April 30(Saturday)

No. 18 [Visit] Fukushima Evacuation Centers, 41 Days After the Incident at the Nuclear Power Station

 

The following is a record of the exchanges between the Prime Minister and evacuees at each center. This footage was taken by a cameraman accompanying the Prime Minister, and naturally does not show those whom the Prime Minister was unable to speak with. There were physical and temporal limits to the Prime Minister's visit, which can be overcome only by imagining the feelings of those not shown in this footage. Actually, at one point during the visit an evacuee called out to the Prime Minister, "What, just passing by? Going home already?" As those travelling with the Prime Minister hesitated momentarily about what to do, the Prime Minister himself turned back and went to talk with the person who voiced this comment. The Prime Minister will continue speaking directly with individual members of the public.

 

 

Tamura City Gymnasium, Fukushima

<A man confronts the Prime Minister to make a loud request>

Man: I understand well that you are working hard, but you need to do more! Please work harder to bring the situation at the nuclear power station under stable control. Please!

 

<The Prime Minister explains the no-entry zone to a woman kneeling formally alone in her room made out of cardboard>

Prime Minister: While the Government draws up its plans, the police are working hard to stop burglars from entering the area and to keep a good watch on each neighborhood. We are currently making plans so that not too long from now, residents will be able to take turns making home visits.

 

Woman: I am grateful to hear it. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

 

Prime Minister: No, it is I who should be thanking you.

 

<A couple makes an appeal to the Prime Minister. At the back, their daughter holds her baby in her arms.>

Woman: Please do something quickly. This isn't for us - we don't have very much longer to live. But the children still have their futures ahead of them. I'm sure your work is very difficult and you are working hard, but please do something to contain the situation at the nuclear power station.

 

Prime Minister: I can only imagine how difficult it must be to live in an evacuation center for so long. For the children as well I promise to do everything I can.

 

Man: Please do.

 

Big Palette Fukushima, Koriyama City, Fukushima

The next destination was a large facility housing about 1,500 people.

 

<One after another, people shout out requests and shake hands with the Prime Minister>

Man: Please do something soon about the nuclear power station.

 

Prime Minister: I will work hard to bring the situation under stable control.

 

Woman: Please, let me visit my home.

 

Prime Minister: We are now drawing up plans for temporary visits.

 

Woman: Please let us go back home soon.

 

<The Prime Minister speaks with a couple kneeling down formally>

Prime Minister: I know things are very difficult right now.

 

Woman: Thank you for your concern. I'm glad.

 

Prime Minister: The Government and the country will do everything we can for you.

 

(Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama: Please take care of yourself.)

 

<A woman makes a crying plea to the Prime Minister>

Woman: I want to go back home.

 

Man: We all want to go back home.

 

Prime Minister: It will take a little more time, but the Government is doing all that it can. I understand that things must be truly difficult right now.

 

<A series of handshakes>

There was one thing that the Prime Minister felt more strongly than anything else as each person approached to give him words of encouragement and shake his hand...

 

<The Prime Minister answers questions from reporters at the evacuation center>

Prime Minister: After going to the evacuation centers and listening to their stories, I asked myself whether I genuinely understood the feelings of everyone there. And I realized that we need to think about each issue more from the standpoint of the disaster victims. I strongly felt this yet again during this visit.

 

<The Prime Minister speaks to an elderly man who gets up from his bed in tears>

Prime Minister: No need to get up, you are fine where you are. Please take care of yourself.

 

Man: Thank you.

 

Prime Minister: It's truly tough right now, but please take care of yourself.

 

Young man next to the elderly man: We're counting on you.

 

Prime Minister: I'll do my best.

 

<A man whose house is 65km from the evacuation center>

Man: Mr. Prime Minister, please make Tomioka Town become as close as possible. Right now, my house is now farther away to me than the United States. If I wanted to go to the United States, I could fly there...

 

<The following day's press conference at the Prime Minister's Office>

Prime Minister: "I can visit the United States in a little over 10 hours, but I may not be able to visit my own house in weeks, maybe even months. I want to go back home soon. Please help me." ...The Government must do everything in its power to help those who had to leave their homes... I felt this yet again very strongly during my trip.



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