Just as Goshi Hosono as Minister of the Environment (he is still the minister in charge of the nuclear accident) said the other day, the mayor of Shimada City in Shizuoka Prefecture is confident that "baseless rumors" will disappear once the disaster debris is spread all over Japan.
What kind of "baseless rumors"? In case of Shimada City, it's a "baseless rumor" that the green tea grown in Shimada City may get contaminated with radioactive materials from burning of the disaster debris contaminated with radioactive fallout from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident and from burying the ashes in the final disposal site that has dubious records for safety.
The mayor has told the city residents who oppose the debris burning to take a hike, saying he will do whatever he wants to do anyway. The city's state-of-the-art melting furnace needs "fuel", and that will be the disaster debris.
The waste disposal company president turned mayor of Shimada even worries about the mental health of the residents in the disaster affected area, in the article below.
No word about the mental health of the residents of his own city.
From Hibi Zakkan blog quoting the article on March 19, 2012 that has since disappeared except on two sites (3/20/2012):
(From Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting Co's news on 3/19/2012)
Mayor of Shimada City, Shizuoka met with Governor of Iwate Prefecture
Mayor Sakurai of Shimada City, Shizuoka who decided to accept disaster debris in Iwate Prefecture met with Governor Tasso of Iwate Prefecture on March 19. He told the governor that he wants to increase the amount of debris per shipment to expedite the debris removal at the disaster affected areas.
"I will do as much as I can to help." (Mayor Sakurai, Shimada City, Shizuoka Prefecture)
"Thank you, please do." (Governor Tasso, Iwate Prefecture)
Mayor Sakurai of Shimada City, Shizuoka Prefecture, who decided last week to accept disaster debris in Iwate Prefecture, met with Governor Tasso of Iwate and Minister Hosono on March 19 at the Ministry of the Environment, and said "I want to do as much as I can" to accept disaster debris.
Shimada City is to accept 5,000 tonnes of debris per year, but Mayor Sakurai expressed interest in increasing the amount of debris per shipment. He said removing the debris from the disaster affected areas as soon as possible would improve the mental health of the residents in the disaster affected areas.
Mayor Sakurai also touched upon the "baseless rumors" causing damage to the green tea industry in Shimada City because of [his decision] to accept [and burn] the debris. "If disaster debris are accepted in various parts of Japan, there will be no baseless rumors", he said, highlighting the need for tackling the disaster debris disposal on the national scale.
As far as the Ministry of the Environment is concerned, it looks like the "escalation of commitment". As early as March 14, 2011, the ministry was sending out a letter to the national waste disposal industry association asking for cooperation in wide-area disposal of disaster debris. It was followed up by another letter, this time to the governors, on April 8, 2011 asking for cooperation. At that time, there was no mention of "radioactive contamination", and no mention of specific prefectures affected by the disaster.
This is strange, as disaster debris from the Kobe earthquake was never distributed far and wide, and Hyogo Prefecture (where Kobe is located) did almost all disposal by itself.
Oh I get it. The ministry and the waste disposal industry lobby didn't want to repeat the "mistake" of disaster debris distributed all over Japan with fat subsidies to benefit the industry, so they moved very, very quickly, even as the radioactive fallout from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was descending on the debris.
By the way, Governor Tasso of Iwate Prefecture is a graduate of Tokyo University (law) and a former career bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry. All too familiar story these days, of ex-bureaucrat governors and mayors eager to help the national government, sometimes with the help of vice mayors who are bureaucrats in the ministries on leave.