1 Avril 2017
March 31, 2017
By KENJI IZAWA/ Staff Writer
More than six years after the nuclear accident, evacuation orders for areas in two towns and one village in Fukushima Prefecture were lifted after midnight on March 30, allowing residents to finally return home.
The number of residents affected tops 32,000, including the population of Tomioka, where the same order is scheduled to be lifted on April 1.
That will result in the government's evacuation order issued right after the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant being lifted for almost all affected areas, apart from highly contaminated areas designated as a “difficult-to-return zone.”
However, less than 20 percent of people had returned to areas where the order had already been withdrawn earlier, and not many residents from areas close to the nuclear plants are willing to go back.
On March 31, the order for parts of Namie and Kawamata towns and Iitate village was lifted.
In the coastal Ukedo district in Namie, about seven kilometers north of the No. 1 plant, about 30 people, including Namie residents and the town mayor, gathered at a memorial for the 182 victims from the town before the dawn, hours after the lifting of the evacuation order.
Just after 5:30 a.m., they held a minute of silent prayer.
“I would like to achieve complete recovery until the ban (on the difficult-to-return zone in the town) is lifted entirely for Namie, while cooperating with the residents,” said Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba.
In Namie, Iitate and Tomioka, the entire population had been living outside their homeland.
After the nuclear crisis unfolded, spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the government issued evacuation orders to 11 municipalities, for the total population of about 81,000.
Since then, one by one, the authority had lifted bans on areas that met certain safety criteria--estimated annual radiation doses totaling 20 millisieverts or less, and infrastructure and lifelines were reconstructed.
In Okuma and Futaba, where the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is sited, the evacuation order remains in effect for all residents.
From now on, the government's priority will shift to encouraging evacuees’ return and assisting them on becoming financially independent, while withdrawing in stages their compensation and accommodation payments.
In the government’s fiscal 2017 budget, a fund of 23.6 billion yen ($212 million) was set aside for restoring the local health-care system and facilities in the area impacted by the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, and nuclear crisis.
Restoring the essential services for living is part of the plan to encourage evacuees to return to their homes.
April 1, 2017
Evacuation order lifted for Fukushima town
The Japanese government has lifted the evacuation order for most parts of a town in Fukushima Prefecture. It was issued after the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The directive for Tomioka Town was lifted at midnight on Saturday in all areas except for no-entry zones with high radiation levels.
The town became the 9th municipality to be released from the order. The decree was initially imposed on 11 municipalities in the prefecture.
The government also withdrew the directives for some areas in Kawamata Town, Namie Town, and Iitate Village at midnight on Friday.
Areas still subject to the government evacuation order now make up 369 square kilometers. That is one-third of the initial size.
About 9,500 Tomioka residents are now allowed to return to their homes.
But in a survey conducted by the Reconstruction Agency and other institutions last year, only 16 percent of Tomioka's residents said they wanted to return to their hometown.
The town government had opened a shopping mall and a medical facility ahead of the lifting of the evacuation order.
In the future, it will be a challenge for the town to revive industries, decontaminate no-entry zones, and provide continued support for residents living outside the town.