Four years after the tsunami, Fukushima residents hope to revive the prefecture — Channel NewsAsia

” More than 18,000 people died or went missing after a tsunami hit northeastern Japan four years ago. But residents who survived and chose to leave Fukushima – the site of a nuclear disaster – have soldiered on despite having abandoned their homes.

FUKUSHIMA: Muneo Kanno left his village to avoid radiation contamination after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan four years ago. But that has not stopped the evacuee from making daily trips back home.

The 64-year-old farmer is on a mission to reclaim the village he called home for most of his life and he has started a number of projects to achieve this dream. One of which involves measuring radiation levels at various sites in and around his village.

He and other farmers travel around in a van to collect data that will help research institutes map out safe and dangerous areas.

It is not the only activity that brings Mr Kanno back to this desolate community – he also tends to vegetables he has grown in a greenhouse by his house.

“Though we cannot sell leafy produce, we are selling strawberries,” said Mr Kanno. “We intend to decontaminate a greenhouse nearby and work with a university (to grow produce).”

Mr Kanno also manages a programme called Resurrection of Fukushima, which aims to revive the farms by decontaminating the area. They will also explore setting up an independent electricity supply to cut the village’s reliance on nuclear power.

Those involved hope the reconstructed village will become an international model for post-nuclear disaster rehabilitation. Mr Kanno has convinced several companies, research institutes, universities and 300 individuals to support this endeavour.

Mr Yoichi Tao, a researcher at Kokugakuin University, said: “I decided to study what was happening from the outside. I came to this house here on Jun 9 and met him for the first time. We thought we would be needed here. We also had many people with us, including a doctor.”

DRONES IN DISASTER ZONES?

Mr Kanno is not the only one trying to make the best of a hazardous situation – electronics firm Kikuchi Seisakusho has refused to budge from its original premises, which is located in an evacuation zone.

The company’s founder has huge ambitions to develop products that can be deployed in radiation-contaminated zones, such as drones that can be used to survey a nuclear power plant during the decommissioning and decontamination process. A university has already funded the production of 400 such units.

“It’s a job which creates dreams of the future,” said Mr Isao Kikuchi, the CEO of Kikuchi Seisakusho. “Conventional jobs cannot nurture your dreams. New products will be aimed towards the world market which itself is a dream of the future.”

The central government is currently mapping out a plan to create an innovation centre in Fukushima, which will support and boost local industries hit by the 2011 disasters. The local government added that more companies have also started to build new factories in the prefecture. ”

source

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