addiction' and their self-help is hindered by excessive supports from the outside. On the other hand, what I realised is that there is a dilemma in the situation in decreasing and ageing population, people face difficulties in maintaining the local society without supports from outside.
  A story was told about a local table tennis club formed by some people returned home in Odaka area, having a good time with playmates. The club T-shirt presented there says:
 "Wanna fish at Murakami, wanna dig clams at Kawarada, wanna pick sansai at Kanaya and wanna eat them all!" 
I think many of the people who choose to return certainly have returned with such wishes in their mind.

  In Minami-Soma, not only Odaka area had been under evacuation order but also the coastal area had enormously damaged by the tsunami. Each place has different situations, and furthermore, the passage of time after the disaster has enlarged the situation change. From the Dialogue, it can be surmised that even people who live there have a difficulty to understand the entire situation.
  It was impressive that a number of attendees told that such an opportunity for communication is very important to share each other's changing situation. This had not been seen in the Dialogue held in 2014. I think this reflects the followings; the situation becoming settled allowed people to have a spare feeling to look at the situation around, and furthermore, the number of people is growing who want to look back the change of the situation, and want to know the situation around more properly.

  Personally, I am concerned that some people seem hesitating to say their feelings, who are not in the circle of returners expressing their intention to make things go by themselves. After the Dialogue, some people who I personally listened to told that
they couldn't express themselves satisfactorily.
This is a major matter that should be reviewed as an organizer of the Dialogue. Moreover, I strongly felt that it is necessary to elaborate the Dialogue structure among the diverging situations. They told that they had the hesitation to tell their stories because they were afraid that
they were dragging down the rehabilitation or people would think they were backwards-looking.
It would be true that the concerns for radioactivities are declining, however I am anxious about there was hardly any talk on such things, supposing that they are unconsciously avoiding to touch the issue, by the feeling that it would bring in reputational harm by talking about their concerns.

  Apparently, people who already returned home tend to have a scheme of the regional revitalisation in their minds supposing that the people who are still in refugee not to return anymore. On the other hand, it seems there are those who are in refugee have some feeling towards the situation.
Even though they do not return, it's not that they forgot their home nor abandoned it. If they have a chance, they still want to engage in the issues on their home where they can, and want to help by what they can, but they do not know what to do, nor how they can be involved
-- voices of such an internal conflict were also heard.

  The rehabilitation is not something done in a couple of years: It must even be a very long-term process of continuing into the future. In such a long time passage, of course, people will move. Perhaps there would be someone who returns in a decade or two. Or there would be someone who considers living in the land of his/her parents or grandparents. Or there would be someone young once left home changes his/her mind after some time. Not dividing people between to return or not at the moment, I think it would be important to maintain the environment more people wish to live in who have relationships with the area to enable them to support the rehabilitation.

  Ms Astrid Liland at Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, who once had been visited Minami-soma in 2014, told her thought about the difference between last time and this time. She told that she is very glad to see the advance of the rehabilitation and to feel a far more relaxed atmosphere, but she also pointed out there are some cycles that an action to cope with the disaster-related problem brings another new problem again. For example, the accident occurred and radioactivity had spread. Decontamination to address this problem brought other problems such as decontamination wastes and temporary storages, and furthermore, lead to the issue of intermediate storage facilities. The same thing could be said for the issue of solar panels. These cycles are seen in many situations without being solved and are complexly intertwined. I also think there is an aspect that these cycles make the rehabilitation issues more difficult.

  This time the Dialogue made us feel that the stage of rehabilitation after the disaster has been largely changed. It has also indicated that issues hereafter would not be solved in a short time, and will require us a long-term strategy. I think a phase comes that persistent efforts are required furthermore.

  And last but not least, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the staff of Minamisoma City Office, Mr Shigehiro Sugi, Mr Hiroshi Yoneda, Ms Tatsuko Kamata, Mr Hiroshi Murata at Odaka Redesign Center and Nippon Foundation, for their enormous cooperation for holding this Dialogue.

