” More than 7,000 residents from a Fukushima town completely evacuated following the 2011 nuclear crisis will be able to return home permanently from September, the Japanese government has announced.
The 7,401 residents of Naraha will become the first evacuees able to return home permanently among the seven Fukushima municipalities whose entire populations were ordered to leave following the crisis.
The lifting of the first evacuation order will take place more than four years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged nearby Fukushima nuclear power plant.
However, it was not immediately clear how many residents from Naraha, which is around two miles from the plant, will want to return to their hometown from September 5, due to lingering radiation concerns and lack of infrastructure.
“There are no shops. There are no doctors. I don’t know what to do,” one woman told local media.
Naraha’s rehabilitation as a livable town began in March when the government announced that its decontamination was completed, with radiation contamination down 60 per cent from 2011 levels to 0.3 microsievert per hour.
The following month, residents were allowed to return home for three-month stays in preparation for a permanent return when the evacuation order was lifted, with 688 people from 326 households taking part in the initiative.
This week, the government confirmed the September 5 return date for all Naraha residents to return permanently, after assessing with local authorities the airborne radiation levels and monitoring how infrastructure was being improved as well as consulting with residents.
The new evacuation order will permit the biggest homecoming of Fukushima evacuees since the 2011 disaster, with a total of 7,401 residents from 2,704 households allowed to live at home once again. ”