The reclassification of all the evacuation zones set by the central government in Fukushima Prefecture after the March 2011 nuclear disaster is expected to be completed on Aug. 10 with the regrouping of the Yamakiya district in the town of Kawamata.
The Kawamata municipal government decided on July 26 to reclassify the Yamakiya district, which has been designated as an evacuation zone, into two categories — an area readying for the lifting of evacuation orders and a residence-restricted area with visitation-only access. The town’s municipal assembly endorsed the decision on the same day.
The Kawamata municipal government filed the decision with the central government’s task force on the nuclear disaster on July 29.
The Yamakiya district will be the last of the evacuation zones set by the central government in 11 municipalities in the prefecture following the outbreak in March 2011 of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Of all the 11 administrative regions in the Yamakiya district, 10, where annual radiation dosages measure less than 20 millisieverts, will be designated as areas readying for the lifting of evacuation orders.
The remaining one, where annual radiation dosages measure between 20 and 50 millisieverts, will be designated as a residence-restricted area with visitation-only access.
The municipal government plans to ask the central government to allow residents to stay overnight at their homes during the Bon festival season in mid-August.
It also plans to set the timing of the lifting of evacuation orders, which would be linked with the payment of damages, in fiscal 2015 starting April 1 that year.
As of July 25, a total of 1,246 people registered their residence in the Yamakiya district, of whom 130 are in the area to be reclassified as a residence-restricted area.
If the evacuation zones of the Yamakiya district are reclassified, residents can enter the areas freely during the daytime. Businesses, such as construction contractors which are key to reviving the area, can resume operations.
Fukushima University will launch an “earthquake disaster reconstruction study” based on the knowledge and experiences obtained in the process of helping rebuild areas hit by the March 2011 quake and tsunami, as well as the subsequent nuclear disaster.
The state-run university will receive some 200 million yen in research funds from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, a state-backed body for advancement of natural, social and human sciences, over the coming five years.
Fukushima University plans to utilize lessons from the natural and nuclear disasters in dealing with various major disasters that could hit Japan and the rest of the world in the future.
About 20 researchers from the university will form a team to promote the studies.
The team plans to look into actual conditions in Fukushima Prefecture after the natural and nuclear disasters and analyze reconstruction efforts there. The team will also look into similar efforts to rebuild disaster-hit areas overseas.
The team plans to work out model plans for industrial reconstruction based on geological conditions and the degree of damage as well as for the resumption of agriculture in areas contaminated with radiation. It will also organize symposiums and develop educational programs to send out the results of its studies at home and abroad.