Monday, August 27, 2012

Elderly Evacuees from Futaba-machi Living in School Bldg in Saitama Will Be Made to Pay for Their Boxed Meals, Starting September 1st

What a country. Wonder of the Orient.

Just remember that this country (Japan) is still the third largest economy in the world. But after more than 17 months since the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear accident, hardly anyone cares that these people are still living in school classrooms. It's worse than not caring, because now they will charge for the bento (meal in a box), which will cost these elderly residents 30,000 to 40,000 yen per person per month (US$381 to 508 per person per month).

Where do they have such money? No one cares. The evacuees from the same town, Futaba-machi, who have moved to temporary housing and other rental properties, have complained that they are not getting free meals, so everyone gotta pay, to be fair.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (8/24/2012):


Due to conflict with the Futaba-machi residents living on their own, evacuees at the Futaba-machi shelter [in Saitama] will have to pay for their bento (meal in a box)


Starting September, the evacuees staying in the school building of former Kisai High School in Kazo City in Saitama Prefecture will have to pay for the bento meals that they receive.


The reason why the town has decided to charge for bento was the strong demand for equality from the town residents who have already left the school building and live on their own. However, the residents who still remain in the school building are resentful of the new charge. The conflict between the residents could be the result of the extended stay in the shelter for nearly one and a half year, with inadequate support for self-reliance and recovery.


The Kisai High School shelter is the last remaining public shelter opened after the March 11, 2011 disaster. About 210 residents live there, and bento meals are provided free of charge under the Disaster Relief Act.


[About these free meals,] there has been a silent resentment against this "special treatment" from the town's residents who have moved to temporary housing and rental houses and live on their own [and who have to pay for their own food].


Starting September 1, a bento distributor in Kazu City will sell bento meals for 1,100 to 1,250 yen [US$14 to 16] per three meals per day. It will cost 30,000 to 40,000 yen [US$381 to 508] per person per month.


On the night of August 21, about 70 evacuees at the school gathered together talked. According to people who participated, most were against paying for the meals. There was an elderly man who lamented, "So, if I cannot pay for the bento, that means they are telling me to just die." In fact, most of the evacuees who remain in the shelter are over 65 years old, and some need medical assistance.


On the other hand, there are residents at the shelter who say "We cannot go on living like this." According to the Ministry of Health and Labor, the school remains a public shelter even after the town starts to charge for bento meals. Under the Disaster Relief Act, emergency shelters are to be opened for 7 days. It will be 1 year and 5 months since the shelter was opened at the school, well beyond the initial expectation.


The Ministry official says, "We don't think it's right to have these people in the shelter for such a long time. We would like to consult with Fukushima Prefecture so that the residents can move to houses and facilities where they can live comfortably."

This is a country where they charge the workers in Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant for their meals. So charging the old residents who have nowhere else to go for their meager bento boxes to achieve fairness is just what you expect.


Anonymous said...

OK let's see, just to be fair people have to buy farmers contaminated produce and the contaminated waste must be shared out too (even if there isn't enough to go around). Just to be fair everybody has to pitch in to help with the decontamination even little kids that are more susceptible to radiations effects. Just to be fair the government conducts an opinion poll only to ignore the results because it doesn't properly represent the "silent majority". And now just to be fair the last few forgotten and displaced victims have to pay for their rations because the government can't find them proper living arraignments. Fair must mean something different in Japanese.

It's almost like charging inmates to stay in jail, oh wait a minute.

Anonymous said...

This is not an anti-American comment, but an anti- Noda, Edano etc point. I recently went to Okinawa and stayed in an area with a lot of US soldiers living there. I found out that the three story houses with a little yard and two car garage are for the families of us military. I also found out that the Japanese govt not only subsidises a lot of this housing, but also foots the bill for electricity, water etc.
But, when I went to Minimi Soma and around, I heard about Japanese citizens who paid tax all their lives, living in school gyms. I just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

To anonymouses (he he) up here, the answer is :
"This is Japan !"
I never had deeper answers, although I read and discussed a lot about Japan, where I live some months every year.
Anon at 1:38 very nice reading ! Thanks a lot !

Anonymous said...

It has been since the dawn of man, that some people take advantage of others.

In this case the government has no choice. Japan is no longer the 3rd largest economy. This is the thing that the Japanese people need to understand.

The economy is on a precipitous downslide.

