Over the past weekend, the Japanese government conducted its first major nuclear disaster drill ever since the 3/11 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triple meltdowns. It was a two-day drill that was conducted as if an earthquake had caused an accident releasing radioactive substances from the reactors of the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, which brought together about 3,300 participants, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The local residents living within the plant’s 5 to 30 km radius had to realistically exercise an evacuation based on the assumption that a level of radiation that requires evacuation had been detected.
During Japan’s greatest nuclear crisis in March 2011, the government kept changing the perimeters of the evacuation zone, and delayed instructing the residents about taking iodine pills, which could have helped prevent thyroid cancer.
In the spring of this year, the 20km no-go zone has reopened partially, which allowed some of the 83,000 evacuees to visit their homes with a special permission. Visitors can visit the zone for a limited amount of time during daytime.
While the drills were going on, 40,000 participants reportedly rallied in Tokyo on Sunday, lead by the now famous Japanese anti nuclear activist, Misao Redwolf to protest against Japan’s nuclear policy and the restarting of the nuclear reactors. The coverage of this even was sparse.
JSRC visited Namie (ghost) Town and its seaside, only 4 to 5 km from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, where its 21,000 residents are still unable to return, but for a limited amount of time. The streets of Namie Town were indeed empty from any form of life, except for the crows flying over the houses, curious about human activities which are mostly drivers moving 30 km/h and police patrols occasionally getting out to get a closer glance at improbable sights. Electronic goods, such as refrigerators, TVs, radios, or microwaves have been systematically stored on sidewalks, probably to avoid fires or electric joint dislocations inside a deserted zone. ATMs at shopping malls showed signs of vandalism, broken glasses clearly undue to the 3/11 earthquake. The town in general looks like the time had stopped since March 11, 2011.
The seaside fields, where the tsunami hit mostly seems untouched. Fishing boats lay forgotten. The tidal wave brought them on the coast when it intruded the land.
If you want a virtual tour of the place, you can also check out The New York Times blog on the Google Street Views of the ghost town