Takumi Nemoto, the Japanese government minister in charge of reconstruction efforts in areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, made a visit over the weekend to Chernobyl in the Ukraine. He went to see the eastern European country’s nuclear power plant that, prior to Fukushima, was the location in 1986 of the world’s worst meltdown accident.
In addition to seeing the historic site, Nemoto was told about how the accident was caused and what happened by Ukrainian government officials and engineers, as well as what the country has had to do in the two and half decades that followed. As Japan is currently undergoing, albeit slowly, the process of decontaminating a large number of residential areas, the Ukrainians explained how they handled their local communities, along with showing how the country stores spent nuclear fuel. Recent months have seen different areas of Fukushima Prefecture re-evaluated for their evacuation status, with some allowing residents to return to living in their homes, and other places that only allow temporary visits.
The goal of Nemoto’s visit is for Japan to learn from the Ukraine about effective decontamination strategies, and how to provide long-term care for residents who lived near the disaster site. The reconstruction minister said that among the issues that need addressing are to keep evacuees informed, a well as offer mental health care. He noted that the Ukraine had a number of facilities providing such care. Volodymyr Kholosha, the head of the State Agency on Exclusion Zone Management, added that it was important both Japan and the Ukraine work together in recovering from their nuclear accidents, as both have something to provide and things to learn.