FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) — Residents of an evacuation zone within 20 kilometers of the disaster-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant from Saturday are allowed to stay overnight as well at their homes following progress in radiation cleanup work.
Previously, the area’s residents had been allowed to spend only the day inside the evacuation zone.
The change means the residents will be free to spend the entire 24-hour day at home, for the next three months, after which the evacuation order may be lifted permanently.
However, because of the lingering fear of radiation, only 40 residents of 18 households applied to return home from evacuation housing, out of 276 residents of 134 households in the zone of Kawauchi village, Fukushima Prefecture.
The central government is in talks with the Kawauchi municipal authority and residents about lifting the evacuation order completely, given the progress in decontamination work.
If lifted, the zone in Kawauchi would become the second case of an evacuation order being lifted on an area within a 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima plant, following the Miyakoji district in the city of Tamura, also in Fukushima.
A total of 10 municipalities including Kawauchi village are still subject to evacuation orders around the plant devastated by a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011.
Katsutoshi Kusano, 69, and his wife Shigeko, 68, said they have returned home in the village from a temporary housing in the city of Koriyama in Fukushima as they “remain attached to” their house and garden.