45.9% of Fukushima residents oppose removal of nuke radiation monitors

2 July 2018

Nearly 50% of residents in Fukushima Prefecture are against a central government policy to remove some 2,400 posts in the prefecture for monitoring nuclear radiation from fallout left by the 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, according to an opinion poll jointly conducted by Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of the namesake local daily, and Fukushima Television Broadcasting Co.

The 22nd survey of people living in the prefecture found 45.9% of those polled were opposed to the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s policy, exceeding 25.0% in favor. Some respondents called for the maintenance of radiation monitoring posts to ensure safety and peace of mind while others endorsed the policy due to the reduction in radiation dosage and other reasons, highlighting the presence of diverse opinions over existence of the radiation monitoring system.

Asked about the pros and cons of the policy, 22.9% chose “neither,” and 6.3% “don’t know.” By gender, 34.0% of men and 20.7% of women were in favor of removing the monitoring posts, while 46.5% of men and 45.3% of women were against.

As reasons for their opposition, 40.4%, the largest proportion of respondents, said “monitoring posts kept in place lead to peace of mind in everyday life,” followed by 26.3% who cited “the need to prepare for an increase in radiation dosage,” 16.8% who pointed to “the need to grasp changes in radiation doses on their own” and 12.5% who saw it necessary to “confirm the safety of children at school and elsewhere.”

The findings indicate that many residents want a radiation monitoring mechanism near them even though seven years and a little more than three months have elapsed since the nuclear disaster. Bearing in mind the prospect of reactor decommissioning taking a long time, many respondents also appeared to be reflecting in their answers a need to retain monitoring posts in the event of a rise in radiation dosage that may result from problems that may arise during decommissioning work.

Concerning reasons for favoring the policy, the greatest margin of 38.2% said “monitoring is not necessary because of reduced radiation dosage,” followed by 33.1% who replied that “removal of monitoring posts will lead to dissipating harmful rumors,” 12.9% who said they “want to restore landscapes to what they used to be before the accident” and 4.5% who said they “feel uncomfortable at the sight of monitoring posts.”

The reasons given by supporters of the authority’s policy indicate that there are a certain number of prefectural people who are pinning hopes on the recovery of Fukushima’s image through removal of the monitors, interpreting as a positive sign the decreasing radiation dosage compared with the level right after the accident.

(Translated by Kyodo News)