Will the Olympic torch-relay run for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics wend its way through the empty pastures and deserted villages of Fukushima Prefecture in eastern Japan? (And will the torches’ sacred flames be replaced by green-glowing fuel rods held high?)
It will if Fukushima governor Yuhei Sato has his way.
Sato met with former prime minister Yoshiro Mori, who heads the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, on Tuesday (June 17) while Mori toured parts of the country hit hardest by the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Fukushima Prefecture is the home of the coastal Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which suffered multiple reactor-core meltdowns after the disaster, widely spewed radioactive particles, and prompted evacuations that displaced more than 100,000 people, most of whom have been unable to return.
Highly radioactive water continues to pour into the Pacific Ocean more than three years after the worst nuclear catastrophe in a generation.
The decommissioning and cleanup of the plant and surrounding areas is expected to take decades.
“We wish to have a torch relay here so that the status of our reconstruction can be conveyed accurately,” Sato told a news conference after meeting Mori, according to Agence France-Presse on June 17.
Mori said no decision would be made about the torch run until the organizing committee had more details. The highway Sato wants the runners to use comes within two kilometres of the plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). Tokyo itself is about 220 kilometres south of the ruined plant.
Sato also said Japanese Olympians should be able to train in the area, and he suggested they use what is known as J-Village, a national soccer-training facility opened in 1997 20 kilometres south of the power plant.
The village currently houses thousands of contracted workers involved in the plant cleanup.