Responsible for the article: Ryoko Ando

2018年2月11日 福島ダイアログ「南相馬、小高のいま、未来を共有するための対話集会」2日目ご報告












Report of Fukushima Dialogue, 10 February 2018 (1st day) - to share current situations and the future of Odaka area of Minami-soma City

  On 10-11 February 2018, we held the 'Fukushima Dialogue to share current situations and the future of Odaka area of Minami-soma City -- Continuing the dialogue in cooperation with the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) -- ' in Minami-soma city.

  We held a field tour in Odaka area where the evacuation order was lifted in July 2016 on the first day, and held the Dialogue at Minami-soma City Information Exchange Centre on the second day.

Day 1

  Gathering and originating at Odaka Station on Joban line, we rode on a bus with guidance from local people. At first, we passed through the shopping street run straight from the station, comparing with some pre-disaster photos. There was no damage from the tsunami around Odaka station, but many buildings were collapsed or damaged by the earthquake. The area had been prohibited to enter just after the NPP accident, never had a chance to repair. So buildings were gradually damaged during the no-entry period, and as a sequel, were demolished and left vacant lots. Comparing with photos from when the street was bustling realised the difference so clearly.

  Then we visited Mr Takashi Mizugai who have resumed farming in Hanzaki district and listened to him in front of the fields. Mr Mizugai and his fellows undertook to weed fields as a rehabilitation association from November 2012, just a year after the disaster, and they started test cultivation of soybeans since 2014. He told that nearly all results were ND from the crops continuously cultivating since the first year. Including rice fields that are currently under maintenance, they are going to jointly manage approx. 12 ha by 4-5 personnel. The reason why they first started from soybeans is that irrigation channels for rice fields have not yet been reconstructed. Around this area agricultural water is drawn from Ogaki dam in Namie town. Before the disaster, there were local groups called 'yui' and they each had maintained channels in their area. Since the disaster forced them to evacuate, channels in some area toward Odaka are completely out of maintenance, so it had been not able to water the rice field. Furthermore, population decrease in the area also affects the field management. He told that it is impossible to keep the same level of management to that of before the disaster, and the issue from now on is how to continuously maintain with the decreased manpower, having help from outside. In his thought,
it would become a major turning point that whether they can find young successors within the coming five years. 
He told that:
 'Even after the lift of the evacuation order, few people return. Almost all community has vanished which had been before the disaster. People who took up residence in refuge places would never return in the future. I think it would be unachievable to restore everything as it had been. Still, at least I want to restore the scenery itself. This is my motivation to resume farming. By restoring the beautiful rural landscape from before the disaster, I want to prepare the environment that people want to live in, no matter they return from refugee places or they newly come. So I'm going to continue to farm.' 
This was very impressive. Furthermore, there was a question about reputational damage for the crops. His answer was that the market valuation can't be estimated at this time, because all of both soybeans and rice which they have raised so far have been delivered as for livestock feed, and subsidies account for a large portion for this use.

  After that, we had a bus ride through a hilly area in the east of Odaka, and visited a 54-ha large-scale temporary storage area and some places that solar panels are installed. Solar panels are rapidly spreading at a pace that even locals surprise if they come after some interval, so the landscape had significantly changed from what it had been. Most of the land where panels are extensively installed are places where originally had been fields and meadows, so the local guide told us that he is sorry since the landscape there had been his favourite one.

  In the afternoon, we visited the coastal area hit by the tsunami with a guidance by Mr Hiroshi Murata at Odaka Re-design Center. The population of Odaka area before the disaster was 12 800, but the number of registered inhabitants is 8 600 as of February 2018, so it is decreased more than 4 000. This number comes from people moved out from Odaka area, in addition to people who had died from the tsunami and earthquake. He told that in his estimation, people who are actually living in Odaka area are around 2 500, and probably around 4 600 people would return ultimately. He also added that it would be a great challenge how to maintain the area itself within the largely decreased population compared to that before the disaster.

