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Long path to recovery for fishermen in Japan's northeast

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The large-scale dumping of radioactive water from the Fukushima plant has now stopped, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), but for Todokoro and many other fishermen, the damage is done.

“The government has set the safe level for fish at 500 becquerels per kilogram. The kounago [an eel-like fish known in English as the young sand launce] that I catch are registering 580 becquerels,” says Todokoro.

“The catch is being tested every other day but the truth is that even if they are declared safe, nobody will buy fish from Ibaraki now,” he says. “Who knows how long it will be before people will want to eat fish from around here again.”

Todokoro has borrowed 1 million yen ($11,900) from the Ibaraki prefectural government to keep himself and his family going. He said this will last him about six more weeks. Tepco is set to make compensation payments to farmers and fishermen who have been affected by the crisis at the nuclear plant, but nobody seems to know when these will start arriving.

“I guess I could borrow more money when this runs out, but it has to be paid back at some point," Todokoro says. "Maybe I should just move to an evacuation center. At least there I would get food and wouldn't have so many bills to pay.”

The two cars that he left on the quayside when going out to save his boat were swept away by the tsunami, along with all the other vehicles and fishing equipment. The insurance company will pay him nothing because the event was a natural disaster. Now he faces ruin from the nuclear disaster occurring to the North.

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