Sunday, May 15, 2011

13/05 66% of mayors unsure about return to normal

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Mayors of 27 municipalities in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures that were hard-hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake do not know when regular life can be restored, according to a survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

This figure is 66 percent of the 41 mayors from the three prefectures and near the troubled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant who responded to the survey. Responses were collected from April 28 to Monday. Eight mayors said they had "absolutely no idea" when residents' lives would be restored, while 19 mayors said they had "almost no idea."

Sixteen mayors said they were considering moving residential areas totally or partially to high ground. One of these mayors, Jin Sato of Minami-Sanrikucho, Miyagi Prefecture, said, "Residents could keep working on the coast by commuting from homes in the hills."

Three mayors, including the mayor of Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, said they are interested in "transferring businesses and factories [to higher ground], in addition to residential areas." Some mayors said they were considering "improving seawalls and moving residential areas from their original locations."

Nine mayors, including the mayor of Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, answered they "want to improve seawalls and evacuation routes and to rebuild their towns in the original spot." Masaaki Tobai, vice mayor of Otsuchicho, Iwate Prefecture, whose mayor died in the March 11 disaster, said, "It's impossible to move [people and facilities] to higher ground because a lot of our town is very steep. I can't even imagine what that would look like."

When asked to select the three most urgent issues facing their municipalities, 26 mayors, or more than 60 percent, pointed to housing, including building temporary residences. Sixteen mayors selected removing debris, while 11 mayors mentioned jobs.

In Fukushima Prefecture, 14 mayors pushed for early resolution of the nuclear crisis and many criticized the central government.

"The central government should take total responsibility for resolving the problems at the nuclear plant," said Hironomachi Mayor Motohoshi Yamada.

Seven mayors said nuclear reactors needed to be shut down. Minami-Soma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai said, "The myth of the safety [of nuclear power] has disappeared. Nuclear reactors should be decommissioned."

Eleven mayors said closing or downsizing nuclear power plants in their areas would have a "big influence" or "some influence" on their finances and the local economy. Some mayors said new energy resources should be introduced.

(May. 13, 2011)

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