In March 2011, Fukushima experienced the worst nuclear accident in the history of mankind. The restoration of Fukushima is a task that we Japanese are intent on achieving. But a vision for this reconstruction is required. We want to propose a decisive and optimistic vision for reviving Fukushima, which is facing its greatest challenge since the war, and returning it to growth. This vision is the “Futaba City” concept for transforming Fukushima prefecture’s coastline into an “Innovation Coast.”
1. Construct an Innovation Coast focused on research into nuclear safety, relocate the Ministry of the Environment and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy there, and establish a new national university, Futaba University
The economy of the coastal area of Fukushima prefecture, known as Hamadori, used to be reliant on the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants. Because this region experienced the worst nuclear accident in the history of mankind, it could become a global center, a mecca for research on nuclear safety. To turn the biggest challenge into the biggest opportunity, we would like to propose that the entire Hamadori region of Fukushima prefecture be turned into the world’s leading center for R&D and education in the fields of reactor decommissioning and radioactive-waste disposal (research into which would occur as the reactors are dismantled), environmental technology and energy, radiotherapy, and robotics.
To make the Innovation Coast a world center for the R&D relating to nuclear power and reactor decommissioning, the Ministry of the Environment and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, which are government bodies, and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), a research institute, should be relocated there. The relocation of the Ministry of the Environment and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy there would show people both at home and abroad how serious the national government is. If energy-related national bodies and research institutes move to the Innovation Coast, related companies could also be expected to locate there. In addition, just as Tsukuba University was established in the city of Tsukuba, we would also like to see the establishment of a “Futaba University.”
2. Merge the eight municipalities in the Hamadori region of Fukushima to form “Futaba City”
A compact city will need to be established to provide various services for the new residents who will be attracted to the area, to manage living infrastructure, and run earthquake drills. To administer the entire area of Hamadori, we suggest that eight municipalities in the Futaba district (Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka, Naraha, Hirono, Kawauchi, and Katsurao), which are mainly along the coast of Hamadori, be amalgamated to form “Futaba City.”
3. Restart Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant and offer free electricity in Futaba City to attract companies
If companies are offered free electricity in Futaba City, many of them will probably want to locate along the Innovation Coast. But making electricity free requires resources. To that end, we propose that the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant be put back into operation. Like Fukushima Daiichi, Fukushima Daini was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, but the damage did not reach the reactor cores, so efforts to put all the reactors into cold shutdown proved successful. So this is a nuclear power station that survived that massive earthquake and monster tsunami. It has therefore proven itself to be one of the world’s most resilient nuclear power stations.
4. Build a “Joban Innovation Shinkansen”
To develop the Innovation Coast, a dramatic improvement in access to Tokyo will be essential. To that end, we propose the construction of a “Joban Innovation Shinkansen Line” connecting Tokyo with Tsukuba, Ibaraki Airport, Mito, Hitachi, Iwaki, Futaba City, and Sendai. Futaba City would grow as a cluster for research institutes and industry on the Innovation Coast. Iwaki is already an established industrial cluster. Hitachi/Tokaimura is home to electric/nuclear research institutes and plants. Mito was the harbinger of the Meiji Restoration. Ibaraki Airport is drawing increasing numbers of visitors from overseas. Tsukuba is a long-established research cluster. Linking Tokyo with Sendai via these places would hugely magnify the economic impact. However, a full-specification, brand-new shinkansen line would not be required. Existing lines could be improved instead, which would keep the construction costs down.