What's the point of holding a white balloon and chanting "Saikado Hantai!" to the tune of an organization with strange personalities and creed every Friday at Prime Minister's Official Residence, as if it's some kind of fashion statement to do so? Not much.
Particularly when just about everybody, from the top government officials on down and including you and me, continue to (or choose to) be ignorant of what has been happening to the people who had to evacuate their homes after the March 11, 2011 nuclear accident, with no prospect of going back any time soon.
An organization called "Enechen" ("energy change", in Japanese English) is asking for help so that they can at least provide hot meals to the 200 evacuees from Futaba-machi who continue to live in the classrooms in a closed high school building in Saitama Prefecture where the town's government has temporarily relocated. They are mostly elderly residents, and they have nowhere else to go.
After nearly 17 months since the accident, the country is quite happy having them live in classrooms with card board partitions.
From the organization's website (8/12/2012):
Project to provide Futaba-machi Shelter (at former Kisai High School in Saitama Prefecture) with hot meals
As of August 2012, about 200 elderly residents at Futaba-machi Shelter continue to live in the rooms partitioned with corrugated cardboards in a closed school building, with all their meals in bento (boxed lunch/dinner), 1 year and 4 months since they evacuated there.
Hardly any hot meals are served any more, except for hot miso soups once a week, we've learned.
We want to provide these people with hot meals, so we have launched this project.
Current condition of Futaba-machi Shelter (former Kisai High School in Saitama Prefecture)
People from Futaba-machi, who had evacuated to Saitama Super Arena right after the start of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, moved to the building of former Kisai High School in Kazo City in Saitama Prefecture after March 30, 2011.
It's been about one year and 4 months since then. Initially there were more than 1,000 evacuees staying at the high school building, but most have moved out to temporary housing. However, as of August 2012, there are still 210 people living in the school building.
Most of them are elderly people, and it seems they have various reasons or problems that prevent them from living independently.
We went to visit them the other day. After a year and 4 months at this shelter, people still receive bento (meal in a box) for daily three meals. The rooms where they sleep seem to be fitted with air conditioning systems. People partition part of the gymnasium with cardboards, or use classrooms with other people, to spread their futons to sleep.
Meals are distributed at a certain location within the school building, and people take the meals [in bento box] to their rooms to eat. But depending on the location of their rooms, the location to receive meals is too far, and many elderly residents are finding it inconvenient.
Nothing has been decided what will happen to these more than 200 people at this shelter.
Time passes, with no prospect for the future.
What have the national government, and the municipal government, been doing?
There are many people who still suffer from the nuclear accident. Most haven't even received the compensation money.
But the government's priorities are the restart [of the nuclear power plants], decontamination that benefits big businesses, and appointment of commissioners [who are nuclear industry insiders] for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
We are appalled, speechless. But let's try and help each other, and together we will do what we can, one thing at a time.
The site has the photographs of the shelter (former high school building), kindly avoiding photographing the elderly residents who still remain there:
"Kizuna" support messages (Uggghhh...):
Public space inside the building - TV room, telephone center, physical therapy clinic:
The organization is asking for donations at their website for this particular project, here.
Japan is still the third largest economy in the world, by the way, after the US and China, giving billions and trillions of yen to international organization or squandering equal amount of money trying to cheapen the currency.