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Some restricted zones to be lifted near Fukushima nuclear plant

Soft propaganda from the Asahi Shimbun, supporting the Government lifting of the evacuation order in some of the restricted zones, encouraging people to return into the evacuated zones.

Saying “In some of the areas, however, radioactive contaminants have been washed away by rain or blown away by wind. Radiation from those substances has also dissipated naturally.”

Conveniently omitting to mention, that  in many decontaminated places, radiation soon returns to pre-decontamination level, thanks to the accumulated radionuclides of the mountain forests (80% of Fukushima prefecture) always ruisseling down with the rain or carried everywhere by the wind, not mentioning also that something in Fukushima Daiichi still fissioning, releasing radionuclides loaded gassings into the environment.

 

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A gate is set up on a national road in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, restricting entrance to “difficult-to-return zones.” Permits from the central government are required to enter the areas.

For the first time since the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture, the government will lift the designation of some “difficult-to-return zones” around the crippled nuclear plant.

The rescinding is expected to be done gradually from around 2021. By that time, the government plans to undertake intensive decontamination work in central districts of municipalities, where residents will likely return, and districts along main roads.

The “difficult-to-return zones,” which cover a total of 337 square kilometers, are areas where the radiation level exceeded 50 millisieverts per year after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Those areas are off-limits, in principle.

In some of the areas, however, radioactive contaminants have been washed away by rain or blown away by wind. Radiation from those substances has also dissipated naturally.

In front of the Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring Center of Fukushima in the central district of Okuma town, the radiation level is now about 9 millisieverts per year, about one-fifth the level of five years ago.

According to the policies of the government and the ruling parties, if radiation levels are reduced to 20 millisieverts or lower in some areas due to decontamination work, people are allowed to live there.

Of the areas, those where residents or workers for decommissioning of crippled nuclear reactors are expected to live will be subject to intensive decontamination work along with areas on both sides of main roads.

The government and the ruling parties will discuss the lifting of “difficult-to-return zones” with seven municipalities, including Okuma, and will make the official decision in August.

However, even if the designation is lifted, it is uncertain if residents will return to their homes.

According to the annual survey conducted by the Reconstruction Agency on evacuees, only about 10 percent of households evacuating from four municipalities around the nuclear plant are hoping to return home.

Before the nuclear crisis occurred, about 24,000 people of 9,000 households were living in areas that are currently designated as “difficult-to-return zones.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607170022.html

July 17, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order lifted in Minami-Soma after 5 years, affecting 10,000 people

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For the first time in five years, a train begins service on the 9.4-kilometer stretch between Odaka and Haranomachi stations in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line at 7:33 a.m. on July 12.

Evacuation order lifted in Minami-Soma after 5 years

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–In good news for residents, an evacuation order for the southern part of the city here was lifted on July 12 for the first time since the massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant five years ago.

However, due to lingering fears of radiation contamination, less than 20 percent of the populace are set to return to their homes.

The central government allowed residents back into the southern region of the city after midnight on July 11. It marks the sixth time that evacuation orders have been lifted for locales in Fukushima Prefecture, following such municipalities as Naraha and Katsurao.

The latest lifting in Minami-Soma affects a total of 10,807 residents in 3,487 households in all parts of the Odaka district and parts of the Haramachi district, making it the largest number of people to be let back into their homes since evacuation zones were established following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Two residents living in a household in an area designated a “difficult-to-return” zone in the southern part of the city are still not allowed back home.

However, only about 2,000 residents signed up to stay overnight at their homes in the area ahead of the lifting of the evacuation order.

That is likely because many still fear the effects of radiation from the destroyed power plant, which straddles the towns of Futaba and Okuma to the south of Minami-Soma. In addition, five years was more than enough time for residents who evacuated elsewhere to settle down.

With at least some of the residents returning home, East Japan Railway Co. resumed service on the 9.4-kilometer stretch between Odaka and Haranomachi stations on the Joban Line for the first time in more than five years on the morning of July 12. The first train of the morning entered Odaka Station carrying 170 or so people on two cars as traditional flags used in the Soma Nomaoi (Soma wild horse chase) festival on the platform greeted passengers.

