Yomiuri Shinbun Shizuoka local version (3/1/2012):
Mayor of Shimada City in Shizuoka Prefecture Katsuro Sakurai revealed his plan on February 29 to formally declare the city's acceptance of disaster debris. The city conducted the test burning the debris in the melting furnace. As to the start date of the burning/melting, he only said that he would consult with the national and prefectural governments as the issue of transporting the debris remains.
During the regular press conference on February 29, Mayor Sakurai said the detailed test results from the test burning/melting including the radioactivity of the exhaust gas would be known on March 12 or 13, and that the results would be shared with the local district (where the melting furnace and the final disposal site are located) and with the City Assembly. However, he made it clear that he would not ask for permission from the local district [residents] when he decides to accept the debris.
The city plans to bury the fly ashes from the melting furnace in the city's final disposal site. The national government's guideline allows burying materials in the final disposal sites if the radioactivity is 8000 becquerels/kg or less. Mayor Sakurai said the city would have its own standard of 500 becquerels/kg for the fly ashes from the burning/melting of the mix (household garbage mixed with disaster debris). "If the radioactivity of the fly ashes exceeds 500 becquerels/kg, the ashes won't be buried in the final disposal site", the mayor said.
Mayor Sakurai referred to the announcement on February 28 by Shizuoka City that it would conduct test burning, and said, "Shimada City could accept only a small portion of the disaster debris. I am very happy that other municipalities are moving toward accepting it. I am satisfied that I was able to get the ball rolling."
When I tweeted this Yomiuri article yesterday to my Japanese twitter followers, they were incredulous that this mayor would say things like this in a "democracy". Many people were saying "This cannot be allowed in a democracy!" Then, one person started to muse, "Maybe the definition of 'democracy' has changed..."
When governors and mayors like Mr. Sakurai says "local residents or district", they most certainly do not mean each individual resident in the district. They simply mean the heads of the self-governing neighborhood associations. As long as those heads agree, that's all that matters. Often, these heads of the neighborhood associations are prominent residents with ties with the politicians and officials and business interests that would be greatly promoted with such close ties.