Japan quake evacuee thanked for ‘audacious’ efforts to stop nuclear plant planned for area – The Mainichi – Inergency

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Japan quake evacuee thanked for ‘audacious’ efforts to stop nuclear plant planned for area – The Mainichi – Inergency







Makoto Tsukamoto’s residence, connected to his temple’s main building, is seen after collapsing in the Noto Peninsula earthquake, in the Takaya district of Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Feb. 1, 2024. (Mainichi/Yoshiya Goto)


SUZU, Ishikawa — This central Japan city’s Takaya district was cut off from the outside world following the devastating Jan. 1 Noto Peninsula earthquake. Even now, the only way in and out is along a narrow, muddy mountain road. Rain and snow make the path treacherous for vehicles.


Around 100 people called the community home before the quake, but since, everyone aside from around 10 who’ve decided to stay have taken refuge at secondary evacuation centers and elsewhere. Among them is an evacuee at a hotel in Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture, who has reportedly been receiving a stream of phone calls from people in various areas thanking him for saving their lives.


The man is 78-year-old Makoto Tsukamoto, chief priest at the Enryuji temple in Takaya. “I wonder if my efforts were really audacious,” Tsukamoto said, looking back on the movement that made him deserving of their appreciation.


In 1975, upon the Suzu Municipal Government’s decision to host a nuclear power plant, Kansai Electric Power Co., Chubu Electric Power Co. and Hokuriku Electric Power Co. jointly developed plans for a plant to be located in Suzu’s Takaya and Jike districts. However, strong local opposition stalled the process, and due to declining energy demand and other factors, the idea was officially “frozen” in 2003.


Tsukamoto had been at the forefront of the opposition.






Makoto Tsukamoto, right, and his wife Eiko are seen at a hotel being used as a secondary evacuation center in Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Jan. 31, 2024. (Mainichi/Yoshiya Goto)


Takaya is very close to the quake’s epicenter. The seabed was pushed up so much that it is impossible for fishing boats to even leave the harbor. Many of those calling to thank Tsukamoto believe the situation might have been much more dire had a nuclear plant been built as planned.


Initially, the entire district was united in opposing the plant proposal, but little by little, some began to “passively support” it. Tsukamoto was continuously harassed for some 10 years, including with silent phone calls every four hours.


“If the plans had been frozen one year later, our protests might have ended,” Tsukamoto recalled.


Tsukamoto’s house was destroyed in the New Year’s Day temblor. Despite suffering a major injury to her leg, the district’s isolated state meant that Tsukamoto’s wife Eiko can not get to a hospital before being airlifted by Self-Defense Forces helicopter on Jan. 3. “If the nuclear plant had been built, I think it might have been even more terrible,” Tsukamoto said.


(Japanese original by Yoshiya Goto, Photo Group)


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