Evacuation of Fukushima town of Naraha to be lifted Sept. 5

The Japanese government has decided to lift in early September its evacuation order for the deserted town of Naraha near the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Economy and industry state minister Yosuke Takagi informed Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto of the decision on Monday. Takagi serves as head of the government’s local task force on the nuclear disaster.
Takagi said lifting the evacuation order on September 5th would meet the expectations of residents who wish to return home. He said it would also help post-disaster rebuilding efforts.
Mayor Matsumoto accepted the government’s decision.
The central government had earlier planned to lift the evacuation order by mid-August. But the plan was postponed because residents expressed concerns over radiation and shortages of medical clinics and other infrastructure.
All of the town’s approximately 7,400 residents were forced to relocate because of the nuclear accident.
The town is the first municipality totally emptied after the disaster to have its evacuation order lifted. 

Some residents of the town of Naraha near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant believe the September 5th expiration of the government-ordered evacuation is too early.
All of the town’s residents were forced to relocate because of the nuclear accident. On Monday, some of them living in temporary housing in the city of Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture voiced their concerns.
An 81-year-old man said many houses in the town have not yet been repaired, and the government is irresponsible for making the decision to lift the evacuation order. He said the town has no doctors or shops where residents can buy goods.
A 73-year-old woman said she does not understand why the government is lifting the order as soon as September 5th. She said public housing has not yet been built for people who lost their homes in the March 11th disaster.
A 39-year-old mother of a 9-year-old girl said she is concerned about radiation and the safety of water. She says senior residents without vehicles may have difficulty visiting hospitals.
A man aged 68 says it is hard for him to judge whether the decision is proper, but even if the order is lifted, nothing would change. He says that even after decontamination efforts, there are still some spots with high levels of radiation.
A 75-year-old man said he went to Naraha on Monday and couldn’t imagine when reconstruction would be finished. He says he wants to return as soon as the government creates an environment residents can return to without worries. 
Residents who have been temporarily staying at their homes in Naraha expressed mixed reactions to the government’s lifting of the evacuation order in September.
All residents of the town near the troubled Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant were evacuated after the 2011 disaster. They are allowed to visit their homes or stay there temporarily.
An 82-year-old resident visiting her home said she welcomes the lifting of the evacuation order. She said the decision about whether to return should be left to each resident.
Another woman who had been staying at her Naraha home for 4 days said that hospitals, stores and other facilities are still not open. She said it is too early to lift the evacuation order. She also said it is scary at night as no one lives in the houses in her neighborhood.
Haruo Suzuki and his wife returned home in April when the government allowed residents to temporarily stay. The couple said that if the evacuation order is lifted, they can return to a quiet life at home.
Suzuki’s wife still buys bottled water for preparing meals and tea because she is concerned about radioactive materials in local water. The couple said they go to a supermarket in Iwaki City once or twice a week to buy meat, vegetables, fish and more. They said shopping is their biggest problem and that they want the issue to be resolved soon. 

Sources: NHK


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