The central government is pushing to lift evacuation orders on all areas of the prefecture excluding difficult-to-return zones by March 2017.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607120054.html

Japan lifts evacuation orders in Fukushima affecting 10,000 people

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — The government on Tuesday further scaled down areas in Fukushima Prefecture subject to evacuation orders since the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi complex, enabling the return of more than 10,000 residents to the city of Minamisoma.

Following the move, the city will become mostly habitable except for one area containing one house. But many residents seem uneager to return, having begun new lives elsewhere.

The government is in the process of gradually lifting evacuation orders issued to areas within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and in certain areas beyond the zone amid ongoing radiation cleanup efforts.

Eight municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have areas defined as evacuation zones, which are divided into three categories based on their radiation levels. The most seriously contaminated area is called a zone “where it is expected that the residents have difficulties in returning for a long time.”

In Minamisoma, the government lifted evacuation orders for areas except for the difficult-to-return zone. As of July 1, the areas had a registered population of 10,807, or 3,487 households.

To encourage evacuees to return, the central government and the city reopened hospital facilities, built makeshift commercial facilities and prepared other infrastructure.

Radiation cleanup activities have finished in residential areas, but will continue for roads and farmland until next March.

The government hopes to lift the remaining evacuation orders affecting areas other than the difficult-to-return zones by next March, officials said.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160712/p2g/00m/0dm/031000c

 

 

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Advisory lifted for most of evacuated village of Katsurao close to crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant

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Radioactive waste contained in thousands of black plastic bags are placed in rice paddies in the village of Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, where an evacuation advisory was lifted for most of the village Sunday.

FUKUSHIMA – The government Sunday lifted its evacuation advisory for most of Katsurao, a village near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

This is the first time that an evacuation advisory has been lifted for an area tainted with relatively high levels of radiation with annual doses projected at between more than 20 millisieverts and less than 50 millisieverts.

The government’s move allows 1,347 people in 418 households to return home for the first time since the March 2011 disaster at the plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

But only a few people are expected to return home for the time being due to inconveniences in everyday life in the village. Municipal bus services remain suspended while shops have yet to resume operations.

The village government plans to offer free taxi services for elderly people so that they can go to hospitals and commercial facilities outside the village.

Earlier this month, the village’s chamber of commerce and industry started services to deliver fresh foods and daily necessities to homes.

The evacuation advisory remains in place for 119 people in 33 households from the remaining Katsurao area where annual radiation doses are estimated at over 50 millisieverts.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/12/national/advisory-lifted-for-most-of-evacuated-village-of-katsurao-close-to-crippled-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant/

June 13, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation lifted for Fukushima village; only 10% preparing return

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Lights appears at only a few houses in Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 11, the eve of the government’s lifting of the evacuation order following the 2011 nuclear accident. Waste from decontamination operations is covered with sheets in the foreground. (Yosuke Fukudome)

The government on June 12 lifted the evacuation order for Katsurao, a village northwest of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, but most of the residents appear reluctant to return home.

The lifting of the order covers more than 90 percent of the households in Katsurao. The entire village was ordered to evacuate after the crisis at the Fukushima plant started to unfold on March 11, 2011.

Katsurao is the fourth municipality in Fukushima Prefecture that had the evacuation order lifted, following the Miyakoji district in Tamura, the eastern area of Kawauchi village and Naraha.

Government officials said cleanup and other efforts have reduced radiation levels in Katsurao to a point that poses little problem. The lifting of the evacuation order means that 1,347 people from 418 households, out of 1,466 people from 451 households in Katsurao, can return to their homes to live in the village.

But only 126 people from 53 households, or 10 percent of those eligible to return, have signed up for a program for extended stays in the village to prepare for their return, according to Katsurao officials.

The officials said they believe that many evacuees would rather go back and forth between temporary housing and their homes in Katsurao for the time being, given the situation in the village.

Medical institutions and shops have yet to resume operations in Katsurao. And nearly half of the rice paddies there are being used for the temporary storage of radioactive waste produced in the cleanup operation.

Local officials say they have no idea when the waste can be moved out of the village for permanent storage.

Among the Katsurao residents eligible to return are those with homes in the government-designated “residence restricted zone,” where the annual radiation dose was projected at more than 20 millisieverts and up to 50 millisieverts as of March 2012.

This was the first time evacuees from such a zone have been permitted to return home.

