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Fukushima fallout: Resentment towards evacuees grows in nearby Japanese city

Published on Aug 31, 2014 11:17 AM
A view shows the Izumitamatsuyu temporary housing estate, where 200 former Tomioka town residents have evacuated to, in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

IWAKI, Japan (Reuters) - Like many of her neighbours, Ms Satomi Inokoshi worries that her gritty hometown is being spoiled by the newcomers and the money that have rolled into Iwaki since the Fukushima nuclear disaster almost 31/2 years ago.

"Iwaki is changing - and not for the good," said Ms Inokoshi, 55, who echoes a sentiment widely heard in this town of almost 300,000 where the economic boom that followed the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl has brought its own disruption.

Property prices in Iwaki, about 60km south of the wrecked nuclear plant, have jumped as evacuees forced from homes in more heavily contaminated areas snatch up apartments and land. Hundreds of workers, who have arrived to work in the nuclear clean-up, crowd downtown hotels.

But long-time residents have also come to resent evacuees and the government compensation that has made the newcomers relatively rich in a blue-collar town built on coal mining and access to a nearby port. Locals have stopped coming to the entertainment district where Ms Inokoshi runs a bar, she says, scared off by the nuclear workers and their rowdy reputation.

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