Fukushima town opens museum showcasing triple disasters

Photo (1): Visitors view a tsunami-wrecked police cruiser (foreground) and the display of the town's recreated disaster response headquarters (back left). Photo (2): Tomioka Mayor Koichi Miyamoto (right) and Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori (second from left) gaze at a scale model of a mock streetscape in the town's Yorunomori district in a special exhibition room.

The "Historical Archive Museum of Tomioka" opened to the public in its namesake Fukushima Prefecture town on July 11 to showcase the experience of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant for future generations, as well as exhibiting aspects of the municipality's history and culture. An opening ceremony was held at the municipal museum in the town's Motooka district, with officials concerned wishing that it will become a hub for interactions among visitors from within and outside Tomioka. ■ 30 people attend ceremony The opening ceremony was attended by about 30 people. "We would like many people to know how the town has developed and other things," said Tomioka Mayor Koichi Miyamoto. He was followed by Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori. "We want the museum to pass the record and experience of the complex disasters down the generations in partnership with the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum and other facilities," Uchibori said, referring to the memorial museum in Futaba, one of the two towns hosting the crippled plant. They were followed by congratulatory messages from Kiyoshi Ejima, state minister of economy, trade and industry acting as head of the Local Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters in Fukushima city, Shinichi Yokoyama, state minister for reconstruction, and Minoru Takahashi, chairman of the Tomioka town assembly. Miyamoto and other officials then joined a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the occasion. In a permanent exhibition room, about 430 items related to the disasters, including a tsunami-wrecked police patrol car, are on display. Also on show is a scale model of the town's recreated disaster response headquarters, set up immediately after the earthquake. This and other exhibits show in an easy-to-understand manner Tomioka's history from the town's emergence as a community to the evacuation of all residents following the nuclear disaster. Among exhibits provided by Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of the eponymous vernacular daily, are photos showing a main road jammed by evacuee-occupied cars. Takashi Ohata, a 51-year-old self-employed man who lived in the town's Yorunomori district before the disasters, said he was touched to see museum video footage showing rows of cherry trees in the area at the beginning of the Showa era (early 1900s). "Seeing a lot of people enjoying viewing cherry blossoms, I felt these flowers have been loved since old times," Ohata said. "I hope the museum will become a place for townspeople who are still evacuated to deepen friendships while viewing old photos here." The museum, owned by Tomioka, is a three-story steel-frame building with a total floor space of 3,532 square meters. It has some 50,000 items in store, and visitors can view the work of sorting them out and preserving them. Admission to the museum is free. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (admission is closed at 4:30 p.m.), and closed on Mondays. Inquiries should be addressed to the museum.