Four years after Fukushima disaster, residents return to Naraha

World Today

File photo of Fukushima nuclear disaster/Xinhua

Four and a half years after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami tragedy of 2011, the evacuation order has finally been lifted in Naraha town, just 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

It is estimated that approximately 7,400 Naraha residents are being allowed to return home after the evacuation order was lifted. But it is not known how many residents will return permanently to a town that is still without hospitals, supermarkets, and many daily essentials. Meanwhile, fears of radiation contamination continue to linger.

On Saturday, the town government resumed operations.

The day marked the first time a whole township has been allowed to return. In a ceremony to celebrate, Yukiei Matsumoto, mayor of Naraha, called on 100 local government employees to return the town to its former glory. However, bringing people back is just the first step to rebuilding.

“The real reconstruction work starts now. We should work as one to bring about a renaissance of Naraha,” Matsumoto said.

Naraha is among towns and cities whose residents were evacuated in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster caused by a huge earthquake on March 11, 2011. Almost all local residents fled.

Though the evacuation order in Naraha was lifted, there are still about 70,000 people who once lived near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant and continue to reside in temporary housing scattered over northern Japan.