Civil Society

March 25, 2018


Renewable Energy from Fukushima to be Used at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Keywords: Civil Society / Local Issues Disaster Reconstruction Renewable Energy 

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Tohoku Fukko Nikki (Tohoku Reconstruction Diary), a weekly feature in the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, delivers news and stories on reconstruction efforts in the communities devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. This month, we present below an article published on August 15, 2017, about an initiative to raise awareness about reconstruction efforts by using renewable energy produced in Fukushima Prefecture for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

July 24, 2017, marked the start of the "1000km Relay to Tokyo" exactly three years before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. With the aim of supporting the disaster reconstruction through the power of sports, the relay linking the afflicted areas and finished on August 7. The governor of the host city Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, expressed her perspective on the Tokyo Olympics as the "Reconstruction Olympics," saying "the Olympics cannot be considered a success without reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas."

The Urban Planning and Sustainability Commission of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is discussing the Tokyo Olympics' operating plans with sustainability in mind. Hiroshi Komiyama, chairman of the Commission, says "Providing energy to the Olympics from solar and wind power generated in Fukushima Prefecture and the Tohoku region and displaying the power status on monitors in the Athlete's Village and stadiums can appeal to a world paying attention to reconstruction from the disaster."

In this context, Fukushima has set a goal of producing renewable energy equivalent to 100% of the prefecture's energy demand in 2040. In cooperation with Tokyo and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, it has been working on demonstration trials to produce hydrogen within the prefecture from renewable energy for use during the Tokyo 2020 Games.

A project that has gotten an early start is one to make medals for the Games using "urban mines". REVER HOLDINGS CORPORATION, a metal recycling and industrial waste processing company (headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) is leading a proposal to make "reconstruction medals" from recycled small home appliances collected from Hamadori, a coastal region in Fukushima.

The number of evacuees from the 2011 disaster has decreased from 470,000 to 90,000 (as of July 14, 2017), and the reconstruction of homes and towns has made steady progress. Meanwhile, the government's Reconstruction Agency plans to close its offices in FY 2020 despite there still being much need focus on rejuvenating industry, especially promoting tourism and erasing unfavorable rumors.

The Olympic system is said to reflect the intentions of its official sponsors, but the national government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Organizing Committee and sponsors should work together to use this perfect timing to spread the word about these initiatives that symbolize the reconstruction efforts.

Atsuko Suzuki
Chief Executive, NPO Environmental Relations Association
President of Environmental Business Agency Co., Ltd.