April 26:About the Great East Japan Earthquake:

2011-04-26

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April 26:About the Great East Japan Earthquake:

April 26, 2011

For people who are still staying within the evacuation zone, it seems that they are more concerned about protecting their current livelihood than the health effects that may become apparent ten years down the line.  However, the reality is, nothing is reaching inside the evacuation zone; newspapers, postal service, deliveries, nor relief supplies.  Currently, people with disabilities who have been left behind in the evacuation zone are surviving thanks to the efforts of the JDF Disaster Area Support Center for People with Disabilities Fukushima.  At this time, we must find a safe place for these people to stay.  The rights of people with disabilities to live in the community are being compromised in the disaster zone.  Families of people with disabilities who have already been doing all they can to continue living in the community even before the disaster, have now found themselves in a situation where the living conditions at the temporary evacuation shelters have made it impossible for them to stay at the shelters, and are forced to return to their houses back inside the evacuation zone.  This situation is so unbearable that the families are seriously considering that “May be she/he is better off in an institution.”  In some cases, because there were only enough space to provide one tatami mat per person at the evacuation shelters, and a wheelchair user would require at least two tatami mats worth of space, people were refused from the evacuation shelters.

In this disaster, “community choice” for people with disabilities is being undermined.  Especially in Fukushima Prefecture, the secondary manmade disaster of the nuclear power plant is compounding the problem.  The government announced that the evacuation zone will be set up for 9 months, but it is uncertain whether the effects of radiation can be brought down in such short time span.  People who have left their houses “temporarily” are in a situation of possibly having to “relocate”.  And, if they cannot return to where they use to live, it is sound judgment to consider places further away, outside of Fukushima Prefecture, where the effects of the radiation will be lower.  In such cases, relocation support is needed at the new location including application for welfare.  For people with physical disabilities, it may be possible for them to live alone with necessary welfare, but for people with intellectual disabilities, the whole family may be relocating with the individual, and so, support for these family members such as financial support must also be considered.

The criteria of what is a suitable place to live will greatly differ depending on the type of disability.  We need to create the kind of support than can accommodate to these differing needs.  This is not something we leave the people in the disaster stricken areas to work out for themselves, but something we must do together.  For this, I ask the people reading this to come forward with your thoughts and ideas.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Masayo Furui

 

この投稿文は次の言語で読めます: Japanese

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