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2 bus stops set up in Iitate village ahead of planned end to evacuation

21 August 2016

Fukushima Transportation Inc. set up two bus stops in the wholly evacuated village of Iitate on Aug. 20 ahead of the lifting of an evacuation order planned next March. Both stops are located on a regular bus route linking Minamisoma city on the Pacific coast and two inland areas, Fukushima city and Kawamata town, via Iitate. One stop is in front of “Iitate Fureai-kan (literally contact hall),” a brand-new facility opened on Aug. 13 as a hub for exchanges among villagers, and the other stop is in the Usuishi area.

The village, evacuated after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, is currently divided into three zones: one being readied for the removal of the evacuation order, a residency-restricted zone and a difficult-to-return zone. A temporary homecoming program began in the village on July 1, allowing evacuees from the first two zones to stay at their residences on a trial basis. The bus stops have made it possible for villagers to use the bus service for the first time since the disaster. They are expected to improve the convenience of temporary residents and help promote permanent home returns after the evacuation order is lifted.

Kaoru Shoji, 82, and his 79-year-old wife Masui took a bus from Fukushima city and got off in front of Iitate Fureai-kan on the day the stop opened. The couple from the village’s Sekisawa district now live in temporary housing for evacuees at a former elementary school in Iino, Fukushima city. They used to take a bus before the disaster to Minamisoma for hospital visits and shopping. “Now we can go to the Haramachi district (of Minamisoma) in a casual manner,” said a delighted Masui.

Fukushima Transportation established the bus route in April 2014, operating four round trips a day between the east exit of East Japan Railway’s Fukushima Station in Fukushima city and the Kashima Health Center in the Kashima district of Minamisoma.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

20 August 2016

Fukushima to seek donations for refurbishing J-Village soccer training center

The Fukushima prefectural government announced on Aug. 19 that it will seek donations from companies and organizations at home and abroad to finance the reconstruction and refurbishment of the J-Village national soccer training center. J-Village straddles the Fukushima Prefecture towns of Naraha and Hirono near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori and other officials are scheduled to make a pitch for the fundraising blitz at a press conference scheduled for Aug. 29 in Tokyo. It will be an unusual attempt for the prefectural government to solicit donations as a main source of financing for facility improvement.

Funds donated will be used to build all-weather soccer training fields within J-Village as part of efforts to encourage national teams to use the center as their training camp for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The project is estimated to cost about 2.2 billion yen. Of the total, 1.5 billion yen is expected to be provided as a subsidy from the Sports Promotion Lottery (“toto”) operated by the Japan Sport Council affiliated with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Fukushima is seeking to cover the remaining 700 million yen with donations.

Officials scheduled to attend the upcoming press conference include Kozo Tajima, president of the Japan Football Association; Tadashi Okamura, president of the Japan Rugby Football Union; Asako Takakura (who hails from Fukushima city), manager of the Nadeshiko Japan national women’s soccer team; Hitoshi Ono (hailing from Koriyama city in the prefecture), a member of the Japanese national men's rugby union squad; and Homare Sawa, a former member of Nadeshiko Japan.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

18 August 2016

South Korea’s new envoy to Japan meets Fukushima governor

Lee Joon Gyu, South Korea’s new ambassador to Japan, paid a courtesy call on Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori at the prefectural government office in Fukushima city on Aug. 17.

At the meeting, Lee pledged efforts to convey the precise situation in Fukushima to the South Korean people following its negative reputation caused by the 2011 nuclear accident. He also vowed to help South Korea and Fukushima engage in active exchanges as soon as possible.

Furthermore, Lee showed readiness to make efforts for better bilateral relations, including the dispelling of harmful rumors about Fukushima products stemming from the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant and for the resumption of a regular civil air service between Fukushima and Seoul.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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