3.11(Fukushima) and Hiroshima

Fukushima and Hiroshima: Survey of 50 residents of the Hamadori region

Accident “not under control”: Half have not returned health survey

Growing distrust of central and prefectural governments

by Seiji Shitakubo, Staff Writer

The Chugoku Shimbun has conducted regular interviews with 50 residents of the Hamadori region of Fukushima Prefecture, which has been severely affected by the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant. These interviews have revealed the residents’ growing distrust of the central and prefectural governments. When asked whether they thought the situation at the nuclear power plant was “under control” as the central government declared last December, none of the respondents said yes. Half of the residents in our survey said they had not returned the health monitoring survey form sent to them by the Fukushima prefectural government.

As part of our “Fukushima and Hiroshima” series, we surveyed the 50 residents about their situations three months and six months after the accident. In time for the first anniversary of the accident, we interviewed them again from mid-February through the first part of this month in writing and by telephone. Three people agreed to be interviewed but did not respond to our survey.

With regard to the prime minister’s declaration that the accident had been brought under control, a 30-year-old resident of Iitate mentioned the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly last September at which Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda pledged to achieve a cold shutdown of the reactors within the year. “It’s strange to put priority on impressing the international community over the safety of the people,” he said. Others also made harsh comments. A 43-year-old man from Hirono said, “It’s just like the manipulation of information right after the accident. Nothing’s really changed.”

Meanwhile Fukushima Prefecture has begun conducting a survey of the health of all of the prefecture’s approximately 2 million residents. Twenty-five of the 47 respondents to our survey said they had not returned the questionnaire for this survey. “If they’re not going to provide us with treatment after doing the survey, we’re just guinea pigs,” said one person.

Some people cited the fact that distribution of the questionnaires did not begin until June, and others indicated that they could not be expected to recall things such as where they had stayed and what they had eaten after the accident.

(Originally published on March 12, 2012)