Only the “difficult-to-return zone” carries a higher annual radiation dose.

The government plans to lift evacuation orders for other parts of the prefecture by the end of March 2017, except for the “difficult-to-return zone,” where the annual radiation dose was estimated at 50 millisieverts or higher as of March 2012.

The additional lifting of the evacuation orders would allow 46,000 of 70,000 displaced residents to return to their homes to live.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606120031.html

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Demolition work delay hinders Fukushima villagers’ homecoming

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Farmer Hidenori Endo is seen at the empty lot where his home used to stand in Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 6, 2016.

FUKUSHIMA — Though the nuclear disaster evacuation order for the Fukushima Prefecture village of Katsurao is set to be lifted on June 12, just 14 percent of demolition work needed before homes can be rebuilt has been completed.

The village currently comprises three evacuation statuses: “areas preparing for the lifting of evacuation orders” with annual accumulated radiation doses of 20 millisieverts or less; “restricted residency zones” with annual accumulated radiation doses from over 20 millisieverts to 50 millisieverts; and “difficult-to-return zones.” As of June 12, the 1,347 residents from 418 households in the former two categories will be allowed to move back home. A return schedule for the 119 residents from 33 households with homes in areas in the last category has yet to be determined as radiation levels remain high.

A survey by the village government showed that nearly 50 percent of residents wished to return home. However, as of June 8 only 126 people, or less than 10 percent of residents, had registered to stay overnight in preparation for their complete return.

The Environment Ministry began demolishing houses in 2012 for those who wanted to rebuild their homes in 11 Fukushima Prefecture municipalities subject to nuclear disaster evacuation orders. Of 347 demolition requests in Katsurao, only 14 percent have been completed. Officials say that field research and paperwork are taking time. Overall, a little less than 40 percent of requested work has been done in all 11 municipalities.

Eight municipalities — including Katsurao and the city of Minamisoma, where evacuation orders are to be lifted on July 12 — are requesting the central government to speed up demolition work as the delay is hindering residents’ return to their hometowns. A senior Katsurao village official says locals have been complaining about the demolition work not advancing as planned.

The Environment Ministry hopes to complete about 90 percent of demolition work by March 2017 by streamlining paperwork, but many residents are expected to be unable to return home even after evacuation orders are lifted, as it will take time to rebuild houses after the demolition is completed.

A ministry official explained that there are people who will be able to return home immediately after the evacuation order is lifted, and that it would be inappropriate to keep the orders in place until all the demolition work is done. At the same time, the official said that the ministry will give those who wish to return priority in the demolition work schedule.

Fukushima University social welfare professor Fuminori Tamba, who helped map out disaster recovery plans for municipalities under evacuation orders, pointed out that the lack of progress in demolitions is problematic, since securing housing is the minimum requirement for residents to return. He added that the availability of housing should be considered when lifting evacuation orders.

Katsurao farmer and cattle rancher Hidenori Endo, 74, applied for demolition of his decaying home and barn last summer. Tired of waiting, Endo paid a private firm nearly 10 million yen to tear down the buildings in May.

“I wanted to go home as soon as possible,” Endo said.

He now lives in a temporary housing unit in the town of Miharu, about 30 kilometers from his Katsurao home. Endo travels an hour by car daily to his property to restart his farming business, but taking good care of his cattle is difficult to do going back and forth. To reboot his business, Endo first needs to rebuild his home. Construction work is to begin this summer, but he does not yet know when the work will be completed, and will have to live in the temporary housing for at least another year.

The central government has set prerequisites, such as infrastructure development and operation of everyday services, for lifting nuclear crisis evacuation orders. However, housing is not included in these criteria.

“Even if I could go shopping, there isn’t much I could do if there was no place to live. It’s not right to be unable to return to home even with the evacuation order gone,” Endo lamented.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160611/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Another evacuation order lifted in Fukushima

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The Japanese government has lifted its evacuation order for most parts of a village near the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima. Katsurao Village became the 4th such municipality after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Officials lifted the restriction on Saturday midnight except some areas where the radiation level remains high. All of over 1,400 residents there were forced to evacuate. Now most of them are allowed to return home.

According to a survey the village conducted last year, nearly half of the respondents said all or at least parts of their family want to return home when the order is lifted.

