Australian news, and some related international items

Fukushima. Only 1% of people return home despite lifting of evacuation order.


Despite a massive outlay in decontamination and infrastructure funds, only 1 percent of residents have returned to special reconstruction zones in Fukushima Prefecture.

Evacuation orders for those special zones were gradually lifted from last year and the Nagadoro district of Iitate became the final area where the order was lifted on May 1. 

A total of about 320 billion yen ($2.3 billion) was spent on decontamination and social infrastructure in the special zones.

However, so far only 158 residents of those special zones in six municipalities have returned to their communities, or 1.2 percent of the total number of registered residents in those areas.

Those zones were designated in areas of municipalities that until then were classified as difficult-to-return zones because of the high levels of radiation that lingered after the 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Government officials initially thought that residents in those difficult-to-return zones would likely never be able to return to their homes.

But as the years passed, radiation levels were found to be dropping so from around 2017 and 2018, the government designated certain sections of the six municipalities that had difficult-to-return zones as special zones for reconstruction and revitalization.

The government undertook decontamination of radiation in those special zones as well as constructed social infrastructure.

The special reconstruction zones were chosen because they covered communities where a large number of people once lived.

Although the special reconstruction zones only made up about 8 percent of the total area designated as difficult-to-return zones, the registered residents in those zones made up about 60 percent of the total population of the difficult-to-return zones.

Many residents in those areas were uncertain for many years about whether they could ever return to their homes. In the interim, close to 4,000 homes in the difficult-to-return zones were demolished.

But some residents who have evacuated to other parts of Fukushima Prefecture have continued to commute to their homes on weekends to prevent them from being overrun by weeds and vegetation…………………………………………………………….

, 92 percent of the difficult-to-return zones lie outside the special reconstruction zones, meaning no one will be allowed to enter those areas, which total about 31,000 hectares, or about half the size of Tokyo’s 23 wards.

But the government is considering a new designation that would allow for the lifting of evacuation orders in specific residential lots for households that indicated a willingness to return to their former homes.

Decontamination work would be concentrated on those lots and neighboring areas.

(This article was written by Noriyoshi Ohtsuki, a senior staff writer, Tetsuya Kasai and Susumu Imaizumi.)

May 9, 2023 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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