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Local Fukushima Governments get New Mileage to Aid Disaster Evacuees

Dec. 8 – Futaba, Fukushima – Local government offices of Futaba district in the Fukushima prefecture each received a new NV200 Vanette, a donation from Nissan as part of continuing efforts to assist communities still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster.

Futaba District in Fukushima Prefecture

Futaba district, which consist of eight towns and villages, was evacuated following the nuclear emergency, with some 200,000 people affected by the order.

“People had to evacuate, not knowing where to go nor being able to contact each other,” said Shirou Izawa, Futaba’s mayor since March 11, 2013.

Tomioka remains abandoned

“We aim to go back to our town and reconstruct the area, however, radiation problems, decontamination, reconstruction and recovery of the infrastructure are still lagging. So people will have to continue living the same way. The local government is trying to figure out how best to help them.”

Evacuees remained scattered in surrounding areas such as Iwaki and in distant Saitama prefecture, and reaching them to provide critical support remains a key challenge for local government officials.

Nissan donated eight NV200 vans to Futaba

“Town hall members are crisscrossing the region to care for the displaced people, and they really need more cars,” said Shigeru Watanabe, former branch manager of Nissan’s Tomioka dealership.

“We thought we could provide some help concerning this matter.”

Mayors of town and villages in Futaba District at the NV200 handover ceremony

Watanabe lost his home in Namie as well as his workplace in Tomioka after the nuclear accident, and has been told that he will not be able to return home for the foreseeable future. Towns like Futaba, Okuma, Namie, Tomioka and Naraha remain evacuated areas, more than three years after the nuclear disaster and are likely to remain so.

Goverment workers travel long distances to support evacuees

The donation of the vans from Nissan is seen as much needed support for local governments in aiding the evacuees.

“In Hirono town, the only public transportation is the local JR train running once every two hours. Cars are deeply connected with the services that we provide to people, so I am very grateful for this donation,” said Atsushi Sakamoto, in charge of the general affairs department of Hirono’s town office.

“This is not just me, but all the staff in our office and other workers in Futaba districts’ towns and villages.”

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