10.03.15 | Press Reports, News

Aid Still Required for Some Time for Victims of the Fukushima Triple Disaster

EMS and its members continue to support KYODAN

Neben den Wohnhäusern in Fukushima liegt die verstrahlte Erde auf dem Boden. (Foto: EMS/ Masami Kato)

"We played down by the river without having to think about radioactivity. It was wonderful for the children who are not allowed to play outside at home in Fukushima," said a mother who was staying with her children at one of the summer camps organised by the YWCA Japan in areas not contaminated with radioactivity. In another, the "Second House Program", families from Fukushima can spend two-weeks-holidays in flats offered by YWCA in not affected regions, eat, play outside and go for walks. These and other projects are financially supported among others by the Evangelical Church of Wuerttemberg and the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS).

Masami Kato, head of the department for disaster relief at the YMCA, described the urgency of such measures: "Wide areas of the Fukushima region are permanently contaminated. The population knows very little about this because the government says it is now safe to return to the towns and villages - except for the innermost area around the damaged nuclear reactors. During decontamination they remove the top layer of soil and collect it in large plastic bags. These bags are temporarily stacked behind many residential buildings and on public car parks and are covered with plastic tarpaulins because there are no safe and permanent collection points for them." Thanks to the support of EMS member churches, the United Church of Christ in Japan (KYODAN) was able to buy Geiger counters to conduct independent measurements.

The triple disaster that occurred on 11 March 2011 was caused by an earthquake, a tsunami and a reactor meltdown that hit the region of Fukushima. This was always one of the poorer regions in Japan. "Many people just simply cannot afford to move away from here," said Masami Kato. More than 230,000 people are still living in emergency accommodation. People working for the KYODAN and the YMCA expect that their support will still be needed for quite some time. Under the slogan of "Com 7300" (20 times 365 = 7300), the YWCA has committed itself to standing by the victims of the triple disaster for the next 20 years: "We believe that four years are a long time in human memory but it is totally insignificant compared to the time needed for radioactivity to decay. If we cannot help the people to move away from the area, we can at least help them look after themselves and their children as unencumbered as possible."

Press contact: Regina Karasch-Böttcher, karasch@ems-online.org, Tel. +49 711 636 78 85

Enquiries: Lutz Drescher, Drescher@ems-online.org, Tel. +49 711 636 78 30