Local authorities say they will work to ease concerns over radiation and provide medical services. They will also ask shops to reopen there to sell foods and everyday essentials.
The evacuation order remains in 9 municipalities in Fukushima. This is forcing more than 90,000 people to continue living away from home.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160612_04/

Villagers divided over lifting of order

People from Katsurao have had mixed responses to the lifting of the evacuation order.

Residents who have decided to return to the village include Rinko Matsumoto and her husband.

Matsumoto planted corn seedlings on Sunday in front of her home. She used to eat home-grown corn with her children and grandchildren when they were all living together before the accident.

She says she is happy to be returning home, but that she will miss family members who have no plans of coming back anytime soon.

Akira Miyamoto and his wife spent the day tending roses in their garden and playing with their dog.

Miyamoto says this is the day Katsurao Village has come back to life. He says he wants to enjoy living there surrounded by nature.

Yoshio Matsumoto is one of the former residents who have decided not to return.

Matsumoto lives in temporary housing in another municipality. He says he is not going back home because he is worried about radiation and few of his neighbors are returning.

He says his home has been decontaminated many times, but windy or rainy weather causes radiation levels to rise.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160612_13/

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation advisory to be lifted for most of Iitate, Fukushima, next March 31

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FUKUSHIMA – The central government has informed the municipal assembly of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, that it plans to lift the evacuation advisory for most of the village next March 31.

Preparation work for the displaced residents to return to their homes is scheduled to start July 1, as requested by the municipal government in April.

The advisory will be left in place for the Nagadoro district because radiation levels there remain too high to allow people to return.

The government issued the evacuation advisory for the entire village after it was hit by fallout from the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant roughly 40 km away.

In June last year, decontamination work was completed in the village’s residential areas, reducing the average radiation level in the air to 0.8 microsievert per hour.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/07/national/state-lift-evacuation-advisory-fukushima-village-iitate-next-march-31/

June 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Government Decides to Lift Evacuation Orders for Three Municipalities

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Government Decides to Lift Evacuation Orders for Three Municipalities

On May 31, the Japanese government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters decided to lift three evacuation orders in Fukushima Prefecture, as follows: Katsurao Village on June 12, Kawauchi Village on June 14, and Minamisoma City on July 12.

The evacuation order for Kawauchi Village had been partially lifted on October 1, 2014, and the recent decision completes the process there.

In Minamisoma City, the section of the JR Joban Line between Haranomachi Station and Odaka Station, which is still unusable because of the evacuation order, is expected to be reopened after the lifting of the order for the town on July 12.

The basic policy for Fukushima’s reconstruction, approved at a Cabinet meeting in March, said that the government would speed up the establishment of an environment so as to lift all evacuation orders by March 2017 at the latest.

However, that still excludes those areas designated as places “where residents will not be able to return home for a long time.”

http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/government-decides-to-lift-evacuation-orders-for-three-municipalities/

Abe visits villages in Fukushima

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his government will lead efforts to revive communities in Fukushima, including areas where radiation levels remain prohibitively high.

Abe on Friday inspected the villages of Kawauchi and Katsurao near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Evacuation orders for parts of the 2 villages are due to be lifted in mid-June.

In Katsurao, former residents asked the prime minister to support people who plan to return and resume farming and other businesses.

Abe told them that the desire to revive the hometown is the driving force for reconstruction. He promised to do his best to restore community ties and vitality.

Abe told reporters the government plans to present ideas by the summer for restoring heavily-contaminated areas declared unfit for return.

He said it will be a long process, but that his government is determined to see it through.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160603_39/

feb 19, 2016

June 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan lifts evacuation order for city near nuclear plant

Minamisoma

 Minamisoma is one of the most contaminated places in Fukushima. Decontamination is never permanent. Some places already have been decontaminated up to 5 times already, but the contamination always coming back gradually to the pre-decontamination levels thanks to the ruisseling rain and the wind bringing it from the forested hills where it has accumulated. Fukushima prefecture is 80% forested hills/mountains, all heavily contaminated.

The Japanese Government insists on perpetuating the decontamination lie, pushing the people to return to live in the previously evacuated areas, hammering in the media that low-radiation exposure is not harmful to health. Economic priorities prevailing above people lives.

