November 16th 2015 / JPF Symposium
Fukushima Emergency Appeal
- What's happening? What can we do? -
Recent update of JPF Fukushima support
JPF Continuing Assistance Beyond the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake: New Program Policy for Solving 3 Remaining Issues in Fukushima ～Call for Donations to Support Open Science Initiatives Among Citizens～
With the recent and upcoming lifting of evacuation orders, 100,000 people of Fukushima who are still living as evacuees in temporary and subsidized housing in and outside the Fukushima Prefecture are having difficult times as they have to decide whether to return, resettle or reintegrate not knowing whether they can live without fear of radiation exposure, what lies ahead, and where or how they will survive in the future. Responding to this situation, JPF held Fukushima Symposium on the 16th of November, 2015 in Tokyo with the aim to mobilize public awareness and to encourage NGOs and private sector to collaborate in supporting those evacuees who are left behind.
We wish to express our sincere appreciation to individuals, private companies, organisations for participating in the Fukushima Symposium.
Video messages from aid organisations working in Fukushima
"The effects of radiation on children"
Although government offices are operating decontamination, there are many radioactive spots left. Children still do not go outside to play but stay inside. Examples of aid activities are: provision of refresh camp which sends children away from Fukushima; measuring doses of radiation according to children's heights and disseminating measured radiation levels.
"Parent/s and child in difficulties"
Tohoku's traditional culture of closely knit and mutually helping communities and families was split apart. While fathers stay in Fukushima to earn cash, grandparents live in small fabricated units of temporary housing, and mother/s and child live outside Fukushima in fear of radiation effects on children. Families are facing difficulty to reunite as attitudes towards radiation differ depending on generation. Examples of aid activities are: provision of health support for children; vocational and psychological support for single mothers; and foster homes for children.
"People fell from the welfare system"
Elderly and disabled people without official disability certificates are left behind from public welfare services. Examples of aid activities are: community gathering and café for the disabled evacuees, and running a local mental care center on behalf of municipality and dispatching psychiatrists and nurses to the center.
"Divisions of communities"
Co-living of evacuees, original residents, victims of the nuclear power plant disaster and victims of tsunami in the same township brings causes friction stemming from inequalities in compensation payments, increasing competition for job opportunities, and declining quality and quantity of public services due to over-population.
"People evacuated to other prefectures are depressed"
Is it really safe to return to hometown? Where and how to find a job? How about infrastructure? Can children say goodbye to their friends and schools at evacuation places? Examples of activities are: provision of town meetings; and introduction of possible emigration places.
"Returning to hometown"
Until complete return becomes possible, evacuees have to commute between two places of residence, to work on creation of business for living, for service provision, and for a reason to live for.
The impact of sudden destruction of hometown communities is far beyond imagination. It is particularly hard on the elderly who spent all their lives within hometown communities. Keeping bonds of hometown people and rebuilding the community are essential for aging generation today as well as for future generation to come.
Comments from JPF staff in charge of Fukushima projects
Such issues are increasing in number and becoming serious: children's health; means of livelihood for evacuated parent/s especially mothers; friction with original residents of evacuation destinations; friction between victims of the nuclear power plant disaster and victims of tsunami; loneliness, isolation and dying alone without families and friends; and increase of earthquake-disaster-related deaths. Evacuees are working hard to make themselves prepared for the coming lift of evacuation order.
"What can we do?"
Presentations of three panelists
Dr. Ana MOSNEAGA (Research Associate-United Nations University)
According to the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, evacuees displaced by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster represent internally displaced persons (IDPs). There is no legal IDP status under current international law. Yet the recognition of displaced people as IDPs is important as the guiding principles articulate their rights to a durable solution. There are three principal settlement options towards achieving a durable solution: return to the place of origin, local integration at the place of evacuation or resettlement in a different part of the country. National authorities have the primary responsibility to respect the preferences of IDPs and to ensure that "the necessary legal and policy frameworks are in place" for IDPs to achieve durable solutions of their choice.
In the aftermath of the nuclear accident, Japanese government policy has assumed that return of the displaced residents is the way to move forward with recovery in Fukushima. This policy was finally revised in December 2013, adding support measures for those seeking to "restart their lives elsewhere" to the original emphasis on supporting "speedy return" to the affected areas. Access to livelihoods and employment are among the core criteria used to determine the extent to which durable solutions have been achieved.
Currently, restoration of livelihoods is evolving within a context of transition from immediate response to longer-term recovery. Relief policies such as emergency housing and job creation schemes were introduced in the early stages after the disaster, and the transition as these are phased out entails considerable uncertainty for the affected individuals. For Fukushima's nuclear evacuees, this transition comes at a time when their situations are diversifying. This calls for targeted policies enabling people to plan their futures irrespective of where they decide to do so. Specifically, it requires policy reorientation processes to be informed by a thorough analysis of the evacuees' changing situations, their livelihood strategies and self-reliance abilities without existing compensation and/or relief measures. Aid organisations and civil society groups have an important role to play in this process by communicating the voices of affected populations and sharing insights with the public and the decision makers about what is actually happening on the ground.
Dr. Shigeru SATOH (Professor of Dept. of Architecture-Waseda University)
Not being informed that the wind was blowing toward the northwest, entire population of Namie town in Fukushima escaped from the nuclear plants heading northwest along with radioactive particles.
Those people who have been forced into long-term evacuation are suffering from crumbling of family and community ties. With the support from corporations and university, people of Namie town who have taken refuge to scattered areas came together to create "out-of-town community/temporary town" where evacuees of Namie can come and feel at home. They are determined to engage themselves in this temporary town plan for the coming twenty to thirty years visioning to pass their hometown on to future generations of Namie. Toward the goal, we have started experiment of on-demand bus service to connect scattered evacuation households, discussions on a plan to invite private developers for construction of private homes around newly-built public housing, and of course looking for funds.
