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In pre-Olympics propaganda, Japan’s govt opens just 4% of Futaba town

Japan opens part of last town off-limits since Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan Times, AP, JIJI, MAR 4, 2020 The government on Wednesday opened part of the last town that had been off-limits due to radiation since the Fukushima nuclear disaster nine years ago, in a symbolic move to show the region’s recovery ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

The entire population of 7,000 was forced to evacuate Futaba after three reactors melted down, when the nuclear plant in the town was damaged by a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The partial lifting of the entry ban comes weeks before the Olympic torch is carried through another town in Fukushima. The torch could also pass through Futaba, about 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) from the wrecked nuclear plant.

The town also saw the first easing of the evacuation order that was issued after the nuclear disaster. The move also marked the first such loosening of restrictions for a “difficult-to-return” zone with relatively high radiation levels.

Unrestricted access, however, is only being allowed to an area in the northeastern part of Futaba, or 4 percent of the town’s total area, as well as difficult-to-return zones around Futaba Station on East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line. The station will reopen later this month to reconnect it with the rest of the region for the first time since the accident. Access to the vast majority of Futaba is restricted to those who can secure permission for a day visit.

The three reactor meltdowns at the town’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant caused the release of massive amounts of radiation that contaminated the surrounding area and, at the disaster’s peak, forced more than 160,000 people to flee.

At midnight on Tuesday, the gate at a checkpoint was opened, and Futaba officials also placed a signboard at their new town office……

Town officials say they hope to see Futaba’s former residents return, but prospects are grim because of lingering concern about radiation. Many residents also found new jobs and ties in other communities after evacuating, and only about 10 percent say they plan to return.

The number of residents registered in Futaba has already decreased by 1,000 from the town’s pre-disaster population of 7,000. After long bus trips, stopovers and time spent staying in shelters at an athletic arena and an abandoned high school, many evacuees ended up remaining in the city of Kazo, Saitama Prefecture. Futuba’s government reopened in a makeshift office in Iwaki, another Fukushima town……..

March 5, 2020 - Posted by | Japan, politics

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