Quoting Bo Jacobs: “This is entirely about removing legally obligated compensation. When you are forced to evacuate, the government is liable for the costs. When the government says that the radiation in your community is acceptable, then there is no more legal obligation to compensate you for living someplace that is safe. “

 

 

Tokyo: The Japanese government on Friday lifted an evacuation order for the entire city of Minamisoma, located near the disabled nuclear plant in Fukushima.

The decision, which is awaiting approval from the local council, will allow the return of 12,000 people to the municipalities included in the restricted area around the plant due to the nuclear disaster in 2011.

Minamisoma, with a population of 46,000, is located north of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and the southern and western part of the city is still under the evacuation order, affecting around 11,700 people.

The government has decided to lift the restriction after completing the decontamination work in the residential and surrounding areas, a government spokesperson told state broadcaster NHK.

From next month onwards, Japan intends to allow evacuees to return to the Katsurao and Kawauchi villages too, which means that around 1,480 and 1,040 people will be able to return to their homes respectively.

The last municipality where the evacuation order was completely lifted was Naraha in September 2015, although the inhabitants have returned in small batches due to fear of persisting radiation, a shattered local economy and scarce availability of services.

Around 74,200 citizens throughout the Fukushima prefecture remain evacuated as a result of the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, out of which only around 4,500 have returned to the areas where the evacuation order has been lifted, according to the local government in February.

http://www.newsx.com/world/28364-japan-lifts-evacuation-order-for-city-near-nuclear-plant

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order for Fukushima village to be lifted in June

The government is planning to lift an evacuation order for part of the Fukushima Prefecture village of Kawauchi on June 14, more than five years after the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, it has been learned.

The government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters disclosed the plan on April 28. The central government and the Kawauchi Municipal Government will hold a joint briefing session for local residents on May 8 to gather opinions and discuss the matter in order to formally decide the date when the evacuation order will be removed. Once the order is lifted, the entire village of Kawauchi will be free of any nuclear evacuation zones.

The Ogi and Kainosaka districts in the eastern part of the village will be subject to the move. The area — which is home to 52 residents in 19 households — has been designated as a “zone preparing for the lifting of evacuation orders,” where the annual accumulated radiation doses are 20 millisieverts or less.

The evacuation orders that were in place for areas other than the Ogi and Kainosaka districts were lifted in October 2014.

During a meeting of the Kawauchi Municipal Assembly, Osamu Goto — the deputy head of the central government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters — sought understanding from the village with regard to lifting the evacuation order for the remaining districts, citing reasons including the conclusion of decontamination work in those areas. Kawauchi Mayor Yuko Endo is set to accept the request.

Meanwhile, only two local residents from one household have thus far signed up for a program allowing residents to temporarily stay over in evacuation areas to prepare for permanent return. The Kawauchi Municipal Government expects, therefore, that only a few households will return even after the evacuation order has been lifted in the districts.

The central government issued evacuation orders for 11 municipalities around the plant following the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Among these, the orders were lifted in the Miyakoji district of the city of Tamura in April 2014, followed by those in part of the village of Kawauchi and the town of Naraha.

Evacuation orders for the city of Minamisoma and the village of Katsurao are also expected to be lifted shortly, with the exception of areas designated as “difficult-to-return zones” due to high radiation levels.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160428/p2a/00m/0na/020000c

April 30, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Japan lifts evacuation orders on irradiated towns in preparation for 2020 Summer Olympics

Tokyo Olympics 2020

The Japanese government recently announced they are lifting a four-year evacuation order on a town located 10 miles from the Fukushima disaster site, allowing residents to return full-time if they so desire, according to reports.

The evacuation order was issued in 2011 for the town of Naraha, which was among seven municipalities that were forced to vacate following a 15-meter tsunami triggered by an earthquake, subsequently resulting in the meltdown of three of Fukushima’s Daiichi reactors.

The Daily News reports:

Officials have said radiation levels in Naraha have fallen to levels deemed safe following decontamination efforts.

But according to a government survey, 53% of evacuees from Naraha, which is 12 miles south of the plant, say they’re either not ready to return home or are undecided. Some say they have found jobs elsewhere over the past few years, while others cite radiation concerns. Some houses are falling down, and wild boars roam at night.

