Sun March 20, 2011

Nuclear Disaster Draws Attention to Rural Population

Since a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan more than a week ago, international attention has been focused on the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.

The plant generates Tokyo's electricity, but it's nowhere near the capital-- in fact, it's 150 miles away. And that means attention is also being focused on the Japan's troubled rural communities.

In Kesennumma City on Japan's northeast coast, officals say local residents may not want to leave their damaged homes. But there's no money for emergency housing. Itsunori Onodera represents Kesennumma in the Japanese parliament. "This is part of the Japanese character," he says. "People want to stay in their hometowns instead of moving out."

And in Minamisoma, which is near the stricken Fukushima reactor, local authorities are complaining that the central government has abandoned them after sealing off everything within a 20-mile radius of the Fukishima plant. Thousands of Minamisoma residents were trapped in their communities until help came from Tokyo's Suginami ward mounted a rescue operation that evacuated some 1600 people. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.