(LinkAsia: February 10, 2012)
It's not just the nuclear industry that's having trouble restarting. Japan's fisheries still can't shake off the effects of last spring's earthquake and tsunami. First, the disaster damaged seafood processing plants. Now, NHK says the industry is facing another hurdle that's preventing it from restarting operations.
NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: February 6, 2012
The disaster last spring left its mark on Ishinomaki. It took the lives of nearly 3,300 residents and left the city in ruins. Factories that process seafood were so badly damaged, they couldn't operate. Now the industry is trying to get back on its feet, but it's proving difficult. Takashi Yokoyama owns a seafood processing company. He's building a new plant where the old one stood. He expects to get production rolling again in August. He offered jobs to his former employees, but many turned him down. A lot of them had found other jobs.
Takashi Yokoyama, Suishin:
Some now live with relatives in Tokyo. Others have moved to Sendai, the nearest big city. They found new jobs. At least my former employees are not coming back to work for me.
He's found it impossible to hire new employees to replace the former ones. He's not alone. Many other seafood companies in the devastated region face the same problem. This company started processing seafood again last October, at a factory that had not suffered major damage. But the firm was only able to re-hire seven former employees, half the number working there before the disaster. Noriyuki Hobara owns the company. He asked the local employment agency for seven workers. He waited by the phone. But after four months, no one had applied.
Noriyuki Hobara, Hobara Company:
I thought I would get at least a few calls. But there hasn't been a single one. I simply cannot start a business without workers.
Hobara says people have found higher paying jobs in the building industry, booming now that re-construction has started. Many people need the higher paying jobs to make up for lost wages.
I hear that construction jobs are paying about $130 a day. The truth is that jobs in the seafood industry pay less. We pay about USD$80 a day.
Hobara again asks the employment agency for workers. This time, he offered higher wages, even though his business might lose money.
I decided to raise the wage from USD$80 a day to USD$130.
That's equal to the salary plant managers receive.
I would appreciate it if you could find me one or two people. Obviously, you can't do anything at all without workers. All I want is to hire people and get the business running again.
First, it was the earthquake and tsunami that stopped the plants' operations. Now, it's the rebuilding. Unless the seafood companies find employees, it will take longer for this devastated city to recover.
(LinkAsia: February 3, 2012)
Now to Japan, where last spring's earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear disaster. Seventy-eight thousand people fled the area surrounding the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. And this week, the mayor of one village called on residents to return home. But are they safe from radiation? Here's NHK with the story.
NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: January 31, 2012
Kawauchi village is located about 20 kilometers southwest of the plant. It was evacuated last year following the March 11th earthquake and nuclear disaster. All 3,000 residents were forced to leave. The evacuation advisory was lifted in September, but only about 200 people have returned.
Yuko Endo, Kawauchi Mayor:
I am making this declaration to ask and encourage residents to return home. I am determined to overcome hardships. Let's create a safe village together.
Endo announced on Tuesday he will return to Village Hall in March. He says elementary and junior high schools will re-open in April. The nuclear accident forced a complete evacuation of nine municipalities in Fukushima. Kawauchi will be the first to have residents return home, but many are worried. They say decontamination work is behind schedule.
My child wants to go home, but I'm worried about radioactivity. I have mixed feelings.
Another concern is jobs. There were 95 businesses in the village, but only 35 have re-opened since the quake.
Yuko Endo, Kawauchi Mayor:
The declaration is only the beginning. I'm not expecting results soon. I hope villagers come home after all radioactive substances have been removed, maybe in two or three years.
(Euronews: 0615 PST, April 14, 2011) Japanese government scientists are concerned that another massive earthquake could be on the way. Aftershocks are continuing to shake Japan's northeast coast on an almost daily basis; on Thursday morning a tremor measuring 6.1 was registered.
"On March 11 (the day of the original earthquake and tsunami) there was an extremely large magnitude 7.7 aftershock off the coast of Ibaraki prefecture and so that's the the biggest aftershock at the present time," said Keiji Doi, Japan Meteorological Agency's head of earthquake prediction.