SAPPORO--A ruling party executive has called on the government to candidly specify areas contaminated with radioactive materials from the devastated Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant where evacuees who hold out hopes of going home can never return.
“The time will come when someone must say, ‘You cannot live here anymore, but we will make up for it,' ” Shigeru Ishiba, secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said in a speech here on Nov. 2.
He effectively called for reversing a government policy of eventually allowing all evacuees to return to their homes.
Ishiba did not mention any candidate areas, but was apparently referring to the most heavily contaminated category among the three types of evacuation zones.
The "difficult-to-return zones," where annual radiation doses exceed 50 millisieverts and evacuees are not allowed to return for at least five years from March 2012, were home to 25,000 people before the Fukushima No. 1 plant was crippled by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Ishiba also called for a review of the government’s long-term goal of reducing the annual additional radiation exposure for residents to 1 millisievert or less through decontamination efforts.
“Someday, we have to decide what to do with decontamination standards,” he said. “Otherwise, Fukushima will never make headway on reconstruction.”
Ishiba’s comments appear to be in line with a proposal approved by an LDP committee on post-quake reconstruction on Oct. 31.
The proposal, to be submitted soon to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, calls on the government to prioritize clean-up operations for areas where evacuees can return in the near future.
It also says the government must explain to the public that the target of 1 millisievert cannot be achieved in the short term by decontamination efforts alone. The goal is for exposure from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, excluding effects of natural and medical radiation, such as from the environment and X-ray imaging.
The LDP panel also says the government must indicate until when evacuees cannot go back to the difficult-to-return zones and present compensation guidelines so that they can secure housing where they are at present if they give up plans on returning home.
The government is expected to consider necessary measures after receiving the proposal from the LDP panel.
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