Saturday, February 23, 2013

We Need True Substitute for Our Town, Says Futaba Mayor on His Last Day in Office

On the 11th of each month, the evacuees from Futaba-machi, Fukushima Prefecture living in the premise of a former high school in Kazo City, Saitama Prefecture, and visiting supporters observe a moment of silence to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the tsunami of March 11, 2012 and in the evacuation that followed. On Feb. 11, Mayor IDOGAWA Katsutaka (center in the photo) made a farewell speech to those who gathered as usual. "It's been 23 months since the tsunami and nuclear power plant disasters hit our hometown. I have to leave the office without positive development," he started. 
"I am stepping down, suddenly. I still have a lot that I want to do, but I am forced into a situation where I cannot pursue what I think I should." "I led you to come all the way down to Saitama Prefecture. Here, we have to endure a hard life as evacuees. I have made every effort to let the government hear us and understand that this is not the kind of life we want. If your car is damaged in a traffic accident, you can get a substitute while yours is repaired. But does our life here sufficiently substitute what we used to have back in Futaba? No. We need more humane living conditions where, at least, family members can live together." "It is radiation that is most difficult to tackle with in the problem that we have. Because we cannot see it, we are disguised: we errornously feel we are safe. I have always made warnings not to be disguised and will keep doing so. The resignation does not mean that I will not see you any more: I will keep doing my best with you as an ordinary citizen of Futaba just like every one of you." Then he shook hands with the people there, saying "Take care," or "Don't cry. We'll see each other more often from now on," and tapping their shoulders.
The people and the town hall of Futaba moved to the present location in April 2011. There were 1400 residents in the substitute town in the beginning, but many have moved out since then. Less than 100 remain now, most of them are elderly citizens who do not have any other places to go.They have lived in former classrooms and gymnasium in groups without privacy for respective families, being blamed for running away from Fukushima.   
In the autumn session last year, the town assembly decided to move the town hall to Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, but Mayor Idogawa has been opposing to the closure of the make-shift town. "My desire is that the children of Futaba reach adulthood and get married without being impaired by any aftereffects of the nuclear disaster," he told the reporters. "The government ordered us to evacuate from the town without providing any particular guidance or assistance. We had to identify where to and how all by ourselves. It is too inconsiderate for the government to tell us now to return to Fukushima without duly reflecting what they have done, or haven't done, for us since the nuclear disaster."
Idogawa took office in 2005 when the town was in a financial crisis: The budget could not be established then. It was soon after the town finance was reconstructed that the unprecedented disaster struck. He will leave the office after having been navigating the town through repeated crises for more than 7 years.The election will be announced on Feb. 28. Voting day is March 10.  (By HORIKIRI Satomi)    

双葉町・井戸川町長 最後の一日~「家族一緒に暮らせる生活こそが代車」
 埼玉県加須の騎西高校では、毎月11日に津波や避難生活の中で亡くなった人のため故郷・双葉町の方角に向かって、黙とうを捧げてきた。2月11日。いつものように双葉町民や支援者が集まる中、井 戸川町長(写真中央)が町民に向けて、最後の挨拶をした。震災と原発事故から1年11か月、皆さんにいい 報告が出来ませんでしたと切り出した。
 「突然辞職しました。まだまだやりたいことがありましたが、そ れが出来ない環境になってしまいました」「私は皆さんをこちら(埼玉)に連れてきた。この避難所の生 活はきびしい。決して皆さんが望んでいるわけではないことを、政府には声を大にして訴え続けてきまし た。交通事故でいうなら、事故を起こせば代車を借りることができる。でも、この避難所の生活が代車と 言われては困ります。人間的な、家族一緒に暮らせる生活こそが代車です」「この事故で困るのは、目に見えない放射能です。見えないがゆえに、安全だと錯覚させられてしまう。私はつねづね警告を発してきたし、これからもそうするつもり。ここで皆さんとお別れすることなく、今度は皆さんと同じ立場で一緒に頑張っていきたい」    集まった人たち一人一人と町長は握手を交わし「とにかく健康に注意して」「泣かないで。今までより身近になったんだから」と肩をたたいた。

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