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Fishermen harvesting green laver on full scale in Soma, delayed 2 months by typhoon

18 March 2020

The harvesting of green laver, a specialty in the Matsukawaura lagoon in Soma city, has got into full swing in the third year of test operations after being suspended for a lengthy period following the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Green laver harvesting usually begins in December and peaks in mid-January, but growth of the seaweed has been uneven this season, depending on location in the lagoon in the wake of a devastating typhoon and downpours last year.

Harvesting became possible in mid-January, with hauls reaching peak levels in March at long last -- two months later than last season. Braving the aftermath of the disaster, local fishermen remain unswerving, saying they "would like to produce high-quality dried green laver."

On the early morning of March 17, Hiroyasu Kusano, 81, and his 50-year-old son Makoto boarded a small boat in the Matsukawaura district of the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association and, basking in sunlight, harvested green laver grown on nets using a vacuum-like machine. On that day, 13 boats operated, hauling in a combined total of 752 kilograms of green laver. The crop was subjected to testing for detection of radioactive substances and dehydrated for delivery to brokers.

Harvesting is conducted a few times per week until the end of April. Due to the delayed start, total hauls in the season are likely to be smaller than usual, according to cooperative officials.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

9 March 2020

Fukushima people mourn victims ahead of 9th anniversary of quake, nuke disaster

Residents in Fukushima Prefecture held memorial ceremonies at various places on March 8, three days before the ninth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant.

In the Tairatoyoma district of Iwaki city, one of the areas hit hard by the disaster, about 80 residents prayed for the repose of victims in a ceremony held at the city's Toyoma central assembly hall.

"We will build our own town through our own efforts," district head Moritoshi Endo, 75, told the gathering after the participants observed a moment of silence. "We would like to restore the hustle and bustle of our town." They then paid floral tribute and offered prayers.

Most participants wore masks amid the nationwide spread of infections by the new coronavirus, and ceremony organizers called off most originally scheduled events, including a "Jangara nenbutsu odori" Buddhist folk dance by children.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

11 March 2020

Fukushima Gov. vows to open up rich future in message on 9th anniv. of quake

Governor Masao Uchibori of Fukushima Prefecture announced a message dated March 11, the ninth anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant, showing his determination to "work together to build a vibrant and appealing future for Fukushima" with "Fukushima pride" filling the hearts of prefectural people.

Fukushima is entering a period in which it will open up a new reconstruction stage with the start of the 10th year since the disaster, Uchibori said in the message. He incorporated into the message his belief that Fukushima's continued attempts at the challenging task of reconstruction would eventually lead to the region's restoration and rebirth.

Uchibori said that a Fukushima-produced flower species, known as "toruko-gikyo" in Japan, or Lisianthus, has been chosen to be included in the "Victory Bouquet" awarded to medal winners in commendation ceremonies at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. In the language of flowers, the species expresses "gratitude" and "hope," the governor said. "We want to thank everyone who has supported Fukushima and everyone who keeps us in their thoughts," he wrote in the message. "We wish for people all over the world to see Fukushima shining with the light of hope as we move forward toward revitalization, one step at a time."

The message was prepared by a drafting committee comprising Uchibori and Honoo Kurata, managing editor of local daily Fukushima-Minpo's news department, among other people. A video showing Uchibori read out the message has been posted since March 11 on the website of the Fukushima prefectural government's Planning & Coordination Division as well as on the prefecture's official channel of the "YouTube" internet video-sharing site. The video is available in English as well as in Japanese. A full text of the message is posted on the prefectural site. It is to be translated into the languages of nine countries and regions, including English and Chinese.

The committee's members other than Uchibori are as follows:
Shintaro Kikuchi (head, PEP Network of Child Care in Koriyama), Honoo Kurata (managing editor, Fukushima-Minpo), Koji Sasaki (superintendent of education, Board of Education, Shinchi town), Reiko Hachisuka (head, Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Okuma town), Tamaki Honda (specially appointed professor, Fukushima Future Center for Regional Revitalization, Fukushima University), Junko Yokota (director, NPO Sozai Hiroba), and Hiroshi Ono (managing editor, Fukushima Minyu Shimbun)

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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