The government lifted at midnight on June 13 its evacuation order for two districts in Kawauchi, a Fukushima Prefecture village near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, leaving the village as a whole no longer subject to evacuation five years and three-plus months after the 2011 nuclear accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant.
Covered by the move were the Ogi and Kainosaka districts, both designated as zones preparing for the lifting of the evacuation order. Previous to becoming such preparatory areas, the two districts were residency-restricted zones. It was the first time that the evacuation order was removed in districts where the status of evacuation had been eased from residency-restricted zones. Advocating “a breakaway from a disaster area,” Kawauchi is seeking to step up efforts to promote the permanent return of residents to their homes, dispel harmful rumors and take other measures for the village’s rebirth.
The village population was 2,749 comprising 1,257 households as of June 1, of which the two districts had 51 people and 19 households.
In September 2011, six months after the nuclear disaster, Kawauchi had an emergency evacuation preparation zone eliminated under the government’s old zoning system. In January the following year, the village declared that it would promote residents’ return home, the first such move among Fukushima municipalities where evacuation areas were in place.
The village has come up with the slogan “Kaeru Kawauchi” (a play on homonyms, with “kaeru” meaning both “return” and “frogs”) punning on the wishes to see the permanent return of residents and on the forest green tree frog species, a symbol of the village. Kawauchi has thus been actively pushing ahead with measures for post-disaster rehabilitation after ending evacuation.