Saturday, September 05, 2015

Japan lifts evacuation order for radiation-hit Fukushima town

The Japanese government Saturday lifted the evacuation order for the first town near the crippled Fukushima reactors, more than four years after ordering mass relocations near the tsunami-wrecked nuclear plant.

Among communities where the entire population was forced to evacuate after the nuclear crisis started in March 2011, Naraha is the first town to allow all of its residents to return home permanently.

It is seen as a pilot case for nearby areas, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government aiming to lift a raft of evacuation orders by March 2017.

But only about 10 percent of 7,368 registered residents of Naraha were expected to return home due to fears over continued nuclear contamination and uncertainty over whether enough locals -- particularly young people -- would come back to restart the community.

Local mayor Yukiei Matsumoto pledged Naraha's rebirth would finally be able to commence.

"The true reconstruction of our town will begin now," he said during a televised speech to his staff at the town hall.

"Let us work together for the creation of a new Naraha."

Meltdowns in three of the reactors -- 20 kilometers (12 miles) away -- blanketed vast tracts of land with isotopes of iodine and cesium, products of nuclear reactions that are hazardous to health if ingested, inhaled or absorbed.

Evacuation orders have already been lifted for selected spots of regional cities, with the government saying decontamination work has reduced radiation levels.

Former Naraha residents held a candlelight vigil overnight to mark the rebirth of their town. However, the town's future remains uncertain at best.

Many young people have found new jobs and started lives in cities far away from the crippled reactors, since leaving more than four years ago....



  1. Fukushima disaster: Japan reopens radiation-hit Naraha...

    Japan is inviting residents to return to a town evacuated in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

    Naraha is the first town to allow people to return permanently, following several years of decontamination work.

    But many say they are not ready to come back, and only a fraction have returned for brief stays since a trial period began in April.

    The Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered a series of meltdowns following a massive earthquake and tsunami.

    After the disaster, all of Naraha's 7,400 residents moved out.........................

  2. Evacuation order lifted completely for town of Naraha near wrecked Fukushima plant...

    The town of Naraha in Fukushima Prefecture celebrated Saturday, following the midnight lifting of the government’s evacuation order 4½ years after the eruption of the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

    Naraha became the first of seven radiation-tainted municipalities in the prefecture to be entirely cleared for repopulation since the triple-reactor meltdown following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

    “The clock that was stopped has now begun to tick,” Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto said at a ceremony held to promote the early return of local residents as well as the reconstruction of their hometown.

    About 100 people took part in the event, including central government officials.

    Most of the town is within the 20-km no-go zone set up around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which spewed radiation into the air and sea after the earthquake-triggered tsunami knocked its power out, prompting the meltdowns.

    Naraha is “at the starting line at last,” Matsumoto told reporters early Saturday, adding that he would continue working toward


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