Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Evacuation Challenges

Masashi sent the following e-mail about the challenges that Iitate citizens face as they cope with the necessity to evacuate their homes.

"Iitate village is currently facing various difficulties and challenges. It has become apparent that it is really difficult to evacuate within the short period suggested by the national government. Mayor Kanno expressed his concerns to a media reporter that it is impossible to complete the evacuation within a month. It takes time to find places and homes for this kind of long-term evacuation.

The village’s office also needs to move out of Iitate. It will temporary move to Iino district of Fukushima city after the completion of the evacuation.

Currently, the biggest issue is the livestock industry. On May 4th, the cattle raising corporation in Iitate decided to close their operation and sell all its 300 cattle. There are about 2,600 cattle in Iitate and farmers are facing difficulties relocating them to continue their cattle farming. It has created a critical situation for the Iitate brand of beef.

In early May, the dairy organization gave up keeping cows in Iitate and on May 9th, all milk cows were sent to the slaughter house. Farmers expressed their sorrow at this misfortune which had fallen upon their cows. For them cows are not just animals but their family members.

Compensation schemes for farmers are under discussion by the government."

Masashi also attached some recently released data showing the level of cesium on the surface of the soil. It shows that the southern part of Iitate shows higher levels (you can view the map by clicking here). The Japanese Ministry of Education (MEXT) and the USA Department of Energy collaborated to assess the radiation levels using aircraft. You can access their website via the following link:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Possible Summer Camp in Canada for Evacuated Children

I received a note from a Canadian student about a summer camp being considered for Japanese children who have been evacuated from their homes. It is initiated through students and researchers at the University of British Columbia ( They are particularly interested in making contact with municipalities in the affected areas. If you know of interested people or groups, please contact Dr. Julian Dierkes (

A brief description of the project is below:

A Summer Camp for Evacuated Children

As a community of students and researchers with strong links to Japan from the University of British Columbia, we would like to offer our services to contribute to relief efforts in the regions affected by the triple disaster of March 11. Through long-standing connections with juku teachers and operators as well as through inclusion of JET-alumni with teaching experience in Japan in our efforts, we are hoping to organize a summer camp for evacuated children during the upcoming summer vacation. Ideally, this would accommodate a significant number of children in a location away from Tohoku to give the children an activity to look forward to during the summer, as well as to offer their parents some time to attend to pressing matters associated with their evacuation.

Planned activities would include teaching and learning activities designed in collaboration between experience juku teachers and JET alumni, as well as structured play activities. We hope to draw on the advice or participation of post-traumatic counsellors in designing activities that would be appropriate as well as helpful to participating students.

We are now seeking direct links with municipalities and/or schools in affected regions to discuss the possibility of such a camp. In addition to the volunteering of project participants as teachers, we hope to be able to raise the funds to offer free participation (including transportation and room & board) to students in a week-long camp.