Fukushima briefs envoys in Geneva on recovery progress, urges help to dispel safety concerns

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori told diplomats in Geneva from various countries and representatives of international organizations about the current progress in the northeastern Japanese prefecture's reconstruction from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters during a gathering in the Swiss city on the evening of July 13 (July 14 morning Japan time). The governor, who was on a visit to Europe, also sought the participants' cooperation in dispelling concerns about radioactive contamination from the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi power plant as well as remembering the lessons learnt from the devastation. The seminar-cum-gathering was hosted by the Fukushima prefectural government at Japan's permanent mission to international organizations in Geneva. About 40 people attended the seminar, including the ambassadors of Ireland and Thailand, and other representatives of international organizations and government agencies such as those from the Philippines, India and Switzerland. Gov. Uchibori spoke about the progress experienced so far in the prefecture since the triple disasters. "Four years and four months have passed (since the March 2011 disasters) and yet there are still about 110,000 people who remain evacuated from their homes and are forced to find shelter elsewhere across the nation's 47 prefectures," Uchibori said with regard to residents' living conditions. "We are faced with the harsh reality that livelihoods prior to the disasters cannot be restored." Furthermore, the governor noted the fact that consumers continue to be distrustful of Fukushima's agricultural and fisheries products, despite thorough tests for radioactive substances. At the same time, he also explained that children in the prefecture are now enjoying their physical education classes and athletic meets in school playgrounds – outdoor activities just as they did before the nuclear disaster. The governor also stressed that the prefecture's reconstruction is progressing steadily, with the agriculture, fisheries and tourism industries on the track to recovery. (Translated by Kyodo News)