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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 December 13 - 19  > Fukushima ‘voluntary’ evacuees forced to move out from public housing
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2017 December 13 - 19 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Fukushima ‘voluntary’ evacuees forced to move out from public housing

December 13, 2017
Six years and nine months have passed since the nuclear meltdowns at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The termination of public housing support for Fukushima residents who were voluntarily evacuated from areas outside government-set evacuation zones has begun.

In September, in Yamagata’s Yonezawa City, an independent administrative institution that manages public housing units built under the state employment program in the city filed an eviction lawsuit against eight voluntary evacuee families living in such housing for free. The institution cites the “need to maintain equality between the Fukushima’s voluntary evacuees and other dwellers who are required to pay rent” as the reason. Even in Fukushima Prefecture, those who found shelter on their own are also facing the same problem. These moves are linked to the fact that the national and Fukushima prefectural governments at the end of March terminated measures to provide voluntary evacuees with free housing.

Ritsumeikan University Professor Shiozaki Yoshimitsu pointed out that the attempts to force voluntary evacuees to move out of public housing violate the preamble of the Constitution which stipulates that people have “the right to live in peace, free from fear and want”. He said that the eviction efforts also go counter to the law regarding the support for disaster victims including children which guarantees each victim the freedom to choose where to live and requires the state to support the victims.

Even more revealing of the disregard of the plight of voluntary evacuees, they are excluded from official statistics.

The Reconstruction Agency records the number of Fukushima evacuees living outside the prefecture. The Fukushima prefectural government used to release the number of people including voluntary evacuees who escaped from the nuclear-disaster-hit area to another location within Fukushima. However, the Reconstruction Agency’s statistics cover only evacuees from mandatory evacuation zones. The prefectural government stopped counting voluntary evacuees after terminating its free housing program at the end of March. For example, the number of voluntary evacuees from Fukushima City, which is not designated as an evacuation zone, was 377 in March but it dropped to zero in May.

Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors Iwabuchi Tomo said that the national government has the responsibility to properly deal with the consequences of the nuclear meltdown accident and that it should provide housing support to all Fukushima victims regardless of where they lived in the prefecture before the accident. Iwabuchi expressed her determination to strengthen cooperation with other opposition parties in order to enable voluntary evacuees to continue receiving rent-free housing and push the state and TEPCO to be held responsible for rebuilding disaster victims’ livelihoods and businesses.

Past related articles:
> Don’t discard Fukushima victims for the sake of NPP restarts and exports: JCP Chair [March 11, 2017]
> Fukushima N-crisis sufferers negotiate with state and TEPCO for full compensation [June 3, 2016]
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