Iitate Village – 24 miles north west of Fukushima Dai-ichi
“Residents Leave Japan’s ‘Most Beautiful Village’ Amidst Crisis” June 2011
“Iitate village, with a population of 6,150, is one of the poorest municipalities in the region, but its residents like the Ichisawas are proud of its beauty and peaceful setting.
The village decided in 2010 to join Japan’s ‘most beautiful villages’ union, a non-profit organization that started in 2005 with seven villages. The group aims to preserve the natural environment and sustain forgotten, struggling villages.
The Ichisawas’ business [café] came to a screeching halt on March 11, just after Shukoh planted 1,000 blueberry bushes around the cafe. [Villagers were allowed to return in late March, but a month later the entire town was evacuated. http://news.monstersandcritics.com/asiapacific/news/article_1644182.php/Residents-leave-Japan-s-most-beautiful-village-amid-crisis
“We’ve No Idea When We’ll Come Back” http://www.japanfocus.org/events/view/87
Sleepy, idyllic and dangerously irradiated, Iitate is preparing to evacuate. The junior high school is closed, its children bused every day to nearby towns. Tractors sit idle and weeds poke through rice and cabbage in the fields. Half-empty shelves greet customers at the A-Coop supermarket. By the end of this month, this mountainous farming village of 7,000 people, recently voted one of Japan’s most beautiful places, will join the Ukrainian ghost town of Pripyat in the planet’s short list of nuclear casualties.
“We’ve no idea when we can come back,” says Katsuzo Shoji, who farms rice and cabbages and keeps a small herd of cattle about 2 km from Iitate’s village office. Mr. Shoji (75) went from shock to rage, then despair when the government told him he would have to destroy his vegetables, kill his six cows and move with his wife Fumi (73) to an apartment, probably in Koriyama City, about 20 km away. “We’ve heard five, maybe 10 years but some say that’s far too optimistic,” he says, crying. “Maybe I’ll be able to come home to die.”
Japan’s Nuclear Reality Sets in Slowly” June 2011
“The village, a blink-and-you’ve-missed-it cluster of farms and houses along a local highway, was virtually untouched by the March 11 quake. Because it is well inland, it was never threatened by the tsunami, which caused horrific devastation along the coastline.
The post office on its main street is still open, and so is the gas station. Dogs bark, birds chirp and the fields and hills are a verdant green – just like they are in the posters that boast Iitate is one of Japan’s “100 Most Beautiful Villages.”
But upon closer inspection there are signs that all is not right.
The elementary school playground is deserted. Outside the village hall, moving companies have set up stalls to solicit business. Trucks sit beside centuries-old farmhouses as whole neighborhoods pack up to leave.
Japanese media reported that Iitate’s oldest resident, a 102-year-old man, was so distraught over the idea of leaving that he killed himself after being told of the evacuation plan. Town officials will not confirm his cause of death.
The village was outside the official danger zone, which extended out to just 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the plant, but it was in the path of a plume of radioactive isotopes the nuclear power station spewed into the air…”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iitate,_Fukushima has a good history of post-disaster. “On 22 April 2011, the Japanese government asked residents to leave within a month. Some displaced children from the village were shunned after relocating for fear of contamination. In early June about 1,500 residents remained, By August only about 120 residents, mostly elderly, remained.” … Summarizing all responses to questions related to evacuees’ current family status, one-third of all surveyed families live apart from their children, while 50.1 percent live away from other family members (including elderly parents) with whom they lived before the disaster. The survey also showed that 34.7 percent of the evacuees have suffered salary cuts of 50 percent or more since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster. A total of 36.8 percent reported a lack of sleep, while 17.9 percent reported smoking or drinking more than before they evacuated.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/aknmssm/5839913576/ scenic beauty pre-disaster
http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article24296 split families, frustration, deteriorating health, unfair treatment splitting evacuees (your temporary housing is better than mine)
3/28/11 radiation levels http://www.panorientnews.com/en/news.php?k=891
“ten micro Sieverts per hour in Iitate village, 40 km northwest of the crisis-stricken Fukushima/Daiichi nuclear plant, and 20 km beyond the official evacuation zone”
“Nuclear Refugees: the people of Iitate Village” Documentary video http://ianthomasash.blogspot.com/2012_06_01_archive.html