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Candlelight night marks 6th anniv. of quake, nuke accident across Fukushima

12 March 2017

The Fukushima prefectural government hosted candle-lighting events at six venues in five cities on March 11 on the sixth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident to remember victims of the disaster and pledge efforts for hometown reconstruction. The events were organized in the cities of Fukushima, Koriyama, Aizuwakamatsu, Shirakawa and Minamisoma.

In Fukushima city, a total of about 2,700 candles were put in place at two venues -- the Machinaka Hiroba square and a plaza in front of the east exit of JR Fukushima Station. Citizens wrote words on candle holders reflecting their thoughts, such as “reconstruction,” “ties” and “Cheer up, Fukushima.” Come dusk, the candlelight blanketed the landscape in a pale glow.

At a lighting ceremony held at Machinaka Hiroba, Fukushima Deputy Gov. Masaaki Suzuki said, “I wrote ‘step by step’ on the candle cup. Although we face a long, tough path ahead, we want to achieve reconstruction by all means.” He then lit the candle together with student volunteers from Fukushima University and Kobe Shinwa Women’s University in Hyogo Prefecture.

PHOTO:Candle light flickers at Machinaka Hiroba in Fukushima city as participants pray for early reconstruction.

11 March 2017

Over 80% of municipal assemblies call for abolition of all nuke plants in Fukushima

Of 59 municipal assemblies in Fukushima Prefecture, 50 or more than 80% have passed resolutions or position statements calling for the decommissioning of all reactors at two nuclear power plants in the prefecture. This was made known by a survey undertaken by Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of the namesake vernacular daily, on the occasion of the sixth anniversary on March 11 of the 2011 earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) plant.

Although the central government and the utility remain silent on the fate of the Fukushima Daini (No. 2) plant, which was not affected by the disaster, the survey brought home the fact that people in the prefecture desire the abolition of the Daini plant as well as the Daiichi facility, which is being decommissioned after four of its six reactors were crippled by meltdowns and explosions.

The survey was conducted by hearing from officials in charge of the assemblies in the cities, towns and villages concerned. In the current 2016 fiscal year ending on March 31, assemblies in three cities -- Aizuwakamatsu, Koriyama and Nihonmatsu -- and one town -- Koori -- adopted position statements urging abolition of all nuclear reactors, while those in two villages -- Otama and Kitashiobara -- and three towns -- Nishiaizu, Bandai and Inawashiro -- are scheduled to submit or are considering submitting similar statements to their regular sessions in March. All these assemblies except for the Koori assembly have passed statements or resolutions calling for total reactor decommissioning in the past.

The 50 assemblies consist of all 13 city assemblies and those in 37 towns and villages, including eight municipalities in the Futaba region where evacuation orders were issued following the nuclear accident. The Fukushima Prefectural Association of Chairmen of Town and Village Assemblies unanimously adopted a special resolution at its general meeting in 2014 demanding the termination of all reactors. “All town and village assemblies are in agreement in seeking to have all reactors decommissioned,” according to an official of the association’s secretariat.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

10 March 2017

JFA to open base in Fukushima for soccer-focused reconstruction aid

The Japan Football Association and its professional J. League will open a joint “Front Office” in the J-Village soccer training center in Fukushima Prefecture soon, possibly in April, in an effort to strengthen post-disaster reconstruction activities focused on the sport. The national governing body for soccer decided on the “DREAM Fukushima Action Plan” at a board meeting in Tokyo on March 9.

The plan calls for the JFA and J. League to dispatch experts in technical coaching and physical strengthening to elementary, junior and high schools in the prefecture as desired to back up the development of young people. With the full resumption of the J-Village two years later in sight, the plan also envisages new competitions such as under-18 tournaments involving high school students and J. League preseason matches. These activities are intended by the soccer community as a whole to help in the recovery of Fukushima from the 2011 earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The projected joint office will be located inside a women’s dormitory of the JFA Academy Fukushima in the J-Village which, straddling the Naraha and Hirono towns, was used as a forward base for dealing with the nuclear disaster. The office will be staffed by about four people, including full-time employees, from the JFA and other parties concerned.

Office staff will visit municipalities where evacuation orders have been lifted as well as schools and soccer club teams to hear their wishes on the dispatch of instructors and coordinate with them on details such as the desired number of instructors and frequency of visits. For the time being, the expert program will cover disaster-affected areas such as the Futaba region but will be gradually expanded to the entire prefecture. The organizers plan to expand the project to include music and other fields of art as well as sports other than soccer.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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