Right now, imports exceed exports for the first time in years. Right now, companies are moving factories elsewhere. Right now there are the tremendous costs of attempting to clean up radiation ( which is futile, the plants are still emitting radiation). Right now there are nearly 100,000 evacuees from the radiation zone. Right now, there are increasing numbers of people with serious medical problems from radiation. Right now the best doctors, and businessmen are moving their families out of Japan. You will no longer have access to their skills. Right now there are still costs of rebuilding from the earthquake and Tsunami.

If you live in Japan, do you think the economic decline will turn positive or continue negative based on the above?

There is nothing fair about catastrophe. Especially one that can be hidden from the people as it spreads.


Greyhawk said...

I don't want to see any Americans attacking Japan over this. One of our biggest political parties is doing all it can to leave the elderly, infirm and poor in the same situation the Japanese evacuees are in. It seems this old fashioned meanness is global.

Anonymous said...

@anon 4:32am

It is called 1954 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement, which stems from article 9 of the Japanese constitution "The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes", and also, "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained."

The JSDF is a branch of the national police force they lack offensive capabilities such as aircraft carriers, long-range surface-to-surface missiles, ballistic missiles, strategic bombers, marines, amphibious units, and large caches of ammunition. What do you think is cheaper, paying to billet a foreign military force or buying an entire new tier of offensive capacity and maintaining them along with the indigenous forces to operate them? (Never mind that doing so would break the law.) Both Germany and Japan's economy's were spared the ridiculous waste of a useless cold war military build up and both countries flourished.

The reason Japan subsidizes the US military is they are paying to rely on the US to deter aggression from North Korea and China. Without the US presence Japan probably wouldn't be arguing over the Senkaku islands with the Chinese.

m a x l i said...

Anonymous at 10:18 am
Cheaper would be no military - neither foreign, nor indigenous. What is so important about dropping bombs on people? I don't get it!

When you say Germany was spared a cold war military build-up, you don't know what you are talking about. I was an involuntary part of that build-up.

If your theory about flourishing was true, Afghanistan should be a flourishing country by now, after 11 years of the helping hand of protection from outsiders.

Anonymous said...

The solution is for TEPCO to pay for damages to these people..for their homes, and their gardens and much much more. What has TEPCO or the Japanese government done for the displaced people? How much has been spent to obtain new homes/housing at the same level the people had before?

Oh..and from all I can Japan it seems you are ignored if its from radiation --or other big business (read $) or government caused problem.Am I wrong? Just Saying...

Anonymous said...

Last I heard, Hurricane Katrina victims are still living in contaminated camper vans or something. I guess it's humanity's idea of "moving forward" - go into denial and pretend everything's okay.

Regarding the US military family housing... I'd imagine it's because countries like to try and make themselves look grand and hospitable to other countries. "Put in a good word for us" sort of thing. It's kind of like how Australia sells all its good beef to other countries and keeps the garbage beef for its own people.

Another example is how Australia teaches advanced English to exchange students, but fails miserably at teaching basic English to its own citizens. Last I heard, the majority of people educated in Australia still don't know what nouns or verbs are. I've heard the mainstream media blaming text messaging for that.

Anonymous said...

what's fair is fair, or they can achieve victory by retreating deep into their minds like the movie Brazil

CaptD said...

Europe is planning on decommissioning its reactors: so should Japan!

The first Country that converts to Solar (of all flavors) will rule the World, since dwindling Earth resources that have "peaked" will no longer be available! Think Copper and all the rare earth metals, without these there will be no Solar (of all flavors) conversion! China is way ahead of every Country except Germany with the USA & Japan still wondering what they should do... The Nuclear Industries grip on US & Japanese Politicians receiving some sort of Nuclear Payback* will prove to be "costly" as the USA & Japan has to beg other Countries for the resources they needs while paying exorbitant prices for them!

Read the book "Red Alert" for more...


Those that support nuclear power because nuclear power somehow supports them; no matter what the health implications or other “costs” are for others.

JAnonymous said...

Beware, this is a serious comment (from *me*, of all people :P )

Primavera-san, tell me if I'm wrong, but based on your text, it sounds like other people from the same town complained. The reason for complaining is that the complainers are in temporary housing, meaning that they have to pay for stuffd, whereas those "hosted" in the derelict school don't have.

Now, this is the very nature of a distressed human soul. People look around, trying to find out whose better off, then complain. I have firsthand experience of this. It's going to be long tho.

After 11.3.11, I helped a small NPO that was trying to help in Miyagi prefecture. People lost their house, were hosted in schools, sports centers, etc... When prefab housings were completed, people were urged to move out from shelters to temporary housing.

