Covered with flies
Yatsuda was born and raised in Namie. TEPCO began building the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant when she was a junior high school student.
After graduating from high school, she moved to Tokyo to work but returned to Namie a year and a half later. From then on, her life was colored by TEPCO.
She married and raised three children while running a yakitori restaurant. Her customers were workers at the nuclear plant.
Later, she worked in the TEPCO company dormitory.
She worked there for 10 years until summer last year. She made meals and was adored by the young employees, who affectionately called her "Yatsudacchi." Aya Sameshima from the women's soccer team Nadeshiko Japan, was among those who lived in the girls' dormitory. "They were all good girls and sweet."
After she had finished raising her own children, she worked and lived in the TEPCO dormitory for managerial staff.
She remembers the effort that TEPCO had put in at election time.
When there was an election for a mayor or the prefectural assembly, the dormitory dining room became a waiting area for TEPCO executives. When the candidate of choice was elected, the executives would all go out to celebrate. She was struck by the sense that "the power company was firmly entwined with the political circle."
Up to that point, more than half her life had involved TEPCO. In spite of that fact, there was absolutely no information forthcoming from TEPCO about the accident.
Once they fled to Kasugai, there was even less information available. They had the local paper from Fukushima Prefecture sent to them by mail, and read it inside and out. What will their life be like from now on? What about compensation? They were filled with anxiety.
In June, they temporarily returned to their home in Namie. Their refrigerator was overturned, just as it had been after the earthquake, and the rotting food was covered with flies.
In late August, they returned once more to Fukushima to retrieve their car. Her husband drove the eight hours by expressway from Kasugai. They changed into protective clothing at the gymnasium in the town of Hirono and boarded the provided bus.
When the bus stopped, two dogs wearing collars approached them. Along the way, they saw two cats lying dead on the side of the road.
"A single misstep, and perhaps that could have been us."
After the accident, Yatsuda's family scattered. Her oldest daughter went to Koriyama and the younger daughter to Niigata.
In September, she and her husband applied to live in temporary housing in Fukushima Prefecture.
"Fukushima has been my home for decades. I want to go home," said Yatsuda with tears in her eyes.