I read this story today, about efforts to bring residents back to, and rebuild the town of Namie, near the site of the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant. Although I can understand the mayor’s fervent wish and motivation to bring people back to his town, what I don’t understand is why this is still being considered when radiation levels in some areas are still generating ‘hot spots,’ and dismantling of the Fukushima plant is still not far along (estimates, according to this article, are that it will take another 40 years).
If I were to have a fantasy or wish for this area, it would be that the Japanese government take the area over completely, use the area for the time being as a research area for nuclear clean-up, while removing all traces of the nuclear plant, contamination, and the town itself. Then build a new town, based entirely on renewable energy, with an emphasis on integration with plants and wildlife … and present all of this as a model for other towns / regions around the world to use for sustainable community building. Put the best thinkers and planners Japan has to offer into this project – and Japan has plenty such people to offer – and look for ways to also make the region economically profitable.
To rebuild what once was, on a foundation that is no longer safe or stable, seems to me an overly hasty risk and waste of lives, time and resources. As the article points out, young people will likely not return to the rebuilt town … the mayor may get his wish, some residents might return, but they will likely be elderly and the town will still eventually face turning into a ghost town as this small population ages. To me, it makes more sense to level and dismantle everything, create a new foundation for the region and build from this new foundation anew – this would bring not just a younger population; but money, research, tourism and simple interest from around the world.