A preparatory meeting for the fourth meeting of the “Joint Council convened between DPJ Prefectural Headquarters Fukushima and DPJ Headquarters” (tentative translation) was held in the Diet building on the afternoon of May 18. The Joint Council was established to accelerate the implementation of policies that fully reflect the thoughts of the residents of Fukushima and the situation within the prefecture, in order to accelerate reconstruction efforts following the nuclear accident.
In the opening remarks, Acting Secretary General Shinji Tarutoko stressed the contributions of the Joint Council, which has listened to the voices of municipalities and local organizations and coordinated their requests with the implementation of activities in a continuous manner from Tokyo. The Council has thus far addressed requests in as many as 245 categories, advancing a variety of issues such as the exemption from highway tolls for those evacuating from the nuclear accident in Fukushima, and the one-year extension of the period during which emergency temporary housing is provided. In addition, Tarutoko expressed his view that Japan still had a long way to go for reconstruction from this massive disaster, stating, “We must put further energy toward addressing unsettled issues. As the ruling party of Japan, the DPJ will continue to make every effort with the belief that ‘without the revitalization of Fukushima, there can be no revitalization for Japan.’” He also stated, “Work toward the revitalization of Fukushima must be undertaken in a bipartisan way. As the ruling party, we will continue to act as the driving force for reconstruction, in cooperation with opposition parties.”
Following Tarutoko’s address, House of Councillors Member Teruhiko Mashiko (Acting Representative of the DPJ Prefectural Headquarters Fukushima) introduced comments made by a leader of municipalities of Fukushima Prefecture during a speech at a meeting in Tokyo a few days earlier. The leader of municipalities remarked, “The participants at this meeting seem to think that Fukushima always makes unreasonable demands. One year and three months on from the disaster, I believe that Fukushima should no longer be merely an existence begging for support. As a leader of Fukushima, I feel urgently that we must present a proactive and constructive attitude toward the hard work of reconstruction, lest we be forsaken by the Japanese people.” Mashiko commented, “The leader indicated an important perspective. As the ruling party’s prefectural headquarters, we would like to cooperate closely with the municipal leaders in Fukushima.” Mashiko also brought up the spread of unfounded rumors related to the food products of Fukushima, stating, “It is critical that we put an end to these unfounded rumors immediately. DPJ Prefectural Headquarters Fukushima will address this in order to prevent the forgetting of Fukushima. We will work as one in cooperation with party headquarters. As Fukushima citizens ourselves, we will work hard with belief in the slogan, ‘without the revitalization of Fukushima there can be no revitalization for Japan.’ Please give us your cooperation and support.”
The meeting discussed the nine issues to be deliberated at the forthcoming Council meeting, such as: 1) compensation for the nuclear power accident; 2) securing funds for reconstruction; and 3) coordinating inspections on the radioactivity of agricultural, forestry, and manufactured products. The meeting selected focus areas for each issue, and Secretary General of DPJ Prefectural Headquarters in Fukushima Tamotsu Munakata along with members of the local assembly submitted a petition to Tarutoko.