Evacuation Order Lifted for 3 Fukushima Reconstruction Areas

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Namie Mayor Eiko Yoshida speaks at a ceremony in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Friday.

NAMIE, Fukushima (Jiji Press) — Japan lifted an evacuation order Friday for three designated special reconstruction base districts in a Fukushima Prefecture town included in the so-called difficult-to-return zone following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Evacuees from the Tsushima, Murohara and Suenomori districts in the town of Namie, northeastern Japan, are now allowed to live in their home districts for the first time in 12 years. The districts cover a total of 6.61 square kilometers, or 3% of the entire town.

But some 80% of the town stays in the difficult-to-return zone, where entry is heavily restricted as radiation levels still remain high due to the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

At a ceremony in Murohara, the community wireless system announced the removal of the evacuation order at 10 a.m. Namie Mayor Eiko Yoshida saw off police staff departing for patrol.

“I have mixed feelings when I think of people who died without fulfilling their wish to return home,” Yoshida said after the ceremony. “Starting today, we’ll go ahead with reconstruction further.”

The nuclear accident prompted an evacuation order covering the whole of the town. Some 22,000 local residents evacuated.

In March 2017, the order was lifted for part of the town, including the area of the town government office and JR Namie Station of the Joban rail line. Some 2,000 people had returned there as of the end of February this year.

Work is progressing to build infrastructure essential to daily lives in the special reconstruction areas in order to facilitate the return home of local residents.