  We were told that the temporary storage that we visited in the morning is the largest one in Odaka, and one we visited in the afternoon and in the tsunami-hit coast is the second largest, about 40 ha in extent. In the tsunami-hit coastal area, villages have vanished which originally had been there, and the area will be non-habitable in the future. It is not yet decided how to utilise the land where had been rice fields, and he said
this is a worrisome problem since there is no inhabitant who maintains the land.
Then we could get the whole view of the coast from a height in Urajiri district. The embankment construction is almost completed, and at the moment it seemed that some subordinate constructions were proceeding. He said that in past, there was a long beach around here that was even able to host an athletic meeting of the district. Even from before the disaster the beach was becoming eroded, and now there is no trace of what it used to be, by the ground subsidence from the earthquake and by the embankment itself. Along the coast, we could see two temporary incineration facilities. We were told that one is for disaster wastes from the area within the 20 km radius, and the other is for combustible decontamination wastes from outside of the 20 km radius.

  He told that while Fukushima Daiichi NPP was under construction around 1970 there were many people engaged in the construction work from this district. At that time, economically there was no other business than paddy rice cultivation and not a few went to work in cities, so such a near construction site work became a precious income source.

  Then we'd also see the sights from a height in Tsukahara district. The height seems more than 10 m above sea level, however, the tsunami also swept here and we were told that Mr Murata's mother was one of the victims. Currently, there are 70 people, 27 households in the district, which once had been 460 people, 120 households.

  He concluded the explanation by saying that:
'How to maintain the district community will be a major issue with the population decreased to 20-30% from once had been, and with a decreasing number of visiting volunteers as time passes from the disaster. The fading memories of the disaster is also an issue that I feel strongly about.'

  As time passes from the lift of the evacuation order, the distinction between who returns and who will not is becoming clear. I think that issues are coming to light that in what way the local communities and daily lives can be maintained, in the situation which no such population recovery can be expected as of before the disaster. Especially, at this time, I was impressed by that many words were spoken about the 'landscape'. In the tsunami-hit area, the original landscape has been completely lost by the tsunami. But this time I'd well realise that not only in the tsunami-hit area but also in the affected area from the NPP accident, the landscape is becoming quite different from it had been before. In such a situation, there is an impressive attempt to regain the original landscape through farming. After the disaster, many people have been rushed within the big movement of 'reconstruction'. However, I think a phase is coming, to take a glance backwards reflecting whether what we have done has been best or not. In such a phase, the first thing coming across one's mind might be the 'landscape'. Why do people want to live in that place? Of course, convenience, hospitals and places to work are important factors. However, the 'landscape' might be also one important factor, and we might have been totally forgotten this factor. This is what I personally but keenly felt.

Responsible for the article: Ryoko Ando

2018年2月10日 福島ダイアログ「南相馬、小高のいま、未来を共有するための対話集会」1日目ご報告

  2月10日、11日「福島ダイアログ:南相馬、小高のいま、未来を共有するための対話集会~国際放射線防護委員会(ICRP)の協力による対話の継続~ 」を南相馬市で開催いたしました。





  午後は、小高復興デザインセンターの村田博さんのご案内で、沿岸の津波被災地域を見学しました。 小高区の震災前人口は、12,800人ですが、2018年2月現在で、住民登録数は、8,600人で、4,000人以上減っています。津波など震災によってお亡くなりになった方に加えて、小高から転出した方もいて、この数字になっているということです。実際に、小高区内で暮らしているのは、2,500人で、おそらく、最終的に4,600人程度は戻って来るのではないかと推測しているとのことです。ただ、震災前人口から比べると、大きく減ってしまう中で、どのように地域を維持していくかが大きな課題であるとのことでした。

と言われていました。浦尻地区の高台から、沿岸を一望しました。堤防工事はほとんど終わっており、現在は、付随する工事が行われているようでした。昔は、このあたりは広い砂浜があり、地域の運動会は砂浜で開かれていたくらいだった、と言われていました。震災前から砂浜はなくなってきていましたが、震災による地盤沈下と堤防で、いまはまったくその面影はありません。 向こう側には、仮設の焼却施設が二基見えます。ひとつは、20km圏内の災害廃棄物、ひとつは20km圏外の除染廃棄物の可燃物を燃やしているとのことです。


震災から時間が経過し、訪れるボランティアの方も減り、 かつての2割から3割になってしまった人口の中で、この先、どう地域を維持していくのか、風化も強く感じる、