The Japan Times
Evacuation order to be lifted for Fukushima district on June 12
An evacuation order for a Fukushima Prefecture district that has been in place since the 2011 nuclear disaster will be lifted on June 12.
The district in the village of Katsurao, designated as a specified reconstruction and revitalization base, will become the first area in the so-called difficult-to-return zone to host permanent residents again.
The central government’s nuclear disaster response task force, as well as the Katsurao village and Fukushima prefectural governments, announced an agreement on the removal of the order at a news conference in the village office.
In 2011, all Katsurao residents were ordered to evacuate due to the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings’ Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the prefecture.
Later, the evacuation order was lifted for most of the village. Still, the Noyuki district, which totals some 1,600 hectares and accounts for some 20% of the village, remains designated as a difficult-to-return zone due to high radiation levels.
“We’ve finally reached the starting line,” Katsurao Mayor Hiroshi Shinoki told the news conference, stressing his resolve to provide people from the village with “support for the reconstruction of their lives.”
Masahiro Ishii, state minister of economy, trade and industry, who heads the task force, said he is “aware of the voicing of concerns mainly about radiation levels.”
“We’ll work carefully, including for the establishment of a consultation system, while holding discussions with the village,” he added.
According to the Katsurao government, the village’s specified reconstruction and revitalization base, which is some 95 hectares, has 82 registered residents belonging to 30 households.
But only four members of two households have taken part in a program from the end of November last year that allows locals to stay inside the district to prepare for the expected full return.
“Eleven years have already passed since the disaster, and we cannot return as soon as the order is lifted,” Sayuri Osawa, 67, said.
Osawa, who lives in the Fukushima town of Miharu, was among those who attended a briefing held on Sunday for displaced Katsurao residents.
“If I could return, I would work on a farm and plant flowers,” she said with a smile.
Fukushima has six specified reconstruction and revitalization bases.
Of the municipalities hosting the bases, the towns of Futaba and Okuma are hoping to see the evacuation order lifted for their bases in June and between late June and early July, respectively.