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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Eleven years after the collapse of Fukushima: memories fade

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Fukushima (dpa) – In Japan, the memory of the Fukushima nuclear accident as a result of a devastating earthquake and tsunami threatens to fade.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government, which remains committed to nuclear power, has decided that the state will no longer hold a central memorial service for the victims in Tokyo from this year. Many places in the disaster region also marked the 11th anniversary of the triple disaster on Friday for the first time with no or reduced commemorative ceremonies. The Greenpeace Japan organization complained that while memories of the catastrophe and accident were “fading”, the state was actively spreading the idea that nuclear power plants were “one of the key solutions” to combat global warming.

On March 11, 2011, a gigantic tsunami hit the Pacific coast and swept away everything: towns, villages and large areas of cultivation sank under the masses of water and mud. The flood killed about 20,000 people. In Fukushima, the result was a super meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It became a symbol of the triple catastrophe known as “3/11” throughout the world, even if none of the deaths are attributed to radiation.

About 300 children developed thyroid cancer

However, about 300 children have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer since then. The state claims there is no connection to the nuclear accident. If the children said that they had cancer due to radiation, they would be branded “perpetrators of harmful rumors that are hindering the reconstruction of Fukushima,” says lawyer Kenichi Ido. He represents six plaintiffs, who were between the ages of 6 and 16 at the time of the nuclear accident, who filed a class action lawsuit against operator Tepco in January.

Dozens of class action lawsuits are also pending in court, with thousands of plaintiffs seeking compensation for the financial damage they suffered. Around 38,000 of the initial 165,000 evacuees are still unable to return to their homeland due to radiation. Meanwhile, 10 of the 59 nuclear reactors that have been shut down in the meantime are back online, with more to follow.

In addition, the Japanese government plans to filter and dilute next spring more than 1.25 million cubic meters of contaminated water, which accumulates in the cooling of the destroyed reactors and is stored in 1,000 tanks, in the sea. Local fisheries associations, environmentalists and neighbors from Japan, China and South Korea are outraged and are calling for the dumping plans to be scrapped.

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