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Preparatory lodging starts in Fukushima 11 yrs after nuclear disaster

  • January 20, 2022
  • , Jiji Press , 11:21 p.m.
  • English Press

Futaba, Fukushima Pref., Jan. 20 (Jiji Press)–Nearly 11 years after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, a program started Thursday to allow residents evacuated from Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, to lodge in the northeastern Japan town, including at their houses.

The program is designed to make preparations for the residents’ return to their hometown. Subject to the preparatory lodging program are areas accounting for about 15 pct of the town, including around JR Futaba Station, where the lifting of the evacuation order is eyed for June or later.

Futaba is now the only remaining municipality with a blanket evacuation order following the country’s worst nuclear accident, which happened at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The start of preparatory lodging marked a “big step forward,” said Yuji Onuma, 45, who came from Ibaraki Prefecture, south of Fukushima.

Seeing water and electricity supply restored in his house, Onuma said, “I didn’t think at the time of the accident that (my house) could be put back (to its original state) to this extent.” He plans to stay there on weekends, together with his two elementary school sons.

Yoichi Yatsuda, 70, hopes to return to Futaba with his wife from the Fukushima city of Minamisoma. “I can feel calm when I live in this environment surrounded by nature,” he said.

However, Yatsuda is concerned that the number of residents returning to Futaba is limited. “I hope that the preparatory lodging program will help accelerate reconstruction,” he said.

According to the Futaba government, only 15 people from 11 households in total intend to take part in the preparatory lodging program. Some original residents have torn down their houses.

“We aim to create a compact town where residents can feel safe and happy to be back,” Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa told reporters near the Futaba station.

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