Arab News Japan
TOKYO: Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of displaced persons, has urged Japan’s national and local governments and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to comply with the charter of human rights toward residents in the Fukushima area who were displaced by the nuclear accident at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.
Jimenez-Damary was in Japan from September 27 to October 7 to document the present situation of residents who were evacuated from their homes following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the nuclear accident.
During her stay, Jimenez-Damary met with nuclear refugees in Fukushima Prefecture and heard first-hand accounts of their continued struggles to return to their former lives.
Jimenez-Damary said the refugees had told her of their difficulties in returning to their land of origin and that even if their homes were decontaminated, it was impossible to grow vegetables due to the residual contamination of radiation. Many displaced children have also suffered discrimination and bullying.
On the last day of her stay in Japan, the UN Special Rapporteur praised the authorities for being able to independently investigate those displaced after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. However, she noted that 11 years have passed since the disaster and it was the duty of the Japanese state and TEPCO, as well as local prefectural governments, to support the displaced financially and to respect the free choice of the displaced to decide whether or not to return to their land.
Jimenez-Damary added that the displaced, whether they were evacuated voluntarily or were evacuated by the authorities, were still Japanese citizens. She pointed out that 20 percent were unemployed and faced financial difficulties and that many divorces had broken up families.