About 100,000 people from about 10 municipalities around the wrecked plant still cannot go home. The government hopes to lift all evacuation orders except for the most contaminated areas closest to the plant by March 2017 — a plan many evacuees criticize as an attempt to showcase recovery ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Other reports have raised concerns over dangerous radiation levels recorded in the area, as well as the town’s lack of infrastructure.

U.S. News and World Report states:

In the once-abandoned town, a segment of a national railway is still out of service, with the tracks covered with grass. Some houses are falling down and wild boars roam around at night.

Only about 100 of the nearly 2,600 households have returned since a trial period began in April. Last year, the government lifted evacuation orders for parts of two nearby towns, but only about half of their former residents have returned.

Source: Fukushimaz Watch

http://www.fukushimawatch.com/2015-09-15-japan-lifts-evacuation-orders-on-irradiated-towns-in-preparation-for-2020-summer-olympics.html

September 18, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order lifted for Fukushima town

The evacuation order has been lifted for the town of Naraha in Fukushima prefecture, allowing residents to permanently return to their homes there. Naraha, located within 20 kilometres of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, is the first of seven municipalities that were fully evacuated to have its order removed.

Nahara evacuation zone - sept 7, 2015

The town’s entire population of 8011 people were evacuated on 12 March 2011, the day after a large earthquake and tsunami struck the nearby Fukushima Daiichi plant. The loss of power at the plant led to core meltdowns at three of the plant’s six units, resulting in the spread of radioactive materials across the area.
The municipality was redesignated as a zone being prepared for the lifting of the evacuation order in August 2012, which meant that residents were allowed to enter the town during daytime hours.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced that, following decontamination and reconstruction work, as of midnight on 5 September residents of Naraha were free to return to their homes.
The government aims to lift all evacuation orders by March 2017, except for certain areas where radiation levels are expected to remain high.

Source: World Nuclear News
http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Evacuation-order-lifted-for-Fukushima-town-0709154.html

September 7, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japan Reopens Town 12 miles from Fukushima Daiichi, Govt Says Radiation is at Safe Levels.

naraha 7 sept 2015Noraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto, rear left, plants a tree with children of Naraha residents during an event in Naraha, Fukushima

More than four years after the 7,400 residents of the Japanese town of Naraha were evacuated after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant melted down in the wake of a devastating tsunami, the government is allowing people to return.
Following several years of decontamination, Naraha is the first town in the area to allow residents to return. It was evacuated in March 2011 after the Fukushima plant was smashed by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami near Sendai, setting off the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
The central government has said radiation is at safe levels.
“The clock that was stopped has now begun to tick,” Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto said at a ceremony attended by about 100 people. Naraha is “at the starting line at last,” he told reporters.
But, according to The Associated Press, a survey indicates that 53 percent of the evacuees from the town, about 12 miles south of the nuclear plant, “say they’re either not ready to return home permanently or are undecided. Some say they’ve found jobs elsewhere over the past few years, while others cite radiation concerns.”
The Japan Times reports: “To address lingering radiation concerns, dosimeters will be handed out and 24-hour monitoring will be conducted at a water filtration plant. Also, tap water will be tested at households worried about radioactive contamination.”
Source:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/05/437792215/japan-reopens-town-shuttered-by-fukushima-nuclear-disaster

September 7, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima town facing population decline, lack of lifelines as evacuation orders lifted

gjkllResidents began returning to the Fukushima Prefecture town of Naraha on Sept. 5 as evacuation orders issued after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster were lifted, but the town’s revival is uncertain as residents fret over the scarcity of medical services and other lifelines.

To make Naraha residents’ return to their homes successful and to increase momentum for the reconstruction of additional towns, the national government is drawing up policies to provide assistance to local businesses.

In the district of Kamikobana, an area near central Naraha that is surrounded by forest, Noriko Sato, 53, smiled on Sept. 4 as she watched her 93-year-old mother-in-law tend to flowers in the garden of the family’s home, to which they returned after having evacuated to the Fukushima prefectural city of Iwaki.

“She is really happy to be back,” Sato said.

The women had participated in a program that began in April to allow temporary overnight stays, launched in preparation for the full lifting of the evacuation orders in Naraha.

Among the 18 households in the district, however, some 30 percent have built new homes in the areas where they evacuated — and though the evacuation orders have been lifted, hardly any of them plan to return anytime soon.

