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Japan lifts evacuation order in town 12 years after nuclear disaster

Japan officially opened a part of Fukushima, a town that was evacuated 12 years ago following the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

Following the March 2011 disaster, the Tomioka area, southwest of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was evacuated.

On Saturday, the reopening of the building was held in time for cherry blossom season.

Visitors and former residents celebrated as they walked along the street called “the cherry blossoms tunnel”.


Fumio Kimio Kishida , Prime Minister joined the ceremony marking the reopening.

“The lifting the evacuation is not a final goal. It’s the beginning of the recovery,” Mr Kishida stated at the ceremony.

He also promised to continue working to eliminate all no-go areas.

Image: Fumio Kishida, Japan’s Prime Minister, delivers a speech marking the reopening. Pic: AP

After a triple meltdown at nuclear power station in March 2011, more than 160,000 people in the area were evacuated.

The site’s four reactor buildings were destroyed by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan’s history. This caused the meltdown.

The tsunami that followed smashed into the area caused huge waves to wash away the sea walls and damaged the backup generators.

Japan saw around 18,000 deaths from the tsunami and quake, with a 20km (12 miles) exclusion zone created by the nuclear meltdown.

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Around 30,000 people remain unable to return home despite a massive decontamination operation.

Tomioka is just one of twelve nearby towns that have been partially or fully designated no-go areas.

Parts of the town were previously reopened with approximately 1,600 people, which is around 10% of pre-disaster populations.

Image: Fukushima Daiichi, Fukushima Prefecture’s crippled nuclear power station. Pic by AP

Just over 50 of the 2,500 registered residents in the newly opened districts have reported having returned to their homes or expressed an intention to return to live.

Ikuo Yamamoto, Tomioka Mayor, said that the living environment and other issues still need to be addressed.

On Friday, several parts of Namie, northwest from the plant, received an evacuation order.

Only 20% of the town is made up by the reopened areas.

It was reported that in 2021, a decade after the disaster, the Japanese government had spent 32.1 trillion yen on rebuilding the region.

It is expected that the decommissioning of the plant will take many decades.


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