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Monday, Jan. 16, 2012

Disaster left cities in limbo: mayors


Staff writer

YOKOHAMA — Mayors from municipalities dotting the region around the shattered Fukushima nuclear plant on Sunday said the disaster shattered lives and communities.

Speaking at the Global Conference for a Nuclear Free World symposium, Katsutaka Idogawa, mayor of Futaba, one of two towns hosting the doomed plant, said residents were forced to embark on a long journey the day the reactor cores melted and tainted multiple prefectures with radioactive fallout. "It's a journey we don't know will end or whether we'll be able to go back home," said Idogawa, adding residents were forced to abandon their lives and leave. "I couldn't imagine this kind of thing would occur in such a contemporary society, but it did."

Katsunobu Sakurai, mayor of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, a city of 70,000 in the hot zone, said some 27,000 residents still plan to leave. Minamisoma merged with three smaller cities six years ago and was making progress on policies to improve the new city. But the disaster divided it yet again, Sakurai said. "It's hard for many to imagine what it's like to go through an experience where a nuclear power plant accident suddenly changes your life 180 degrees," he said.



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