Sato says that she had also planned to resettle permanently outside of Naraha, but that she decided to return due to her mother-in-law’s desire to live in her hometown, which had been her residence for 70 years. Meanwhile, Sato’s 56-year-old husband has been living on his own in Niigata Prefecture, after the foodstuffs company where he works relocated there following the nuclear crisis. With their 28-year-old daughter living and working alone in the city of Iwaki, the family of four continues to live scattered apart.

In the meantime, Naraha residents are voicing their anxiety about life in the town following the lifting of the evacuation orders. For example, a high concentration of radioactive materials remains sunk at the bottom of a dammed lake within the town’s borders that serves as a local water source.

“It is only the elderly who wish to return here,” Sato noted. “In the future, the population will continue to decrease even further,” she added. “And if people don’t return here, places to shop and to seek medical treatment won’t be built. I really don’t know whether this town will make it or not.”

Farmer Tamio Watanabe, 68, spent time cleaning his home on Sept. 4 in preparation for moving back in together with his family, whose members span three generations. “This town is going to experience financial hardship at some point after the government has finished with its period of intensive reconstruction,” he commented worriedly. “The governmental services available here are likely going to decline as well.”

Prior to the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the town did not receive local government tax allocations because it was receiving subsidies for hosting the Fukushima No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant. Now, the town is receiving tax allocations because its tax revenues have fallen to less than one-third of pre-disaster levels. Anticipated population declines also mean that predictions for the future there remain uncertain.

Sachio and Hiroko Watanabe, aged 56 and 61, respectively, say that with more than four years having passed since the disaster, life as evacuees has become the new norm.

The couple tore down their home in Naraha this year in February, and bought a 38-year-old home in the city of Iwaki, where Sachio’s company had relocated. “We will be watching what happens in Naraha from afar,” Sachio commented softly, an air of sadness about him.

According to prefectural estimates, populations of the 12 municipalities where evacuation orders were issued following the nuclear accident have decreased due to factors such as people relocating their residence registries to the areas where they evacuated.

As a consequence, eight towns and villages in the Fukushima prefectural county of Futaba are considering merging in the future.

Evacuation orders for six whole towns and villages in Futaba County are still in place. Among them, large areas in the three towns of Namie, Futaba and Okuma are designated as “difficult-to-return zones” where annual cumulative radiation exposure levels exceed 50 millisieverts.

The mayor of one of the municipalities in Futaba County commented, “Everyone here realizes that at some point, we will need to begin looking at the possibility of merging.” Meanwhile, a top prefectural official noted, “While we do not have the capacity to undertake such a merger at present, this will eventually be a discussion that we can no longer avoid.”

As evacuation orders were lifted in Naraha, the city of Minamisoma and the town of Kawamata, along with the village of Katsurao, began a program of provisional overnight stays on Aug. 31.

In Minamisoma, however, only 32 percent of residential neighborhoods and other areas where residents visit throughout the course of their daily activities had been decontaminated as of Aug. 7 although the municipal government is aiming to have evacuation orders for the city lifted by April next year.

“Decontamination is ongoing, and there is almost no one around,” commented Toshiyuki Kuroki, 66, a former agricultural cooperative employee who returned with his wife to their home in Minamisoma’s Odaka district.

“We are not yet receiving postal mail delivery, and life here is inconvenient, he added. “But at the place the authorities had rented (as a temporary housing unit for us), we could not work in the garden — and in fact, there was nothing to do at all. Here, at least things are better than they were there.”

Source: Mainichi

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150905p2a00m0na010000c.html

September 7, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Long-time residents of Naraha facing dilemma with lifting of evacuation order

jklllShukan Sakanushi, head priest of the Dairakuin temple in Naraha, performs a ceremony on Sept. 5 praying for the rebuilding of his hometown.

With the lifting of the evacuation order for the Fukushima Prefecture town of Naraha on Sept. 5, Shukan Sakanushi, head priest of the Dairakuin temple in Naraha, decided to return home.

At midnight, he chanted Buddhist sutras in a ceremony praying for the rebuilding of the town.

“Those who live in temples have to go to where the people are,” Sakanushi, 44, said. “Today is a milestone of sorts. I will return to the temple from today.”

