fukushima, kawauchi, kyodo, relocation

Kawauchi village in Fukushima calls on evacuees to return home, kyodo, 1/31/12

      The mayor of Kawauchi, a village in Fukushima Prefecture whose residents were forced to relocate following the nearby nuclear power plant crisis, called on some 2,600 evacuated villagers Tuesday to return home permanently.
”Let’s return starting with those who are ready,” Yuko Endo said at a press conference in Fukushima city, marking the first declaration among the nine town and village governments in the prefecture which evacuated their offices that it will return to its original location.
”There are matters of concern but there is no reason why we shouldn’t take the first step forward,” Endo added.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a separate press conference that the declaration is an ”important first step toward residents’ returning to their home village,” and added that the central government will ”actively support” the Kawauchi village government’s effort.
Kawauchi had about 2,990 residents before Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was crippled by the earthquake and tsunami disaster of March 11, 2011.
About 75 percent of the villagers currently reside in the prefectural city of Koriyama where the Kawauchi government has relocated its functions because the village was partially designated as a no-entry zone set up by the central government around the
nuclear power plant while the rest was categorized as an emergency evacuation preparation area.
In addition, a total of 542 Kawauchi residents were residing in 26 prefectures other than Fukushima as of Friday, while some 200 have returned to their homes since the central government lifted its evacuation advisory for the emergency preparation area of the village last September.
In November, the village government began decontamination work for schools and other public facilities in the hope of declaring in December that it would return to the village.
But the declaration was delayed for about a month as decontamination work is taking longer than expected. The work is expected to be completed by the end of March, paving the way for resumption of the village government, schools and other operations at the start of fiscal 2012 on April 1.
Most sections of the village are safe as radiation levels are less than 1 microsievert per hour, according to the Kawauchi government.
But the chances of all residents returning to the village are low in view of lingering radiation concerns.
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About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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