Dr. Yukie OSA (Professor/Rikkyo University, President/AAR Japan, Director/JPF)
The issues of Fukushima are indeed those of refugees. From the standpoint of a humanitarian aid organisation, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR) initiated Tohoku aid and relief activities immediately after the disaster by dispatching our first emergency relief team, and delivered relief supplies in cooperation with local residents' associations and chamber of commerce. Ever since then, AAR has been supporting the victims through our Fukushima office in Soma City.
Although decontamination has been operated under the responsibility of municipalities, the efforts are limited due to the large swathes of rural areas in the region. One example is the increasing number of contaminated and fat wild boars which come down to scarcely populated villages in search for food. Municipal offices are capturing them with the help of local hunting association and either burying in the ground or freezing them, yet for some municipal offices with limited number of staff and population, it is simply out of their hands. The whole operation definitely requires cross sector and cross boundary measures.
Lessons learned from our aid activities in Fukushima were that once a nuclear accident occurs outside support has limitation in helping the victims and the best countermeasure is disaster prevention and mitigation. Nevertheless, there are things we, outsiders, can do: speak out on behalf of the affected; share our experiences with other humanitarian aid organisations working overseas; tell the victims and the local supporting staff not to shoulder responsibilities for what happened and are happening, because such disasters can happen anywhere in the world with facilities handling nuclear energy; and keep in mind that relief operations require cross boundary activities.
Discussion (Moderator: Dr. Yukie OSA)
The terms such as "Fukushima", "disaster-affected areas", or "disaster-affected populations" are not appropriate in expressing the diversity of the realities. Under this constantly changing situation, what the private sector could do to help the affected people?
As for aid organisations, each aid organisation uses its expertise in extending customized support to the affected, attend to those who are not covered by public welfare program, by helping them make their informed decisions, and assist them in the process of restarting their lives and livelihoods. Since it is expected that the full recover of the region from the nuclear disaster would take 30 to 50 years, we should not expect immediate impact from our actions but commit to longer term support. Suggestions for aid organisations included: investing efforts into documenting and disseminating the needs that they identify through close contacts with the affected; intermediary funding organisations should screen projects not by size but by the sustainability of operations, or the distinctiveness of target groups. Likewise, intermediary organisations can play an important role by providing the organisations with sharing mutual experience and providing opportunities for enhancing capacity building of their staff members.
Keeping in mind that the nuclear disaster victims are in fact internally displaced people, we should remain committed to help the affected whenever they are in need. In other words, do whatever we can do, whether be it money, time, or expertise.
Comments from the audience
- Considering evacuees from Fukushima as internally displaced persons was eye-opening.
- Understood that what private sector can do is to fill the intervals of the administrative support
- In order to deal with rapidly changing situation, aid workers should proactively approach victims and keep close contacts with them
- Understood the needs of long-term and customized aid which covers all sectors of society
- Understood the needs of long-term outcome and the effects can be conveying the voice of victims
- Understood that it is important to continue long-term aid toward dreams and hope
- Understood that effective measures could be supporting model projects, leading runners, and sustainable aid organisations
Comments from corporations
- The symposium was invaluable in collecting up-to-date information
- Understood long-term aid is called for
- Understood the necessity of support communities and voluntary evacuees
- The most needed aid is providing jobs. Corporations are expected to start new business in Fukushima along with money donations and dispatching volunteers
- On top of providing education on the Fukushima, walking together with them can be another form of support
- Expect international nongovernmental organisations with abundant experiences in supporting displaced people
- Corporations can dispatch experts as pro bono assistance
- Corporations can offer their expertise
- Support activities are decided through several channels: information sharing among employees--win understanding of management--discuss about possible donation amount between labor and management--discuss about individual and original support program
- Extended emergency support to Fukushima but there are too many and complicated hurdles to continue support
- Donation, pro bono, human resources are effective but it is hard to pin point the needs of the victims
- Would have been better if we were provided with examples of support projects
191,000 people are still living as evacuees throughout Japan. With the lifting of evacuation orders, they have to make difficult decisions without knowing what lies ahead, unsure of where or how they will survive in the future. Many regions and domains that require continued aid remain.
This symposium aims to attract an interest among civil society and to encourage NGO and private sectors to collaborate in supporting Fukushima people by showing the relief workers' video messages on the issues Fukushima people are facing, and through panel discussion by scholars knowledgeable about the Fukushima situation.
- November 16, 2015 4:30PM～8:00PM
- Le Port Kojimachi
2-4-3 Hirakawa-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
- Japan Platform
[Symposium - Emerald Room]
16:30 Opening remark by Toshio Arima (Co-Chairperson/JPF)
16:45 Video letters from aid organizations working in Fukushima
・Mr. Shigeru Sato (Professor/Waseda University)
・Ms. Ana Mosmeaga (Research Associate/United Nations University)
"The effects of the Fukukshima Nuclear Plant Accident on the evacuees"
・Ms. Yukie Osa (Professor/Rikkyo University, President/AAR Japan, Director/JPF)
"Needs for Continuing and Long-term Support"
18:00 Panel discussion "Support needed in Fukushima"
・Moderator: Ms Yukie Osa
・Panelists: Mr.Shigeru Sato, Ms.Ana Mosmeaga
18:50 Closing of symposium
[Reception - Marble Room]
20:00 Closing of reception
*Reservation required: email@example.com
*Session is in Japanese language.