16 Mai 2016
May 14, 2016
By TAKESHI SUZUKI/ Staff Writer
TAMURA, Fukushima Prefecture--Despite a proud 140-year history, the Iwaisawa Elementary School here has to close--as not enough children come to classes any more due to the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The school held its last annual athletic meet on May 14. It will merge with another school after this academic year ends next March.
The school currently has 19 pupils, down from 52 before the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
In the lead-up to the athletic meet, the school, located in the Miyakoji district of Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, sent out about 500 invitation letters to its graduates and local residents. About 150 people turned up.
After the nuclear accident, residents in the district were forced to evacuate to other areas. Although the evacuation order was lifted in April 2014, many of them opted to stay where they were while keeping their resident registries in the district.
As of the end of April this year, 2,564 people were officially registered as residents in the district. But of that number, only 1,600 or so actually lived there.
After the nuclear accident, pupils at Iwaisawa Elementary School temporarily took classes using classrooms of a different school in central Tamura, which had been already closed. In April 2014, they returned to their original school.
But only 29 came back, compared with the pre-accident figure of 52. The number has since further declined to 19. Because of that, it was decided the school will be merged with another school next spring.