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Resettlement in contaminated areas steamrolls ahead

Resettlement in contaminated areas steamrolls ahead as residents mark Fukushima anniversary

Tokyo, 11 March 2017 - Greenpeace today commemorates the more than 15,000 people who died six years ago in the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, and the tens of thousands of survivors of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

This year will be the first time that some of the more heavily contaminated areas within the exclusion zone, known collectively as Area 1 and 2, are being opened up for resettlement. This is despite radiation still far exceeding long-term targets in places where decontamination work has been done. Levels in nearby forests are comparable to the current levels within Chernobyl’s 30km exclusion zone, which, more than 30 years after the accident, remains formally closed to habitation.

“In a bid to prop up the nuclear industry, the Abe government is trying to create a false reality that the disaster can be cleaned up and life in Fukushima can return to normal. But from our survey, that’s simply not the case,” said Yuko Yoneda, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan. [1]

“The people of Fukushima have been caught in a disaster of the government’s own making, firstly because it failed to address issues like emergency planning and nuclear safety, and now because of the resettlement policy. We are seeing people rights to health, housing and environment being attacked in a deliberate and calculated move - and it’s women and children bearing the brunt."

Evacuation orders will be lifted in much of heavily contaminated village of Iitate, located 30-50 km from Fukushima Daiichi, no later than 31 March 2017, to be followed one year later by the termination of compensation payments to the former residents of those areas.

A recent Greenpeace Japan led survey team found radiation dose rates at houses in Iitate well above long-term government targets, with annual and lifetime exposure levels posing a long-term risk to citizens who may return. At some homes in Iitate, the radiation doses are equivalent to one chest X-ray every week.

The Japanese government confirmed in February this year that it has not yet conducted any assessments of lifetime exposure risks for citizens if they were to return to Iitate.

“The vast majority of Japan’s nuclear reactors remain idle six years after the Fukushima disaster. But rather than learn from the Fukushima disaster, Abe is pushing to restart reactors - a policy that will lock his country into a dangerous, dirty energy path for decades to come,” said Yoneda. “We need to urgently phase out nuclear and move towards 100% renewable energy - the only safe, clean energy that can meet Japan’s energy needs.”

Greenpeace is demanding that the Japanese government provide full financial support to survivors and complete transparent information about the risks, so that they are not forced to return for economic reasons or misled into a false sense of security. It must take measures to reduce radiation exposure to the absolute minimum to protect public health and allow citizens to decide whether to return or relocate free from duress and financial coercion.[3]

Greenpeace today will be be presenting a letter detailing Fukushima survivor human rights violations to Japanese embassies in Helsinki, Paris, Brussels, St. Petersburg, and Vienna.

Notes to editors:

[1] Report: Unequal Impact: Women’s and Children’s Human Rights Violations and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster

[2] No return to Normal: Feb. 2017 - Greenpeace Iitate Case Studies

[3] International Greenpeace Petition for Survivors’ Rights

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