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'Reconstruction Games' - Olympics in Japan helping to transform region

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'Reconstruction Games' - Olympics in Japan helping to transform region
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Spotlight takes a look into Japan’s ‘Reconstruction Games’ - the name being given by residents there to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, taking place in Tokyo next summer.

The Fukushima Prefecture was hit hard by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, as well as a nuclear disaster that followed. However, it has been able to successfully rebuild its infrastructure - and the Olympics will be used as an opportunity to pay tribute to the region.

The plan is for the Olympic torch relay to start its journey from the J-Village National Training Centre in Fukushima. The sports complex is a powerful symbol of recovery as its green football and rugby fields were used as a base for firefighters and self-defence forces after the nuclear accident.

“After the natural disasters of the 11th of March, 2011 Fukushima was able to rebuild itself thanks to the efforts of all its inhabitants. But these efforts have not been witnessed enough by the rest of the world and we want to take advantage of the Olympics to show them and the locals are very happy about it.”
Jun Suzuki
Deputy Director, Olympic and Paralympic Games Promotion Unit, Fukushima Prefectural Government

The excitement is also building among locals, as local Mahiro Abe told Euronews.

“For myself and my hometown it will be a good opportunity to show the whole world that Naraha is rebuilding itself. Through the Olympic torch relay, people will realise that locals now live happily,” he said.

Tokyo will also be the first-ever city to host the Paralympics twice

Moreover, an important activity for the region is also picking up again - fishing.

At the port of Soma, some 50 km from the power station of Fukushima Daiichi, the fish crates are full after years of restrictions.

During the 2011 tsunami, fisherman Hidetoshi Takahashi lost almost everything except his boat. He said he never gave up though, even after the nuclear incident.

“We had to start from scratch. We finally arrived at the lifting of restrictions on almost all the species and we manage to work almost normally as we did before, and that’s because of everyone’s efforts,” he said.

Agriculture is also heading in the right direction thanks to decontamination efforts, with many local foods being exported again to several countries, as Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) taled to Euronews about.

“I was very impressed by many things. The wider region of course has been the object of a lot of effort, which has been carried under this parallel idea of recovery and working also on the economy because it is also important, it is a food producing and fishery part of Japan. For example I could visit the J Village, which is part of the Olympic compound for the Games next year, which shows that there is steady progress,” he said.