Nevertheless, NOBODY was willing to. The reason is, shelter was free (free food, free utilities) whereas temporary housing was not (need to pay city gaz, electricity, water, as well as food). The obvious reason is that with no salary, but a house mortgage to pay for a few more years, there's only so much you can afford.

Gradually, either as people started finding new jobs, or as disaster compensation money (not the TEPCO related thing, this was Miyagi) started flowing in, people moved. The interesting thing is, some moved to prefab, but some moved to rental places close to the prefabs. I can't blame them. I've been to those places several times and they just look like fancy containers with a window and a door.

So now, there are three kind of people :
- Shelter housed, free: rent, utilities, food
- Prefab housed, free: rent; pay: utilities, food
- Rental place, pay: rent, utilities, food

Of course, it is everyone's choice to live either here, or there. Of course, family from outside the prefecture can help pay some bills, and so on. Of course, everybody has different means, backgrounds, etc...

But still, people kept comparing and complaining. We had lots of house appliances and furniture we collected from people who fled like rats or who contacted us before moving out.

But it was a daunting task to get the approval from the prefab villages councils to be able to even show a list to evacuees. They could then choose from this list and we would deliver the stuff. Every time we did that, some people came complaining they were not shown the list, and so on...

Another thing we did is takidashi (炊き出し) where we gather some volunteers to prepare a meal for the people in the prefab village (of course, shelter people have free food but at that time nobody complained).

We usually had some handouts provided by companies like Lion (a japanese P&G) with drugstore goods. In those places, it was obvious that some people came multiple times (they might have been trying to build a Eiffel tower out of toilet paper) while some people had each person of the family come once (maybe only the Las Vegas replica this time ?) but the majority only took one bag.

In the circumstances of a tremendous disaster, the community became a striking mirror of human soul and one could witness the true self of each and every person. What I could see in those villages is that most of the people were humble and shy (especially while receiving this kind of free help) but a fair amount were greedy and hot-tempered.

It then came as no surprise to me, that the poorest people still living in shelters were being envied by those who do not get the same benefits. I'd like to add that all the people living in Miyagi shelters received free house appliances via donations from the Red Cross or big home electronics outlets (biccamera, yodobashi, etc...) : fridge, air conditioner, washing machine... We could play those kid's games for days, comparing who's worst off.

One solution would be to have the bento price depending on the amount of income tax they pay (compensated by a government subsidy). I would hope that jobless and sheltered people would then pay nothing. And complainers would... complain ?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

JA, yes, it was the residents from the same town who complained, because these old folks sleeping in the school classrooms with cardboard partitions are getting free bento.

Many in the school building seem to have nowhere else to go, don't have money to pay for bento.

m a x l i said...

@CaptD: Your first link is from 06/06/2012. In the meantime the situation in the US has changed slightly. As far as I understand it, there will be no relicensing and no new constructions, until the industry comes up with a solution for the nuclear waste. Have a look here:

Some other detail in your first link is not correct. If everything goes to the latest plan, Germany will switch off its last reactor by 2022, not 2030! I'v seen that false 2030 number quite often; it spreads like a virus.

Personally, I think it will go much faster - everywhere. Currently Japan is trying to keep the bad news in containment, but the pressure is building up. Venting will be too late (again). Then you will see an explosion of bad news, and you can see other countries running from nuclear power.

Anonymous said...

@m a x l i

In the US it isn't the nuclear industry that is responsible for coming up with a solution to the nuclear waste problem. By law it is the US government's problem to store the waste from commercial NPP's for thousands of years. The US taxpayer has been paying for onsite waste storage since the government reneged on it's contractual responsibilities in the 1980's. The nuclear industry doesn't pay the actual costs of fuel enrichment or waste disposal if they did they would have gone out of business long ago.

The current stall of NRC licenses isn't really that big of a win for the anti-nuclear side because it will probably be used to create enough political pressure to rush through a commercial nuclear waste repository regardless of what the science says. The license freeze doesn't effect all the license extensions the NRC has already granted which is the majority. Only about 13 plants are going to be left out in the cold by the NRC's decision.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko was pushed out of office for blocking Yucca Mt. the new Chairperson will probably go with salt dome sequestration even though the WIPP might be based on flawed science. (see comments in link below)

m a x l i said...

@Anonymous on AUGUST 29, 2012 9:48 PM (Sometimes I wish not nearly everyone here would go by the name Anonymous)
Thanks for explaining in plain English!
The world is not fair! My government does not pay for my fuel and my waste disposal. Maybe that might change if I was able to deliver them some über-fantastic stuff needed for a weapon which is able to blast the other part of the globe into the fifth dimension.

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