Fukushima evacuees permitted to return to parts of Futuba

5 March 2020

Japan's government on 4 March partially lifted an entry ban for Futuba, the last town that had been off-limits due to radiation since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

The measure comes weeks before the Olympic torch procession starts in another town in Fukushima.

The torch could also pass through Futaba, some 4 kilometres from the  Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. All 7000 inhabitants of the town had been forced to evacuate and unrestricted access is being allowed only in a 2.4-square kilometre area near the main railway station, which will reopen later in March.

Access to most of Futaba is still only allowed for those who receive permission for a day visit. Key infrastructure is still being rebuilt, and residents will only be permitted to return to live there in 2022.

In 2018, Japanese authorities completed the decontamination of most of the areas affected by the accident. However, officials said prospects for the return of Futaba’s former residents are grim because of continuing concern about radiation.

 Many residents have found new jobs and communities, and only about 10% say they plan to return. Almost 165,000 people had been evacuated by May 2012 and many have now returned to their homes. However,
more than 50,000 have not gone back.

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