The push has gotten noticeably stronger in the past week or so, gearing toward the one-year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 disaster.
Even the far-away prefecture like Okinawa, some of whose islands are physically much closer to Taiwan than to the Japanese mainland, eagerly wants disaster debris from Tohoku to be shipped there (I hate to think how much it would cost), much to the despair of parents who have thought they escaped to Okinawa with their children to avoid radiation contamination.
Now, Prime Minister Noda has promised a beefed-up support (i.e. more subsidy, i.e. more taxpayers' money) to those exemplary municipalities who take the debris and burn, on a TV show.
Jiji Tsushin (3/4/2012):
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda appeared on a program aired on Nippon Television in the evening of March 4. About the wide-area processing and disposal of the debris from the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami disaster, he said, "We will have to support the municipalities that will accept the debris. The national government will support the testing of radioactivity, which is the only way to dispel fears. In some cases, the national government will conduct the test", indicating the policy to financially support the municipalities that accept the debris.
The prime minister also promised the financial support from the national government when the municipalities expand the existing disposal sites or build new disposal sites. He said emphatically, "The most important thing is to get approval from people near the disposal sites. If necessary, we will go ourselves to explain to them."
The national government makes it the goal to dispose all the debris by the end of March 2014. However, there is a limit to how much debris can be processed at the disaster affected areas, and the prime minister called for cooperation from municipalities in Japan in wide-area debris processing in the press conference on February 10. However, only Tokyo, Aomori Prefecture, and Yamagata Prefecture have accepted the debris, because of the fear of radiation contamination of the disaster debris.
Oh boy. This prime minister may have been a good speaker on the street corner in his younger days, but he doesn't seem to live in the reality-based world.
1. No one outside the government believes the numbers that the government churns out regarding radiation contamination. Even the ranking official at the Ministry of the Environment has admitted that people do not trust any government numbers.
2. His understanding that the only people that should matter are the residents near the final disposal sites is plain wrong. The debris will be burned elsewhere, and the residents near the incineration plants do matter. Besides, the final disposal sites are often located near or at the water source, and even without radioactive materials there have been numerous problems with contaminated runoffs polluting the water and soil, affecting people and businesses downstream.
3. Capacity to process the debris at the disaster-affected area is a matter of debate right now. More and more municipalities and waste management industry people are saying they want the debris to stay where they are, instead of wasting money to transport it as far away as to Okinawa.
But it doesn't seem to matter to the Japanese government a bit. They seem to think if they repeat the same words over and over again people will get weary and give up.