37% of schools plan, mull resuming field trips to Fukushima

Of 176 elementary and junior high schools in Tokyo and elsewhere that have suspended educational field trips to Fukushima Prefecture since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, 65 schools, or about 37%, are "scheduled to resume" such tours or "considering" doing so, the prefectural government said in a survey report on Oct. 19. Of the 65 schools, 12 are "scheduled to resume" visits to Fukushima and 53 others are "considering" resumption. The Fukushima government is seeking to reinstate the number of educational field trips by providing related information and taking other measures, focusing on the schools that are considering plans to resume visits to the prefecture. The number of schools which have continued educational field trips to Fukushima even after the accident totaled 565, according to the survey. The survey was undertaken by the local government in cooperation with the Reconstruction Agency and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Questionnaires were distributed to a total of 7,540 schools (5,108 elementary and 2,432 junior high schools) in seven prefectures -- Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Niigata -- from September to November last year. Replies were received from 5,527 schools (3,692 elementary and 1,835 junior high schools), or 73.3%. Of the schools polled, 3,125 elementary and 1,661 junior high schools have never visited Fukushima. Among them, 120 elementary and 69 junior high schools once considered going to the prefecture on educational field trips after the disaster. According to the prefectural government, the number of travelers on educational field trips to Fukushima stood at 435,468 in fiscal 2016 through March 2017, staying at a low level -- about 61% of the pre-disaster total of 709,932 in fiscal 2009. The local government has been endeavoring to restore educational tourism by, for example, undertaking a caravan campaign in which prefectural officials and other parties concerned visit some 1,000 schools a year to offer travel information and, starting in fiscal 2016, launching a subsidy program for schools using buses on visits to Fukushima. (Translated by Kyodo News)