"I cannot believe that a nuclear reactor has been restarted when the prospects of decommissioning the stricken Fukushima plant are still unclear," he says. "It's absurd, and rattles the nerves of those of us who have had to evacuate." As a result of the Fukushima crisis, the 79-year-old Anbe has been forced to flee his home in the prefectural town of Namie and is temporarily living in Shimotsuke, Tochigi Prefecture. He is among the 110,000 people still evacuated, four years and five months since the disaster broke out.
Anbe has a bitter past. In the latter half of the 1960s, Tohoku Electric Power Co. announced the possibility of building a nuclear power plant in Namie and neighboring areas. The planned site was approximately one kilometer east of Anbe's home. Convinced that such a plant would bring more jobs to his town, Anbe agreed to allow the road behind his home to be used as a route to the plant. He worked to obtain the support of other local residents and took care of the road, cutting the grass that grew on it.
Ultimately, due to residents' objections and other factors, the plan fell through. Looking back, Anbe says, "I completely believed in nuclear power's 'safety myth.' I should've done more research."
His love for his hometown goes back 70 years, to the end of World War II. When his two older brothers returned from the battlefield, they expressed relief that even though Japan had lost the war, they had a hometown to return to. They told him that now that peace had arrived, they should work to make their hometown into a great place. With that ambition in his heart, Anbe took over the family's farming business, expanded their farmland to six hectares, and devoted himself to growing rice.
His home in Namie is in a zone designated as preparing for the lifting of an evacuation directive. Because he believes his hometown will cease to exist unless its residents return, Anbe is planning to go back as soon as the evacuation order is lifted. An increasing number of residents are giving up any hopes of returning, however, disappointed that the crisis is far from being brought under control.
"Our hometown survived the war, but this time it might really disappear," Anbe laments. And that fear is what pushes him to object to the reactivation of nuclear reactors, which feels to him like pretending the Fukushima disaster never happened.