Local Communities Platform for Restoration of “Kizuna”: Reconstruction of Human Bonds in Communities Damaged by Nuclear Disaster

Local Communities Platform for Restoration of “Kizuna”: Reconstruction of Human Bonds in Communities Damaged by Nuclear Disaster

Noriko Kurata (Chuo University, Japan), Masakazu Ohashi (Chuo University, Japan) and Mayumi Hori (Hakuoh University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8368-6.ch008
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Abstract

Residents of towns near nuclear power plants have been forced to evacuate to other areas due to the nuclear disaster, being scattered and living in various parts of Japan, causing “empty time” which will lead to collapse of the local community in these areas. Dispersed residents hope to restore their hometown along with the community, and the government also puts up restoration of “Kizuna” as a keyword for reconstruction. It is therefore proposed in this chapter to develop a platform that can systematically accumulate information owned by the local government and residents with ICT, for the purpose of restoring “Kizuna”. With this platform, residents mutually dispatch information on daily living on their own. This will help maintain association of information which will be necessary to recollect memories; therefore sharing of such information will be promoted and the “empty time” will be filled.
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Introduction

The large earthquake of magnitude 9.0 that occurred on March 11 in Tohoku region in Japan evoked the enormous tsunami and nuclear plant accident (see Figure 1). The series of disasters was officially named the “Great East Japan Earthquake”. Approximately two years have passed from such disaster, but those who live in the neighborhood of the nuclear plant still remain evacuated and cannot return to their hometown.

Figure 1.

General view of the epicenter of the earthquakes and the coast part tsunami overcame (Adapted from Kurata, Ohashi, & Hori (2011))

According to the later described survey result, the evacuees desire to return if their towns become safe. However, there are many evacuees who doubt securement of safe life without threat of radioactive materials. Especially young people of child-raising age tend to doubt the reliability of safety and refuse to return to their hometown. The young with working ability tend to work in the city to which they are evacuated because there are many employment opportunities while the elderly tend to stay at the evacuation center in Fukushima Prefecture. Therefore, the local communities are in crisis of separation and some families even live separately.

On the other hand, the local governments of the evacuation zone prepare recovery plans and desire to reconstruct their towns as residential towns. Safety securement is the top priority, but it is also necessary to somehow keep connection between the local communities in order to reconstruct their towns as residential areas. According to the survey for the evacuees, the top reason why people want to return to their hometown was feeling of attachment to the towns where they have lived for a long time.

This chapter, thus, proposes the platform to anchor the people’s bonding and feeling of attachment to their hometown under the active and ever-changing circumstance by using life log and social graph.

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Background

Damage Status, Evacuation Zone

According to the information released by the National Police Agency (2013) on January 9, 2013, 15,879 peoples were killed and 2,700 were missing. The tsunami damage was the greatest in Miyagi Pref. with the most deaths. The Reconstruction Agency (2012) reported on December 12, 2012 that evacuees totaled 321,433 persons, including the largest number of evacuees from Fukushima Pref. which had the nuclear plant disaster.

The disaster occurred in Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Plant. The tsunami hit the main facilities area of the plant. A power outage and the failure of the emergency generators to provide backup electricity caused the emergency cooling system to stop functioning which eventually brought the hydrogen explosion in the building of the plant, and the radioactive materials leaked to the atmosphere. Therefore, the evacuation of the inhabitants in the peripheral area of the power plant was unavoidable.

Previously, the government appointed the off-limits/evacuation zone, which is radius of 20km range of the nuclear plant and 20km outside area with much quantity of radiological scattering. In March 2012, the government reviewed and reorganized the evacuation zone classification (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, 2012): {zone 1} The area where homecoming will be possible in the near future (annual dose: less than 20mm Sv); {zone 2} The area where residential use is difficult for a few years (annual dose: 20 to less than 50mm Sv) and; {zone 3} The area where homecoming is not possible even after more than five years have passed (annual dose: more than 50mm Sv) .

As of January 2013, the government has re-evaluated the off-limits/evacuation zone to the new evacuation zone, and there are currently five types of zones in the mixture of the off-limits/evacuation zone and new evacuation zone.

Although it will be good news for some villages/towns classified in zone 1 or 2, it will pose a severe reality to some villages/towns in zone 3.

Even at the time of January 2013, approximately two years after the disaster, the government has not clearly shown the duration of the evacuation, and 12 villages/towns have been appointed as zone 1, zone 2 or zone 3.

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