However, because only a small number of long-time residents have returned to Naraha, many parts of the town are quiet and lonely at night. Community bonds remain severed, making a return to Naraha difficult for former residents such as Teruyuki Ishizawa, 75, who now lives in temporary housing in Iwaki.

“I want to return but cannot,” he said. “The town is so dark that I cannot allow my wife to walk outside by herself.”

The lifting of the evacuation order for residents who fled in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami does not mean that all 7,400 residents can simply return home.

Some evacuees have established comfortable lives elsewhere and want to continue with that daily routine.

Others are discouraged by the likelihood that only a few neighbors will return to their communities even with the evacuation order lifted.

For Sakanushi, March 11, 2011, was a special day, but not because of the twin disasters that changed his life. That was the day he was officially appointed head priest of Dairakuin by the headquarters of the Buzan sect of Shingon Buddhism to which the temple belongs.

He intended to take over most of the duties performed by his father, Myokan, 78, who had served as head priest of Dairakuin for 50 years.

However, after the evacuation order was issued for Naraha, Sakanushi’s family of six moved away.

Sakanushi is also an employee of the Naraha town government. He temporarily moved to Aizu-Wakamatsu where he provided support to other evacuees. Subsequently, he moved to Kita-Ibaraki, Ibaraki Prefecture, where his wife, Chisaki, 39, daughter, Mayu, 11, and son, Homare, 7, had evacuated to. Sakanushi’s parents eventually settled in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, after initially evacuating to Gunma Prefecture.

Although the evacuation order has been lifted, Sakanushi is now the only family member to return to Naraha.

No decision has yet been made about whether to have his two children return. The town government plans to resume the elementary and junior high schools in town from spring 2017. But Homare has no memories of life in Naraha, because he evacuated four and a half years ago.

“I do hold the feeling of wanting to live together as a family,” Sakanushi said. “However, the children have become accustomed to life in Ibaraki. I will think about whether we should all return by the time school resumes here.”

Many of his temple’s followers have also not returned to Naraha. Some are still concerned about the radiation, while others are worried about the inconveniences associated with returning to a community that has been deserted for more than four years.

Sakanushi plans to maintain the temple “annex” that was established in Iwaki, where about 80 percent of Naraha residents have evacuated to.

The tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident have drastically altered the appearance of Naraha.

Homes along the coast remain flattened from the tsunami. Areas that once were rice paddies now are filled with black plastic bags holding dirt contaminated by radiation.

After the nuclear accident, lodging facilities and offices of companies involved in reactor decommissioning and decontamination work related to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have been constructed in Naraha. More than 1,000 workers now reside in Naraha, exceeding the number of long-time residents who returned. Those workers also frequent the temporary shopping arcade that has been set up in town.

A couple who now reside in Nagoya have all but given up hope of ever returning to Naraha.

Yoshiharu and Nobuko Matsumoto fled to Nagoya because their oldest daughter lives in Aichi Prefecture.

At first, Nobuko, 79, would say to Yoshiharu, 80, “We will return after a year or so.”

However, their lives as evacuees have now lasted for four and a half years.

Their oldest daughter, who returned temporarily to Naraha to sell off furniture and clean up, told them how their home has deteriorated.

Mold has grown on the house, which has also been damaged by rats. Shrubs have grown taller than the height of the Matsumotos.

This spring, the Matsumotos were told it would cost 10 million yen ($84,000) to repair the home.

That was when Nobuko decided, “I will remain in Nagoya.”

Yoshiharu was still determined to return to Naraha.

In early August, the entire family returned to Naraha with the intention of completing the clean-up work.

Even though he had back problems, Yoshiharu made the trip to Naraha, but he could not stop the tears from flowing when he saw his home for the first time in more than four years.

A next-door neighbor had begun destroying their home. The neighbor across the street had also decided to do the same. Of the family of five who used to live in the back of the Matsumoto home, only the grandmother in her 80s is planning to return.

In total, only one neighbor among their acquaintances was planning to return to Naraha.

“I want to return, but if I cannot farm and there are no friends, I would not be able to go on living there,” Yoshiharu said. “When I saw our home, I felt we had moved far away.”

He still has not decided whether to tear down the home because he fears that would anger his ancestors. Yoshiharu has asked his children to, at the very least, leave the family grave in Naraha.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201509060018

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment