Survey shows widespread skepticism about cleanup in Fukushima

March 06, 2012

Ninety-two percent of Fukushima residents believe the groundwork has yet to be laid for rebuilding the prefecture nearly a year after the disaster started at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, a survey showed.

The results of the survey, conducted jointly by The Asahi Shimbun and Fukushima Broadcasting Co., showed widespread skepticism and criticism over the government’s disaster response and cleanup plans in Fukushima Prefecture.

For example, 78 percent of the respondents believe it will take more than 10 years for life to return to pre-3/11 conditions, up from 68 percent in a previous survey in September, six months after the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. Thirteen percent said they felt life would return to normal “within 10 years," 4 percent said "within five years," and just 1 percent chose "within three years."

Asked to choose from four answers about how much groundwork was in place to rebuild Fukushima Prefecture, 54 percent of the respondents said “not very much” and 38 percent said “not at all.”

The survey was conducted over the telephone on March 3-4 across most of Fukushima Prefecture. Valid responses were received from 921 people.

In December, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda declared that the damaged nuclear reactors at the plant had been brought under control.

Ninety-four percent of the respondents said they disagreed with Noda’s pronouncement.

Sixty percent have low expectations for the decontamination efforts of the central and local governments, while 20 percent said they do not expect any positive benefits from such work.

Eighty percent were critical of the central government's response to the nuclear disaster over the one-year period since it began to unfold.

The central government plans to establish a temporary facility in Futaba county, Fukushima Prefecture, to store soil and other contaminated materials. Futaba county is home to the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Thirty-nine percent of the respondents said they approved of that plan, but 41 percent said they disapproved.

The survey also asked Fukushima residents to choose from four answers on their anxiety levels concerning the impact of radioactive substances on them and their families.

A combined 78 percent said they either were "very anxious" or were "anxious to a certain extent," down from 91 percent in the September survey.

But 80 percent of the respondents said they feel stressed by living in Fukushima Prefecture after the nuclear accident. Thirty-four percent said they feel "very much" stressed, while 46 percent said they feel stressed "to a certain extent."

In eastern Fukushima Prefecture, where the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is located, 41 percent of the respondents said they felt “very much” stressed.

Among those anxious about radioactive substances, 88 percent said they felt either "very much" stressed or stressed "to a certain extent."

Even among residents not anxious about radioactive substances, a combined 50 percent said they felt stressed living in Fukushima Prefecture.

Thirty-two percent of all respondents said they would like to move out of the prefecture or to areas of low radiation levels if possible, down slightly from 34 percent in the September survey. Among those “very anxious” about radioactive substances, 50 percent want to move.

The Fukushima prefectural government is currently conducting surveys on the health effects of radiation from the nuclear plant. Fifty-one percent of the respondents regard those surveys as "relatively useless," while 40 percent said they were "relatively useful."

Farm products from Fukushima Prefecture are not selling well, or are only being bought at low prices, because of their Fukushima origin.

Twenty-five percent of the respondents said they objected to such thinking among consumers, whereas 70 percent said it couldn't be helped.

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