May 18: Report from the Disaster Area


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May 18: Report from the Disaster Area

May 18, 2011

We went to the institution complex in the remote mountain area of Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture in search of the evacuees with disabilities.  The complex was made up of multiple institutions, but we could not find many people who would talk to us.  From what little we could gather, we were told that there are or were 3 evacuees in one facility and 6 in another (5 from a group home and one person who lived at home).  We asked to meet them but were told that this was not possible because “a bad cold was going around”.  We were left concerned about how the evacuees were doing.  We were told that the largest issue this institution complex is concerned about is how to evacuate if the nuclear power plant was to explode again.  We were told that at the time of the tsunami, people from institutions within the mandatory evacuation zone of 20 kilometer radius of the nuclear power plant were taken on a training ship from a fisheries high school that docked to one of the buildings not washed away by the tsunami.  These people were evacuated to large scale welfare institutions in Chiba and Shizuoka Prefectures.  We were also explained that in case of another emergency, the institution complex has already secured a site in Nagano Prefecture that will be able to take in everyone there, and that they have already discussed both with the government and the local government of Fukushima Prefecture to send busses to transport everyone.  Because a “bad cold was going around” we could not hear firsthand how much of this was actually being communicated to the people institutionalized there, nor their thinking.

 

We also received notice that in the turmoil after the disaster, 5 people with disabilities who lived at home decided to get together to rent a house in Iwaki City to live together.  However, how these people were doing could not be confirmed because the Advisement Office for People with Disabilities of the local government had not gone to find out.  In fact, when we contacted the office, they asked us, the JDF Disaster Area Support Center for People with Disabilities Fukushima, whether we could go and talk to these people instead.

 

Through our visits, it is becoming more and more apparent that both people in institutions and people living in the community are being misled and are being led away from the community into large scale institutions.

 

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