18 Février 2016
February 18, 2016
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
HIRONO, Fukushima Prefecture—Residents evacuated after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 are being enticed back with the opening of a long-awaited public shopping mall on March 5.
Town officials hope that the opening of the "Hirono Terrace" mall, delayed from August 2015 due to bad weather and construction issues, will encourage former residents now living elsewhere to return.
“This mall will be a driving force in our efforts to recover the Futaba area from the disaster,” said Mayor Satoshi Endo at a news conference on Feb. 2.
Five years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the nation’s worst nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, located about 20 kilometers north of Hirono, about half of the town’s 5,000 residents remain evacuated to the nearby city of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and elsewhere.
The new mall, located in front of the Hirono town office, includes a branch of major supermarket chain Aeon Co., a local housing reform company shop, a dry cleaner’s and two restaurants.
The 545 million yen ($4.54 million) construction cost was covered almost entirely by subsidies from the central government.
The Aeon supermarket will offer food, medicine and other everyday items.
“We plan for the supermarket to cater to local needs by listening to feedback from residents,” said Yuho Iesaka, president of Aeon’s in-house company overseeing its stores and shopping malls in the Tohoku region.